Afghan women can study in university but mixed classes banned
Women in Afghanistan will be allowed to study in universities as the country seeks to rebuild after decades of war but gender-segregation and Islamic dress code will be mandatory, the Taliban’s new higher education minister said on Sunday.
The minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, said the new Taliban government would “start building the country on what exists today” and did not want to turn the clock back 20 years to when the movement was last in power.
But he remained unapologetic about bringing an end to mixed sex classes. “We have no problems in ending the mixed-education system,” he said. “The people are Muslims and they will accept it.”
The issue of women’s education has been one of the central questions facing the Taliban as they seek to persuade the world that they have changed since the harsh fundamentalist rule they imposed in the 1990s when women were largely banned from studying or working outside the home.
Taliban have said women will be able to study and work in accordance with sharia law but strict dress rules will apply. Haqqani said hijab religious veils would be mandatory for all female students but did not specify if this meant headscarves or compulsory face coverings.
He said female students would be taught by women wherever possible. “Thanks to God we have a high number of women teachers. We will not face any problems in this. All efforts will be made to find and provide women teachers for female students,” he said in Kabul.
Some fear the new rules will exclude women because the universities do not have the resources to provide separate classes. “It all depends on the university’s capacity,” he said. “We can also use male teachers to teach from behind a curtain, or use technology.” Classrooms divided by curtains have already been seen in many places since the Western-backed government collapse and the Taliban seized Kabul last month.