According to a spokesman for the Vice and Virtue Ministry, the Taliban will use security forces to prevent women from visiting one of Afghanistan’s most popular national parks.
The ministry claims that women did not pay attention to the proper way of wearing the hijab, the Islamic headscarf, when visiting Band-e-Amir in the central Bamiyan province.
This comes a week after Minister Mohammad Khalid Hanafi visited the province and told officials and religious leaders that women were not following the correct way of wearing the hijab.
“Going sightseeing isn’t a must for women,” Hanafi said at the time.
Ministry spokesman Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif reported Hanafi’s remarks late Saturday night, including the use of security forces, clergy and elders to carry out Hanafi’s orders. A recording of the minister’s speech in Bamiyan, which matches Akif’s account, was shared on social media.
Akif could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.
“Not content with depriving girls and women of education, jobs and freedom of movement, the Taliban also want to take away from them parks, sports and now even nature, as we see with this recent ban on women visiting Band-e-Amir. ‘ said Heather Barr, associate director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, in an emailed statement. “Step by step the walls are closing on women as every home becomes a prison.”
Last November, the Taliban-led government banned women from using public spaces, including parks, on the grounds that they were improperly wearing the hijab or abiding by gender segregation rules.
Since taking over the country on August 15, 2021 following the departure of US and NATO forces, they have imposed several restrictions on Afghan girls and women, including banning girls from attending school past the sixth grade and banning them Afghan women to work on the ground and non-governmental organizations while cracking down on the media.
These harsh measures sparked fierce international outrage, including in Muslim-majority countries.
Band-e-Amir is a major tourist attraction in Bamiyan. It became the country’s first national park in 2009 and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
It is an important source of income for the local people and their sightseeing, restaurant, hotel and handicraft businesses.