Afghanistan: Taliban close national park for women

Status: 08/28/2023 4:06 p.m

The Taliban continue to restrict women’s rights in Afghanistan. In future, they will not be allowed to visit the Band-e-Amir National Park. According to the Taliban, sightseeing is not a must for women.

They call it the Grand Canyon of Afghanistan, but maybe it’s even more beautiful. Sandy, rugged hills, large and small lakes in front of them, it is spectacular and “of natural and unique beauty”, as UNESCO stated: Band-e-Amir has been Afghanistan’s first national park since 2009.

Young men jump into the clear, azure water, families ride pedal boats, groups of young women take selfies. The pictures from the AFP news agency that show this are a good four weeks old.

Thousands of visitors so far

Thousands of them came here to Bamiyan province to cool off in this hot summer – and to get a change from the often dreary everyday life in cities like Kabul.

“This is my first time visiting Bamiyan,” said Asal Walizada, a 23-year-old teacher from the capital, at the time. “We discovered how beautiful Bamiyan and Band-e-Amir are. We saw caves, statues – everything. It’s just beautiful.”

“Sightseeing for women not a must”

That’s enough of that. Mohammad Khaled Hanafi decreed this over the weekend. He heads the Ministry of Propagating Virtue and Preventing Vice.

Women would not have worn a hijab, would not have veiled their faces. Therefore, women should now be prevented from going into the national park by security forces until further notice. Sightseeing is not a must for women anyway.

heavy criticism

“Every day there are new restrictions,” Safa, a young woman from Kabul, told the news channel Tolonews. “We call on the Islamic Emirate to allow access for women too.”

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch has come in for serious criticism. It is probably not enough for the Taliban to deprive girls and women of education, work and freedom of movement. Parks and sports facilities have also been banned for them for a long time.

Now they even want to take nature away from them. What explanation could there be for this other than cruelty, a Human Rights Watch representative asked in a tweet.

“Search for Solutions”

It seems unlikely that the Band-e-Amir National Park will soon be like it was a few weeks ago, that women from the city will be allowed to come out into nature.

Virtue Minister Hanafi indicated in his statement that the ban was not permanent and that a solution was being sought. But that’s exactly what the Taliban have said in their bans and restrictions since they took power.

Solutions are being sought so that girls in higher classes can go back to school, it said. That was almost exactly two years ago – and to this day most of the students have to stay at home.

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