HRW Submits Documentation Of Violence Against Afghan Female Athletes To UN

Friday, 04/12/2024

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report documenting violence against Afghan women in sports.

The organisation provided the documented report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, who is expected to present a report to the UN General Assembly.

In addition to Afghanistan, the report also addresses violence against women in Mali and Haiti, as well as the exploitation of children in sports in Japan and gender testing of women athletes.

HRW’s report focuses on the deprivation of women's access to sports. The report highlights that the situation in Afghanistan has pushed some female athletes into hiding, compelling them to destroy evidence regarding their sporting activities, including medals and sports attire, due to fear of the Taliban.

Some female athletes in exile are seeking to compete in international competitions as representatives of Afghanistan. This initiative arises in protest against the prohibition on women's sports participation in Afghanistan's international competitions.

The Taliban, which oversees the Afghanistan Olympic Committee, prohibits women athletes from representing the country.

Human Rights Watch is calling for sanctions against the Afghanistan Olympic Committee, backed by funding from the International Olympic Committee, for its refusal to allow women's sports participation.

The Afghanistan Olympic Committee faced sanctions between 1999 and 2003 for its ban on women's sports, resulting in Afghan teams being excluded from international Olympic events.

Additionally, HRW’s report highlights a serious incident of violence against Afghan women in sports during the previous administration.

In 2019, The Guardian reported on sexual harassment of female athletes by Keramuddin Karim, the former head of the Afghanistan Football Federation. Subsequently, the Attorney General of Afghanistan issued an arrest warrant for him, but he was never arrested.

FIFA also found Karim guilty of sexual harassment and mistreatment of Afghan women footballers. The organisation imposed a USD 1,000,000 fine on Karim and permanently barred him from any involvement in football-related activities.

So far, the Taliban has not taken any legal action to address the sexual harassment allegations against the former head of the Afghanistan Football Federation. Instead, a Taliban official in Kabul met him in 2022.

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