Taliban Seize Women’s Ministry Building for Use by Religious Police

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have transformed the Ministry of Ladies’s Affairs constructing into places of work for the spiritual morality police, who as soon as instilled dread in Afghanistan for his or her suppression of girls and brutal enforcement of the militant authorities’s interpretation of Shariah regulation when it dominated 20 years in the past.

The conversion of the constructing in Kabul, the nation’s capital, steered a minimum of a symbolic slapping down of a ministry that had come to embody the ascent of girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban have been ousted from energy in 2001.

A video posted by Reuters confirmed ladies who had been employed by the ministry protesting outdoors the constructing as a result of the Taliban had not permitted them to enter and had instructed them to return residence.

It stays unclear if the ladies’s ministry has been abolished by the Taliban, who reclaimed energy final month because the U.S.-backed authorities collapsed. However when the Taliban introduced their appearing cupboard members for the brand new authorities earlier this month, there was no appointment to supervise ladies’s affairs.

And in one other ominous portent of renewed gender discrimination beneath the Taliban, its Schooling Ministry ordered male academics again to work and mentioned secondary faculty lessons for boys would resume on Saturday. There was no point out of ladies.

The ladies’s ministry constructing’s new occupant, known as the Ministry of Invitation, Steering and Promotion of Advantage and Prevention of Vice, appears to be only a barely rebranded title for the infamous enforcer of Taliban requirements of habits that turned the group into a world pariah within the Nineties.

The ministry’s law enforcement officials grew to become identified for beating or lashing ladies who ventured outdoors their houses and not using a full physique masking and a male escort. They banned women from faculty after major grades and prohibited ladies from searching for jobs. Unwed {couples} risked demise by stoning for adultery.

Whereas the leaders of the Taliban have acknowledged that Afghanistan has advanced after 20 years of the American-led occupation, they’ve additionally left ladies fearful of what the long run might maintain. No ladies have been appointed to positions of authority beneath the brand new Taliban authorities, and it has taken steps to separate women and men in public areas.

Earlier this week, the minister of upper schooling, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, mentioned that ladies may proceed to review in universities and postgraduate packages, however solely in gender-segregated school rooms in acceptable Islamic gown.

The constructing previously housing the ladies’s ministry is located in what had been thought-about the liberal quarter of Kabul, dotted with espresso outlets and a well-liked Turkish-run mall that homes clothes shops, a knockoff Apple retailer and eating places starting from quick meals chains to a high-end steak home.

Now, a white Taliban flag waves above the constructing compound’s armored gate, adorned with an indication for the ministry that’s its new occupant, as Taliban safety guards preserve watch.

The blast partitions surrounding the compound nonetheless are adorned with murals and indicators depicting the work of the ladies’s ministry, however on some, the ladies’s faces have been desecrated, a sort of vandalism seen elsewhere in Afghanistan for the reason that Taliban reclaimed energy.

One signal reads “Supporting ladies who’re victims of violence is our human responsibility,” and exhibits a girl with a black eye. One other is from america Company for Worldwide Growth, which had been a serious supply of support to Afghanistan, studying: “Preserve your metropolis inexperienced and clear.”

Even critics of the American navy’s extended keep in Afghanistan have acknowledged the features made by Afghan ladies over the previous 20 years. Below the Ministry of Ladies’s Affairs, ladies’s well being, literacy charges and employment all climbed. Abused ladies got assist and shelter. Ladies entered the legislature and different positions of energy.

A telling barometer of the features was seen within the altering make-up of the labor drive. A World Financial institution examine discovered that ladies accounted for 22 p.c of the labor drive in 2019, in contrast with 15 p.c in 2009. A ballot carried out two years in the past by the Asia Basis additionally confirmed rising public assist for girls within the office, with 76 p.c of Afghans backing the suitable of girls to work outdoors the house.

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