Hypocrisy or a reason for hope? The Taliban who send their girls to school | Afghanistan


The Taliban official’s spouse apologised for retaining her go to transient. She wanted to get her teenage women able to fly to Doha, the Qatari capital, the place they’d shortly be beginning a brand new time period, she defined to her host earlier this 12 months.

In Kabul, and throughout a lot of Afghanistan, girls have not been legally able to attend high school for almost a 12 months, due to a Taliban ban. Officers insist the ruling is barely short-term, however have set no situations or timeline for lifting it.

The ban triggered a wave of melancholy and anger inside Afghanistan, and widespread revulsion past its borders. It additionally precipitated much less instantly visible splits within the movement itself, reflecting deeper fractures amongst former insurgents struggling to regulate to working a authorities.

It’s an open secret that a number of senior figures within the management educated their very own daughters whereas residing exterior Afghanistan – largely in Pakistan or Qatar – throughout their 20-year battle in opposition to US forces and their Afghan allies.

Some have continued doing so secretly, even after transferring again to Kabul, together with the household whose worldwide education plans had been shared with the Observer.

Much less elite members of the motion have been searching for choices nearer to residence. One secret college for women within the capital has enrolled the daughters of 4 or 5 Taliban households for lessons in grades seven to 12, a senior workers member stated.

One Talib official got here to ask personally for a larger-than-usual low cost, and academics instructed him in regards to the others, he stated. “I used to be scared and likewise joyful that he and the others are in a roundabout way invested within the different kids within the college now, and can be defending and supporting us.”

Within the non-public dedication of some Taliban members to securing an education for their very own women at any value, different Afghans see each hypocrisy and a few hope for change. It’s more likely to be an extended battle, nonetheless, as a result of opposition to ladies’s education comes from the very high of the Taliban motion.

A number of Afghans with data of the Taliban management, each inside and outdoors the motion, described the choice to bar women from college as coming straight from the supreme chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada, and his interior circle.

Haibatullah, or his shut allies, ordered one of many cruellest moments of the final 12 months, they stated, when highschool women who had been summoned in March to restart class had been ordered residence once more quickly after turning up for the primary day of lessons.

Female protesters in Kabul
Taliban fighters fireplace into the air to disperse ladies protesting in opposition to the ban in Kabul. {Photograph}: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Pictures

“That is the stance of a minority, who’re in a really sturdy place,” stated one well-connected Afghan supply.

Diplomats and Afghans with management ties stated the ministry of education had been genuinely planning to get women again into colleges, with preparations together with checks that amenities met Taliban requirements for segregated lessons. The ministry was blindsided by the last-minute ruling from Kandahar, the place Haibatullah relies.

“Two eminent [figures in the movement] stated ‘the Taliban have been taken hostage’,” the Afghan supply with management ties stated.

He described a gathering of thousands of clerics, organised final month, as an try by different pissed off Taliban factions to out-maneouvre the management and declare legitimacy for women’ education.

That plan was thwarted when Haibatullah got here to Kabul for the primary time, to handle the assembly, in a speech that pointedly side-stepped the query of women’ education.

Regardless of taboos on criticising the management, after many years of emphasising unity on the battlefield, a handful of senior Taliban figures have spoken out in opposition to the ban.

In Could the deputy international minister, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, instantly attacked the prohibition of girls’ education in a televised speech defending the rights of “half the inhabitants of Afghanistan”.

Taliban cleric Rahimullah Haqqani, who was killed last week by an Islamic State suicide bomber, had beforehand told the BBC that Afghan ladies and women ought to be capable to entry education: “There isn’t a justification within the sharia [law] to say feminine education isn’t allowed. No justification in any respect.

“All of the non secular books have acknowledged feminine education is permissible and compulsory, as a result of, for instance, if a lady will get sick, in an Islamic atmosphere like Afghanistan or Pakistan, and desires therapy, it’s significantly better if she’s handled by a feminine physician.”

Rahimullah Haqqani had previously said Afghan women and girls should be able to access education.
Rahimullah Haqqani had beforehand stated Afghan ladies and women ought to be capable to entry education. {Photograph}: Handout

In June the central authorities launched a bloody response to an rebellion by a insurgent Taliban commander in Balkhab district, in northern Sar-e-pol province. The battle had advanced roots, however sources instructed the Observer that earlier than chief Mawlawi Mehdi misplaced his authorities job, he too had defended women’ education.

And since the ban is formally solely short-term, and the Taliban has at all times stated it helps the precept of girls’s proper to education, some officers with youthful daughters are prepared to be open about their very own angle in direction of education.

Maulawi Ahmed Taqi, a spokesperson for the ministry of upper education, highlighted efforts to adapt universities so ladies might research whereas assembly Taliban necessities for strict gender segregation, as an indication of the group’s dedication to ladies’s education.

“I’ve daughters and naturally I need my women to be educated in non secular madrassas in addition to getting a contemporary education,” he stated.

They’re presently in major college, however he’s assured they are going to be capable to proceed lessons as they become older, he added.

“I’m optimistic the faculties received’t be closed for ever”

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