Afghan women were stopped from entering amusement parks in Kabul Wednesday after the Taliban’s morality ministry said that there would be restrictions on women being able to access public parks.
A spokesperson for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (MPVPV) confirmed that women would be restricted from accessing parks when asked for comment by Reuters, but did not respond to requests to provide further details.
It was not clear how widely the restrictions applied or how they affected a previous rule from the MPVPV saying parks must be segregated by gender and certain days would be aside for women.
Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Taliban administration, did not respond to request for comment.
At a Kabul amusement park containing rides such as bumper cars and a Ferris wheel, Reuters witnesses saw several women being turned away by park officials, with Taliban agents present observing the situation.
Masooma, a Kabul resident who asked that only her first name be published for security reasons and said that she had been turned away with her grandchild, added: “When a mother comes with their children, they must be allowed to enter the park, because these children haven’t seen anything good … they must play and be entertained.”
Two amusement park operators who asked to remain anonymous to speak on a sensitive matter said they had been told by Taliban officials not to allow women to enter their parks.
Since taking over Afghanistan last year, the Islamist Taliban has said women should not leave home without a male relative and must cover their faces, though some women in urban centers ignore the rule and some women have been permitted to work in government offices.
The group has also drawn criticism over a U-turn on signals they would open girls’ high schools in March.
Western governments have said the group needs to reverse its course on women’s rights for any path towards formal recognition of the Taliban government.
The Taliban say they respect women’s rights in accordance with their interpretation of Islamic law.