Taliban releases new policies regarding women, education and dress code

Since the United States’ exit on Aug. 31, the rights that women held have started to dissolve.

By Emily Faith Grodin, Staff Writer.

Afghan women's rights have been put on a spotlight since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. (Graphic Illustration by Matthew Royer/The Valley Star)

On Aug. 31 the Taliban released a statement regarding policies surrounding women and education, where Higher Education Minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani explained the details of the new rules in place. This announcement was made just one day after the Taliban raised their flag over the palace.

Haqqani announced that while women would still be allowed to receive an education, it would not be allowed alongside men. Universities will be segregated by gender for the first time since 2001.

This policy means that men will no longer be allowed to teach women in the classroom. This has raised concerns, as a female replacement will need to be found for every male that was previously teaching a mixed class. Haqqani has insisted there are workarounds to this, suggesting technology be used or that male teachers teach to female students from behind a curtain. For many, it comes as disappointing information.

“It feels like a step back after years of progress for women in Afghanistan,” said Donna Morley of the Los Angeles Community College District. When asked about the impact these policies might have on Afghan women, Morley said, “I think that it will be discouraging for women as they have had so much more relative freedom.”

In addition to ending the mixed classroom education system, a dress code will be implemented for female students. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, the restrictive dress codes that had been imposed under Taliban rule were brought to an end when US forces entered Afghanistan. After 2001, and up until Aug. 31 of 2021, female students could dress as they pleased, and did not have to wear a hijab. But with the new policies in place, women may be required to wear one. And there is no doubt additional face coverings will be mandated according to the BBC.

These new policies are beginning to look like a return to the strict Shariah law the Taliban enforced in the years leading up to 9/11. According to the NY Times, during this time women had very little freedom in Afghanistan. They could not leave their homes without a male escort. They could not work outside of the home. They could not attend school. The Taliban would carry out harsh punishment if these were not followed, such as public lashings and beatings.

Shariah is a loosely interpreted law based on the Quran. Although the Quran does not actually include a set of laws, it instead explains how one can achieve a path to a moral life. It has been thought that depending on the interpretation, women could either be granted many freedoms. But another interpretation could leave them with very little rights. This has long been debated in Islamic law.

Afghan women are in fear of what the future holds for them. Whichever interpretation the Taliban decides on, one thing is clear. The freedoms that Afghan women have held are slowly being revoked. It is just a question of what is next for them.

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