Taliban Explains Why Afghan Women Have Been Banned From Universities

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Universities in Afghanistan have been declared off-limits to female students. (File)

Kabul: The Taliban higher education minister said on Thursday that the university had been declared off-limits to women after female students failed to follow instructions such as the proper 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 global outrage, including from Muslim countries that deemed it contrary to Islam, and from seven major democracies who said the ban could amount to a “crime against humanity.”

However, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, the Taliban government’s minister for higher education, claimed Thursday that the female students had ignored Islam’s directives.

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

“They were dressed like they were going to a wedding. Girls coming from home to college were not following the hijab instructions.”

Nadeem also said some science subjects are not suitable for women. “Engineering, agriculture, and some other courses do not match the dignity and honor of female students and the culture of Afghanistan,” he said.

Authorities have also decided to close the madrasas housed inside the mosque, which used to teach only female students, Nadeem said.

The ban on college education came less than three months after thousands of female students were allowed to take college entrance exams.

According to the Taliban, secondary schools for girls have been closed in most parts of the country for more than a year, and are also temporarily closed.

Since the Taliban’s return, women have been slowly shut out of public view, kicked out of many government jobs, or paying a fraction of their former salary to stay home.

They are also prohibited from traveling without male relatives, must hide in public, and are not allowed to go to parks, fairs, gyms or public baths.

The Taliban’s treatment of women, including its recent move to restrict women’s access to universities, has elicited fierce reactions from the G7, with G7 ministers calling for the ban to be lifted.

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

“Taliban policies designed to exclude women from public view affect how our country engages with them.”

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

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

However, Nadeem hit back at the international community, saying, “We should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.”

– rare protest –

Earlier Thursday, a group of Afghan women held street protests in Kabul against the ban.

“They kicked women out of colleges. Oh respected people, support, support. Rights for all or rights for everyone!” called out to the participants.

A rally participant told AFP that “some girls” had been arrested by female police officers. Two have since been released and two remain in custody, she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Women-led protests have become increasingly rare in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, especially since the detention of a key activist earlier this year.

Participants risk being arrested, beaten and stigmatized by their families by participating.

When the Taliban came to power, they promised more flexible rules, but have tightened restrictions on all aspects of women’s lives.

After being taken over, the university was forced to implement new rules, including gender-segregated classrooms and entrances, but women were only allowed to be taught by same-sex professors or old men.

According to some Taliban officials, the Taliban adhere to strict Islam, and the movement’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akunzada, and his inner circle of clergymen oppose modern education, especially for girls and women. there is

In the two decades between the Taliban’s two reigns, the country remained socially conservative, although girls were allowed to attend school and women could seek employment in all sectors.

Authorities have also returned to public flogging of men and women in recent weeks as they implement extreme interpretations of Islamic Shariah law.

(Except for the headline, this article is unedited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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