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Authorities in an eastern province of Afghanistan have reopened some girls’ high schools even though the move has not been officially approved.

“The schools opened a few days ago. The rules on Islam, culture and customs are respected. The school principal has asked the students to go back to school, and the girls’ high schools are open,” said Mawlawi Khaliqyar Ahmadzai, head of Paktia the province’s culture and information department told Reuters.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan when the US military withdrew its troops completely in August 2021. The group pledged to protect women’s rights “within the bounds of Islam”, which raised questions. on what rights women would still enjoy under the new emirate. The international community quickly discovered that the list would remain very short.

The UN Security Council urged the Taliban to “swiftly reverse” policies and practices towards Afghan women and girls, who have been banned from secondary education, which The Guardian newspaper wrote is just an outright ban on higher education for women.

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Afghan women sing and hold protest signs during a demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan on March 26, 2022.
(AP Photo / Mohammed Shoaib Amin)

Taliban leaders indicated they could reopen schools in March 2022, but instead postponed the decision, adding: “We don’t say they will be closed forever.”

The decision to open schools in Paktia came without official approval. A spokesperson told Reuters that the province’s education department has received no warning and has not received any response from the national education ministry on the matter.

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Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen last year told Fox News Digital that “there will be no issues with women’s rights” following the acquisition of the group. But, in a recent follow-up interview, he claimed that Afghanistan has “a different society” that “cannot be matched with a European company”.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, speaks during a joint press conference in Moscow, Russia.  The Taliban broke their silence on August 4, 2022, just days after a US drone strike killed the al Qaeda leader in the capital of Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, speaks during a joint press conference in Moscow, Russia. The Taliban broke their silence on August 4, 2022, just days after a US drone strike killed the al Qaeda leader in the capital of Afghanistan.
(Photo AP / Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

Shaheen proposed a rosier picture than critics accused and said the Taliban worked to integrate women into government and power roles and by no means restricted access to education. She also said that the group has placed women in positions in the ministries of education, higher education, public health and the interior, among others.

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Piers Morgan raised the issue in an interview with Shaheen, noting that the spokesperson’s own daughters attend school, but Shaheen insisted it was because they “observe the hijab.” She recently told NPR that the issue of women in schools focused on “school uniforms”.

A member of the Taliban forces fires into the air to disperse Afghan women during a demonstration to protest Taliban restrictions on women in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 28, 2021.

A member of the Taliban forces fires into the air to disperse Afghan women during a demonstration to protest Taliban restrictions on women in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 28, 2021.
(Reuters / Ali Khara)

“We never said we were against education [of women]”Shaheen said in a recent interview with Fox News Digital.” It’s a universal right for everyone. Secondly, the picture is not what our opponents represent. “

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Shaheen, ignoring NGO and UN reports on the plight of women and girls, tried to place the blame on media reports.

“Right now, there are 450,000 students from private and public universities, all from Afghanistan, and millions of girls studying in primary and even secondary schools,” she added. “It’s not like it’s presented by some media.”

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