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Friday, June 9, 2023

Afghanistan: Female education activist arrested by the Taliban

A prominent Afghan women’s education activist has been arrested by the Taliban, although teenage girls and women remain barred from education.

Mattiula Vesa, 30, who has traveled nationwide to improve access to education for all children, faces frequent threats.

The Taliban have not said why Wesa was arrested.

Her arrest occurred amid the detention of a number of activists who campaigned for women’s education.

In February, Prof Ismail Mashal, an outspoken critic of the ban on women’s education, was arrested in Kabul for distributing free books. He was released on March 5 but has not spoken since.

Mr. Wesa has been campaigning for girls’ education rights since the Taliban banned girls’ education in 2021.

On Monday, before her arrest, her last tweet was a photo of women who volunteered for the Pen Path “who want the right to Islamic education for their daughters.”
Since the Taliban returned to power in 2021 following the withdrawal of US-led troops, women’s rights have gradually eroded.

When it reopened in September 2021, only boys and male teachers will be allowed into secondary schools.

After the March 2022 announcement that girls would be allowed to attend secondary schools, there was little hope. But the crying girls have turned away after what appeared to be a sharp turn by management.

They said the girls could return to school after “a comprehensive plan was drawn up in accordance with Sharia law and Afghan culture.” But in December 2022, female students were also barred from entering universities.

The Taliban said schools and universities would temporarily close for women and girls until a “proper environment” was created.

But women are also severely restricted in other ways. The Taliban have decreed that women must dress so that only their eyes are visible and must be accompanied by a male relative when traveling more than 72 kilometers (48 miles).

And last November, women were barred from parks, gyms, and swimming pools, depriving them of their fundamental freedoms. The application of the rules varies from area to area, but they create an environment of fear and worry.

The restrictions have continued despite international condemnation and protests from ordinary women and activists working on their behalf.

They also hindered the work of foreign aid groups after the Taliban said women could not work in local and international NGOs, except in the health sector.

Several organizations have been forced to suspend their services when the country is being hit by a severe economic and humanitarian crisis.

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