On Saturday, dozens of Afghan women and children marched through Kabul’s streets to demand that the Taliban reopen girls schools.
After the Christmas vacation, the Taliban reopened secondary schools on Wednesday, but they failed to keep a pledge to allow ladies in grades beyond sixth to return to study.
Since the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan in August when US forces retreated, girls have been barred from attending secondary schools.
The Taliban, who governed the nation from 1996 until US forces arrived in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had previously prohibited women from attending school.
According to Voice of America, the Islamic extremist group stated its latest decision was based on a lack of Sharia-compliant school clothes.
“I was going to study in grade 11, but unfortunately, when the Taliban came to power, our schools were closed,” Fatima, one of the protesters, told Afghan outlet TOLO News. “As the boys have the right to education, we girls also have the right.”
The Taliban’s refusal to allow females to return to school was denounced by the US and other foreign countries, emphasizing that such actions would make it impossible for the “de facto” regime to establish itself as a “recognized” administration on the international stage.
“The de facto authorities’ failure to adhere to commitments to reopen schools for girls above the sixth grade — in spite of repeated commitments towards girls’ education, including during my visit to Kabul two weeks ago — is deeply damaging for Afghanistan,” said Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.
The US canceled planned discussions with the Taliban at the Doha Forum in Qatar on Friday.
“We have canceled some of our engagements, including planned meetings in Doha around the Doha Forum, and have made clear that we see this decision as a potential turning point in our engagement,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters Friday.
“This decision by the Taliban, if it is not swiftly reversed, will profoundly harm the Afghan people, the country’s prospects for economic growth, and the Taliban’s ambition to improve their relations with the international community.”