Women’s presence drops significantly in recreation areas

Following a series of restrictions imposed by the Taliban, the number of women in Kabul’s recreation areas and parks, whether accompanied by friends, colleagues, or family members, has decreased significantly.

Among the other restrictions are the segregation of recreation areas for men and women, as well as the allocation of specific days for men and women.

Under the previous administration, the Bagh-e-Babur recreation area saw a large number of male and female visitors every day, but it is now nearly empty. It has also been divided into two sections, one for men and one for women.

An employee of the park said on condition of anonymity that the number of visitors, especially women, has been reduced due to economic problems and Taliban restrictions.

He said that dozens of families used to visit the area in the past, but the number has reduced to just 5 to 10 families a day right now.

In two other recreation areas, including the Kabul Zoo, the number of visitors is the same as in other places.

A Kabul resident who visited the Zazai park in the southern parts of Kabul said that the area was closed at 8 pm but was previously open until midnight.

The all-female Shahr Ara recreation area in Kabul, where women ran dozens of shops and businesses, has been closed over the last year. Part of the place has been allocated for a tailoring workshop for women, where a small number of female students are learning tailoring and religious subjects.

Moreover, big recreation areas like Qargha Lake, Paghman, and Shakardara in the eastern and northern parts of Kabul have been separated for male and female visitors.

In a letter, the Taliban’s vice and virtue office has also asked its members to make sure they are unarmed and without uniforms when visiting these places.

Bowling clubs in Kabul were once popular gathering places for families, men and women, but these establishments now have a small number of visitors.

A women’s rights activist said that the Taliban is focusing on imposing restrictions on women’s presence in society instead of concentrating on economic projects and boosting the job market for the people as poverty is massively on the rise.

“The Taliban has been the main hub for promoting violence and oppression… Family, recreational places, going to parties and for fun are against the ideology of the Taliban,” said Monisa, an activist.

The restrictions imposed by the Taliban are not confined to Kabul. A bunch of new restrictions has been imposed on women’s presence at the Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif city in northern Balkh province, where the historical and religious site is located, something that has not happened before in the country.

Based on a new rule imposed by the Taliban, women will be allowed to visit the Blue Mosque once a week while they have been banned from visiting the shrine on other days of the week.

Another requirement is full body coverage or wearing a burqa; otherwise, women will not be allowed to enter the Blue Mosque, according to women.