Middle East/North Africa

Taliban order female city workers in Kabul to stay home

The Taliban have ordered all female city workers in Kabul who can be replaced by men to remain at home, an indication that the militant group now in control of Afghanistan is bringing back the extreme interpretation of Islam it employed in the '90s.

Kabul's interim mayor, Hamdullah Namony, on Sunday said that only women who cannot be replaced by men, such as skilled workers in design, will be permitted to report to work, The Associated Press reported.

According to Namony, a final decision on women in Kabul municipal departments is still pending, and they will continue to earn a salary while this decision is being made.

After taking power in Afghanistan, the Taliban signaled that they would be more moderate than when they previously held power. However, parts of the international community expressed skepticism about this assurance. In the '90s, the Taliban banned women and girls from receiving an education or working. Women also were not permitted to leave their homes without a man, essentially trapping some female Afghans in their own homes.

In August, the Taliban also announced that mixed-gender classes would be banned. In a Facebook post last week, the Taliban said all male students and teachers in grades six through 12 were to return to school, notably leaving out female students and teachers in the announcement.

"They can be doctors, teachers, be educated and can work to benefit society," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has previously said. "They are our sisters, we must show them respect. They should not be frightened. The Taliban are humans and from this country. They fought for our country. Women should be proud of us, not scared."

A group of about 50 Afghan women in the city of Herat held a protest earlier in September, demanding opportunities for work and education for themselves and their daughters.

"We want to be part of the government - no government can be formed without women. We want the Taliban to hold consultations with us," one of the protest organizers said.

Updated at 9:01 a.m.

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