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The Ministry of the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue

Brandon Arakawa
    The Ministry of the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue (PVPV) is an organization found in many Islamic nations which seeks to carry out Sharia law, Islam’s religious code of conduct. In particular, this ministry was present in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, and was reinstated under President Karzai, though under perhaps more moderate conduct.  Under Taliban rule, the PVPV was notorious for its strict and somewhat questionable enforcement of Sharia law, especially in terms of its treatment of women and
perspective on education.

Ministry's Treatment of Women

    The Taliban's version of the PVPV imposed extensive regulations on women. Women were not allowed to leave their homes without an appropriate male escort, they were forbidden to put on nail polish in public, and they could not be seen without wearing the chadri.
    For more information on limitations on women, see
Treatment of Afghanistan Women.
    Though women for the most part followed this code of conduct out of fear, the ministry continued to abuse their power and mistreated women. Throughout the Taliban rule, there were numerous reports of PVPV brutality, including public lashings of women for not being properly dressed and even punishments for raped women for committing adultery. In one instance,
    Nadra, a very sick young woman waited at the corner of a pharmacy for her medication, ampoule, and boiling water to be prepared. Meanwhile, two men from the "Department of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" who had been scrutinizing Nadra at length entered the pharmacy. After injecting the medication, the woman rubbed her thigh, wating to cover it. Without question, the thugs of the Department attacked the innocent lady, claiming that she was guilty of adultery. After beating the doctor, the Taliban took both of the innocents away. The poor woman insisted that she was absolutely sinless, but the Taliban ignored her and took her to the Department where she was promptly imprisoned. (Account provided by Saleema of RAWA)


Afghan woman being publically punished by Taliban
There were also several accounts of women forced into beggary and prostitution due to the harsh enforcements of mandates by the PVPV. Since the fall of the Taliban, conditions for women have improved slightly, but the contemporary PVPV seems to still pose problems for women in Afghanistan today.

Ministry's Effects on Education

Afghan School Girls
The teaching of Christianity was prohibited by the PVPV under Taliban rule. Violators were arrested and beaten. The majority of the PVPV attacks on schools and various educational institutions seem to result from the unwillingness to allow the education of young women. Even five years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan still has a severely threatened educational system. Due to the many attacks on the schools, there are fewer than 5% of secondary education age girls who attend classes (Lamb, 2).

Other Forms of Ministry's Brutality

    During the Taliban regime, a few accounts of PVPV brutality of men were also reported. Men who were caught with beards that were too short, or who did not pray five times a day were subject to public lashing. Men and women caught together in any way, even something like hospital staff members being in the same dining areas or operating wards, were beaten and further punished under the pretext of intermingling (Treyester, 531). The PVPV also forced minorities to wear distinctive clothing as a discriminative visual separation between Afghan Hindus and Islamic Afghans. In-depth research on specific members of the ministry also revealed that a portion of the PVPV was comprised of ex-convicts with no real qualifications to exercise policing authority.
The reference to the Taliban's Ministry of Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in The Photographer can be found on page viii in the Introduction.

Works Cited

Esfandiari, Golnaz. "Afghanistan: Proposed Morality Department Recalls Taliban Times." Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty - Free Media in Unfree Societies. 18 July 2006. Web. 28 Sept. 2011. <>.

 Lamb, Christina. "'Ministry of Vice' Fills Afghan Women with Fear - Times Online." The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion. The Sunday Times, 23 July 2006. Web. 27 Sept. 2011. <>.

 Morarjee, Rachel. "The Return of Afghanistan's Vice Squad? - TIME." Time Magazine, 20 July 2006. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.

  Saleema. "Taliban Assault on Educational Courses in Kabul." The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). 10 July 2000. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.  <>.

 Taliban May No Longer Control Afganistan, but Their Persecution of Religious Minorities Will Forever Remain a Stain on Global History, The; Treyster, David

 "Trading Afghan Womens Rights for Political Power." The Palestine Telegraph. 11 Apr. 2009. Web. 28 Sept. 2011. <>

"UN Lashes out at Taliban for Violence against Women." The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). 13 Sept. 1999. Web. 28 Sept. 2011. <>.