Female students in Herat told not to wear ‘tight and colorful’ outfits

Students at Kabul University. Sept. 2022.

Some female students in Herat claimed that the Taliban has imposed many new restrictions on them, leaving them “frustrated” and “concerned” about their future.

The students said they have been asked by the leadership of Herat University, one of the main universities in the country, to wear “fully Islamic” outfits and avoid wearing “tight and colorful” dresses.

Based on a new order, students said a portion of each lecture for every subject is dedicated to discussions on religious conduct.

Freshta Amini, a student from the university, told Amu the restrictions have had a negative impact on women mentally.

“Every day when we enter the university, they search our bags and take out our cosmetics,” Freshta said. “Several female students have been beaten by the Taliban.”

She said the Taliban patrol the university campus every day, and when they see students wearing outfits they disapprove of, they abuse and insult the person.

A lecturer from the university, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at first the students were verbally warned to come to the university wearing clothes that were “fully Islamic”, but later this issue was communicated to the students through an official letter.

Another lecturer, who also did not want to be named, said the Taliban search female students’ bags every day, confiscate cosmetics and “insult students in front of others.”

“If I tell the truth, the environment has become suffocating for students,” he added.

Multiple sources spoke to Amu about the situation at Herat University. Two of them said that after the recent disruption of a planned rally by female students, the Taliban found the students and warned them that “even if they are killed” there will be no one to hold them, the Taliban, accountable.

The sources said that the girls who wanted to protest “were beaten” by the Taliban and some of them were admitted to hospital.

“We were in the class when the lecturer warned us in a very harsh tone that killing you is Halal (permissible) for us,” one source said, adding they were also told: “You are in contact with foreign countries’ intelligence agencies and this march was planned by the foreign intelligence.”

Another student said in a message to Amu: “Although the professor was trying to persuade us (not to protest), we took his words as a threat. A threat that has destroyed our nonviolent struggles for years, both in the republic and in the emirate.”

More than ten students in Herat confirmed to Amu that the Taliban warned them they will be severely punished if they speak out about the Taliban’s violent behavior or if they identify those beaten or the Taliban responsible for the beatings.
Herat University is not the only institution facing such harsh crackdowns. Kabul University students have reported similar tactics.

Razia Alizada, a female student at Kabul University, said restrictions by the Taliban at the university are increasing.

She said the Taliban has forbidden them from visiting the campus and taking pictures.

“Actually, the Taliban’s restrictions are increasing. The Taliban members are monitoring us inside the university giving nasty and hateful looks. If they see a slight violation by us, that is against their principles, they will prevent us from entering the university,” Alizada said.

She added that if these restrictions continue, women will give up on continuing their higher education.

Taliban spokesmen, including the spokesman for the Taliban’s ministry of higher education, would not comment on the matter.