San Francisco Chronicle

Women working for city of Kabul told to stay home

- By Kathy Gannon Kathy Gannon is an Associated Press writer.

KABUL — Female employees in the Kabul city government have been ordered to stay home, with work allowed only for those who cannot be replaced by men, the interim mayor of Afghanista­n’s capital said Sunday, detailing the latest restrictio­ns on women by the new Taliban rulers.

Witnesses, meanwhile, said an explosion targeted a Taliban vehicle in the eastern city of Jalalabad, and hospital officials said five people were killed in the second such deadly blast in as many days in the Islamic State stronghold.

The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign that the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpreta­tion of Islam despite initial promises by some that they would be tolerant and inclusive. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, the new Taliban government issued several decrees rolling back the rights of girls and women. It told female middle- and high school students that they could not return to school for the time being, while boys in those grades resumed studies this weekend. Female university students were informed that studies would take place in gender-segregated settings from now on, and that they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code. Under the U.S.backed government deposed by the Taliban, university studies had been co-ed, for the most part.

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the Women’s Affairs Ministry, replacing it with a ministry for the “propagatio­n of virtue and the prevention of vice” and tasked with enforcing Islamic law.

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the ministry, holding up signs calling for the participat­ion of women in public life. The protest lasted about 10 minutes. After a verbal confrontat­ion with a man, the women left as Taliban members stood watch. Over the past months, Taliban fighters had broken up several women’s protests by force.

The explosion Sunday in Jalalabad was the second attack in two days to target the Taliban. The Taliban and Islamic State extremists are enemies and fought each other even before the Taliban seized control of Afghanista­n last month. Hospital officials said they received the bodies of five people killed in the explosion. Among the dead were two civilians, including a child.

On Saturday, three explosions targeted Taliban vehicles in Jalalabad, killing three people and wounding 20, witnesses said.

With the Taliban facing major economic and security problems as they attempt to govern, a growing challenge by Islamic State militants would further stretch their resources.

 ?? Associated Press ?? Female demonstrat­ors march near the former Women’s Affairs Ministry, holding signs calling for the participat­ion of women in public life. Taliban militants have shuttered the agency.
Associated Press Female demonstrat­ors march near the former Women’s Affairs Ministry, holding signs calling for the participat­ion of women in public life. Taliban militants have shuttered the agency.

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