'Hugs, screams and cries': Afghan women devastated over university ban


Afghan female university students whom security personnel halted stand next to a university in Kabul on December 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan female university students whom security personnel halted stand next to a university in Kabul on December 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Female university students across Afghanistan were in disbelief on Wednesday (December 21) after they were barred from studying and condemned to a life of feeling "like caged birds".

In Kabul, home to the country's largest universities, students gathered outside campuses dressed in black cloaks and tight headscarves and sought consolation from friends and family as they digested news of the university ban.

"We all felt like caged birds, we hugged each other, screamed, and cried, 'Why is this happening to us?'" Amini, a 23-year-old nursing student in Kunduz, told AFP.

She was with her three sisters –- two already barred from secondary school and another studying for a degree –- when social media exploded with the news of the late-night order.

Faculties across the country were already closed for the winter break, but students had been able to access campuses for exams or to study in libraries.

'No one will listen'

Some women had not been aware of the exclusion until the morning, a guard told AFP.

"My sister is studying computer science... I didn't inform her last night. I knew she would be traumatised," said a young male law student in Kabul, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

"It really expresses illiteracy and poor knowledge of Islam and human rights. If the situation continues like this, the future will be worse. Everyone is scared."

In Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, some male students walked out of their exams in protest against the decision.

The restrictions on women have multiplied in recent months. They are banned from most government jobs or are paid a pittance to stay at home, not authorised to travel alone outside their city and are excluded from parks and gardens.

"We have no power to do anything, and there is no one to listen to us," said one 29-year-old, who is doing a master's degree in Pashtu literature in Kabul.

"We can't protest; we are hopeless. In every aspect of life, we are doomed," she told AFP.

"We don't have jobs, we can't go anywhere, and we can't leave the country. We have lost everything."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock Wednesday said that she would put the educational ban on Afghan women on the agenda of the G7 club of wealthy nations, in which Germany currently holds the presidency.

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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has suspended the activities of 1588 local classes in the center and districts of Kandahar. UNICEF made this decision after the Taliban banned women's work in national and international NGOs. The Taliban announced a new ban on restrictions on girls and women last Sunday. It was widely criticized because Afghans are not the people they were 40 or 30 years ago and are used to listening to the words of incompetent and ignorant people. They used to act on it. Afghans are not the people they were in the time of Ghazi Amanullah Khan or Dawood Khan. At that time, the Afghan people were silent and grateful to their governments through the mouths of foreigners. Still, now that the government of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is silent, the girls and young men are crying, knowing they have lost the mountain of knowledge and development. They lost him, and in return, ignorant people took over power. We will say that thousands of children in Kandahar failed to study, and the Taliban have brought a dark fate to Afghanistan.


The rest of President Ghani's statement: I have said it many times, and I will repeat it if one girl becomes literate, she changes five upcoming generations. If one girl remains illiterate, she causes the destruction of five generations in the future. I strongly reject the claim of those foreign and domestic countries that give cultural cover to such treacherous decisions. Mirwais Neeka's and Ahmad Shah Baba's mothers were literate and respected leaders. I appreciate and honor the girls and boys who protested today in Nangarhar, Kandahar, and other provinces for the right to education in these difficult conditions. They are the leading pioneers and champions of the right to education in the country. The current young generation (women and men) can destroy the ongoing tyranny for the next hundred years by strengthening their ranks, unity, and consensus. In the current situation, the only thing on which all Afghans have a unanimous consensus is the issue of women's right to education and work. I believe that the Taliban cannot stand against this national popular consensus. Long live Afghanistan


The Taliban are ignorant. They want to make the whole society ignorant. If they would do anything wrong regarding the right of Afghan women, the entire Afghan people are standing against them. Their action that girls do not go to these universities has provoked the reactions of former officials and ordinary Afghans. President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani said in one of his statements: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Unfortunately, the current problem of women's education and work in the country is severe, sad, and the most obvious and cruel example of gender apartheid in the twenty-first century. The main problem is the illegitimacy of the ruling group because they are rulers in an undemocratic manner and have occupied Afghanistan and held the entire population hostage. The responsibility for such bad decisions of the current ruling group and the deepening of the current crisis is not only on the Taliban but on all those individuals, elements, and institutions that organized propaganda to whitewash them and claim that these People have changed. Their understanding of new situations has increased. Now is the time for the Taliban and their preachers should share the hidden annexes and attachments of the Doha Agreement with the nation. The question is, why can't they explain to the people about those personal commitments with America, and why did they keep the details hidden from the people? In what capacity does the ruling group want to change Afghanistan's educa


Closing the gates of the universities to the female students of Afghanistan made the female students and their families cry. In fact, they made all the people of Afghanistan cry. Closing the gates of the universities to the female students of Afghanistan is to drag the Afghan women to the darkness. All of the Muslims have the same Quran, why is it that in all Islamic countries, girls have all kinds of education, but the children of Afghanistan are deprived of education? What is the difference between us and other Islamic countries? I heard this news today. I really had tears in my eyes. I realized that we, the people of Afghanistan spend our days and nights in the darkness. They studied for 12 years under bad circumstances. Every day their families were waiting for when the dead bodies of our children will enter the house. These girls were educated in those difficult conditions and now they are deprived of the rights given to them by Islam. God, it is surprising. I hope that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will revise its decree and let these suffering children to study. We have been waiting for years for a real peace to come. And it is a fact that universal peace has come. Security has also arrived. In this situation, which is also safe, these girls, our children should be allowed to complete their education and serve this country in the future.