Afghan girls were turned away from high schools on Wednesday upon learning that the Taliban had reversed its decision to reopen all-girl schools.

In August 2021, Afghanistan fell under Taliban control after the U.S. withdrawal. Since then, girls of high school age have not returned to school.

The education ministry had previously stated on Monday that all-girl high schools would reopen Wednesday, March 23, according to NPR.

Why was the decision reversed? According to multiple reports, the Taliban hadn’t decided on proper school uniforms for the girls.

  • “We inform all girls’ high schools and those schools that (have) female students above class six that they are off until the next order,” the education ministry order said, according to BBC.
  • Schools are said to reopen once a decision about the uniforms for female students is made in compliance with “Sharia law and Afghan tradition,” reported BBC.
  • “There is no issue of banning girls from schools,” said Suhain Shaheen, the Taliban spokesperson for the U.N., to NPR. “It is only a technical issue of deciding on form of school uniform for girls. We will hope the uniform issue will be finalized as soon as possible.”
  • NPR reported that the Taliban gave no date for when schools would be reopening.
  • Boys schools and girls elementary schools and universities are still open, reported BBC.
Thousands of Afghan refugees are still waiting for housing

Students react to the Taliban’s decision: According to NPR, one high school girl raged, “What is our crime? That we are girls?”

  • Upon learning that the schools would close again, “the students reacted with shock and horror. Some began to cry,” reported BBC.
  • One student named Fatima said to BBC, “What kind of country is this? What is our sin?”
  • “She asked, addressing the Taliban whilst visibly distraught. ‘You’re always talking about Islam, does Islam say to harm women like this?’” per BBC.

Taliban regime in the 1990s: The New York Times reports that the restrictions of women’s rights are starting to resemble those that were imposed on women in Afghanistan during the 1990s.

  • “You really can’t exercise your other rights if you can’t leave your house to attend your job or attend education classes,” said Heather Barr, the associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, to The New York Times.
  • “It’s a really alarming sign of what may be to come, it’s likely to herald further crackdowns on women,” said Barr.