Taliban bans women from attending universities in Afghanistan

The Taliban had initially said it would not infringe on women's rights.

December 20, 2022, 1:56 PM

The Taliban's Ministry of Higher Education has sent an order to all private and government-run universities banning women from attending.

The order says all female students in Afghanistan should be prevented from attending universities until further orders, according to a decision made by the Taliban cabinet and senior leadership of the Islamic emirate.

Human Rights Watch immediately came out with a statement criticizing the decision, writing, "The Taliban have banned women from universities. This is a shameful decision that violates the right to education for women and girls in Afghanistan. The Taliban are making it clear every day that they don't respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women."

When the Taliban came back to power in August 2021, it made assurances that women would retain many of the rights they gained in the years following the U.S. invasion that expelled Taliban authority.

In August 2021, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, promised that women in Afghanistan would be allowed to work and study but "within the limits of Islam."

"Women will be afforded all their rights, whether it is at work or other activities, because women are a key part of society," Mujahid said. "And we are guaranteeing all their rights within the limits of Islam."

PHOTO: FILE - Female students walk in front of the Kabul Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2022.
Female students walk in front of the Kabul Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2022.
Stringer/Reuters, FILE

Many of those rights have been repealed in the year since the Taliban came to power, however.

"It has been a year of increasing disrespect for their right to live free and equal lives, denying them opportunity to livelihoods, access to health care and education and escape from situations of violence," Sima Bahous, executive director at U.N. Women, said in a report issued this August.

Girls were almost immediately banned from attending secondary school in the wake of the Taliban taking over. Last month, women were banned from going to gyms and parks.

The Taliban has also banned women from traveling alone without a male guardian, which has confined many to their homes, and re-installed the requirement all women cover themselves head to toe in public.

"This suffocating crackdown against Afghanistan's female population is increasing day by day," Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in a statement earlier this year.

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