An official in Kabul said on Thursday that the Taliban had banned women from using gyms in Afghanistan, the latest injunction the fundamentalist group has issued since assuming control more than a year ago. The Taliban took control of the nation in August 2021. The Associated Press reports that despite earlier assurances to the contrary, the group has prohibited females from attending middle and high school, barred women from most professions, and mandated that they cover up from head to toe in public.
According to a Ministry of Virtue and Vice spokesperson, the restriction was implemented because people disobeyed regulations requiring gender segregation and because women were not wearing the mandated headscarf or hijab. Parks are likewise off-limits to women. Mohammed Akef Mohajer, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Virtue and Vice, said the ban on women visiting parks and gyms started this week.
He said the group had “tried its best” to avoid closing facilities to women, ordering different days of the week for male and female access to parks and gyms. He explained, “unfortunately, the orders were not obeyed and the rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gyms for women.” He added, “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.”
Alison Davidian, the U.N. special representative in Afghanistan for women, stated, “This is yet another example of the Taliban’s continued and systematic erasure of women from public life. We call on the Taliban to reinstate all rights and freedoms for women and girls.” Women’s rights activist Sodaba Nazhand condemned the ban, noting, “It is not just a restriction for women, but also for children. Children go to a park with their mothers, now children are also prevented from going to the park. It’s so sad and unfair.”