Kabul, Afghanistan — Taliban security forces in the Afghan capital on Wednesday enforced a higher education ban for women by blocking their access to universities, with video obtained by The Associated Press showing women crying and comforting each other outside a campus in Kabul.
From the country taliban A day earlier, the rulers ordered women across the country to stop attending public and private universities with immediate effect and until further notice. The Taliban-led administration has not explained the reason for the ban or reacted to the fierce and swift global condemnation.
Journalists saw Taliban forces in front of four Kabul universities on Wednesday. The forces prevented the entry of some women and allowed others to enter and finish their work. They also tried to prevent photography, filming and demonstrations from taking place.
Rahimullah Nadeem, a spokesman for Kabul University, confirmed that classes for women had stopped. He said some women were allowed on campus for paperwork and administrative reasons, and four graduation ceremonies were held on Wednesday.
Members of an activist group called Afghanistan Women’s Unity and Solidarity rallied outside the private Edrak University in Kabul on Wednesday morning, chanting slogans in Dari.
“Don’t politicize education!” they said. “Again the university is prohibited for women, we do not want to be eliminated!”
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule that would respect the rights of women and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, since seizing power in August 2021.
They have barred girls from attending middle and high school, barred women from most fields of employment, and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also prohibited from entering parks and gyms.
A letter shared by Higher Education Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashmi on Tuesday told public and private universities to implement the ban as soon as possible and inform the ministry once it is in effect.
The move is certain to hurt the Taliban’s efforts to win international recognition for its government and aid from potential donors at a time when Afghanistan is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis. The international community has urged Taliban leaders to reopen schools and give women their right to public space.
Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan, all Muslim countries, expressed disappointment at the university ban and urged the authorities to withdraw or reconsider their decision.
Qatar played a key role in facilitating the negotiations that led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan last year. She called on the “Afghan interim government” to review the ban in line with Islam’s teachings on women’s education.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Tuesday night that no other country in the world prohibits women and girls from receiving an education.
“The Taliban cannot hope to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of everyone in Afghanistan,” he warned. “This decision will have consequences for the Taliban.”
On Wednesday, the US State Department issued a joint statement with the UK, Canada, the European Union and other Western allies warning that the ban further isolates Afghanistan’s rulers from the international community.
The head of the UN agency that promotes women’s rights, Sima Bahous, said in a statement that the measure was part of a “comprehensive attack on women’s rights in Afghanistan” and called for its immediate reversal.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the university ban for women in a tweet.
Abdallah Abdallah, a senior leader of the former US-allied government in Afghanistan, described universal education as a “fundamental” right. He urged the country’s Taliban leadership to reconsider the decision.
Afghan political analyst Ahmad Saeedi said the latest decision by the Taliban authorities may have closed the door on gaining international acceptance.
“The issue of recognition is over,” he said. “The world is now trying to find an alternative. The world tried to engage more, but they (the Taliban) don’t let the world talk to them about recognition.”
Saeedi said she believes most Afghans favor female education because they consider learning to be a religious mandate contained in the Koran.
He said the decision to exclude women from universities was likely made by a handful of senior Taliban figures, including leader Hibatullah Akhunzada, who are based in the southwestern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement.
He said the main center of power is Kandahar, rather than the Taliban-led government in Kabul, even if the ministers of justice, higher education and so-called “virtue and vice” had also been involved in the decision to ban women. universities
UN experts said last month that the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan may amount to a crime against humanity and should be investigated and prosecuted under international law.
They said the Taliban’s actions against women deepened existing rights violations, which are already “the most draconian in the world,” and may amount to gender-based persecution, which is a crime against humanity.
Taliban authorities have denied the accusation.
Associated Press journalist Riazat Butt contributed from Islamabad.