The Taliban suddenly cancelled their decision to allow teenage girls in Afghanistan to resume classes along with other students Wednesday. Some girls who congregated outside the schools were met by Taliban who fired their weapons into the air to disperse them and send them home.
The Taliban signaled as recently as Monday that classes for all students would be resuming Wednesday. Instead, teen girls were abruptly sent home only after they had already arrived at their secondary schools for the day, bringing disappointment and heartbreak to many eager would-be students.
A Taliban spokesman said girls and female teachers needed new uniforms designed to comply with strict Islamic religious requirements, and schools needed to have enough female teachers to be able to segregate the classrooms by gender. The decision to bar teen girls was made late Tuesday, according to a Taliban spokesman.
Since taking control of Afghanistan following the United States’ withdrawal in August, the Taliban has mostly restricted women from work and school, although they allow women to work in jobs that require direct interaction with other females in order to prevent men and women from interacting.
Kabul journalist Mariam Naheebi told the Associated Press that “we did everything the Taliban asked in terms of Islamic dress,” indicating that the Taliban’s explanation is a poor excuse for banning girls’ participation in secondary school. Some observers believe the Taliban is leaning into appeasing fundamentalists who might defect to the Taliban rival Islamic State should they be offended by young women going to school.
“We don’t say they will be closed forever,” a Taliban spokesman told the Associated Press, but teenage girls who were interviewed indicated they believe they will be barred from schooling permanently.