The Taliban appears to have shut Afghanistan’s Ministry for Women’s Affairs and replaced it with a department for the group’s notorious moral police.
Workers in Kabul put up new signs reading "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" at the building that previously housed the ministry.
The new name came as female former employees of the department said they had been locked out of the building.
The Taliban's feared Department for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice imposed a severe interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001.
Morality enforcers from the ministry put harsh restrictions on women and patrolled the streets, shutting down shops and markets at prayer time. People were punished for listening to music, dancing, flying kites and even having American-style haircuts.
The announcement of last week's interim government disclosed that the ministry was to be revived.
Female employees at the Women's Ministry said they had been trying to come to work for several weeks only to be told to return to their homes, according to videos filmed outside the building seen by Reuters.
The gates of the building were finally locked on Thursday, one of the women said.
"I am the only breadwinner in my family," said a second woman, who also said she worked in the department. "When there is no ministry, what should an Afghan woman do?"
Taliban spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
When the Taliban, which seized control of Afghanistan last month amid the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, were last in power, 20 years ago, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education.
A list of cabinet posts announced by the Taliban on September 7 included an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, and made no mention of a women's minister, but the group did not confirm the department had been disbanded.
A senior Taliban leader said this week that women would not be allowed to work in government ministries with men.
Meanwhile, the Taliban's education ministry said all male students aged 11 and above should return to the classroom on Saturday, but the statement gave no indication of what girls should do.
Secondary school classes for both boys and girls have been suspended since the Taliban takeover.