The Taliban appear to have abolished the ministry of women’s affairs, replacing it with a department that used to impose stringent religious principles.
Women employees were seen outside the offices in social media videos pleading with the Taliban to allow them to return to work.
Afghan women have struggled for and won a lot of basic rights over the last 20 years, but there are now fears that the Taliban’s new all-male interim administration may stymie their development.
The sign at the ministry was taken down on Friday, and in its place was a sign for the ministry of virtue and vice.
The ministry imposed strict Islamic laws and severe restrictions on women during the Taliban reign in the 1990s.
Women will not be permitted to work while receiving an education, according to the Taliban. Female employees now claim that they were not allowed to report to work and were repeatedly instructed to return home when they attempted to do so.
After being prohibited from entering the building in Kabul, some female employees of the department rushed to the streets to protest.
“I am my family’s sole earning member,” a woman who worked in the department explained. “What should an Afghan woman do if there is no ministry?” she inquired.
Women were largely excluded from public life during the Taliban’s first rule, which lasted from 1996 to 2001. They were even forbidden to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice served as the organization’s moral police, ensuring that Sharia law was followed.
Girls were prevented from attending school and women were barred from working after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month following the US troop pullout.
The Taliban did not mention the appointment of a women’s minister at a cabinet announcement on September 7 but did identify an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice.