Algerian women demand more rights at Berber football tournament

SAHEL, Algeria, October 19 (Reuters)Algerian women dressed in bright Berber clothes screaming, singing and drumming at a football tournament last week were pushing their fight for gender equality – a cause that has come under closer scrutiny in Algeria after a brutal attack this month.

The peaceful cobbled village of Sahel hosted the third annual competition between women’s teams in the mountainous region of Kabylia to lobby for a greater role for women in Algerian society.

“Before, women were not free, were not allowed to work outside the home… now we have rights, we can be lawyers, pilots or do any other job, and we are equal to men. “Houria Hamza said. , one of the players.

The cause of women’s rights in Algeria has gained momentum in recent weeks after the rape and murder of a young woman whose alleged perpetrator had already been accused of assaulting her years earlier.

The case sparked outrage and protests in Algiers, despite a public ban on demonstrations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Police arrested a suspect.

“They have no heart and they have no brain. Those who kill deserve to be killed,” said Naima, 52, a Sahelian villager who refused to give her last name, referring to men who attack. women.

In the Kaylie region east of Algiers, a stronghold of Amazigh-speaking Berber culture, women have long held influential roles in society, but an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s pushed many back into their homes.

Hamza, a 37-year-old housewife, helped her team win the title after beating the village of Tabouda in a penalty shootout encouraged by dozens of women clapping and chanting.

“There is a lot for women to do. Just as much as men. Maybe even more than the men, ”said Fadila Bekkouche, head of the village women’s association.

(Report by Abdelaziz Boumzar, written by Seham Eloraby, edited by Angus McDowall and Tom Brown)

(([email protected]; Reuters messaging: [email protected]))

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