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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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11-Year-Old Girl Married To 40-Year-Old Man in Afghanistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

7 Aug 2012 

 Muslim Girls in Kerala, India Breached the Final Frontier in Islamic Education

 Sindh High Court Issues Notices In Two Freewill Marriage Cases

 Eastern European Women flee Syria's war with Their Children

 Rally against genocide of Muslims in Myanmar

 Gurdwara Shooting: US Gunman Turns a Wife’s 16-Year Wait Into Eternity

 Sharjah MIC Awarded Grant to Highlight the Lives of Muslim Women

 Saudi Arabia's Female Olympians Face Cold Return Home

 Olympic Sprinter Hopes to Pave the Way for Afghan Women

 Nigeria School Offers Hope for Young Women

 ‘Four New Women Universities in Pakistan’s South Punjab This Year’

 Number of women going for foreign employment up

 Palestine murder highlights violence against women

 16% of Saudi women anticipate working in furniture and optical stores

 Saudi Authority plans to establish women-only industrial cities

 Women’s Eid preparations in full swing

 Mona Shaikh Is a Naughty Muslim Comedian

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: 11-Year-Old Girl Married To 40-Year-Old Man Afghanistan





11-Year-Old Girl Married To 40-Year-Old Man Afghanistan


Before their wedding ceremony begins in rural Afghanistan, a 40-year-old man sits to be photographed with his 11-year-old bride. The girl tells the photographer that she is sad to be engaged because she had hoped to become a teacher.

Her favourite class was Dari, the local language, before she had to leave her studies to get married, CNN informed.

She is one of the 51 million child brides around the world today. And it's not just Muslims; it happens across many cultures and regions.

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has travelled the world taking pictures, like the one of the Afghan couple, to document the phenomenon. Christiane Amanpour spoke with Sinclair about a book which features her photographs called, "Questions without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII."

Amanpour asked Sinclair if the 11-year-old Afghan girl married in 2005, and others like her, consummate their marriages at such an early age. Sinclair says while many Afghans told her the men would wait until puberty, women pulled her aside to tell her that indeed the men do have sex with the prepubescent brides.

Sinclair has been working on the project for nearly a decade. She goes into the areas with help from people in these communities who want the practice to stop, because they see the harmful repercussions.



Muslim Girls in Kerala, India Breached the Final Frontier in Islamic Education

K R Rajeev

Aug 7, 2012

KOZHIKODE: Muslim girls have breached the final frontier in Islamic education by winning most of ranks in the Samastha Kerala Islamic Education Board examinations held at 9,135 madrasas across the state and in overseas centres. Ending the male dominance by scoring high marks in religious subjects such as Quran studies, Islamic theology, Arabic grammar and the like, girls won 16 of the total 20 ranks.

Incidentally, the feminine success has taken place in the religious learning centres of the main Sunni faction in the state, which forbids entry of women to mosques for prayers. As many as 2.14 lakh students had attended the exams for classes 5, 7, 10 held in June and Plus Two in June and July. All the first ranks in the four classes have been won by girls.

"Though the girls had scored well in previous years, this year they set a record by completely dominating the rank list," Pinangode Aboobacker, general manager of the Samastha Islamic Education Board, which oversees the examination told TOI.

He said girls are more committed and punctual in attending Madrassa classes, usually held between 7.30am and 9.30am daily. The students attend the religious education classes before heading to their normal schools. "The boys often are late and have their own distractions like games and other engagements. This has had a bearing on the results," he said.

Aboobacker said the enrolment of girls in the madrasas have also increased significantly during the last six- seven years. "The decrease in child marriage has been a factor which has enabled more girls to continue with their madrasa education, especially in higher classes. Currently they are the majority in almost all classes," he said.

The madrasas traditionally called 'Oothupallis' were once limited to rote teaching of Holy Quran but now offers computer classes and has adopted modern pedagogical instruments for teaching science and maths. Some even train students in English and Hindi.

The government has spent over Rs 23 crore for 547 madrasas in the current financial year as part of the Central-sponsored madrasa modernization scheme. Around 75% of the teachers who are teaching the newly-introduced subjects are women.



Sindh High Court Issues Notices In Two Freewill Marriage Cases

 07 Aug 2012

KARACHI, Aug 6: The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the provincial government law officer, prosecutors and other respondents in two separate petitions filed by as many freewill couples seeking protection.

One of the petitions was filed by Noor Muhammed Mehar and Iram Manghwar, residents of Mubarakapur village, Pannu Aqil, who contracted marriage after the woman executed a freewill agreement at the City Courts on Aug 4.

They impleaded the home secretary, deputy inspector-general of Sukkur, SHO of the Mubarakpur police station and family members of the woman as respondents.

Mr Mehar stated that the family of his wife did not accept their marriage and the couple were declared liable to be killed in the name of honour.

Besides, he said, he was also booked by the Pannu Aqil police for kidnapping his wife, who had left her home and married him of her own freewill.

The petitioner stated that SHO of the Pannu Aqil police station Khadim Hussain had demanded Rs500,000 from him and threatened to kill the couple if the money was not paid. The woman submitted that her father wanted to marry her off to a blind man and she fled home.

The court restrained the respondent family members and police officials from harassing the couple or the man’s family members.

The other petition was filed by Atiya and Ali Akbar who apprehended highhandedness by police on the instigation of the woman’s family.

The couple married in Karachi on April 5 after the woman executed a freewill certificate before a magistrate.

The couple stated that they had been declared Karo-kari, or liable to be killed in the name of honour, and prayed to the court to provide them protection.

The woman submitted that she left her Tando Adam home as her father wanted her to marry a drug addict.

She said her father had threatened to kill her if she did not marry the man of his choice.

Petitioner Ali Akbar said he was booked in a false case of kidnapping of his wife by her family members.

He prayed to the court to order the cancellation of the FIR against him.

The court issued notices to the provincial law officer in both petitions and put off the hearing to Aug 27.

Missing man returns

A division bench put off the hearing of a petition against the disappearance of a cattle trader after the court was informed that the missing man had returned home.

Mali Khatoon had alleged that her son was arrested by Naushahro Feroze police officials on Oct 2, 2011 and since then his whereabouts were not known.

The woman, represented by Advocate Muhammed Akbar Khan, submitted in her petition that her son, Abdul Wahid Naseerani, with four other villagers, Mohammed Ali Khoso, Ghulam Nabi Shaikh, Tufail Ahmed Naseerani and Ghous Bux Shaikh, had left the village before Eidul Azha to sell their animals.

She stated that on their return in a taxi, they including her son were intercepted and taken away by the police. Later, she said, four of them were booked in separate drug cases registered at different police stations of the district, while her son remained untraceable and the police refused to disclose his whereabouts.

The woman stated that the police produced the four villagers before a judicial magistrate to obtain their 14-day physical custody for interrogation, but the judicial magistrate concerned did not grant the request when the suspects apprised him of their ordeal.

On Tuesday, the police submitted the report of the joint investigation team that said the petitioner’s son had appeared on Aug 1 stating that he had absconded as he was booked by the police in a drug case.

The report said the suspect was later handed over to the police concerned.

The bench put off the hearing to Aug 13.



Eastern European Women Flee Syria's War with Their Children

 By Anna Melnichuk and Dusan Stojanovic

 August 6, 2012

Marriages between foreigners and Syrians have roots in influence of former Soviet Union

It was a life from a fairy tale that turned into hell.

Hundreds of Eastern European women married to Syrian men have fled the war with their children in recent weeks as fighting intensifies, splitting up families and leaving them wondering about whether they can ever go back.

Among them is Kseniya Murtada, a 36-year-old Ukrainian who fled Syria last week with two sons, three and five, leaving her husband Aziz in Aleppo, Syria's biggest city and the focus of a major battle between government and rebel forces.

"Who knows what might happen? This is a war," said Murtada, who was among more than 200 Ukrainians evacuated on a government plane last week.

"Our men have stayed there, they will fight, and they will defend their home," she said. "Some families will be broken; some kids will lose their fathers. But we all live with hope."

The marriages between Eastern European women and Syrians are believed to number in the thou-sands.

They result from close ties first forged in the 1960s when the Soviet Union, its Eastern European satellite states and the former Yugoslavia began welcoming students from the Middle East and Africa with the aim of spreading their influence around the world through an educated elite.

Yugoslavia was then a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, which had close ties to the Assad family regime.

The Soviet Union, for its part, had an interest in spreading its political influence in the volatile Middle East. Oleksandr Bogomolov, president of the Kyiv-based Centre for Middle East Studies, said Soviet authorities encouraged the marriages as a way to gain influence with the Syrian elite since most of the Syrian students came from prominent families.

For the women, marriage to a foreigner offered an escape from communist repression and the promise of a better life abroad, and many were attracted to Syria's cultural wealth and good climate.

The tradition has continued since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, with Russian, Ukrainian and women from Belarus still eager for better living conditions abroad and husbands who don't drink, though such marriages abated in the former Yugoslavia during its bloody break-up in the 1990s.

Murtada, who met her husband when he was studying computer engineering in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, was taken by her husband's charm.

"He was so romantic, always with flowers, always very kind and polite, so I could not but marry him," she said.

Many of the Syrian men who married women from the ex-communist countries are believed to be members of the educated Alawite elite, the group most under threat from a rebel insurgency dominated by the country's Sunni majority. The Assad regime only let its supporters travel to Europe in the communist period.

"These women did not land in some village and did not have to struggle for a living," said Katarzyna Gorak-Sosnowska, a professor in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of War-saw in Poland. "They are the wives of men educated at European universities, academies."

Among those who fled in recent days was Biljana Ayoubi, a 53-year-old Serbian mother who left Syria on a Serbian plane with her three children along with nearly 40 others, almost all of them the wives and children of Syrians. To her, there is no doubt who is to blame for the carnage that forced her to leave her husband in Aleppo.

"Americans are to blame. They have been financing the rebels, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia," she said, adding that her husband stayed behind because "he did not want to return, he was too proud."

Ayoubi said she hoped the Syrian army "will win and we will go back" to Aleppo, adding that Assad "has nothing to do" with the carnage.

Svetlana Djurdjevic, a 53-year-old Bosnian-born woman who returned on the same Serbian government flight, said the sectarian violence reminds her of the 1992 to '95 war in her native country, which she escaped with her marriage.

"It's a civil war there, just like it was in Bosnia," she said. "They are fighting to change things for the better, but it turned out it can't get any worse."



Rally against genocide of Muslims in Myanmar

Myra Imran

August 07, 2012 

To protest against the genocide of 20,000 Muslims in Burma, the civil society activists and human rights workers gathered in front of the National Press Club where they demanded of the United Nations (UN) and Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to intervene and stop the killings of innocent Muslims.

The protest was organised by Bardasht to show solidarity with the Burmese Muslims. Rozan, Sisters Trust and Movement of Social Justice joined Bardasht. President Pakistan Muslim League Farukh Khan and Nagina Sadaf from Women’s Wing of Pakistan People’s Party also joined the protest.

The protestors were holding placards inscribed with their demands and chanted slogans against the criminal silence of international human rights organizations over the inhuman killings of Muslims in Burma.

The statistics shared with media say that around 20,000 Muslims killed, over 90,000 displaced, 4,000 families burnt alive and 300 mosques have been closed in Burma since June. Burmese military and community is accused of killing, rape and mass arrests targeting Rohingya Muslims during recent sectarian violence in Western Burma.

The Burmese government initially failed to take measures to stop the flare up of violence between ethnic Rakhine Burmese and Rohingya Muslims, which began in June after a Buddhist woman was sexually assaulted and murdered.

Full report at:



Gurdwara Shooting: US Gunman Turns a Wife’s 16-Year Wait Into Eternity

Srishti Pandey

 Aug 07 2012

New Delhi : Ranjeet Singh’s family had begun preparing for Diwali already —this one was to be special.

Forty-five-year-old Ranjeet, who left for the US 16 years ago, was going to be back for the first time this year. His younger brother, Seeta Singh (43), had flown to Milwaukee to bring his elder sibling home.

On Monday, the family waited for the bodies of the two brothers to be flown back for the last rites. As of now, there is no news when the bodies will be brought to India.

The siblings were among the six who were gunned down on Sunday morning in Oak Creek gurdwara by a man described by the spokesperson for the Chicago division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as a “white male roughly 40 years of age”.

Ranjeet, who belongs to Daluwala village in Uttarakhand, came to Delhi from Ludhiana with his family in 1992. He used to play the tabla at the Sundar Vihar gurdwara in Delhi. Five years later, he left for the US to “earn a better living”, leaving behind his wife, two daughters and a son.

“When he left, our son Gurvinder was only seven months old. He said he would return in six months, but decided to stay there and work as the pay was better,” Ranjeet’s wife Lokinder Kaur said.

Full report at:



Sharjah MIC Awarded Grant to Highlight the Lives of Muslim Women

 07 Aug 2012

The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization in the United Arab Emirates, as the only Museum in the Middle East and Arab region, has been awarded the prestigious American Association of Museums' Museums Connect grant to participate in a groundbreaking initiative which involves a thought-provoking community project with three other international museum organizations - the International Museum of Women in San Francisco, US, the Women's Museum in Aarhus, Denmark and the Ayala Museum in the Philippines.

The project is conceived, through a number of workshops and the production of online artworks that will be curated and on exhibition virtually, to raise public awareness of the richness and diversity of Muslim women's lives in these four distinct cultures and globally. The Museums Connect Initiative, now in its fifth year, pairs museums from across the globe with partners in the United States to engender web-based opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and creative collaboration, particularly among the youth. It also fosters intercultural dialogue through community projects, partnerships with local or tribal governments and schools, and local events.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia's female Olympians face cold return home

Qanta Ahmed

 07 Aug 2012

Far from revered, the Kingdom’s first female athletes are ignored or insulted at home.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani returns to Saudi Arabia as the first woman to represent the Kingdom in judo, but while her participation has been celebrated globally the domestic reaction to her accomplishment has ranged from lukewarm to openly hostile. Her father, a judo referee who said he wanted his daughter to make "new history for Saudi's women," is reportedly incensed at conservative Saudis who showered her with racial slurs on Twitter and called her a “prostitute” for participating.

The Kingdom bent to a combination of international pressure and the increasingly powerful Saudi vox populi by announcing—just a month before the Games began—that Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar, a California born-and-bred track runner at Pepperdine with dual citizenship, would compete at the Games. But while the decision was a baby step toward gender equality for the approximately 11 million women and girls who call Saudi Arabia home, the move trigged a powerful conservative backlash from clerics and others.

Full report at:



Olympic Sprinter Hopes to Pave the Way for Afghan Women

 August 6th, 2012

When Tahmina Kohistani crossed the finish line during last week's Olympic women's 100 meters preliminary round, she had tears in her eyes. Kohistani was emotional not because of her last-place finish in Friday's heat, but because she competed as the only woman from her native country of Afghanistan.

The 23-year-old told VOA on Monday that she has faced numerous challenges on the road to London. She said she endured heckling from onlookers as she trained at the stadium in the Afghan capital, Kabul, with many saying she should stay at home.

A taxi driver even refused to take her to the stadium, after Kohistani told him she was to compete in the Olympics as Afghanistan's only female athlete. She said the driver told her “go out from my taxi, I don't need to get you there, because it's not good for me, you are not a good girl.”

Full report at:



Nigeria school offers hope for young women

By Patricia Huon

 07 Aug 2012

KADUNA, Nigeria — The clattering sewing machines at this northern Nigeria school offer hope of a better life for a group of young women who fled abusive marriages that for some prove inescapable.

In Nigeria's deeply impoverished north, which has some of the worst gender disparities in the world, millions of girls who never learned to read or write are pushed into marriage in their early teens, a recent study said.

The Tattalli Free School in the city of Kaduna was set up as a refuge for those who, overcoming fear and the pressures of patriarchal society, left their husbands when the relationships became unbearable.

"I was married and pregnant and my husband was at home doing nothing," said 17-year-old Bilkisou, the mother of a young girl.

"At times he would beat me or shout at me. When I went to report him to my father, he sent me back," she added.

She left with her baby strapped to her back and came to Tattalli, where she can learn skills ranging from dressmaking to beadmaking in hopes of earning enough money to care for herself.

Full report at: Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved.



‘Four New Women Universities in Pakistan’s South Punjab This Year’

By Kashif Zafar

August 7, 2012

BAHAWALPUR: The provincial government will establish four new universities for women in Bahawalpur and Multan this year, Bahawalpur Division Colleges Director Prof Mushtaq Javed said on Monday.

He said degrees will initially be offered in six disciplines at these universities. These are English, Urdu, history, political science, chemistry and Islamic studies.

Javed said Sadiq Girls’ Degree College in Bahawalpur will also be granted charter as university in the current year. He said a new administrative block, a controller’s office, new class rooms and a hostel block would be constructed at the premises. The project digest (PC-1) for the purpose was being prepared, he added.

He said the government had decided to establish home economics colleges at all divisional headquarters in the province. He said work on these colleges will be inaugurated in the current year.

Full report at:



Number of women going for foreign employment up


KATHMANDU: The number of women workers going on foreign employment has increased drastically.

The number of women going for foreign employment has doubled compared to their number in the previous year.

According to the figures made available by the Department of Foreign Employment, 22,988 women had gone for foreign employment in the last Fiscal Year and 10,416 the year before that.

The largest number of women has gone to Kuwait for work in the last four years.

As per the statistics, 21,000 women have gone to Kuwait. Similarly, the number of women going on foreign employment to the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia has also increased significantly.

Spokesperson at the Department of Foreign Employment, Buddhi Bahadur Khadka said now the Nepali women have started going on foreign employment from the country after the government encouraged the women to go on foreign employment to the Gulf countries only through the legal channel and not illegally via India.

Before this, 60-70 Nepali women used to go the different countries of the Gulf in a day via Mumbai and New Delhi of India.



Palestine murder highlights violence against women


BETHLEHEM: The brutal killing of a battered wife in front of horrified witnesses in an open-air Bethlehem market prompted angry accusations Wednesday that Palestinian police and courts ignore violence against women.

Nancy Zaboun, a 27-year-old mother of three, had her throat slashed Monday after seeking a divorce from her abusive husband of 10 years. The husband was arrested at the scene and is the prime suspect, West Bank officials said.

The case reverberated across Palestinian society because of the brutality of the attack. However, violence against women continues to be tolerated — similar to attitudes in other parts of the Arab world — and women's rights activists say abusive husbands are rarely punished.

Zaboun was regularly beaten by her husband, 32-year-old Shadi Abedallah, at times so severely that she had to be hospitalized, said Khaula al-Azraq, who runs a West Bank counseling center where Zaboun sought help.

Even so, Abedallah was never arrested. Police only made him sign pledges he would stop hitting his wife, said al-Azraq, adding that Abedallah himself is a former police officer.

Zaboun was killed after attending a hearing in her divorce case. She was walking on the steep paths of an open-air market — not far from the Church of the Nativity, marking the traditional birthplace of Jesus — when she was fatally slashed.

Full report at:



16% of Saudi women anticipate working in furniture and optical stores

 7th of August 2012

A recent study conducted by ALWANE , a recently established regional coalition of experienced and emerging leaders from 17 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, shed the spotlight on Saudi women working in the retail industry. The study done in partnership with women empowerment hub GLOWORK, Harvey Nichols Riyadh and KPMG highlighted the overall perception of the retail industry from the public.

31% of respondents from across the Kingdom highlighted lack of awareness of what the retail sector actually is as a main concern in working in the retail sector. Respondents mentioned there aren't any success stories in the region let alone the country to understand the sort of career path they would be undertaking and the perception of the retail industry must change. 25% said family pressure and acceptance is what holds them back from working in the retail industry and only a mere 5% mentioned that transportation was an issue in accepting a retail job.

Full report at:



Saudi Authority plans to establish women-only industrial cities

7 August 2012

Efforts are under way to establish the Kingdom's first women-only industrial city in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf. Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has initiated works for planning and development of the city, targeting women investors.

"We are now working on a second industrial city for women," said Saleh Al-Rasheed, acting director general of Modon. "We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the Kingdom," he added.

Al-Rasheed said Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Mansour bin Miteb, has already allocated land for the first women-only industrial city in Hofuf.

The move follows a Cabinet decision that urged authorities to create more job opportunities for women in order for them to play an important role in the Kingdom's development.

The Cabinet also instructed the relevant ministry to allocate lands within the city limits to establish industrial projects for women. The new industrial city in Hofuf is located near Al-Ahsa Airport.

Modon seeks to allocate land for industrial development and develop industrial cities in collaboration with a number of government agencies and the private sector to meet the requirements of investors.

Full report at:



Women’s Eid preparations in full swing

By Aliya Mirza

 07 Aug 2012

LAHORE: Women of every age are busy in Eid preparations with the occasion drawing near, as city markets are bustling with female buyers.

Shopping malls in the city are illuminated, bangles are displayed, while jewellery and henna are special attractions for the buyers who mostly shop after iftar. Women and girls mostly start their shopping almost two weeks before Eid, as they have to prepare dresses, buy jewellery and other accessories to satiate their aesthetics and welcome the religious festival with colours and traditional enthusiasm.

Even though rising inflation and escalated prices of garments, shoes and other accessories have squeezed the purchasing power of the middle class, heavy rush is seen in markets until late night.

“Almost 10 to 15 days before Eid, a large number of women go to markets after iftar. These days are not only a way of providing variety of shopping opportunities to buyers, but also perfect economic boom for small and big traders,” Usman, a bangle and henna stallholder, said while talking to Daily Times.

He said that all types of accessories relating to women and children are the most profitable business during other half of Ramazan.

Full report at:\08\07\story_7-8-2012_pg13_8



Mona Shaikh Is a Naughty Muslim Comedian

By Paul T. Bradley

Aug. 6 2012

Mona Shaikh is not impressed with the supposed merits of Islamic martyrdom. "Seventy-two virgins? As a reward? Have you ever been with one virgin? [Winces] That shit sucks. Can you imagine having to teach 72 of them how to do everything? Guys -- wouldn't you rather have 72 hours?" she asks.

Shaikh is one of half-dozen or so comedians who performed two Friday nights ago as part of the Levantine Cultural Centre’s Sultans of Satire comedy show. In its seventh year of semi-regular performances, the show includes a slate of Arab, Persian, South Asian and Turkish comedians. Shaikh, unlike her stage mates that night, was on track to piss some people off -- even a crowd of mostly non-white Muslims in the middle of Ramadan.

Where most Middle Eastern comedians trade in weak cultural taboos like toilets and body hair (apparently it's one giant human hairball from Rabat to Rajasthan), Shaikh is willing to put some sacred cows on the chopping block. "I really wanted to open the set with a beer and say, 'Ramadan Mubarak!' but I thought that lady in the front would have a heart attack. I don't want her blood on my hands," she says, referring to a veiled elderly Muslim woman in front.

OK, so she's going to hold back a bit sometimes. "I'm probably not going to make jokes about the Prophet's sex life ... at least not yet," she told us in a follow-up interview. But everything else is on the table.

Full report at: