Afghan girls turned away from school after Taliban reneges on promise

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


Taliban leaders in Afghanistan abruptly walked back their promise to open schools to girls after 6th grade, announcing Wednesday that high schools would remain closed to females until the Islamic extremist group develops a reopening strategy that aligns with Islamic law, according to Reuters.

Female students and teachers from three Kabul-area high schools arrived at school Wednesday with great anticipation following months of restrictions that prevented them from attending class, only to be turned away. 

A Wednesday notice from the country’s ministry of education read, “We inform all girls high schools and those schools that are having female students above class six that they are off until the next order.” 

Just last week, the ministry announced that all students would return to school this week, even congratulating them in a video message released Tuesday. 

“We all got disappointed, and we all became totally hopeless when the principal told us,” one student told the news service, adding, “She was also crying.” 

Both the United States and the United Nations condemned the decision.

“For the sake of the country’s future and its relations with the international community, I would urge the Taliban to live up to their commitments to their people,” U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Tom West, said in a tweet.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the decision “a profound disappointment and deeply damaging for Afghanistan,” according to Reuters.

“The denial of education not only violates the equal rights of women and girls to education,” Guterres said in a statement, “it also jeopardizes the country’s future in view of the tremendous contributions by Afghan women and girls.”

“I urge the Taliban de facto authorities to open schools for all students without any further delay.”

Since the Taliban reclaimed Kabul in August following the Biden Administration’s abrupt and poorly-executed withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the country’s economy has nearly collapsed. Those left behind face a significant humanitarian crisis, including a harsh crackdown on women’s rights. 

The U.S. presence in the Islamic country from 2001-2021 helped bring Afghan women out from under oppressive Taliban rule which essentially barred them from participating in public life. Literacy among women jumped from 11% in 1979 to 55% in 2018, according to Operation World. The nonprofit global prayer and missions organization says that one-third of Afghan women are victims of physical violence. Moreover, a significant number of women die in childbirth because they are not permitted to receive healthcare from male doctors.