Timeline: Taliban crackdown on Afghan women’s education, rights

Group has backtracked on promises to guarantee certain rights for girls and women since its return to power last year.

The Taliban has backtracked on their promise to guarantee the rights of girls to be educated and given other freedoms, returning to their previous policies when they were last in power.

The group, which took over Kabul 16 months ago, argues its rules are in keeping with their interpretation of Islam, although Afghanistan is the only Muslim country that prohibits girls from being educated.

Here is a timeline of its clampdown:

August 2021: The Taliban returns

The Taliban returns to power in Kabul on August 15 during a chaotic final exit of the United States-led foreign troops, ending a 20-year war and precipitating the collapse of the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani.

The group promises to give Afghans more freedoms than their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, saying it will honour human rights obligations, including those of women.

September 2021: Gender-segregated classrooms

The Taliban announces on September 12 last year that women can attend universities with gender-segregated entrances and classrooms, but they can only be taught by professors of the same sex or old men. Other restrictions included the wearing of hijabs as part of a compulsory dress code.

March 2022: Girls barred from school

On March 23 this year, girls’ secondary schools were supposed to reopen, but the Taliban rescinded the directive and tens of thousands of teenagers were shut out and ordered to stay home.

May 2022: Stay at home

Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhunzada orders women on May 7 to fully cover themselves, including their faces, in public and generally stay at home. Women are also banned from inter-city travel without a male escort.

August 2022: Protests break out

Taliban fighters beat women protesters chanting “bread, work and freedom” and fire into the air on August 13 to break up a demonstration outside the education ministry in Kabul.

The government forces also detain and beat journalists covering the protests.

November 2022: Parks out of bounds

Women are banned from entering parks, fun fairs, gyms and public baths.

December 2022: Execution, floggings

The Taliban carries out its first public execution since returning to power, that of a convicted murderer who is shot dead on December 7 by his victim’s father in western Farah province.

The next day, more than 1,000 people watch as 27 Afghans, including women, are flogged in Charikar in central Parwan province for a range of offences ranging from sodomy and deception to forgery and debauchery.

Floggings in public have since been regularly carried out in other provinces.

December 2022: No university for women

Armed guards stop hundreds of young women from entering university campuses on December 21, a day after a terse release from the minister for higher education announces an order “suspending the education of females until further notice”.

Source: AFP