So much for prior declarations heard among Western officials of a more "moderate" Taliban... On Friday Reuters has confirmed that what was formerly the "Ministry of Women's Affairs" in Kabul has now been changed to "Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" - according to a new sign that's gone up over the ministry.
The full lengthy name of what formerly under the US-backed national government served to protect women's rights is now the "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," Reuters reports.
It appears to be the reestablishment of the 'morality police' that the Taliban had in place prior to the 2001 invasion, which was tasked with ensuring strict enforcement of sharia law in all aspects of public life, including that women wear the burka, no alcohol is possessed or consumed, and that there's a strict segregation of the sexes with the exception of family.
The virtue and vice arm of the ministry was also responsible for carrying out punishments ranging from public flogging to executions.
Reuters further notes that women had been for weeks attempting to enter the Women's Affairs ministry building but that they were consistently turned away. According to further details:
The Taliban has said that women will not be allowed to work in government ministries alongside men.
Though the group said women in Afghanistan can continue with their university studies, classes must now be segregated and head coverings are mandatory. The Taliban has ordered secondary school classes for boys to resume on Saturday, but made no mention of the future of girls’ education in the notice, according to The Guardian.
Ironically this reestablishment of what's essentially the Islamic moral police comes days after on Monday a United Nations donor conference in Geneva resulted in $1.2 billion in aid being pledged to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Absent so far has been aid from Washington, with the White House earlier saying this would be dependent on the Taliban's behavior and actions. This hasn't stopped Europe, however, form letting the aid flow - which the Taliban has promised to deliver to the people.