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Wednesday, June 17, 1998 Published at 06:20 GMT 07:20 UK


Taleban close private girls' schools

The Taleban have blocked education for girls over eight

Schools with girl pupils in Kabul, Afghanistan, have been closed down by the Taleban government.

Over 100 schools which had been teaching girls on a private basis since the Taleban took power in the city in September 1996 have now been closed. The Taleban's Religious Affairs Minister, Haji Khulimuddin, announcing the closures, warned that anyone resisting this ruling would be punished.

The minister said that the schools, which were believed to be teaching more than 3,000 girls, were closed because they "were operating against the principles of Islamic law". In future, schools will require a licence from the Education Ministry before they can operate legally.

The Taleban allow girls to receive an education only up to the age of eight, after which they have to leave school. Vocational training has also been denied to females, closing training programmes which teach Afghan girls and women skills such as carpet weaving.

Private schools accused of 'anti-Taleban propaganda'

A Taleban spokesman, Mawlawi Qalamuddin, said that some outsiders were using the private schools to launch anti-Taleban propaganda. The authorities would open schools for women when conditions were appropriate, he said.

The closure of schools to women in Taleban-controlled areas of Afghanistan has drawn international condemnation. In January, the United States said it would not recognise the Taleban administration until it improved its treatment of women.

The Taleban's interpretation of Islamic law has blocked women from education and employment and imposes a strict dress code. Women are barred from wearing jewellery or high-heeled shoes and in public are obliged to wear an all-enveloping veil.

Last month 10 taxi drivers in Kabul were punished for breaking the law that forbids them to take female passengers unless accompanied by a male relative. In another imposition of religious law, a woman accused of adultery received 100 lashes in a public punishment.

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