Updated Dec 21, 2022 - World

Taliban ban women from Afghanistan's universities

Afghan women in Injil District of Herat Province on Dec. 17.

Afghan women in Injil District of Herat Province on Dec. 17. Photo: Mohsen Karimi/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban on Tuesday banned women from attending Afghanistan's public and private universities, AP reports.

Why it matters: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of "consequences" in response the Taliban's latest move to revoke women's freedoms since the group regained control of the country following the U.S. withdrawal last year.

  • The prohibition comes weeks after the Taliban banned women from public parks and gyms.
  • A Taliban government spokesman said the ban would take effect immediately until further notice, per AP.

What they're saying: "The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all in Afghanistan," said Blinken in a statement Tuesday evening, vowing to "provide robust support to the Afghan people."

  • "This decision will come with consequences for the Taliban," he said.
  • "No other country in the world bars women and girls from receiving an education. [...] Afghanistan is already losing more than $1 billion per year in contributions that women could be making to the economy. 
  • "Now the Taliban have sentenced the Afghan people to these losses and more.  No country can thrive when half of its population is held back."

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch in a statement Tuesday called the decision a "shameful" one that "violates the right to education" for women and girls.

  • "The Taliban are making it clear every day that they don't respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women," the statement added.

The big picture: After the Taliban established a new government in the country in September 2021, the group initially claimed that it would honor women's rights within the "frameworks" of Islamic law.

  • Despite the claim, the Taliban quickly moved to renege freedoms women and girls had enjoyed under the previous government by restricting their movement, employment, access to secondary schools and what they can and cannot wear while in public.
  • The changes have largely been facilitated through its "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," which was formerly Afghanistan's women's ministry.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Blinken.

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