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Still They Ride

A forthcoming film documents the tribulations and Olympic ambitions of the Afghani women's national cycling team, who face ridicule and harassment for riding in the public.
September 6, 2014, 7am PDT | Michael Newton
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Sarah Goodyear writes about cyclist-activist Shannon Galpin’s human rights work, sharing what will undoubtedly be a must-see film for bicycle transit and gender equality enthusiasts alike.
Galpin has worked with the Afghani women's national cycling team since 2012. The women cyclists face daily persecution and ridicule, some are told they "dishonor their families" and are pummeled with rocks by male passerby’s. Despite this, Galpin believes attitudes will change. 
"Its 10 members, most between the ages of 17 and 22, have yet to finish a race," writes Goodyear of the Afghani team. Galpin is a co-producer of the 2015 slated documentary titled Afghan Cycles. The trailer shows the head-scarfed, spandex clad women riding and speaking with pride and courage.
"They tell us that it is not our right to ride our bikes in the streets and such," says Marjan Sidiqqi, one of the young women on the team. "We tell them that this is our right and that they are taking our right away. Then we speed off."
If attitudes are changing, the Men’s Olympic cycling team coach is leading the charge to do so, volunteering his time to train the newly-formed women’s team. The women too believe that if any of them can qualify for the Olympics, they would be considered national heroes, raising both the status of women and bicycling.
“Galpin points out that those same types of insults were leveled at women in the United States and Europe at the dawn of the bicycling age, when two-wheelers were embraced by many in the nascent women’s rights movement. 'They were called immoral or promiscuous,' she says. 'It’s essentially the same insult in a completely different culture.'"
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Published on Thursday, September 4, 2014 in CityLab
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