The Taliban government on Saturday ordered all foreign and domestic non-governmental groups in Afghanistan to suspend employing women, allegedly because some female employees didn’t wear the Islamic headscarf correctly. They also separately banned women from attending religious classes at the mosques in the capital of Kabul.
The bans are the latest restrictive moves by Afghanistan’s new rulers against women’s rights and freedoms, coming just days after the Taliban banned female students from attending universities across the country.
Afghan women have since demonstrated in major cities against the ban — a rare sign of domestic protest since the Taliban seized power last year. The decision has also caused international outrage.
The NGO order came in a letter from Economy Minister Qari Din Mohammed Hanif, which said that any organization found not complying with the order will have their operating license revoked in Afghanistan. The ministry’s spokesman, Abdul Rahman Habib, confirmed the letter’s content to The Associated Press.
The ministry said it had received “serious complaints” about female staff working for NGOs not wearing the “correct” headscarf, or hijab. It was not immediately clear if the order applies to all women or only Afghan women working at the NGOs.More details were not immediately available amid concerns the latest Taliban move could be a stepping-stone to a blanket ban on Afghan women leaving the home.
The United Nations condemned the NGO order, and said it will seek to meet with the Taliban leadership to get some clarity. “Taking away the free will of women to choose their own fate, disempowering and excluding them systematically from all aspects of public and political life takes the country backward, jeopardizing efforts for any meaningful peace or stability in the country,” a U.N. statement said.
In another edict, a spokesman for the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, Fazil Mohammad Hussaini, said late Saturday that “adult girls” are barred from attending Islamic classes in mosques in Kabul, although they could still go to standalone madrassas, or religious schools.
He gave no further details, and did not elaborate on the ages affected with the ban or how it would be enforced. It was also not explained why the measure only applies to Kabul – AFP