Afghan women hold placards reading in Dari 'A Muslim can't go against women's education and work', during a protest as they demand their right to education and work in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, 16 August 2023. EFE/EPA/STR

International outcry amid ban on women from entering park in Afghanistan

New Delhi/Kabul, Aug 28 (EFE).- The Taliban has banned women in Afghanistan from entering a national park after many of its visitors were spotted not wearing the mandatory veil, a measure that has sparked criticism from international organizations on Monday.

The measure to ban women from the Band-e-Amir national park in the central Bamyan province was adopted by the Taliban government on Saturday.

“Not content with depriving girls and women of education, employment, and free movement, the Taliban also want to take from them parks and sport and now even nature. Step by step the walls are closing in on women as every home becomes a prison,” Heather Barr, associate director for women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch, denounced in a statement.

The Taliban’s Minister of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, said: “Women and our sisters cannot go to Band-e-Amir until we agree on a principle.”

“The security agencies, elders and the inspectors should take action in this regard. Going for sightseeing is not obligatory,” Hanafi said, according to Tolo News.

Band-e-Amir is made up of half a dozen natural lakes that boast a unique and natural beauty, according to Unesco, and was the first national park to be established in Afghanistan in 2009.

Sayed Nasrullah Waezi, head of the Bamiyan Shia Ulema Council, told Tolo News that there had been complaints over “lack of hijab or bad hijab.”

“hese are not Bamiyan residents. They come here from other places, he said”

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, took to X (formerly Twitter), to question the new policy.

“Can someone please explain why this restriction on women visiting Bande Amir is necessary to comply with Sharia and Afghan culture?” Bennett asked.

This the latest in a long list of restrictions being applied to women in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power in 2021.

Women have been almost completely ostracized from public life, amid new measures that ban them from accessing secondary and university education and from working in most public spaces.

Authorities have also imposed restrictions that force women to cover their faces when out in public, gender segregation rules and the obligation that all women must be accompanied on long journeys by a male chaperone.

Afghan women are witnessing a return to the 1996 and 2001 regime when the Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia Islamic Law that saw women confined to their homes.EFE