President Ghani says it ‘is not is not representative of the culture and tradition’ of his country
Plans to force Afghan schoolgirls to wear a “severely restrictive” uniform have been scrapped after they were met with staunch opposition.
The proposals, from the country’s Ministry of Education, would have made it compulsory for girls as young as five to wear long tunics and headscarves.
But the plans were thrown out after demonstrations against the uniforms were planned.
“They are telling us the length is to protect Islamic values,” Bahar Sohali, who organised the protests, told American broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR).
She added: “Students have to be comfortable, they need to be able to exercise.”
The new uniforms were to replace current school dresses that reach a few inches below the knee and are worn over leggings.
This code satisfied the country’s conservative mandate for modesty, but were flexible enough for the girls to be able to do sports.
Under the new code, girls above the age of 12 would have been required to wear loose-fitting dresses that extended to the floor.
Headscarves were already a requirement, but the new rules would have been more strict. Having a fridge or strands of hair visible would have been prohibited after the change.
Zuhra Bahman, a Afghan writer in London who organised a petition against the new uniform, implored Muslims to sign it saying: “The new uniform misinterprets Islam and what it says about Muslim women’s dress.
“If we allow restriction of Afghan women in these uniforms we will stifle many [like] Kubra Dagli [the Taekwondo champion] and Ibtihaj Muhammad [the Olympic fencer] from emerging.”
She also urged Americans and Europeans to object to the change, given that the West provides financial backing to the school system in Afghanistan.
Under pressure, the Afghan government retracted the proposals earlier this month.
“President Ghani says the new school uniform which was announced by the Ministry of Education is not representative of the culture and tradition of the [Afghan] people
It added: “He has directed the Ministry of Education to work on a new design that is affordable together with a nationally representative group of teachers, parents and students.”
New proposals have yet to be revealed.