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UN Condemns Taliban Ban On High School For Girls As 'Tragic, Shameful'

A UN human rights expert said conditions in Afghanistan under Taliban rule are in a "descent towards authoritarianism" and called for radical changes to stop the trend.

The United Nations has condemned a Taliban ban on high school for girls across Afghanistan, saying the policy put in place a year ago is "tragic and shameful."

“The ongoing exclusion of girls from high school has no credible justification and has no parallel anywhere in the world,” Markus Potzel, the acting chief of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said in a statement on September 18.

“It is profoundly damaging to a generation of girls and to the future of Afghanistan itself,” he said.

Since taking power in August 2021, the hard-line Islamist group has been criticized for human rights violations, including the imposition of harsh restrictions on girls and women.

The group reopened high schools for boys on September 18, 2021, but banned girls from attending secondary schools.

"This is a tragic, shameful, and entirely avoidable anniversary," Potzel said.

UN chief Antonio Guterres urged the Taliban to allow the reopening of high schools for girls in Afghanistan.

“[September 18] marks one year since girls were banned from attending high school in Afghanistan,” he wrote on Twitter.

“A year of lost knowledge and opportunity that they will never get back. Girls belong in school. The Taliban must let them back in.”

In comments to VOA, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his government is determined to resolve the problem of girls’ education within the framework of Shari’a, or Islamic, law.

“Whether it’s a problem with the world or not, our own people also demand the same from us. We are trying to find a positive way out,” he said.

But Mujahid said the potential reopening of schools for girls is an internal Afghan matter and that the global community should not link the issue to establishing ties with the Taliban government.

No other countries have officially recognized the de facto Taliban authorities in Afghanistan.

“This is the internal problem of Afghanistan. It is the issue of our people. It is the issue of my children and my daughter. There is no room for outside intervention,” Mujahid told VOA.

On September 12, a UN human rights expert said conditions in Afghanistan under Taliban rule are in a "descent towards authoritarianism" and called for radical changes to stop the trend.

"The severe rollback of the rights of women and girls, reprisals targeting opponents and critics, and a clampdown on freedom of expression by the Taliban amount to a descent towards authoritarianism," Richard Bennett, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, told a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

"This crisis demands ongoing attention from this council," he said, adding that while all Afghans are going through "turbulent times," he is "gravely concerned about the staggering regression in women and girls' enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights since the Taliban seized control of the country."

The mandate to monitor human rights violations in Afghanistan was established by the council almost a year ago after the Taliban takeover last August.

With reporting by VOA, AFP, and dpa
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