Taliban lays out new policy under which women can study in universities but in non-men classrooms and hijab will be compulsory.

A man gestures as he walks past a mural depicting a female student outside Afghanistan's Ministry of Higher Education in Kabul on September 9, 2021.
A man gestures as he walks past a mural depicting a female student outside Afghanistan's Ministry of Higher Education in Kabul on September 9, 2021. (AFP)

Taliban has said it will allow girls and women to continue higher education but the classrooms will be gender-segregated. 

The higher education minister in the new Taliban interim government said on Sunday that women can study in universities, including at post-graduate levels, but classrooms will be gender-segregated and that Islamic dress will be compulsory.

The minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, laid out the new policies at a news conference on Sunday, several days after Afghanistan's new rulers formed an all-male, all-Taliban government.

Haqqani said that the female university students would be required to wear a hijab but did not elaborate on whether this only meant a compulsory headscarf or also mandatory face coverings.

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Harsh rule to conciliatory face

When it was last in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed harsh rules and often punished people with public floggings, amputations, and executions. 

Womens' activities such as work and education were severely restricted.

This time the Taliban have tried to present a conciliatory face.

While Afghan society remains profoundly conservative with regard to women's rights even outside the Taliban's ranks, recent protests by women in Kabul and other cities have underlined how determined some are to preserve the gains of the past 20 years.

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'We will not allow co-education'

Haqqani said the Taliban did not want to turn the clock back 20 years. "We will start building on what exists today," he said.

However, female university students will face restrictions under the Taliban, including a compulsory dress code. 

Gender segregation will also be enforced, he said. 

"We will not allow boys and girls to study together," he said. "We will not allow co-education."

Haqqani said the subjects being taught in universities would also be reviewed but did not elaborate. 

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies