In pictures: Afghan women protest Taliban sports ban
When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, it meant more restrictions on women's freedom in the country, including a sports ban. Some women are defying the ban by being photographed anonymously playing sports.
Since the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the country has enacted a series of measures putting added restrictions on women. A sports ban is part of this sexist campaign, but many women are taking a stand. News agency The Associated Press took pictures of these women last September while concealing their identities. This is a former women's football team in Kabul.
Threatened over sports
This young female skateboarder wears a burqa while skating. The Taliban not only banned all forms of sports for women and girls — including banning them from entering parks and gyms — they also intimidate women who continue doing so with threatening phone calls and harassing visits.
Knocked out of boxing
Noura, 20, remembers when the Taliban took over in Kabul. The 20-year-old took part in a tournament in a sports facility in Kabul that day. When the audience realized that the Taliban had reached the suburbs of Kabul, all the women and girls fled the event. It was Noura's last tournament.
A fighter on the run
Noura is a fighter. She grew up in a poor area of Kabul, and always faced challenges head-on. But when she and her family were threatened by the Taliban, she left Kabul in fear and hid out for weeks in the province where he parents are from. "Since the Taliban returned, I feel like I'm dead," she told The Associated Press.
A lot of women have had experiences similar to this female bike racer, and have been systematically disenfranchised by the Taliban. They're prohibited from attending schools and universities, they must cover their entire bodies in public and their ability to work outside of the home is heavily restricted.
Basketball is also out of the question for this young woman in Kabul. The spokesperson for Afghanistan's National Olympic Committee has announced that Taliban officials are planning new sports venues to allow women to participate once again. But similar statements have been made regarding women visiting middle and high schools, and so far none of those things have happened.