Afghan women holding placards to demand the protection of women's rights in front of the presidential palace in Kabul.
  • A Taliban leader said Islamic scholars will decide if women in Afghanistan can work or go to school.
  • "Our ulema will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not," he told Reuters.
  • Women in Afghanistan have shared fears that the Taliban will strip their rights.
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A Taliban leader said a group of Islamic scholars will decide whether women and girls in Afghanistan can go to work or school, in remarks appearing to contradict those made by the militant group that promised women an active role in their new regime.

"Our ulema [scholars] will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not," Taliban commander Waheedullah Hashimi told Reuters.

"They will decide whether they should wear hijab, burqa, or only [a] veil plus abaya or something or not. That is up to them."

Women in Afghanistan have shared fears that the Taliban, which last week captured most of the country as the government fell, will reimpose strict Islamic laws which were in place during their last rule between 1996 and 2001.

During that time, girls were not allowed to go to school and women were not allowed to work, and they were required by law to wear burqas. Women who broke those rules were punished by methods including beating and death by stoning, according to a US State Department report published at the time.

Hashimi's remarks on Wednesday appeared to contradict those made by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid earlier this week, who promised that women would be "very active in society."

While the Taliban have made efforts to appear moderate in recent weeks, many international and Afghan rights groups are unconvinced that they have changed significantly from their last rule, which was characterised by brutal reprisals and strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Reports are already emerging that the Taliban are preventing women from working. Shabnam Dawran, a female Afghan presenter at RTA, said she was told by members of the group to "go home" after she arrived for work. "The regime has changed," they said, according to her report.

The Taliban have also been implicated in a series of bombings this year, including a triple bomb attack on a high school that girls attended. The bombing in West Kabul killed 85 people, mostly teenage girls, and left a further 140 wounded.

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