By: Elyas Ahmadi
The only women’s park and market in Ghazni city has been turned into a military based after the Taliban came to power last August, shopkeepers and vendors near the park said.
The Taliban have written “al-jiahd center” on the gate of the park.
“When the Taliban captured Ghazni, they brought their military court here,” said Allah Mohammad, a vendor nearby.
The park was opened to provide a safe entertainment and business place for women last year. It housed a restaurant, and seven handicraft stalls when it was inaugurated, and it was the only women’s park in Ghazni city.
But now, no one is allowed to enter the park but the Taliban fighters.
“It is forbidden to enter without permission,” written on its wall.
The Taliban spokesman for Ghazni governor, Hafiz Umar, denied the news, saying there is no military court in the park. “This is a lie,” he said.
The Taliban closed the park to women soon after they entered Ghazni city.
Zainab, a 17-year-old Ghazni resident, said the park was quiet and safe place for women.
“It was a very comfortable and quiet place for women,” she said. “Now I am at home all the time.’
“I miss it very much,” she added, referring to the days when could visit the park by herself.
She said she has gone out for shopping only once with a male companion for Nowruz since the Taliban’s return to power.
Last week, the Taliban’s Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice announced a gender segregated plan for park goers based on which women are allowed to visit the parks only three days a week.
Masooma, 28, a resident of Hyderabad area of Ghazni city, said she could visit parks by herself but now she can’t go anywhere without her husband’s company.
She said she would often took her children from school, and got some food or snacks to eat with them in a nearby park.
“We would have good times,” she said, “but the Taliban took all the funs away from us.”
The Taliban have imposed harsh restrictions on women since they seized the government. They deprived millions of schoolgirls of education, imposed travel restrictions on women, and haven’t allowed most women to return to work.
Monisa Mubarez, a Kabul-based women’s rights activist, said “the closure of the women’s park and market in Ghazni is the continuation of those restrictions.”
She said the Taliban are using women’s rights as a tool for political gains. The restrictions, according to her, will push more families into extreme poverty, create a defective society, and damage women psychologically.
“It is a crime to deprive women of their right to education, remove them from the political and social structure, impose restrictions, and close women’s recreational, economic and health centers,” she added.