The Taliban will use security forces to stop women from visiting one of Afghanistan's most popular national parks, said a spokesman for the Vice and Virtue Ministry alleging that the decision was taken as women have not been observing the proper way to wear the hijab when going to Band-e-Amir in the central Bamiyan province.
This comes a week after minister Mohammad Khalid Hanafi visited the province and told officials that women haven't been adhering to the correct way of wearing the hijab. He had then asked security personnel to stop women from visiting the tourist hotspot.
Band-e-Amir is a major tourist attraction in Bamiyan. It became the country's first national park in 2009 and pulls in thousands of visitors every year.
"Going sightseeing is not a must for women," Mohammad Khalid Hanafi said. Sharing a report of his remarks, ministry spokesman Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif said that the order includes the use of security forces, clerics and elders to carry out Hanafi's order.
Heather Barr, the associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch told Associated Press, "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, as we see from this latest ban on women visiting Band-e-Amir. Step by step the walls are closing in on women as every home becomes a prison."
Last November, the Taliban barred women from using public spaces including parks, saying that they were not wearing the hijab correctly or following gender segregation rules. The Taliban have also imposed several restrictions targeting Afghan girls and women, including stopping girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade and prohibiting Afghan women from jobs at local and non-governmental organizations.
The harsh measures triggered a fierce international outrage.