The Taliban have converted the Ministry of Women’s Affairs building into offices for the religious morality police, it has been reported.
The building in Kabul, the country’s capital, will be used bythe Ministry of Invitation, Guidance and Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which was among the most feared groups in the country under the previous rule.
According to the New York Times the ministry’s police officers became known for beating or lashing women who ventured outside their homes without a full body covering and a male escort.
They banned girls from school after primary grades and prohibited women from seeking jobs. Unwed couples risked death by stoning for adultery.
Earlier this month it was revealed that women in Afghanistan will be allowed to continue to study in universities, including at post-graduate levels, but classrooms will be gender-segregated and Islamic dress will be compulsory.
Higher education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, laid out the new policies at a news conference on Sunday, several days after Afghanistan’s new rulers formed an all-male government.
The world has been watching closely to see to what extent the Taliban might act differently from their first time in power, in the late 1990s.
During that era, girls and women were denied an education, and were excluded from public life.
Attitudes toward women
The Taliban have suggested they have changed, including in their attitudes toward women.
However, they have used violence in recent days against women protesters demanding equal rights.
Mr Haqqani said the Taliban did not want to turn the clock back 20 years.
“We will start building on what exists today,” he said.
However, female university students will face restrictions under the Taliban, including a compulsory dress code.
Mr Haqqani said hijabs will be mandatory but did not specify if this meant compulsory headscarves or also compulsory face coverings.
Gender segregation will also be enforced, he said.
“We will not allow boys and girls to study together,” he said.
“We will not allow co-education.”
Mr Haqqani said the subjects being taught in universities would also be reviewed but did not elaborate.
The Taliban, who subscribe to a harsh interpretation of Islam, have banned music and art during their previous time in power.