On Tuesday, December 20, 2022, Taliban rulers in Afghanistan banned female students from attending universities with immediate effect.
Despite initially promising a more moderate rule respecting rights for women’s and minorities, the Taliban have widely implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
Girls have been barred from middle school and high school, women have been restricted from most employment and ordered to wear head-to-toe clothing in public.
Women are also banned from parks and gyms.
The Taliban were overthrown in 2001 by a U.S.-led alliance for harboring al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden but returned to power after America’s chaotic exodus last year.
The decision was announced after a government meeting. A letter disseminated by the spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, Ziaullah Hashmi, informed private and public universities to implement the ban as soon as possible and to inform the ministry once the ban is in place.
The decision will certainly affect efforts by the Taliban to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is stalled in a worsening humanitarian crisis.
The international community has urged Taliban leaders to reopen schools and give women their right to public space.
The university ban comes weeks after Afghan girls took their high school graduation exams, even though they have been banned from classrooms since the Taliban took over the country last year.
In enforcement of the university ban, Taliban security forces in the Afghan capital have blocked women’s access to universities.
U.N Secretary-General Condemns University Ban
U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, condemned the decision, calling it another “broken promise” from the Taliban and a “very troubling” move.
“It’s difficult to imagine how a country can develop, can deal with all of the challenges that it has, without the active participation of women and the education.”Antonio Guterres
Robert Wood, the Deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, opined that the Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans.
U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, disclosed that the United States also condemned the move by the Taliban.
“This deplorable decision is the latest effort by Taliban leadership to impose additional restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan and prevent them from exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms. As a result of this unacceptable stance to hold back half of the population of Afghanistan, the Taliban will be further alienated from the international community and denied the legitimacy they desire.”Adrienne Watson
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, said late Tuesday that no other country in the world bars women and girls from receiving an education.
Afghanistan’s U.N. seat is still held by the previous government led by former President Ashraf Ghani, despite the Taliban’s request to represent the country at the United Nations, which was recently deferred again.
The Taliban-led administration has not given a reason for the ban or reacted to the fierce and swift global condemnation of it.