Women’s hostel handed over to male students in Badakhshan

Outside Badakhshan University in the city of Faizabad. August 29, 2022.

A women’s hostel at Badakhshan University in north-eastern Afghanistan has been handed over to male students in a move seen as yet another attempt to restrict the role of women in society.

Universities for women were closed in December 2022 by the Taliban’s higher education ministry – which said this would be “until further notice”. The move was followed just days later by another edict banning women from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

An official from Badakhshan University said at least 250 male students will be resettled into the hostel in the city of Faizabad, the center of Badakhshan province.

The officials said the move was only a temporary one as the mens hostel was under construction. “The hostel for men is under construction and they will return to their hostel after a month,” the official said.

The move was criticized by female students from Badakhshan University who said it should not have happened as it will affect the “already-weakened” hopes among women.

“It is unbearable,” said Freshta, a third year student from the economics faculty of Badakhshan University. “When I was informed about the transfer of boys to the hostel, I completely lost hope about reopening of universities (for women) and I threw away all my books today.”

A representative of students from Shughnan district in Badakhshan, Shakiba Azizi, said students from this district will need a hostel in Faizabad; otherwise, they will be deprived of higher education if the hostel does not reopen.

“At least 323 women students from Shughnan were staying at the hostel. This was the number from one district. Many were from other districts. Women’s dresses and books are still at the hostel,” said Azizi.

A literature student from Badakhshan University, Sorosh, said he is hopeful that women will be able to at least continue their education under new circumstances.

“It will be hard for women. Many will not have the ability to afford expenses without a hostel,” he said.

“I am fed up with back-to-back promises of Taliban on reopening of universities and schools for girls and I no longer believe in their pledges because these steps are part of a tactic to keep protests calm,” said Halima, a student.

But an official from Badakhshan University said on condition of anonymity that the university will be reopened for women “conditionally.”

“The condition (for reopening) will be that every woman should stay at their relatives’ house at night and based on the leadership’s remarks, no woman will be allowed to stay at hostels anymore,” said the official.