Taliban Bars Women From Kabul University

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan / Getty Images
September 28, 2021

The Taliban's newly installed chancellor of Kabul University said Monday that women will be barred from attending or teaching at the university.

"I give you my words as the chancellor of Kabul University," Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat said on Twitter: "as long as real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first." The New York Times first reported his remarks.

Ghairat on Tuesday deleted the tweet.

The return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan has had a number of consequences for women since the militant group's takeover in August. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned women against appearing in public until "women-related procedures" were in place, adding that Taliban soldiers are "not trained." Under the group's rule in the 1990s, the Taliban banned Afghan women from appearing in public unless they were accompanied by a male relative. The group also appointed no women to positions in its government.

Ghairat later said the Times distorted his statement, saying he "meant that until we create an Islamic environment, women will have to stay at home." But he maligned Afghanistan's schools last week on Twitter as "centers of prostitution and moral corruption." The Taliban has closed all public universities, causing many professors to abandon their academic posts.

Mujahid said Ghairat's mandate may be nothing more than "his own personal view" but refused to outline a path to female attendance at the nation's schools.

Female teachers rejected the Taliban's premise for the mandate, saying there was nothing "un-Islamic" about having women at the university. But a former spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan said there was "no hope" and that the country's "entire higher education system is now collapsing."