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

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have transformed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs constructing into places of work for the spiritual morality police, who as soon as instilled dread in Afghanistan for their 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 girls 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 advised them to return house.

It stays unclear if the ladies’s ministry has been abolished by the Taliban, who reclaimed power final month because the U.S.-backed authorities collapsed. But when the Taliban announced their acting cabinet members for the brand new authorities earlier this month, there was no appointment to supervise girls’s affairs.

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

The girls’s ministry constructing’s new occupant, referred to as the Ministry of Invitation, Guidance and Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, appears to be only a barely rebranded identify for the infamous enforcer of Taliban requirements of conduct that turned the group into a world pariah within the 1990s.

The ministry’s cops grew to become identified for beating or lashing girls who ventured outdoors their houses with out a full physique overlaying and a male escort. They banned women from faculty after main grades and prohibited girls from searching for jobs. Unwed {couples} risked demise by stoning for adultery.

While the leaders of the Taliban have acknowledged that Afghanistan has developed after 20 years of the American-led occupation, they’ve additionally left girls scared of what the longer term might maintain. No girls have been appointed to positions of authority underneath 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 training, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, mentioned that girls may proceed to check in universities and postgraduate applications, however solely in gender-segregated lecture rooms in acceptable Islamic gown.

The constructing previously housing the ladies’s ministry is located in what had been thought of the liberal quarter of Kabul, dotted with coffee shops 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 hold 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 kind of vandalism seen elsewhere in Afghanistan because the Taliban reclaimed energy.

One signal reads “Supporting women who are victims of violence is our human duty,” and exhibits a lady with a black eye. Another is from the United States Agency for International Development, which had been a serious supply of help to Afghanistan, studying: “Keep your city green and clean.”

Even critics of the American army’s extended keep in Afghanistan have acknowledged the good points made by Afghan girls over the previous 20 years. Under the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, girls’s well being, literacy charges and employment all climbed. Abused girls got assist and shelter. Women entered the legislature and different positions of energy.

A telling barometer of the good points was seen within the altering make-up of the labor pressure. A World Bank study discovered that girls accounted for 22 % of the labor pressure in 2019, in contrast with 15 % in 2009. A ballot performed two years in the past by the Asia Foundation additionally confirmed rising public assist for girls within the office, with 76 % of Afghans backing the appropriate of girls to work outdoors the house.

News of the Taliban’s repurposing of the ladies’s ministry constructing got here because the United Nations Security Council reauthorized the group’s mission in Afghanistan, which had been set to run out, for six months. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, which was created in 2002 after the U.S. invasion, is now the principal technique of monitoring the Taliban’s conduct, following the chaotic American-led army withdrawal final month.

Stéphane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman in New York, mentioned he was unaware of the ladies’s ministry growth and couldn’t touch upon it. Still, he mentioned, there had been “recent developments that are worrying, but we’re continuing our dialogue and our advocacy for women’s rights, for girls’ rights, in the sphere of work and education especially.”

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