Skateistan: The Skate Girls of Kabul Revealed in Groundbreaking Exhibition


Last year, photographer Jessica Fulford-Dubson flew out to Kabul, Afghanistan to document some of the thrills, spills and roll of the wheels by the young girls involved in Skateistan.

For the uninitiated, Skateistan is an NGO seeking to empower young girls through skateboarding.

Beginning in 2007 in Kabul, it has now put down roots in Cambodia and South Africa, as well as having a presence in over 60 countries worldwide.

For many young girls living in financial hardship in Afghanistan, access to education is limited, and practicing  sport of any kind can be met with hostility. Skateistan  hopes to build social trust and encourage a spirit of independence in the children it works with, with a view to them pursuing education, employment, or who knows, even a full-time career on the half-pipe.

A young girl balances on a skateboard in urban Afghanistan

After many months gaining the trust of the girls, Jessica was able to shoot them in portraiture style without artificial lighting.  These photos, alongside others of the skate girls in action, will be unveiled tomorrow, at London’s Saatchi Gallery.  Speaking of her 2012 portrait Skate Girl for which she won 2nd place at the Taylor Wessing Prize, Jessica says

 “She first caught my eye because she was wearing such a beautiful colour. She’s just immaculate. From the way she has tied her headscarf so beautifully and so naturally, you see that she has an innate sense of grace. Her little hennaed hand rests gently – yet possessively – on the skateboard, and how small she seems beside it! I love her assurance: her firm, steady gaze. One feels a sense of depth in her eyes, even though she is just 7 years of age.”

A book, Skate Girls of Kabul, including all the shots from the exhibition and more will also be released shortly.

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If you like this article you may be interested in “Afghanistan Appoints Women Rangers to Protect First National Park”.


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