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India concerned over Taliban’s decision to ban women from university education

New Delhi: India on Thursday joined several other leading countries in criticising the Taliban’s decision to ban university education for women in Afghanistan and renewed its call for setting up of an inclusive government in Kabul that ensures equal rights of women in all aspects of the Afghan society.

Several countries including the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have strongly condemned the Taliban’s latest step in its brutal crackdown on the freedom of Afghan women and girls.

In March, the Taliban barred girls from going to secondary schools.

“We have noted with concern the reports in this regard. India has consistently supported the cause of female education in Afghanistan,” Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

He was replying to media queries on the issue during a media briefing.

“We have emphasised the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and ensures the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society, including access to higher education,” Bagchi said.

The MEA spokesperson also referred to the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2593 on Afghanistan.

“I would also recall UN Security Council Resolution 2593, which reaffirms the importance of upholding human rights including those of women and also calls for full, equal and meaningful participation of women,” he said.

The UNSC resolution, adopted on August 30 last year under India’s presidency of the global body, talked about the need for upholding human rights in Afghanistan, and demanded that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism and that a negotiated political settlement should be found to the crisis.

India has been saying that it will work with international partners to counter terrorism in line with the Resolution 2593.

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Australia, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, and the high representative of the European Union strongly condemned the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities and for continuing to bar girls from secondary schools.

“The Taliban’s oppressive measures against Afghan girls and women have been relentless and systemic,” according to the statement.

“Over the last 16 months, the Taliban have issued no fewer than 16 decrees and edicts that, among other things, constrain women’s mobility, remove women from places of work, require head-to-toe coverings for women, ban women from using public spaces such as parks and gyms and leave widows and women-headed households in dire circumstances by the requirement of male guardianship,” it said.

The foreign ministers said their countries are standing with all Afghans in their demand to exercise their human rights.

“With these moves, the Taliban are further isolating themselves from the Afghan population and the international community,” the statement said.

“We urge the Taliban to immediately abandon the new oppressive measures with respect to university education for women and girls and to, without delay, reverse the existing decision to prohibit girls’ access to secondary school,” it added.

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