Afghanistan’s Taliban-run Ministry of Higher Education said on Tuesday that female students will not be allowed to enter universities across the country until further notice.
A message confirmed by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education has been sent to Afghan public and private universities to immediately suspend the entry of female students, in accordance with the decision of the Council of Ministers.
Confirmation of the academic restrictions came on the same evening as the UN Security Council session on Afghanistan, where Rosa Otunbayeva, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the school closures had “undermined” the Taliban administration’s relations with Afghanistan. The international community. .
“As long as girls remain excluded from school and the de-facto authorities continue to ignore the other stated concerns of the international community, we remain on the hook,” she said.
The decision was made because many college students were attending their end-of-semester exams.
The mother of a university student, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said her daughter called her crying when she heard the speech, fearing that she could no longer continue her medical studies in Kabul.
“It’s not just me and the pain [other] Mothers in our hearts are indescribable. We all feel this pain as they worry about the future of their children. »
Foreign governments, including the United States, have said that policies around women’s education must change before they can consider formally recognizing the Taliban-led administration, which also imposes heavy penalties.
“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls,” US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the council, describing the move as “indefensible.” ” release “.
Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie said in a statement Loudspeaker Canada condemned the decision, calling it an “outrageous violation”.
“Equal access to all levels of education is a right that every woman and girl deserves,” she said.
Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, said the comment was “another stark limitation on women’s rights and a deep, profound disappointment for every schoolboy”.
She told the council: “It is also another step by the Taliban to move away from a self-reliant and prosperous Afghanistan.”
In March, the Taliban drew criticism from many foreign governments and some Afghans for hijacking signs to open secondary schools for girls.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday’s decision “was clearly another promise from the Taliban”.
“This is another very worrying step,” he told reporters in New York. “It is difficult to imagine how the country can develop and meet all the challenges it faces without the active participation of women and the education of women.”
The United States cites the ‘sarcasm’ of the ‘goodwill gesture’ of the Taliban
The ban on women and girls attending universities coincided with the release of US citizens by the Taliban on Tuesday, in what appeared to be a “goodwill gesture,” according to US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Speaking at a daily press conference, he said that any explanation of the timing of the release is a matter for the Taliban.
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“The irony is that they gave us a gesture of goodwill one day when they made such a gesture towards the Afghan people and we did not lose it,” he told reporters.
Price said Washington continued to talk to the Taliban about releasing all US citizens held in Afghanistan, but refused to disclose their identities and the number of people who might be held there.
Price stressed that the release was “not part of any consideration” and that there was no exchange of money with the inmates.
He said the former detainees would soon be returned to their loved ones.