KABUL -- A ban on girls singing in public imposed by education officials in Kabul last week was overturned Sunday (March 14) after public outrage against it that sparked a social media campaign.
The ban had prohibited schoolgirls above the age of 12 from singing at public ceremonies with men attending.
In a statement Sunday, the Ministry of Education effectively reversed the ban, saying it "does not reflect the positions or policies of the ministry".
Schoolgirl choirs are a regular feature of official Afghan events, and the ban sparked backlash immediately after education officials announced it.
The ban raised concerns that education officials were "Taliban-ising" the country, heralding a return to a time when the authoritarian group barred the participation of women in almost all activities outside their own homes.
A recent Taliban crackdown in areas controlled by the group has seen Afghan women cut off from crucial aid, relief workers said earlier this month.
The Taliban have demanded an end to projects helping women to be more independent and have thwarted female aid staff from entering their territory in some areas.
Taliban attitudes a cause for alarm
Many fear that women will once again bear the brunt of the group's growing influence.
While the Afghan government has made efforts to curb violence against women and has helped to pave the way for their progress by creating jobs and other opportunities, the Taliban's dogmatic views on women are cause for worry.
The announcement that the singing ban was being lifted followed furious backlash from social media users using the hashtag #IAmMySong.
Some girls uploaded videos of themselves singing their favourite songs.
"In Afghanistan today the Ministry of Education suffocated the voices of our little girls by making it illegal for them to sing," Shamila Kohestani, former captain of the national women's soccer team, said on Twitter.
On Facebook, Tayeb Safa expressed her concerns: "I feel the Taliban are making a comeback."
Peace talks between the government and the Taliban have largely stalled in recent months, while a targeted assassination campaign -- including the murders of high-profile Afghan women -- has further rattled the country.