Taliban ban women from Afghanistan's parks and gyms
The Taliban this week introduced a new ban prohibiting women from using parks and gyms, Mohammed Akef Mohajer, a Taliban-appointed spokesperson for the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, confirmed to AP on Thursday.
Why it matters: The move illustrates yet another step the Taliban has taken to restrict women's freedoms, which have been steadily eroded since the group's return to power.
The big picture: The ban on women using gyms and parks was implemented this week because people weren't obeying the gender segregation rules and women weren't following the mandatory headscarf order, Mohajer told AP.
- Mohajer said the group had "tried its best" to avoid a ban by implementing gender-specific visitation days and gender segregation.
- "Unfortunately, the orders were not obeyed and the rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gyms for women,” Mohajer said.
- “In most cases, we have seen both men and women together in parks and, unfortunately, the hijab was not observed. So we had to come up with another decision and for now we ordered all parks and gyms to be closed for women.”
- Officials for the Taliban will now be monitoring parks and gyms to ensure women aren't still using them, he added.
The big picture: When the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021 it took steps to restrict women's freedoms, despite initially claiming that they would honor women's rights within the "frameworks" of Islamic law.
- The Taliban swiftly changed the ministry of women affairs of Afghanistan to the "Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice."
- The group has also placed restrictions on women's movement and forced some women out of their jobs.
- The Taliban reopened high schools in September 2021 but said only male students were allowed to return to class, saying that girls would be able to attend as the security situation allowed. They allowed women to continue their university studies, but only in gender-segregated classes and with mandatory head coverings.
- In March, they backtracked on a pledge to allow girls to return to high school just hours before the schools reopened.
- In May the Taliban issued new rules that require women to cover their faces in public.