Taliban Timeline: The Crackdown on Afghan Women’s Education and Rights

The Taliban have slowly returned to their hardline position against the education of women and their freedoms since their return to power in Afghanistan 16 months ago. They argue their rules are in keeping with their interpretation of Islam, although Afghanistan is the only Muslim country that prohibits girls from being educated.

Here is a timeline of their clampdown:

August 2021: The Taliban return

The Taliban return to power in Kabul on August 15 during the chaotic final exit of US-led foreign troops, ending a 20-year war and precipitating the collapse of the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani.

The hardline Islamist group promises a softer rule than their first stint in power, from 1996 to 2001, saying they will honor human rights obligations, including those of women.

September 2021: Gender-segregated classrooms

The Taliban announce on September 12 that women can attend universities with gender-segregated entrances and classrooms, but they can only be taught by professors of the same sex or old men. Other restrictions include the wearing of hijabs as part of a compulsory dress code.

March 2022: Girls barred from school

On March 23, girls’ secondary schools are supposed to re-open, but the Taliban rescind the directive, and tens of thousands of teenagers are shut out and ordered to stay at home.

May 2022: Stay at home

Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada orders women on May 7 to fully cover themselves, including their faces, in public and generally stay at home. Women are also banned from inter-city travel without a male escort.

August 2022: Protests broken up

Taliban fighters beat women protesters chanting “bread, work and freedom” and fire into the air on August 13 to break up a demonstration outside the education ministry in Kabul.

The hardline Islamists also detain and beat journalists covering the protests.

November 2022: Parks out of bounds

Women are banned from entering parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths.

December 2022: Execution, floggings

The Taliban carry out their first public execution since returning to power, that of a convicted murderer who is shot dead on December 7 by his victim’s father in western Farah province.

The next day, more than 1,000 people watch as 27 Afghans, including women, are flogged in Charikar in central Parwan province for a range of offences ranging from sodomy and deception to forgery and debauchery.

Floggings in public have since been regularly carried out in other provinces.

December 2022: No university for women

Armed guards stop hundreds of young women from entering university campuses on December 21, day after a terse release from the minister for higher education announces an order “suspending the education of females until further notice”.


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