The Islamist ruler said female NGO workers violated Shari’a law by not wearing hijabs. It comes days after the Taliban banned women from attending universities since they regained power. Women who were prevented from going to work told the news portal of their fear and helplessness. One person, who said he was the household’s main one, asked: “If I can’t go to work, who will support my family?”Another one claimed to adhere to the Taliban’s strict dress code for women. “This news is shocking,” she said. “I am confused about what will happen in my life.”A third woman questioned the Taliban’s “Islamic morality” and said she was now struggling to pay bills and feed her children.
“The world is watching us, but we are not doing anything,” said another respondent, whose name has not been released by the BBC to protect the woman. Saturday’s order was announced in a letter from the economy ministry to national and international NGOs. A Taliban spokesman confirmed the ruling remains in force until further notice. However, it was not immediately clear whether this would affect UN agencies. The letter threatened to revoke the licenses of organizations that did not comply promptly. If NGOs were only allowed to hire men, Afghan women would likely not get direct help. Another rule prevents men from working alongside women. There are concerns that this could exacerbate widespread problems such as infant mortality in countries where foreign funding for health care is drying up.
Amnesty International’s South Asia division described the ban as “another deplorable attempt to erase women from Afghanistan’s political, social, and economic space”. A ban on women attending Afghan universities earlier this week drew a similar outcry, sparking protests including Saturday in Herat, which was quickly quelled. Since the Taliban regained control of the country last year, they have steadily restricted women’s rights, even though their rule was promised to be milder than the regime of the 1990s. Girls’ secondary schools remain closed in most states. Women were also barred from entering parks and gyms.