Specific reasons not given for closed girls’ schools: UN’s Bennett

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The UN Rapporteur for Afghanistan Human Rights, Richard Bennett said that “specific reasons were not given” for the closure of girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

“The reason… they said there technical reasons. Specific reasons were not given and I was not told that they would remain closed. I was told and I repeat this that a committee will be… is working on it and will be reporting. I pressed them for when that report would be made and when.. schools will reopened,” Bennet told TOLOnews’ Hamid Bahraam in an interview.

Many gatherings of the Islamic scholars and human rights watchdogs called on the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools for female students above grade six.

Recently a gathering in the western province of Badghis called for the reopening of schools for female students in grade 6-12.

Following a request from religious scholars in Badghis to reopen girls’ schools above sixth grade, former president Hamid Karzai on Twitter called on the Islamic Emirate to respect the voice of the Afghan people and religious scholars and to reopen girls’ schools.

The girls’ schools beyond grade six have been closed for more than 270 days.

“We are concerned that our rights have been taken from us. This basic right is ensured in religion and in government,” said Sehat, a female student.

The UN Rapporteur earlier concluded an 11-day visit to Afghanistan. Bennet told TOLOnews that Afghan women must play a full role in society based on the international human rights standard.

“It is a tragedy that girls are missing almost one year of school at secondary level. This is an important generation. A generation that needs to be… so they can be the future of Afghanistan and women must play a full role in Afghan society, according to international human rights standards,” he said.

Kelly T. Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed concerns over the closing of girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

Clements paid a visit to the western province of Herat, where she visited a girls’ school.

“Girls in school – women as full participants in the economic development of Afghanistan – millions of women & girls need the space to engage, contribute & lead. I saw some of that potential today in Herat. Despite everything, they have hope. We do too,” Clements said on Twitter.

This comes as female students said that education is their basic right and urged the Islamic Emirate to reopen schools beyond grade six for girls.

An education center which is teaching girls from grade 1-12 has been established on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul. The students and teachers at the education center are women (The name of the education center has been withheld due to the sensitivity of the issue).

“It is unjust that the Taliban are not allowing us to go to the school because Almighty God said in the Koran that education is mandatory for men and women,” said Raihana Noori, a student.

“I came here to study and will never give up on education because I want to have a bright future,” said Samira, a student.

There are a total of 300 female students in the education center.

“We have approximately 313 students. We have various sections here. Computers, tailoring, miniature-painting–and since the Islamic Emirate came to power the number of students has surged,” said a teacher.

“We support them in continuing their education and we request that the Islamic Emirate reopens the schools for girls,” the head of the education center said.

It has been over 270 days that the girls’ school above grade six have remained closed in Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Islamic Emirate said it is working on a plan to facilitate the reopening of the schools but there has yet to be any progress in this regard.

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