(Update 1: Adds detail on banning women from NGO work)
Kabul, Dec 24 (EFE).- Taliban security forces in western Afghanistan on Saturday dispersed dozens of women protesting against new laws depriving them of university education.
Taliban forces used water cannons against the women gathered in Herat to call on the extremist regime to reverse its suspension of female university education.
The abrupt decision has shocked Afghan women, whose rights have dramatically declined under the Taliban.
On Thursday, Taliban security forces clamped down on a Kabul protest involving women students and activists.
The new rule issued by the Taliban government prompted a number of university professors to stand down in solidarity with female students.
It also triggered widespread condemnation in the international community.
Under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, women are forced to wear the Islamic veil and face gender segregation from men in public spaces. They must also be accompanied by a male relative on long-distance journeys.
The Taliban’s acting higher education minister Mullah Neda Mohammad Nadim said in an interview with Radio Television Afghanistan that universities were closed to women due to four main reasons – the presence of women in dormitories and their arrival from provinces without male companions, a lack of hijab use, continued co-education and some topics for women being against “Islamic law and Afghan pride.”
Activist Nahid Noori told Efe: “The justifications from the higher education minister of the Taliban government are only excuses for systematically removing women from social participation and depriving women of the education, otherwise all the four justifications provided are illogical and don’t have any Islamic base.”
Also on Saturday, the Taliban banned women from working in domestic and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citing failure to observe hijab rules.
The Taliban-run economics ministry ordered all NGOs to fire their female staff or face having their operating licenses revoked.
Even though the fundamentalists promised last year to respect women’s rights in order to gain international recognition, the reality of women in Afghanistan is increasingly similar to the time under the previous Taliban regime (1996-2001), when they were totally excluded from public life without any possibility to study or work.EFE