‘Women banned from universities because..’: Afghan minister breaks silence as #letherlearn protest rises

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan on Tuesday announced that women will henceforth be banned from the universities across the country. The regressive ban comes as an extension of a similar decision imposed on girls studying in higher secondary schools, since the Taliban returned to power last year. 

On Thursday Nida Mohammad Nadim, the Taliban higher education minister broke his silence amid global condemnation and said that the ban was imposed on women in universities to avoid the mixing of genders in universities and because he believes some subjects being taught violated the principles of Islam.

Nadim’s statements comes amid massive social media protests where netizens are vehemently using the hashtags “LetHerLearn” and ”LetAfghanGirlsLearn” aimed to force the Taliban government to overturn their regressive decree. 

On Wednesday, several young women were stopped by armed guards from entering Afghan university campuses.

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Despite initially promising a more moderate rule respecting rights for women and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, since they seized power in August 2021.

They have banned girls from middle school and high school, barred women from most fields of employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks and gyms. At the same time, Afghan society, while largely traditional, has increasingly embraced the education of girls and women over the past two decades.

Several other videos capturing the pain of female students have surfaced on Twitter. The videos show students lamenting how their dreams had been shattered by the announcement and spoke about their anguish. One such video showed female students weeping in a classroom a day after Afghanistan’s dictat.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia became the latest Muslim-majority countries to condemn a decision by Taliban authorities to bar women from universities. India also joined the global condemnation. 

Two dozen women were found protesting on the streets of Kabul. 

The Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan may amount to “a crime against humanity”, G7 foreign ministers said Thursday, demanding the ban on women attending university be reversed.

“Taliban policies designed to erase women from public life will have consequences for how our countries engage with the Taliban,” the ministers of the club of rich nations said in a statement, after holding virtual talks.

(With agency inputs)

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