- Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have suspended women from attending university until further notice.
- The United Nations has expressed its deep concern for the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
- The students say they are devastated by the Taliban’s decision as their future becomes uncertain.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have ordered a nationwide suspension of university education for women.
The Taliban’s minister of higher education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, issued a letter on Tuesday to all government and private universities (local time) to implement the suspension immediately.
“All are hereby informed to immediately implement the said order of suspension of women’s education till further notice,” said the letter, signed by Mr Nadeem.
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan, university classes were segregated by gender. Source: Getty / Aamir Qureshi
Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashimi, who tweeted the letter, confirmed the order in a text message to the AFP news agency.
Despite promising softer rule when they took power last year, ignoring the international outrage.
Universities are currently on winter break and are due to reopen in March.
Washington condemned the decision “in the strongest terms”.
“The Taliban should expect that this decision, which violates the commitments they have repeatedly and publicly made to their own people, will result in concrete costs for them,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington.
After the Taliban took over the country, universities were ordered to implement new rules, such as gender-segregated classrooms and entrances, while women could only be taught by female professors or elders.
Most teenage girls across the country have already received access to secondary education, which severely limits access to university.
Journalism student Madina, who wanted only her name published, struggled to grasp the weight of Tuesday’s order.
“I have nothing to say. Not only me but all my friends have no words to express our feelings,” the 18-year-old told AFP in Kabul.
“Everyone is thinking about the unknown future ahead of them. They buried our dreams.”
The country was returning to the “dark days”, added medical student Rhea in the capital, who asked to be renamed.
“When we were hoping to move forward, they are taking us away from society,” the 26-year-old said.
“A fundamental human right”
The United Nations is “deeply concerned” about the order, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN chief’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan.
“Education is a fundamental human right. A closed door to women’s education is a closed door to Afghanistan’s future,” he tweeted.
The Taliban in March they had to reopen in the morning.
Several Taliban officials say the ban on secondary education is only temporary, but they have also offered a litany of excuses for the closure, from a lack of funds to the time needed to reshape the curriculum along Islamic lines .
Women have also been pushed out of many government jobs, or given a cut in pay to stay at home. They are also prohibited from traveling without a male family member and must cover up outside the home, ideally with a burka.
In November, they were also banned from parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths.
In the 20 years between the two Taliban reigns, girls could go to school and women could find work in all sectors, although the country remained socially conservative.
since the Taliban returned to power after the hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces last August.