Taliban bans women and girls from attending universities in Afghanistan

The Taliban’s de facto authorities on Tuesday banned women and girls from attending universities and from getting higher education in Afghanistan, according to the letter released by the Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education.

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Tuesday’s order, which is effectively immediately, completed all the restrictions the Taliban imposed on Afghan woman’s life in the 1990s, taking Afghanistan and Afghan women nearly three decades back.

“Based on cabinet decision…education for women is suspended until further notice,” reads the statement tweeted by ministry spokesman Hafiz Hashimi. “The decision should be implemented immediately.”

The Taliban captured power over 15 months ago and immediately deprived girls of their fundamental rights by banning secondary education for grades six and above. But women were allowed to attend universities in a gender-segregated class. No country in the world currently recognizes the Taliban government.

Rumors of closing universities have been circulating on Afghan social media since a new leader was appointed for the ministry of higher education position. Mawlawi Neda Muhamad is considered a Taliban hardliner and was picked by the supreme leader for the position.

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In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. “condemns in the strongest terms the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities, keep secondary schools closed to girls, and continue to impose other restrictions on the ability of women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“No other country in the world bars women and girls from receiving an education,” Blinken said. 

Ambassador Robert Wood, alternative U.S. representative for special political affairs, also issued a response to the Taliban’s decision at a United Nations Security Council briefing.

“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this absolutely indefensible position. The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls. We will continue to work with this Council to speak with one voice on this issue.”

Fawzia Koofi, a member of Parliament in the republic government, spoke with CBS News and called the decision tragic. Koofi also warned the world to get serious about the Taliban.

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“Since one year (ago), the Taliban have continuously made their restrictions tougher every day on women, but in return, they get a lot of political support and privilege from the world,” Koofi said. “There is no political pressure and they get $40 million every week, and why should they care about human rights and women rights?”

Koofi also told CBS News, “I think it is time for the world, before another 9/11 happens, to get serious on this issue and impose sanctions on Taliban individuals.”

A woman named Shamsia, who wanted to be referred to by her first name only, is attending a government-run university. She said her worst nightmare is to be banned from the university.

“It was my every night nightmare,” she told CBS News. “And today, I can see that nightmare in daylight with my eyes open.”

Pamela Falk contributed reporting from the United Nations.




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