KABUL, Dec 21 – Afghan female college students were turned away from campuses on Wednesday after the Taliban government declared that women’s access to tertiary education would be cut off.

The decision to ban women access was announced late Tuesday in a letter from the Higher Education Ministry to universities, drawing condemnation from foreign governments and the United Nations.

“We went to the university, the Taliban were at the gate and they told us ‘you are not allowed to enter the university until further notice’…everyone was crying,” said Shaista, a business student at a private university. from Kabul.

A professor from another capital university who did not want to be named said the staff turned the students away at the door because they had no choice but to enforce the order.

The ban on women studying is likely to complicate government efforts to gain international recognition and shake off sanctions that are severely hampering the economy.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on the Taliban administration to revoke the decision “immediately”. It also urged the authorities to reopen schools for girls from the sixth grade and to “end all measures that prevent women and girls from participating fully in everyday public life.”

Hassiba, a third-year Political Science student in Kabul, said she was studying for her exams when she heard about the announcement.

“It’s too hard to take, it’s unbelievable, I can’t believe it’s happening,” she said. “When there is no education for women in a society, how can we hope for a bright future?”

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