The Afghan authorities have temporarily banned women from visiting all parks in Kabul because they say Islamic free mixing laws are being widely flouted.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, Muhammad Sadiq Akif, told 5Pillars that this action has been taken because the public were not following the rules which stipulate that only men can visit parks on four days while women can visit on three days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday).
He said that the Islamic Emirate is now seeking a solution where the process can be policed better, eventually allowing women to return to parks.
“The restriction is for all women, whether they are with or without a mahram [male escort],” he confirmed to the media.
The ban on women extends to amusement parks that usually have rides like bumper cars or a ferris wheel, and where families visit together with their children.
It appears to be in force only in the capital for now, but in the past such rules have eventually applied across the country.
According to 5Pillars’ sources, reaction in Kabul to the development was mixed. Some people were angry and said that they now cannot take their children to parks, while others said it was a good measure to prevent free mixing of the sexes.
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Since coming to power in August 2021 the Islamic Emirate has been gradually implementing laws which they say conform to Islam’s rulings on gender issues.
For example, women are barred from going on longer distance journeys without a mahram.
Teenage girls have still not returned to school in most of the country, despite promises to allow them to do so.
While some women still work in sectors such as healthcare and education, most were told not to go to work after the Islamic Emirate was established.
And in May a decree was passed ordering women to wear the Islamic face veil in public, although some in urban areas are still failing to comply.
Western diplomats have indicated to the authorities that resuming development funding for a country in deep economic crisis “depends on the treatment of women improving.”