Afghan Women to Train for Olympic Boxing

Twenty-five women from Afghanistan are training to box at the 2012 Olympics; the International Boxing Association has approved the wearing of hijabs beneath their headgear and clothes that cover their bodies in order to meet Islamic religious requirements. “We want to be as inclusive as we can,” an IBA spokesperson said in a recent article published by the Times Online. Oxfam is sponsoring the Afghan team in a program designed to promote peace and women’s rights.

I’d say the women’s toughest battle so far has been just convincing their families to allow them to fight. Cultural changes happen slowly, and they begin in small pockets of people who agree to a change. I expect that these women and everyone connected to them will be facing increased pressure in the coming months as word gets out. Theirs is a country where women can expect to face serious opposition, threats, harassment, and even serious bodily harm for simple freedoms that we in the U.S. have taken for granted for several generations. The ability to wear what we want, play on a sports team, or speak in public are choices our daughters have always had. The 25 Afgan boxers will have to show tremendous courage not just in the ring, but more importantly at home and in their communities in order to make their dreams a reality. I imagine they will run a tremendous risk, and my heart goes out to them. As Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said, “Their courage deserves to succeed.”

Image credit: Ivanatm

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3 Responses to Afghan Women to Train for Olympic Boxing

  1. Lisa Creech Bledsoe October 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Can’t help myself; this was too funny:
    Burqa Boxers Tweet Exchange

  2. Neil McGgowan, Moscow, Russia January 27, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Sure, I noticed Gabrielle Gifford’s right to free speech without threat of physical harm being exercised in the USA. You badly need to get over yourself.

  3. Lance Bledsoe January 30, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    If I understand correctly, the point in the above comment seems to be that since US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was physically assaulted in Arizona in January 2011 while exercising her right to free speech, that the US is no farther along than Afghanistan when it comes to allowing women the same freedoms as men. It seems to me that this logic is flawed. As best I can tell, based on news reports speculating on the alleged assailant’s motives, and the fact that males as well as females were assaulted (and some killed) in the January attack, this violence doesn’t appear to be primarily an attack on women per se, but an attack on the ideas and political stances taken by certain people, both male and female. While that may be little comfort to the victims in the Arizona attack, I think this post was attempting to point out the threats of violence that Afghan women face because of their desire to box or wear certain clothing; these are threats of violence that Afghan men do not face.

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