Afghan schoolgirls face ban from singing at public events

Afghan schoolgirls face ban from singing at public events: reports
2 min read
11 March, 2021
Critics have slammed the decision by the education ministry as a return to Taliban-era policies.
The decision comes amid fears of a power sharing agreement with the Taliban [AFP]
Schoolgirls in Afghanistan above the age of 12 may soon be banned from singing at public events, according to a leaked letter from the education ministry.

The letter, seen by local media outlets and confirmed by Kabul's education ministry, makes an exception for events where attendees are only women.

Najiba Arian, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told Afghan broadcaster Tolo News that the decision applied to all provinces in the country. It came following "complaints by families over the high burden of studies" on schoolchildren, she said.

Male teachers will also no longer be allowed to teach singing to female students.

The decision is a regression on the revival of a long-standing tradition of schoolboys and schoolgirls singing during countrywide annual events, with well-known anthems covering national and religious themes.

During the Taliban's rule over Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, all forms of singing and music were strictly banned, while women and girls faced severe oppression.

The move by the education ministry will add to fears of a return to Taliban-era policies, amid speculation that a power-sharing agreement with the militant group is looming on the horizon.

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Social media users expressed severe concern that the decision reflected militant attitudes towards women's rights, which have advanced despite challenges since the 2001 US-led invasion.

"It's not a good look on the Republic if they start emulating the same values as the Taliban,” wrote one journalist.

Another journalist attacked the ministry for not getting its priorities straight, noting that despite billions in aid delivered to Afghanistan, children in the western province of Herat still studied in open air classrooms.

Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission also weighed in on the matter, saying that education, freedom of speech and access to artistic skills "are the basic rights of all children, regardless of age or gender."

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