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© Reuters. Screengrab taken from social media. A protest by women in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 16, 2021. Video taken September 16, 2021. ZAKIA KAWYAN/via REUTERS

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By Alasdair Pal

(Reuters) – Workers in the Afghan capital Kabul replaced signs for the country’s women’s ministry with those for the Taliban’s moral police on Friday, as female former employees of the department said they had been locked out of the building.

According to photographs taken by Reuters witnesses, a sign marking the building had been covered in a mix of Dari-Arabic and reading, “Ministries of Prayer, Guidance, and the Promotion of Virtue, and Prevention of Vice.”

According to videos taken by Reuters outside, employees of female gender claimed they were trying to reach work for many weeks but that they were being told to return home.

According to one woman, the doors were finally closed on Thursday.

A second woman said that she was also the sole breadwinner of her family and worked at the same department. What should an Afghan woman do when there’s no ministry?

Taliban representatives did not return requests to comment Friday.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the chaos that followed the departure of U.S. troops last month. During this time, girls could not attend school, and they were prohibited from working and learning.

The group’s Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice was known as its moral police. It enforced strict dress codes, public executions and floggings and also maintained strict adherence to sharia.

The Taliban announced a list of cabinet positions on Sept. 7, including an acting minister for virtue promotion and prevention and did not mention a woman’s minister. However, the Taliban didn’t confirm that the division had been disbanded.

A Taliban leader claimed earlier in the week that women wouldn’t be allowed to share government ministry positions with men.

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