Tali-ban: Women barred from working or studying at Kabul University ‘temporarily'

The girls are apparently not cool enough for school.

That’s at least according to the Taliban, which chipped further away at women’s rights Monday in announcing that women would be barred from studying or working at Afghanistan’s top higher education institution, Kabul University.

The new, Taliban-appointed chancellor of the school declared what he said was a temporary moratorium on female teachers and students “until an Islamic environment is created,” in the latest move squeezing Afghanistan women out of public life.

© AAMIR QURESHI Veiled students hold Taliban flags as they listen a speaker before a pro-Taliban rally at the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul on September 11, 2021.

Veiled students hold Taliban flags as they listen a speaker before a pro-Taliban rally at the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul on September 11, 2021. (AAMIR QURESHI/)

“Folks! I give you my words as the chancellor of Kabul University,” chancellor Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat wrote on Twitter, according to The Hill. “As long as a real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first.”

The move at what’s known as Afghanistan’s top university further erodes women’s rights and two decades of beefing up higher education, experts said. Ghairat blamed the move on an inability to find women to teach the women, The Hill reported.

“Due to shortage of female lecturers, we are working on a plan for male lecturers to be able to teach female students from behind a curtain in the classroom,” Ghairat wrote. “That way an Islamic environment would be created for the female students to get education.”

Initially the Taliban had said women could study in universities and postgraduate programs if they were in gender-segregated classrooms and wearing Islamic dress. From 1996 to 2001, the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan under a fundamentalist Islamist code, women were not allowed to attend school at all, The Washington Post said.

The move announced Monday reeked of those restrictions, given the lack of a timeline to get women and girls back into schools and other public places. That absence of urgency has some advocates concerned that the country is slipping back to a time when women were stoned for adultery, only allowed out if swathed head to toe in a burqa, and accompanied by a male relative, as Bloomberg News noted.

Ghairat, with no prior experience in academia, was appointed last week amid criticism over his lack of credentials.

That didn’t stop him from laying out a vision for the university on Monday, which is to make it a hub for “all real Muslims around the world to gather, research and study” and to “Islamicize the modern science,” reported CNN, citing his Twitter account, which since seems to have been deleted. “I am here to announce that we will be welcoming pro-Muslim scholars and students to benefit from a real Islamic environment.”

The United Nations has already called out the Taliban for allegedly breaking its promises regarding treatment of women.

Historically the Taliban have subjected women to violence, forced them to marry and rendered their presence nearly invisible, as CNN described it. When they took over again last month after the U.S. withdrawal, they promised it would not go back to those rules.

They then proceeded to form an all-male interim government that was stacked with veterans of their hardline rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition, though they said the appointments were temporary, The Associated Press reported.

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