KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Female students at private and public universities in Afghanistan are banned with immediate effect and until further notice, a spokesman for the Taliban government said Tuesday in the latest decree cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms. Said.
Despite initially promising a more liberal regime that respected the rights of women and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
He has banned girls from middle school and high school, banned women from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. There is also a ban on women going to parks and gyms.
The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and returned to power after America’s chaotic departure last year.
The decision was announced after the government meeting. A letter shared by Ziaullah Hashmi, spokesman for the ministry of higher education, asked private and public universities to implement the ban at the earliest and inform the ministry once the ban comes into force.
Hashmi tweeted the letter and confirmed its contents in a message to The Associated Press, without providing further details.
The decision hurts the Taliban’s efforts to gain recognition from potential international donors, at a time when the country is gripped by 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, even though they have been banned from classes since the Taliban took over the country last year.
“I cannot fulfill my dreams, my hopes. Everything is disappearing before my eyes and I cannot do anything about it,” said the third-year student of journalism and communication at Nangarhar University. She did not want to be identified for fear of retribution.
“Is it a crime to be a girl? If so, I wish I was not a girl,” she added. “My father had a dream for me that his daughter should become a talented journalist in the future. That is now destroyed. So, you Tell me, how would a person feel in this situation?”
She said that she has not lost all hope yet.
“God willing, I will somehow continue my studies. I am starting online studies. And if it doesn’t work, I will have to leave the country and go to another country.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the decision, calling it another “broken promise” and “very troubling” move by the Taliban.
“It is difficult to imagine how a country can develop, how to deal with all the challenges, without the active participation and education of women,” Guterres said.
Robert Wood, the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said the Taliban cannot expect to be legitimate members of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans.
Afghanistan’s UN seat is still held by the previous government led by former President Ashraf Ghani, despite the Taliban’s request to represent the country at the UN, which was recently postponed again.
Nasir Ahmad Faiq, the country’s charge of Afghanistan, said at the United Nations that the declaration “marks a new low in the violation of the most fundamental and universal human rights common to all humanity.”
Associated Press writers Riyazat Butt in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.