Afghan female students will henceforth have to wear a black abaya with a face covering nikab in class, according to a decree published by the Taliban just before the reopening of private universities in the country. An abaya is a long veil covering the body. A nikab covers the face, with the exception of the eyes.
Also, women are only allowed to take classes in rooms without men unless the sexes are separated by a curtain. Women have to leave a shared class five minutes earlier than men. They then have to stay in waiting rooms until the male students leave the building.
In the decree published Saturday, the Taliban also stipulates that female students should only be taught by other women. If this is not possible, “older” male teachers with “good character” can fill in. The decree applies only to private colleges and universities, which have exploded since the first Taliban reign ended in 2001.
During the first period of power of the Islamist movement (1996-2001), women were not allowed to study at all at institutions where men also studied. At the time, women were obliged to wear a burka outside the home and preferably allowed to leave the house alone in the company of a male relative.
The current Taliban campaign has promised to be less radical than in the previous reign more than twenty years ago. They have reflected an “inclusive” government representing Afghan ethnic minorities. Women are considered unlikely to take top positions.
A few days after the movement also took the capital Kabul, the Taliban announced that a group of Islamic scholars will determine what rights women receive in Afghanistan. They would decide whether women should wear a headscarf or burka and under what conditions they are allowed to go to school or work. In any case, Sharia, Islamic common law applies in the Emirate.