Students in Afghanistan have returned to university for the first time since the Taliban came to power. Turns out that in some instances, female students have been divided from their male peers by curtains or boards down the middle of the classroom.
Universities and schools across the country are being closely monitored by foreign powers. They expect the group to respect women’s rights in return for vital aid and diplomatic engagement. The group banned girls from school and women from university and work when it ruled from 1996-2001.
In recent weeks, assurances have been given that Islamic law will be followed in respect of women’s rights. However, it is unclear how this will actually transpire.
Reuters spoke with students and teachers at universities in Afghanistan’s three largest cities – Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. They revealed that female students are being taught separately, or being restricted to certain parts of the campus.
“Putting up curtains is not acceptable,” Anjila, a 21-year-old student at Kabul University who returned to find her classroom partitioned, told Reuters by telephone. “I really felt terrible when I entered the class […] We are gradually going back to 20 years ago.”
According to the 21-year-old, female students sat separately from male students even before the Taliban took over Afghanistan. However, classrooms were not physically divided.
Education must resume
In a document outlining guidelines for returning to class, an association of Afghan universities listed a few measures. These included the mandatory wear of hijabs and separate entrances for female students. In addition, it suggested hiring female teachers to teach female students, as well as teaching female students separately or, in smaller classes, separated by a curtain.
While speaking to Reuters, a senior Taliban official said that classroom dividers such as curtains were “completely acceptable,” and that given Afghanistan’s “limited resources and manpower” it was best to “have the same teacher teach both sides of the class.”
Pictures shared on social media by Avicenna University in Kabul show a grey curtain running down the middle of the classroom. Moreover, female students can be seen wearing long robes and headcovers but with their faces visible.
The Taliban have yet to form a government more than three weeks after they captured Kabul with barely a shot fired in anger. Teachers expressed uncertainty about the rules imposed under Taliban rule. Meanwhile, women fear losing the rights they have fought for in the last two decades, as they face resistance from families and officials.
There has been panic in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban took control of the county. The US troops have left Afghanistan, marking the end of a 20-year war that left the Taliban stronger than it was in 2001.
Story Courtesy: Reuters
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