The New York Times has an interesting piece today about female wrestlers in Iraq. The team was started earlier this year and has faced enormous resistance. The athletes are seen as a challenge to the traditions of their society and Islam, which is empowering for the women, but also threatening to many.
Despite the face that the women cover themselves outside of the gym and have a chaperon, many people are unsatisfied. They think that the wrestling leads to promiscuity and other transgressions, including inappropriate dress and behavior. So, these women's lives are at risk because of their decision to participate.
As the article explains, this reflects changes in the social atmosphere of Iraq, and the tensions inherent in it. I think that this is a great opportunity for women to be able to do something that is so empowering.
It is a shame that women's athletics are either seen as threatening or dismissed by men and society. It is great that women are entering what I think is often seen as a male-dominated sport. Sports have been shown to increase the confidence of girls and women, and to effect other areas of life, like education and health.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr/seewah