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Taliban 'bans female members of staff from entering the ministry of women's affairs'

The Taliban has banned female members of staff from entering the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kabul.

The Islamists, who seized control of Afghanistan last month last amid the chaos following the withdrawal of US troops, locked women out of the building today and replaced the department with the 'morality police'. 

Workers in the Afghan capital covered the women's ministry signs with a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading 'Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice'.

Female employees said they had been trying to come to work for several weeks only to be told to return to their homes, according to videos filmed outside the building seen by Reuters.

The gates of the building were finally locked on Thursday, one of the women said. A senior Taliban leader said earlier this week that women would not be allowed to work in government ministries with men. 

The Taliban has banned female members of staff from entering the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kabul and replaced the department with the 'morality police' (pictured, women protest for their rights in front of the presidential palace in Kabul)

 Works in the Afghan capital covered the women's ministry signs for a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading 'Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice'

'I am the only breadwinner in my family,' said a second woman, who also said she worked in the department. 'When there is no ministry, what should an Afghan woman do?' 

Taliban spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Women gathered outside the presidential palace yesterday, calling on the Taliban to protect their rights and allow girls to study and work. 

Despite insisting they will rule more moderately this time around, the Taliban have not allowed women to return to work and introduced rules for what they can wear at university.

A new Taliban government announced two weeks ago had no women members or even a ministry to represent their interests but included an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. 

Although still marginalised, Afghan women have fought for and gained basic rights in the past 20 years, becoming lawmakers, judges, pilots and police officers.

Hundreds of thousands have entered the workforce - a necessity in some cases as many women were widowed or now support invalid husbands as a result of two decades of conflict.

But since returning to power on August 15 the Taliban have shown no inclination to honour those rights.

When pressed, Taliban officials say women have been told to stay at home for their own security but will be allowed to work once proper segregation can be implemented.  

The Islamists, who seized control of Afghanistan last month last amid the chaos following the withdrawal of US troops, locked female staff out of the women's affair's building today as workers swapped the department building's signs

Taliban officials say women (pictured in Kabul yesterday) have been told to stay at home for their own security but will be allowed to work once proper segregation can be implemented

Meanwhile the Taliban's education ministry said today all male students grades six to 12 and male teachers should resume classes across Afghanistan, starting on Saturday.

During the Taliban's first rule from 1996 to 2001, women were largely excluded from public life including being banned from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.

Enforcers from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were known to lash women found walking alone. 

They were also responsible for strictly implementing other hardline interpretations of Islam, such as compulsory attendance at prayers, and no trimming of beards for men. 

A new Taliban government announced two weeks ago had no women members or even a ministry to represent their interests but included an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice

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