The Taliban regime in Afghanistan issued a decree on Friday banning women from amusement parks and gyms, allegedly for disobeying the extremist government’s orders to wear hijabs and remain separate from men in public.
“Unfortunately, orders were not followed and rules were broken and we had to close parks and gyms for women. In most cases, we have seen men and women together in parks and, unfortunately, the hijab was not observed.” explained Mohammad Akef Mohager, spokesman for the Ministry of Virtue and Countering the Taliban.
Mohajer argued that the Taliban deserved credit for “trying as much as they could” to let women use public spaces, offering helpful measures such as allowing women into parks on special isolated days when men were kept out.
of Afghanistan Khaama Press reported on Thursday that women were immediately removed from amusement parks in the capital Kabul, including the private Habibullah Zazai Park, where managers informed female visitors that they had received orders from the Ministry of Virtue and Violence to keep them out.
Reuters Correspondents saw several women being denied entry to a Kabul amusement park, with “Taliban agents present to observe the situation.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported some attractions that normally host hundreds of visitors a day are at a standstill, with only a few selfless men roaming the premises. Women sat absent-minded in cafes and watched their children play in parks they were no longer allowed to enter.
“No schools, no jobs… we should at least have a place to have fun. We are just bored and tired of being at home all day, our minds are tired,” sighed one woman.
“Obviously, in Islam, going out and visiting parks is allowed. When you don’t have freedom in your country, then what does it mean to live here?’ asked another disappointed.
One of the owners of the Zazai amusement park told AFP that he would probably have to close, lay off his 250 employees and lose his investments because “without women, the children will not come by themselves.”
Al Jazeera reported a female personal trainer who angrily accused Taliban officials of “lying” about women training alongside men after a Taliban couple entered her gym and ordered all of her female clients to leave.
“The women wanted to protest the gyms, but the Taliban came and arrested them. Now we don’t know if they are alive or dead,” said the trainer.
“This is yet another example of the Taliban’s continued and systematic erasure of women from public life. We call on the Taliban to restore all rights and freedoms for women and girls,” UN Women’s Special Representative Alison Davidian said in response to the ban.