It has been over a year since the Taliban banned girls’ secondary school across Afghanistan, and they have just announced the suspension of women attending universities and banned women working in national and international organisations.

When they stopped girls’ secondary school education, they had said it was temporary, but now they have gone too far. After their latest announcement, many university lecturers resigned from their positions and male students refused to participate in exams as the university doors are closed for women. Many international organisations have suspended their activities in Afghanistan and many more published condemnation statements, but nothing has changed and women are suffering on the ground.

Anahita* is originally from Laghman Province and was living in Kabul Province. After high school graduation, she went on to study at the medical faculty of Paktia Province in the southern part of Afghanistan and is in her 5th year of university. 

“My family's economy was not super good but still they supported me to complete my studies and I was living in the hostel. I have seen girls and my mates who did not have money to pay their transportation or rent but they were striving to continue studying in the University" said Anahita.

“I lost my hopes when the Taliban took over Afghanistan but when the universities started again, I was happy and optimistic. Now, I am lost for words to explain how my situation is and I can’t believe I can’t study anymore" added Anahita.

Shokoria* was studying her second semester of Sociology at Kabul University when she was informed about the Taliban announcement. She was hopeful that she could be able to participate in her English courses in one of the educational centres close to her home, but when she was at the entrance gate of the centre, the guard warned her to go back home otherwise the Taliban fighters are around and they have beaten girls who tried to get in the course.

When Shokoria got home, her teacher texted that they can’t participate in English and Computer classes, as the Taliban had threatened their centre, and said women education is a western style and you should close your doors to female students. 

Shokoria’s teacher proposed that they continue their lessons online, but Shokoria says they don’t have proper electricity. They have electricity only two or three hours per night as it’s winter season and there is not enough well-established electricity in Kabul and across the country. She doesn't see online studies as a proper solution. 

Women and girls in Afghanistan have fought to reach this stage. They started fighting from their homes and then within their broader communities. It’s not only Anahita or Shokoria who are deprived as a result of the Taliban's announcements. For Laila* the case is different, it was her last year of studying with the Medical Faculty in Kabul University and when she heard the announcement by the Taliban, she tried to unsuccessfully self-harm. For the few days after the Taliban's announcement, she could not wake up from her bed and she sees her dreams disrupted. 

Laila was whipped one month ago with her classmate near Habibia High School in Kabul as they were heading to the University. Even though they wore proper Hijab, a group of Taliban fighters attacked her and her classmates. She said, “I accepted those beating and harassment only to complete my last year of University but now I have no words to say and in the last days I could not eat and have been crying for my all dreams.” 

Rezwana* who was studying her first year of Literature faculty in Kabul University said, "I am worried about our future but what the Taliban will earn by paralysing a big part of the society and the Taliban are looking to maintain the Sharia Law, what kind of Sharia it is that men are allowed women not?”

Taranom Sayedi, head of Afghan Political Participation Women Network, said that the Taliban has no understanding of governing and they are the fighters who fought for years so they don’t know modern life. They misuse women’s rights like education, right to work, participation in different aspects of the society to pressure the international community for getting international aid and legitimacy.”

Zholia Parsi is a women's rights activist who is currently in Kabul and participating in protests against the Taliban's treatmnet of women, “I am disappointed about women’s situation under the current regime and we women are in a dungeon but the International Community and everyone forget us and don’t pay attention.”

Many international organizations expressed their concerns on the recent announcement of the Taliban about women, but the Taliban replied only from US representative Tweets. 

“As a representative of the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afganistan, I feel I have the right to an explanation of how the Taliban intends to prevent women and children from starving, when women are no longer permitted to distribute assistance to other women and children" Karen Decker tweeted on her official Twitter. Zabihullah Mujahid, official spokesperson for the Taliban, replied to her Tweet and said, "American officials should stop interfering in our internal matters. All those institutions wanting to operate in Afghanistan are obliged to comply with the rules and regulations of our country."

These announcements and limitations can lead the country to a deeper crisis in the long term, may increase the outflow of immigration to other countries, and increase the scope of poverty as half of the community is paralysed by the de facto regime. 

When the Taliban took over in August 2021, many people believed they had changed and they don’t have the mindset they used to. However, after a while, they have proved they are the same Taliban with the same mindset after banning girls education, whipping girls and women in public spaces, and crackdown of freedom of speech and protestors.