SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: May 18, 2022

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Kabul Polytechnic University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 18, 2022, Taliban forces reportedly prevented a group of female students from entering the Kabul Polytechnic University’s campus for wearing colorful hijabs.

Taliban forces reportedly told the students that they have to wear black hijabs. One student argued that it was too hot to wear a black hijab.

On September 4, 2021, the Taliban issued a decree requiring women who attend private universities to wear a niqab and an abaya robe (see report). On May 7, 2022, the Taliban issued a decree requiring all women to only show their eyes and recommending that women wear a burqa. Neither of the two decrees specify what color hijab or garments women must wear.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by a de facto governing authorities denying female students’ exercise of the right to higher education — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a party. State authorities and de facto governing forces have a responsibility to respect and refrain from restricting the right to education, including by refraining from discrimination on grounds relating to gender, race, or religion, and should respect universities’ institutional autonomy. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.