One week later: Taliban flags hawked outside the abandoned U.S. embassy.

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One week later: Taliban flags hawked outside the abandoned U.S. embassy.

A young man sells Taliban flags at the roundabout outside the vacated U.S. embassy in Kabul, one week after the Taliban seized control of the city and American personnel were evacuated from the compound.

A pastel pink and blue mural displaying smiling girls serves as the backdrop. Dari script written on the wall reads: “I am the future of Afghanistan.”

During an earlier era of Taliban rule, officials barred women from working outside the home or leaving the house without a male guardian, eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged those who violated the group’s morality code. Since the U.S. ousted the Taliban roughly two decades ago, women and girls have rejoined society in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.

In the past week, Taliban officials have tried to reassure women that things will be different this time around. But it is far from clear whether that will be the case, and the uncertainty threatens the gains of women across Afghanistan.

Text by Matt Stevens.

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