Twenty women and girls demonstrated in Kabul on Saturday against the Taliban’s decision to ban secondary education for girls, journalists from the AFP news agency reported. In power for seven months, the country’s leaders have increased restrictions on women’s rights.
Gathered to denounce the closure of secondary education for Afghan women, some twenty protesters gathered in Kabul on Saturday, March 26, chanting “Open the schools! Justice, justice!”.
The twenty young people and girls, mostly dressed in black abayas and white headscarves, gathered at the exit in a square in the capital. Some carried small signs that read: “You have taken away my virtuous land, do not take away my effort and my education.”
The demonstration lasted less than an hour, before being dispersed by armed Taliban who arrived at the scene.
The Taliban, in power in Afghanistan since August 2021, on Wednesday reversed its decision to allow girls to study in middle and high schools, just hours after the long-announced reopening.
The announcement, as brutal as it was unexpected, came when many students had already returned to class.
It drew numerous condemnations, including from the UN, UNESCO and even six Western countries, including the United States and the European Union, which condemned “an arbitrary decision” and called on fundamentalist Islamists to “urgently reverse” their decision.
“I am hopeful that we will see them reconsider (this) decision in the coming days,” Thomas West, the US official, said on the sidelines of the Forum in Doha, the Qatari capital, on Saturday.
“I was surprised by last Wednesday’s turnaround … It is above all a violation of the trust of the Afghan people,” the US official added.
Girls limited to primary school
“Our policy is not against girls’ education,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP.
According to him, “there are some practical problems” that “have not been resolved before the deadline for the opening of girls’ schools on March 23.”
The Ministry of Education did not give a clear explanation for his radical change. The decision would have come after a meeting on Tuesday night of senior officials in Kandahar (South), the cradle and de facto center of power of the fundamentalist Islamist movement.
Now only primary school classes are authorized for girls. Observers fear that the country’s new masters will ban school for girls again, as they did during their first term, from 1996 to 2001.
In seven months of rule, the Taliban have imposed many restrictions on women. They are barred from many government jobs, restricted in the way they dress, and prohibited from traveling alone outside of their cities.
The Islamists also arrested and detained several activists who had demonstrated for women’s rights. The demonstration that took place on Saturday is the first in many weeks to take place in the capital.
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