Rishi Sunak has warned the Taliban that “the world is watching” after it banned Afghan women from attending university.
Taliban security forces in Kabul have blocked women from entering universities after the group on Tuesday called on public and private universities across the country to immediately suspend access to female students until further notice.
The decision was made by the Taliban-led administration’s cabinet, but it has given no reason and has so far failed to respond to global condemnation.
Wednesday, Mr Sunakwho has two young daughters, added his review, tweeting: “As a father to daughters I can’t imagine a world in which they are denied an education.
“The women of Afghanistan have so much to offer. Denying them access to university is a serious step backwards.
“The world is watching. We will judge the Taliban by their actions.”
The Taliban initially promised a more moderate rule respecting the rights of women and minorities, but the group has largely implemented their interpretation of Islamic law – or sharia – since taking power last August.
In March, the Taliban did an about-face by opening all middle and high schools to girls.
The international community, including the United States and Britain, has not officially recognized the de facto administration.
Washington said a change in policy on women’s education was needed before it could consider officially recognizing the administration, which is subject to heavy sanctions.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also condemned the latest decision, tweeting: “Simply abhorrent.
“The Taliban’s decision to prevent women from going to university shows their total disregard for fundamental freedoms.
“The UK is working with our G7 partners to condemn and hold accountable those responsible.”
Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, said the latest suspension was “another egregious restriction on women’s rights and a deep and profound disappointment for every student”.
She told the council: “This is also another step by the Taliban away from a self-reliant and prosperous Afghanistan.”
A senior British diplomat involved in continuing talks with the Taliban told Sky News the ban was a huge setback for the talks.
“It’s a blow to the country, diplomatic relations and above all its people,” they said.
The confirmation of university restrictions came the same evening the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, said the school closures had ‘undermined’ the Taliban administration’s relationship with the community. international.
Speaking at a UN Security Council session on Afghanistan, she said: “As long as girls remain excluded from school and de facto authorities continue to ignore other stated concerns of the international community, we will remain in a sort of stalemate”.
US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood said: “The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans. , in particular the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls.