Afghanistan, Women
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Riding bikes and fighting taboos in Afghanistan

Three months ago a handful of young Afghan boys launched a freestyle cycling club in Kabul. It went viral when teenage girls also joined the club – a big deal in a conservative society like Afghanistan.

The group are an unusual sight in the country: jumping over ramps, hopping over kerbs, sliding down handrails, stairs and ledges with their BMXs, and dressed in baseball caps and branded streetwear more reminiscent of hip-hop videos. But for three months now the group can be seen practising in Khatam Park in the west of the capital Kabul. Fifty teenagers, among them 15 girls, meet regularly to ride and practise tricks in the country’s first freestyle cycling club, which has been dubbed the Drop and Ride club.

“My parents are proud of me”

Zahra, 19, is one of the 15 girls who are original members of the “Drop and Ride” freestyle cycling club.

“Three months ago, I decided to do something different and bring some energy and diversity to my life, and I founded the first freestyle cycling club in Afghanistan on Facebook.

I called the boys in the club to ask if I could join, and they said ‘No problem’, and that girls could participate, and that was fantastic.

I talked to my parents about it. Fortunately, they were okay with it, and so we bought a bicycle and I began to practise tricks. Since that day, I have been going to the club three times a week to practise for two hours.

I’m a lucky girl because my parents are open minded and are used to the strange things that I do! They don’t have an issue with my doing freestyle biking, even with boys, and now they are proud of me. They are only worried that I might get injured. This is not the case for lots of Afghan girls.”

Initially published on France24 on 01/06/2017
Read the full story here.

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