Kabul. Noora’s passion for sports was such that she did not stay away from it for many years despite opposition from her family. Even beatings by his mother and taunts from neighbors could not stop him from playing his favorite sport. But now the 20-year-old female athlete from Afghanistan cannot muster up the courage to disobey the Taliban rulers of the country.
According to Noora and Afghan female athletes, not only have the Taliban banned girls and women from participating in any sporting activity, but women and girls who were once active in sports have been subjected to constant intimidation and harassment . They are even threatening of dire consequences for practicing privately. Noora is completely broken. She says, I am not the same now. Since the arrival of the Taliban, I feel like I am dead.
Several girls and women previously active in different sports in Afghanistan told The Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity that the Taliban have been calling them or visiting their homes threatening them not to participate in sporting activities. These girls and women also posed for photos with their favorite equipment from AP’s photographer.
However, due to the fear of Taliban, she hid her identity from the burqa. These girls and women said that they do not usually wear the burqa, but now often wear it when leaving the house, in order to hide their identity and avoid harassment. The ban on sports activities is one of the various restrictions imposed by the Taliban on the lives of women and girls.
After coming to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban has banned girls from studying in secondary and higher secondary schools. Last month, he also banned women from enrolling in universities. Under Taliban rule, it is mandatory for Afghan women to cover their hair and face in public. They have also banned women from going to parks and gyms. In addition, job opportunities for women in Afghanistan have also been limited.
Recently, the Taliban has banned NGOs from employing female staff, which is expected to affect the delivery of humanitarian aid in the country. Martial artist Sarina, 20, recalls how she was competing in a local women’s competition at a sports hall in Kabul in August 2021, when news broke that the Taliban had reached the outskirts of the city and all the women in sight The participants and spectators fled the hall.
According to Sarina, this was the last event she participated in. A few months later, she says, she tried to train the girls privately, but Taliban fighters raided the gym where they were practicing and took them all into custody. According to Sarina, the girls were humiliated and tortured in custody. After the intervention of elders, he was released after promising not to indulge in sporting activities in future.
According to Sarina, she still practices martial arts at home and secretly teaches them to her friends. She says life has become very difficult for me, but I am a warrior. So I will continue to live and fight on my own terms. Meanwhile, Mushwaneya, a spokesman for the Taliban’s sports organization and the National Olympic Committee, said authorities were considering restoring sports activities for women by setting up a separate sports complex. However, he did not specify any time frame in this regard and said that funds would be required to do so. The Taliban have previously promised to allow girl students in grades seven and above to return to school, but have not yet taken any steps in this direction.
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