“Unwavering fixation on women’s attire”: SIS slams T’ganu govt’s move to withdraw female gymnasts

A WOMEN’S rights group has slammed the Terengganu state government’s decision to withdraw its female athletes from gymnastics, saying that the ruling carries the perturbing indication of discrimination and signifies a substantial setback in the ongoing struggle for gender equality in sports.

According to Sisters in Islam (SIS), the PAS-led state’s decision to disallow female gymnasts from participating in the upcoming SUKMA (Sukan Malaysia) games, citing concerns over their tight attire, has prompted a profound reflection on the core principles of freedom and choice for Muslim female athletes in Malaysia.

“Repeatedly, female athletes have found themselves under the intense scrutiny of public gaze, with their attire and modesty subjected to relentless questioning,” the group said in a statement today (Oct 9).

“This unwarranted scrutiny not only hampers their growth but also confines them to the peripheries, impeding their journey toward realising their full potential.”

SIS further called the suggested alternative of transitioning to Wushu a “proposition steeped in absurdity”, arguing that these athletes had poured years of their lives into mastering the art of gymnastics, honing their skills and discipline to perfection.

“Forcing them into an entirely different sport not only belittles their unwavering dedication but also raises profound questions regarding their freedom to choose their preferred discipline,” the non-governmental organisation pointed out.

“SUKMA Games stand as a vital stage for athletes to exhibit their talents both on the local and international fronts, and the event has borne witness to the emergence of spirited athletes hailing from diverse backgrounds irrespective of ethnicity or religious affiliation.

“The suppression of female athletes’ aspirations and the exclusion of Muslim women gymnasts from their beloved sport possess the potential to cast a shadow on Malaysia’s reputation, both domestically and globally.”

SIS said the root of this issue can be traced back to the Terengganu state government’s “unwavering fixation on women’s attire, culminating in an unjust restriction on female participation in sports.

“The cherished values of freedom of choice, equality, and inclusivity appear to have been sacrificed at the altar of dogma. It is incumbent upon us to revisit this decision, for sports should empower athletes to realise their full potential, devoid of undue constraints,” it said.

“This ruling by the Terengganu government constitutes a grave infringement on women’s rights to partake in recreational activities, including sports, a right enshrined in CEDAW (the international bill of rights for women).

“This outright disregard for equality raises legitimate concerns and epitomises a troubling trend where the voices and rights of women are systematically stifled under the overbearing influence of PAS.” – Oct 9, 2023


Main pic credit: Bernama

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