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AFGHANISTAN: Taliban bans women from parks and gyms

THE Taliban is banning women from using all parks and gyms in Afghanistan, further squeezing them out of an ever-shrinking public space.

A Ministry of Virtue and Vice spokesperson said the ban, which came into force this week, was being introduced because, they claimed, people were ignoring gender segregation orders and women were not wearing the required hijab or head covering.

Mohammed Akef Mohajer, a Taliban-appointed spokesman, said the group had “tried its best” to avoid closing parks and gyms for women, and had tried ordering separate days of the week for male and female access.

“But, unfortunately, the orders were not obeyed and the rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gyms for women,” he said.

“In most cases, we have seen both men and women together in parks and, unfortunately, the hijab was not observed.

“So we had to come up with another decision and for now we ordered all parks and gyms to be closed for women.”

The religiously driven hardline group would be sending teams to check whether women are still using the spaces they are banned from accessing, he confirmed.

It is the latest example of women being restricted from public arenas in Afghanistan, which has been controlled by the Taliban since their rapid takeover of the capital Kabul last August.

Since their power grab, the Taliban have limited girls’ public education to just six years, restricted women’s work, encouraged them to stay at home, and issued dress codes requiring them to cover their faces.

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Naija Times