Girls’ Education May Be Possible Under Taliban?

The Guardian reports that the minister of Afghanistan, Farooq Wardak, claims Taliban leadership are prepared to lift the ban on girls’ schools.

Unbelievable, but if true, the Taliban permitting girls’ education in Afghanistan would be a major step forward towards peace and progress.

But can this move be trusted? And where is this sudden change in heart coming from?

The Taliban is known for being vehemently against girls’ education in the country, dealing with tenacious efforts by shutting down schools, throwing acid on girls ‘ faces, sending threats to students and teachers and more.

Why is the militant group against teaching girls?

It relates to the other restrictions they have on women from mobility, dress, employment and modesty, notably the Taliban’s refusal to allow female students to be taught by male teachers and/or alongside male students.

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor issued a report on “The Taliban’s War on Women” in November 2001 saying:

The Taliban first became prominent in 1994 and took over the Afghan capital, Kabul, in 1996. The takeover followed over 20 years of civil war and political instability. Initially, some hoped that the Taliban would provide stability to the country. However, it soon imposed a strict and oppressive order based on its misinterpretation of Islamic law.

The assault on the status of women began immediately after the Taliban took power in Kabul. The Taliban closed the women’s university and forced nearly all women to quit their jobs, closing down an important source of talent and expertise for the country. It restricted access to medical care for women, brutally enforced a restrictive dress code, and limited the ability of women to move about the city.

As the report mentions, there is nothing in Islam against female education; it is in fact strongly emphasized as a duty of Muslim men and women to be educated and seek knowledge. Somehow this idea didn’t make it into the Taliban’s agenda of how to rule the country alongside stoning, harassment and intimidation. Pointing out these flaws in the extremist group helps to reduce their credibility yet we still have to make a more concerted effort in showing how twisted and misguided rule of law has endangered Afghanistan’s hope for peace and freedom.

Education for girls is a goal for the future Afghan government and Western governments, but the Taliban hasn’t yet commented or spoken officially on whether it truly is ready to accept the allowance of female education. Until then, we just have the minister’s words to rely on and hope that this is a serious concession for potential peace treaties.

Anything that points towards peace will be reassuring for Americans, considering that 60% of them feels that the Afghanistan war isn’t worth fighting, according to a poll by ABC News in December 2010.

I’m not sure how to feel about this piece of news, since the right to education has never been the Taliban’s right to give to the women of Afghanistan, however the group’s respect and toleration for the importance of education would mean a great deal for women’s rights and human rights.

It’s interesting reading comments from readers ranging from ecstatic enthusiasm to scoffing and intolerant taunts.I am certainly no cynic when it comes to achieving progress, so I choose to be more on the positive side. Who are we to judge the Taliban’s change in position if it has sincerely changed? My main reserve is where the information came from and how we can know for sure since liked I said no Taliban member has confirmed this. Despite that, the news is bound to spread quickly.

Women could perhaps regain the status they had before the rise of the Taliban, working and studying as professionals and ordinary human beings. Isn’t that what we all desire? I strongly believe that education should play a larger part in peace-brokering and nation- building, so we’ll see where the talks go from here.

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