Over the past year, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan has led to devastating consequences. Along with the humanitarian crisis, coupled by a majority population facing hunger and the sanctions imposed by the international community, a new event has struck the country. The taliban’s most recent announcement was to ban women from attending universities. On 20th December, the Minister of Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, instructed all universities to suspend the access of female students to classes, just one day before universities’ final exams. Access has been suspended until further notice and women will not be able to return to universities once they re-opens in March.
Such a ban will result in half of the Afghan population unable to attain post-primary education. The ban is just part of a series of rights and freedoms taken away from women in the country. Restrictions have been increasing under the Taliban. Women have been banned from working in a several sectors, may not travel unaccompanied, and must wear either a full niqab, which covers the full face except for eyes, or a burqa, which fully covers the body and face with a mesh over the eyes.
On December 22nd, women right’s activists and female students protested in multiple cities across the country, including as Kabul, Takhar, and Nangarhar, requesting that the ban be revoked. According to an article written on V.O.A., women all over the nation chanted “rights for everyone or no one.” The protests were immediately shut down. Five women, some men, and three journalists were arrested. Based on statements collected by the B.B.C., eyewitnesses stated that several women were beaten and taken into custody by Taliban officers. Even though it is difficult to fight against the Taliban regime, many Afghan men have shown solidarity towards women by protesting, disobeying officers, resigning from university positions, and refusing to sit in on exams.
The new violation of women’s rights and freedoms has not been properly investigated and condemned by the international community, however, some efforts have been made. The U.N. permanent mission in Afghanistan (U.N.A.M.A.) has urgently requested the authorities to “immediately revoke the decision.” Depriving women of their rights is a major setback for the country. The international community must do more to ensure that women’s rights are upheld. The current situation is dire and immediate action is necessary. Not only will this ban severely affect women’s education, it will also hinder professional help and service provision to other women in Afghanistan, creating a series of negative domino effects. Perhaps the best way to start fighting back is by helping in the population in putting an end to the violation. Truthfully, more on sight operations should be activated, in order to help in mediating with the Taliban.
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