Armed guards at the gates of a university in Jalalabad a day after the Taliban banned women from tertiary education - Copyright AFP -Afghans voiced outrage on social media Wednesday over the Taliban’s ban on women attending university, using the hashtag #LetHerLearn — one of the only ways people can still protest in the country.
Affected students poured their hearts out on Twitter and Facebook, lamenting how their dreams had been shattered by the announcement late Tuesday that tertiary education was now off-limits to women.
“The eighth semester is over and I have just four exams left,” Kabul University student Zamzama Ghazal posted on her Facebook account with the trending hashtag.
“God! Don’t take this last hope from me.”
The ban comes less than three months after thousands of girls and young women sat university entrance exams across the country, aspiring to continue their education.
“We came to the university at 6:30 in the morning, the boys were allowed to enter and they pointed guns at us and told us to go home,” Tamana Aref tweeted.
It was the latest encroachment of women’s rights that have gradually been eroded since the hardline Islamist group returned to power in August last year.
“I knew this would happen one day,” wrote Hadia Rahmani on Facebook.
“One day even going out on the streets and roads would be forbidden for women until further notice.”
Social media was filled with video clips of university students crying in despair outside campus gates after being denied entry by armed Taliban guards.
– Devastation –
Samim Arif, once a deputy spokesman for former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, tweeted about his family’s distress at the news his sister won’t be allowed to pursue her engineering degree.
“My 18 yo sister Wurranga worked extremely hard to make it to engineering school,” he wrote.
“Now Taliban banned her from attending school. Her dreams are shattered, our family is devastated.”
Many users employed the hashtags #LetHerLearn and #LetAfghanGirlsLearn to express their support for the right of Afghan girls and women to education.
“Acquiring knowledge is a must. There is no doubt that women make up half of society,” tweeted Rashid Khan, the former captain of the national cricket team and one of the country’s few truly international sports stars.
Some users shared images of male students from the faculty of medicine at Nangarhar University walking out of their exams in sympathy with their female classmates who were not allowed in.
A mathematics professor in Kabul also took a stand.
Obaidullah Wardak announced his resignation on Facebook, stating he didn’t want to continue teaching “where girls are not allowed to study”.
Others tried to remember happier times.
Tweeting a photo from a previous graduation ceremony of women, Arifa Iran wrote:
“Talibs tears flow at such scenes when they see Afghans being educated.”