Taliban bans women from universities in Afghanistan | World news

Female students have been banned from universities in Afghanistan with immediate effect, the Taliban said.

A letter, confirmed by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education, instructed Afghan public and private universities to suspend access to female students until further notice in accordance with a cabinet decision.

The United States and Britain have both condemned the announcement and are likely to raise concerns within the international community, which has not officially recognized the de facto government.

The US government has said a change in women’s education policies is needed before it can consider formally recognizing the Taliban-led government, which is also subject to heavy sanctions.

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Female students at the American University of Afghanistan

The Taliban was criticized in March after making a U-turn on opening all middle and high schools to girls.

Barbara Woodward, the UK’s UN ambassador, said the latest suspension was “another blatant curtailment of women’s rights and a deep and profound disappointment for every female student”.

She told the council: “It is also another step by the Taliban away from a self-sufficient and prosperous Afghanistan.”

The confirmation of the university restrictions came the same night as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, said the school closures had “undermined” the Taliban government’s relationship with the international community.

Speaking at a UN Security Council session on Afghanistan, she said: “As long as girls are excluded from school and de facto authorities continue to ignore other concerns raised by the international community, we will remain in a sort of impasse.”

Many students also have to take end-of-year exams. One mother, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said: “The pain that not only I… and (other) mothers have in our hearts cannot be described.

“We all feel this pain, they are worried about their children’s future.”

She said that when her daughter heard about the letter, she called her and now fears she will no longer be able to continue her medical studies in Kabul.

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Sky’s Alex Crawford speaks to girls and women in education in Afghanistan – and gains access to the secret schools that still teach girls.

US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said: “The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially human rights and the fundamental freedom of women and girls.”

In a three-part Sky News documentary in early December, special correspondent Alex Crawford examined the struggle for women’s rights in one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

More than a year after the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, Women at War: Afghanistanmade contact with the informal networks of women’s resistance groups who fight for the preservation of their fundamental human rights, their freedom and their identity.

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