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We are prepared to die, say Afghan women demanding equal rights

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AFGHAN women in Kabul took to the streets and staged protests on Friday, only a day after several women demonstrated in the western city of Herat, demanding equal rights and inclusion in work and education.

The placard bearing women, some of whom had been stripped of their jobs, demanded that they be allowed to pursue education and be involved in the government.

“We are afraid, but we have to fight,” protester Mona Hossaini told Euronews. “We will die, if our blood is bringing some life for other people, it’s okay for us. We are fighting for that.”

Videos shared on Twitter showed armed Taliban fighters beating the women and girls who were part of the demonstration. They snatched their posters too.

Media reports also stated that a group of women had met top Taliban officials to ask for a clear explanation of their policies on the rights of women but did not receive a convincing answer.

Although the Taliban have pledged equal rights for Afghan women and girls, evidence contradicts this claim as women are being forced to quit their jobs and remain indoors.

The government announced that women and girls would be separate but equal and could attend schools in line with the provisions of Islam.

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As such, they will not be taught in the same room as men and boys. Also, a male teacher will not be allowed to teach females.

Afghnistan’s acting Minister of Education Hemat Akhundzada has said all new classes must be segregated, and in current classes with under 15 women, a ‘Sharia partition’ must be erected to keep students of different genders apart.

In a new decree to private universities, seen by the Guardian, a long list of prescriptive and likely expensive, rules for the education sector has been spelt out.

Women must be provided with transport in buses with covered windows and a curtain separating them from the presumably male driver.

They must be confined to a ‘waiting room’ before and between classes, and the decree even details a required clothing colour for female students and teachers (black).

It adds that in the future, all universities should provide female teachers for women’s classes and try to use older teachers with good backgrounds.

The European Union said on Friday that it was ready to engage with the new Taliban government in Kabul, provided that the Islamist group respected human rights, including those of women and not allow Afghanistan become a base for terrorism.

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“In order to support the Afghan population, we will have to engage with the new government in Afghanistan,” EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Slovenia.

Many analysts believe the Taliban are gradually reestablishing their previous style of governance between 1996 and 2001, where there was a ban on women’s education and employment.

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