Ministry of Vice and Virtue returns with Taliban 2.0

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The Taliban have appointed a minister for the promotion of ‘virtue’ and the prevention of ‘vice’, according to the list of the newly-announced cabinet for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

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, Al Arabiya reported.

When the Taliban were in power during between 1996 and 2001, they had enforced an extreme hardline interpretation of Sharia.

Women were banned from leaving their homes without a male escort, and they also had to wear burqas, covering the body from head to toe.

Under the 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 their hair and beards, the report said.

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 this year, 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, the report added.

Women activists and former female political leaders say that they expect to be treated as “second class” citizens at best.

–IANS

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