Taliban orders women university students to wear abaya and niqab covering most of the face

·2-min read
Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)
Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

As private universities prepared to open on Monday in Afghanistan, the Taliban issued a decree asking all women students to wear clothes that cover their faces and bodies.

The group issued a lengthy document that said women students should wear abaya and niqab, and only be taught by other women or “old men of good character.”

An abaya is a loose-fitting, full-length robe, mostly black in colour, which Muslim women are required to wear under the Taliban. A niqab is a veil that covers most of the face except for the eyes.

Classes in universities have to be segregated by gender and if that is not possible, then the two should be divided by a curtain, the Taliban said.

The Taliban’s education authority said the decree applies to private colleges and universities in the country.

There was no order for women to wear the burqa, that covers the body, in the new regulations issued by the group but the Taliban has ordered that women students wear the niqab that covers most of the face.

The decree said: “Universities are required to recruit female teachers for female students based on their facilities.” It also said that men and women should use separate entrances and exits.

“If it is not possible to hire women teachers, then colleges should try to hire old men teachers who have a good record of behaviour,” the Taliban’s new rules say.

Women students will also end their lesson five minutes earlier than men “to stop them from mingling outside.” The Taliban’s higher education ministry has also said that the women must stay in waiting rooms until their male counterparts have left the building.

A university professor was quoted by the AFP as saying that “Practically, it is a difficult plan - we don’t have enough female instructors or classes to segregate the girls. But the fact that they are allowing girls to go to schools and universities is a big positive step.”

The Taliban had also promised to have a more “inclusive” government after the group overtook Kabul last month. They have claimed to be more accommodating than their first stint in power.

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