Media’s Neglect of Afghan Women’s Soccer Team Story an Example of Velvet Talibanism

9 months ago 128


For astir of america successful the West, the representation we instinctively subordinate with women nether Taliban regularisation successful Afghanistan is the animated shroud known arsenic the burqa, the lone hint to their humanity a brace of eyes down a cloth grille. It truthful came arsenic a astonishment to maine to observe that Afghanistan had a nationalist pistillate shot team, formed successful 2007—the U.S. beingness since 2001 gave women’s athletics a large boost—made up of girls property 14–16.

But present it is simply a squad successful limbo. Like truthful galore different Afghan women whose lives had improved nether American protection, the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces successful August exposed them to anticipated reprisals from the Taliban, whose fundamentalist strictures forbid athletics to women, and whose 1996–2001 tyranny was particularly brutal for women. Even much damning successful Taliban eyes, these girls’ families were progressive advocates for girls’ rights. One subordinate of the squad has ambitions to beryllium a doctor; different a movie producer; others, engineers.

For weeks, the girls, their families, and shot federation unit moved astir the country, waiting for assistance to get out. They suffered a cruel setback with the horrific termination bombing by ISIS terrorists astatine Kabul airport, which killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. work members. But eventually, successful precocious September, they made it to Portugal. There, squad skipper Farkhunda Muhtaj, who had spent weeks helping to put the squad members’ rescue from her location successful a tiny municipality adjacent Toronto, flew to Lisbon for a tearful reunion with them. The anticipation is that the girls volition yet settee successful the United States. (Why not Canada?)

Superficially, this is simply a feel-good story. Plucky girls flight the Taliban, and present they are safe. But it is similar the glow of a candle successful a acheronian and chilly cave.

News of the shot team’s flight to state lone came to my attraction due to the fact that it was tangentially linked to a shocking quality point that went viral successful South Asia, concerning a subordinate of Afghanistan’s nationalist women’s volleyball team, Mahjubin Hakimi, who had reportedly been beheaded by the Taliban.

As it turned out, the beheading did not happen, but it speaks volumes that truthful galore radical believed the story. The Italian Volleyball Federation observed a moment’s soundlessness for Hakimi astatine 1 of their games, and the Paris-based Ligue du Droit International des Femmes sent an indignant unfastened missive to apical International Olympic Committee officials, demanding that they respond to this “policy of panic which targets Afghan sportswomen.”

Hakimi, did, however, dice successful mysterious circumstances. Alt News reported that, according to a relative, “She was not killed by the Taliban successful October. Mahjabin’s decease occurred connected August 6 and her assemblage was recovered successful her fiancé’s bath successful Kabul. He claimed Mahjabin suffocated herself to death. However, our household suspects foul play by her in-laws.”

Hakimi was seemingly not lone a volleyball player, but a constabulary officer. A Twitter comment connected Oct. 20 states, “She was a subordinate of Afghan National Army Commando and was killed by her successful laws 10 days earlier The Taliban… I knew her personally.”

If true, Hakimi should beryllium held up crossed the Western satellite arsenic a exemplary of pistillate heroism. She insisted connected her close to information successful sport. She had the courageousness to articulation the beforehand enactment of absorption against the Taliban. And she took these risks successful the afloat cognition that information to women successful Islamist regimes comes not lone from extracurricular one’s home, but besides from within.

For if Hakim’s in-laws did successful information termination her, it would person been an look of honour culture, whose worst effects are visited upon girls and women. In specified scenarios, the female’s Islamically non-conforming behaviour has shamed her family, a humiliation that tin lone beryllium redressed with the female’s death. Hakimi’s antithetic choices could surely person made her the people of disapproving rumours, sometimes each it takes successful honour-shame cultures to trigger lethal enactment of this kind.

Perhaps if this were 2012, Mahjabin Hakimi would person achieved instant planetary reverential recognition, arsenic happened to teenage Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, erstwhile the Taliban changeable the young blogger for BBC Urdu successful the look for her temerity successful promoting acquisition for girls.

But our nine has changed since 2012. Back then, the destiny of girls and women successful misogynistic cultures troubled america deeply. In 2009, Canadians were graphically schooled successful the pathology of honour civilization erstwhile 3 Afghan-Canadian girls and their stepmother were killed by their father, mother, and member for their alleged transgression of adopting (the humble extremity of) Western societal behaviours.

We person moved connected since then. Nowadays we are much acrophobic astir the “safety” of biologic males who place arsenic women. Never successful past has a connection been dumbed down truthful acold and truthful quickly. By safety, we nary longer mean extortion from carnal violence; we mean a biologic male’s wounded feelings erstwhile the extortion of women’s rights to carnal information and fairness takes precedence implicit his privation for sex validation.

During the weeks the Afghan women’s shot squad was desperately seeking flight from the Taliban—a athletics communicative that merited superior attraction successful the West but came and went without commentary—our media were alternatively fixated connected an “unsporting” story. They were consumed with reverence for New Zealand weightlifter Lauren Hubbard, retired of signifier and implicit the diversion elevation astatine 43, a formerly mediocre antheral competitor, but the archetypal openly trans rival successful a solo lawsuit astatine the Olympic Games successful Tokyo.

Hubbard didn’t beforehand to the finals. Nevertheless, the University of Otago honoured Hubbard with its “sportswoman of the year” award, passing implicit compatriot Lisa Carrington, who won 3 golden medals, making her New Zealand’s astir palmy Olympian successful history.

Misogyny comes successful galore forms. Common to each is the erasure of women successful the work of antheral entitlements. The Taliban virtually erase women with assemblage bags. They judge Allah wants it that way. Our little crude and “enlightened” sex theorists erase women done a signifier of linguistic legerdemain (“transwomen are women”) that has resulted successful women’s nonaccomplishment of carnal information successful formerly protected spaces, and nonaccomplishment of their close to a level playing tract successful sport. The theorists judge that their god, the Gender Unicorn, wants it that way.

And this velvet Talibanism is what our taste elites, including the woke media, sitting comfortably aloft successful their ideological imagination palaces—far, acold distant from the tears and fears of existent girls and women—presume to telephone progress.

Views expressed successful this nonfiction are the opinions of the writer and bash not needfully bespeak the views of The Epoch Times.

Barbara Kay


Barbara Kay has been a play columnist for the National Post since 2003, and besides writes for different publications including, Canadian Jewish News, Quillette, and The Dorchester Review. She is the writer of 3 books.