International News Oct 21, 2021 5:40 PM EST

Women athletes fear for their lives after Taliban beheads volleyball player

A member of the Afghan junior women's national volleyball team was recently beheaded by the Taliban, with her coach saying that gruesome photos of her severed head were plastered on social media.

Women athletes fear for their lives after Taliban beheads volleyball player
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

A member of the Afghan junior women's national volleyball team was recently beheaded by the Taliban, with her coach saying that gruesome photos of her severed head were plastered on social media.

Mahjabin Hakimi was considered pone of the best players in the Kabul Municipality Volleyball Club prior to the Taliban takeover of Kabul, where female athletes now have to fear for their lives as the regime forces women to cease playing sports — or else.

In an interview with the Persian Independent, coach Suraya Afzali, using a pseudonym due to safety concerns, confirmed that Hakimi had been earlier this month, and that no one other than her family had known until recently due to threats from the Taliban warning them not to talk to anyone about it.

Her date of death has been questioned though, with reports and a death certificate circulating online suggesting that she was killed on August 13, days before the Taliban took control of Kabul, according to the New York Post.

Despite these reports, the Payk Investigative Journalism Center noted that their sources have confirmed that Hakimi "was beheaded" by the Taliban in Kabul, but could not give an exact date.

Afzali noted that female athletes in Afghanistan are facing a serious security threat, with only two of the team's members being able to escape the country.

"All the players of the volleyball team and the rest of the women athletes are in a bad situation and in despair and fear," she told the Persian Independent. "Everyone has been forced to flee and live in unknown places."

One of those who escaped, Zahra Fayazi, who reportedly played on the women's national team for seven years before stepping into a coaching role, told the BBC in September that one of their members had been killed last month.

"We don't want this to repeat for our other players," she said."Many of our players who are from provinces were threatened many times by their relatives who are Taliban and Taliban followers."

"The Taliban asked our players' families to not allow their girls to do sport, otherwise they will be faced with unexpected violence," Fayazi said. "They even burned their sports equipment to save themselves and their families. They didn’t want them to keep anything related to sport. They are scared."

"The Taliban asked our players' families to not allow their girls to do sport, otherwise they will be faced with unexpected violence," she continued.

Sophia, using a synonym to protect her family remaining in Afghanistan, is another team member who escaped the country two years ago after being stabbed by two men in Kabul.

She said that one of her former teammates had been shot by the Taliban in August.

"I'm sure it was the Taliban," said Sophia. "At that time the Taliban was overtaking all of the cities and there were no other groups that would do this. She was only a player and she didn't do anything for people to want to attack her.

"We are all shocked about how it happened, we couldn't believe it. Maybe we will lose other friends."

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