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Annie Blasberg English E Ballinger

Most countries allowed women to first compete in the 1900 Olympics; however the London 2012 Olympics will be the first year women from Saudi Arabia will be competing in the games. Not only are they about 100 years behind, their country will only be signing them up as unofficial participants. Saudi Arabian General Presidency of Youth Welfare said, We don't endorse any Saudi female participation in the Olympiad or international tournaments (McDowall). Many women in Muslim countries are being restricted from becoming involved in the world of sports because of outdated cultural beliefs, various uniform regulations, and their role in a society dominated by men. The Islamic culture excludes women from physical activities, because of alleged health precautions and religious reasons. Muslim doctors have stated that strenuous movements, like jumping and running, can harm a womens reproductive system. A religious scholar from Saudi Arabia said, The health of a virgin girl will be affected by too much movement and jumping in sports such as soccer and basketball (Longman). Contrary to these traditional beliefs The American Council on Exercise found in a study that exercising reduces a womens risk of multiple heart diseases and heart attacks (Exercise is Good for Women). Not only is exercise good for a girls health, it has also been proven that girls who play sports do better in school, build teamwork and goalsetting skills, have self-confidence, and can cope with pressure (Gavin). Despite this knowledge, the Islamic culture doesnt even allow for girls to participate in PE classes. These strict rules make it difficult for girls and women to become involved in sports. Muslim women competing in international sporting events have had to make difficult decisions on their attire. Do they compromise their religious beliefs or default? The Iranian soccer team was forced to forfeit their Olympic qualifying game against Jordan because of a uniform violation. The Iranian women along with a few women on the Jordan team were wearing hijabs, traditional headscarves. FIFA banned the hijab along with neck warmers for safety precautions; they decided any garment or jewelry that is around the neck area is a choking hazard. (Irans Soccer

Team Hijab) Now, they allow a shorter version of the hijab that just covers the head, however for Muslim women this is inappropriate. Not only are hijabs banned for safety reasons, players arent allowed to wear any religious affiliated clothing while playing. Some players may have taken off the hijab for the chance to play in the Olympics, but because of the severe consequences they would face back home if they unveiled themselves, they decided to forfeit. In 1991, the ProsecutorGeneral of Iran declared that "Anyone who rejects the principle of hijab is an apostate, and the punishment for an apostate under Islamic law is death." (My Life as a Muslim Woman). Although FIFAs rules are tenable, it makes it practically impossible for Muslim women who dont want to sacrifice their religion to be able to play in international tournaments. Society has barred them from participating. In order to attract more players and avoid another awkward situation like the one with the Iranian soccer team, FIFA is currently reconsidering the hijab ban. It is ironic that women from the western world playing sports like beach volleyball, where they have to wear bikinis, demanded less revealing uniforms and thought they were showing too much body. It is ridiculous that Muslim women arent allowed to compete with their skin fully covered when beach volleyball and track and field athletes are allowed to compete in practically nothing. All female athletes are being pushed by their sports association, which decides the uniform, to wear less and less clothing while playing. Women are being held to a double standard that doesnt apply to men, they have to be play well and look good while doing it. Janice Forsyth, director of the International Center for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario said, The more they become involved in sports, the more it seems people feel the need to market their sexuality (Longman). Many Muslim women living in a society dominated by men are forced to meet certain expectations. They must perform duties around the household as well as basically serving their husbands. As girls they receive a limited education and can only be taught be female teachers, who are very scarce. Once they reach the age of 9 they are considered an adult by law. They must pray five times a day, fast for one month each year, cover all of their skin, and marry. When girls are married, they are transferred from the oppressive rule of their fathers to their new husbands. Their

responsibilities then include keeping up the household and looking after their children. Having to pray 5 times a day and get all of their work done leaves them little time for themselves, let alone participate in any form of sport. It is also frowned upon for women to go out alone; when they do they must have permission from their husbands and their skin must be fully covered. If a woman wants to go outside of her community or town she must be accompanied by a Mahram, a male escort such as her husband, father, or brother. "Women have such honorable rights as obligations, but men have a (single) degree above them". The Koran 2:228 (My Life as a Muslim Woman). Muslim women are stuck in a certain role in society and unless they want to go against their family and religion, which they can be executed for, they are limited in what they can do. Women all over the world have fought or are fighting for the right to live an active life style. In the US Title IX was passed in 1972 allowing women to have equal access to sports and other federal sponsored activities. Many Muslim women living in Islamic countries have the desire to play sports recreationally and competitively just like many of the women did before Title IX, however they dont have the opportunity, because of outdated cultural beliefs, various uniform regulations, and their role in a society dominated by men. Many Muslim women have begun to stand up for their rights, similarly to the pioneering female athletes in the US. While the determined women are making progress in their communities, governing bodies such as FIFA are slowly beginning to accommodate their uniform requirements.

Works Cited Page Exercise is Good for Women. American Council on Exercise. May 24 2012 <http://www.acefitness.org/healthandfitnesstips/healthandfitnesstips_display.aspx?itemid=165>. Gavin, Mary L.. 5 Reasons Sports are Good for Girls. May 2011 TeensHealth. June 3 2012 <http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/sports/girls_sports.html>. "Iran women's soccer team thwarted by hijab ban." CBS News Sports 7 June 2011. CBS. <http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500290_162-20069565.html>. Longman, Jere. "For world-class female athletes, abundance of mixed messages." International Herald Tribune McDowall, Angus. Saudi will not stop it's women from competing . April 5 2012 Reuters. May 24 2012 <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/05/saudi-women-olympicsidUSL6E8F5ARZ20120405>. My life as a Muslim women. May 30 2012 <http://www.investigateislam.com/my_life_as_muslim_women.htm>. COVER PHOTO "Sport Hijab ." Online Image. Women in Sports International. No date. June 2 2012 <http://womeninsportinternational.blogspot.ch/2011_05_01_archive.html>.

Bibliography Alsharif, Asma. "Saudi women push for the right to play sports." Reuters 29 Feb 2012: May 22 2012 <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-saudi-women-sportidUSTRE81S1BX20120229>. Exercise is Good for Women. American Council on Exercise. May 24 2012 <http://www.acefitness.org/healthandfitnesstips/healthandfitnesstips_display.aspx?itemid=165>. Gavin, Mary L.. 5 Reasons Sports are Good for Girls. May 2011 TeensHealth. June 3 2012 <http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/sports/girls_sports.html>. "Iran women's soccer team thwarted by hijab ban." CBS News Sports 7 June 2011. CBS. <http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500290_162-20069565.html>. Longman, Jere. "For world-class female athletes, abundance of mixed messages." International Herald Tribune McDowall, Angus. Saudi will not stop it's women from competing . April 5 2012 Reuters. May 24 2012 <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/05/saudi-women-olympicsidUSL6E8F5ARZ20120405>. My life as a Muslim women. May 30 2012 <http://www.investigateislam.com/my_life_as_muslim_women.htm>. "Sport Hijab ." Online Image. Women in Sports International. No date. June 2 2012 <http://womeninsportinternational.blogspot.ch/2011_05_01_archive.html>.