Just hours after schools reopened across the country last Wednesday, March 23, 2022, schools for girls from grade 7 were closed again.
Government Girl School in Bamyan | Today, there are more tha… | Flickr
The Taliban had previously announced that female students aged 12 and older would also be allowed to return to classes at the start of the new school year under strict conditions. After the militant Islamist Taliban took power in August 2021, they closed all schools nationwide, officially due to the Covid pandemic. In October, all boys and all girls up to 6th grade were allowed to return to classes, whereas girls in higher grades were subject to a restriction of several months. A spokesman for the Education Ministry congratulated the schoolgirls on the resumption of classes in a video message as recently as Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, however, the Ministry of Education revised its announcement and announced that the girls would not be allowed to attend classes until a plan compatible with Islamic law had been drawn up. This plan would include the development of a school uniform that takes into account the values of Islamic Sharia (Islamic law) and Afghan culture, as well as the teaching of girls in separate buildings by female teachers.
The announcement is causing outrage and disappointment among Afghan civilians and especially among the affected schoolgirls.
« We are human beings too, why shouldn’t we be allowed to go to school? What is our fault? »
asked a schoolgirl in an interview with the TV station Tolonews. Several dozen women protested the school closure in Kabul the following Saturday, March 26, 2022. The protest was peaceful, unlike past demonstrations where the Taliban had intimidated and harassed protesters.
The decision has also been sharply criticized by Western countries and the EU. Progress in women’s rights, and particularly women’s right to education, are among other key demands that the international community is making of the Taliban government and without which no aid payments will be made. Since the withdrawal of Western troops in Afghanistan, however, women’s rights have been curtailed to an increasingly extreme degree.
In making its decisions, the Taliban invokes Islamic sharia, Islamic law based on the Koran and other theological sources. Sharia law can be interpreted in very different ways, but it is interpreted by the Taliban in a particularly inhumane manner and transformed into laws and everyday rules. Most theologians agree that the Koran allows women to be educated and to work; Islamists, therefore, justify the restriction of women’s rights on the grounds of sinfulness. Susanne Schröter, director of the Frankfurt Research Center Global Islam, summarizes the Taliban’s line of argument as follows:
« Women cause unrest in the world because they alone are the embodiment of sin, which is why they are not allowed in public ».
In addition, patriarchy and the oppression of women have traditionally been rooted in Afghan religion and politics anyway, making the Taliban’s radical interpretation of Islam easy to implement.
Tagesschau, 23/03/2022. Taliban in Afghanistan. Doch keine Schule für Mädchen. URL: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/afghanistan/taliban-maedchen-schule-101.html?msclkid=a6f96ff2ad4811ecb6c3a6bd544f9c48 [26/03/2022].
ZDF heute, 23/03/2022. Gymnasien wieder geschlossen -Taliban verbieten Mädchen weiter Schulbesuch. URL: https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/afghanistan-taliban-maedchen-schulen-bildung-100.html [26/03/2022].
Welt, 26/03/2022. Frauen demonstrieren in Kabul gegen Schulverbot für Mädchen. URL: https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article237803051/Afghanistan-Frauen-demonstrieren-gegen-Schulverbot-fuer-Maedchen.html?msclkid=4eb344f9ad4811ec88254f869b78ae02 [26/03/2022].
MDR, 18/08/2022. Taliban in Afghanistan. Wie regelt die Scharia Frauenrechte? URL: https://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/welt/politik/taliban-scharia-frauenrechte-100.html?msclkid=eabca76badb011ec9f27b6cc6084dda3 [26/03/2022].
Der Spiegel, 25/03/2022. Afghanistan. Westliche Staaten fordern von Taliban Wiedereröffnung der Mädchenschulen. URL: https://www.spiegel.de/ausland/taliban-westliche-staaten-fordern-wiedereroeffnung-der-maedchenschulen-in-afghanistan-a-172a0493-c291-4c25-adde-c6c3328cc8c2?msclkid=b855a854adb411ec9bff3c568cf436c2 [26/03/2022].