Taliban excludes female graduates from medical ‘exit exam’ again

KABUL — Female medical students were barred from participating in the medical “exit exam” held in Kabul on Friday, a restriction that has been imposed for the third consecutive time in a row after the Taliban takeover.

Approximately 4,000 male students attended the examination, according to the national examination authority under the Taliban regime. The exclusion of female students from the exam has sparked criticism and frustration among those affected, highlighting the Taliban’s ongoing repressive policies towards women’s education and employment in the medical field.

Muzhda, a graduate from the medical faculty at Herat University, expressed her disappointment after being denied the opportunity to take the “exit exam” despite completing seven years of university education. “Unfortunately, I found out today that the third round of the exit exam was held, and girls were not given the chance to attend. Wherever we go for work at a clinic or somewhere, they ask for our exit exam,” she said.

The Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls have extended beyond education to include various forms of employment, significantly impacting the country’s economic and health sectors. Women’s rights defenders have warned that excluding female personnel from the health sector could lead to an increase in maternal mortality rates.

Mauloda Tawana, a women’s rights defender, emphasized the potential rise in maternal deaths if the health sector continues to lack attention, particularly given Afghanistan’s cultural and traditional taboos.

Human Rights Watch reported last month that Afghanistan’s public health system faces jeopardy due to significant reductions in foreign aid and the Taliban’s abuses against women and girls, putting the health rights of millions at risk.

Residents in rural areas have repeatedly expressed concerns over the lack of health facilities. “We came here to the clinic. This is not a good clinic. Between 10 to 20 patients went to the city today,” said Laila, a resident of Badghis.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Public Health disclosed that out of 400 districts, 90 lack clinics, and 310 districts do not have a single female doctor, further highlighting the challenges faced by Afghanistan’s healthcare system under Taliban rule.