Afghan girls protest school closure in eastern city


Dozens of girls demonstrated in a town in eastern Afghanistan on September 10, 2022. – AFP
  • Five government schools restarted classes last week after the girls, tribal leaders demanded they reopen.
  • Students were told to go home when they went to class, says a women’s rights activist.
  • “This morning, when they didn’t allow girls to enter schools, we staged a protest,” says activist Yasmin.

KABUL: Dozens of girls protested in a town in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday after Taliban authorities closed their secondary schools just days after classes resumed, an activist and residents said.

Last week, five public secondary schools in the eastern province of Paktia resumed classes after hundreds of girls and tribal leaders demanded they reopen.

But when students in the provincial capital, Garde, went to class on Saturday, they were told to go home, a women’s and residents’ rights activist said.

Read more: Five Afghan girls’ schools reopen after student demands

“This morning, when they didn’t allow girls into schools, we staged a protest,” said activist Yasmin, organizer of the rally.

Dressed in their school uniforms – a white headscarf and black shalwar kameez – the girls marched through the center of Garde to protest the closure.

Four of the recently reopened schools are in Garde and one in Samkani.

The Taliban have imposed harsh restrictions on girls and women since they returned to power in August last year, keeping them out of public life.

In March, they closed all secondary schools for girls within hours of reopening them for the first time under their rule.

Read more: Taliban fighters swap weapons for books as hundreds return to school

Footage posted to social media on Saturday showed the girls parading through the city center as residents and shopkeepers looked on.

“The Taliban did not allow anyone to film the protest. In fact, they broke some protesters’ cellphones,” Yasmin said. AFP by telephone.

Two townspeople also confirmed the protest, which reporters were not allowed to cover.

“Students demonstrated peacefully, but the rally was quickly dispersed by security forces,” said a resident of Remarque, who asked not to be named. AFP.

Officials maintain the ban is just a “technical glitch” and that classes will resume once a schedule based on Islamic rules is agreed.

A few public schools continue to operate in some parts of the country following pressure from local leaders and families.

They remain closed in most provinces, however, including the capital Kabul as well as Kandahar, the Taliban’s de facto center of power.

About three million girls are currently denied access to secondary education in Afghanistan, according to UNICEF.

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