Taliban hard-liners ban women from Afghanistan's parks and gyms

Women have been banned from using funfairs and gyms in Afghanistan as the Taliban continue to crack down on their rights after taking power more than a year ago.

The group, which seized power in August 2021, have banned girls from middle school and high school despite initial promises to the contrary, restricted women from most fields of employment, and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice said the ban was being introduced because people were ignoring gender segregation orders and that women were not wearing the required hijab, or head covering. Women have also been banned from parks by the Taliban applying the same criteria.

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The ban on women using gyms and parks came into force this week and effectively makes it impossible for women to venture out of doors together..

Mohammed Akef Mohajer, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, said the group had “tried its best” over the past 15 months to avoid closing parks and gyms for women, ordering separate days of the week for male and female access or imposing gender segregation.

“But, unfortunately, the orders were not obeyed and the rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gyms for women,” said Mr Mohajer.

“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.”

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