Taliban ban women from Bamyan lakes, ‘cruel’ decision NGOs say

To “prevent the non-respect of the hijab”, the Taliban took the decision to close Afghan women’s access to the Band-e-Amir park. MASSOUD HOSSAINI / AFP

To “prevent non-respect of the hijab”, the Taliban took the decision to close Afghan women’s access to the Band-e-Amir park, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Human rights organizations on Monday 28 August condemned the “cruel» decision to close to afghan women access to Band-e-Amir Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, popular with families for its splendid lakes located in the tourist province of Bamyan.

Not content with depriving girls and women of education, employment and freedom of movement, the Taliban also want to take away parks and sports, and now even nature“, castigated Heather Barr, deputy director of women’s rights for the NGO Human Rights Watch.

Step by step, the walls are closing in on women, every home becoming a prison“, she denounced in a press release. “It’s also about your ability to experience joy“, she insisted again to AFP, qualifying this decision as “cruel” And “completely intentional“.

“Prevent Hijab Violation”

The Minister for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, justified the ban on Saturday during a visit to Bamyan province by the fact that the wearing of the hijab (clothing covering the body and the head) “had not been complied with in the past two years“. “We need to take serious action today. We must prevent hijab disrespect», he said.

The women and our sisters will no longer be able to go to the Band-e-Amir until we establish guidelines (…). Tourism exists, they can do tourism, but tourism is not compulsory», he added. “This Explanation About A Woman Not Wearing A Proper Hijab Doesn’t Make Any Sense“, lamented the NGO.

Reduce the rights of Afghan women

Since its return to power in August 2021, the Taliban government, with its austere interpretation of Islam, has constantly reduced the rights of Afghan women. In two years, secondary schools and then universities closed their doors to women. Parks, sports halls and hammams are also prohibited. Prevented from working for NGOs and excluded from most civil service positions, Afghan women must also cover themselves fully when they leave their homes.

Can anyone explain why this restriction on women traveling to Band-e-Amir is necessary to comply with Sharia law and Afghan culture?asked about X, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett.

Afghanistan’s main tourist spot, the Bamyan Valley located in the center of the country is famous for its niches dug into the now empty cliff of the giant Buddhas after their destruction in 2001 by the Taliban, but also for its network of turquoise and sapphire lakes of Band-e-Amir nearby, classified as a UNESCO heritage site in 2003. Many families have the habit of renting pedal boats to navigate the lakes and walk on the shores or even enjoy the surrounding waterfalls and merchants. of memories. The province, largely inhabited by the Shiite Hazara minority, is considered the least dangerous and among the least conservative in Afghanistan.

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