ISLAMABAD — The United Nations on Sunday called on Afghan Taliban leaders to reopen schools for girls in grades 7 to 12, calling the anniversary of their exclusion from high school “shameful”.
The UN has expressed growing concern that the policy, along with other restrictions on fundamental freedoms, will contribute to aggravating the country’s economic crisis in the form of greater insecurity, poverty and isolation. .
“This is a tragic, shameful and entirely avoidable anniversary,” said Markus Potzel, acting head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
A year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, hardliners appear to dominate the Taliban-led government. Teenage girls are still banned from school and women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, only their eyes are visible. The religious group has not kept its various promises to allow the girls to return to class. The ban targets students in grades 7 to 12, primarily affecting girls aged 12 to 18.
The Taliban have reopened high schools to boys while asking girls to stay home. The UN estimates that more than one million girls have been prevented from attending secondary school in the past year.
“The continued exclusion of girls from high school has no credible justification and has no parallel in the world. It is deeply damaging to a generation of girls and to the future of Afghanistan itself,” he said. said Potzel, who is also the UN secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan.
To mark the Sunday anniversary, 50 girls sent a letter titled “A Year of Darkness: A Letter from Afghan Girls to Heads of Muslim Countries and Other World Leaders.” The girls are from the capital Kabul, the eastern province of Nangarhar and the northern province of Parwan.
“Last year we were deprived of human rights, such as the right to access an education, the privilege to work, the freedom to live with dignity, freedom, mobility and speech, and the right to determine and decide for ourselves,” Azadi, an 18-year-old grade 11 student from Kabul, said in the letter. The girls named in the letter only gave their first names.
The UN has declared that the denial of education violates the most fundamental rights of girls and women. The global body said it increased the risk of marginalization, violence, exploitation and abuse against girls and was part of a wider range of discriminatory policies and practices targeting women and girls since the de facto authorities took power in the summer of 2021.
The UN has again called on the Taliban to reverse the series of measures they have introduced to restrict the enjoyment by Afghan women and girls of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Since taking power, the Taliban have struggled to govern and remain internationally isolated. An economic downturn has plunged millions more Afghans into poverty and hunger as the flow of foreign aid has dwindled to a trickle.