Education in Afghanistan – Girls fight for the right to go to school – Politics

Have they changed? This is a question many observers asked themselves when the Taliban marched to the West in August, overthrew the Kabul government, and seized power in Afghanistan 20 years after their overthrow. Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to dealing with women and girls, the answer is “no”.

Although the Taliban had kept primary schools open in most of the country, girls aged 7 and up were denied access in most cases. They should have been allowed to take classes again when the new school year started last Wednesday, but the Taliban leadership ultimately decided not to. The Taliban’s education ministry said it will now present the prime minister with a plan to teach according to their interpretation of Islam.

It is not only in schools that Islamists display their discriminatory worldview. On Sunday, the Taliban ministry for the so-called Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice also announced that women and men in Kabul can only enter amusement parks separately. And before it was already leaked that Afghan women can still fly, but only if accompanied by men.

“What else should we believe?”

“It hurts a lot not to be able to go to school anymore,” said a 13-year-old student from Kabul Suddeutsche Zeitung during the weekend. “What should we believe when our rights are taken away from us so soon? If the world doesn’t help us now, our lives will become miserable.” She asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The international community has not completely turned its back on Afghanistan, but it has long since turned its attention to other problematic points. A few days ago, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed that excluding women and girls from education violates their human rights. And the West has also closely linked financial aid to girls’ and women’s access to educational institutions. But this does not seem to bother the Taliban, even if the Islamist government remains isolated internationally.

The procedure is reminiscent of the “time of darkness”, the years 1996 to 2001, when the Taliban ruled Kabul and largely banished women from public life. “It goes against all principles that girls are denied the fundamental right to education,” a teacher from Herat told the SZ. For fear of repression, she also asked not to be named. In some cases, the Taliban did not look very closely after the seizure of power: schools that offered classes to girls from grade 7 onwards even after the Islamists took power have remained intact – until now, for the new school year, when the state ban was pronounced.

Demonstration in Kabul

“When my colleagues and I came to school, a Talib insulted us and prevented us from entering the building,” said the teacher from Herat. Another teacher from Kabul, who also asked for anonymity, also reported that the Taliban had not initially banned the operation of some schools for girls, but for some days they have taken rigorous action against them. “My sisters are in 10th and 11th grade, they can no longer go to school,” said the teacher from Kabul. The two girls were devastated. Her life has changed dramatically since the Taliban took power. Not only teachers in Kabul and Herat fear that the progress made over the past 20 years will be reversed.

Dozens of people protested the Taliban’s decision to ban girls from secondary schools in Kabul over the weekend near the Ministry of Education. “We have gathered here to express our mutual pain,” an activist told Afghan news channel Tolonews. Unlike previous demonstrations, the Taliban did not take action against women and girls.

16 foreign ministers, including from Germany, Great Britain and Canada, adopted a statement expressing themselves “deeply disappointed” by the Taliban’s decision. Ten UN ambassadors in New York found similar words. Thomas West, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, called on the Islamists to reverse the decision. His government has decided to cancel a meeting with the Taliban in Doha on economic matters. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban attack in Pakistan at the age of 15, encouraged Afghan women: compared to 1996, this time it was “much more difficult for the Taliban to uphold the ban on education for girls “. Because Afghan women today are educated and confident enough to take action against it.

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