Afghan lecturer despairs over education ban

STORY: The world must not abandon the women of Afghanistan, this university lecturer says.

After the Taliban-led administration last week banned women from attending universities, and working for humanitarian aid groups.

Bakhshi, who wished only to be identified by her surname for security reasons, has qualifications in political science and law and used to teach at two private universities.

She says there is now no place for women in Afghan society:

"I'm so upset that according to the new decree of the Taliban, no women can continue their duties and activities as part of the society, and this situation, that women have no place in Afghan society, is so disappointing."

The Taliban's restrictions on women have sparked international condemnation, with the U.N. calling for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.

There have also been protests inside the country.

A day after the ban was announced, dozens of women marched near Kabul university.

They chanted "education is our right, universities should be opened."

Elsewhere, in the western city of Herat, video showed the Taliban firing a water cannon at protesters.

The ban on women attending university is just the latest blow to female rights in the country, with girls already excluded from attending secondary schools.

Bakhshi says she is concerned about the future of Afghan women under the Taliban, and she wants the international community to do more to support their plight.

"I urge the international community not to abandon and forget Afghan women. Afghan women must not be sanctioned anymore, they must not be sentenced to imprisonment. When you talk about human rights, then please support them, and do not abandon them."

Four major aid groups, including Save the Children and CARE international, have suspended their operations in Afghanistan.

They say they are unable to run their programmes, which reach millions of Afghans, without female staff.

It comes as the U.N. warns two-thirds of the population need aid to survive, and 20 million people face acute hunger.