The Taliban forces Afghan female students to wear a niqab, according to a decree published by the Taliban just before the reopening of private universities.

The statement contains more freedom-restricting rules for women studying.

When they took power, the Taliban said they respected women's rights.

Afghan female students are now required to wear a black abaya with a face-covering niqab in class.

An abaya is a long veil that covers the body.

A niqab covers the face, except for the eyes.

Women are also only allowed to take classes in rooms without men, unless male and female students are separated by a curtain.

The women then have to leave five minutes earlier than the men.

They then have to stay in waiting rooms until the male students have left the building.

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What now for Afghan women?

'There are worrying developments'

In the decree published on Saturday, the Taliban also stipulated that female students should only be taught by other women.

If that is not possible, "older" male teachers with "good character" can fill this in.

The decree applies only to private colleges and universities, which have grown explosively since the first Taliban rule ended in 2001.

First Taliban rule was even stricter on women

During the first period of power of the Islamist movement (1996-2001), women were not allowed to study in institutions where men also studied.

At the time, women were required to wear a burqa outside the home and were preferably allowed to leave the house alone in the company of a male relative.

The current Taliban have argued to "respect women's rights according to their interpretation of Islamic scriptures".

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