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Australia Cancels Afghan Series Over Taliban's Women Rights Record

© AP Photo / Ebrahim NorooziAn Afghan woman poses for a photo with her cricket bat in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.
An Afghan woman poses for a photo with her cricket bat in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.01.2023
On Thursday, Australia chose to pull out from a three-match ODI cricket series against Afghanistan in the UAE in March.
Cricket Australia on Friday defended its decision to withdraw from an ODI series against Afghanistan following the decision by the Taliban* to bar Afghan women from attending schools, colleges, and universities.
"Basic human rights is not politics. It is clearly a very challenging and sad situation. We did not take this decision lightly and consulted widely including with our government," Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said in a statement.
"We were hopeful of playing the series and have been in regular dialogue with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, however announcements by the Taliban in late November and late December led to our decision to withdraw from these games," Hockley added.

Politically Motivated Move?

Hockley's defense of the development came after their announcement of canceling the series was met with severe criticism from the sport's authorities in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) labeled the move as "unfair" and "pathetic".
Joining ACB in criticism, the country's premier cricketer Rashid Khan even threatened to never participate in the Big Bash League, Australia's premier domestic T20 competition where foreign players are allowed to participate. For years, Rashid has plied his trade on Australian shores, earning immense success Down Under.

"Cricket! The only hope for the country. Keep politics out of it," he wrote on Twitter.

A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman enters the government passport office in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Afghanistan's Taliban leadership has ordered all Afghan women to wear the all-covering burqa in public.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.01.2023
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Despite the criticism from Afghanistan's cricket board and players like Rashid, the Australian government has fully backed their cricket body's decision.
"The Australian Government welcomes Cricket Australia's decision to withdraw from the upcoming men's One-Day International series against Afghanistan, following the Taliban's increased suppression of women and girls' rights," Australian Minister for Sport Anika Wells wrote on Twitter.
Notably, Afghanistan is the only International Cricket Council (ICC) full member without a women's team.

What Afghan Women Can No Longer Do

Afghan women were banned from studying at universities throughout the country in December, triggering outrage both within Afghanistan and globally.
The university ban on women dealt a further blow to Afghan women, after they were excluded from secondary education.
In November, the Taliban, which took control of Kabul in August 2021, banned women from visiting parks, working out in gyms, and taking public baths.
Among other restrictions, women and girls must be accompanied by a male guardian, including their husband, father, and brother, and must wear the head-to-toe burqa when going out.
* under UN sanctions for terrorist activities