Taliban explain why Afghan women are barred from universities – Flying Journals

Taliban explain why Afghan women are barred from universities

Afghan universities have been banned from female students. (document)


The Taliban’s higher education minister said on Thursday that Afghan universities have been declared off-limits to women because the female students did not follow instructions including an appropriate dress code.

The ban, announced earlier this week, is the latest restriction on women’s rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power last August.

It has drawn outrage across the globe, including from Muslim countries that see it as anti-Islam, and from industrialized democracies from the Group of Seven, which say the ban could amount to a “crime against humanity”.

But Neda Mohammad Nadeem, the minister of higher education in the Taliban government, insisted on Thursday that the female students were ignoring Islamic instructions — including what to wear or being accompanied by male relatives when traveling.

“Unfortunately, after 14 months have passed, the directives of the Islamic Emirate’s Ministry of Higher Education regarding women’s education have not been implemented,” Nadeem said in an interview on state television.

“They were dressed as if they were going to a wedding. The girls who came to college from home were also not obeying the instruction to wear a hijab.”

Nadeem also said some science subjects were not suitable for women. “Engineering, agriculture and some other courses are not in line with the dignity and honor of female students, nor in line with Afghan culture,” he said.

Authorities have also decided to close madrassas that only teach female students but live inside mosques, Nadeem said.

The university education ban comes less than three months after thousands of female students, many of whom had future careers in teaching and medicine, were allowed to sit university entrance exams.

Secondary schools for girls in much of the country have been closed for more than a year – also temporarily, according to the Taliban, though they have offered a litany of excuses for not reopening.

Since the Taliban’s resurgence, women have been increasingly squeezed out of public life, forced to quit many government jobs or stay at home on a fraction of their previous wages.

They are also banned from traveling without male relatives, must disguise themselves in public, and are banned from parks, markets, gyms and public bathrooms.

The Taliban’s treatment of women, including a recent move to restrict their access to university, has drawn a sharp reaction from the G-7, with ministers from the group calling for the ban to be reversed.

“Gender-based persecution may constitute a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute, to which Afghanistan is party,” the ministers said in a statement, referring to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“Taliban policies aimed at erasing women from public life will have implications for how our country deals with the Taliban.”

The international community has made the right to education of all women a sticking point in negotiations for aid and recognition of the Taliban regime.

Saudi Arabia also expressed “surprise and regret” at the ban, urging the Taliban to withdraw it.

But Nadeem hit back at the international community, saying there should be no “interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs”.

– Rare Protest –

Earlier Thursday, a group of Afghan women staged a street protest in Kabul against the ban.

“They expel women from universities. Oh respect people, support, support. Everyone’s right or no one!” footage obtained by AFP showed protesters chanting slogans as they rallied in a Kabul neighborhood.

A protester at the rally told AFP that “some girls” had been arrested by policewomen. The two were later released and the two remain in custody, she added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Since the Taliban took over in August 2021, women-led protests have become less common in Afghanistan, especially after the detention of core activists earlier this year.

Participants risk arrest by family members, violence and stigma.

Despite the Taliban’s promise of softer rule when they seized power, the Taliban has tightened restrictions on all aspects of women’s lives.

After taking over the university, the university was forced to implement new rules, including separate classrooms and entrances for men and women, and women could only be taught by same-sex professors or older men.

Some Taliban officials say the Taliban practice an austere version of Islam and that the movement’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, and his inner circle of clerics oppose modern education, especially for girls and women.

In the 20 years between Taliban rule, girls were allowed to go to school and women were able to find jobs in various sectors, even though the country remained socially conservative.

Authorities have also resumed public caning of men and women in recent weeks for their extreme interpretations of Sharia law.

(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)

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