Afghanistan’s Taliban government has banned women from attending university until further notice, claiming the move will preserve women’s “honour”.
It follows decisions to ban girls from school and ban women from many forms of employment.
The move has sparked international condemnation. A UN spokesperson called it “another broken promise from the Taliban”, which had initially promised to moderate its restrictions of women’s rights.
The Taliban is an extremist Islamist group which previously held power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
The group seized power again in 2021 after troops from the U.S. and allies, including Australia, withdrew from the country.
Its administration is not recognised by the United Nations.
The decision, announced via a letter from the Ministry of Higher Education, is effective immediately. It has prompted widespread criticism.
A UN spokesperson called it “very troubling”. Robert Wood, deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN, called it “absolutely indefensible”.
Barbara Woodward, the UK’s Ambassador at the UN, called it “another egregious curtailment of women’s rights and a deep profound disappointment for every single female student.”