How Pakistan’s Maria Toorpakai is using sports to expose the Taliban's radical extremism


In one of the most dangerous places on earth, where the Taliban maintains a substantial presence, a young woman faces obstacles to pursue a simple passion: sports. Born and raised in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region of Waziristan, Maria Toorpakai is the country’s top female squash player. This exclusive clip from the POV documentary “The War To Be Her” shows how she has had to hide her talents from the Taliban, which is violently opposed to women in sports. At a young age, she disguised herself as a boy so she could play, only to be plagued by death threats from the radical extremist group.

Directed by Erin Heidenreich, “The War to Be Her” premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and makes its national broadcast on the PBS documentary series POV and pov.org on Monday, July 23 at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings). POV is American television’s longest-running documentary series now in its 31st season. The feature film will be accompanied by the short film “Beatrice,” a portrait about a Paralympic champion and the only fencer in the world who competes without arms or legs.

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