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18-year-old Masooma Hasani, who goes skiing in central Bamiyan province, speaks during a press conference at the Kabul university in Kabul on December 7, 2016. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

'It made me cry'

Teen skier in Afghanistan credits changing attitudes toward women’s sports to surprising source

By WITW Staff on December 9, 2016

Eighteen-year-old Masooma Hasani said that for years she had to endure abuse, both physical and verbal, whenever she went skiing in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Men would throw rocks at her, she said, and tell her she was bringing shame on her family.

“Girls don’t have the right to do sports. Girls are born to learn household chores such as cooking and cleaning.’ That’s what people would say,” Hasani recalled while speaking at a human rights event at Kabul University event on Wednesday. “People would beat up my brothers and say our family was shameless to allow girls to ski. It made me cry.”

Fortunately, Hasani says that the situation on the slopes is changing for the better — largely due to the influence of local religious leaders. A United Nations Development Program had targeted gender-equality by offering training to more than 400 mullahs across Afghanistan on how to speak about women’s rights. The impact of these religious figures backing women’s rights, including their right to play sports, Hasani said, had made an incredible impact on local attitudes.

“Before I was mocked. Now I am welcomed by people who say they are proud of me,” said Hasani. “Now a lot of girls and women come out to watch us ski, which was hard to imagine just a few years ago.”

Read the full story at Yahoo News.


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