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Taliban Close Women’s Affairs Ministry in Kabul

A man walks past the now closed Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2021.
A man walks past the now closed Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2021.

Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers apparently have closed the government’s ministry of women’s affairs and replaced it with a ministry aimed at promoting morality and averting wrongdoing.

Outside the building in Kabul that housed the women’s affairs ministry, a new sign was raised Friday saying it was now the headquarters of the “Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”

Employees of the World Bank's $100 million Women's Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program were escorted out of the building Saturday as part of the change, according to program staffer Sharif Akhtar, who was among those forced out.

In a statement Saturday, the Taliban-run education ministry said, “All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions.” It did not mention women teachers or female students.

The developments are the latest indications the Taliban are limiting women’s rights since they seized the capital of Kabul last month, despite recent statements they are willing to ease restrictions on women and girls.

When the Taliban ruled the country from 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban denied women and girls the right to education and largely excluded them from public life.

The Taliban has not commented on the developments.

Also Saturday, three people were killed in three explosions targeting Taliban vehicles in the eastern provincial capital of Jalalabad. No one has claimed responsibility, but Islamic State militants, enemies of the Taliban, are based in the area.

More than 500 people left Afghanistan Saturday morning on two flights out of Kabul’s airport, one by Pakistan’s national carrier and the other by Iran’s Mahan Air, an airport official said. The official said the identities and nationalities of the people were not immediately known.

On a Qatar Airways flight on Friday, more Americans flew out of Afghanistan, according to Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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