The Taliban government have banned women from visiting the Band-e-Amir national park in Bamiyan province.
Afghanistan’s acting minister of virtue and vice, Mohammad Khaled Hanafi, said women had not been observing hijab inside the park.
He called on religious clerics and security agencies to forbid women from entering until a solution was found.
Band-e-Amir is a significant tourist attraction, becoming Afghanistan’s first national park in 2009.
It is a popular destination for families and the ban on women attending will prevent many from being able to enjoy the park.
Unesco describes the park as a “naturally created group of lakes with special geological formations and structure, as well as natural and unique beauty”.
However, Mr Hanafi said going to the park to sightsee “was not obligatory”, Afghan agency Tolo News reported.
Religious clerics in Bamiyan said the women who were visiting the park and not following the rules were visitors to the area.
“There are complaints about lack of hijab or bad hijab, these are not Bamiyan residents. They come here from other places,” Sayed Nasrullah Waezi, head of the Bamiyan Shia Ulema Council told Tolo news.
Afghan former MP Mariam Solaimankhil shared a poem she had written on X, formerly known as Twitter, about the ban and wrote “we’ll return, I’m sure of it”.
Fereshta Abbasi, of Human Rights Watch, noted women had been banned from visiting the park on Women’s Equality Day and wrote it was a “total disrespect to the women of Afghanistan”.
Meanwhile Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, asked why stopping women from visiting Band-e-Amir “is necessary to comply with Sharia and Afghan culture?”.
The Taliban have a history of implementing bans on women doing certain activities on what it insists is a temporary basis, including preventing them from attending schools in December 2022.
The ban on visiting the Band-E-Amir national park is the latest in a long list of activities that women have been prevented from doing since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021.
Most recently, the Taliban ordered hair and beauty salons in Afghanistan to shut and in mid-July stopped women from sitting the national university entrance exams.
News by Antoinette Radford, BBC Afghanistan
BBC, 27 August 2023, Direct Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-66461711