UK ‘urgently investigating’ aid to Afghanistan after government bans girls over 12 singing in school
From the Telegraph
The British government has said it is urgently investigating whether the Afghan government has banned girls from singing in schools run with UK aid.
An education ministry decree that schoolgirls over the age of 12 should be banned from public singing provoked outcry and was criticised as the latest sign the government is bowing to conservative hardliners.
The order by the Afghan government stated that teenage schoolgirl choirs could only perform to purely female audiences and could not be trained by male tutors.
Women’s rights activists denounced the move, which came three months after the same ministry called for all young children to be taught at their local mosque as a plan to strengthen Islamic identity. The singing ban came amid fear among many Afghan women that the hard-won gains in their freedoms of the last two decades could be lost in a peace settlement with the Taliban.
The nationwide decision was disclosed in a leaked letter from Kabul’s director of education telling “all public, private and supplementary schools to ban schoolgirls who 12 and older from performing in music choirs in any ceremony and public programmes”.
Those shapes in the windows might look like cheery geometry examples, but I bet they are really to prevent women being seen by men not of their family. Blacking out the street facing windows lest a brother be distracted by a Jezebel was a Taliban directive.
“In case schools do not follow the order, the school principals will be punished,” wrote Ahmad Zamir Kawara.
The Taliban’s resurgence has raised fears the militants intend to demand the re-imposition of repressive policies from their 1990s regime as part of any power-sharing deal with the beleaguered government. Women were denied education and were not allowed to work outside the home.
The militants claim they have changed and have vowed to protect women’s rights in an Islamic framework. Yet aid workers warn that as the militants gain sway in parts of the country, they are ending projects aimed at helping empower women. They can say this because ISIS are doing the dirty work of murdering women in public life for them. 4th March ~ ISIS kills three female media workers
Ahmad Sarmast, founder and director of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, said: “Access to music and joining choirs is one of the basic human rights. No discrimination and prejudice can stop girls from joining choirs and having access to training for this high value art.”
Mr Kawara later tried to clarify the reason for the ban. He said: “We received complaints from students, parents and education activists, elders and school associations that students must be busy with their studies. Students should prioritise their studies.”
The education ministry then went further, saying it wanted to propose a ban on musical choirs, for boys or girls.