Afghanistan: Tears And Protests As Taliban Shut Universities To Women


It's an order that girls and women across Afghanistan had been dreading ever since the Taliban returned. On Wednesday, girls in their hijabs turned up to their university campuses to be blocked and turned away by Taliban guards.

Footage shows groups weeping as they're led away.

After excluding girls from most secondary schools these past 16 months, the Taliban this week also banned university education for women.

"They have destroyed the only bridge that could connect me with my future," one Kabul University student told the BBC.

"How can I react? I believed that I could study and change my future or bring the light to my life but they destroyed it."

Authorities issued the order on Tuesday - and by the following day other places of learning, including Islamic religious schools and private tuition colleges in several provinces, were also carrying out the ruling.

Sources from three provinces - Takhar in the north, Ghazni in the south-east and the capital Kabul - confirmed to the BBC that the Taliban had stopped girls from attending private education centres there.

All avenues of formal education for women are being shut down, it appears.

It led some women to dare to protest on Wednesday on the streets in Kabul - a dangerous act given the Taliban's record for detaining protesters. The small demonstrations were quickly shut down by Taliban officials.

This generation had thought they were the lucky ones - getting the education denied to their mothers, older sisters and cousins.

Instead, they're seeing their future crumble.

The Taliban, which began as a hardline Islamist militant group, had promised to respect women's rights when they swept back to power in August last year - after the horrors of their previous rule from 1996-2001 when women couldn't work or study.

But their latest decree again strips away whatever scant freedoms and rights had been afforded to women after US-led forces withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban returned.

A female student put it to the BBC: "Why should we always be the victim? Afghanistan is a poor country. But women in this country have accepted poverty alongside every other problem and they still they have to suffer."

Girls' schooling has long been a point of contention between conservative and more moderate factions in the Taliban.

The university ban now indicates a win by the more fundamentalist in the Taliban, whose supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada believes modern education - particularly for women and girls - is wrong in Islamic teachings.

Yet not everyone in the ruling movement thinks like him - and there were reports more moderate officials in cities like Kabul had wanted girls over the age of 12 to get an education.



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