Female employees in city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men, Kabul's interim mayor said Sunday. The announcement is another sign that the Taliban are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite promises that they would be tolerant and inclusive, the AP reports. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban barred girls and women from schools, jobs, and public life. In recent days, the new government issued several decrees rolling back the rights of girls and women, including telling female middle- and high school students that they could not return to school for now.
Hamdullah Namony gave his first news conference since being appointed interim mayor by the Taliban. He said that before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, just under one-third of nearly 3,000 city employees were women, and that they had worked in all departments. Namony said the female employees have been ordered to stay home, pending a further decision. He said exceptions were made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and attendants of public toilets for women. "There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfill their duties, there is no alternative for it," he said.
On Sunday, just over a dozen women protested, holding up signs calling for the participation of women in public life. "A society in which women are not active is (sic) dead society," one sign read. The protest lasted for about 10 minutes. After a short verbal confrontation with a man, the women left, as Taliban in two cars watched. Elsewhere in Kabul, about 30 women, many of them young, held a news conference in a basement of a home. Marzia Ahmadi, a rights activist and government employee now forced to sit at home, said they would demand the Taliban reopen public spaces to women. "We want to talk to them," she said. "We want to tell them that we have the same rights as they have." Most participants said they would leave the country if they had an opportunity.
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