Afghan universities have banned women because female students did not follow guidelines, including an appropriate dress code, the Taliban’s minister of higher education said Thursday.
The ban, announced in early August last year, is the latest restriction on women’s rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power.
The ban has sparked international outrage, including from Muslim countries that consider it anti-Islam and the Group of Seven industrialized democracies who said it could amount to a “crime against humanity”.
But under the Taliban government’s minister of higher education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, female students ignored Islamic guidelines – including what to wear or whether they were accompanied by a male relative when traveling.
“Unfortunately, after 14 months, the directives issued by the Ministry of Higher Education of the Islamic Emirate regarding women’s education have not been implemented,” Nadeem said in an interview on state television.
“They were dressed like they were going to a wedding, and the girls going from home to university didn’t follow the hijab rules.”
Nadeem said that some science subjects are not suitable for women. “Engineering, agriculture and some other courses do not match the respect and dignity of female students and Afghan culture,” he said.
The authorities have decided to close down those madrasahs that only teach female students but are housed in mosques, Nadeem said.
The ban on university education came less than three months after thousands of female students were allowed to sit for university entrance exams, many of whom were interested in further education and medical studies.
Girls’ high schools have been closed for more than a year — and temporarily, according to the Taliban, although they have made several excuses as to why they haven’t reopened.
Since the return of the Taliban, women have been gradually squeezed out of public life, pushed out of many government jobs or forced to stay at home on a fraction of their former wages.
They are also prohibited from traveling without a male relative and must cover up in public and are prohibited from going to parks, fairs, gyms and public baths.
The Taliban’s treatment of women, including its latest move to restrict access to universities, drew a strong response from the G7, where ministers called for the ban to be reversed.
Referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, he said, “Sexual migration can be a crime against humanity under the Rome Convention, to which Afghanistan is a state party.”
“Taliban policies designed to eliminate women from public life will have consequences for our countries’ relationship with the Taliban.”
The international community has made the right to education for all women a strong point in the negotiations on aid and recognition of the Taliban regime.
Saudi Arabia also said it was “surprised and regretful” by the Taliban’s request to withdraw the decree.
But Nadeem responded to the international community by saying, “It should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.”
– rare objections –
Last Thursday, an Afghan women protested the ban in the streets of Kabul.
“They kicked women out of the universities. Oh, the respectable public support, support, rights for all or none!” According to information obtained by AFP, the protesters were chanting in the Kabul suburbs.
A protester at the rally told Agence France-Presse that “some girls” were arrested by female police officers. Two were later released and the other two remain in prison, she added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Women-led protests in Afghanistan have become increasingly rare since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, especially after the arrest of key activists earlier this year.
Participants risk arrest, violence and estrangement from their families as a result of their participation.
When the Taliban took power, they promised a moderate regime, but imposed restrictions on all women’s lives.
After the takeover, universities were forced to implement new laws, including gender-segregated classrooms and entrances, and women were only allowed to study with same-sex professors or elders.
Some Taliban officials say the Taliban, along with the movement’s main leader Hibatullah Akunzada and internal clerics, follow a harsh version of Islam through modern education, especially for girls and women.
In the 20 years between the two Taliban regimes, girls were allowed to go to school and women were able to find work in all sectors, although the country remained socially conservative.
The authorities have also resorted to the strictest interpretation of Islamic Sharia law and have returned public floggings of men and women in recent weeks.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is from a syndicated feed.)
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