Taliban Ban Afghan Women From Universities – NPR
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Female students have been banned from Afghanistan’s public and private universities with immediate effect and until further notice, a Taliban government spokesman said Tuesday in the latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms.
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule that would respect the rights of women and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic or Sharia law.
They have girls banned from middle school and high schoolrestricted women from most jobs and ordered them wearing head to toe clothes in public. women are too prohibited in parks and gyms.
The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, returning to power after the chaotic US exit last year.
The decision was announced after a government meeting. A letter shared by Higher Education Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashmi told public and private universities to implement the ban as soon as possible and inform the ministry once it is in effect.
Hashmi tweeted the letter and confirmed its content in a message to The Associated Press without elaborating.
The decision is sure to hurt the Taliban’s efforts to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country 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.
The university ban comes weeks after Afghan girls took their high school graduation exams, despite having been banned from classrooms since the Taliban took over the country last year.
“I can’t fulfill my dreams, my hopes. Everything is disappearing before my eyes and I can’t do anything about it,” said a third-year journalism and communication student at Nangarhar University. She did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.
“Is being a girl a crime? If that’s the case, I wish I wasn’t a girl,” she added. “My father had dreams for me, that his daughter would become a talented journalist in the future. That is now destroyed. So tell me, how would a person feel in this situation?”
He added that he had not yet given up all hope.
“God willing, I will continue my studies in any way. I am starting studies online. And, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll have to leave the country and go to another country,” he said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the decision, calling it another “broken promise” by the Taliban and a “very worrying” move.
“It is difficult to imagine how a country can develop, can face all the challenges it has, without the active participation of women and education,” Guterres said.
Robert Wood, the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said the Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans.
Afghanistan’s UN seat is still held by the previous government headed by former President Ashraf Ghani, despite the Taliban’s request to represent the country at the United Nations, which was again recently postponed.
Afghanistan’s charge d’affaires Naseer Ahmed Faiq told the UN that the announcement “marks a new low in the violation of the most fundamental and universal human rights for all humanity.”