The Taliban enforced their latest gender segregation restriction on at least two hospitals in Kabul, based on which male and female health workers aren’t allowed to talk with each other, work in the same office, or treat the opposite gender patients, sources from the hospitals told Rukhshana Media.
The Taliban haven’t officially made any announcement yet. But Rukhshana Media has been able to confirm that gender segregation has already been fully enforced in Jamhuriat and Child Health hospitals in Kabul.
Sahar, a nurse working at a hospital, said she and her colleagues were informed about the Taliban’s gender segregation plan in the workplace on July 10.
“The head of the hospital told us that the Taliban will no longer allow us to work together and visit male patients,” she said.
The Taliban also forced female health workers to wear long black hijab underneath their white hospital coat they normally put on when they are on duty.
Sahar, who is also doing an internship at another hospital, said a similar order was communicated to that hospital too.
“Male and female doctors do not have the right to see each other, not even by chance, they should not say hello or talk to each other,” she said about the Taliban have ordered. “They(women) are obliged to perform their duties separately, and this warning by the Taliban is worrying for us.”
Sahar said the Taliban have warned if they catch male and female health workers in the same place or even in the same patients’ room, “we will immediately officiate their nikah.”
Nikah is the religious term for marriage in Islam.
The Taliban have so far imposed gender segregation regulations on universities and recreation centers. Female and male students aren’t allowed to go to universities on the same days of the week. The same has been imposed on public parks.
Afghanistan’s health care system is on the verge of collapse following the Taliban takeover due to the lack of funding and professional health workers. The recent gender segregation restrictions may even put further pressure on the health system and impact the quality of services negatively.
Malalai, a female doctor at a hospital in Kabul, said once the Taliban’s Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Propagation of Vice agents came and took photos of the female doctors in surgical uniform in the operation room and then met the head of the relevant department, asking him to fire the doctors for not wearing proper hijab.
But the head of the department resisted and didn’t fire anyone.
“We women are like objects in the eyes of the Taliban,” Malalai said. “Despite all the problems and restrictions imposed on women, we still resist.
“But one day we may stop performing our duty due to the fear of the Taliban,” she added, “And prefer to take refuge in the corners of our homes.”
*Names are pseudonyms.