A part of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan tasked with enforcing adherence to strict Islamic fundamentalism has ordered all amusement parks in the capital to be segregated by gender.
The limit on such mixing at fun parks will deepen concerns for girls' and women's rights as it follows a last-minute reversal last week that prevented Afghan girls from returning to reopened schools.
The hard-line Taliban's Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on March 27 ordered that all Kabul venues with rides and games should be opened to women and girls from Sundays through Tuesdays and to boys and men on Wednesdays through Saturdays.
There is no exception for families on the ministry's timetable.
UN and other international observers have repeatedly warned of abuses under the seven-month-old regime of girls and women, including draconian limits on their movement, freedom to work or travel, or ability to carry out even the simplest daily aspects of public life.
"The Taliban regime is now officially a gender apartheid authoritarian police state," Tamim Asey, executive chairman of the Institute of War and Peace Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations of Afghanistan, tweeted after the parks ban was announced, adding, "The regime while a de facto reality...merits no recognition and legitimacy."
On March 23, Taliban officials extended a nationwide ban on girls' education beyond sixth grade that was imposed after the militants took over most of the country as U.S.-led international troops withdrew and the UN-backed government in Kabul fled.
Young Afghans expressed despair and frustration after many of the more than 1 million girls prepared to return to school were turned away, in many cases when they approached school gates.
The sudden announcement to keep girls out of class sparked protests by teachers, students, and women's rights activists in the capital despite brutal Taliban crackdowns on previous demonstrations.
They chanted, "Open the schools!" and demanded that women be allowed to work.
International organizations and world governments called on the Taliban to reconsider its decision immediately.
The United States' special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, said ensuring access to education was among U.S. demands of the Taliban.
U.S. officials abruptly canceled scheduled meetings with Taliban representatives in Doha after the school reversal on girls' attendance.