August 15th marked the 2-year-anniversary of the Taliban takeover in 2021. Since then, the Taliban has issued over 100 edicts and orders, taking away the human rights of Afghan women and impacting all aspects of life. The latest decree on park visits only adds to the long list of Taliban restrictions against Afghan women and girls.
The latest decree of the Taliban banned Afghan women and girls from visiting the Band-e-Amir national park, Afghanistan’s first national park established in 2009, in Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan. According to the Taliban’s minister of virtue and vice, Mohammed Khaled Hanafi, the ban was “a result of women not observing hijab inside the park,” although no incident of women violating the hijab has been recorded over the past two years. Religious clerics and security agencies have been called on to prevent women from entering the park “until further notice.”
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, questions the decision and asks, “can someone please explain why this restriction on women visiting Band-e-Amir is necessary to comply with Sharia and Afghan culture?” There is no mention of women not being allowed to visit parks in Islamic laws, but the Taliban Sharia is their interpretation and ideology of way of life.
Band-e-Amir park is a popular destination for families to visit. UNESCO describes Band-e-Amir park as a “naturally created group of lakes with special geological formations and structure, as well as natural and unique beauty.” The restriction placed on women will make it difficult for many to attend the park. This latest ban is just one instance of the Taliban implementing rules on women’s movement since its rise to power in 2021.
Fereshta Abbasi of Human Rights Watch, noted that the ban occurred on Women’s Equality Day, symbolizing a “total disrespect to the women of Afghanistan.” Many Afghans took to social media, sharing their aspirations and hope for the day they will return to the national park.
Afghan women face increasing dangers
News of Hora Sadat’s passing was reported last week after she mysteriously died at age 25 in Kabul. Reports suggest that she was poisoned after attending a public event.
Sadat was a female Youtuber in Afghanistan with 300,000 subscribers who created videos aimed at a young audience. She participated in public events organized by women in Kabul, but was not known for publicly criticizing the Taliban.
Sadat’s death has led to accusations from activists pointing to the Taliban’s role. Her family has not commented on the details of her death. Sadat’s death is just one example highlighting the dangers faced by women in Afghanistan. The Taliban has placed strict bans on Afghan women, essentially erasing them from public life and controlling their mobility and appearance.
BBC 08/27/2023; Twitter 08/27/2023; RFE/RL 08/25/2023