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Islam, Women and Feminism (28 Aug 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Pakistani Girl Suffers Serious Burns in Acid Attack by Father, Uncle


















Credit: ResoluteSupportMedia on Flickr, under Creative Commons: In Afghanistan, My Girlfriends Traded for a Car

 

What Pakistani Woman Says About Indian Friend on Facebook

Pakistan Women Police Performing Better: Experts

Turkish Man Briefly Detained for ‘Insulting’ Erdoğan’s Daughter

Saudi Women Hail Govt Effort in Promoting Them

Muslim Dress in Egypt: Haughty About the Hijab

Saudi Women Get the Right to Vote, but Still Can’t Drive till the Booth Themselves

Little Justice Months after Brutal Killing of Afghan Woman

In Afghanistan, My Girlfriends Traded for a Car

Ratio of Pakistani women in police lowest in South Asia

Politician with Japanese Heritage Pushing Women’s Programs in Pakistan

More Women Choose To Serve In Pakistani Armed Forces

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pakistani-girl-suffers-serious-burns-in-acid-attack-by-father,-uncle/d/104407

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Pakistani Girl Suffers Serious Burns in Acid Attack by Father, Uncle

August 28, 2015

VEHARI: A girl suffered serious burn wounds on Thursday when her father and an uncle threw acid on her in Chak 56-K/B, Ludden, some 40kms from here.

Reports said that Rabia Bibi, with 70 per cent burns, was shifted to Nishtar Hospital in Multan in a critical condition.

Rabia had contracted marriage with her cousin Nazakat. After getting divorce from him, she eloped with another cousin, Jaffar. She returned home after a Panchayat assured her that she would be married.

According to Panchayat’s decision, Rabia was to tie the knot with Jaffar, but her father Shaukat and uncle Riaz were not agreed on it.

On Thursday, they threw acid on Rabia and informed police that Jaffar and his accomplices had committed the crime.

The Luddan police took Jaffar into custody, bur after investigation arrested Riaz who confessed to having committed the crime. Later, police also arrested Shaukat. A case has been registered against both accused under Section 336 B and 7-ATA.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2015

http://www.dawn.com/news/1203339/girl-suffers-serious-burns-in-acid-attack-by-father-uncle

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What Pakistani Woman Says About Indian Friend on Facebook

August 28, 2015

"We're so close geographically but history has made us so bitter," says a Pakistani woman on the Humans of Bombay Facebook page. She travelled to Mumbai from Islamabad to meet the Indian friend she made 12 years ago and their tale offers proof of just how insubstantial the barriers we erect as dividers are.

The young women, who are not named in the Facebook post, met each other through a common friend in New York back in 2003. "So here's the funny thing - we've been friends for over 12 years but never visited each other's home," says the Pakistani friend. The Indian friend missed the Pakistani's wedding in Islamabad due to visa issues.

"So this time I applied for a visa, went through a procedure of four months and finally came to visit her here in Bombay," says the Pakistani friend. Her trip, she says has been "amazing" so far. "All these divisions are in our mind," she says.

Asked about the highlight of their friendship, she has an interesting anecdote to share. And it involves watching cricket together.

Read the entire post below to find out how cricket helped cement their friendship. It will put a smile on your face.

http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/what-pakistani-woman-says-about-indian-friend-on-facebook-1211892

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Pakistan Women Police Performing Better: Experts

August 28, 2015

Islamabad - Women police in Pakistan are performing better than the male cops and stand shoulder to shoulder with male police officers in fighting crimes. This was stated by Fauzia Viqar, Chairperson of Punjab Commission on Status of Women, who was one of the speakers at the book launching ceremony “Women Police in South Asia” organised by the Individualland Pakistan, a research consultancy firm in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Stiftung.

The findings about Pakistani women police were compiled by Individualland Pakistan while findings about women police of other countries India, Bangladesh were compiled by an Irish consultant. Niaz Ahmed Siddiqi, former Inspector General of Police Sindh, one of the speakers at the event, said that a policy of zero tolerance on sexual harassment should be formed in order to protect women and encourage women police to work together with male police officers.

Muhammad Ali Babakhel, DIG investigation KP, said that women police should be given equal opportunities to play their due role. He said that KP police have given elite force training to women police for the first time. “Women police should not be only used for legal formality as they should be provided proper space,” he said.

Farooq Azam, Deputy Inspector General of Police Gilgit Baltistan said that he believes that giving stress on increase the number of women police is wrong but provision of equal opportunities to women police is need of the hour.

Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said: “Women are massively underrepresented in the senior ranks in the police department and focus should be on increasing the number of women in the police department.” Gulmina Bilal Ahmed, Executive Director Individualland Pakistan said that cultural attitudes towards women working as police officers needed to be changed.

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/28-Aug-2015/women-police-performing-better-experts

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Turkish man briefly detained for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan’s daughter

August 28, 2015

A Turkish man has been briefly detained for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter on Twitter.

The 30-year-old civil engineer, identified as Osman Ç., was detained in the southern province of Antalya and brought to Istanbul by the police on Aug. 27.

It was not immediately clear which of his tweets were subject to the investigation, but the man admitted in his testimony that he insulted Sümeyye Erdoğan.

"I was a bit drunk. I saw news stories about martyrs on Twitter. I saw tweets about Sümeyye Erdoğan and her father. I was influenced by them. I regret for what I did," he told the police, referring to security forces who were recently killed in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attacks.

A prosecutor interrogated the suspect and asked the court to arrest him. The court, however, released the man on condition of going to a police center every day until the final ruling is issued.

Osman Ç., who is banned from leaving Turkey during the trial, can be jailed for up to two years.

Since he was elected president in August 2014, Erdoğan has sued scores of people including politicians, journalists, cartoonists, teenagers and even a former Miss Turkey, over what he described as “insults” targeting him or his family members.

August/27/2015

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-man-briefly-detained-for-insulting-erdogans-daughter.aspx?pageID=238&nID=87634&NewsCatID=509

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Saudi women hail govt effort in promoting them

28 August 2015

RIYADH: For Saudi men, remaining in the shadows of men in everyday life is passe. Backed by the government, they have now entered many areas of social and professional life, which they would have never dreamt of a few years ago.

Saudi women have emerged as businesswomen, employees at banks, markets and educational and health sectors. In addition, they are competing with their male counterparts in a variety of scholarship programs.

A number of women expressed their views to this correspondent. Haifa M., a marketing manager, said that with the support of the Saudi government, women have begun to shine through in their capabilities and leadership qualities. "They now possess the strength and ability to invade the man’s world."

Weam H., a Saudi physician, said that women were not allowed to apply for certain jobs because there were a lot of restrictions imposed by their ‘guardians’. "It was tough in the past to find a female doctor during the late shifts and emergency cases. However, the situation is different now and the number of female doctors is increasing."

Eman A., a school principal, said that many training courses were needed for the development of female teachers’ skills. "Luckily, the current national budget included training courses for the staff in a manner that enhances skills, which has positively been reflected in the level of educational programs in schools."

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/798001

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Muslim dress in Egypt: Haughty about the hijab

Aug 29th 2015

NEARLY all women in Egypt, whose population is 90% Muslim, wear a veil. Some prefer a hijab, which covers the hair only; others a niqab, which leaves only a slit for the eyes; but few appear in public unveiled. So it would seem foolish for any Egyptian business to exclude covered women. Yet that is exactly what some fancy restaurants, pools and beach resorts are doing.

A manager at the Lemon Tree, a restaurant with three outlets, says the owners “do not think it is appropriate” for veiled women after 8pm. A Kempinski hotel in Cairo bans veils in the bar. The Steigenberger Golf Resort in Gouna, a beach town, makes veiled women swim in a separate pool.

Muhajabat, as women who wear the headscarf are called in Arabic, are now naming and shaming places on a Facebook page called “Hijab Racism”. Some restaurants have rushed to clarify their policies. The only time we would turn anyone away is if we were full, wrote the owners of Lilly’s, a café in Zamalek, a posh part of Cairo.

The veil was rare in the Middle East’s cities and towns in the 1970s, but mass migration from the countryside—where it was often worn for traditional rather than religious reasons—made it more common. Several countries have attempted to regulate Muslim attire. Turkey banned traditional dress—for men—in the 1930s; the veil was later banned in public institutions. France and Belgium ban the full face covering. At the other end of the spectrum, in Saudi Arabia and Iran Islamic garb is compulsory for women.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, is a devout Muslim. But, like other Arab strongmen, he portrays himself as the alternative to Islamists. He has regulated mosque sermons and is changing school textbooks. Earlier this month his education minister said he would prefer primary school girls not to wear the hijab. (Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, wants to ban it.)

Mr Sisi doubtless thinks he is doing something popular. By some reckonings (there are no trustworthy statistics) Egyptian women started shedding the veil as a sign of resistance to the deeply unpopular Muslim Brotherhood, which ruled for just over a year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Yet citizens generally don’t like being told what to do. In 2013 Turkey’s ruling AKP party decided to loosen restrictions. In 2011 Syria reversed a year-old ban on the niqab in universities. Egypt’s government seems to be treading carefully. On August 3rd Khaled Abbas, the tourism minister, said the government will shut down establishments banning covered women. So far, though, he has done nothing.

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21662561-women-campaign-against-places-ban-veil-haughty-about-hijab

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Saudi Women Get The Right To Vote, But Still Can’t Drive Till The Booth Themselves

Aug 28, 2015

By Vaagisha Das:

In 2011, when Saudi Arabia was in the throes of the Arab Spring, the late King Abdullah issued a royal decree that allowed for the much oppressed women of the country to participate in political activities. This has come into effect four years later, as women gear up to take part participate in elections this week. As per the new law, women can now choose their representatives- and be chosen as representatives – into the Consultative Council, a royally appointed advisory body to the king.

muslim women

On paper, this seems like a small step towards granting women rights that have been long demanded by them; however, upon closer look, will this really do any good in a notoriously misogynistic country that heavily restricts women’s rights? Despite relentless campaigning by women- whose names still cannot be mentioned on social media as it would violate the strict Sharia codes for women– if this is the best that the country can do, then the future of human rights in Saudi remains bleaker than ever. Ironically, women are being given free agency in a sphere which is the easiest to control and regulate, and ultimately, dismiss. With the country being an autocratic hereditary monarchy, the king is still the one holding power, and any decisions made by the municipal body could be easily overridden. In keeping with the illusion of control, women are allowed to vote- and be voted- into office, but this is to the lowest governing body in the country, the aforementioned municipal council, which at best is just an advisory body to the king, who is answerable to none. The rubber stamp institution itself is not wholly elected by the people- half of the members are royally appointed. So the election decision remains symbolic at best, and the myth of the incremental changes impossible in the thoroughly closed nature of the Saudi political system.

The figurehead situation is unnervingly similar to the gram panchayats in India- again, the lowest level- where women are ‘allowed’ to be voted as Sarpanch, yes, but their husbands are the ones controlling political decisions behind the curtains. If this juxtaposition seems apt- where we contrast the situation in the drearier parts of Indian society with the new ‘reforms’ of Saudi Arabia and find little difference- then the country cannot be labelled as progressing at all, and the improvement’s unworthy of the name.

As some government officials say, it is indeed true that this decision will have a positive psychological effect on the society, that it will be seen as empowering for women, but what about their current reality, which is anything but? The Islamic country has rules that essentially establish guardianship over women- they cannot go anywhere without a legal male escort (upon fear of punishment, which includes lashings), cannot mix with unrelated men, cannot go near cemeteries, and the list goes on. Women are not even allowed to drive, thus depriving them of any freedom in a heavily male dominated society. Little wonder then, that the country ranked 130 out of 146 countries in gender equality- the country denies basic human rights to half on its population. Creating a facade where women can vote but still not drive themselves to the voting booth, as Amnesty International puts it- is far from a step in the right direction.

The move, described by the kingdom as a “significant milestone in progress“, thus is a surface reform for the continuing fights over human rights issues in the country. Such empty laws will do little other than to continue masking the regime of gender apartheid. Women now have equal rights to participate in a rigged, meaningless system- is photoshopping the picture really a cause for celebration?

http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/08/voting-rights-for-women-in-saudi-arabia/

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Little justice months after brutal killing of Afghan woman

Aug 27 2015

KABUL — Along a road overlooking a trash-filled riverbed, visitors from across the country stop at a memorial to Afghanistan’s most famous murdered woman. They snap photos of the drooping green Islamic flags and the spiny pine tree planted in her honour. They read the poem written on a red board that eulogizes her death.

And they express a widely held sense of disappointment and anger.

“Farkhunda was a victim, and yet justice was not done,” said Mohammad Salim, 45, a government employee who was visiting from the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif. “They should have hanged her killers on this very spot.”

Nearly six months ago, at the site of Farkhunda’s memorial, a rock- and stick-wielding mob killed the 27-year-old Islamic scholar after she was falsely accused of burning a Qur’an. The savagery unfolded as hundreds of people, including police, watched. Her death triggered public outrage, protests and a soul-searching unlike any seen in Afghanistan in recent memory, raising hopes that rule of law would finally prevail in a nation where women are all too often brutalized.

Today, those hopes have dwindled. Most of Farkhunda’s alleged attackers have gone unpunished or have had their sentences reduced, leading many Afghans to conclude that bribes, tribal allegiances and age-old customs have influenced the outcome.

Farkhunda’s family, as well as female activists fighting for justice, have received numerous threats. And violence against Afghan women shows no sign of declining. Since Farkhunda’s death in March, there have been at least 450 attacks on women in Kabul and surrounding areas, a 12 per cent increase over the same period last year, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

“We are facing several roadblocks,” said Wida Saghary, 30, an activist with the Justice for Farkhunda Campaign. Like many Afghans, Farkhunda used only one name.

In the days after Farkhunda’s murder, thousands of Afghans took to social media and to the streets demanding justice and denouncing violence against women. At the scholar’s funeral, Saghary and other women carried her coffin — an act traditionally done by men — shattering a cultural taboo.

Under pressure, the government took swift action. Authorities charged 49 men in connection with her slaying, including 19 police officers who were accused of failing to protect Farkhunda. Officials who initially praised her killing as justified to protect Islam were sacked. A government fact-finding commission determined that Farkhunda had gotten into an argument with a seller of charms, bits of paper with handwritten Qur’anic verses said to have magical properties, at one of Kabul’s most historic mosques. She criticized his business as un-Islamic. In retaliation, he publicly accused her of burning the Qur’an, prompting the mob to lynch her.

But even at the height of the protests, activists were concerned that some traditional religious leaders would obstruct the probe, fearing it could reflect badly on the mosque where the argument occurred — or even on Islam itself.

The government also had a poor track record of protecting Afghan women. While gender equality is enshrined in the Constitution, many women endure high levels of violence, driven by tribal customs and religious beliefs. Their attackers are rarely prosecuted.

The activists’ fears of limited results have, so far, proved true.

At trial, 23 of the 49 men were convicted, while the rest were acquitted. Four men were sentenced to death, eight received 16-year sentences and 11 police officers were sentenced to one year each in prison. It was unclear whether any of the officers have served any time yet.

Last month, an appellate court in a closed session threw out the death sentences of the four men. Three of them were sentenced to 20 years in prison, including the charm seller, Zainuddin; a fourth was declared a minor and got a 10-year sentence. The court also pardoned the caretaker of the shrine, Mohammad Omran, who was initially sentenced to 16 years in prison. Witnesses said he had also accused Farkhunda of burning the Qur’an.

Outside the judicial system, efforts to punish Farkhunda’s killers and use her legacy to champion women’s rights have run into hurdles. Conservative clerics and their followers have targeted female activists, accusing them on Facebook and other social media of being anti-religious people, infidels and prostitutes.

A government promise to shut down businesses of charm sellers has not been carried out. And Farkhunda has been portrayed as a unique case, rather than an example of the threats facing many women.

“All these issues have made us unable, so far, to provide justice for Farkhunda,” said Munera Yousufzada, 30, a gallery owner and women’s rights activist, who was among those who carried Farkhunda’s coffin at her funeral.

In the judicial realm, the activists may get another chance. A panel of lawyers appointed last month by President Ashraf Ghani is planning to recommend to the Supreme Court that it send the case back for a retrial.

“We need to take this case seriously because it’s possible that tomorrow they will do to me what they did to Farkhunda, or to some other girl,” said Najla Raheel, the chairwoman of the panel, which in effect is acting as legal representation for Farkhunda and her family. “All the world knows that such brutalities happen in Islamic countries. We need to show the world the real face of Islam by punishing these men.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/08/27/little-justice-months-after-brutal-killing-of-aghan-woman.html

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In Afghanistan, My Girlfriends Traded for a Car

August 26, 2015

The first time I entered my high school, one of the top girl's schools in Afghanistan, I was happy because I knew that I would make a lot of friends from many regions and religions since it is a very big school.

After a year, I got to know many of my schoolmates and I made 20 friends in different classes. Each girl had different abilities and talents and we shared books and helped each other with lessons.

Over the three years, the number 20 eventually went down four. Some of my friends were forced to leave school by their families and some got married and moved away. Three of my remaining friends were sisters: Masooda, 15; Mahnaz, 16; and Malali, 17. The fourth was Arezo, 16.

But then last month, I lost three of my friends, the three sisters. Their family was poor and could barely provide food and cover their needs. My three friends wanted to study and become the ministers of the future. Whenever I asked them about their goals they would explain them as if it they had already become a reality and they were ministers in the government. Masooda wanted to be minister of education and she would change our teaching system to be more like Western countries.

Mahnaz wanted to be prime minister. Malali wanted to be a mayor and make Kabul the most beautiful city in the world, with parks and gardens and sculptures. She had many ideas.

Their energy and their faith always inspired the other girls around us. They were always saying how when they collected their first salaries they would buy a car for their father.

Then, suddenly they did not come to school. When I saw their neighbor, I asked about them and she said me, "Their father sold them to a person who was selling cars and got a car from him."

I was shocked. I could not think of anything to say and I started crying.

Later, I found out the buyer was a rich man from Helmand. The neighbor told me that the man took the sisters to Helmand where his other two wives live.

Now when I go to my high school, I see other girls laughing, playing, studying, talking and reading books. But I know things have changed dramatically for three of my best friends. I expect that now they must wake up when it is still dark and begin the house chores. They probably are hit for simple mistakes and are warned to forget about their education or their goals. Within five years, I imagine they will look like 30-year-old women; aging and weak. This is what usually happens when girls are forced to marry older men and live with a life of stress.

I do not know how human beings are supposed to improve and rest in peace when they sell or delete the future before it comes. I am growing tired of losing my best friends and I wonder why the people who buy and sell women even want to keep up these cruel traditions.

But I will never get tired of helping my countrywomen and encouraging them to get an education; not until those people tire of illiteracy and stop following these bad traditions. Although I now have only one friend when I used to have 20, I will stand firm until I see equality and peace in my country. I will not stop and will not let the next generation suffer from losing their friends in return for a car.

This story is part of Teen Voices at Women's eNews. In 2013 Women's eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women's eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.

Arifa, 15, is a writer with the Afghan Women's Writing Project.

http://womensenews.org/story/afghan-womens-writing-project/150826/in-afghanistan-my-girlfriends-traded-car

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Ratio of Pakistani women in police lowest in South Asia

Myra Imran

August 28, 2015

Islamabad

In Pakistan, women make 0.94 per cent of the total police force as compared to 7.4 per cent in Maldives, 6.11 per cent in India and 4.63 per cent in Bangladesh.

These statistics and some more interesting facts about situation of women police in South Asian states, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Maldives, are shared in a research report of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). The report titled ‘Rough Road to Equality: Women Police in South Asia’ was launched on Thursday. The findings of Pakistan in the report were compiled by Individualland Pakistan.

The report presents information on strategies and policies adopted by governments and police departments in the four countries to bring women on an equal footing in policing, and also analyses what more needs to be done. Most importantly, it draws on the experiences of women police personnel of different ranks in each country to give a glimpse of their realities, the challenges they face, and the larger institutional cultures and environments they work within.

The research says that barriers and challenges facing a woman in policing are multiple and interconnected. One of the first barriers to gender parity is the reluctance of women to join policing which point very strongly to the need to redouble efforts to clean up the image of the police and make it a more welcoming institution.

The study says that modern policing is totally opposite to the image portrayed in movies of South Asia which involves community engagement and caring instead of its masculine side as being only about ‘fighting’ crime and controlling the population at large. It says that in the four countries, media imaging of police -– especially India’s influential Bollywood depictions -– as rough, vengeful, willing to break every rule, and reliant on extreme violence which reaffirms the popular image that policing is no place for women.

It mentions that throughout the world, statistics from police departments show that women are severely under-represented in senior positions. Same is true for South Asia. Contributory factors include limited experience of various kinds of policing due to external and internal factors.

The report shows that among the total police force of 425,978 in Pakistan, the number of women is 4,020. The percentage is highest in Gilgit-Baltistan with 3.1 per cent followed by Islamabad and Punjab with 1.55 and 1.2 respectively. The lowest number is in Balochistan where women make only .31 per cent of the total force. In terms of department, the Federal Intelligence Agency (FIA) tops the list where 10 per cent of the total force is women.

To improve the situation of women in the police force, besides basic reforms, the research recommends the federal government to provide adequate resources to provincial governments to enable their police services to carry out required infrastructural works to including pick and drop facilities, basic facilities for women’s police stations, daycare centres, women’s toilets, women’s restrooms or changing facilities and adequate accommodation during postings.

For the National Police Bureau (NPB), the report recommended the department to ensure that the necessary policies are drafted and disseminated for adoption by police departments in relation to recruitment standards, child care, maternity leave, duty hours, flexible working and transport.

Besides that, it recommends the NPB to coordinate the effective implementation of the gender strategy by demanding delivery of the proposed gender responsive plans of action and engage in engage in oversight of the implementation of the gender reform process.

For police Ddepartments, the report stresses the need to review and standardise recruitment requirements, create more sanctioned posts for women, conduct awareness-raising, outreach and support to women to encourage them to apply and take measures to tackle the dominant male culture to make it a more comfortable and accepting environment for women officers.

The study suggests special measures to ensure women are not confined to gender-based policing roles and are given adequate training, support and experience to be mainstreamed throughout the police and also recommends addressing the training issues identified to ensure women officers have the necessary skills, experience and confidence to progress.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Punjab Commission on Status of Women Chairperson Fauzia Viqar said that women police in Pakistan are outperforming the male officers and they stand shoulder to shoulder with male police officers in fighting crime, which is quite remarkable.

Former Inspector General of Police Sindh Niaz Ahmed Siddiqi was of the view that a policy of zero tolerance on sexual harassment should be formed in order to protect women and encourage women police to work together with male police officers.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Director Maja Daruwala said that women are massively underrepresented in the senior ranks in the police department and focus should be on increasing the number of women in the police department.

Individualland Pakistan Executive Director Gulmina Bilal Ahmed said that cultural attitudes towards women working as police officers need to change.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-336788-Ratio-of-Pakistani-women-in-police-lowest-in-South-Asia

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Politician with Japanese heritage pushing women’s programs in Pakistan

August 28, 2015

In conservative Pakistan, Hameeda Waheeduddin has her work cut out trying to elevate the status of women.

Waheeduddin, 39, is provincial minister for women's development in Punjab, the largest of Pakistan's five provinces.

She readily admits that it has been an uphill climb since she assumed the post two years ago.

“Women are the force to lead the nation to prosperity,” she said in a recent interview in Tokyo. “I have been trying to apply the experiences I acquired in my mother’s country to the country of my father, but it was a continuing process of trial and error.”

Waheeduddin was visiting Tokyo as a panelist to an international conference held at the United Nations University. She spoke on peacebuilding and women and children at the conference sponsored by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

She was born to a Pakistani father and Japanese mother.

Taking Pakistani nationality, she lived in Pakistan with her father, enjoying a privileged life in a mansion with servants. But when she was 4, she moved to Japan with her mother, a dance instructor.

She spent the next 12 years living in Takaishi, Osaka Prefecture, as Hanako Sumida, her Japanese name.

A big fan of Doraemon, the beloved robot cat featured in manga and anime in Japan, she felt every bit as Japanese as her peers. Her dream back then was to open a sushi restaurant someday.

But her life took a dramatic turn at the age of 16, when she returned to Pakistan to look after her father, a member of the Punjab Assembly. He was seriously ill. Her homecoming prompted her to confront a new reality she had not been aware of before: the depth of poverty sweeping the nation.

“Since I used to take material abundance for granted, I was stunned by a choice my father made in his life to work for the impoverished,” she said.

Although her father passed on, Waheeduddin remained in Pakistan. She toiled to learn Urdu, the official language there, and studied at a university in Lahore, the provincial capital, to prepare for a career in public service. She was determined to carry the torch lit by her father by becoming a member of the assembly.

Her father’s supporters did not take her aspiration seriously at first, simply because she is a woman.

It was her mother who sent most of the money she needed for her campaign, which cost the equivalent of several million yen.

Her connection to Japan, a nation that has achieved spectacular economic success, was also an asset.

Waheeduddin pitched her unique background to voters by saying she grew up in “a nation of many diligent and incorruptible workers” to underscore her resolve to strive to build a society friendlier to women.

Her efforts paid off. She was elected to the Punjab Assembly for the first time when she was 26.

As the provincial minister, she launched day-care centers for children for working women and hotlines for victims of sexual violence, programs all inspired by her mother, who tirelessly worked on her behalf.

Waheeduddin has two daughters with her Pakistani husband, a former judge at a high court.

She speaks to the girls in the Osaka dialect so they will never forget their Japanese roots and serve as a “bridge” between Pakistan and Japan one day.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/people/AJ201508280005

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More women choose to serve in Pakistani armed forces

By Reuters Media

Aug 27, 2015

Islamabad, Pakistan -- Many people in Pakistan believe that security is a man's job, but female soldiers in the country have begun to patrol the streets as a growing number of women are joining the armed forces.

According to statistics, over 4,000 female soldiers are serving in the army at present, while the number of females in Pakistan's air force has increased from less than 100 to more than 300 in seven years.

The anti-terrorist female forces, first set up in 2001 in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, have spread nationwide. Even in the isolated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, a special female armed force was founded a year ago.

"It is a substantial increase in the number of women who are joining the security forces both with the armed forces of Pakistan as well as for the paramilitary forces. They're also in the forefront in terms of taking the war effort. In short, I think it's a great development for Pakistan to have more women who will be leading and performing duties for security in the country's defense," said Maria Sultan, director general of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.

The movie "Sisters in Arms," a documentary about three women in combat, has been a hit online, which is not common in such a conservative country where women get few chances to be open in public and get jobs.

"The fact that the armed forces is now willing to publicly own these women, to highlight them, to project them, and use the female workforce to draw more women to work, is very encouraging," said Tahir, a reporter.

The feature story on female soldiers has also attracted local girls to join the armed forces.

"Of course, even I can tell you when I was a kid in eight class, I was dying to join the army," said Farhe, a company worker.

http://www.jamestownsun.com/news/nation-and-world/3826353-more-women-choose-serve-pakistani-armed-forces

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