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Book fair held in Balkh province, but women barred from visiting

A three-day book exhibition was held in the northern Balkh province, but women were barred from attending it as the Taliban’s slew of restrictions on women remain intact.

Held by students of the journalism department at Balkh University, the exhibition featured nearly two thousand books in different genres aimed at promoting book-reading culture, Iskandar Moenyar, head of the journalism department, said.

Since overtaking power two years ago, the Taliban has imposed draconian rules and measures to erase women and girls from most areas of public life.

The group has not only banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade and women from attending universities and employment, but it has also severely curtailed their mobility, appearance, and other basic freedoms.

Despite the mounting domestic and international uproar—increasing the country’s isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed and a humanitarian crisis is deepening—the Taliban has shown no signs of lifting these bans.

Some participants at the book fair called on the Taliban authorities to allow women and girls to receive an education.

One of the participants, Rahmatullah said that it is obligatory for men and women to seek education in Islam, hoping that the Taliban will reverse the bans.

Rights groups have termed the Taliban’s gender persecution and discrimination as “gender apartheid”, calling on the international community to hold the group accountable for their human rights violations.