Afghan universities deserted as Taliban impose new rules On the first day of the Afghan school year, Monday, Kabul’s universities were nearly empty as teachers and students grappled with the Taliban’s new classroom restrictions.
The Taliban have pledged a gentler rule than they did during their first term in power, from 1996 to 2001, when women’s rights were severely curtailed and they were barred from higher education in Afghanistan.
This time, the extreme Islamist party has stated that under the new rule, women would be able to attend private universities, but they will be subjected to rigorous wardrobe and movement restrictions.
Taliban’s Clothing Restrictions
According to the Taliban, women can only attend class if they are dressed in an abaya—a flowing robe—and a niqab—a facial veil with a small window to look through—and are isolated from men.
“Our students will not tolerate this, and we will be forced to close the university,” Noor Ali Rahmani, the director of Gharjistan University in Kabul, said on an almost deserted campus.
On Sunday, the hardline group’s education authority released a lengthy paper explaining their classroom policies, which included the requirement that men and women be separated in the classroom—or at the very least separated by a curtain if there are fewer than 15 students.
“We stated we weren’t going to take it because it would be difficult,” Rahmani told sources. “We also claimed it isn’t true Islam since it contradicts the Quran.”
Women must only be educated by other women or “old men” and must enter through a women-only door at private colleges and universities, which have sprung up since the Taliban’s first rule ended.
To prevent them from mixing outside, they must end their lessons five minutes sooner than men. The Taliban have made no mention of public universities thus far. However, for other students, the fact that women would be free to attend university under the new Taliban administration was a relief.