Monday, June 5, 2023

Taliban says ban on entry of women to Afghanistan’s universities

Afghanistan’s Taliban-run Ministry of Higher Education has said female students will not be allowed to enter the country’s universities until further notice.

Afghan public and private universities were instructed to immediately suspend access to female students, according to a cabinet decision in a letter confirmed by a spokesman for the higher education ministry on Tuesday.

A letter issued to all government and private universities signed by Higher Education Minister Neda Mohammed Nadeem said, “You all are hereby informed to immediately implement the mentioned order suspending women’s education until further notice.”

Latest Taliban ban on female education likely to raise concern in international community [File: EPA]

Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, confirmed the order to several news agencies, including AFP and the Associated Press.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric described the move as “disturbing”.

“This is clearly another broken promise of the Taliban,” Dujarric told reporters on Tuesday.

“We have seen since their takeover … a decrease in access for women, not only to education, but to public areas,” she said.

“This is another very disturbing step and it is difficult to imagine how a country can develop, deal with all the challenges without the active participation of women and their education.”

The announcement came during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Afghanistan in New York. Both the United States and the British UN envoy condemned the move during a council meeting.

UN Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said, “The Taliban cannot expect to be legitimate members of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.” “

‘Feeling this pain’

The Taliban have defended their decision, saying such restrictions have been imposed in the “national interest” and to preserve the “dignity” of women.

Several Taliban officials said the secondary education ban was only temporary, but they also offered excuses for the closure – from lack of funds to the time needed to remodel the curriculum along Islamic lines.

It has banned women from most fields of employment, ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public, and banned them from parks and gyms.

The University sanctions were confirmed the same evening as a UN Security Council session on Afghanistan, in which Roza Otunbayeva, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said that the closure of schools “weakened” the Taliban administration’s ties with the international community. have become ,

“As long as girls are kept out of school and de facto authorities continue to disregard other perceived concerns of the international community, we remain at an impasse,” she said.

Meanwhile, Obaidullah Bahir, founder of the Let Afghan Girls Learn campaign, said the move was “like an over and over again nightmare that is being passed down from generation to generation”.

Bahir told Al Jazeera, “The Taliban chose the day and time that the UN Security Council was discussing something in Afghanistan to announce something like this.”

“There is tension within the Taliban… even those opposed to this decision have been very passive,” he said.

“We kept relying on the Taliban to reform internally – it didn’t work,” Bahir said.

The decision comes at a time when many students of the university are appearing for term-end exams. A mother of a university student, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said her daughter was moved to tears when she heard about the letter, fearing she could no longer continue her medical studies in Kabul .

“The pain that not only I … more [other] Mother is in our heart, it cannot be described. We all are feeling this pain. They are worried about the future of their children.

The country is grappling with a humanitarian crisis, with more than half the population facing starvation. In addition to sanctions imposed by Western countries, humanitarian aid and the Afghan central bank’s assets worth about $10 billion have been frozen.

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