Kabul’s new mayor has instructed female officials to stay at home and not come to work unless their duties cannot be performed by a male colleague. The interim mayor of the capital belongs to the Taliban, the extremist group that conquered Afghanistan last month.
According to Mayor Hamdullah Noman, it is “necessary that women are temporarily out of work”. The city has about three thousand female city employees. According to Noman, some women are allowed to continue working, for example cleaners who clean women’s toilets in Kabul.
The order means the Taliban is once again restricting Afghan women, despite previous promises to respect their freedoms and rights “within the law of Islam.” Yesterday it became clear that the group has also closed the women’s affairs department in Kabul. The building now houses a Ministry of Virtue. Female employees are said to have been sent home in recent weeks.
Dozens of women protested outside the ministry building today. They demand that women be allowed to participate in public life. “A society in which women do not participate is a dead society,” read their protest signs. The demonstration lasted ten minutes and took place under the watchful eye of the Taliban.
It is not the first time since the takeover that Afghan women have taken to the streets. The demonstrations are often crushed with a heavy hand. Yet women continue to demonstrate – they are outraged by the group’s restrictive policies on women’s rights.
Earlier this week, girls in secondary education were banned from going back to school for the time being, while male classmates were allowed to return. Female students are still taught, but in separate classrooms and with compulsory face coverings.
When the Taliban took power in the 1990s, they banned girls and women from going to school. In addition, women were not allowed to work outside the home. Women’s rights activists fear that the group will pursue such a policy again.
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