A Taliban fighter on duty in Kabul at the weekend
A Taliban fighter on duty in Kabul.

In another massive blow to women's rights, the Taliban has reportedly banned young girls from getting an education. The regime has directed schools not to admit girls after the third grade.

Last year, it banned girls from attending school beyond the sixth grade. Now, the education institutes have reportedly been asked to ensure that "girls over 10 years old are not allowed to study in primary schools," according to a report by BBC Persian

However, the Ministry of Public Affairs has denied issuing any such instructions. "From our side, the administration has not done such a thing, and if something is done, it will be related to the Ministry of Education."

The Taliban barred girls from attending secondary schools after taking over Afghanistan in August 2021, while the ban on higher education was announced in December last year. It had initially promised that it will reopen the schools for girls beyond the sixth grade, but it backtracked on its decision, just hours before the schools were set to open last year.

Several videos of female students crying in front of their schools then made the rounds on social media. One of the videos shows a student breaking down on the floor when the school did not allow her in.

But the cries fell on deaf ears and the Taliban continued to attack women's rights to education, work, and freedom of movement. Women have been slowly erased from public life.

They have been banned from attending senior secondary and higher secondary schools, from attending classes in universities, and from working in government and private offices. They have even been banned from visiting parks, gyms, public baths, and beauty salons.

The latest move to ban even young girls from attending schools comes just weeks after the Taliban's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, claimed that the group has restored the rights of women.

In a statement issued ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday last month, Akhundzada said that women's Shariah rights have been protected by the regime.

Women in Afghanistan cannot even attend schools and colleges, but the Taliban believe that they are living "free and dignified" lives. Akhundzada believes that the "negative aspects of the past 20-year occupation" by the US will soon come to an end.

"The status of women as a free and dignified human being has been restored and all institutions have been obliged to help women in securing marriage, inheritance and other rights," he said in the statement issued last month.

The Taliban are essentially taking Afghanistan back to the 1990s. During its rule in the 90s, women were not allowed to get an education or step outside without a male chaperone. They also recently banned women from working for national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A UN report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan revealed that women continue to face "restrictions in their movement, attire, employment options, and ability to seek public office or perform the public role," despite the authorities promising to have a more moderate approach.

The UN has urged the government to revoke its policies targeting women and girls. However, the request has not even been acknowledged by the group.

There is no one in the country who can now stand up for women's rights and freedom. There were initially protests against the regime by women's rights activists, but the Taliban government managed to crush them all with threats, intimidation, and punishment.

After the takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban promised they would respect the rights of women "within the limits of Islam." It seems the Taliban's interpretation of Islam can never be favourable to women.

Human rights activists, journalists, and Afghan citizens who managed to flee the country after the Taliban's takeover have also been urging the world to come to their aid, but to no avail.