Taliban has defeated Afghan women Taekwondo fighters.
Zarghunna Noori, a 22-year-old taekwondo champion who aspired to represent Afghanistan at the Olympics, believes she has finally met her match.
“When we lose in sports, we feel terrible,” she told AFP from her home in Herat, in western Afghanistan.
“And now we’ve been beaten up by the Taliban.”
The Taliban’s all-male government has abolished the ministry of women’s affairs, replacing it with one known for enforcing religious dogma during the hardliners’ 1996-2001 rule.
Despite the Taliban’s failure to make a clear stance on women in sport public, they have made statements implying that meaningful participation will be impossible.
Women and girls are already effectively barred from working and attending school, so fear of retaliation for participating in sports is rampant.
“All of our lives have been flipped upside down,” said Noori, who has risen through the ranks of the national academy since joining her provincial squad a decade ago, winning an Afghan title in 2018.
“Every member of the national taekwondo team dreamed of one day competing in the Olympics and raising the Afghan flag in other countries,” she remarked, surrounded by her medals and a golden trophy etched with the words “Best Leader.”
“However, we are now all compelled to stay at home, and we are becoming increasingly depressed with each passing day.”
In 2008, after local hero Rohullah Nikpai won bronze in the Beijing Olympics, taekwondo’s popularity soared in Afghanistan.
When Zakia Khudadadi, 22, participated in the Tokyo Paralympics last month, she offered Afghans yet another reason to enjoy Korean martial arts.
Women have historically faced open opposition in Afghanistan for participating in sports, and participation in rural regions is extremely unusual.
Many women’s leagues, even in cities, are still in their infancy.
A taekwondo facility in Herat has around 130 girls and women aged 12 to 25, but they are not currently allowed to train, and their future prospects are grim.
Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, the country’s new sports administrator, stated last week that the Taliban would allow roughly 400 sports, but declined to specify whether women would be allowed to participate in any of them.
This month, the Taliban’s cultural commission’s Ahmadullah Wasiq aroused anxiety by suggesting that women are “not required” to participate in sports.
However, the administration is under pressure: prohibiting women from participating will almost certainly result in the suspension of international recognition and money, including backing for the country’s popular cricket. Brief News from Washington Newsday.