Taliban suspend university education for women in Afghanistan

(CNN) — The Taliban government suspended the University education for all female students in Afghanistan, the latest step in his brutal crackdown on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women.

A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education confirmed the suspension to CNN on Tuesday. A letter released by the Education Ministry said the decision was made at a cabinet meeting and the order would take effect immediately.

Girls’ return to school in Afghanistan postponed again 0:37

Girls were barred from returning to secondary schools in March, after the Taliban ordered the closure of all-girls schools just hours after they were due to reopen after months of closures imposed after the government takeover. Taliban in August 2021.

Human Rights Watch criticized the ban on Tuesday, calling it a “shameful decision that violates the right to education of women and girls in Afghanistan.”

“The Taliban make it clear every day that they do not respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women,” the rights watchdog said in a statement.

The United States condemns “the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing on Tuesday.

The Taliban’s recent decision, he said, “will have significant consequences for the Taliban and will further alienate them from the international community and deny them the legitimacy they desire.”

The March closure of girls’ high schools had a “significant impact” on US engagement with Taliban proxies, Price added.

“With the implementation of this decree, half of the Afghan population will soon be unable to access education beyond primary school,” he said.

US Ambassador Robert Wood, deputy representative for special political affairs, earlier reiterated those criticisms, telling a United Nations Security Council briefing that “the Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the community.” until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.

Afghan women will not be able to travel alone on the roads 0:51

The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a US-led invasion forced the group from power, have historically treated women as second-class citizens, subjecting them to violence, forced marriages and a nearly invisible presence in the country.

After seizing power in Afghanistan last year, the Taliban tried to project a more moderate image to gain international support.

But while it has made numerous promises to the international community that it would protect the rights of women and girls, the Taliban have been doing the opposite, systematically suppressing their rights and freedoms.

Women in Afghanistan can no longer work in most sectors, they require a male guardian to perform long distance travel and have been ordered to cover their faces in public.

They have also placed limits on girls’ education, barring them from certain workplaces and stripping them of rights they have tirelessly fought for over the past two decades.

In November, Afghan women were prevented from entering amusement parks in Kabul when the government announced restrictions on women being able to access public parks, Reuters reported.

CNN’s Richard Roth and Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.

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