Dozens protest in Kabul, demanding the Taliban reopens girls’ secondary schools.

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By Katherine Berjikian  & Euronews
Dozens protest in Kabul, demanding the Taliban reopens girls’ secondary schools.
Copyright  Mohammed Shoaib Amin/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Around two dozen women and girls marched down the streets of Kabul chanting, “open the schools”.

The protest, which only lasted less than an hour on Saturday, was in response to the opening and then immediate closure of girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan earlier that week.

On Wednesday, the schools for students older than 11 years old opened for the new academic year. The schools were closed for eight months prior because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Then shortly after lessons began, the Taliban called for the classes to close again. According to Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the decision brought many students to tears.

"They were waiting outside their schools, but the gates were closed, and they were crying," Yousafzai said while talking to a panel about women’s rights in Afghanistan.

"Why is it happening to them just because they're girls? Why can't they be studying? Why can’t they be learning?”

On Sunday, women’s rights groups announced that they would stage more protests if the schools do not reopen next week.

"We call on the authorities to reopen the schools for secondary school girls within a week," said activist Halima Nasari.

"If the [the Taliban] does not do it, we will reopen the schools ourselves and we will organize peaceful demonstrations in the country until we get satisfaction.”

Speaking to AFP, a Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, said "our policy is not against girls' education."

"There are some practical problems….that had not been solved before the deadline for the opening”, he added.

Thomas West, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the Taliban had made promises the schools would reopen.

Since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, Women have faced several restrictions in their daily lives, such as the exclusion from many public jobs.

Women are also not able to travel more than 72 kilometres without a male guardian, though it is not clear if this restriction applies to air travel.

On Saturday, two Afghan airline officials told AP that the Taliban did not allow dozens of women to board several flights, despite several of them having dual citizenships.