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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Afghanistan: Taliban announce new rules for female students


Afghan universities will be segregated by gender, and a new Islamic dress code will be introduced, the Taliban said on Sunday.

Women would be allowed to study, but not alongside men, according to Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani.

In addition, he announced a review of the subjects taught.

Between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were barred from attending schools and universities under Taliban rule.

The policy announcement on higher education comes a day after the Taliban raised their flag over the presidential palace, signalling the start of their administration. They took over the elected government a month ago.

The policy marks a significant change from the accepted practice before the Taliban takeover. Universities were co-educational, with men and women studying side by side, and female students did not have to abide by a dress code.

Mr Haqqani, on the other hand, was unapologetic about putting an end to mixed classes. “We have no objections to abolishing the mixed-education system,” he said. “They’re Muslims, and they’ll accept it.”

Some argue that the new rules will exclude women from education because universities lack the resources to offer separate classes. Mr Haqqani, on the other hand, insisted that there are enough female teachers and that if they are not available, alternatives will be found.

“It all depends on the capacity of the university,” he explained. “We can also use male teachers behind a curtain to teach, or we can use technology.”

Girls and boys will be separated in primary and secondary schools, as is already the case in Afghanistan.

Women will be required to wear hijabs, but Mr Haqqani did not say whether additional face coverings would be required.

The newly appointed minister also stated that university subjects will be reviewed. He told reporters that the Taliban wanted to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national, and historical values while also competing with other countries.”

The announcement follows a demonstration by women who support the Taliban’s gender policies at Kabul’s Shaheed Rabbani Education University yesterday.

Hundreds of women, most of whom wore black niqabs and carried small Taliban flags, listened to speeches praising the new regime and criticising those involved in large demonstrations across the country demanding the protection of women’s rights.

Since their dramatic advance, which saw them overrun government forces in days, the Taliban have attempted to project a more moderate image to the world’s attention. They have pledged to respect women’s rights progress and have promised that women will have a place in civil society.

However, there have been signs that the group may govern in the same restrictive way they did during their last stint in power.A women’s march in Kabul was broken up last week when Taliban officials targeted demonstrators with tear gas and pepper spray and the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission has said that he doesn’t think the women’s national cricket team will be allowed to continue.

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