AFGHANISTAN

What happened with the women's Afghan cricket team?

Speaking to Australia’s SBS News a Taliban official said Afghan women will not be permitted to play sport, including the women’s cricket team.

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What happened with the women's Afghan cricket team?
WANA NEWS AGENCY via REUTERS

The Taliban regime that ousted the US-backed Afghan government has tried to differentiate itself from the brutal regime of the 1990s promising that they will form an inclusive administration. However, cracks in the façade didn’t take long to appear with hardliners appointed to the all-male interim government.

The new caretaker government has also begun placing restrictions on the freedom of movement for Afghan women not allowing them out of their homes without a blood relative escort. Now the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, has told Australia’s SBS News that women will not be allowed to play sports, including the women’s cricket team.

Banning women’s cricket team jeopardizes men’s team test match

The Afghanistan men’s team is scheduled to play a test match in November against Australia but the comments by Wasiq have put that match in doubt. Cricket Australia, which is hosting the test match in Hobart, has already said that it will not go ahead if the ban takes effect. Afghanistan Cricket Board chief executive Hamid Shinwari said in a telephone interview with Reuters “So far, we don’t have any news from the government. Its future will be decided by the new government.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering how it will move forward with the ICC T20 World Cup 17 October in light of the ban. "The ICC has been monitoring the changing situation in Afghanistan and is concerned to note recent media reports that women will no longer be allowed to play cricket,” a spokesman told SBS News. “This and the impact it will have on the continued development of the game will be discussed by the ICC Board at its next meeting."

The ban on women playing cricket would jeopardize Afghanistan’s standing as a full member of the ICC which it became in 2017. Nations are required to have both a men’s and women’s team in order to qualify for full membership status with the ICC. As well, only full members are allowed to play test matches.

Why are the Taliban banning women from sport?

The deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission told the Australian broadcaster that it wasn’t important for women to play cricket. "I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket," Wasiq said.

Furthermore, according to the translation that women would be “exposed” when they played. "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 added "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.”

The Afghan women’s team was only brought back last year when it contracted 25 players after being disbanded due to safety concerns in 2010. "Every woman playing cricket or other sports is not safe right now. The situation is very bad in Kabul. " a member of the women's team who wished not to have her real name used told the BBC. "We are all hopeless."