The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan has announced the suspension of university education for female students all across the war-torn nation, the latest in a series of restrictions against women’s rights.
A letter issued by the regime’s Education Ministry on Tuesday said the decision, which will further restrict women’s access to formal education, was taken at a cabinet meeting and the order will go into effect immediately, reports CNN.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Higher Education said that the suspension will remain until further notice.
The latest development comes after thousands of girls and women appeared for university entrance exams across Afghanistan three months ago, reports the BBC.
But sweeping restrictions were imposed on the subjects they could study, with veterinary science, engineering, economics and agriculture off limits and journalism severely restricted.
After the country fell to the Taliban in August 2021, universities introduced gender segregated classrooms and entrances.
Female students could only be taught by women professors or old men.
Responding to the latest ban, a female university student told the BBC she thought the Taliban were scared of women and their power.
“They destroyed the only bridge that could connect me with my future… How can I react? I believed that I could study and change my future or bring the light to my life but they destroyed it.”
Addressing reporters on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington condemns “the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities.”
The move will “have significant consequences for the Taliban and will further alienate the Taliban from the international community and deny them the legitimacy they desire,” he said.
“With the implementation of this decree, half of the Afghan population will soon be unable to access education beyond primary school,” he said.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Robert Wood said: “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 freedom of women and girls.”
In March this year, Afghan girls were barred from returning to secondary schools after the Taliban ordered schools for girls to shut just hours after they were due to reopen following months-long closures imposed after the takeover.
Last month, the Taliban banned women from going to parks in Kabul, claiming that Islamic laws were not being followed there.