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Pakistan's Hazara women strike back with martial arts

Hundreds of Pakistani Hazara women are learning how to deliver side kicks and elbow blows as martial arts booms within the marginalised community.

April 11, 2021 / 01:14 PM IST
Hundreds of Pakistani Hazara women are learning how to deliver side kicks and elbow blows as martial arts booms within the marginalised ethnic community. Hazaras, who are mainly Shia Muslims, have faced decades of sectarian violence in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta, living in two separate enclaves cordoned off by checkpoints and armed guards to protect them. (Image: AFP)
Hundreds of Pakistani Hazara women are learning how to deliver side kicks and elbow blows as martial arts booms within the marginalised ethnic community. Hazaras, who are mainly Shia Muslims, have faced decades of sectarian violence in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta, living in two separate enclaves cordoned off by checkpoints and armed guards to protect them. (Image: AFP)
Women must also contend with routine harassment from men, with groping commonplace in crowded markets or public transport. "We can't stop bomb blasts with karate, but with self-defence, I have learnt to feel confident," 20-year-old Nargis Batool told AFP. "Everyone here knows that I am going to the club. Nobody dares say anything to me while I am out." (Image: AFP)
Women must also contend with routine harassment from men, with groping commonplace in crowded markets or public transport. "We can't stop bomb blasts with karate, but with self-defence, I have learnt to feel confident," 20-year-old Nargis Batool told AFP. "Everyone here knows that I am going to the club. Nobody dares say anything to me while I am out." (Image: AFP)
Up to 4,000 people are attending regular classes in more than 25 clubs in Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, according to Ishaq Ali, head of the Balochistan Wushu Kung Fu Association, which oversees the sport. (Image: AFP)
Up to 4,000 people are attending regular classes in more than 25 clubs in Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, according to Ishaq Ali, head of the Balochistan Wushu Kung Fu Association, which oversees the sport. (Image: AFP)
The city's two largest academies, which train around 250 people each, told AFP the majority of their students were young Hazara women. Many of them go on to earn money from the sport, taking part in frequent competitions. (Image: AFP)
The city's two largest academies, which train around 250 people each, told AFP the majority of their students were young Hazara women. Many of them go on to earn money from the sport, taking part in frequent competitions. (Image: AFP)
It is still unusual for women to play sport in deeply conservative Pakistan where families often forbid it, but martial arts teacher Fida Hussain Kazmi says exceptions are being made. "In general, women cannot exercise in our society... but for the sake of self-defence and her family, they are being allowed." (Image: AFP)
It is still unusual for women to play sport in deeply conservative Pakistan where families often forbid it, but martial arts teacher Fida Hussain Kazmi says exceptions are being made. "In general, women cannot exercise in our society... but for the sake of self-defence and her family, they are being allowed." (Image: AFP)
The uptake is also credited to national champions Nargis Hazara and Kulsoom Hazara, who have won medals in international competitions. (Image: AFP)
The uptake is also credited to national champions Nargis Hazara and Kulsoom Hazara, who have won medals in international competitions. (Image: AFP)
Kazmi says he has trained hundreds of women over the years, after learning the sport from a Chinese master in the eastern city of Lahore. (Image: AFP)
Kazmi says he has trained hundreds of women over the years, after learning the sport from a Chinese master in the eastern city of Lahore. (Image: AFP)
Kazmi says he has trained hundreds of women over the years, after learning the sport from a Chinese master in the eastern city of Lahore. (Image: AFP)
Kazmi says he has trained hundreds of women over the years, after learning the sport from a Chinese master in the eastern city of Lahore. (Image: AFP)
AFP
first published: Apr 11, 2021 01:14 pm

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