Private universities in Afghanistan opened on Monday for the first time since the Taliban took power. Women were not banned, but co-education was abolished in colleges and universities. In some classrooms, a curtain was hung to separate male and female students.
Afghan education has been closely monitored since the Taliban took power three weeks ago. In the 1996-2001 era, girls and women were banned from education. The Taliban insist that this time will be different and that women’s rights will be respected, as long as Islamic law is followed. How this will work in practice remains to be seen.
Currently, it is already clear that women are obligated to wear the veil and that there should be separate entrances and exits for women. Female students should also be taught in a separate room, if this is not possible, the room can be separated by a curtain. The women then have to leave the room five minutes earlier, and wait in the waiting areas until their male colleagues leave the building. Women should be taught by women, if this was not possible, the lesson could be taught by a very religious man.
Teachers and students at universities in Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, Afghanistan’s largest cities, told Reuters that female students are now required to sit separately or only be allowed into some parts of the campus. “Hanging curtains are really unacceptable,” Angela, a 21-year-old student at Kabul University, told Reuters. “I was horrified when I entered the class, we will slowly go back in time.” According to Angela, before the rise of the Taliban, men and women did not sit together in classrooms, but the classrooms were not physically separated from each other.
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