Separate, and Unequal

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Public universities in Afghanistan reopened over the weekend to admit both female and male students, about six months after the Taliban took over the Central Asian country following the withdrawal of foreign troops last year, Voice of America reported.

The reopening was a pledge by the Islamist group to respect women’s rights and allow females to pursue an education, following their takeover in mid-August. The Taliban banned female education during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001.

The armed group said that the delayed opening was mainly because of financial difficulties and a lack of venues to separate females and males in accordance with the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam.

The opening day, however, was marked by low attendance and the lack of teaching staff. And strict rules for women prevailed such as separate classes for men and women, staggered operating hours and the requirement for women to wear hijabs.

Some students welcomed the reopening but many lamented the restrictions and the shortage of teachers.

Following the Taliban conquest, tens of thousands of educated Afghans fled the country fearing retaliation.

Taliban officials have allowed boys to rejoin secondary schools but many girls are still waiting for permission to go back to class. The group said it plans to allow Afghan girls to return to school in late March.

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