Teenage Afghan girls weren’t allowed to return to school as classrooms across the country reopened for the first time since the Taliban took power last month. Raising fears that their new fundamentalist government will permanently ban secondary education for girls. The absence of teenage girls in classrooms while their male peers returned. Followed a decree of the Taliban ordering male students and teachers to return to high schools and religious seminaries. The statement from the ministry of education didn’t mention girls, amounting to a de facto ban on them going to secondary school. The Taliban have allowed girls up to sixth grade to attend school, but they will get education in separate classrooms from boys.
Some private universities have also been allowed to open classrooms for girls. However, most female students appear to be staying home out of fear. Afghanistan’s universities are regulated by a separate ministry from the ministry of education. The news raises fresh fears as to how the Taliban will treat Afghan women. They have pledged to respect the rights of women within the limits of Islam. But they haven’t fully elaborated on what those limits are.
Previous Taliban government imposed draconian restrictions on women.
When the Taliban were in power in the late 1990s, they imposed draconian restrictions on women, banning them from most workplaces and education. They also forbid them from leaving the house without a male guardian. Taliban officials have said they would consider allowing girls to attend schools once the security situation allows. A stance that echoes the movement’s policies when it was last in power in the late 1990s. At that time, they did not allow to attend school due to supposed security concerns. But the Taliban never formally banned girls’ education. The Taliban have in recent years followed similar policies in areas under their control.
The United Nations said it welcomed the reopening of secondary schools, which closed for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.