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Taliban bring back morality police as ministry of vice and virtue

Published: Updated:

The Taliban appointed a minister for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice, according to the list of the newly announced cabinet.

Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman had shared a list of names of the appointed minsters in Pashto and English. The English list did not include the name of the minister of vice and virtue.

The newly appointed minister is a cleric called Mohammad Khalid.

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The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a body under the previous Afghan government, was not included at all. And none of the Cabinet members, mostly top Taliban members, included any women.

When the Taliban was in power during their 1996-2001 era, they enforced an extreme hardline interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law.

Women were banned from leaving their homes without a male escort, and women also had to wear burqas, a cloth which covered the body from head to toe.

Under Taliban rule, there was gender segregation in most public locations, limits on which jobs women could hold, bans were in place on listening to music and watching television, and men were on occasion forced to grow out their hair and beards.

The ministry for promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice was disbanded by then-President Hamid Karzai after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and was replaced by the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs.

After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, they launched a charm offensive to project a moderate image to the world, promising not to retaliate against employees of foreign governments and to protect the rights of women.

Activists and local journalists, however, say the reality on the ground is quite different, with many concerning reports of home searches and arrests of the very people the Taliban said they would not retaliate against.

And women activists and former female political leaders saying they expected to be treated as “second class” citizens at best.

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