Afghanistan: Women's ministry secretariat converted to Moral Police headquarters

September 19, 2021
Workers hang a new sign on the former Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul. Photo: Bamaj News

The Taliban converted the secretariat of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice on September 17.

This move was observed a day after the former employees of the Women's Affairs Ministry staged a protest against the Taliban’s decision to abolish this ministry. A video of this protest was widely shared by Afghan social media users.

The Women Ministry employed around 1000 women in Kabul besides thousands in the provincial directorates.

All these women are now out of jobs in a country that is presently facing an economic crisis, food shortages and sky-rocketing price hikes.

One of the women protestors on Thursday said: “They were telling us lies, they told us to come next week, now we hear they have decided to abolish the ministry and nothing under the name of women will be left. Then do one thing, gather all the women of the ministry of women’s affairs in one place and pour fuel on them and bomb us and destroy all of us.

"All the women that you see here, we all have the responsibility of our families. We have widows among us or women whose husbands are addicts, we have the responsibility of our families. We got educated, we don’t want to stay at home any longer. They are not allowing us inside the ministry. This is the third week that we are coming. There is no such thing as women in Afghanistan anymore.”

After the formation of the interim government in 2001,  the Women’s Affairs Ministry was established to promote and protect women rights. Though the ministry was largely symbolic, many women would take refuge in its Safe Houses after running away from abusive or forced marriages. The ministry would also hold awareness campaigns on women's rights, not only in Kabul, but elsewhere in the country through its directorates.

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