AFGHANISTAN. Herat: Arazo was 9 when she was told by the family to leave Taekwondo club. She could not find the reason at that time. Years after, she wanted to join her favourite sport again but was faced with hindrance from her mother who believed that sport will harm her in the future. Arazo found out ”why I can’t?” after many years.
In a WhatsApp call with Arazo, she said she has been instructed at the age of 16, to be careful not to jump and prevent “harsh” physical activity. “My mother did not know about this issue, my neighbours told my mom to keep me away from sports,” she said.
Fear of hymen damage
Many Afghan Mothers fear the hymen damage and hence they have to monitor their daughters. They believe sports activities will harm their daughter’s virginity. “According to Afghan tradition, men do not marry a non-virgin girl or if they find no blood clots on the wedding night (after first sexual intercourse), the girl will be divorced right after.” Said Sohaila, a Mother from Herat told Transcontinental Times.
“That’s why we are careful. We want to protect them and we are their well-wishers.”
This year Herat’s female Football, Toofan e Harirud team won the women national premier league championship in Kabul. Yagana Mohammadi, a member of the team told Transcontinental Times, families should stop following the idea of virginity loss and injuries and let their daughters follow their dreams.
But for Arazo, failing to reach her goal is always painful. “When I see other girls follow their favorite sports, I feel like my dream will always be a dream in my mind and I will never reach it. Here I am warned not to move or my virginity will be damaged.
Warned by relatives
Despite an increasing number of Afghan girls’ interest in sport, some mothers prevent their daughters from the sport. A few mothers interviewed by Transcontinental Times, said they are not allowing their daughters to join the sports clubs for the sake of their daughters’ virginity.
Zahra, a mother who lives in Herat Jibrahil district said,” I enrolled my daughter to a sports club. After three months, my relatives told me sports will harm your girl’s virginity. After that, I didn’t allow her anymore.”
“My daughter’s virginity is more important than her love for the sport.”
Meanwhile, some girls consider these views as “wrong” and “illogical”, calling them as barriers on their path toward progress. Salma, 23, from Herat, who did not want her last name to be revealed, told Transcontinental Times, that she had been trying to convince her family frequently but failed to do so.
“I loved martial sports since I was young and went to a Taekwondo club. But after a few months, my mother stopped me to continue the sport. This was due to what she heard from the relatives.” she said.
Some sports coaches reject the idea of virginity loss due to sports. Saba Barekzai, sports coach, from Herat, said if the girls learn the standard exercises of sport in their clubs, they will never witness any harm to their virginity. “It’s been over ten years I am working as a sports coach and I never witnessed any incident that could lead to damage to the virginity of female sports athletes.”
“No sport can damage the hymen.” Malika Paygham, a specialist doctor in childbirth and women, said. She believes besides tossing down from a high height, only sexual intercourse can damage the hymen.