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George and Laura Bush: Women and girls ‘enduring terrible hardship’ under Taliban

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush spoke out Thursday about the “terrible hardship” Afghan women and girls face under Taliban leadership in their country.

“As 2022 comes to a close, our hearts are heavy for the people of Afghanistan. We are especially sad for Afghan women and girls, who are enduring terrible hardship under the brutal Taliban regime,” the couple said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced that women are prohibited from attending universities in the country under Taliban leaders’ strict interpretation of Islamic law, called Sharia.

The Taliban has also barred girls from attending middle school and high school, barred most women from most employment opportunities and prohibited them from entering any parks or using gyms in the country.

“Treating women as second-class citizens, depriving them of their universal human rights, and denying them the opportunity to better themselves and their communities should generate outrage among all of us,” George and Laura Bush said in their statement.

The couple said the latest actions from the Taliban remind them of the U.S. responsibility to help Afghan citizens, noting how residents were forced to flee their homes due to the Taliban takeover last year.

“Afghans, like people around the world, simply want to live in freedom and provide a better future for their children,” the couple’s statement concludes. “Laura and I, along with the team at the Bush Center, pray that 2023 will bring a better time for the people of Afghanistan and those fighting for freedom everywhere.” 

The former first couple’s remarks come after Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the foreign ministers of the Group of 7 countries, publicly condemned the Taliban’s latest initiatives toward Afghan women. 

In a statement, the Taliban’s Minister of Higher Education Nida Mohammad Nadim said the latest ban was necessary in an effort to prevent the mixing of genders in university classes, arguing some subjects being taught were in violation of the principles of Islam, The Associated Press reported.

Last year, for the first time in two decades, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan following a chaotic U.S. withdrawal. A U.S.-led coalition under the Bush administration had previously ousted the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Tags Afghanistan First Lady George W. Bush Laura Bush The Taliban the taliban Treatment of women by the Taliban

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