Afghan women can study in universities, but not with men, says Taliban

Afghan women can study in universities, but not with men, says Taliban
New education system promised ‘without being in a mixed male and female environment,’ says Taliban

Afghan women will be allowed to study at universities, but they cannot be in the same room as men and will not be taught by male teachers, the Taliban’s acting higher education minister announced as the world awaited the new rules under the extremist regime that is expected to curb women’s rights.

The Taliban is yet to finalise a framework for its government, but it has declared that the new rules will be based on Islamic sharia laws. While the militant group has assured that it will allow women to study and work, its past rule in the country saw the rights of women and minorities severely restricted.

“The people of Afghanistan will continue their higher education in the light of sharia law in safety without being in a mixed male and female environment,” Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the Taliban’s acting minister for higher education, said at a meeting with “elders”, known as a Loya Jirga or grand council, on Sunday.

He added that changes will also be made to the syllabus in order to “create a reasonable and Islamic curriculum that is in line with our Islamic, national and historical values and, on the other hand, be able to compete with other countries.”

Mr Haqqani also added that “men will not be allowed to teach girls”.

Before the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August, the west-backed Ashraf Ghani government had increased women’s freedoms, including to study and work.

However, in the conservative sections of the country, co-education was still not the norm.

The announcement from the Taliban reinstates the fact that the new regime is going to bring in stricter norms for women, even though they claim to be different from the earlier regimes.

Rights activists have also raised concerns that, despite promises, the Taliban fighters aren’t letting women continue with their jobs. In the absence of adequate female teaching staff, women and girls are expected to bear the brunt of the Islamist regime’s enforced policies.

Afghanistan has a large young population, with 63 per cent just under 25 years of age, who do not remember the laws of the previous brutal regime, and who have made progress in terms of rights in the past two decades of western involvement.

However, under the new norms, their lives are expected to change.

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