Female Iraqi Wrestlers Endure Threats and Public Shame

Love | Peace In Diwaniya, Iraq young women with dreams of competing in the Olympics endure public scorn and more to pursue the sport of wrestling.

Samah Hamid, 24, right, squared off against her 22-year-old sister Masar during wrestling practice at the sports club in Diwaniya. One tribesman has said they should be “slaughtered” if they continue. A Shiite cleric says the team should be banned because wrestling can lead to promiscuity and “transgressions” against Islam.

Four of the ladies have dropped out but the rest wrestle on. “They think we are loose girls just because we play sports,” said Ikram Hamid, 25, one team member. (Note that fundamentalists aren’t thrilled with men wrestling either, but it’s women who have born the brunt of disapproval and pressure.)

Diwaniya’s team may face more than the usual obstacles on the road to gold. Iraq’s wrestling federation endorsed the team, but an official from that body refused to come to Diwaniya for the competition in June, fearing he would be killed. via NYTimes