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Taliban tells women health care workers to go back to their jobs

Two weeks after sweeping back into power in Afghanistan, the hardline Islamist Taliban have called on all women employed in the public health sector to return to work.

Two weeks after sweeping back into power in Afghanistan, the hardline Islamist Taliban have called on all women employed in the public health sector to return to work.

The Health Ministry is instructing female health care workers in the capital Kabul and provinces to go back to their jobs, a tweet by Taliban spokesman Sabiullah Mujahid said late Friday.

The ultraconservative Taliban have pledged to respect women’s rights within the limits of its interpretation of Islam, but it remains murky how women and girls will fare with the militants in control.

It is largely unclear whether women in Afghanistan will be able to continue to pursue their professions. There have only been concrete statements of support for women in the health and education sectors.

There were recently reports from the north of the country that midwives, for example, were no longer allowed to attend meetings with male doctors.

During Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women were not allowed to be treated by male doctors, which severely limited their access to health care.

In a press conference this week, Taliban spokesman Sabiullah Mujahid said working women should stay home until new rules were established. Their salaries would still be paid to them, he said.

It was unclear if he was speaking only of government employees or also of private companies. Female journalists reporting from the field have said they have been told to go home by Taliban fighters.

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