Afghan women’s rights activist Mahbouba Seraj has described the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education and other restrictions on women as a “crime” and an “apartheid” in a behind-the-scenes documentary released as the group marks two years since it returned to power in Afghanistan.
Seraj, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, confronts Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid during a meeting in Taliban Palace, an Al Jazeera Witness documentary released on Tuesday.
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“For God’s sake, please open the girls’ schools,” she says. “It is not possible to have a generation that doesn’t go to school.”
Mujahid tells Seraj that her concerns for girls’ education are “justified” but says that “if schoolgirls go against the government” then that could “destabilise the Afghan society”.
“If we don’t agree with the solution that the scholars advise for us, and if they think we are going in the wrong direction, it could cause division and bring down the government.”
“It’s not possible to have a generation that doesn’t go to school.”
Mahbouba Seraj, a fearless Afghan activist and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, demands answers from the Taliban’s main spokesperson about the worsening women’s rights in the country. Watch: https://t.co/RN75f85odN pic.twitter.com/fx9bHX0BDI
— Witness Docs (@AJWitness) August 14, 2023
According to UNESCO, more than 2.5 million, nearly 80 percent of school-aged Afghan girls and young women, have been out of school since 2021.
The Taliban’s decision to keep girls’ schools shuttered has reversed significant gains in female education in the past 20 years.
The Taliban says it respects rights in line with its interpretation of Islamic law.
The group has imposed a slew of restrictions on women, stopping most women from working with aid agencies, closing beauty salons, banning women from parks and limiting their ability to travel without a male guardian.
Many Western and Muslim-majority countries have rejected the Taliban’s policies on women’s rights.
Seraj warned Mujahid that if the Taliban’s policies on women are not reversed, the world would stand against them.
“The people of Afghanistan will suffer,” she said.