Women And Foot­ball

True free­dom is not need­ing any saviours

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - An Ecstasy Of Ideas -

For the first time in decades, Ira­nian women won the sim­ple right to watch a foot­ball match in a pub­lic sta­dium. This has come about af­ter Fifa mounted in­tense pres­sure on the regime, which has in­for­mally banned women from such spa­ces since the Is­lamic Revo­lu­tion in 1979. The is­sue came to a head af­ter 29-year-old Sa­har Kho­da­yari im­mo­lated her­self af­ter she was caught go­ing to a sta­dium dressed as a man, and sen­tenced to six months in prison for not wear­ing a hi­jab. Dubbed the Blue Girl, her cause caught the imag­i­na­tion of the wider world and sportsper­sons ral­lied to her cause.

It is heart­en­ing to see women oc­cupy spa­ces de­nied to them by a re­pres­sive regime. Of­ten, in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion can sup­port women’s move­ments, draw at­ten­tion to twisted norms and build mo­men­tum for change – as hap­pened in In­dia af­ter the Nirb­haya gang rape. Iran has re­cently seen sev­eral in­stances of re­sis­tance – both spon­ta­neous and co­or­di­nated. Re­cently, af­ter a teenaged Maedeh Ho­jabri was ar­rested for In­sta­gram posts of her ex­u­ber­ant danc­ing, many women posted de­fi­ant videos of them­selves do­ing the same.

The point is sim­ple, as it is any­where in the world: do not com­mand and con­trol women. They are com­plex hu­mans – who can find so­lace and struc­ture in faith, as also dance with aban­don or yell at a foot­ball game. The full range of hu­man ca­pac­i­ties must be avail­able to them, not de­nied by male guardians of or­der – what­ever that or­der hap­pens to be.

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