Since coming to power in Afghanistan two years ago, the Taliban have banned more than 1.1 million young girls from secondary and university education.

By Leonardo Buitrago

The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday announced its decision to support clandestine schools for girls in Afghanistan, following the Taliban regime’s order to exclude them from secondary and university education.

It will also fund and sponsor online education for all girls forced to drop out of the education system after primary school, said UN Global Education Envoy Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom,

Brown held a virtual press conference on Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of the Taliban takeover.

“We are going to fund and sponsor e-learning (and) we are going to support the underground schools, as well as support the education of girls forced to leave Afghanistan,” said the UN representative, who did not want to give details about these secret schools “for fear of them being closed”, but said that “several organisations are supporting these underground schools”.

The UN envoy said he had presented the case of the exclusion of girls from the schools to the International Criminal Court and explained his arguments to prosecutor Karim Khan: banning female education amounts to “gender apartheid” and could be considered “a crime against humanity”, reported EFE news agency.

Brown – who so far has not received a response from Khan – argued that the ban violates at least three UN international conventions: on children’s rights, women’s rights and economic and social rights, since education is “a fundamental right”.

He said the international community “can and should do more” to force the Taliban to reverse this decision, suggesting that the US and the UK could follow the EU’s lead in applying concrete sanctions against Afghanistan, or that Muslim countries should send a delegation to Kandahar (Taliban fiefdom) to explain how Islam does not support depriving girls of education in any way.

He also noted that he is aware of some “cracks in the regime” in Afghanistan over increasingly strict measures against women – most recently their exclusion from public places, including cemeteries – and that the world should exploit them for it to make the hard-core Taliban see reason.

It should be recalled that since coming to power in Afghanistan two years ago, the Taliban have banned more than 1.1 million young people from secondary and university education.

Recently, the Taliban have banned women from working in non-governmental organisations and from entering public parks and amusement fairs in the capital Kabul.