Afghan women were forbidden to go to university, campuses were blocked by armed guards

Hundreds of young women were prevented by armed guards from entering a university campus in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a day after Taliban authorities banned already disenfranchised young women from pursuing higher education. Despite international condemnation, the decision further restricts their freedom.

Hundreds of young women were prevented from entering university campuses in Afghanistan on Wednesday, December 21, the day after armed guards barred Afghan women from receiving higher education after the Taliban took power.

A day ago, Higher Education Minister Neda Muhammad Nadeem in a letter addressed to the entire government and the government said, “You are all aware of the coming into force of the said order suspending women’s education until further notice.” private universities in the country.

On Wednesday, AFP journalists could see groups of stunned students gathered outside the closed gates of universities in Kabul, barred by armed guards.

No explanation has yet been given to justify this decision.


On the sidewalk in Kabul, a young law student testified that he did not understand the decision, which he said showed the Taliban’s “illiterateness,” “ignorance of Islam” and “disrespect for human rights.”

Setara Farahmand, a 21-year-old student of German literature in the capital, said, “They want to force women to sit at home and give birth to children (…). That’s all. They don’t want anything more for them.” .

“We’re doomed, we’ve lost everything,” said a student guarding the schools, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from the Taliban, after the authorities’ announcement.

Many of the universities, which were closed until March due to the winter break, have remained open until now due to the final exams.

“Not only me, but all my friends are silent. We have no words to express our feelings. Everyone is thinking about the unknown future that awaits them,” the student, who did not want to be named, reacted to AFP Medina. “Hope was taken from us. They buried our dreams.”

>> Read also: Afghan women, inspired by the protests in Iran, continue their struggle

International beliefs

The United States on Tuesday condemned in the strongest possible terms a ban on girls going to university in Afghanistan, while welcoming the release of two of its citizens held in the country.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price called it a “barbaric” decision. “Taliban should expect that this decision, which is contrary to their open commitments to the people, will bring concrete results for them,” he told reporters.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “deeply concerned” by the Taliban’s ban on women going to university in Afghanistan and called on them to “ensure equal access to education”. “The Secretary-General reiterates that the denial of education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls, but will also have a devastating effect on the future of the country,” said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Qatar, a Muslim country that has played a key role in facilitating talks between the West and the Taliban, has said that everyone has the right to education and called on the Taliban to reconsider their decisions “in accordance with the teachings of Islam.”

Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that the ban has “severely damaged the credibility of the government”.

Proliferation of Draconian measures

After the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, universities were forced to introduce new rules, including separating boys and girls during class hours. Women were allowed to take lessons, but only if they were taught by women or older men.

The new ban comes less than three months after thousands of girls and women across the country took university entrance exams.

Although many of them were denied access to secondary schools, they were eager to choose between careers in engineering or medicine.

After returning to power after a 20-year war with Americans and NATO forces, the Taliban have promised to be more flexible, but they have largely returned to the ultra-strict interpretation of Islam that marked their first spell in power (1996). 2001).

Between the two Taliban regimes, girls were allowed to attend school, and although the country remained socially conservative, women were able to find work in all sectors.

But during the sixteen months, harsh measures increased, especially against women, who were gradually excluded from public life and expelled from colleges and high schools.

“We are condemned every day. When we hope for progress, we are ostracized,” lamented another student, Reha.

In an unexpected confrontation on March 23, the Taliban closed secondary schools hours after their long-announced reopening. According to a high-ranking official of the Taliban, the supreme leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, intervened in this decision.

Various members of the government have said that there are not enough teachers or money, but that the schools will reopen after an Islamic curriculum is developed.

Despite being expelled from colleges and high schools, many young women in Kabul traveled in early December to take the final high school exam needed to enter university, AFP journalists said.

Access to public works, parks, gyms is prohibited…

In addition to being deprived of education, women are barred from working in most government jobs or are paid a meager salary to stay at home.

They are also prohibited from traveling unaccompanied by a male relative and must wear a burqa or hijab when leaving home.

In November, the Taliban also banned them from entering parks, gardens, gyms and baths.

Women’s demonstrations against these events, which rarely gather more than forty people, have become a risk. Many protesters have been arrested and journalists are increasingly prevented from covering these rallies.

“The new restrictions imposed on women’s education in Afghanistan are tragic,” condemned Omar Zakhilwali, the former finance minister of the former government.

“This ban has no religious, cultural or logistical basis. This is not only a serious violation of women’s right to education, but also a deep anomaly for our country!”, he added in his tweet.

The international community has linked recognition of the Taliban regime and much-needed humanitarian and financial aid to Afghanistan with the Taliban’s respect for human rights, particularly women’s rights to education and work.

UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov said on Tuesday that the UN is “deeply concerned”.

“Education is a basic human right. A closed door to women’s education is a closed door to the future of Afghanistan,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

with AFP

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