Taliban: Women Can Stay in School, With Conditions

Students will be separated by gender, and women will have a dress code
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2021 1:25 PM CDT
Taliban: Women Can Stay in School, With Conditions
Girls prepare for class at a school in Kabul on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Girls and women can continue their education in Afghanistan, but they'll face new restrictions under Taliban rule. For one, male and female students will be separated, the education minister said Sunday. "Coeducation is in conflict with the principles of Islam and, on the other hand, it is in conflict with national values and is against the customs and traditions of Afghans," Abdul Baqi Haqqani said Sunday, Deutsche Welle reports. If universities can't be divided by gender, he said, class times should alternate, or the rooms should have a partition in the middle, with male students on one side and female students on the other.

Hijabs will be required, Haqqani said. But he didn't specify whether women will have to cover their faces completely or will be able to wear a headscarf, per the Guardian. The nation's new rulers want women to teach female students. If that is not possible, male teachers are allowed as long as classes should follow the Taliban's interpretation of Islamic law. Some universities already report shortages of female teachers, and space, and have told students they will have to drop certain classes. Until the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, universities were coeducational and had no dress code for women. Female enrollment was at a record high.

During the Taliban's previous reign, which ended 20 years ago, girls and women were not permitted to attend school. Haqqani said the Taliban don't want to return to that era but want to "start building on what exists today." A Human Rights Watch official said the restrictions won't be practical for all universities and their female students. "So the consequence will not be just gender segregation, it will be the exclusion of women and girls," Heather Barr said. Rules against women speaking to men in offices and universities will further shut women out, she said. And the subjects being taught are under review, per the AP. "There are different layers of discrimination to this, which means it will have a really devastating impact on women and girls," Barr said. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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