Global Roundup: Afghan Women Rip Down Taliban Banner in Protest at Education Ban, Tanzanian Teenage Mothers allowed Back to School. Amnesty Calls on Saudi Arabia to Release Detained Uyghurs
Curated by FG intern Sayge Urban
Angry women rope down the Taliban’s banner. via France24
Afghan women and girls tore down a Taliban banner after a meeting that was supposed to be about women’s right to education turned out to be a rally for the local Taliban.
Hundreds of high-school and university-aged women and girls attended the meeting in a sports hall in the central city of Bamiyan that was billed by the Taliban as an opportunity to discuss women’s access to education in the presence of the Taliban’s governor for Bamiyan province.
However, when the women appeared at the hall, a large banner was on display saying “The people of Bamiyan support the Taliban”. Upon seeing the banner, the women knew they had been tricked into attending the meeting.
The meeting occurred just two weeks after the Taliban reversed its position on allowing girls back to school. At the present moment, girls over the age of 13 are no longer allowed in the classroom. Some universities have allowed women to attend gender-segregated classes.
High schools in Afghanistan reopened for girls on March 23 after more than six months of closure. But the Ministry of Education announced the same day that high-school classes for girls were being suspended again until a plan could be drawn up “in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture”.
In a fit of rage, after seeing the banner, some of the women in attendance tore down the poster to show that they do not support its message.
One of the women who attended the meeting, said she felt tricked into attending :
We were told this would be a gathering about women’s right to education. Lots of us decided to go, mostly student-age, university or high school. But when I arrived, there were men and women already there chanting slogans like “We support the Taliban”. When some of the women started asking why there was no discussion of women’s education, the Taliban told them to stay silent and not interrupt the meeting. Some of the women left the hall in protest. Many of us stayed though, thinking maybe women’s education would be next on the agenda … but no, there was nothing. - Adeleh [not her real name], university student in Bamiyan
Adeleh said that after many of the women protested, the Taliban allowed one woman to talk on behalf of the hundreds who were there.
She said: “There won't be any support for the Taliban from Afghan women until they allow us to get an education.” When she continued to talk about our right to education, all of the Taliban members left the stadium just like that. Some of the women got angry and tore down the banners that said: “The people of Bamiyan support the Taliban". Other women who were still in the stadium applauded them . It was a good lesson for the Taliban: they’ll know not to try to trick Afghan women again. Maybe it will teach them that what most Afghan women say and want is not the same thing that their puppets in the black burqas say. - Adeleh
So far, none of the women have been arrested for their protest. Afghan women have protested on multiple occasions against the Taliban since the group regained control of the country in August 2021.
Angela, 15, holds her newborn baby girl in a hospital in Tanzania. Unmarried and living with her parents, she hopes to continue with her studies and one day become a nurse. Shinyanga, Tanzania. August 4, 2014. via Human Rights Watch
Five years after Tanzania adopted a discriminatory ban that prohibited pregnant students and adolescent mothers from continuing their education in public schools, the government has reversed its decision, allowing thousands of teenage mothers to once again attend school.
On November 24, 2021, the former Education Minister, Jouce Ndalichako, announced that the girls who had previously dropped out of school because of their pregnancy would now be able to go back to school, effective immediately.
Now, thousands of young mothers in Tanzania have the option to return to school, allowing them to re enroll within two years of giving birth. Should it be longer than that, the girls must find alternative education centers to attend instead of their original school.
In addition to the reversal of the pregnancy ban on teen girls, the Tanzanian government has moved to adopt additional measures, with changes to testing and support. Schools will no longer subject students to involuntary pregnancy testing, and by June, the Tanzanian government has agreed to publish new guidelines to provide more details on how long pregnant students can stay in school, how much time they will be allowed to be absent from school after giving birth, and the type of support they will receive when they return.
Esther A, 21, is just one of the women who was thrown out of schools for pregnancy, having been expelled in 2017:
My mom tried to beg [school officials] whether I could return to school after I have given birth. But they told her no, I couldn’t go back to school. They said they can’t have a mother in the classroom, and that i’ll be a bad influence on other students. - Esther A`
Though there is no explicit ruling against pregnant students, the Tanzanian Education Act permits the expulsion of students if they are married or commit “an offense against morality”, which is often the defining quote for pregnant students and mothers.
Human Rights Watch has said the government should now change this law to ensure girls are protected from these arbitrary decisions.
Via Amnesty International
Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to immediately release four Uyghurs, including a 13-year-old girl and her mother. The human rights watchdog said the four people “are at grave risk of being taken to repressive internment camps if sent back to China.
Buheliquemu Abula and her teenage daughter were arrested near Mecca this past Thursday, and were told they faced deportation to China with the two Uyghur men. Abula is the former wife of Nuermeiti Ruze, who with Aimidoula Waili has been detained without charge in Saudi Arabia since November 2020.
Deporting these four people — including a child— to China, where Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are facing a horrific campaign of mass internment, persecution and torture, would be an outrageous violation of international law…With time seemingly tuning out to save the four from this catastrophic extradition, it is crucial, that over governments with diplomatic ties to Saudi Arabia step in now to urge the Riyadh authorities to uphold their obligations and stop the deportations.- Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa
Under the customary international law principle of nonrefoulement and as a State Party to the UN Convention against Torture, Saudi Arabia is obliged not to return anyone to a country where they would face a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, persecution and other serious human rights violations.
In June 2021, Amnesty International published a report revealing how hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are being subjected to arbitrary mass detention, indoctrination and torture.
Earlier the same year, another piece of Amnesty research described how the children of internment camp detainees are often sent to state-run “orphan camps” where they face indoctrination and are cut off from their parents.
Sayge Urban (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa currently studying Psychology. She has a passion for writing and speaking out on issues she cares about and strongly believes in the power of words and the weight they hold. She is keen to use her voice and platform to bring awareness to the troubles and triumphs women face and is determined to use her voice to highlight those who cannot and do not have the resources to speak up.
Sayge is a firm believer in the unity of women across the world and the power they hold collectively and wants to use her time at FEMINIST GIANT to learn about the issues most pressing to women as well as they ways she can best be of help.