New school year looms but Taliban silent on plight of girls

Photo: Reuters. File photo.

With only four days to go before the new school year starts in Afghanistan, the Taliban have still not said whether they will reopen secondary schools for girls.

The Taliban ordered a ban on girls education above Grade 6 more than a year ago, stating at the time the ban would be in place “until further notice”.

Girls around the country were left devastated by the order, which rights groups have warned is leading to forced and child marriages, child labor and other problems.

Halima, a ninth year student in Kabul, said that girls in Afghanistan have the right to education, as do girls in other parts of the world.

“This act by the Taliban will work against them, not against the people of Afghanistan. That is why no country is ready to recognize them as a government,” said Halima.

“When our principal told us that you will not be able to come to school for 10 to 20 days, we were so sad and then we realized that it is too long and it is not 10 days. We are frustrated with this uncertain future,” said Nasima, a 10th grade student in Badakhshan province in northern Afghanistan.

Over the past year, many foreign delegations have met with Taliban officials to convince them to reopen schools for girls. On Friday, a delegation from the UAE met with Taliban’s interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Taliban’s interior ministry said that Haqqani said in the meeting that “education is obligatory for women and men and we are committed to the rights of the nation and the restrictions on girls’ education are not permanent.”

But Taliban’s spokesmen did not respond to Amu’s question as to whether secondary schools will be reopened for girls this week.

A girls class at a school in the city of Kandahar. Sept. 2022. File photo.

Earlier, the Taliban said that they are working on “legitimate mechanisms” to reopen schools for girls, but a source told Amu that there are serious rifts among Taliban leaders about girls’ education.

Hakim Torsan, an analyst in political affairs, called the acts by the Taliban as misogynistic.

“By such misogynistic acts, the Taliban is further isolating itself among the people and it also leads to its isolation at national and international levels,” said Torsan.

Secondary schools have been closed for girls in Afghanistan for the past 544 days. Meanwhile, universities have been closed for women for the past three months and women have also been banned from working in non-governmental organizations since last December.