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The Constraints Of Sportswomen In Tunisia, how can this be removed?

Valentine Chinyem

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Sportswomen in Tunisia are facing a lot of socio-cultural challenges. These challenges are so great that they might prevent them from taking their sporting potentials to its peak. Although the choice of a career path is a personal issue that one has to decide what career path to thread in life for himself. Unlike other Sportswomen from Europe, America, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries, Tunisian sportswomen  are affected by their tribal traditions, religious traditions and cultural traditions. These traditions influence the way society looks at these women for choosing to pursue a career in professional sports. What is to be done about these their constraints? Before we decide what to do, let’s take a look at what comprises their constraints.

Culture
Tunisia comprises basically of Arabs. The Arabic tradition puts the woman in a very feminine and stranded position. The culture does not see the woman being very active and participating in activities that are supposedly ’reserved for men’. These makes the Tunisian community see sportswomen as being ‘loose’ and too free. There have been reports of neighbours who have once asked their neighbour why she allows her daughter to go to sports training and come back home ‘late’. These kinds of opinions do not serve well to encourage the sportswomen.

Religion
Religion is another barrier that is threatening the realisation of the full potential of Tunisian sportswomen. Islam is the predominant religion in the country. Islamic tenets frown at free female sexuality. All of a woman’s body are considered to be part of her nakedness except for her face and her palms. Modern sports gear, do not cover all of the body of a sports woman so there is a conflict. There are even some sports that are very physical like boxing, wrestling, judo etc that are considered to be un-Islamic. What would a female swimmer wear for example, if she were from Tunisia and was a Muslim. The place of the woman in Islam is in her husband’s house or in the house of her parents if she is not yet married.

The authorities in Tunisia have a lot of work to do. They have to find a balance between culture, religion and the rights of the sportswoman. Some of Tunisia’s female youth want to pursue a career in professional sports but due to these constraints, they have been forced to bury their talents and never try to nurture them. It would be a very great disservice to human rights and development to prevent one from pursuing his dreams. World sports governing bodies can be partnered with to see if they can look into certain laws governing their various sports and review them. This will ensure that more cultures of the world can be incorporated and accommodated into their sporting fields. This will ensure that sports are used to unify the world instead of diversifying it.

So what do we do about the constraints of sportswomen in Tunisia? The best thing that can be done is to try and enlighten people that Tunisian sportswomen are professionals just like their counterparts from any other part of the world. As such, we should stop looking at them as being ‘loose’.

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