KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghan women can continue to study at universities, including at the postgraduate level, but classrooms will be segregated by gender and Islamic dress is mandatory, the new minister said on Sunday. ‘Higher education of the Taliban government.
Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani presented the new policies at a press conference days after the new Afghan leadership formed an all-male government. On Saturday, the Taliban hoisted their flag above the presidential palace, marking the start of the work of the new government.
The world has watched closely how the Taliban might act differently from when they first took power in the late 1990s. At that time, girls and women were denied education and excluded from public life. .
The Taliban have suggested that they have changed, including in their attitudes towards women. However, women have been banned from sports and the Taliban have used violence in recent days against female protesters demanding equal rights.
Haqqani said the Taliban did not want to go back 20 years. “We will start to build on what is there today,” he said.
However, female university students will face restrictions, including a mandatory dress code. Haqqani said hijabs will be mandatory, but did not say whether that means mandatory headscarves or mandatory face coverings as well.
Gender segregation will also be enforced, he said. “We will not allow boys and girls to study together,” he said. “We will not allow co-education.”
Haqqani said the subjects taught would also be reviewed. Although he did not elaborate, he said he wanted Afghan university graduates to be competitive with university graduates from the region and the rest of the world.
The Taliban, who subscribe to a strict interpretation of Islam, banned music and art during their previous mandate. This time around, the television remained and the news channels are still showing female anchors, but the Taliban’s messages have been erratic.
In an interview with the popular TOLO News in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Syed Zekrullah Hashmi said last week that women should give birth and raise children. While the Taliban have not ruled out the possible participation of women in government, the spokesperson said “it is not necessary for women to be in government.”
The Taliban seized power on August 15, the day they invaded the capital Kabul after capturing the outlying provinces in a swift military campaign. They initially promised inclusiveness and a blanket amnesty for their former opponents, but many Afghans remain deeply afraid of the new rulers. Taliban police officials beat Afghan journalists, violently dispersed women’s protests and formed an all-male government although they initially said they would invite wider representation.
The new higher education policy marks a change from accepted practice before the Taliban took power. Universities were mixed, with men and women studying side by side, and female students did not have to adhere to a dress code. However, the vast majority of female university students have chosen to wear the headscarf according to tradition.
In elementary and secondary schools, boys and girls were taught separately, even before the Taliban came to power. In high schools, girls were required to wear knee-length tunics and white scarves, and jeans, makeup, and jewelry were not allowed.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s new government faces enormous economic challenges with almost daily warnings of an impending economic collapse and humanitarian crisis. The United Nations warns that this could drive 97% of Afghans below the poverty line by the end of the year.
Thousands of desperate Afghans wait in front of Afghan banks for hours every day to withdraw the weekly allowance of $ 200. In recent days, the Taliban appear to have tried to establish an organized system for customers to withdraw funds, but it quickly deteriorates waving the stick as the crowd rushes to the bank’s doors.
Outside of New Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s first private bank created in 2004, nearly 2,000 people demanded their money on Sunday.
For Zaidullah Mashwani, Sunday was the third day he came to the bank hoping to get his $ 200. Every night, the Taliban compile a list of eligible customers the next day, and every morning Mashwani says that a whole new list is presented.
“It’s our money. People have the right to have it, ”he said. “No one has any money. The Taliban government must do something so that we can get our money back. “
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