| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Afghan activists protest outside shuttered Ministry of Women’s Affairs

On Sunday, a group of around two dozen female activists demonstrated outside Afghanistan’s women’s ministry, which was shuttered by Taliban insurgents in Kabul and replaced by their Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Female employees claimed they had tried to return to work at the ministry for many weeks after the Taliban took over last month, but had been forced to leave.

Outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a sign for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has taken its place.

“The Ministry of Women’s Affairs must be reactivated,” said Baseera Tawana, one of the protesters outside the building. “The removal of women means the removal of human beings.”

When Taliban Islamists were in power from 1996-2001, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education.

During that period, the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice became known as the group’s moral police, enforcing its interpretation of sharia that includes a strict dress code and public executions and floggings.

The protest came a day after some girls returned to primary schools with gender-segregated classes, but older girls faced an anxious wait with no clarity over if and when they would be able to resume their studies.

“You cannot suppress the voice of Afghan women by keeping girls at home and restricting them, as well as by not allowing them to go to school,” said protester Taranum Sayeedi.

“The woman of Afghanistan today are not the woman of 26 years ago.”

Taliban officials have said they will not return to their fundamentalist policies, including the ban on girls receiving an education.

  • Reuters