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Taliban said on Monday that the women attending private Afghan universities must wear an abaya robe and niqab, covering most of the face, and classes must be segregated by gender or at least divided by a curtain. Taliban also ordered that female students should only be taught by other women, but if that was not possible then “old men” of good character could fill in. The decree applies to private colleges and universities, which have mushroomed since the Taliban’s first rule ended in 2001. “Universities are required to recruit female teachers for female students based on their facilities,” the decree said, adding that men and women should use separate entrances and exits. If it is not possible to hire women teachers, then colleges “should try to hire old men teachers who have a good record of behaviour”. While women now have to study separately, they must also end their lesson five minutes earlier than men to stop them from mingling outside. Afghanistan’s new rulers have pledged to be more accommodating than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.

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