Afghan women protest their freedom outside the Taliban’s virtue and vice ministry, which replaced the ministry of women’s affairs

Afghan women protested outside the former ministry of women affairs which has been replaced by the ministry of virtue and vice in Kabul, Afghanistan-September 19, 2021.
Afghan women protested outside the former ministry of women affairs which has been replaced by the ministry of virtue and vice in Kabul, Afghanistan-September 19, 2021. Haroon Sabawoon/Getty Images
  • The Taliban closed the women’s ministry in Kabul and replaced it with the ministry of virtue and vice.
  • Afghan women gathered outside the building to protest the closure and to call for their rights to be protected.
  • Women in Afghanistan have been leading the resistance movement against the militant group.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Afghan women protested outside the offices of the Taliban morality police in Kabul on Sunday after the militant group shut down the ministry of women’s affairs, local news reported.

The protesters demonstrated against the closure of the women’s ministry and called for their rights to employment and education.

The women held signs with messages including, “elimination of women = elimination of human beings.”

On Thursday, women who worked at the women’s ministry were locked out, Reuters reported.

The next day, the signage was changed to the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice.”

Although there is little information about the new ministry, it is expected to enforce strict religious doctrines.

The chief of the morality police in Kandahar told The Observer that new rules include women only being allowed to leave home if accompanied by a male guardian, compulsory prayer, and stipulations on beard length for men.

Women in Afghanistan have been fearful of the future after the militant group took control of the country last month.

During the Taliban’s previous rule in the 1990s, severe restrictions were placed on women’s lives. Although the group has promised to be less severe, they have already begun limiting women’s freedom.

This week the Taliban banned girls from attending secondary school. The group permitted women to attend universities as long as they wore Islamic dress and segregated classrooms by gender.

However, if girls are not permitted to attend secondary school, their ability to attend university will be meaningless.

The group also said that women were not permitted to work alongside men, virtually prohibiting them from most workplaces.

Although the militant group has continually promised to allow women to work in accordance with sharia law, it is unclear what that will mean.

Afghan women have been leading the opposition movement against the Taliban, staging several protests in the last few weeks.

The new virtue and vice ministry is an indication of the kind of strict Islamic society the Taliban wants to shape.

Although the group includes a call to respect women in the department’s guidelines, they also stipulate that women should not have contact with any men outside of immediate family and should not leave the house without a guardian or a hijab.

The Kandahar morality police chief told The Observer that Afghans would be encouraged to call in and report on their neighbors if they break the rules.

Leaders of the new department are likely aware of how it is perceived internationally, The Observer said. When they handed out an English language list of new cabinet appointments earlier this month, the vice and virtue ministry was the only one not translated.