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Women's employment falls under the Taliban

In a small tailoring workshop in Kabul, 29-year-old Afghan entrepreneur Sohaila Noori looks on as her dramatically reduced workforce of around 30 women sew scarves, dresses and baby clothes.

A few months ago, before the hardline Islamist Taliban movement seized power in August, she employed more than 80 people, mostly women, across three different textile workshops.

"In the past, we had so much work to do," said Noori, who was determined to keep her business running in order to employ as many women as she could. "We had different types of contracts, we could easily pay a salary to our master tailors and other workers, but currently we have no contracts."

Making matters worse, the Taliban will only allow women to work subject to their interpretation of Islamic law, prompting some to leave jobs out of fear of punishment by a group that severely restricted their freedom the last time it ruled.

Hard-won gains in women's rights over the last two decades have been quickly reversed, and reports from international rights experts and labour organisations this week painted a bleak picture for female employment and access to public space.

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