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The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Prominent girls’ education advocate arrested in Afghanistan

Published: 21:43, 29 March 2023

Prominent girls’  education advocate arrested in Afghanistan

Matiullah Wesa, a prominent advocate for the education of women in Afghanistan, was detained by Taliban authorities in Kabul this week, the United Nations Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Tuesday. 
"Matiullah had finished his prayers and came out of the mosque when he was stopped by some men in two vehicles," said Wesa's brother to AFP.
He added that when Wesa asked for the identity cards of the two men, "they beat him and forcefully took him away."
The UNAMA released a statement demanding information on his whereabouts. 
"The UNAMA calls for the de facto authorities to clarify his whereabouts, the reasons for his arrest and to ensure his access to legal representation and contact with family," the statement said. 
The Taliban administration's information ministry and intelligence wing did not immediately respond or confirm his detention. 
Last year, the Taliban barred girls from attending secondary school, making Afghanistan one of the world's strictest countries when it comes to girls' education.
The head of an organization called Pen Path has been a strong advocate for girls' education, especially in conservative rural areas.  As the new school year began in Afghanistan last week, Wesa had tweeted that "the damage that closure of schools causes is irreversible and undeniable"
Wesa, who comes from the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, had said that many living in the countryside did not have any access to education. 
Pen Path held multiple meetings with tribal elders, helped authorities open schools and distributed books and constructed mobile libraries across the country.
Wesa committed to his project even as the tenure of the previous Western-backed foreign government was in place. 
Taliban's ban on women's education 
The Taliban have barred most girls from attending high school and banned women from universities. 
They cited "problems" for the move, including those around the female Islamic dress.
Since then, officials have said that they would work to reopen schools but have not stated a time frame. 
While students and activists have protested the bans, their campaign to attend classes at schools has been unsuccessful so far. 
International pressure on the Taliban to allow girls to attend schools has also proved unsuccessful.
Earlier this month, Ismail Mashal, an outspoken critic of the Taliban's ban on education for female students, was arrested by the Taliban authorities. 

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