Afghan women fight back after brutal football stadium flogging

Afghanistan: Women practice taekwondo in secret in Kabul

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Women in Afghanistan have been shown taking part in secret taekwondo classes – days after the Taliban ordered the public flogging of 12 people in a football stadium in the country. Large crowds gathered at the stadium to watch the brutal punishment, in which three women and nine men were beaten after being convicted by a local court of offences ranging from theft and adultery.

The revelation has focused attention on the Taliban, which has reneged on guarantees which its leaders made in respect of women’s rights when they returned to power in August last year following a 20-year hiatus, and recently ordered the closure of all female-only gyms.

However, the female marital artists, filmed by Radio Free Europe in an undisclosed area of the capital, Kabul where they meet twice a week for training sessions, are undeterred by the oppressive regime.

One, speaking on condition of anonymity, says: “Since the Taliban regained power, we are not allowed to do sports, get education or have a job.

“Education and sports are our rights. I want them to know this.”

Another adds: “Our message to the Taliban is that they should recognise women’s human rights.

“A woman has the right to choose her lifestyle, education and work.

“Keeping a woman at home to do nothing but chores is depriving a human of her basic rights.”

The Voice of America today said the Taliban had banned FM radio broadcasts from VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Afghanistan.

VOA said Taliban authorities cited “complaints they have received about programming content” without providing specifics.

VOA and RFE are funded by the US government, though they claim editorial independence.

The Taliban overran Afghanistan in August 2021 as American and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war, since which they have widely implemented their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

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Explaining the VOA ban, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Afghanistan has press laws and warned any network found “repeatedly contravening” them would have their privilege of working in the country taken away.

He added: “VOA and Azadi Radio (Radio Liberty) failed to adhere to these laws, were found as repeat offenders, failed to show professionalism and were therefore shut down.”

The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said recently that Afghanistan has lost 40 percent of its media outlets and 60 percent of its journalists since the Taliban takeover.

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