Small but mighty group of Afghan women take to the streets over university ban

A small but mighty group of Afghan women took to the streets to protest against the Taliban’s ban on university education for women. The latest move to restrict human rights for women in the country saw the Taliban’s minister for higher education ordering all private and public universities to bar women from enrolling and attending.

According to the Straits Times, footage obtained by the AFP showed around 24 protesters, donning hijabs, chanting in a Kabul neighbourhood.

“They expelled women from universities. Oh, the respected people, support, support. Rights for everyone or no one!”

One protester, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “some of the girls” were under arrest by women police officers but two were allegedly released. Several others, however, remain in custody.

Such women-led protests have become increasingly uncommon in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country last August after the US military withdrew its decades-long presence in the country. For this protest, the women had to change locations as they originally planned to rally in front of Kabul University but authorities deployed a large number of security personnel in an attempt to ward off the gathering.

The university ban has drawn international criticism, with the UN, the US, and several other Muslim nations denouncing it. Even more disconcerting is that the ban came just three months after thousands were allowed to sit for university exams. Wahida Wahid Durani, a journalism student at the University of Herat, told of Afghan women’s plight.

“Afghan girls are a dead people… they are crying blood. They are using all their force against us. I’m afraid that soon they will announce that women are not allowed to breathe.”

Currently, the Taliban has barred a majority of teenage girls from secondary school, while adult women have been barred from government jobs. Moreover, women are not allowed to travel without a male relative and are ordered to cover up with a burqa when outside of their homes. Parks and gardens are also forbidden for women.

Such violators will see a public flogging of men and women, as the Taliban implements an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. The Supreme Court noted that 44 people, including six women, were flogged in Badakshan and Uruzgan provinces yesterday after being found guilty of various crimes.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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