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Afghanistan: Taliban bars women from visiting popular national park

The Band-e-Amir national park in Afghanistan (USAID)
The Band-e-Amir national park in Afghanistan (USAID)

The Taliban has banned women from visiting one of Afghanistan’s most popular national parks.

In the latest crackdown on women’s rights in the country, the Taliban said it would stop women visiting Band-e-Amir national park in the central Bamiyan province.

It claimed that this was because women had not been wearing the hijab in what the fundamentalist group called the correct way.

The ban came a week after Afghan minister Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, visited the province and said: “Going sightseeing is not a must for women.”

The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, and quickly curtailed women’s rights, barring women from universities and many workplaces, and restricting movement in public without a male relative present.

The draconian measures have caused fierce international outrage, including from Muslim-majority countries.

“Not content with depriving girls and women of education, employment, and free movement, the Taliban also want to take from them parks and sport and now even nature, as we see from this latest ban on women visiting Band-e-Amir," said Heather Barr, the associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“Step by step the walls are closing in on women as every home becomes a prison."

Band-e-Amir is a major tourist attraction, becoming Afghanistan’s first national park in 2009.

Unesco describes the park as a “naturally created group of lakes with special geological formations and structure, as well as natural and unique beauty".