I sit by the green soccer field watching the children running around in shorts and t-shirts, practicing dribbling and shooting. The boys and girls, in their respective teams, are having fun with their friends.
At the far end of the field four somali girls, perhaps eleven years old, play around with a football in the shade. It’s not often that I see the girls and women outside, but I see the boys and men all the time. During the years they have lived here I have only seen a girl riding a bike once. It’s obvious by the way these girls handle the ball that they’re not used to this activity.
They all wear the hijab, long sleeves and long skirts down to their feet. One of them wear a jeans jacket and the others seem to have layers of cotton shirts. One girl has rolled upp her sleeves, almost to her elbows. It’s 26ºC, in the shade.
The skirts are tight, but not in a revealing way, but tight enough so they can’t run. Sometimes they forget this and take a wide stride which makes them stumble a little before finding their balance. A boy about the same age as them come up to them and the girl with rolled up sleeves immediately pull them down. I’m not sure if he said something or if it was her gut reaction. He takes the ball and the girls doesn’t object at all, which is weird because if that happened between swedish children there would be a row. The boy skillfully start to do tricks with the ball.
The girls leave the field and walk towards the apartmenthouses. They are still laughing, but I feel so sorry for them. I have watched two worlds, side by side, with completely different rules and consequences. I want these girls to have the same possibilities as swedish girls to play, run or be on a football team if they want to. Their brothers certainly get to do what they want (and they practice soccer dressed in shorts and t-shirt, sometimes they’re even bare-chested).