After excluding girls from secondary schools in March, Taliban authorities have now banned women from attending university in Afghanistan, as the regime continues to crack down on the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people in the country.
On Tuesday, December 20, the Taliban Higher Education Minister Nida Mohammad Nadim announced that scholars had evaluated the university curriculum and decided that women and girls were barred from entering universities “until a suitable environment” was established. Already this morning, only a day after the ban was announced, hundreds of women have been prevented from entering universities by armed guards.
Afghan women are protesting in several cities for their right to access higher education and male students are walking out of classrooms in solidarity with their female classmates. Speaking to the BBC, one Kabul university student who was protesting said: “They destroyed the only bridge that could connect me with my future”.
They added, “How can I react? I believed that I could study and change my future or bring the light to my life but they destroyed it.”
This time it hit the spirit of college-bound girls.
The Taliban denied girls their right to education & closed all universities for them.
They effectively crushed the hopes of girls in this way.#Afghanistan #BanTaliban #LetAfghanGirlsLearn#SaveAfghanLGBTIQ@UN @UNHumanRights pic.twitter.com/Oia03yDm5V
— Rainbow Afghanistan (@Afghani1Rainbow) December 20, 2022
The international community has strongly condemned the Taliban’s decision, with UN’s Special Rapporteur to Afghanistan Richard Bennett calling it “a new low further violating the right to equal education and deepens the erasure of women from Afghan society.”
— Natiq Malikzada (@natiqmalikzada) December 21, 2022
This regression in the rights of Afghan women comes despite the fact that the Taliban had promised a softer rule after seizing power last year when the US withdrew from the country. Despite this promise, in the last year, Taliban officials have continued to violate the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people.
Only a month ago, the regime instated public flogging for “moral crimes” which include “adultery, robbery and gay sex”. Homosexuality has long been illegal in Afghanistan, but under the regime, there is a zero-tolerance attitude and LGBTQ+ Afghans continuously experience threats, violence and assault.
According to Roshaniya LGBT, five LGBTQ+ Afghans this week have safely escaped Afghanistan, arriving in Toronto. Among them is Ozlam, a trailblazing trans activist who allegedly led the first LGBTQ+ protest in the nation.
Gay Afghan activist Nemat Sadat, who recently spoke to GCN about their advocacy work, described the current situation for queer people in Afghanistan as “probably the worst” it could be.
— Gay Community News (@GCNmag) December 12, 2022
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