This statement is in response to the Taliban regime’s order to ban Afghan women from attending universities as reported in the Guardian. Headline: “Taliban ban Afghan women from university education” (Link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/20/taliban-ban-afghan-women-university-education)
Sisters in Islam (SIS) together with the undersigned condemn and reject the Taliban regime’s order to ban women from attending universities in Afghanistan. This discriminatory decision by the Taliban’s Ministry of Higher Education is a despicable form of control and violates the basic rights to education for women and girls.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, women’s rights have deteriorated at a rapid rate. Some of the examples include:
- In September 2021, the Taliban enforced gender-segregation in the classrooms. Students can only be taught by professors of the same sex or old men. They were also enforced to abide by the compulsory dress code including wearing the hijab.
- In March 2022, girls were barred from school and were ordered to stay home.
- This was followed by an order in May 2022 for women to fully cover themselves including their faces in public and to stay at home. They are also banned from travelling inter-city without a male escort.
- In November 2022, women were banned from entering parks, fun fairs, gyms and public baths.
After the takeover in 2021, the Taliban made promises to give Afghans more freedom and honouring human rights, including women’s rights to work and study. However, these are empty promises as they have continued to rob and violate women and girls’ basic rights to live free from abuse and control. Islam prioritises and upholds the pursuit of knowledge as a value for everyone, regardless of their gender through the Quran in Chapter Al-’Alaq, “Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth,” (Quran: 96:1). The Taliban regime’s decision to totally deny Afghan women and girls’ rights to education is a clear contravention of the first revelation of the Quran. They have also undermined women and girls’ humanities and put them in a backward and uncertain future. Women’s participation in education and the economy is vital in the development of Afghanistan and this discriminatory and regressive order will further hurt a country that has gone through so much turmoil and loss of lives.
Furthermore, the Taliban must honour the promises they made at the Doha peace negotiations with the occupying US and NATO forces, in response to concerns from women’s human rights organisations in the country about their future after the withdrawal of US forces. The Taliban negotiating leader promised that Afghanistan would continue to respect girls’ right to education as well as their right to work. Both these promises have not been kept by the Taliban as they have imposed limitations on these rights. We call upon the Taliban government not to limit the rights of Afghan girls and women so that they can have a better future in life
We further condemn the regressive and dangerous order by the Taliban regime and urge everyone to stand together with the Afghans, especially Afghan women to press for the reversal of this ban. The latest news that Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting interior minister and Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, the acting minister of defense, are holding discussions on reopening of universities and schools for women and girls, is encouraging and until this ban is overturned the support and campaign for the Afghan women must continue.
Joint Action Group for Gender Equality:
- All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
- Family Frontiers
- Justice for Sisters (JFS)
- KRYSS Network
- Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
- Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
- Advancing Knowledge in Democracy and Law initiative
- Buku Jalanan Ipoh
- Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
- G25 Malaysia
- GERAK (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia)
- In Between Cultura
- Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY)
- Kemban Kolektif
- Life Under Umbrella
- North South Initiative
- People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos)
- Parti MUDA
- Parti Sosialis Malaysia
- Pusat KOMAS
- Pemuda Sosialis
- Isabella Pek
- Suguna Papachan
- Nur Sakeenah Omar