The Taliban has issued an edict prohibiting women from enrolling in private and public colleges nationwide, effective immediately.
The Taliban government on Tuesday issued a statement ordering women nationwide to stop attending private and public universities effective immediately and until further notice. In a show of solidarity for female students and to protest the Taliban's prohibition on girls' education, male students at Nangarhar University in Afghanistan reportedly skipped their examinations. Sharing a video of the students walking out, Afghan Peace Watch tweeted: "Male students of Nangarhar university walked away from their exams to protest the Taliban ban preventing girls from attending university." Since seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban have widely applied their stringent interpretation of Islamic law, reports CBS News.
“They closed the schools, the world remained silent, they closed our universities, silence, now they’ve come for our courses. What are we supposed to do? Kill ourselves?” Devastated Afghan girls mourn the loss of their education after the Taliban’s ban pic.twitter.com/2M6p2DSL99— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) December 22, 2022
They prohibited girls from attending middle and high school, banned women from most fields of employment, and ordered them to cover themselves from head to toe while in public. Additionally, women are prohibited from entering parks and gyms. The Taliban-led government has reportedly neither provided an explanation for the latest restriction nor responded to the rapid and strong international outrage over it. On Wednesday, journalists witnessed Taliban soldiers in front of four institutions in Kabul, stopping women from entering. While some were permitted to enter and finish their work, Kabul University's Rahimullah Nadeem—who confirmed that classes for female students had stopped—shared that it was mostly for paperwork and administrative reasons. The Taliban forces also made an effort to stop protests, filming, and photography.
In Kabul, members of the Unity and Solidarity of Afghanistan Women activist group gathered in front of the exclusive Edrak University and chanted slogans in Dari. "Do not make education political!" they said. "Once again university is banned for women. We do not want to be eliminated!" Meanwhile, a number of male university professors quit their jobs in protest of the Taliban's decision and dozens of male students skipped examinations and turned in blank papers, according to Ahmad Mukhtar of CBS News.
Male students of Nangarhar university walked away from their exams to protest the Taliban ban preventing girls from attending university. pic.twitter.com/DEiVRlB1BR— Afghan Peace Watch (@APWORG) December 21, 2022
"To mark my protest against the unjust and immoral ban on girls' education... I have resigned from my position as a faculty member at Kabul University. I am opposing this brutal clampdown on girls' education even if I have to stand alone," Obaidullah Wardak, a male lecturer at Kabul University, tweeted. Sifatullah Bahij, a male lecturer at Kabul's Polytechnic University, said: "I have served the faculty of Civil Engineering in KPU for over 8 years but despite rich experience and a Ph.D., I don't wish to continue working somewhere where there is organized discrimination against innocent and talented girls of this country by those in power." Since taking control in August 2021, the Taliban have extensively imposed their vision of Islamic law, or Sharia, despite initially pledging a more moderate government that would protect the rights of women and minorities.
The Taliban's attempts to gain worldwide legitimacy for their government and support from possible donors at a time when the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is only getting worse will undoubtedly be harmed by the latest ban. The Taliban's treatment of women and children in Afghanistan, according to U.N. experts, may constitute a crime against humanity, and as such, should be looked into and dealt with in accordance with international law. They said that the Taliban's treatment of women worsened existing rights violations, which were already among the "most draconian globally," and that their acts may have constituted gender persecution, which is a crime against humanity.
"The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all in Afghanistan," U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken warned. "This decision will come with consequences for the Taliban."