News & Current Affairs

Afghanistan: Taliban Arrests Women Protesting Against University Ban

By Azeezat Okunlola | Dec 23, 2022

The Taliban detained five women during a demonstration in Kabul against the ban on women's enrolling in higher education in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, three reporters were taken into custody. It has been reported that protests have occurred in Takhar province as well.

On Wednesday, a day after the ban was declared, guards stopped hundreds of women from visiting campuses.

Since the Taliban retook power last year, this is the latest measure to limit girls' and women's access to formal education.

The vast majority of secondary schools have already stopped admitting female students.

The minister in charge of higher education issued the new restriction on Tuesday, effective immediately. Both public and private universities are now restricted from admitting female students.

The Education Ministry announced that after consulting with its academics about the university's curriculum and environment, it had decided to temporarily halt female enrollment until "a suitable environment" was created.

Later, Neda Mohammad Nadeem, the Taliban's minister of higher education, announced on national television that women were not allowed to attend universities because they did not adhere to the dress code.

"They were dressing like they were going to a wedding."

On Thursday, footage of Afghan women in hijabs marching through the streets of Kabul with banners and chanting was widely circulated online.

After authorities stationed a huge number of security personnel in front of Kabul University, the largest and most prominent educational institution in the country, the group decided to move their rally.

According to the BBC, several protesting women were either physically assaulted or arrested by female Taliban officers.

As one protester put it to the BBC, she was "beaten badly" yet just avoided arrest.

"There were too many female Taliban members among us," the woman claimed, requesting anonymity. "They beat some of our girls and arrested some others. They were about to take me too, but I managed to escape. But I was beaten badly. "

A second demonstrator stated that although two people had been released from jail, many others were still being held.

To show their support for the demonstrators, several men engaged in civil disobedience. Many male professors and students at both public and private universities have resigned in protest, and others have reportedly refused to take exams.

After reclaiming control in August 2021, after the United States had withdrawn its forces, the Taliban had promised a more lenient regime. However, conservative Islamists have maintained their pledge to restrict women's rights and liberties.

Since the women of Afghanistan returned home, protests led by women have become increasingly infrequent. The participants are subject to harassment, physical harm, and possible social disgrace.

Women had previously been subjected to sexist policies at institutions before Tuesday's announcement.

Female students were only allowed to be taught by female academics or elderly males, and there were separate entrances and classrooms for the sexes. Further, they were restricted from choosing courses from a limited list.

Women were prohibited from pursuing careers in engineering, economics, veterinary medicine, agriculture, and the media.

UNESCO, the United Nations' agency for education and culture, reports that the percentage of Afghani women enrolled in universities has climbed by a factor of 20 since 2001, the year the Taliban were toppled by a US-led military invasion.