UN chief raises concern over closure of schools for girls in Afghanistan

Taliban say the decision to close girls' schools above the sixth grade is temporary

Afghan girls hold flags of the Islamic Emirate while participating in the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. — Reuters
Afghan girls hold flags of the Islamic Emirate while participating in the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. — Reuters


Published: Sat 3 Sep 2022, 11:46 PM

Calling the closure of schools for girls in Afghanistan “unjustifiable”, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has raised his concern and said that there is a violation of women’s rights.

Guterres stated that the girl’s inability to access education would be detrimental to the country and its future, Khaama Press reported.

“Girls in Afghanistan continue to be locked out of the classroom. This is an unjustifiable violation of equal rights that damages the entire country. Girls belong in school,” wrote Guterres in a tweet.

Earlier, the officials from the Ministry of Education of the Taliban administration claimed that the group is working on a plan to reopen the schools.

They maintained that the decision to close girls’ schools above the sixth grade is “temporary” and not “permanent”.

According to the spokesperson, the ministry has made “adequate” efforts in this area, but some procedures take years to complete and the issue with schools cannot be resolved quickly, reported Khaama Press.

Despite the Taliban’s commitment to reopen schools for girls, since the group took control of Afghanistan in August of last year, Afghan girls are still not permitted to attend school past the sixth grade.

After the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021 and imposed policies severely restricting basic rights — particularly those of women and girls. Taliban decrees prohibit women from travelling unless accompanied by a male relative and require women’s faces to be covered in public, including women TV newscasters.

Moreover, the Taliban dismantled the system to respond to gender-based violence, created new barriers to women accessing healthcare, blocked women’s aid workers from doing their jobs, and attacked women’s rights protesters.

Since they took control of the country in August 2021, the Taliban have violated women’s and girls’ rights to education, work and free movement and decimated the system of protection and support for those fleeing domestic violence.

The group has also detained women and girls for minor violations of discriminatory rules and contributed to a surge in the rates of child, early and forced marriages in Afghanistan.

Several rights groups have called out the Taliban to implement major policy changes and measures to uphold the rights of women and girls. The Taliban had previously promised an inclusive society and equality during their first press conference after the takeover of Afghanistan, however, their actions reflect a different picture.

There are restrictions on movement, education and freedom of expression of women posing a threat to their survival.

According to locals, the Taliban has prevented women from using smartphones, and the Women’s Affairs Ministry often extorts money to provide essential protection.

Around 80 per cent of women working in the media have lost their jobs, it said, adding that almost 18 million women in the country are struggling for health, education and social rights.

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