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Amnesty International: Afghan Female Athletes

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Washington, 4 November 2021 (TDI): Amnesty International report remarked that the international evacuation of at-risk Afghans ended two months ago. Amnesty stated that those left behind face obstacles in their journey to seek safety abroad.

Afghan female athletes manifested that the Taliban’s return to power means the end of their dreams. Those dreams were to play sports at the national and international levels. The captain of Afghanistan’s national handball team, Homaira Barakzai, made a statement. Homaira has been the captain of the handball team for four years.

BARAKZAI STATEMENT

Barakzai is 21 years old, said that everything has changed with the Taliban’s return. She then added that their only hope is to survive, but their future as athletes is unknown. The Taliban rolled back the gained women’s rights in the past two decades.

This setback is due to the restrictions on women because the Taliban barred women from secondary education, work, and sports. Barakzai stated that it was also very painful to see that Afghanistan did not play in Asian Women’s Handball Championship, in Jordan.

Barakzai then added that the Taliban’s takeover of the capital prevented them from traveling to Jordan for the Championship. She then remarked that it would have been a major achievement for the team, the Afghan women, and Afghanistan if they participated and won.

The deputy head of the Taliban cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said to SBS, that Afghan women will not be allowed to play sports if they cannot get an Islamic dress code. Wasiq then added that this was because the players would not follow the dress code and that Islam did not allow that.

BAREZ STATEMENT

Mashhed Barez, a member of Afghanistan’s national team, pronounced the ban on women’s sports. Barez told VOA, that she found the ban to be disappointing. She then added that the Taliban have not changed from the stories she heard, back when the Taliban was in power in the late 1990s.

Barez then mentioned some restrictions women had back during the Taliban’s rule, like having to cover themselves completely. In the past 20 years, girls enrolled in school, worked in public and private sectors, and even practiced sports. The participation of Afghan women athletes can be seen at national and international tournaments.

Human Rights Watch has accused the Taliban of widespread human rights violations against Afghan women. HRW’s associate director of the Women’s Rights Division, Heather Barr, stated last month, that high-profile women and activists have been harassed. Barr also mentioned that because of this many are afraid, and are hiding.

FEAR FROM RETALIATION, RAHIMI STATEMENT

Barakzai also mentioned that because of their fear of her safety, her parents moved her to a relative’s house, and cannot go out. The chairperson of the Girls Football Federation in Afghanistan, Arzo Rahimi, pronounced this. She told VOA that the international sports bodies should not forget about Afghan female athletes.

Rahimi stated that the lives of athletes are in danger, and urged the international community to evacuate them to safety.

ORGANIZATIONS HELPING WITH EVACUATION

FIFA, with the help of the Qatari government, evacuated 100 football players and their families, last week. The International Olympic Committee, countries, and other sports bodies have also helped to evacuate dozens of female athletes.

Amnesty International stated this week that there are still at-risk Afghan citizens and that they face risks, even though evacuations ended. A member of the Afghan national basketball team, Freshta Ahmadzai, also pronounced about this.

She told VOA, that women athletes are at high risk, and because of this are forced to leave the country. The reason is that the Taliban do not give women their rights. She then added that they live like prisoners at home, and will have to leave the country.

Ahmadzai also called the international community to pressure the Taliban to honor their pledges to respect women’s rights. She then added that if the Taliban allows women to work and play sports, she would not think to leave.

 

Carla Esparza Arteaga
Carla Esparza Arteagahttps://thediplomaticinsight.com
International Relations student at the Universidad de Navarra in Spain. Main interests are the work of International Organizations like the UN in the scope of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable human beings and the environment

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