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Afghanistan: Male and female students segregated by curtain as university studies resume

University studies in Afghanistan have resumed, with male and female students seen segregated by a curtain down the middle of a classroom.

Pictures of a Kabul university show men and women sat on opposite sides of the room, with a barrier between them.

The images are reportedly from a class at Ibn-e-Sina University.

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Following the Taliban’s takeover last month, a spokesman told Sky News that women could be educated up to a university level.

Speaking in August, Suhail Shaheen said “thousands” of schools continued to operate.

However, many fear a return to the strict regime seen when the group last ruled Afghanistan. From 1996 to 2001, women were effectively placed under house arrest and were not allowed to work or have an education.

Speaking at a news briefing on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid insisted: “Women are an important part of our society.”

He added that women’s rights would be respected under Sharia – or Islamic – law, although officials have not yet elaborated on what this means.

In 2017, a Human Rights Watch report estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls did not attend school.

Dozens of Afghan women took to the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province, on Monday to urge the Taliban to protect their basic human rights.

Photographs from the city show women holding signs as they march, with local reports suggesting they were asking for a continued right to education and to be permitted to hold positions in the Taliban government.

Islamic law does not require the segregation of women from all males other than close family members.

But it is seen in the traditional behaviour of rural Pashtuns who traditionally separated women who have reached puberty from men.

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