Taliban replaces Ministry of Women Affairs with Ministry of Vice and Virtue

In what comes as another blow to Afghan women, the Taliban abolished the country’s Ministry of Women Affairs, almost a month after the group seized power in Afghanistan, toppling the US-backed government in Kabul and replaced it with the “Ministry of Vice and Virtue.”

Sep 17, 2021
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Ministry of Vice and Virtue

In what comes as another blow to Afghan women, the Taliban abolished the country’s Ministry of Women Affairs, almost a month after the group seized power in Afghanistan, toppling the US-backed government in Kabul and replaced it with the “Ministry of Vice and Virtue.”

The move was widely expected from the group which during its first tenure in the 90s had put in place a set of harsh, restrictive rules for women, banning them from education and jobs. The Ministry of Vice and Virtue, which the group also had in the 90s, was responsible for issuing orders, awarding harsh punishments such as flogging of women in the past. It is a page that the Kabul regime seems to have taken from erstwhile Saudi Arabia that had the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), an agency that was tasked with monitoring social behavior and enforcing the observance of Islamic moral law, including proper dress and gender segregation. That agency, and its dreaded instruments, have now been abolished. 

Reports indicated earlier that women employees of the ministry were barred from entering into the ministry. Many female employees of the ministry have been protesting for days in front of the ministry’s compound in Kabul, demanding the group allows them to join their jobs. 

Rights groups had long been warning of rolling back what little progress women had achieved in Afghanistan in the last two decades. The UN earlier this week had also called upon the Taliban to respect international treaties, granting freedom and equal rights to women in Afghanistan. 

Significantly, this comes two days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had defended the Taliban, saying women’s rights cannot be imposed upon Afghanistan from outside.

On Thursday, Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan also defended the Taliban’s on women’s rights during a discussion organized by US-based think tank Stimson Center, saying the group allowed women in jobs and education. He also proposed incentivizing the Taliban rather than applying coercive steps or abandoning them. 

 (SAM)