Young children squeal with delight as they ride the Ferris wheel and bumper cars at an amusement park located in central Kabul.
They ride along with their fathers, or they look on and take photos. These rare moments of joy are rare in Afghanistan, where the news is so grim.
Mothers are no longer allowed to be part of the childhood memories made by the children. The Taliban hardline rulers have banned women from visiting Kabul’s parks.
Many people enjoy the rides when we visit.
The closest place women can go to the park, even us, is the restaurant that overlooks it. In the capital, women were recently banned from using swimming pools or gyms.
It is expected that the rules will be expanded across the country.
Afghan girls and women fear the Taliban’s increasing restrictions on what they can do.
These moves may not affect all of the country because, for most people, an evening out is something they can’t afford.
However, for many Afghan girls, it’s not all about the magnitude of the impact but about the symbolism of this move and what it says about the Taliban’s intent since August 2021.
“Everyday, girls in Afghanistan wake up to new restrictions. One female student said that it feels like we are waiting and watching for the next one. To protect her, she is not being identified.
“I was fortunate to finish secondary school before the Taliban arrived. However, I am afraid that universities may also be closed to women. “My dreams are over.”
Recently, she took the university entrance exam. She was disappointed to discover that journalism was not available to women. This was part of another restriction the Taliban recently placed on her.
“I cannot describe how difficult it is. The student admits that sometimes it feels like screaming, her frustration clear in her voice. “I feel hopeless.”
Some are looking for ways to combat the Taliban’s repression of women in Afghanistan as there is less space for them.
Laila Basim, an activist, co-founded the library for women. It contains thousands of books on diverse topics in many languages.
She says, “With this, we want to demonstrate to the Taliban that Afghan women will not remain silent. Our second goal is to increase the culture of reading among women, especially those girls who are deprived from education.”
She is determined to speak out against the men who run her country and has been involved in numerous protests since last January.
“We don’t fear death or that the Taliban might threaten our families. She says that what we fear is being excluded from society.
She considers the growing restrictions placed on women worrying and sad.
“It is so distressing to think about all the freedoms that we have lost. She says that while people from other countries are currently exploring Mars, we are fighting for basic rights.”
Zarifa Yagoubi, a women’s rights activist, was detained along with three other people a few weeks ago. The Taliban has not responded to multiple requests for their release by the UN and other organizations.
Twelve people, including three women, were executed last week in front of thousands at a stadium in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s current regime is increasingly reminiscent of their 1990s regime with each new move.
“The Taliban’s current policies are the same as they were 20 years ago. “We’re trying to convince them that this is unacceptable in the 21st Century,” Laila Basim says.
The Taliban’s vice and virtue ministry is located just a short distance from the library. This place is where Afghan women are not allowed.
“We kept a box at our gate for women to drop their complaints. Mohammad Akif Muhajer, a spokesperson for the organization, says that our director visits the gate to meet with women.
He defends the ban on women in parks and says that Islamic Sharia law wasn’t being followed.
“Our sisters were allowed to go to parks for 15 months. Although we had instructed women to wear the hijab [headscarf], some weren’t following that practice. He says that although there were separate days for women and men to visit the park, this was not being done.
Mohammad Akif Muhajer, when asked why they are cracking down on protestors for women’s rights said: “In every country anybody raising a voice against the government orders is arrested. They have been even killed in some cases.
“We haven’t done that. However, it is natural that if anyone raises their voice against national interests, they will be silenced.
Their actions and words suggest that they are becoming more hardened about their stance on women and those who criticize them. This is a challenge to the moderate image they tried to project since they took power last year.
The young female student stated that one day, women might be told they can’t leave their homes. “Everything in Afghanistan is possible.”
Afghan women are also disappointed in the international community.
Laila Basim states that “the world has turned its back against us.” “Powerful people from all walks of the globe are supporting women in Iran, but not Afghanistan,” Laila Basim said.
“What happens to me doesn’t make the front page news. We feel broken and forgotten