Taliban Reportedly Forbid Women's Sports Where Face, Body Are Not Covered

The Taliban will reportedly ban women's sports where their face and body are not covered, according to a Taliban spokesperson quoted by Australia's SBS TV. This includes cricket, in which women "might face a situation" where they could be "exposed," said Ahmadullah Wasiq, the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission.

"It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it," the Australian network quoted Wasiq as saying. "Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed."

Wasiq told SBS in August that men would be permitted to play the sport, and the Taliban authorized the men's national team to play in a November test match in Australia, the Associated Press reported. However, Cricket Australia said in a statement Thursday that it would not go through with the test if the Taliban stance on women's participation was true.

"Driving the growth of women's cricket globally is incredibly important to Cricket Australia," the statement said. "Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Afghan Women's Rights Protest
The Taliban will reportedly ban women from playing sports, like cricket, where their face or body could be exposed. Afghan women take part in a protest march for their rights under the Taliban rule in the downtown area of Kabul on September 3, 2021. Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

"If recent media reports that women's cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed test match due to be played in Hobart," the Cricket Australia statement added.

Australia's Sport Minister Richard Colbeck said earlier that the Taliban's decision on women's sport was "deeply concerning" and he urged organizations such as the International Cricket Council to take action.

"Excluding women from sport at any level is unacceptable," Colbeck said in a statement. "We urge international sport authorities, including the International Cricket Council, to take a stand against this appalling ruling."

Players from Afghanistan's women's soccer team are among dozens of athletes given visas to live in Australia and have been undergoing quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition.

A policy statement accompanying the cabinet announcement sought to allay fears of Afghanistan's neighbors and the rest of the world, but was unlikely to calm the fears of women, who didn't get a single post.

The statement spoke of protecting the rights of minorities and the underprivileged, and it promised education "to all countrymen within the framework of Sharia." Women were not mentioned in the three-page statement.

Last Saturday, Taliban special forces in camouflage fired their weapons into the air to end a protest march in Kabul by women demanding equal rights.

Afghan Women
The Taliban have promised an inclusive government and a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001. But many Afghans, especially women, are deeply skeptical and fear a rollback of rights gained over the last two decades. Women gather to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Kathy Gannon/AP Photo