Maria Toorpakai Wazir is a symbol of immense strength, she is a Female Pakistani squash player who lived part of her life as a boy, a Hollywood movie is premiering this year at the Toronto Internation Film Festival, this is a biopic of her life story, Wazir grew up in a repressive environment in a tribal area of Waziristan.
Wazir now resides in Toronto, she is 26 years old. Waziristan borders Afghanistan and is part of the region federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan (FATA), the area as the name suggests is administered by the tribal elders following a strict rule of the traditional strict code of honor.
Waziristan has been under the rule of Taliban and is considered a safe haven for the terrorist organization, Wazir belongs to a strict family, the “Wazir” tribe and it is uncommon for women to become athletes, however, Wazir took the daring step and stepped out and defied all odds, she dressed up as a boy and stepped out to follow her dreams.
“I am a warrior. I was born a warrior,” she said in an interview with CBC News. “I could also see that the girls lives were very limited,” Wazir said. “the Space where they could hang out was very limited, too. The girls were more dull and had no energy. They were just sitting there, but I knew that I was different. I just cannot do that.”
“I just wanted to be as free as all those boys that I see outside,” she said. at four years old she decided to pretend to be a boy because she thought it would lead to a better life. “I realized that I didn’t want to be in girly dresses anymore,” she said. “I just wanted to be free, and the only way to freedom that I could see was in boy’s clothes, and I could see that all those boys they have short hair and certain style of clothing. I wanted unlimited space to hang out.” her father supported her decision.
“I love squash, and through squash, I understood myself. It empowered me. It gave me the strength to fight back … I see my whole life in a squash court,” Wazir said. her father Shamsul Qayyum Wazir supported her and took her to various sports arenas for coaching. she began to live as a boy and was no longer confined to strict traditions commonly imposed on women. she fell in love with squash and practiced religiously.
Wazir understood that if her secret ever got out she would be in alot of trouble, the Taliban may even kill her and at 16 the feared happened her secret was revealed “I was harassed, I was attacked,” she said. “I was bullied on every corner, on every step or anywhere I go. That made me realize that I wish I was not a girl,” she said. she told CBC
When she was 16, she won bronze at the world junior championship, and by 2012, she was ranked Pakistan’s No. 1 female squash player.
Wazir received worldwide attention and admiration for being able to achieve so much international sporting success despite the obstacles she faced in Waziristan. But success brought attention from the Taliban, too — and threats.
“I come from the same bloodline and same tribe as the Taliban, and when they found out their own girl is playing in skirts and playing squash at that level, they just threatened us to death. They couldn’t bear that,” Wazir said.
“Waiting alone in the dark are 1,000 Maria’s. My dreams are for them,” she said
MediaBites Editorial: the interview was partialy extracted from CBC
Pakistan First Media And Brand Website.
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