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'Ridiculous and Outdated': Taliban Rules Mandating Gender Division in Afghan Classrooms Slammed

© AFP 2023 / AREF KARIMISchoolgirls attend class in Herat on August 17, 2021, following the Taliban stunning takeover of the country.
Schoolgirls attend class in Herat on August 17, 2021, following the Taliban stunning takeover of the country.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
There have been concerns about women getting their rights in Afghanistan under the Taliban-led regime since it seized power last month. Conscious of the global gaze on its actions, the leaders of the Taliban* have given assurances such rights will be honoured. But new rules have raised doubts about what lies ahead.
The new look of Afghan classrooms, a throwback to the Taliban* mindset of when it ruled the country from 1996-2001, has sparked outrage amongst various educational professionals outside the militant-ruled nation.
In a new normal for students rejoining classes after the Taliban seized power in the Afghan capital in mid-August, youngsters have found their classes partitioned with curtains and boards to segregate them based on their gender, according to multiple photos shared by Twitter users.
Though the Taliban has claimed that it will honour women's rights in accordance with Islamic law, fresh guidelines being issued for women have spurred doubts among observers about whether the new authorities will actually keep their word.
Two decades ago, the Taliban banned girls from going to school, colleges, and universities and women from working.
Meanwhile, the separation of male and female students in classrooms has been slammed by many, including Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala Yousafzai, a noted Pakistani women's rights activist and Nobel laureate.
"The outdated and ridiculous class won't last long", said Ziauddin, who is a teacher by profession.
​​Noting that "this younger generation has not seen the Taliban's strict restrictions of the 1990s", a journalist from Afghanistan, Bilal Sarwary, wrote, "this generation is a product of the democratic era of modern Afghanistan and may not be able to withstand this harsh style of government of the Taliban".
​Moreover, the fresh guidelines issued by the Taliban for educational institutions mandate that girls will be taught by teachers of their own gender, and that separate entrances and exits will be used by men and women. Women must also end their lessons (studies) five minutes earlier than men and they should go to a waiting room before being accompanied home by a male relative.
The fresh guidelines imposed on the students by Afghanistan's new authorities have been slammed by educational professionals and sociologists in India.
"It's a retrograde step and psychological cruelty towards young girls who have as much ambitions and competence as boys", Sandeep Ahluwalia, owner of a chain of schools in India's Chandigarh, told Sputnik on Tuesday.
"By putting curtains, barring girls and boys from even looking at each other, will adversely impact their mindset and orientation in life. By doing so you are sowing the seeds of gender discrimination right from childhood", he added.
"This will have a serious detrimental impact on the learning curve of the students - irrespective of the gender. And the poor learning abilities will have a very negative impact on the kind of nation that is being built for the future", Ritesh Gill, a sociologist at Panjab University told Sputnik.
"A nation that plays with the education of its children plays a self destructive game. If the rulers compromise education to accommodate their beliefs that is the biggest disservice that can be done to society", he added.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.
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