Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
September 12, 2021
Women in Afghanistan will only be allowed to study in universities in gender-segregated classrooms and Islamic dress will be compulsory, a member of the new Taliban government has said.
Abdul Baqi Haqqani laid out the new policies at a news conference in Kabul on September 12, several days after Afghanistan’s new rulers formed an all-male government.
The world has been watching closely to see to what extent the Taliban might act differently from its first time in power, in the late 1990s. During that era, girls and women were denied an education, and were excluded from public life.
The Taliban insurgents have suggested they have changed, including in their attitudes toward women.
Haqqani, in charge of education, said the Taliban did not want to turn the clock back 20 years. “We will start building on what exists today,” he said.
However, female university students will face restrictions under the Taliban, including a compulsory dress code. Haqqani said hijabs will be mandatory but did not specify if this meant compulsory head scarves or also compulsory face coverings.
Gender segregation will also be enforced, Haqqani said. “We will not allow boys and girls to study together,” he said.
Haqqani said that where no women teachers were available, special measures would be adopted to ensure separation.
“When there is really a need, men can also teach [women] but in accordance with Shari’a, they should observe the veil,” he said. Classrooms will be curtained off to divide male and female students where necessary, and teaching could also be done through streaming or closed-circuit TV.
Classrooms divided by curtains have already been seen in many places since the Western-backed government collapsed and the Taliban seized Kabul last month.
Haqqani told reporters that subjects being taught in universities would also be reviewed but did not elaborate. The Taliban, who subscribe to a harsh interpretation of Islam, have banned music and art during their previous time in power.
Women in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan have protested in large and small groups against Taliban rule and efforts to curtail their rights. In some cases, the Taliban has responded with force, wielding whips, beating women with batons, pointing guns and firing weapons into the air.
With reporting by AP and Reuters