A video shared widely on social media shows a group of girls sitting on the ground outside Kabul University reading their books. CNN has not independently verified when the video was filmed.
The Taliban banned women from attending university last December, nine months after the Islamist group barred girls from returning to secondary schools amid a brutal crackdown on women’s rights since it seized power in 2021.
On Monday, a Taliban spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education announced the start of classes in several provinces, claiming “all teachers and students attended their lessons in a safe and calm atmosphere.”
Photos from universities in Kabul show classrooms full of male students and teachers; images of female students on a banner at one private university had been struck out with spray paint.
“We are happy that the university has started; But I am sad that our sisters cannot attend universities,” a male student named Nasir told independent Afghan outlet TOLO News on Monday.
The Taliban has previously said the university ban was due to women not observing Islamic dress rules and other “Islamic values,” citing female students traveling without a male guardian. Interaction between female and male students was “not allowed in Sharia law,” it said.
The ban has sparked an outcry, with girls expressing devastation and the sense they had been robbed of their future.