Taliban says healthcare should be denied to female patients who do not observe hijab

Since regaining power in August, the Taliban has gradually resurrected its discriminatory policies, enforcing strict segregation in universities, government offices, and on public transportation, RFE/RL reported.

Rights groups have accused the Taliban of imposing gender apartheid in Afghanistan, with fears that girls and women will be excluded from public life.

The Taliban has dramatically rolled back women’s rights in recent months, including closing most girls’ secondary schools and banning women from most forms of employment. Women who have demonstrated for greater rights have been arrested and, in some cases, disappeared.

The Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice earlier this month sent a letter to the Health Ministry ordering it to segregate male and female employees, RFE/RL reported.

“The offices for men and women should be separate,” said the letter.

The ministry, which is the enforcer of the Taliban’s radical interpretation of Islamic law, also warned that health care should be denied to female patients who do not observe the Islamic hijab.

The Taliban initially ordered women not to return to work. But it later called female health workers back to clinics and hospitals, although many were too scared to resume their work.

Rights groups say gender segregation has created barriers to women and girls accessing health care. At many facilities, patients are only treated by a health professional of the same sex, RFE/RL reported.

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