Taliban asks all male students in grades six to 12 and male teachers to resume classes and appears to have shut down Ministry of Women's Affairs and replaced it with a department known for enforcing harsh rules.

Young students walk along a roadside as they return to their home in Kabul on September 14, 2021.
Young students walk along a roadside as they return to their home in Kabul on September 14, 2021. (AFP)

Taliban has ordered all male students in grades six to 12 and male teachers to resume classes across Afghanistan, starting on Saturday, effectively banning girls from secondary school.

The statement published by the education ministry of Facebook on Friday did not include girls of that age, and the lack of guidance highlights ongoing concerns that the Taliban might impose restrictions on girls and women.

Since taking over power last month, the Taliban had allowed girls in grades one to six to resume classes. When they ruled Afghanistan previously in the 1990s, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from attending school and work.

In some of the provinces, women still are not allowed to continue their work, with exceptions for women who have worked in health departments, hospitals and education.

READ MORE: Can the Taliban 'really' give the Afghan woman her Islamic rights?

Taliban replaces Women's Ministry with Vice Department

Workers in the Afghan capital Kabul replaced signs for the country's Women's Ministry with those for the Taliban's moral police, as female former employees of the department said they had been locked out of the building.

A sign for the building was covered by a replacement in a mixture of Dari and Arabic, reading "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" on Friday, according to photographs and Reuters news agency witnesses.

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.

READ MORE: Afghan universities welcome students in the new Taliban era

'What should an Afghan woman do?'

Several posts have appeared on Twitter in the last 24 hours showing women workers from the ministry protesting outside the building, saying they had lost their jobs.

"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 respond to requests for comment on Friday.

During 1996-2001 Taliban's Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice became known as the group's moral police, enforcing harsh rules that included a strict dress code and public executions and floggings.

A list of cabinet posts announced by the Taliban on September 7 included an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice and made no mention of a women's minister, but the group did not confirm the department had been disbanded.

A senior Taliban leader said earlier this week that women would not be allowed to work in government ministries with men. 

READ MORE: Taliban: Afghan women can study in gender-segregated universities

Source: TRTWorld and agencies