KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban is banning women from using gymnasiums in Afghanistan, an official in Kabul said Thursday, the religious group’s latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms since they came to power more than one year.
The Taliban invaded the country last year, taking power in August 2021. They banned girls from middle and high school, despite initial promises to the contrary, restricted women from most fields of employment and their ordered to be carried head to toe. clothes in public.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Virtue and Vice said the ban was introduced because people were ignoring sex segregation orders and women were not wearing the required headscarf or hijab. Women are also prohibited from entering the parks.
The ban on women using gyms and parks came into effect this week, according to Mohammed Akef Mohajer, Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Virtue and Vice.
The group has ‘done its best’ over the past 15 months to avoid closing parks and gyms to women, ordering separate days of the week for men’s and women’s access or imposing segregation sexual, he said.
“But, unfortunately, orders were not followed and rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gymnasiums for women,” Mohajer said. “In most cases we saw men and women together in parks and unfortunately the hijab was not observed. So we had to make another decision and for now we have ordered the closure of all parks and gymnasiums for women.
Taliban teams will start monitoring establishments to check whether women are still using them, he said.
A personal trainer told The Associated Press that women and men have not previously exercised or trained together at the Kabul gymnasium where she works.
“The Taliban are lying,” she insisted, speaking on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. “We trained separately.
On Thursday, she said two men claiming to be from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice entered her gymnasium and made all the women leave.
“The women wanted to protest against the gymnasiums (closure) but the Taliban came and arrested them,” she added. “Now we don’t know if they are alive or dead.”
Spokesman for Kabul’s Taliban-appointed police chief, Khalid Zadran, said he had no immediate information about women protesting gym closures or arrests.
The UN special representative in Afghanistan for women, Alison Davidian, condemned the ban. “This is yet another example of the Taliban’s continued and systematic erasure of women from public life,” she said. “We call on the Taliban to restore all rights and freedoms for women and girls.”
Hardliners appear to dominate the Taliban-led administration, which is struggling to govern and remains internationally isolated. An economic downturn has plunged millions more Afghans into poverty and hunger as the flow of foreign aid has dwindled to a trickle.
Kabul-based women’s rights activist Sodaba Nazhand said the ban on gyms, parks, work and school would leave many women wondering what they had left in Afghanistan.
“It’s not just a restriction for women, but also for children,” she said. “Children go to the park with their mothers, now the children are also prevented from going to the park. It’s so sad and unfair.”