Students in Afghanistan returned to universities to find some classrooms physically divided into male and female sections by curtains or boards, Reuters reported Monday.
The Taliban endorsed separating males and females into different groups in classrooms, and a senior official told Reuters that separating classrooms with physical barriers was “completely acceptable.”
Guidelines for resuming classes were distributed by an association of private universities in Afghanistan, according to Reuters. The guidelines suggested that female students be taught separately or separated from their male peers with a physical barrier. It is unknown whether the guidelines reflect the Taliban’s official policy on schooling, Reuters noted.
“Putting up curtains is not acceptable,” Anjila, a female student at Kabul University told Reuters by telephone. “I really felt terrible when I entered the class … We are gradually going back to 20 years ago.”
Anjila told the outlet that while men and women had been separated by gender in classrooms before the Taliban takeover, they were not segregated by a physical barrier.
This is how classes started today at a number of Afghan universities. Under the new Taliban law, the girls’ and boys’ class must be #separated, and if there are few, such curtains must be installed.
This is a picture of a class at #IbnCina University. pic.twitter.com/TuM8lgo8GH
— Wahid Haidari (@wahidhaidari95) September 6, 2021
During the first era of Taliban rule over the country from 1996 to 2001, females were forbidden from going to school or working, according to Reuters. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said during an Aug. 17 press conference that the new government would respect women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: Afghan Students Told To Go Home After Rescue Flights End)
A woman in Afghanistan was reportedly shot and killed in late August by the Taliban for leaving her home without wearing a burqa, and the Taliban implemented a new policy Aug. 24 that called on women to stay in their homes because their fighters “have not been yet trained” to respect them.