Petition to the IPF to Stop Discriminatory Dress Codes Against Muslim Women Powerlifters

Petition to the IPF to Stop Discriminatory Dress Codes Against Muslim Women Powerlifters

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Women's Strength Coalition started this petition to International powerlifting federation (IPF)

To the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and associated governing bodies,

It has come to our attention that as of December 31st, 2018, the Federation has added a rule change to the 2019 version of the IPF Technical Rules Book, which states: “A female lifter is not allowed to use knee wraps or knee sleeves over a full body suit in Equipped or Classic competitions” (Page 11).

As per this rule change, participating female lifters who have previously had the option to wear knee sleeves over a non-supportive, full body suit in accordance with their religious observation will no longer be able to do so. For example, as per the guidelines of their faith, Muslim women are to be dressed in a manner that does not expose their skin including, but not limited to, their arms and legs. In the past and as recent as December 2018, Muslim female lifters were permitted to wear a non-supportive, full body suit underneath their standard singlet, which not only allowed them to abide by their faith, but did not confer any athletic advantage. In addition to this, these lifters were permitted to wear conventional, regulated knee wraps or knee sleeves over their full body suit and singlet as is generally the case with most powerlifters.

The rule change stemmed from a British Powerlifting & Sweden PF proposal included in the 2018 version of the IPF Technical Rules Book (Page 13), which stated: “For female Muslim lifters who wear a full, non-supportive body suit, knee sleeves may not be worn over the top of the body suit. See picture. Reason: To clarify the rules so that female Muslim lifters are not unfairly discriminated against in championships.” However, in the referenced picture (reference 1), parts of the female lifter’s arms and legs are exposed, which in the case of female Muslim lifters, would not be permissible. As per the picture included in the 2019 version of the document (Page 11), it appears as though the female lifter is not wearing a full body suit and the knee sleeves have been pulled up enough and/or are long enough to meet with the end of the singlet -- seemingly covering the exposed regions of the female lifter’s body. Despite the apparent success of this in certain instances, many powerlifters can attest to the fact that during the squat, personal equipment such as the full body suit, knee sleeves/knee wraps, and/or the singlet, can ride up and gradually move upwards on your body. This would expose bare regions of the body throughout the lift and in the case of Muslim female lifters, would not be deemed permissible by their faith.

We would like to point out the Olympic weightlifting does allow for the use of a full body suit AND knee sleeves or knee wraps to be worn over the top of it. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) does allow full body suits to be worn in weightlifting competitions. They refer to them as unitards. See rule 4.2.1. (general costume) and then rule 4.7.1 for the allowance of a unitard under the costume. (See reference images 2.)

It is the sentiment amongst those supporting this petition that the rule change is unfair to lifters who have to choose between wearing knee sleeves/knee wraps without a non-supportive, full body suit or wearing a non-supportive, full body suit without knee sleeves/knee wraps. In the realm of powerlifting, it is a commonly agreed upon observation that knee sleeves/knee wraps are a highly recommended piece of personal equipment that keeps a lifter safe during his/her lifts. This rule change effectively forces participating lifters to choose between abiding by their faith (e.g. Muslim female lifters who require body coverage) and having a highly utilized piece of personal equipment. It is very likely that without knee sleeves/knee wraps, lifters who are lifting weights at a competitive level, will be facing a severe disadvantage and would be risking injury as well.

As supporters of the International Powerlifting Federation and its place as a worldwide leader in powerlifting, we are asking the governing body to please consider amending the rule and continue to support the sport and its participants across countries, cultures, and faiths.

We are very much willing to provide the personal testimonies of IPF and USAPL lifters who have been personally affected by this rule change and of those in support of an amendment.

Please contact Women’s Strength Coalition for further information at Sayeeda@womensstrengthcoalition.com.

Sincerely,

Sayeeda Tahsin Chowdhury
Women's Strength Coalition

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