The Taliban prevented girls above the sixth grade in Afghanistan from returning to school on Wednesday.
A few hours after the girls’ schools were supposed to open, the Taliban ordered them to close again.
Teenage girls in Afghanistan have already been denied the right to education for 187 days.
Under increasing international pressure, the Taliban had originally said that schools would open to all students — including girls — after the Afghan New Year, which is celebrated on March 21, on the condition that boys and girls be separated into different schools or for different hours of learning.
But on this day, girls above the sixth grade were told to stay at home until a school uniform appropriate to Sharia and Afghan customs and culture could be designed, the Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency reported.
The decision is likely to provoke widespread international condemnation. US diplomats said the Taliban’s move was “disappointing”.
Tamana, 18, who goes by her first name due to security concerns, told CNN who had arrived at school on Wednesday morning to begin his senior year, but was not allowed to enter.
“I couldn’t sleep last night as I was so excited to go back to school after eight months of being deprived of education, but when I and many other girls arrived at our school gates this morning, we were told to go home and wait until further notice,” she said, adding that her dreams had been shattered once again. “All my classmates came home in tears.”
The education ministry said in a statement that it “once again assures the people of our nation that we are fully committed to guaranteeing our countrymen’s rights to education.”
The UN mission in Afghanistan responded on Wednesday, posting on Twitter that it “deplores” the Taliban’s decision to extend its “indefinite ban on female students above the sixth grade from returning to school”.
Ian McCary, Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Kabul – which is currently operating in Doha – said he was “deeply disturbed” by reports that girls were not being allowed to return to school, posting on Twitter that the news was ” very disappointing and contradicts many Taliban assurances and statements. All young Afghans deserve to be educated.”
His concerns were echoed by the US Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls and Human Rights, Rina Amiri, who said the move “weakens trust” in the Taliban and “further raises the hopes of families for a better future for their daughters.” .
Last month, Afghanistan reopened some of its universities to male and female students after they closed last August during the Taliban’s takeover.
The Taliban said at the time that they needed to establish a safe transportation system for female students before allowing them to return to the classroom.
The Taliban previously banned women and girls from education and work when they were in power between 1996 and 2001.
In September 2021, Taliban spokesman Zabiulah Mujahid told CNN that women would be allowed to study, but a so-called “decree on women’s rights” published in December of that year did not mention access to education or work.
In December, the Taliban also banned women from making long-distance road trips in Afghanistan on their own, requiring a male relative to accompany them any distance beyond 45 miles.
Source: CNN Brasil