Will Saudi Arabia Ease Ban on Women’s Sports?

Country called out for being one of the last to keep women from Olympics

by Lesley Kennedy • MORE.com Reporter

Even though many of our own mothers were not allowed to play sports in school in America, women’s athletics in this country have come a long way. Not true in Saudi Arabia.

Reuters reports that not only are girls’ sports banned in state-run schools but clerics punish females for even exercising. The country was recently called out by Human Rights Watch for being one of the last nations never to have sent a woman to compete in the Olympic Games, the news service adds.

But change could be in the air. According to Reuters, it’s possible after-school physical education may soon take place for both boys and girls. Yes, it’s a tiny change. But it’s better than clinging to the view of the country’s Supreme Council of Religious Scholars, which includes Sheikh Abdullah al-Maneea, who “said in 2009 that the excessive ‘movement and jumping’ needed in football and basketball might cause girls to tear their hymens and lose their virginity,” the news service reports.

Insert headshaking here.

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First Published March 1, 2012

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