Taliban security forces in Afghanistan’s capital enforced a ban on women obtaining higher education by preventing them from accessing universities. The Associated Press obtained video showing the Taliban imposing a higher education ban.
A day before, the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan ordered all women to cease attending public and private universities. This was effective immediately until further notice. It hasn’t given any explanation for its ban nor reacted to international condemnation.
On Wednesday, journalists saw Taliban forces at four Kabul universities. Some women were prevented from entering the university, but others were allowed to continue their work. The forces also attempted to stop protests, photography and filming.
Rahimullah Ndeem, spokesperson for Kabul University confirmed that female students have stopped classes. According to him, some female students were permitted on campus due to administrative and paperwork reasons. Four graduation ceremonies took place Wednesday.
On Wednesday, members of the Unity and Solidarity of Afghanistan Women activist group gathered in front of the Edrak University private in Kabul to chant Dari slogans.
They said, “Do not make education politics!” They said, “Once more university has been banned for women. We don’t want to see it eliminated!”
Although they initially promised a moderater rule that would respect women’s rights, the Taliban have been widely implementing their Islamic interpretation, Sharia since August 2021.
The ban on girls in middle and high schools, as well as the banning of women from all fields of work and requiring them to dress head-to-toe in public places, has led to the exclusion and prohibitions against girls. They also ban women from gyms and parks.
Ziaullah Hashimi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education shared a letter on Tuesday in which he asked private and public universities to immediately implement the ban and inform the ministry when the ban has been implemented.
This move will likely hurt the Taliban’s efforts to gain international recognition of their government, and help from donors. At a time where Afghanistan is in worsening humanitarian crises, this is a bad sign. International community has called on Taliban leaders to open schools again and allow women to have public spaces.
Turkey, Qatar, and Pakistan, which are all Muslim nations, expressed dismay at the ban on universities and asked authorities to reconsider or withdraw their decision.
Qatar was a major player in the facilitation of the negotiations leading to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. The “Afghan Caretaker Government” was asked to reconsider the ban, in accordance with Islam’s teachings on education of women.
Late Tuesday, U.S. Secretary Of State Antony J. Blinken stated that there is no country which prohibits women or girls from obtaining an education.
He warned that the Taliban could not expect to become a member of the legitimate international community unless they respected the rights of everyone in Afghanistan. This decision could have serious consequences for Taliban.
The U.S. State Department issued a joint statement Wednesday with Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom warning that the ban would further isolate Afghanistan’s leaders from the international community.
Sima Bahous (head of U.N. agency for women’s right promotion) stated in a statement that the action was part of an “intense onslaught against women’s human rights in Afghanistan”, and demanded its immediate reverse.
Hamid Karzai (the former President of Afghanistan) strongly condemned the ban on women attending universities in a tweet.
Abdallah Abdallah was a former U.S.-allied leader who described universal education as “fundamental” rights. Abdallah Abdallah urged Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders to reconsider their decision.
Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst from Afghanistan said the Taliban’s latest move may be closing the doors to international acceptance.
He said, “The question of recognition has been resolved.” The world now seeks an alternative. While the world attempted to communicate more, they (the Taliban), won’t allow anyone to talk with them about recognition.
Saeedi stated that he thinks most Afghans support female education, as they view learning as a commandment in Islam.
According to him, the decision to ban women from university was made likely by some senior Taliban leaders, such as Hibatullah Akhunzada who is based in Kandahar (the birthplace of Taliban).
Kandahar is the center of power, not Kabul’s Taliban-led government. Even if justice and higher education ministers were involved, they would have had to approve the ban on women attending universities.
U.N. experts stated last month that Taliban treatment of Afghan women and girls may be a crime against humanity. This should be investigated under international law.
The Taliban’s actions against women exacerbated existing rights violations, already some of the most draconian in the world. They also suggested that it could be considered gender persecution which would amount to a crime against humanity.
Taliban officials have denied the allegations.