Reuters- image sourceReuters
Working women in Afghanistan must stay at home until proper systems are in place to ensure their safety, a Taliban spokesman has told reporters.
“It’s a very temporary procedure,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
The Taliban, which enforced a strict version of Islamic law when they ran Afghanistan before 2001, retook full control of the country nine days ago.
The UN has highlighted “credible” reports of abuses by Taliban, including executions and restrictions on women.
UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said on Tuesday that women’s rights were a “fundamental red line” and urged UN members to create a dedicated body to monitor human rights in Afghanistan.
Other rights violations, including restrictions on women and recruiting child soldiers, were also reported, she told the UN Human Rights Council.
But later on Tuesday the Taliban spokesman said any restrictions on working women would be short-lived.
“Our security forces are not trained (in) how to deal with women – how to speak to women (for) some of them,” Mr Mujahid told a news conference in Kabul. “Until we have full security in place… we ask women to stay home.”
He added that Afghan nationals were no longer being allowed to go to Kabul airport because of the chaotic situation there.
Mr Mujahid urged Afghan nationals who have been trying to reach the airport to go home and asked the US not to encourage them to leave. About 50,000 foreigners and Afghans have fled the country via Kabul airport since the Taliban seized power.
The spokesman denied that people were being targeted for reprisals. “We have forgotten everything in the past,” he said.
Since their return to power following a lightning offensive as US and other foreign troops withdrew, the militants have tried to convey a more restrained image, promising rights for women and girls and some freedom of speech.
Thousands of people are still massing at Kabul airport, hoping to flee the country before 31 August. That is the deadline set by US President Joe Biden for American troops to leave Afghanistan. The UK, France and Germany have asked for an extension.
However, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has admitted that Mr Biden is unlikely to move the deadline. The Taliban have warned of unspecified consequences if he does.
Mr Biden is holding talks with leaders of the other G7 leading industrial countries on Tuesday.
Without the US, which currently secures and operates the international airport, UK government ministers say evacuations from the airport cannot continue.
Thousands of people including British citizens, other foreign nationals and Afghans eligible for resettlement abroad are still waiting to get out.
Khalid, an Afghan who worked as an interpreter for the British Army, told the BBC about his relief – tinged with sadness – at leaving the country. He and his family are now in the north of England.
“When you leave your country, your people, especially your sister, your brothers, your mother, your everyone… because of those things I was sad, but now I am happy in the UK,” he said.
Even before the Taliban retook control, more than 550,000 people had been forced to flee their homes this year due to fighting, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
Meanwhile, the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) held a secret meeting in Kabul with Taliban founder Mullah Baradar, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
If confirmed, it would be the highest-level meeting so far between the US and the Taliban since the fall of Kabul and the removal of the US-backed government.