Taliban’s ban on women traveling alone hinders scholarship students

While higher education opportunities are banned for women in Afghanistan, foreign scholarships are also proving elusive to them as they are forbidden from traveling alone and must have a male companion with them.

The solo-travel ban is one of many restrictions recently imposed by the Taliban on women in Afghanistan and a number of young women told Amu TV that for this reason they are not able to apply for scholarships abroad.

They said not only is it impossible to leave the country on their own, but they also aren’t able to get travel documents.

Hilal Sohak, a 22-year-old, who was a student of journalism at Kabul University, said: “I am delighted that various countries have provided the possibility for me and other Afghan female students to continue their studies; But in the current situation, it is impossible to take up the scholarships; Because in the first place, I need a passport, which is impossible to get.”

She added that the second issue was that female students need a male guardian to accompany them while leaving Afghanistan. She said, “the Taliban have taken women hostage.”

Sohak stated she has applied for a scholarship but “unfortunately, the Taliban have denied women access to their basic rights and they do not allow women to travel from Kabul airport without having a male guardian.”

“Afghan girls are not allowed to leave the country alone. We cannot work to gain experience; Because it is prohibited to hire female employees in institutions,” she added.

A number of foreign countries, including Iran, the US, Qatar, and 18 universities around the world announced hundreds of scholarships for Afghan women following the Taliban’s decision to suspend university education for girls.

One of the students at a private university, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that Afghan women are not even allowed to travel inside Afghanistan without a male relative escorting them.

“The girls have no hope of being able to go abroad to continue their education,” she added.

The Taliban’s minister of higher education Neda Mohammad Nadeem said women were banned from university because female students did not abide by Islamic hijab rules; they traveled and attended classes without a male guardian; and female students used to sit with their male classmates in one classroom.

Following the announcement of the ban on university education for women, the Taliban also barred women from living in public and private hostels.

The Taliban’s decision triggered an outcry at home and abroad with government, country leaders and rights organizations all calling for the restrictions on women to be reversed.

The Taliban have barred teenage girls from getting a high school education – above Grade 6 – and banned women from visiting parks, gyms, and public baths. The group has also banned women from working for international and national NGOs.