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Taliban say women can study in gender-segregated universities

Women in Afghanistan can continue with their university studies but only if they are separated from men and wear compulsory full Islamic dresses, the new Taliban government said on Sunday.

Acting higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani said there were several ways to segregate.

“The universities must have the capability to have separated buildings. The first solution is that there must be separated places where boys can be separated from girls,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“Or the second solution there should be separated timings, specified timing for boys and specified timing for girls. Or the third solution is that if there are fewer female students in such a situation there must be a partition in the class,” he went on.

Haqqani did not specify if women would have to cover their faces while in the classroom. But he said that certain courses would have to be revised as well, without going into details into what would change in the curriculum in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have already banned women from sports and said that music should not be encouraged.

The international community has been watching very closely to see to what extent the Taliban have actually changed, especially with regards to their attitude towards women.

Haqqani says that the group does not want to turn the clock back 20 years. “We will start building on what exists today,” he said.

Women at Kabul University on Sunday pledged their commitment to the Taliban’s policies on gender separation in the classroom by being covered from head to toe, wearing a full-face veil, and waving the new government white flags.

The new rules signal a change from the accepted practice before the Taliban takeover. Universities were co-ed, with men and women studying side by side, and female students did not have to abide by a dress code.

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