Sep 18, 2021 - World

Taliban exclude Afghan teen girls from attending school

Afghan girl students wearing facemasks attend a class on the first day after their school was reopened, which was earlier closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Herat on August 22, 2020.
Afghan female students attend a class in Herat on Aug. 22, 2020. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images.

The Taliban reopened Afghan secondary schools on Saturday for only boys, effectively banning teen girls from receiving a formal education, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The move raises new fears that the Taliban will break public promises and impose severe restrictions on women's rights similar to those implemented in the 1990s.

  • In August, The Taliban promised to honor women's rights within the "frameworks" of Islamic law.

Driving the news: The Taliban issued a statement Friday ordering "all male students and male teachers" to be present at their schools, according to a translation from the Washington Post.

  • But the statement, released by the Ministry of Education, didn't reference girls at all.
  • Afghan girls have so far been allowed to attend school until the sixth grade, but they are separated from boys.
  • Taliban officials said they would consider allowing teen girls to attend classes as the security situation allows, per WSJ.

Flashback: Girls were barred from schools and most workplaces when the Taliban were last in power from 1996 to 2001.

What they're saying: "All the girls are depressed now. They want to study and work," said a teacher at Malalai girls' high school in Kabul, per WSJ. "Some of the girls were in their final semester. They were just one step short of graduating and getting their diplomas, but look, now they don't know what to do."

On Friday, the Taliban rebranded Afghanistan's women's ministry with the "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice."

Go deeper: UN human rights chief voices concern over Taliban's Afghanistan rule

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