UN: Exclusion of Afghan girls from secondary schools ‘shameful’

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ISLAMABAD (TNZT) — The United Nations on Sunday called on Afghan Taliban rulers to reopen schools for girls in grades 7-12, calling the anniversary of their exclusion from high school “shameful.”

The UN said it was increasingly concerned that the policy, along with other restrictions on fundamental freedoms, will contribute to aggravating the country’s economic crisis in the form of increased insecurity, poverty and isolation.

“This is a tragic, embarrassing and completely avoidable anniversary,” said Markus Potzel, acting head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.

A year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, hardliners seem to hold sway in the Taliban-led government. Teenage girls are still not allowed to go to school and women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, with only their eyes showing. The religious group has failed to deliver on several promises to allow girls to return to the classroom. The ban is aimed at groups 7-12 and mainly affects girls aged 12 to 18.

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The Taliban have reopened secondary schools to boys, while telling girls to stay at home. The UN estimates that more than a million girls were banned from high school in the past year.

“The continued exclusion of girls from high school has no credible justification and has no parallel anywhere in the world. It is very damaging to a generation of girls and to the future of Afghanistan itself,” said Potzel, also the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.

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On the occasion of the Sunday anniversary, 50 girls sent a letter entitled “A Year of Darkness: A Letter from Afghan Girls to Heads of Muslim Countries and Other World Leaders”. The girls come from the capital Kabul, the eastern province of Nangarhar and the northern province of Parwan.

“Over the past year, we have been denied human rights such as the right to receive education, the privilege to work, the freedom to live with dignity, freedom, mobility and expression, and the right to make decisions for ourselves,” Azadi, an 18-year-old 11th grade student from Kabul, said in the letter. The girls mentioned in the letter only gave their first names.

According to the UN, denial of education violates the most fundamental rights of girls and women. The global body said it increases the risk of marginalization, violence, exploitation and abuse of girls and is part of a wider range of discriminatory policies and practices targeting women and girls since the de facto authorities took power in the summer of 2021. .

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The UN again called on the Taliban to reverse the series of measures they have put in place to limit Afghan women and girls’ enjoyment of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Since taking power, the Taliban have struggled to rule and remain internationally isolated. An economic downturn has pushed millions more Afghans into poverty and hunger while the flow of foreign aid has slowed down to a trickle.

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