Taliban de facto authorities on Tuesday banned women and girls from attending universities and pursuing higher educationaccording to the letter from the Taliban Ministry of Higher Education.
Tuesday’s order, effective immediately, completed all the restrictions the Taliban placed on the lives of Afghan women in the 1990s, taking Afghanistan and Afghan women back nearly three decades.
“Based on a decision by the cabinet… women’s education is suspended until further notice,” reads the statement tweeted by ministry spokesman Hafiz Hashimi. “The decision must be implemented immediately.”
The Taliban took power more than 15 months ago and immediately deprived girls of their fundamental rights by banning secondary education for sixth grade and above. But women were allowed to attend universities in a sex-segregated class. No country in the world currently recognizes the Taliban government.
Rumors of closing universities have been circulating on Afghan social media since a new leader was appointed to the position of the ministry of higher education. Mawlawi Neda Muhamad is considered a hardliner of the Taliban and was selected for the position by the Supreme Leader.
In a statement Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US “condemns in the strongest terms the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities, keep high schools closed to girls and continue to impose other restrictions on the ability of women and girls in Afghanistan to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
“No other country in the world prohibits women and girls from receiving education,” said Blinken.
Ambassador Robert Wood, US Deputy Representative for Special Political Affairs, also commented on the Taliban’s decision at a United Nations Security Council briefing.
“The United States condemns this absolutely indefensible position in the strongest terms. The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls. We will continue to work with this Council to speak with one voice on this issue.”
Fawzia Koofi, a member of parliament in the republican government, spoke to CBS News and called the decision tragic. Koofi also warned the world to take the Taliban seriously.
“Since a year (ago), the Taliban have been tightening their restrictions on women day by day, but in return they receive a lot of political support and privileges from the world,” Koofi said. “There is no political pressure and they get $40 million every week, and why should they care about human rights and women’s rights?”
Koofi also told CBS News, “I think before another 9/11 happens, it’s time for the world to take this issue seriously and impose sanctions on Taliban individuals.”
A woman named Shamsia, who only wanted to be called by her first name, is studying at a government-run university. She said her worst nightmare is to be expelled from college.
“It was my nightmare every night,” she told CBS News. “And today I can see that nightmare in daylight with my eyes open.”
Pamela Falk contributed to United Nations reporting.