PETALING JAYA: A women’s rights group has labelled the offer for Muslim women gymnasts – barred from participating in such competitions by the PAS-led government due to its attire — to take part in Wushu tournaments instead as being “steeped in absurdity”.
In a statement, Sisters in Islam (SIS) said these women have spent many years of their lives 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.”
SIS said that Terengganu’s ruling, which it said was a grave infringement of women’s rights, signified a substantial setback in the ongoing struggle for gender equality in sports.
And female athletes have once again found themselves under the intense scrutiny of public gaze, with their attire and modesty subjected to relentless questioning, it added.
“This unwarranted scrutiny not only hampers their growth but also confines them to the peripheries, impeding their journey toward realising their full potential.”
SIS said there were also wider implications for this ban, including reduced participation and representation of female athletes from Terengganu, which could affect their chances of winning medals and recognition.
There was also a potential loss of talent and female athletes forced to quit or switch to other sports that are deemed more acceptable by the state government.
Such bans could also damage the country’s reputation as a diverse and progressive nation, it said.
It was reported on Friday that the Terengganu government’s decision to ban Muslim women from taking part in gymnastics due to the non-shariah-compliant outfits had led to some quitting the sport altogether.
While the government had offered these Muslim women places in a Wushu event for the 2024 Sukma (Malaysia Games), only four of them took up the offer.