A group of women took to the streets in the city of Herat in Afghanistan, protesting against a Taliban order suspending all female students from attending university in the country. Taliban officials used water cannons to disperse the protesters.
The Taliban’s move came despite the group promising when it returned to power last year that it would honor women’s rights. It follows a similar move in March this year that barred girls from returning to secondary schools.
Male students in universities across the country have responded to the latest education ban by boycotting their exams in protest. Students had first asked Taliban officials to reverse the ban.
The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 in a lightning takeover following the withdrawal of US troops, having previously ruled the country from 1996 until 2001 – when the US-led invasion forced the group from power.
After seizing power last year, the group made numerous promises that it would protect the rights of women and girls. On Saturday, the group ordered all local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country to stop female employees from attending work. Non-compliance would result in the revoking of NGO licenses, an official ministry notice read. Their travel rights have also been severely restricted and access to public spaces significantly curtailed. Women are also required to fully cover themselves in public – including their faces.
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