Washington [US], October 24 (ANI): Women athletes in Afghanistan, whose dreams of playing sports at international levels has come to an end, say the political change in the country has left them with just one thing to survive: hope.
After returning back to power in mid-August, reports coming out of the ground confirmed that the Taliban rolled back the women's rights gained in the past 20 years. The outfit reportedly imposed several restrictions on women, including a ban on women's sports.
"It was very painful," said 21-year-old Homaira Barakzai, the captain of the national handball team, who was not able to represent Afghanistan in the Asian Women's Handball Championship. The games were held last month in Amman, Jordan.
"Everything has changed with the political change (Taliban's return). Our only hope right now is to survive. Our future, as athletes, is unknown," Barakzai was quoted as saying by American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA).
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Taliban's old approach to the rights of women and girls was largely unchanged. The rights group said that the outfit fired women journalists from state media and warned women to stay at home away from work for their own safety.
"Then they just fired women from most government jobs. They issued tough - and, for many universities, impossible - new guidelines on how women could attend a university, requiring strict gender segregation."
According to the HRW, the Taliban banned women's sports, dismantled the system to protect women from violence, abolished the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
Mashhed Barez, a member of Afghanistan's national handball team, said that the Taliban ban on women's sports is "very disappointing." Barez said the Taliban have not changed from what she heard about the group's rule in the late 1990s.
"If someone thinks that the Taliban have changed, they are mistaken. The Taliban want people to live in poverty and misery," Barez told VOA.
Last month, the Taliban had barred female employees from entering the Ministry of Women Affairs in Kabul, allowing only males into the building.
Experts believe that these recent developments are similar to the ultraconservative Islamic regime that saw regular stoning, amputations and public executions during Taliban rule before the US-led invasion that followed the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. (ANI)