Universities in Afghanistan have resumed classes three weeks after the Taliban seized power in the country. But they don’t go on as before. Teachers and students in major cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat testify to Reuters news agency that men and women are strictly kept apart in several places. They are taught separately or separated by a curtain in the middle of the class.
The international community closely monitors the situation in universities and schools in Afghanistan, which demands that the Taliban respect women’s rights in exchange for vital aid and diplomatic ties. This is not an unfounded concern because when the Taliban were in power last time – between 1996 and 2001 – girls were no longer allowed to go to school, and women were not allowed to go to university or work.
However, the Taliban have assured in recent weeks that women’s rights will be respected “according to Islamic law”, but it is not clear what that means in practice.
Reuters obtained a document with guidelines for resuming classes from an association of private universities in Afghanistan. It states, among other things, that wearing a headscarf is mandatory and that there must be separate entrances for female students. Female teachers must teach the latter separately or in smaller classes and separated by a curtain.
According to the news agency, it is not clear whether the document includes the official position of the Taliban. The group has not yet responded.
Last week, the Taliban indicated that schools should reopen and that men and women should be separated. “Curtains are perfectly acceptable for that,” said a senior official.
Photos shared by Avicenna University in Kabul and making viral on social media show a gray curtain dividing a classroom in two. The women wear headscarves and long clothes, but their faces are visible.
The return of the Taliban has alarmed many women in Afghanistan. They fear that the rights they have fought for, for the past twenty years, will be wiped out again.