The UK condemns the Taliban’s latest decision to prevent women from attending universities
Image by AP
The Taliban last week banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan, leading to worldwide condemnation. The reasoning behind the step, which has left many women devastated, was that they were not following the proper Islamic dress code and concerns about interaction of students of the opposite gender.
Female university students were locked out of their campuses on Wednesday, 21 December with the higher education ministry saying that they will not be able to attend “until further notice”. This move sparked protests in many provinces of the country including over two dozen women seen on the streets of Kabul chanting for freedom and equality. “All or none. Don’t be afraid. We are together,” they said during the march.
Later, reports stated that several protesters were arrested, along with three journalists. Many women also claimed that they were beaten by female Taliban officers.
Since August 2021, the world has witnessed a progressive hardening of Taliban behaviour, in contrast with what they had promised. The Taliban have imposed harsh and severe restrictions on women and girls’ ability to move around freely, to access parks and gyms, to work, and to access education.
The UK has expressed its concerns over the blatant disregard for human rights by the terrorist group. Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, said, “The UK strongly condemns the Taliban’s decision to close universities for women across Afghanistan. This restriction represents a further violation of the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls and has no religious or moral basis. Afghan women and girls must have a say in their own future and be able to fully and equally contribute to society.
“We urge the Taliban to reverse their decisions on education, including the 23 March 2022 decision to prohibit girls’ access to secondary school. Having educated and empowered women in Afghanistan is vital for peace, stability and economic development across the country – without this, the country will not achieve longer-term stability or prosperity. Bans to education will only fuel the continued exodus of educated Afghans, exacerbating the current humanitarian and economic crisis.
“This decision will have damaging consequences for the Taliban by further isolating them from the people of Afghanistan and the international community. We will not support any restoration of waivers to the travel bans on UN-sanctioned Taliban until Afghan women and girls are allowed to attend secondary school and university. Working with likeminded partners, we will consider further action to persuade the Taliban to abandon these regressive measures and reverse their decisions.”