Sheran was criticised by staff and fellow members of the assembly for bringing
her seven-month-old son to the chamber [Courtesy of Mahjabeen Sheran]
of Yazidi Women Victims of IS Get New Life in France
Taught To Target Christian Girls in Indonesia
Panel Advances Bill Calling for Release of Saudi Activists
legislator of Balochistan, Mahjabeen Sheran, Kicked out Of Assembly for
Bringing Her Son
and Terrorism: Hidden Threats, Forgotten Partners: Report
Right Observers Criticize Qatar’s Discrimination against Women
by New Age Islam News Bureau
on Girls’ Schools on the Rise as Taliban Make Gains in Afghanistan
Najim Rahim and David Zucchino
DEH, Afghanistan — Just before midterm exams in January, Mohammad Sadiq Halimi,
the deputy education director for Farah Province in western Afghanistan, was
given an ultimatum by local Taliban leaders.
all male teachers at girls’ schools, Mr. Halimi said he was told. Replace them
with women — men should not teach girls, the militants said.
government did as it was told. “We didn’t want to give them an excuse” to shut
down the schools by force, Mr. Halimi said.
Farah’s schools were not spared. Last month, on two successive nights, armed
men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the
provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside
were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls. Graffiti on
a nearby wall read, “Long live the Islamic Emirate” — the Taliban’s name for
other girls’ schools in the province have been attacked in the past several
months, said Muhibullah Muhib, a police spokesman.
terrifying teachers, students and their families, the attacks have renewed
larger fears of a return to the repressive days of Taliban rule, as the
militants and the United States try to negotiate a peace deal. Until the
Taliban government was toppled in 2001, girls’ education was outlawed and women
were confined to their homes.
more than 3.6 million Afghan girls are enrolled in school and 100,000 women
attend universities, according to education ministries. But about 400 schools
for both boys and girls have closed over the past several months for “security
reasons,” including armed conflict and Taliban threats or attacks, the ministry
Farah bombings came after Taliban leaders in Qatar, where the talks with the
Americans have been held, said they were committed to women’s rights under
Islamic law, including the right to education.
in Farah, the school attacks underscored deep misgivings among Afghan women
that any future government that included the Taliban would once again ban or
limit education for girls.
plaque engraved with Afghan and American flags — both later scratched out — and
a message saying the U.S. Agency for International Development had helped build
the school in 2005.
Aubi, 38, a teacher at one of the schools that were burned last month, said she
and other teachers had been optimistic about the chances for peace because of
the Qatar talks. “But after this explosion all of us have lost our hope,” she
Khan, a village grocer whose sisters and daughters had attended one of the
burned schools, said he didn’t trust the Taliban’s promises.
say they have changed for the good, but we see them blowing up schools and
preventing girls from getting education,” Mr. Khan said.
Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, denied responsibility for the attacks and said
the militants would investigate and punish those involved. If the schools
reopen, “there won’t be any threat from our side,” Mr. Mujahid said.
angry local residents pointed out that the schools were in areas controlled by
the Taliban. They also said government officials had been unable to reach the
schools to inspect the damage.
Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council, said the attacks demonstrated
that the government was losing control of the province.
security situation here is deteriorating day by day,” Mr. Qani said. “There is
no difference between the government and ordinary people — both are helpless to
prevent such attacks.”
government officials and village elders said the attacks exposed a split among
the militants, with many Taliban civil authorities willing to tolerate girls’
education but some military commanders opposed. The Taliban operate so-called
shadow governments in areas controlled or contested by the militants, taxing
residents and establishing offices that govern day-to-day affairs.
of them are O.K. with girls’ education and some of them are against it,” said
Mr. Halimi, the deputy education director.
elders said a delegation met with government officials in Farah city to demand
they rebuild the schools, but were told that the government was powerless to intervene.
They said they were advised to contact local Taliban leaders.
Halimi said a group of about 50 villagers was considering temporarily resuming
classes in tents. Local residents said Taliban education officials had
contacted provincial school leaders to discuss the reopenings, but asked for
time to reach an accommodation with Taliban military commanders.
security guard looking at damaged desks and debris inside the Sher Ali Khan
girls’ school in Naw Deh.
Azimi, the provincial education director, said he had asked parents and
students to help reopen the schools.
Sher Ali Khan school in the village of Naw Deh, about eight miles from Farah
city, the windows had been blown out and the walls had buckled. Inside, burned
desks and school papers were strewn around.
the school entrance was a plaque engraved with Afghan and American flags and a
message saying the U.S. Agency for International Development had helped build
the school in 2005. Someone had tried to scratch out the American flag. (The
agency’s office in Kabul said it did not currently fund the school but that it
may have been a past project.)
Rahman, the school principal, said armed five men wearing masks tied up the
night watchman, splashed fuel inside the school and set it alight on the night
of April 15. They also detonated a small explosive device inside the school
records, student supplies and academic textbooks were burned, but the attackers
spared Islamic religious texts, Mr. Rahman said.
all the girls are scared,” Mr. Rahman said. “Even if we reopen the school,
maybe they won’t come anymore.”
Hamid Haidari, 45, a shopkeeper, said his three daughters attended Sher Ali
Khan school. He said his daughter Roya, 18, was scheduled to graduate this year
and pursue a career as a teacher, but that it was now unlikely to happen
because her school transcripts had been destroyed.
Haidari said Roya and her sisters burst into tears when told about the attack.
He said he was determined to educate his children — his daughters and his four
sons — and had sacrificed to place them in schools despite the precarious
was hoping the peace talks would change the situation,” he said. “But now that
our school has been blown up, I’m not so hopeful anymore.”
Qani, the provincial council member, described a climate of fear and mistrust
in the wake of the school attacks. He said they may have had the desired
effect: Even if the schools reopen, many parents are afraid to send their girls
back to them.
they blow up school buildings,” Mr. Qani said. “Tomorrow will they attack
Abed and Fatima Faizi contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and
Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan.
— France is taking in a new group of Yazidis including women victimized by the
Islamic State group and their children.
families, a total of 130, were arriving Wednesday night in Toulouse, from
Irbil, Iraq for resettlement around France.
group of 16 Yazidi women and their children arrived in December, helped by the
International Organization for Migration.
a rampage through Iraq’s Sinjar region in 2014, the Islamic State group
captured thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and
forced them into sexual slavery, while massacring men. Many remain missing to
month, the spiritual council for Iraq’s Yazidi community said it won’t embrace
the children of women and girls raped by Islamic State group men, days after
saying it would accept “all survivors.”
leaders are literally training young men to target Christian girls to
impregnate them,” World Mission’s Greg Kelley says.
target them to try and sort of diffuse the spread of Christianity because the
family of the Christian girl is so ashamed that…they’re forced into marrying
that daughter into a Muslim family.”
says this is not happening across the board in all Muslim-majority areas.
However, it is becoming more frequent in countries like Indonesia.
are put into difficult situations because they are shamed and because a dowry
system is applied in Indonesia. Further, many Christian families are often
this, the girls’ attackers come to her family and say they will not make them
pay a dowry for their daughter.
family, because the shame is so overwhelming, they agree to that… and the
Muslims who are being trained to do this, they understand that. That’s why
they’re doing that. They’re taking a Christian into a Muslim family so they can
girls are married into the Muslim families, they’re often cut off from or
abandoned by their families and they face even more difficult circumstances.
some cases, girls are the second or third wife of their persecutor and they
have few freedoms.
are “being withheld the basic human rights that a lot of women in America take
for granted, living in many cases underground.”
though these Christian girls are living under the influence of Islam in a
challenging situation, Kelley says, in many cases, they remain loyal to the
Lord, and their own influence of faith does not end when they are married.
still have the opportunity to raise a child, to influence a child, so it’s not
like the impact of the Gospel ends there. It just puts this young lady into an
incredibly difficult set of circumstances, but her influence doesn’t end.”
the girls will continue worshipping Jesus in secret.
her husband found out she was openly serving Jesus, he would divorce her.
There’d be no consequences to him to getting rid of her because that would kind
of be defiling Islam.”
says it’s important for believers around the world to know about this
persecution so they can pray.
for Christian girls who have been attacked and forced to marry. Pray for her
family, for wisdom, and for safety. Pray also for the persecutors and leaders
who are training men to rape women, that they would have their eyes opened to
this evil and come to faith in Jesus. Finally, pray that the Lord will continue
lifting up a generation of strong believers in Indonesia despite the
Mission partners with nationals on the ground who connect with, love, and
encourage these women in their state of difficulty. Support them through your
financial giving here.
DC - A committee of the US House of Representatives has advanced a resolution
condemning Saudi Arabia's imprisonment of 11 women's rights activists facing
trial for political activism.
House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to approve and send to the House floor
for consideration House Resolution 129 condemning Saudi imprisonment and abuse
of female activists.
must continue to call on the Saudi government to release these women
immediately," said Representative Eliot Engel, Democrat chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee.
resolution is sponsored in the House by Representatives Lois Frankel, a
Democrat, and Ann Wagner, a Republican. It was approved by voice vote.
bill condemns the Saudi government's imprisonment of women's rights activists,
calls for their release and calls on the Trump administration to impose financial
and travel sanctions of Saudi officials under the Global Magnitsky Act, a US
human rights law.
wanted to give Saudi leadership the benefit of the doubt when we were told
there would be great social reform," said Representative Susan Wild, a
Democrat who spoke in support of the measure.
has become clear that the Saudi leadership largely seeks to maintain the status
quo. That is unacceptable," Wild said. "We cannot just hold our
adversaries accountable for humanitarian abuses. We must also demand
accountability of our strategic partners."
has faced pressure from Western governments to release the activists, most of
whom were detained in May 2018, caught in a wide-ranging crackdown against
activists just before the landmark lifting of a decades-long ban on female
activists, some of whom have accused interrogators of sexual abuse and torture
during nearly a year in custody, face charges that include contact with foreign
media, diplomats and human rights groups.
of them - activist Aziza al-Yousef, blogger Eman al-Nafjan and preacher Rokaya
al-Mohareb - were granted temporary release in late March. Earlier this month,
four more detained female activists - Hatoon al-Fassi, Amal al-Harbi, Maysaa
al-Manea, and Abeer Namankani - were temporarily released pending trial,
according to ALQST, a Saudi rights group based in London.
activists have been held as prisoners, and have reportedly faced torture and
abuse, including sexual violence, beatings and electric shocks," Frankel
said in a March 12 statement when the resolution was introduced.
Arabia must release these advocates and end the discriminatory male
guardianship system that restricts women's decisions about their
livelihood," Frankel added.
Arabia's human rights abuses have come under international scrutiny following
the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in
intelligence agencies concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered
of State Mike Pompeo said after a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed in January
that he had raised the case of the imprisoned activists with the Saudi leader.
then political arrests and executions in Saudi Arabia continue.
Arabia executed 37 nationals on April 23 for what it said were
"terrorism" related crimes, publicly pinning at least one of the
bodies to a pole as a warning to others and bringing the number of persons
executed this year to 100, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
many as 13 activists, writers and bloggers who had been placed under a travel
ban for their support of women activists, including two dual US-Saudi citizens,
were arrested on April 4 and 5, according to ALQST.
Sheran, a member of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan in Pakistan, who was
asked to leave for bringing her unwell infant to the house, has vowed to
campaign for establishing daycare centres in assemblies and government
April 29, Sheran was criticised by staff and fellow members of the assembly for
bringing her seven-month-old son, who was sick and could not be left at home,
to the chamber for a session. She was asked to leave the session.
was torn between attending the session and staying home taking care of my
son," Sheran told Al Jazeera.
I decided to bring my son because I didn't want to miss the session."
is from Balochistan's Kech district and became a member of the assembly in 2018
on a reserved seat for women. She said it was the "worst" situation
for her when she had to decide between taking care of her son and attending
felt embarrassed because some men in the session were making jokes and smirking
about me bringing my son. At that point, I looked for someone to stand up for
me and support me, but no one did," she said.
times in the past, Sheran had requested the assembly's secretary for a spare
room to turn it into a daycare facility. Her request was denied repeatedly.
legislator is now seeking support from political leaders and activists to
establish daycare facilities in government offices and assemblies.
said she will also propose a bill to allow mothers to bring babies to the
assemblies and "to share the experiences of working mothers with
daycare centre was inaugurated in Parliament House in Pakistan's capital city
Islamabad two years ago.
can a country succeed when the most important part of the society [women] are
treated this way? Such incidents discourage women of this country from
succeeding and being independent," Mumtaz Mughal, the regional director of
Aurat Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works on women's rights and
gender equality, told Al Jazeera.
fact that Mahjabeen Sheran was asked to leave for merely bringing her son to
the session tells us that the patriarchal mindset exists heavily in our society
and we have a lot of work to do in order to change that."
said she has seen women lawyers, activists and politicians taking their
children to work if they have to. She said she was disappointed to know that
bringing children to the assembly in Pakistan was against the law.
a similar case as Sheran's, a Japanese politician, Yuka Ogata - a member of the
Kumamoto City Assembly, was criticised by fellow members for trying to bring
her baby to a council session. She said in her statement that she wanted to
show the difficulties when women juggle with careers and raising children.
Abildgaard, a Danish MP, was asked to leave parliament after she brought her
baby to the chamber in March this year.
2018, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made history by attending the
United Nations General Assembly accompanied by her newly-born baby.
Senator Larissa Water became the first politician to breastfeed her
two-month-old daughter during a vote in the country's parliament in 2017.
Argentinian politician, Victoria Donda Perez, was praised for breastfeeding her
infant daughter during a parliamentary session in 2015.
in Pakistan, Sheran's case went viral on social media, receiving support from
people from across the country.
from all over the country were contacting me expressing their support for me
and my campaign," she said.
must respect those women who work and also take care of their household. It is
not easy and we face challenges on daily basis."
new report from the Women and Foreign Policy program, launched this week,
highlights the roles that women play in violent extremism—including as
perpetrators, mitigators, and victims—and offers recommendations to better
enlist their participation in efforts to combat radicalization.
groups rely upon women to gain strategic advantage, recruiting them as
facilitators and martyrs while also benefiting from their subjugation. Yet U.S.
policymakers continue to overlook the ways in which women perpetrate and
prevent extremism, putting the United States at a disadvantage in its efforts
to prevent terrorism globally and within its borders.
and addressing women’s paths to radicalization and the roles they play in
violent extremism is crucial to disrupting terrorists’ abilities to recruit,
deploy, and abuse them. Although women are often ignored in conventional
depictions of violent political actors, they have been active participants in
60 percent of armed rebel groups over the past several decades. And the number
of women implicated in terrorism-related crimes is growing: In 2017, the Global
Extremism Monitor registered 100 distinct suicide attacks conducted by 181
female militants, constituting 11 percent of all incidents that year.
women’s distinctive perspectives can lead to better intelligence gathering and
more targeted responses to potential security threats. Women-led civil society
groups are particularly critical partners in mitigating violence, though
counterterrorism efforts too often fail to enlist them.
extremist groups promote an ideology that classifies women as second-class
citizens and offers strategic and financial benefits through women’s
subjugation. Boko Haram, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, and other
groups use sexual violence to terrorize populations into compliance, displace
civilians from strategic areas, enforce unit cohesion among fighters, and even
generate revenue through trafficking. Suppressing women’s rights also allows
extremists to control reproduction and harness female labor.
report outlines ways in which the U.S. government can better understand and
combat women’s contributions to violence extremism. Recommendations include:
a National Intelligence Estimate and form an operational task force on the
relationship between women, violent extremism, and terrorism;
at least $250 million annually to facilitate women’s involvement in terrorism
messages to women at risk of radicalization; and
the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women across the security sector
to bolster the capacity of forces to mitigate potential terrorist threats.
policies that underestimate or ignore the roles women play jeopardize U.S.
security interests and cede a strategic advantage to terrorist organizations.
Given the rise in women’s participation in extremist groups, the United States
can no longer afford to ignore the ways in which women can strengthen
counterterrorism efforts. To safeguard U.S. security interests, the U.S.
government should mitigate the danger posed by female extremists while
involving women from the outset as partners in the fight against terrorism.
– 23 May 2019: During a Seminar organized by Maat Foundation for Peace,
Development and Human Rights on the sidelines of the universal periodic review
process in Qatar, international human rights observers criticized Doha’s
policies of discrimination against Women.
Sufo, a member of an international peacemakers' human rights group, said that
Qatari women are still facing discrimination despite the existence of laws that
give them a lot of rights.
added that, for example, the children of Qatari women who are married to
foreigners legally have the right to get residence; however, this law is still
not applicable on the ground. These children accordingly suffer to get proper
education, health care and job opportunities.
added that there are several reports that expose that Qatari women are facing
several violent practices that could be described as "systematic
humiliation protected by unfair legislation". He further revealed that
women are facing discrimination before the judiciary due to their gender as
explained that women face severe social and institutional pressures due to
being deprived of their most basic rights, pointing out that the Qatari laws
allow men to beat and humiliate their wives.
domestic workers' situation in Qatar, Sufo described it as “tragic”. He said
that domestic workers are deprived of all the basic forms of protection and
that they are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including forced labor
and human trafficking.
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