‘Profound frustration’ as Taliban shuts Afghan girls’ schools, UN says

  • The Taliban backtracked on its announcement that high schools would open for girls
  • UN rights chief warned that ‘denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls’
Agence France-Presse |

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The Taliban ordered girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan to shut on Wednesday just hours after they reopened. Photo: AFP

The UN rights chief voiced deep disappointment Wednesday after the Taliban ordered the closure of girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan just hours after they reopened.

The decision was announced after thousands of girls resumed lessons for the first time since August, when the Taliban seized control of the country and imposed harsh restrictions on women.

“I share the profound frustration and disappointment of Afghan high school girls and women, who after six months of anticipation were prevented from returning to school today,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.

Taliban takeover in Afghanistan casts shadow over girls’ education and women’s rights

“The de facto authorities’ failure to adhere to commitments to reopen schools for girls above the sixth grade – in spite of repeated commitments towards girls’ education, including during my visit to Kabul two weeks ago – is deeply damaging for Afghanistan,” she said.

The UN rights chief warned that “the denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls.

“Beyond their equal right to education, it leaves them more exposed to violence, poverty and exploitation.”

Girls attend a class after their school reopened in Kabul on Wednesday; hours later, they were ordered to go home. Photo: AFP

Bachelet stressed that “this is of grave concern at a time when the country desperately needs to overcome multiple intersecting crises.

“Disempowering half of Afghanistan’s population is counterproductive and unjust,” she added.

“Structural discrimination such as this is also deeply damaging for the country’s prospects of future recovery and development.”

Taliban order university women in Afghanistan to wear face-covering niqab and separates classes

Bachelet said the women she had met during her visit to Kabul had told her “they have information, solutions and the capability to help chart a way out of this economic, humanitarian and human rights crisis in Afghanistan.

“They insisted upon the equal right to quality education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels and were hopefully awaiting the reopening of schools today.

“I call on the de facto authorities to respect all girls’ rights to education and to open schools for all students without discrimination or further delay.”

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