Women banned from Afghanistan gyms, Taliban official says


FILE – Burqa-clad women walk on Nadir Khan hilltop overlooking Kabul, Afghanistan on March 16, 2017. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday, May 7, 2022 ordered all Afghan women to wear the all-covering burqa in public, a sharp hard-line pivot that confirmed the worst fears of rights activists and was bound to further complicate Taliban dealings with an already distrustful international community. (AP Photo)


The Taliban has announced that women are prohibited from using gyms in Afghanistan as it continues its crackdown on women’s rights in the country.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Virtue and Vice spokesperson Mohammed Akef Mohajer confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that the ban on women in gyms was enforced this week.


Mohajer said the ban was implemented due to residents ignoring gender segregation orders and women not following mandatory headscarf or hijab requirements at local gyms.


The spokesperson also said women are prohibited from going to parks in the country, saying the organization “tried its best” within the last year to avoid park and gym closures for women by ordering separate days of the week for men and women.


“But, unfortunately, the orders were not obeyed and the rules were violated, and we had to close parks and gyms for women,” Mohajer said in a statement. “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 Taliban regained control of Afghanistan more than a year ago, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in August 2021, after 20 years in the country.


The Taliban quickly seized control of Kabul and reimposed hard-line rule, prohibiting girls from attending secondary school across the country and limiting their participation in much of society and the economy.


In a statement, the U.N. representative for Afghanistan, Alison Davidian, condemned the latest ban, saying that “this is yet another example of the Taliban’s continued and systematic erasure of women from public life.”