Kabul. Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers on Saturday forcibly evicted World Bank program workers from a building that once housed the ministry of women’s affairs and set up a ministry of “propaganda of good faith” and “prevention of demerit”. This is a new move by the Taliban to impose restrictions on women’s rights, just a month after they took over Kabul and came to government. The Taliban denied girls and women their right to education and banned their public life during their reign in the 1990s. Meanwhile, three people were killed and 20 others injured in blasts targeting Taliban vehicles in the eastern provincial capital Jalalabad on Saturday, eyewitnesses said.
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No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic State militants are headquartered in the area and are enemies of the Taliban. A new development took place outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul when it was announced that it would now be the ‘Ministry of Preaching and Guidance and Virtue Propagation and Demerit Prevention’. The World Bank’s $100 million Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program was closed on Saturday at the grassroots level. Program member Sharif Akhtar gave this information, who is among those being removed. Mabouba Suraj, who heads the Afghan Women’s Network, said she was shocked by the Taliban government’s orders banning women and girls. Meanwhile, the Taliban-run education ministry asked boys in grades VI to 12 to accompany their male teachers to school from Saturday, but there was no mention of girls attending these classes. Earlier, the Higher Education Minister had said that girls would be given equal right to education. Suraj speculated that the contradictory statement might reflect a split in the Taliban. Afghan-American Suraj, who returned to Afghanistan in 2003 to promote women’s rights and education, said many of her fellow activists had left the country. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay on Saturday added her voice to growing concern over the Taliban only asking boys to attend school and the Taliban’s ban on girls. In his statement, arriving in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly session, Azule said, “If this ban continues, the basic right to education for girls and women will be violated.” The flight departed from Kabul airport with 322 passengers, while a flight to Iran with 187 passengers departed. An airport official gave this information.