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International News Sep 8, 2021 11:30 PM EST

Afghan women to be banned from playing sports

"In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this."

Afghan women to be banned from playing sports
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Under the new leadership of the Taliban, women will no longer be allowed to play sports, for fears that they may face situations where they are not properly covered.

In an interview with Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, said that sports like cricket are not important for women.

"I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket," said Wasiq.

Wasiq said Islam allowed women to go out on a needs basis, like for grocery shopping. Sport is not considered a need, he noted.

The news comes after the Taliban announced their new government leaders, which included only men despite urging more women to enter government offices.

He added that the movement required to play sports may place Afghan women in a position where they are not properly covered.

"In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this," he said.

"It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed," Wasiq continued.

With the denouncing of women’s sports, the future of both the women's and men's cricket teams are placed in jeopardy.

Wasiq told SBS News last month that the men's team will still be allowed to compete, and has given the okay for the team to travel to Australia later this year for a test match in Hobart.

The International Cricket Council requires its members to have a national women's team and only full members of the ICC are permitted to play test matches.

When asked by SBS News about the potential for the ICC to call off the upcoming test match over the lacking of a women's team in Afghanistan, Wasiq said that the Taliban would not compromise on the issue.

"Even for this, if we face challenges and problems, we have fought for our religion so that Islam is to be followed. We will not cross Islamic values even if it carries opposite reactions. We will not leave our Islamic rules," Wasiq said.

"In cricket and other sports, women will not get an Islamic dress code. It is obvious that they will get exposed and will not follow the dress code, and Islam does not allow that," he added.

A spokesperson for the ICC said that the sport's governing body is concerned by the Taliban's ban, and would discuss the issue at the next board meeting.

"The ICC is committed to the long-term growth of women's cricket and despite the cultural and religious challenges in Afghanistan, steady progress has been made in this area since Afghanistan's admission as a Full Member in 2017," the spokesperson told SBS News.

Speaking with the BBC, Asel, an Afghan women's cricket player who went by a pseudonym for her safety, said that the Taliban is already looking for the women's cricket team.

"Every woman playing cricket or other sports is not safe right now," she said. "The situation is very bad in Kabul. We have a group on WhatsApp and every night we are talking about our problems and sharing plans about what we should do. We are all hopeless."

"The village where they play cricket, some people who knew them are working with the Taliban. When the Taliban came here and took Kabul they threatened them, saying, 'We may come and kill you if you try to play cricket again,'" Asel says.

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