IEA imposes strict dress codes on the few girls schools still open

Despite the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) decision to suspend schooling for teenage girls, Human Rights Watch found that a number of girls’ schools, mostly in Balkh province, are still open but have strict dress codes in place.

According to the watchdog, many girls’ secondary schools have remained open in the province since the IEA took power but that they have been threatened with closure if they refuse to comply with the rules.

HRH stated in a report that one Balkh school was closed for several days after some students had their faces uncovered, while another school now has a teacher assigned to “prevent vice and promote virtue.”

“The requirements on hijab are getting tougher day by day,” said a teacher.

“They have spies to record and report.… If students or teachers don’t follow their strict hijab rules, without any discussion they fire the teachers and expel the students,” the teacher said.

She shared a photo with HRW of her school’s assembly; students and teachers all wore uniforms allowing only their eyes to show.

A student at another school explained: “We are not allowed to wear belts. Our sleeves should be large to hide our elbows and the shape of our arms. But then we were reprimanded because when we write on the board, our sleeves roll back and our arms are revealed.… One day we are asked to have loose sleeves, and the next day we are admonished for it.”

The latest order, she said, was to wear loose sleeves but pin them at the wrist.

“All the girls in my school believe the Taliban (IEA) authorities want to make it so harsh and strict on us that we give up on education on our own,” the student said, adding that she and her classmates are still determined to study.

Following these demands, the US Representative for Women in Afghanistan reiterated that the issue of girls’ schools should be taken seriously by the Islamic Emirate.

In an interview with VOA, Rina Amiri said that the closure of girls’ schools puts not only girls and women but the entire population at risk of poverty; it creates widespread hardship and instability

“It is not possible to deprive 50% of the population of their rights altogether and expect that this action will have better results, any measure that continues in this way and is not taken seriously by the Taliban, the country will suffer catastrophic consequences,” said Amiri.