Taliban issue first fatwa : Women can’t sit in same classes with boys at varsities

Lecturers in Herat province have said that since private institutions cannot afford separate classes, thousands of girls may remain deprived of higher education.

Kabul, Afghanistan, August 21 : In its first fatwa, officials affiliated with the Taliban have said women will no longer be allowed to sit in the same classes with boys, across private and government universities. According to media reports, the Taliban officials in Afghanistan’s Herat province have issued an order on the same, which states there is no alternative and justification for continuing co-education and must be ended. The fatwa came after a three-hour meeting between university lecturers, owners of private institutions, and the Taliban officials.

Mullah Farid, head of higher education of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate who was representing the Taliban in the meeting in Herat has said that co-education should be ended because the system is the root of all evils in society.

Farid as an alternative suggested that female lecturers or elderly male ones who are virtuous are allowed to teach female students and for the co-education, there is neither an alternative nor any justification to be continued.

Meanwhile, lecturers in Herat province have reasoned that the government universities and institutes can manage separate classes but because of the limited number of female students in private institutions, the latter cannot afford to create separate classrooms.

Lecturers also said that since private institutions cannot afford separate classes, thousands of girls may remain deprived of higher education.

Afghanistan has a mixed system of both co-education and separate classes with schools functioning separate classes while co-education is applied both in government and private universities and institutes around the country.

There are reportedly around 40,000 students and 2,000 lecturers in private and government universities and institutions in the province.

Taliban take control of Afghanistan, but here’s what they lack

Despite their dominant military blitz over the past week, the Taliban lack access to billions of dollars from their central bank and the International Monetary Fund that would keep the country running during a turbulent shakeup. Those funds are largely controlled by the US and international institutions, a possible leverage point as tense evacuations proceed from the airport in the capital of Kabul.

Tens of thousands of people remain to be evacuated ahead of the United States’ August 31 deadline to withdraw its troops from the country.

But the Taliban also do not currently have institutional structures to receive the money — a sign of the challenges it might confront as it tries to govern an economy that has urbanized and tripled in size since they were last in power two decades ago. The shortfall could lead to an economic crisis that would only fuel a deeper humanitarian one for the roughly 36 million Afghans expected to stay in the country.

“If they don’t have jobs, they don’t get fed,” said Anthony Cordesman, who advised the US government on Afghan strategy and works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The Taliban has to find an answer.”

The stranded funds are one of the few potential sources of pressure that the U.S. government has over the Taliban. But Cordesman added, “To have a pressure point, you have to be willing to negotiate in ways the Taliban can accept.”

As of now, the Taliban government cannot access almost all of the Afghanistan central bank’s $9 billion in reserves, most of which is held by the New York Federal Reserve. Afghanistan was also slated to access about $450 million on Aug. 23 from the International Monetary Fund, which has effectively blocked the release because of a “lack of clarity” regarding the recognition of a new Afghan government.

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