In the aftermath of the authorities’ announcement, armed guards prevented young women from entering university campuses across the country.
Hundreds of young women were prevented Wednesday, December 21 by armed guards from entering university campuses in Afghanistan, the day after the authorities’ decision to ban higher education for young women, already deprived of secondary education.
Since the accession to power of Islamic fundamentalists, women have seen their freedom increasingly restricted despite international condemnations. AFP journalists saw a group of students gathered outside the closed gates of the university entrance in Kabul, also blocked by armed guards, to prevent them from entering.
“We are doomed we have lost everything“Said a student refusing to be identified. The men also shared the distress of the female students. “This illustrates their illiteracy and ignorance in Islam as well as the lack of respect for human rightssaid a student refusing on condition of anonymity.
“Hope has been taken away from us”
On Tuesday, Taliban authorities announced that Afghan universities were now barred to girls in a letter to all government and private universities in the country. Ministry spokesman Zibullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, also confirmed the indefinite measure to AFP. No explanation has yet been provided to justify this decision.
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Universities are closed due to winter holidays and are expected to reopen in March. “Not only me, but all my friends are speechless. We have no words to express our feelings. Everyone thinks about the unknown future that awaits“Reacted Madina, a student on condition of anonymity.
“Hope has been taken away from us. They buried our dreams“, commented the desperate student to AFP. After the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, universities were forced to adopt new rules, in particular to separate girls and boys during class hours. The fairer sex was allowed to receive lessons, but only if they were taught by women or elderly men.
“Doomed every day”
The new ban comes less than three months after thousands of girls and women took university entrance exams across the country. Many of them aspired to choose between careers in engineering or medicine, although deprived of access to secondary schools.
When they returned to power after 20 years of war with the Americans and NATO forces, the Taliban had promised to be more flexible, but they returned to the ultra-rigorous interpretation of Islam that had marked their first passage to power (1996-2001).
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For 16 months, liberticidal measures have multiplied, in particular against women who have been gradually excluded from public life and excluded from colleges and high schools. “We are doomed, every day. While we hoped to progress, we are isolated from societyLamented Tuesday Reha, another student.
In an unexpected about-face, on March 23, the Taliban had closed secondary schools just hours after their long-announced reopening. Various members of power had said that there were not enough teachers or money but also that schools would reopen once an Islamic curriculum was developed.
As well as being deprived of education, women are also banned from most government jobs or paid a pittance to stay at home. They are also prohibited from traveling without being accompanied by a male relative and must wear a burqa or hijab when leaving their homes. In November, the Taliban also banned them from entering parks, gardens, sports halls and public baths.
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Protests by women have become risky. Many protesters have been arrested and journalists are increasingly prevented from covering these rallies. The international community has linked recognition of the Taliban regime and much-needed humanitarian and financial aid to Afghanistan with the Taliban’s respect for human rights, especially women’s rights to education and work.
UN and United States condemn
Shahrzad Akbar, the former head of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Afghanistan, in exile abroad, reacted on Twitter: Under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan has become a grave for the hopes and dreams of Afghans “.
The United States condemned Tuesday in the “strongest terms” a decision “barbaric“which will have”significant consequences for the Taliban“warned US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said:deeply alarmed“. “Denial of education not only violates equal rights for women and girls, but will have a devastating impact on the future of the country“, assures his spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric in a press release, while the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denounces a “serious setback“.
For its part, Pakistan said to itself “disappointedby the decision of his neighbour. His Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, however, felt that the best approach “despite many setbacks in women’s education and other things, goes through Kabul and the interim government“.
“The world is watching”
The German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, at the same time considered that the Taliban “decided to destroy the future of their own countryby forbidding Afghan women access to university and indicated that she was going to seize the G7 of this question.
“By destroying the future of girls and women in Afghanistan, the Taliban have decided to destroy the future of their own country. I will put the issue on the agenda of the G7 tomorrow“, wrote on Twitter the minister whose country chairs the G7 until the end of the year. “The world is watching“, she added to the address of Afghan officials.
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