Men's desire for fair skin hindering progress, says India's captain December 14, 2004

Women's cricket in India dogged by beauty concerns

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Belinda Clark: 'In our culture women have an equal opportunity' © Getty Images

The development of women's cricket in India is being hindered by Indian men wanting brides with fair skin, according to India's captain Mamta Maben.

"Because of Indian men's concept of beauty, so many talented players do not take up cricket because it is a gruelling sport and you are out in the sun for at least seven to eight hours," Maben told the AFP news agency.

And she says that Indian culture discourages women from taking part in sports. "I think an Indian sportswoman's lifespan is very short ... because of pressures of marriage and the Indian male's concept of beauty," she said. "Most of the Indian men want to have a bride with a fair skin." India's largest consumer company, Hindustan Lever, has attempted to cash in on this perceived preference by advertising one of their skin creams using an aspiring female cricket broadcaster who lands a job after using the product.

India are currently playing host to Australia in a seven-match one-day series. Australia's captain, Belinda Clark, agrees that Indian sportswomen face more issues than her compatriots. "At home, women's sport does not generally get the media attention or interest," Clark said. "But at the same time I think in our culture women have an equal opportunity. It is not unusual to play tennis or rugby or cricket in Australia."