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Taliban bans women from universities, sparking outrage

Taliban bans women from universities, sparking outrage

The Taliban have barred women from attending universities in Afghanistan, sparking international condemnation and despair among the country’s youth.

On Tuesday, the higher education minister announced the reversal, stating that it would take effect immediately.

The ban restricts women’s education even further; girls have already been barred from secondary schools since the Taliban’s return last year.

On Wednesday, some women protested in Kabul, the capital.

“Today, we are taking to the streets of Kabul to protest the closure of the girls’ universities,” said protesters from the Afghanistan Women’s Unity and Solidarity group.

The small protests were quickly dispersed by Taliban officials.

Female students have expressed their distress to the BBC. “They destroyed the only bridge that could have connected me to my future,” said one Kabul University student.

“How should I respond? I thought I could study to change my future or bring light into my life, but they destroyed it.”

Another student described herself as a woman who had “lost everything,” according to the BBC.

She had been studying Sharia Islamic law and argued the Taliban’s order contradicted “the rights that Islam and Allah have given us”.

“They must travel to other Islamic countries and demonstrate that their actions are not Islamic,” she told the BBC.

The United Nations and several countries have condemned the order, which returns Afghanistan to the Taliban’s first period of the rule when girls were not allowed to attend formal school.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation in Afghanistan, it is “a new low that further violates the right to equal education and deepens the erasure of women from Afghan society.”

The US said such a move would “come with consequences for the Taliban”.

“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans,” State Department Secretary Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“No country can thrive if half of its people are held back.”

All year, Western countries have demanded that the Taliban improve female education if they want to be recognized as Afghanistan’s government.

However, the foreign minister of neighboring Pakistan said that while he was “disappointed” by the Taliban’s decision, he still advocated for engagement.

“Despite many setbacks in women’s education and other areas, I still believe the easiest path to our goal is through Kabul and the interim government,” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

After seizing power last year following the US withdrawal from the country, the Taliban promised a softer rule. However, the country’s hardline Islamists have continued to erode women’s rights and freedoms.

Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s leader, and his inner circle have been staunchly opposed to modern education, particularly for girls and women.

More moderate officials have spoken out against this stance, and analysts say it has been a source of contention all year.

However, the education ministry announced on Tuesday that its scholars had evaluated the university curriculum and environment and that girls’ attendance would be suspended “until a suitable environment” was provided.

It added that it would soon provide such a setting and “citizens should not be worried.”

However, the Taliban promised to reopen some high schools for girls in March but then canceled the move on the day they were supposed to return.

The crackdown comes on the heels of a slew of new restrictions on women in recent months. Women were barred from the capital’s parks, gyms, and public baths in November.

According to an Afghan activist and university lecturer in the United States, the Taliban has completed their isolation of women by suspending university for them.

“The Taliban had no choice but to do this. Afghanistan is a cage for women rather than a country for women “According to Humaira Qaderi of the BBC.

Only three months ago, the Taliban allowed thousands of girls and women to take university entrance exams in most provinces across the country.

However, there were limitations on the subjects they could apply for, with engineering, economics, veterinary science, and agriculture all being barred, and journalism severely restricted.

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Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, universities had been operating under anti-women policies since the Taliban took over in 2021.

Gender-segregated entrances and classrooms existed, and female students could only be taught by female professors or elderly men.

Women, on the other hand, continued to be educated. According to Unesco, female enrollment in higher education increased 20 times between 2001 and 2018 – the period between Taliban rule.

Several women have told the BBC they gave up after the Taliban regained rule because of “too many difficulties.”

Source: BBC News

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