Tajikistan Gets An Olympic Medal Holder: Unfortunately, It”s A Woman!

Posted on August 16, 2012 in Sports

By Shaifali Agrawal:

Imagine a country where girl’s participation in sports is not given a second consideration but outright denied; where sports’ coaching for only men is prevalent; where a girl has to camouflage as a guy to train herself in a male-dominated society. And now visualise the girl bagging a medal at 2012 London Olympics.

Mavzuna Chorieva, a 19-year-old athlete from Tajikistan, won a bronze medal in the women’s lightweight boxing match at the Olympics by defeating a highly ranked Chinese boxer Cheng Dong in the quarterfinal match on August 6.

The long preserved orthodox patriarchal history of Tajikistan finally got the much needed start. Her victory is a slap on the face of the male-dominated society, which now welcomed her with pride and honour. Are the men really proud that a ‘female’ from their country won a medal at Olympics? Or embarrassed, probably — embarrassed that no men won, but a girl did. How wrong were they about the possibility of talents in a woman? How orthodox were they even in the 21st century? But it is bad to blame it only on the males. It is the male-dominated society, which includes many women themselves, that was at fault.

But why did it become such big news when females have been taking part in Olympics and winning medals in women matches since 1900 Paris Games? This is because Mavzuna Chorieva had the courage to go against the social norms, to disguise herself as a guy and to fight with men. And ironically, probably that was what made her stronger than training against any women would have made her.

Will her triumph remain only news to be discussed in online forums? Or will it bring about a change? I guess the socio-cultural gender roles defined there would finally be breaking down. Women coaching in various sports would hopefully start up in various parts of the country; roles assigned for women outside the sports arena will also have a huge impact.

Just one incident can bring about so many changes at a national level, but for that people need the courage and determination, which Chorieva had.

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Emma Sabzalieva

This article starts off with a lie! The author says that girl’s participation in sports is ‘outright denied’ and that ‘s totally untrue. Like in many other countries (the UK included!), women’s boxing is still an unusual occurrence, so it is true to say that Mavzuna Chorieva faced greater challenges that she would if she’d picked a more ‘female-friendly’ sport. But I’m afraid that the idea that women in Tajikistan can’t participate in sport is just wrong. This is a country that spent nearly 100 years being part of the Soviet Union, which encouraged equality in education and social activities and where the literacy rate remains at almost 100%. Please don’t try and stereotype Tajikistan as “yet another unfortunate uber-conservative Muslim state”. It’s just not true.

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