NEW DELHI (TIP): A top UN official today claimed that some Taliban leaders, who issued fatwa against girls’ education during their rule in Afghanistan, have themselves sent their female children to schools run with the support of the international body. Louis-Georges Arsenault, who was Unicef representative in Afghanistan from 1998 to 2001, also claimed that Taliban issued fatwa against girls’ education during their regime (1996 to 2001) as the group feared that “movement” of women and girls on the streets would “distract the focus” of their fighters from their “task ahead”.
Arsenault, who took over as Unicef India representative a couple of months ago, made these remarks this while addressing the National Consultation on Education in Areas Affected by Civil Strife here. During their rule, Taliban issued Fatwa against girls’ education and declared that there will be no girl education in the country, Arsenault said. He said top Taliban officials had “openly” told UN officials who were talking to them at that point of time that the fatwa was issued because they needed their troops to focus the task ahead and not be distracted by the movement of women and girls. Despite the diktat, there were NGOs, community leaders and teachers who were in hiding providing some kind of education to the children in some parts of the country.
The Unicef went about quietly without attracting media attention in working on school education in collaboration with these segments of population and taking expertise from Government officials and academicians. “Some of the Taliban fighters were sending their girls in schools any way,” said Arsenault, who is credited with managing one of Unicef’s largest humanitarian operations, including the coordination of relief and rehabilitation services to over 250,000 women, children and men displaced by Afghan conflict. According to the Unicef, Arsenault, despite Taliban’s edicts against girls’ education, initiated several projects to arrange private schooling for them.