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Taliban Tells Working Women To Cover Up -- Even With A Blanket

Afghan women pass a Taliban fighter on a street Kabul on February 13.

The Taliban's religious police have told working women in Afghan government departments that they must cover up or they may face losing their jobs.

The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on February 22 said in a proclamation that women should not report to work unless they were properly covered.

It was not immediately clear why the statement was issued at this time. Most women in Afghanistan have always covered their heads in public.

They can wear "any other sort of hijab. It is up to them, but they must [cover up] properly...even wear a blanket," a ministry spokesman told AFP.

Most women have been banned from their government jobs since the Taliban retook power in mid-August.

But Taliban leaders have claimed they will be allowed to return to work when what they call proper conditions have been established, such as segregated office space.

Since the Taliban seized power, Western officials and activists, along with some inside Afghanistan, have expressed concerns about women’s rights under the extreme conservative rule of the Islamist Taliban leadership.

Women’s rights were severely restricted during the Taliban's first stint in power until they were driven from government by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Based on reporting by AFP