Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in a statement on Thursday said that “the right to education, freedom of expression and access to artistic skills are fundamental rights of all children, without discrimination based on age or gender," reacting to a decision by the Ministry of Education to ban public singing for schoolgirls.
“All boys and girls can exercise their rights equally and freely within the law,” the statement said, adding that “any restriction on the rights and freedoms of children is against the general principles of human rights, the Convention on the rights of the children and the national laws of Afghanistan, in particular the Constitution and the law on the protection of the rights of the children.”
“It is expected that any decision of the Ministry of Education to refuse to allow children to participate in public meetings and programs, to celebrate and welcoming in order to support the principles of freedom, equality and protection of the highest interests of children and not to promote gender discrimination,” it added.
On Wednesday, a decision by the Afghan Ministry of Education to ban girls 12 years old and up from singing the national anthem--or other group songs--in mixed company has been met with a strong backlash from social media users and other critics. The ban would apply to all government and private schools.
Najiba Arian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, confirmed the ban.
Arian said the decision was made following complaints by families over the high burden of studies on the shoulders of the students in high school and middle school.
Based on the decision, girls who are over the age of 12 are only allowed to sing the anthem and other cultural songs at gatherings of women, not in mixed company.
However, critics have described the move as imposing limitations on the civil liberties of women and girls.