The Taliban replaced the Ministry of Women’s Affairs with the Ministry of Virtue and Vice on Friday, acting contrary to the promise of safeguarding women’s rights. Signs for the country’s women’s ministry were replaced with those of the Taliban’s moral police, Reuters reported, adding that female employees of the department were locked out of the building.
According to photographs, a sign for the building read, “Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice”. Videos on social media showed women employees outside the offices, urging the Taliban to let them return to work. Several women employees of the department took to the streets to protest after they were barred from entering the building in Kabul. In the last 20 years Afghan women have fought for and gained a number of basic rights, but there are now fears that progress is being upended by the Taliban’s new all-male interim government. The Taliban have already declared that women will not be allowed to work while they will have access to education. During a cabinet announcement on September 7, the Taliban did not mention the appointment of a women’s minister, while an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice was named.
When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last month after the US troop withdrawal, girls were barred from attending school, and women were banned from work. During the Taliban rule in the 1990s, the ministry forced strict Islamic rules and harsh restrictions on women. Women were largely excluded from public life, including being banned from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.