World / Girls back in secondary schools in Afghanistan's Kunduz; video surfaces

Zoom News : Oct 06, 2021, 11:55 AM
Kabul: Secondary schools in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province have now opened for girls, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a video shared on Twitter.

The video shows many girls in black dresses and white scarves, some with veils, waving Taliban flags. “Girls are going to high schools in Khan Abad, Kunduz Province,” tweeted Doha-based Shaheen, who has been nominated as the new Afghan government’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

In the video aired on Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), a reporter can be heard saying “schools are open for girls, and there are no restrictions”. It is followed by a Taliban member saying, “Girls and boys from grades seven to 12 are at school in the district. There are no issues for anyone so far”.

A Taliban spokesperson had said in August that women would be allowed to work and study, and another official said women should participate in government. The Taliban has government said women in Afghanistan will have rights “within the bounds of Islamic law,” or Shariah, under their newly established rule. However, women in the country have been worried about the Taliban’s interpretation of the Shariah and a return of the repressive policies witnessed during its 1996-2001 rule.

The Taliban has also said women will not be required to wear a full Burqa, and can opt for just the hijab (headscarf). When they were last in power, the Taliban had made full burqa compulsory. In its rule in the 90s, schools for girls were shut down and they were denied basic healthcare facilities. Women faced brutal punishments, with some being publicly flogged, stoned or executed, for breaking rules.

As universities opened in September, teachers and students at institutes in Afghanistan’s largest cities – Kabul, Kandahar and Herat – told Reuters that female students were being segregated in class, taught separately or restricted to certain parts of the campus. An image also emerged showing male and female students sitting in a class separated by a curtain.

Days later, some Afghan girls returned to primary schools with gender-segregated classes, but older girls faced an anxious wait with no clarity over if and when they would be able to resume their studies at the secondary school level.

A hard-hitting speech by an Afghan girl, demanding to continue her education, recently went viral. In a minute-long video, she was heard fearlessly asking Taliban leaders who they were to take away rights and opportunities, when both men and women are equal before ‘Allah’.

Last month Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference that work was “continuing over the issues of education and work of women and girls”, saying schools will reopen “as soon as possible”, without providing a time frame.