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Afghan girls’ education advocate Matiullah Wesa arrested in Kabul: UN

The United Nations said that a prominent Afghan girls’ education activist was
arrested in Kabul this week and called on Taliban authorities to
clarify the reason for his detention.

“Matiullah Wesa, head of (Pen Path) and advocate for girls’
education, was arrested in Kabul Monday,” the UN Mission to
Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.

“UNAMA calls on the de
facto authorities to clarify his whereabouts, the reasons for
his arrest and to ensure his access to legal representation and
contact with family.”

Spokespeople for the Taliban administration’s information ministry and intelligence agency did not immediately respond to request for comment or confirm the detention.

Wesa, who comes from the southern province of Kandahar, has
for years advocated for girls’ education, particularly in
conservative rural areas, including during the tenure of the
previous Western-backed foreign government when he said many
girls living in the countryside were not reached by education

READ MORE: Gender discrimination’: Afghan universities reopen without women

His organisation, Pen Path, has held meetings with tribal elders, encouraged communities and authorities to open schools, and disbursed books and mobile libraries.

The Taliban administration has barred most girls from high
school and women from universities saying there are perceived
problems including around female Islamic dress. Officials have
said they are undertaking work to reopen schools but have not
given a time frame.

They say they respect women’s rights in accordance with
their interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan custom and that
the improved security in the country since foreign forces left
has made it safer for many young children to go to school.

Last year, Wesa told Reuters his work was free of political interference and impartial and his focus was on helping communities encourage girls’ education.

READ MORE: Female employment drops in Afghanistan since mid-2021: report

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