The Taliban issued a decree Friday in the name of their supreme leader instructing Afghan ministries "to take serious action" on women's rights, but failed to mention girls' access to schools.
The move comes after the Islamists seized power in mid-August and as they seek to restore Afghanistan's access to billions of dollars in assets and aid suspended when the previous, Western-backed regime collapsed in the final stages of a US military withdrawal.
"The Islamic Emirate's leadership directs all relevant organizations... to take serious action to enforce Women's Rights," the decree states, quoting elusive supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.
The decree centers on marriage and widows' rights, stating "no one can force women to marry by coercion or pressure" and that a widow is entitled to an unspecified fixed share of her husband's inheritance.
It instructs the Ministry of Culture and Information to publish material on women's rights "to prevent... ongoing repression".
Respect for women's rights has repeatedly been cited by key global donors as a condition for restoring aid.
The decree crucially makes no mention of girls' secondary education -- which has been suspended for millions -- or the employment of women, who have been barred from returning to jobs in the public sector.
Women's rights were severely curtailed during the Taliban's previous stint in power, which lasted from 1996 to late 2001.
Women were forced to wear the all covering burqa, only allowed to leave the home with a male chaperone and banned from work and education.
Akhundzada has maintained a very low public profile since becoming supreme leader in 2016, after his predecessor was killed in a US drone strike.
The Taliban on 30 October released a 10-minute audio recording purported to be him addressing a madrassa in the southern city of Kandahar that day.
But some analysts believe he may have been killed one or more years ago.
© 2021 AFP
A more restrictive law designed to keep “critical race theory” out of Texas public schools became law on Thursday.
Under the new law, a “teacher may not be compelled to discuss a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” The law doesn’t define what a controversial issue is. If a teacher does discuss these topics, they must “explore that topic objectively and in a manner free from political bias.”
It also requires at least one teacher and one campus administrator at each school district to attend a civics training program that will teach educators how race and racism should be taught in Texas schools.
There are more than 1,200 school districts in Texas. The cost to develop and implement the training program alone would be about $14.6 million annually, according to the Legislative Budget Board.
Senate Bill 3, passed during the Texas Legislature’s second special session ending Sept. 2, replaces House Bill 3979, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed over the summer. At the time, Abbott said more needed to be done to “abolish” critical race theory in Texas classrooms and lawmakers went to work to craft a more restrictive measure. The result was SB 3.
“It's not just about what a teacher may or may not say,” said Chloe Latham Sikes, deputy director of policy at the Intercultural Development Research Association. “It's also how they go about their class, how they design the class — how they might address really sensitive issues of race and gender and identity and sexism in their classrooms.”
Critical race theory is the idea that racism is embedded in legal systems and not limited to individuals. It’s an academic discipline taught at the university level. But it has become a common phrase used by conservatives to include anything about race taught or discussed in public secondary schools.
The new civics training mandated by the new law that requires attendance by at least one teacher and one campus administrator from each district will be created by the Texas Education Agency and it must be implemented no later than the 2025-2026 school year.
The state education agency has not yet released what this civics training program will look like. The law also requires the TEA to set up an advisory board for the training program.
The earlier attempt at a law to restrict what is taught in school caused so much confusion among educators that a North Texas administrator informed teachers at a training session in October that they had to provide materials that presented an “opposing” perspective of the Holocaust.
In records obtained by The Texas Tribune, the TEA has been advising school administrators that teachers should just continue teaching the current curriculum until the State Board of Education revises the social studies curriculum over the next year.
The new law also zeroed in on the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, a collection of essays that centered on how slavery and the contributions of Black Americans shaped the United States. With this law, students cannot be required to read the 1619 Project essays. It also bars students from receiving credit for working as a volunteer with a political campaign or interning for companies or organizations where they will be lobbying. Also, any school district that uses an online portal to assign learning material has to give parents access.
“All of this is really about routing out any acknowledgement of the salience of sex, race, gender and silencing those conversations, which, in the end, ultimately hurt students of color and students in the LGBTQ community,” Sikes said.
Disclosure: New York Times has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
38 House Democrats sign letter demanding Boebert be stripped of committee assignments for ‘weaponizing bigotry’
Thirty-eight Democrats from the House Progressive Caucus have signed on to a letter calling for leadership to strip committee assignments from U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who was seen in at least three videos suggesting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a terrorist.
The lawmakers in a statement cite Boebert's "Islamophobic comments and incitement of anti-Muslim animus," and note Omar has been ther target of "death threats and vitriol" as a result. Representatives Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), André Carson (IN), and Pramila Jayapal (WA) led the move.
They say that Boebert "has repeatedly weaponized dangerous, anti-Muslim bigotry" at Rep. Ilhan Omar.
"Instead of apologizing, Rep. Boebert has continued her Islamophobic rhetoric and chosen to spread hateful speech even further," which they warn "creates a dangerous work environment and furthers a climate of toxicity and intolerance."
They also chastise House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's "decision to allow and embolden continued hostility from his members," which they say "speaks clearly to the Republican party's willingness to allow hate and division to grow at the expense of our people, our values, and our institutions."
In at least one of the videos Boebert says Congresswoman Omar is "black-hearted" and "evil." In two separate videos speaking to different audiences Boebert tells two very different versions of a story centered around being in an elevator with Omar but noting that because she wasn't wearing a "backpack" she was unafraid. Omar calls the entire story fake.
"Congress cannot forgo accountability when a Member engages in hate speech that dehumanizes not only a colleague, but an entire people," the House Democrats' letter also says. "We cannot be complicit as members of this body, who swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, trample on the fundamental right of religious freedom."
Axios' Andrew Solender reports Rep. Jayapal "told me today me Pelosi has been 'reaching out to Ilhan today.'" He posted their letter: