In a letter issued to all government and private universities, Afghanistan’s Ministry of higher education ordered on Tuesday an indefinite ban on university education for Afghan girls effective immediately, the Taliban authorities said.
The letter suspending the education of females until further notice was signed by the Minister for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem whereas the ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashimi confirmed the order in a text message after he tweeted the letter.
Taliban rulers have issued the order in the latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms despite the fact that only less than three months ago, thousands of Afghan girls and women sat university entrance exams across the country, many of which were aspiring to choose engineering and medicine as future careers.
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule respecting women’s and minorities rights, the hardline Taliban have since widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, forcing universities to implement gender-segregated classrooms and entrances, among other new rules.
Whereas most teenage girls across Afghanistan have already been banned from secondary school education – severely limiting university intake – women in universities were only permitted to be taught by female professors or old men.
Women are also restricted from most employment, banned from parks and gyms, and ordered to wear head-to-toe clothing when in public.
At a time when Afghanistan is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis, the latest decision of Taliban authorities will most likely hurt their efforts to win recognition from potential international donors as the international community has already urged their leaders to give women their right to public space and reopen schools for them.
Calling the decision a very troubling and yet another broken promise from the Taliban, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the move, stressing it’s difficult to imagine that a country can develop and deal with all of the challenges that it has, without the active participation of women and the education.
Despite the Taliban’s request to represent the country at the UN, which was recently deferred again, the previous Afghan government led by former President Ashraf Ghani still holds Afghanistan’s seat in the UN.
The deputy US ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Wood, underscored following the latest decision that until they respect the rights of all Afghans, including women, the Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community.
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