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The Taliban has ordered that female university students wear niqabs.

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Niqabs have virtually disappeared from Kabul's streets in recent years, but they were becoming increasingly common in smaller cities and villages. | Taliban In Afghanistan | Women in Afghanisan
Niqabs have virtually disappeared from Kabul’s streets in recent years, but they were becoming increasingly common in smaller cities and villages.
  • Also, only female teachers or “elderly men of excellent reputation” should teach female pupils.
  • On Monday, private universities will begin classes.
  • The new rules did not require women to wear the encircling burqa.

KABUL: The Taliban has ordered that women attending private Afghan universities wear an abaya robe and niqab that covers the majority of their face, and that classes be separated by gender — or at least separated by a curtain.

In a long document published by the Taliban’s education administration, they also ordered that female pupils be taught exclusively by other women, but that if this was not feasible, “elderly men” of high reputation may step in.

The decree covers private schools and universities, which have grown in popularity since the Taliban’s first reign ended in 2001.

Girls and women were generally barred from education during that time period due to restrictions surrounding same-sex classes and the need that they be escorted by a male relative anytime they left the home.

The new rules announced late Saturday did not require women to wear the all-encompassing burqa, but the niqab effectively conceals most of the face, leaving just the eyes visible.

Burqas and niqabs have virtually disappeared from Kabul’s streets in recent years, but they are becoming increasingly common in smaller cities and villages.

The decree comes as private universities prepare to open their doors on Monday.

The decree said that “universities are obliged to hire female teachers for female students depending on their facilities,” and that men and women should utilise separate entrances and exits.

If hiring women teachers is not feasible, universities should “attempt to recruit elderly men teachers with a good record of behaviour.”

While women are now required to study separately, they must also finish their session five minutes sooner than men in order to prevent them from mixing outdoors.

According to a decree published by the Taliban higher education ministry, they must then remain in waiting rooms until their male colleagues have left the premises.

“Practically, it’s a tough idea – we don’t have enough female teachers or classes to separate the girls,” remarked an unnamed university professor.

“However, the fact that they are allowing girls to attend schools and universities is a huge step forward,” he told AFP.

Afghanistan’s new leadership have promised to be more tolerant than their predecessors, who also came to power after years of strife — first the Soviet invasion in 1979, and then a brutal civil war.

They have pledged a more “inclusive” administration that is representative of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic mix, but women are unlikely to be involved at the highest levels.

University admittance rates have increased significantly in the 20 years since the Taliban were in power, especially among women.

Women studied alongside men and attended seminars with male instructors until the Taliban returned in a rapid military assault, seizing the capital Kabul last month.

However, a series of fatal assaults on educational facilities in recent years has spurred education.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the assaults, some of which were claimed by the local Daesh branch.

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