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The Taliban government banned women from attending universities this week, a move that received widespread condemnation and hurts the armed group’s efforts to win international recognition following their takeover of the country last year, CBS News reported Wednesday.
On Tuesday, officials announced that all women must stop attending private and public universities until further notice but failed to provide a reason for the decision.
Taliban security forces began blocking female students from entering university premises Wednesday, while allowing only a few to enter campuses for paperwork and administrative reasons.
Authorities also tried to prevent any photos, filming and protests from taking place.
Regardless, members of an activist group protested outside the private Edrak University in Kabul against the government’s move. Videos and photos of the gathering showed women weeping and consoling each other outside the campus.
Meanwhile, reports also emerged of male university teachers resigning in protest over the decision, while male students walked out of their exams in opposition to the ban.
The ban comes more than a year after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of foreign troops. The armed group initially pledged a more moderate rule and respect for women’s rights.
But since the takeover, they have banned girls from middle and high schools, barred women from most jobs and ordered them to wear clothing in public covering themselves from head-to-toe. Women have also been prohibited from going to parks and gyms.
The university ban sparked condemnation from human rights groups and the international community.
Analysts explained that the move will further damage the Taliban’s international standing. This could particularly affect the delivery of international aid in Afghanistan at a time when the country is facing a dire humanitarian crisis.