Taliban says boys can re-enter secondary school but does not mention girls

Taliban CIA base
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images
  • Boys started secondary school on Saturday without their female classmates.
  • A decree issued Friday by the Taliban called on boys to resume their classes but made no mention of girls.
  • The Taliban said they want to set up a “secure transportation system” before allowing girls into secondary school.
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Afghan girls on Saturday did not return to secondary school as classrooms reopened for the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban.

On Friday, the Taliban instructed boys to return to school but omitted girls from the decree.

“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” a statement from the Taliban education ministry said. This included boys in grades seven through 12.

A Taliban spokesperson on Saturday said girls aren’t banned from attending secondary school. The Taliban first wants to set up a “secure transportation system” for its female students, a spokesperson told CNN.

“There are certain rules during their class time that must be obeyed that they could be safe and sound,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said.

“We do have girls in universities continuing their education both in private and government-funded universities, but from grade 6 to 12 we are currently trying to provide a chance for them to carry on, and that’s in progress,” Mujahid added.

The decree is the latest development in women’s rights and education in Afghanistan, which fell to the Taliban swiftly last month after the US announced the departure of all its troops from the area.

In its takeover, the Taliban renamed the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reverting back to the same name used during the last time the regime was in power from 1996 to 2001.

Under the Taliban’s rule at that time, women were severely oppressed, facing restrictions like being barred from working or attending schools. This time around, the militant group has promised to respect women’s rights “within Islamic law.” But human rights activists, Afghan women, and the White House have been skeptical of the Taliban’s vow.

Earlier this month, the Taliban said women are allowed to study in universities as long as they wear Islamic dress and classrooms are segregated by gender.

If girls are not given the opportunity to attend secondary school in Afghanistan, the edict to allow women to obtain higher education might be rendered meaningless.