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Princess Latifa, The Daughter Of The Ruler Of Dubai: What Are Women's Rights In Dubai?

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 February 2021

• Islam Doesn’t Whatsoever Say A Muslim Woman Shouldn’t Take Part In Sports - Director of Muslim Women’s Summer Basketball League

• Amid Poverty and Discrimination, Afghan Women Beg For Survival

• 20 Women Officers from Afghan National Army Train at OTA, Chennai

• Palestinian Female Football Referee, Hanine Abu Mariam, Dreams Of Global Career

• Amal Al-Moallimi Presents Credentials as Saudi Ambassador to Norway

• Who Is Shabnam Ali - The First Woman Set To Be Hanged In Independent India?

• Iranian Women's Ski Coach Barred From Going To World Championships By Husband

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Princess Latifa, The Daughter Of The Ruler Of Dubai: What Are Women's Rights In Dubai?

By Ashitha Nagesh


Dubai's Princess Latifa before her escape attempt in 2018


February 19, 2021

The case of Princess Latifa has shocked the world.

She's the daughter of the ruler of Dubai. In secretly recorded videos shared with the BBC, the princess accused her father of having held her hostage in the city since she tried to flee in 2018, and said she feared for her life. The United Nations has since said it will question the United Arab Emirates (UAE) about her.

She isn't the only member of her family to flee the city. In June 2019 Princess Haya bint Hussein, the 45-year-old wife of Princess Latifa's father, fled to Germany and sought political asylum. Latifa's sister, Shamsa, also attempted to escape.

It's a disturbing story, with allegations of oppression, abuse and control against one of the Gulf's most powerful men.

But what about other women in Dubai and in the UAE more widely? How are their rights and opportunities determined by the men in their lives?

Short presentational grey line

Women in the UAE are allowed to drive, vote, work, and own and inherit property. A report from the In the World Economic Forum ranked the UAE second-best in the Middle East and North African (Mena) region for gender equality.

However, context is important.

First, in the WEF's Global Gender Gap report, the Mena region had the lowest score of all the regions - and apart from Israel, none of its countries were in the top 100. The UAE was ranked 120th in the world out of 153. And while the UAE does have an anti-discrimination law, sex and gender aren't included in its definition of discrimination.

Then, while women do have rights, under the Personal Status Law some of these are dependent on the formal approval of a male "guardian" - that is a man, often a spouse or other male relative, who grants a woman permission to do certain things. Although the UAE's guardianship laws aren't as strict or wide-reaching as neighbouring Saudi Arabia's, they do impact women's lives. At other times, where women do have rights, it is hard in practice for women to defend them in a court of law.

One aspect of a woman's personal life that is affected is marriage: a woman needs the permission of a male guardian to wed. Other areas include the custody of children, and inheritance. But there are also unofficial forms of guardianship that aren't codified in law but are carried out in practice, Hiba Zayadin, Human Rights Watch's Mena researcher, tells BBC News.

"Of course there are some instances where it isn't in the law, but in some cases you find people asking women for their guardian's permission when they're applying for jobs or looking for apartments," Ms Zayadin says. "But that is not in the laws themselves. It's most apparent in the laws when it comes to marriage and divorce."

Divorce is also much harder for women. While men can unilaterally divorce their wives, women wanting to divorce have to apply for a court order.

Domestic abuse is another area in which women continue to be discriminated against.

There have been some positive legal changes in the last few years, at least on the surface. For example the UAE's penal code used to explicitly permit men to be violent towards their wives, but this was removed in 2016. A requirement in the Personal Status Law for women to be "obedient" to their husbands was revoked in 2019. Last March a new law came into effect that allowed women access to protection orders - that is, restraining orders - for the first time. There were further legal reforms at the end of last year.

However, campaigners say the rewritten laws don't go nearly far enough.

The new law defines domestic violence as abuse or threats that "exceed [an individual's] guardianship, jurisdiction, authority or responsibility" - meaning that a decision over whether to convict someone of domestic violence ultimately rests on a judge's subjective opinion of whether the accused person was acting within their "authority". So, in practice, protections for abuse victims are still weak.

"What seems to be happening is that the state is removing the most egregious things that it has written down, in its own words in its laws, on the statute books, that show an attitude hostile to gender equality," Devin Kenney, Gulf researcher for Amnesty International, tells BBC News. Amnesty, he says, hasn't been able to enter the UAE to conduct its own research since 2014, when it published a report critical of discriminatory laws in the country.

"So we have tended to rely on what the state writes in its laws to illustrate what their attitudes towards gender questions are," he adds. "And there's still a lot of inequality in those laws themselves, even during this time of ostensible reform. So I would tend to be suspicious because this does not necessarily reflect any deep shifts in social attitudes or government attitudes."

Any person resident in or visiting the UAE is subject to its laws: there are no exceptions for tourists. There have been a few high-profile cases of tourists getting arrested while on holiday in Dubai. In 2017, for example, a British woman was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn't married to. She had reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages, who found out the two had had sex.

But whether these laws are actually applied equally is a different issue.

One particular legal change will, in essence, put into law what was previously an unofficial hierarchy - with wealthy expatriate women at the top, Emirati women second, and then migrant domestic workers.

"The UAE appears to be moving towards institutionalising this split now," Mr Kenney says. "At the end of last year when they announced this package of reforms to the Personal Status Law, among other things, it was reported very openly - including in the state news agency Wam - that the purpose was to draw investment and make the country more attractive to expatriates as an investment location.

"And it was reported explicitly in the national press… that the changes to the rules on inheritance and divorce were just going to apply to expatriates, not to Emirati women."

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2017 low-paid migrant workers - who Mr Kenney says are at an "extreme class disadvantage" - made up about 80% of the UAE's total population.

Female migrants in particular, who are predominantly domestic workers from South and Southeast Asia, are policed harshly.

Mr Kenney says they have "incredibly limited rights". He cites an article of the penal code which says 'consensual violation of honour' can be prosecuted. In practice, he says, it's used to target consensual sex, especially if it breaks gender norms.

"Female migrant labourers who have presented to hospital in the UAE with pregnancies, when they've been unable to produce a husband who is the father responsible for the pregnancy, have been prosecuted under this law. So essentially they've been prosecuted for exercising sexual autonomy," Mr Kenney says.

Women who become pregnant outside marriage face up to a year in prison - for migrant workers, this is a sentence that must be served before they can leave the country. According to a UAE official quoted in a Guardian report last year, several thousand migrant women in the country have children born outside of marriage.

Rape victims, too, have been prosecuted under the laws against extramarital sex. A BBC Arabic investigation in 2015 found that hundreds of women, including rape victims, were being imprisoned under this law every year - and that domestic servants were particularly vulnerable.


Islam Doesn’t Whatsoever Say A Muslim Woman Shouldn’t Take Part In Sports - Director of Muslim Women’s Summer Basketball League

By Sara Chahrour

FEB 18, 2021

MONTREAL – For some, basketball is a hobby. But for the Muslim Women’s Summer Basketball League, it’s a passion and a mission to prove to the world that nothing can stand in the way of a talented baller.

“Islam doesn’t whatsoever say a Muslim woman shouldn’t take part in sports,” said Fitryiya Mohamed, founder and executive director of the MWSBL.

“Islam actually encourages Muslims, like literally every Muslim, to participate in some sort of physical activity, to always be fit, because that’s what Islam is, you know–there are certain things we don’t consume because it’s not good for our health.”

Mohamed immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia and began school here when she was 10 years old.

She fell in love with basketball in high school but didn’t see a lot of girls that looked like her on the court.

When she graduated from university, she launched the first Muslim Women’s Summer Basketball League in Canada, a space where girls just like her can practice their passion without compromise.

“Showing the rest of the world that, ‘Hey, yeah, I can wear a hijab but I can also shoot a three-pointer. And I can wear a hijab but I can do a layup, and I can play on a sports team.’ It’s just not having to compromise. And not feeling as though I’m somehow unwelcomed or less than anybody else. And I can do everything that anybody else is doing within my own terms,” explained Melissa McLetchie, a member of the MWSBL advisory board.

“Sport is a big part of Canadian society. As we’ve seen with the Toronto Raptors winning the championship, it was something that every single community felt like they were a part of. So, I think it’s important for hijabi and non-hijabi women, Muslim girls in general, that they are a part of this society and part of this community and that nothing should stand in their way,” said Samiha Arshad, the MWSBL’s director of programs and tournament manager.

The league is scheduled to launch this summer if COVID-19 restrictions permit. In the meantime, they’ve been sharing stories of inspirational Muslim female players from around the globe on Instagram in hopes of encouraging other Muslim girls to pursue their athletic dreams.

“Embrace your difference. There are times where you are going to be walking in a room, you are going to be the only one that’s different. But embrace that, beautify that. Don’t feel discouraged. You’re in that room because you belong in that room and they invited you because you have something to say, so own that, beautify it, and just take up the room,” said Mohamed.


Amid Poverty And Discrimination, Afghan Women Beg For Survival

February 19, 2021

Parwana, an Afghan mother of five, begs on the streets of the southeastern Afghan city of Ghazni. She says seeking charity is her only means of survival since her husband, a policeman, was killed by the Taliban two years ago.

“When my husband was killed, I sent the authorities several requests for help, but I never heard back or received any assistance,” she told Radio Free Afghanistan inside her crumbling mud house in Ghazni’s Khwaja Ali neighborhood. “My elder son, a teenager, has speech disabilities, so I can’t send him out to work. And the others are too young.”

“This is why I go out to beg most days, to gather enough alms to buy food,” she added.

More than 340 kilometers away in the town of Tarin Kot, Bibi Hawa, another widow, shares a similar story. She says the killing of her husband, a civilian, last year in one of the frequent firefights between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants left her ruined.

She manages to scrape together enough for survival through begging and occasionally washing clothes for families in her town. “I am destitute because my brothers refused to give me a share in our property,” she told Radio Free Afghanistan. “My brothers are denying me the rights that Allah and the Koran have granted me.”

Islamic Shari’a law grants women a share in inheritance, but many families deprive Afghan women of this right that the Afghan state law also recognizes. The issue largely goes unreported, but it adversely affects the lives of many Afghan women and affords them few options for financial stability.

Sharifa turns to begging to look after her bedridden husband and their six daughters in the northern city of Sheberghan. She said she had no choice after failing to get any help from the authorities.

“We have nothing. No oil, no rice, and no food,” Sharifa, who goes by one name, told Radio Free Afghanistan. “We don’t have any firewood, so we can’t sleep, and we shiver all night because of the cold.”

Suffering The Patriarchy

Parwana, Sharifa, and Hawa are three of the thousands of Afghan women who have turned to begging because their husbands, many government soldiers or Taliban fighters, were killed or injured.

The increasing number highlights the government’s failure to aid or create safety nets for the most vulnerable of its citizens and how family and community bonds have been weakened during more than four decades of war. Yet the country’s robust patriarchy continues to deny women their economic share according to Islam and Afghan law.

Sheberghan’s residents say more and more women are begging on the city’s streets. Zmarai, a young resident, says rampant unemployment among youth and men is a factor.

“On the one hand poverty is rising while on the other violence is exploding,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “Many men are unemployed amid this uncertainty, which prompts some to turn to drugs. All this contributes to this unfortunate phenomenon [of begging].”

Hussain Karimi oversees the vocational training programs run by the Afghan Labor and Social Welfare Ministry. He says they are doing their best to help some of the most vulnerable Afghans by providing training in vocational workshops. They recently trained 240 people, including 150 women, in sewing, carpet weaving, poultry farming, and furniture making.

“We are trying to train the poor, the widows, the addicts, and the disabled across Jawzjan so that they can eventually earn a livelihood,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan while mentioning the northern province where Sheberghan is the capital. “Women who beg on the streets of Sheberghan make more money than the government can provide.”

Sharifa and other women begging in their all-enveloping veils, however, maintain the authorities are not interested in helping them.

In Ghazni, provincial Governor Wahidullah Kalimzai is also adamant the government is doing all it can to help destitute women, particularly the widows of soldiers.

“We are always eager to do whatever we can to help them. Our first priority is to give them houses to live in,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “We always try to give them food aid and other things to help them.”

But Fatima, a widow in Ghazni, says no one offered them help after her husband, a policeman, was killed in a clash four years ago.

“Our life is very bitter,” she said inside her one-room mud house near a graveyard in Ghazni. “We often go hungry. I go out and beg or send my children out to beg,” she added. “We don’t have anything -- clothes, food, or rent.”

In Tarin Kot, Zarmina, another widow, says she started begging after her brothers refused to give her a share in their ancestral property after her husband was killed in a clash last year.

“I have no choice but to beg to raise my children,” she said.


20 Women Officers from Afghan National Army Train at OTA, Chennai

19th February 2021

CHENNAI:  Twenty women officers from the Afghan National Army are undergoing six weeks of military training at the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, for the fourth consecutive year.

The training which commenced on January 18, will refine their skills in English communication and handling military administration, a release stated.

Most of the officers, in the service bracket of two to seven years, belong to logistics, human resources, radio communications and medicine branches.

Their training curriculum includes physical training, drill, weapons training, tactical training, leadership and human resources management, information technology and English communication.

These officers have undergone basic military training in their country. They have shown keen interest in all training events, especially sports, obstacle training, weapons training, information technology and English  communication programmes.

The officers expressed gratitude and happiness towards Indian Government and OTA staff for providing them with an opportunity to undergo quality training and wholehearted assistance in the Afghan building process.


Palestinian Female Football Referee, Hanine Abu Mariam, Dreams Of Global Career

February 18, 2021

AL-RAM: When Hanine Abu Mariam first refereed a men’s football match, she was overcome by fear, but her trepidation soon yielded to motivation to become a rare female Palestinian referee in international football.

Wearing a neon yellow jersey with a Palestinian flag on her sleeve, Abu Mariam was recently running the sidelines of the synthetic grass pitch in Al-Ram, a city between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The 21-year-old said her interest in football began while studying sports at university, where she discovered a love of officiating.

Shortly after graduating, she became one of only two women to referee matches in the top Palestinian women’s league and the men’s third division.

“At first, I was afraid of making a mistake, but the head referee and other males colleagues helped me,” she told AFP.

Before each match, she diligently listens to the head referee’s pregame briefing, before stalking the sidelines for 90 minutes armed with her yellow and red checkered flag.

She currently works about seven matches per month at $30 each, the same fee as her male colleagues.

When the Palestinian Football Association first allowed women to officiate matches four years ago, there was backlash from conservative Islamic clerics.

Abu Mariam said her family, which lives in the small West Bank village of Burham, helped her persevere.

“My family has always helped me and encouraged me,” said the young referee, wearing a headscarf and long black sleeves under her jersey.

The associations’s chief referee, Ibrahim Ghrouf, said that 30 women are currently being trained to work as match officials.

“We trust them completely, of course. Women referees can do the job.”

The new trainees are following a trail cut by Hiba Saadia, the first Palestinian woman to referee international women’s matches, and Yasmine Nirokh, who officiates in international football.

Abu Mariam said she would like to work at the world’s most iconic stadiums.

“I dream of being a famous referee and I hope to reach an international level, but as an assistant referee,” she said with a shy smile.


Amal Al-Moallimi Presents Credentials as Saudi Ambassador to Norway

February 18, 2021

OSLO — Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Norway Amal Yahya Al-Moallimi presented on Thursday her credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in Norway to the Crown Prince of Norway Prince Haakon. The Norwegian Crown prince received the credentials on behalf of King Harald V.

Al-Moallimi has become the second Saudi woman to hold the post of the Kingdom’s ambassador to a country after Princess Reema Bint Bandar, ambassador to the United States. She took oath as the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Norway in front of King Salman and in the presence of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in a virtual ceremony held on Oct. 20 last year. Her appointment represents the vibrant entry of women to the prestigious position of envoys that were hitherto a monopoly of male diplomats.

Al-Moallimi assumes the new diplomatic position after serving key positions in a brilliant academic career spanning over 23 years. She held the high-ranking position of Director General of Organizations and International Cooperation at Saudi Human Rights Commission since 2019, after holding several leading professional positions in the fields of education and social training and development.

Al-Moallimi, a daughter of Qunfudhah city in the Makkah region, comes from a family background associated with representing the Kingdom abroad. She is the sister of Abdullah Al-Moallimi, permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations in New York, and daughter of the late eminent writer Lt. Gen. Yahya Al-Moallimi.

She holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Denver in the United States of America. She got her Bachelor of Arts in the English language from Princess Noura Bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, in addition to a Fellowship from the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Al-Moallimi, who has incomparable expertise, began her career in the field of education, training, and social development, where she worked as a teacher for five years, and as a mentor for eight years, in addition to her work for one year in the Educational Training Department at the Ministry of Education.

Al-Moallimi subsequently held the position of director of the women’s branch at the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue between 2013 and 2015 and was a member of several committees, including the Supervisory Committee for the Municipal Elections in 2016 and the National Committee for Narcotics Control, as well as a preparation consultant for the Saudi Television.


Who Is Shabnam Ali - The First Woman Set To Be Hanged In Independent India?

February 18, 2021

Chiranjib Sengupta

Dubai: Seven severed bodies of a family, a seven-week pregnancy, and a lover who couldn’t make it to Grade 7 in school.

That is the essence of the diabolical Amroha murders from 2008 that has set the stage for the first woman to be executed in independent India.

The 13-year case of Shabnam Ali, from the sleepy hamlet of Bawankhedi in western Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha, and her boyfriend Saleem, has cleared a final hurdle with her review mercy petition against the death penalty being rejected by the Indian President — setting the stage for her hanging in the state’s Mathura jail, India’s only prison with an execution room for women.

Shabnam — currently lodged in Rampur district jail, and Saleem — who is in Agra prison, have been convicted of murdering the former’s entire family on April 15, 2008, including a 10-month-old child, over the family’s strong objection to their marriage. The duo were convicted and awarded death sentence for the multiple murders by a sessions court and the Allahabad High Court before the Supreme Court upheld the verdict in 2015, following which Shabnam had filed the mercy petition before the President.

Usman Saifi, a Bulandshahr-based journalist and the custodian of Shabnam’s son, told Gulf News on Thursday that the prison administration in Rampur and Mathura had started preparations for the execution of both Shabnam and Saleem, although no date has been fixed yet.

Rampur jailer Rakesh Kumar Verma told news agencies that they have requested the Amroha administration to obtain Shabnam’s death warrant, after which she will be transferred to Mathura district jail for the execution.


Shabnam, a double MA in English and Geography, grew up in what was known as the most-educated family in the entire administrative division of Hasanpur, of which her village is a part. Her father Shaukat Ali, 55, was an art teacher at Taharpur Intermediate College, his eldest son Anees was an engineer in Jalandhar, and Shabnam’s younger brother Rashid was a B. Tech student. Shabnam herself was a teacher at a local primary school, whereas Saleem was a Grade 6 dropout who worked at a wood sawing unit outside Shabnam’s house and aimed to strike it big one day.

But their relationship soon became the source of severe tension in Shabnam’s household — with her parents strongly and steadfastly opposed to their marriage. “I knew Shabnam from my college days … She was my senior in college. Those days, she came across as someone very helpful, someone who never looked like capable of the gruesome crime that followed,” Usman Saifi told Gulf News.


It took Amroha Station House Officer (SHO) RP Gupta, who took charge as the case Investigating Officer in 2008, several months to piece together the gruesome events of the night of April 14.

According to the case history, Shabnam made six of her family members drink tea laced with the sedative diazepam in the evening — her father; mother Hashmi, 50; elder brother Anees, 35 and his wife Anjum, 25; younger brother Rashid, 22; and cousin Rabia, 14.

Between 7.30pm on April 14 and 1.09am the following day, Shabnam and Saleem exchanged a flurry of phone calls — and then there was a gap of 31 minutes. This is the time, according to the Allahabad High Court judgement, when Saleem went over to Shabnam’s house for the murders. Shabnam held each of her family members by their hair, while Saleem severed their necks with an axe, according to the prosecution. Drugged, the family offered no resistance. Shabnam then strangled 10-month-old Arsh — her brother Anees’s son, who couldn’t be drugged with the tea.

“We were not at home when the carnage took place. When we went there at around 2am after the alert in the neighbourhood, there was blood all around and the bodies were cut up. It was horrible, the crime was unpardonable,” said Shabnam’s uncle, speaking to IANS.

When the couple were arrested on April 19, 2008, Shabnam was seven weeks pregnant with Saleem’s child. She delivered the baby in December 2008 — a son called Taj, who is now under the official guardianship of Usman Saifi.


On 15 July 2010, district judge SAA Hussaini ruled that Shabnam and Salim should be hanged till death for the multiple murders, a verdict subsequently upheld by the sessions court, the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court. The cross-examination lasted for about 100 dates, and it took the judge 29 seconds to sentence both of them to death.

But during the course of their trial, the couple turned against each other. The Supreme Court observed in its judgement that in her Section 313 statement, Shabnam said Saleem had entered the house with a knife through the roof and killed all her family members while she was asleep. Saleem, on the other hand, said he had gone to the house “only upon the request of Shabnam” and that when he reached there, she confessed to having killed the family. Shabnam had filed a mercy petition before President Pranab Mukherjee, which was rejected.


According to legal experts quoted in Indian media, Shabnam has exhausted all her pleas, and now it’s the Amroha sessions court that must issue her death warrant. However, a section of them also felt that Shabnam could file a curative review petition to delay the sentence.

Pawan Jallad, the UP-based executioner who carried out the hanging of the four accused in the Nirbhaya case last March, will be executing Shabnam and Salim in Mathura jail. He has been asked to inspect the jail for the hanging and he is ready for the job even though the date for the hanging has not been set yet.

Capital punishment in India

• The death penalty is a legal punishment in India, and is permissible for some crimes under the Indian Penal Code of 1860, as well as other laws.

• Currently, there are more than 400 prisoners on death row in India.

• The most recent executions in India took place in March 2020, when the four men convicted of the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder in 2012 were hanged in Tihar Prison.

• Although a hanging house for women was built 150 years ago in Mathura’s district jail, no woman has been hanged since Independence.

• A woman from Lucknow called Ramshri was sentenced to death on April 6, 1998 — but her death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment at the last moment after she gave birth to a child inside the jail.


Iranian women's ski coach barred from going to world championships by husband

Angela Giuffrida

18 Feb 2021

Samira Zargari, the coach of the Iranian women’s Alpine skiing team, has been barred by her husband from travelling to Italy for the world skiing championships, according to reports in the Iranian press.

The squad left for Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the championships are being held, on Wednesday, but without Zargari, who was replaced by another athlete, Marjan Kalhor.

Iran’s pro-reform Shargh daily newspaper and the semi-official Isna news agency reported the story, but without providing details. Iran’s ski federation has also not given any information. However, under Iranian law, a married woman cannot obtain a passport or travel outside of the country without her husband’s permission.

The Alpine world ski championships got under way in the Veneto resort of Cortina earlier this month and ends on 21 February. Four Iranian skiers, including Atefeh Ahmadi, Sadaf Savehshemshaki, Forough Abbasi and Marjan Kalhor, will compete in the women’s giant slalom race on Thursday.

The mayor of Cortina, Gianpietro Ghedina, told the Italian press: “I do not evaluate the customs or regulations of other countries. But we are hosting a sporting event which, above all, welcomes people from all over the world. Sport is usually something that unites, not divides.”

This is not the first time a married female athlete has been stopped by her husband from leaving Iran. In 2015, footballer Niloufar Ardalan was barred from going to the Asian games in Malaysia by her husband, Mehdi Tutunchi, a TV sports presenter.

Tutunchi exercised his right to stop his wife from leaving the country, claiming that the games coincided with their son’s first day at school. A couple of months later, a court overturned the ban, allowing Ardalan to travel abroad to compete in other events.

Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, women’s sports have gradually become more popular, especially football. However, women still have to comply with social rules, such as covering their hair with hijabs during games. Since 1981, women have been banned from entering stadiums to watch men’s sporting events. The rule was temporarily lifted in 2019, when women were allowed to enter Tehran’s Azadi stadium to watch Iran’s World Cup 2022 qualifier against Cambodia after Fifa threatened to suspend Iran from the tournament.

In January 2020, Iran’s only female Olympic medallist, Kimia Alizadeh, announced she was leaving the country for the Netherlands, describing herself as “one of millions of oppressed women in Iran”.



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