Taliban deny claim girls will be banned from school – but don’t say when they will be allowed in


By Nic Robertson, Ingrid Formanek, Taylor Barnes and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

The Taliban have denied claims that Afghan women are banned from entering secondary schools after calling on boys, but not girls, to return to school, saying they need to put in place a “safe transportation system” for female students before allowing them to return to classrooms.

The Taliban’s education ministry on Saturday ordered male students and teachers in grades 6 to 12 to report to their schools. The announcement, released Friday, made no mention of the female students, raising fears that girls would be excluded from secondary education again.

When in power between 1996 and 2001, the militant group denied women and girls access to education and work and severely restricted their rights.

But speaking to CNN on Saturday, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said women would be allowed to study.

Mujahid told CNN that the Taliban are working to create a safe transportation system for girls in grades six to twelve.

“There are certain rules during their school time that must be followed so that they can be safe and sound,” he said.

Mujahid stressed that women were allowed to continue studying in other age groups. “We have girls in universities who are continuing their education in both private and government funded universities, but in grades 6-12 we are currently trying to provide a chance for them to continue, and it is underway, ”he said.

An Afghan girl who was hoping to return to school told CNN that the Taliban’s announcement on Friday came as a shock, especially since the group had previously allowed girls to attend primary schools.

“I was hoping to go back to school and get closer to my biggest dreams, but now it all seems blurry,” Tamana, who declined to release her last name, told CNN. “If the Taliban did not allow us to go back to school, our future and our hopes would be shattered forever.

Taliban leaders have repeatedly pledged to respect women’s rights, publicly insisting that women will play a leading role in society and have access to education.

The reality on the ground in Afghanistan seems far from these promises. Women have been completely excluded from the country’s new hard-line government.

Activists have in some cases ordered women to leave their workplaces, and when a group of women protested over the announcement of an all-male government in Kabul last week, Taliban fighters beat them with whips and sticks.

While women were allowed to continue their university studies, the Taliban imposed gender segregation in classrooms and declared that female students, teachers and employees must wear the hijab in accordance with the interpretation of the group. Sharia.

UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said the organization was “deeply concerned” that girls are being excluded from education. “Girls cannot and should not be left behind. It is essential that all girls, including older girls, can return to school without further delay. For this, we need female teachers to resume teaching, ”she said on Friday.

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CNN’s Nic Robertson and Ingrid Formanek reported from Afghanistan, CNN’s Taylor Barnes from Atlanta and CNN’s Ivana Kottasová from London.

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