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‘It’s heartbreaking’: Afghan activist and LSE grad on the Taliban’s university ban for women

‘Whatever is happening in Afghanistan is completely in contradiction with Islam’

Last month, Afghanistan’s Taliban-run government barred women and girls from universities in the country “until further notice.”

This is the latest escalation in the regime’s continuous efforts to deprive half of the country’s population of education. It came after previous decisions to only re-open secondary schools for boys after the US’s withdrawal from the country and strict implementations of gender-separate classrooms, Islamic dress code, and restricted subject selection for women in universities.

The newest decree has been met with international backlash and protests within the country. One demonstration saw dozens of women marching through the streets of Kabul to chants of “All or none. Don’t be afraid. We are together.” Some Afghan men have also expressed solidarity, including over 50 male university professors who have resigned after the ban.

The London Tab spoke to Sveto Muhammad Ishoq, an Afghan women’s rights activist who recently graduated with a Master’s degree in gender development in globalisation at LSE, to learn more about the situation and what can be done.

‘It was truly heartbreaking’

When Sveto heard the news, she thought “it was truly heartbreaking.”

Having experienced the Taliban attacking and closing her university in Afghanistan for eight months, she empathised with “the pain and the struggles Afghan women are facing right now, their uncertainty about the future, and how their dreams and hopes are being stripped away from them.”

But despite going through similar horrors, the decision still came as a shock to Sveto.

“There were a lot of rumours that they would reopen secondary schools for girls. But instead of opening these schools, they banned them from going to universities. 

“I was honestly not expecting they would go this far in banning girls from getting an education.”