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A New Match-Making Initiative for Muslim Widows, Widowers and Divorcees

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Aug 2012 

 A New Match-Making Initiative for Muslim Widows, Widowers and Divorcees

 West Bengal School Principal Accused of Drugging, Molesting Girl Students in Hostel

 Furore over Film Capturing Women Harassment on Hidden Camera in Belgium

 Street Style Hijab: Personal Flavours of Faith

 Young Talented Designer in the Arms of the Rainbow

 'I Strongly Felt President Would Support Women's Demands,' Says Head of Women's Council

 Muslim Women Athletes Break the Taboos at the Olympics

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Street Style Hijab: Personal Flavours of Faith




A New Match-Making Initiative for Muslim Widows, Widowers and Divorcees

Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN | Aug 5, 2012, 02

Saath Saath, a new match-making initiative, brings Muslim widows, widowers and divorcees together for another shot at matrimonial bliss

Nausheen Abdul Aziz has been living with her mother ever since her divorce last year. With practically nil prospects of remarriage, she had begun to adjust to the life of a singleton, raising her college-going daughter. Then last month she attended a meet at Islam Gymkhana organised by Saath Saath, a match-making initiative exclusively for divorcees, widows and widowers. "I met half a dozen families of prospective grooms. Though I didn't get the kind of husband I am looking for, the meeting rekindled my hopes of getting remarried," Nausheen says. "I am now searching for a suitable groom with renewed confidence."

Nausheen is just one of the many Muslim divorcees/widows/widowers whom Saath Saath has endowed with renewed hope. The initiative, which has candidates and their families sit across one another to explore the possibilities of choosing life partners, is a facilitator which, in its own way, is trying to revolutionise the conservative Muslim mindset and society. Islam may sanction the remarriage of divorcees and widows and also prescribe divine blessings for those who marry talaqshudas (divorcees) and bewas (widows)—yet, there is a stigma associated with them, the former more than the latter. "Women are generally blamed for a divorce. The general perception is that there must be something wrong with a girl who gets divorced," says Rizwana Junaid Punjwani, Saath Saath's founder.

This crisis gets confounded also because of a clause in the Muslim Personal Law which gives men the right to talaq (divorce) while women can only seek khula (separation). In such a situation, the remarriage of divorced women becomes more difficult. Which is why the efforts of Saath Saath are both laudable and significant?

Launched a couple of months ago, Saath Saath saw 32 people registering for its first meet at Islam Gymkhana. "Seventy-five of the participants were women. This shows that women are more open to remarriage than men," says Punjwani. Significantly, Saath Saath gives its services absolutely free. "Professional marriage bureaus charge a bomb and at times cheat their clients too. I am tired of registering my daughter Nikhat, who divorced three years ago, with them," says the Pune-based Abdul Kader, who is all praise for Punjwani.

Punjwani, happily married to a businessman with two college-going daughters, says that she volunteered to do it because "nobody pays attention to the problems the divorcees and widows face". "You may not get a match of your choice easily even if the professional match maker charges you a hefty fee. My job is to bring the two groups together, make them sit and chat and decide," she says. So far she has held just one meeting and plans another meet soon after Ramzan.

Saath Saath's method is very simple. Punjwani first announces the date of the meeting in the community magazine Divine Path and asks the candidates to send in their CVs, photographs, contact details and a short write-up on their expectations from would-be partners. Those who confirm attendance have to pay for the buffet at the venue while the hall is booked by Saath Saath. So over a sumptuous lunch and cups of coffee and tea, the candidates and their families, talk for hours.

Najeeb Bandukwala, 46, a divorcee since 2010, met four girls at Saath Saath's meeting last month. However all four refused him on the ground that he had two children from his previous marriage. Ironically, that had been Bandukwala's condition too—he was "willing" to marry a divorcee but not one with children. The refusals blasted his male supremacist belief that men have the upper hand in finalising a marriage proposal, even one for a second marriage.

Nadeem Khanda, 26, was luckier. Looking for a bride who would agree to live in a joint family, he says the initiative "immensely benefited" him and he was about to finalise marriage with one of the five girls he met.

Though Saath Saath's was an exclusive meet for divorcees, widows and widowers, it had Abdur Rahman, 55, a bachelor from Mahim turn up as well. Punjwani regrets that she couldn't find a match for Rahman. Perhaps he should try his luck at another conclave to be announced shortly.



West Bengal School Principal Accused of Drugging, Molesting Girl Students in Hostel

Subhro Maitra, TNN

MALDA: Aug 5, 2012, The principal-cum-warden of a residential school in Kaliachak has been accused of drugging and molesting students on the pretext of giving them medicines. Though many students have been allegedly victimized for years, it came to light when the father of a Class IX girl lodged a complaint against the principal, Najib Ali, last Friday.

Ali, who is an influential Trinamool leader, has gone into hiding. It is the latest in a string of crimes in Bengal schools, from a girl being stripped in a co-ed classroom to another being forced to lick her own urine in hostel.

SS Point Residential School of Nazirpur has been running for 10 years and around 100 girls stay in a hostel adjoining the campus. Though only three have officially complained, many more have alleged that Ali, who lived near the school, regularly misbehaved with them.

A few days back, when a Class IX student fell ill, Ali was summoned to the hostel. Instead of giving her medicines, he allegedly drugged the student to make her unconscious and then molested her, says the FIR.

On Friday evening, the girl's father went to meet her at the hostel and found her unusually quiet. It took a lot of coaxing to get her to speak, says the father. "When my daughter told me about her experience. I was too shocked to react. I rushed to the principal's room. But he denied the charges and said it was a conspiracy to defame him. Then the other students also narrated their ordeal," he said.

The victim's father went to Kaliachak police station late on Friday night and lodged a complaint against Ali. Soon other guardians and villagers joined him and demanded that Ali be arrested. "We could never imagine that the students were put through such torture. The girls kept quiet because they were scared of their future," said another guardian.

With Ali being a Trinamool leader, the allegation caused the party much embarrassment. The party's district president, social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra, said: "The police have to arrest the accused teacher without considering his political affiliation." She even blamed police inaction for the rise in crime against women in the district.

Malda SP Jayanta Pal said that Kaliachak police raided Ali's house but he was not found. Police teams are out looking for him.The victim's father went to Kaliachak police station late on Friday night and lodged a complaint against Ali. Soon other guardians and villagers joined him and demanded that Ali be arrested. "We could never imagine that the students were put through such torture. The girls kept quiet because they were scared of their future," said another guardian.

With Ali being a Trinamool leader, the allegation caused the party much embarrassment. The party's district president, social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra, said: "The police have to arrest the accused teacher without considering his political affiliation." She even blamed police inaction for the rise in crime against women in the district.

Malda SP Jayanta Pal said that Kaliachak police raided Ali's house but he was not found. Police teams are out looking for him.



Furore over Film Capturing Women Harassment on Hidden Camera In Belgium

August 4, 201

As Sofie Peeters walked down the streets of Brussels, men cat called her, followed her, called her rude names and asked how much she cost. She wondered: Was she doing something wrong?

Peeters, a film student, took a hidden camera to chronicle the harassment she underwent regularly on the streets. When she confronted the men who called out to her, they told her to shut up and keep walking.

“You should be thanking us, 'Thank you for making me feel like a woman!' ” one man argued to Peeters, saying that the only way to avoid it was to have a man walk alongside her.

Other women shared their strategies for coping with harassment: One told Peeters that if she was wearing a skirt she would change before going out for a walk.  Another said she constantly wore headphones to dull the annoyance, seeing but not hearing the catcalls.

The broadcast of the documentary "Femme de la Rue" ignited a firestorm last week in Belgium and France over the unwanted attention that many women report getting in the streets.

The furore appears to be fuelling real action: The Belgium interior minister said more must be done to squelch the phenomenon and plans to introduce legislation against harassment, according to Belgian media. Brussels will impose fines of up to $300 for sexual intimidation this fall.

French feminists have seized on the film as an example of why its new, tougher sexual harassment law was needed, passed not long after the French housing minister was catcalled inside the French National Assembly while wearing a modest summer dress.

After a journalist tweeted that he had never heard of the same problems in France, the film also spawned a Twitter hashtag, #harcelementderue, as European women told of  the insults they had weathered on the streets.

“A turtleneck or a bikini –- it makes no difference,” one French-speaking user wrote in frustration.

Peeters has also come under fire: Most of the men in the film appear to be North African immigrants, spurring accusations of racism. Anti-immigrant bloggers have argued that the film should be seen as an example of the ills of Muslim and North African culture.

The film student told a Flemish television station that she had feared the film might be seen as racist because so many of the catcallers were immigrants, but she insisted that was not her intent and that she had simply chosen to record what she experienced in her own neighbourhood.

Among the women in the film who recount harassment are a Muslim woman in a head scarf and a woman who said men told her that  “we’re from the same country, that’s why I’m the boss here.”

Peeters also interviewed a male friend who recalled hooting at women from cars, blaming social taboos in his culture -- it isn’t clear exactly where he is from -- for building up frustration around sex. Yet Peeters also cast a critical eye on the objectification of women in Western advertising, suddenly noticing naked women on posters all around her in Brussels.

"How can we be respected as women when we're constantly being depicted as a kind of blow-up doll?" she asked.



Street Style Hijab: Personal Flavours of Faith

Niken Prathivi, The Jakarta Post,

Jakarta August 05 2012, On a Sunday afternoon, hundreds of young Muslim women gathered at a shopping mall in Central Jakarta. Just like any teenagers, they were cheerful and stylish despite wearing hijab, the headscarf for Muslim women that covers the neck and hair.

In that afternoon, those young Muslim women were drawn together to meet their veil style gurus: Indonesian Dian Pelangi and British Dina Toki-o and Hana Tajima.

The three ladies are fashion muses for young Indonesian women, who are familiar with the virtual world.

Stylish and avid bloggers, the three women display their colourful and fun styles on social media and sell the items to thousands of readers. Accordingly, Muslim women in Indonesia have shifted the way of wearing head covers in their direction.

Dian’s, Toki-o’s and Tajima’s veil styles apply a sophisticated touch to simple scarves, shawls or pashminas for daily wear, making the veils part of modernity rather than a legacy of religious tradition.

To them, head-covers are no different from other types of clothing, which are elements of confidence and comfort rather than religious decrees.

Toki-o prefers animal-print or floral-print scarves; while Tajima is known for her plain and short scarf — usually in flat colours such as dark mocha.

Dian’s signature is strongly influenced by Malay style and Toki-o’s by Middle Eastern fashion, while Tajima’s capuchin and other style attributes are smooth adaptations of what urban youth wear nowadays.

Dian is already an established designer whose brand, Dian Pelangi, has become a significant wave in the country’s Fashion. Meanwhile, British Toki-o and Tajima are all up-and-coming designers who respectively reside in London and New York.

Dian said that she was sad to hear of Muslim women being pictured as old-fashioned and tacky on account of their loose clothing and veiled heads. As her passion was for fashion, she then determined to change such looks by fusing the long, covering clothes with international flavours.

“I love to browse on the Internet and blog-walk to get inspiration. I am also fond of travelling — the activity which has given me so many ideas for my designs,” Dian told participants of the Sunday gathering.

“For example, when I went to Europe and they had a certain style I would bring that European look home and it would inspire my next designs. Also when I went to the Middle East, I would bring that atmosphere to my sketching,” said Dian.

Among her adaptations are India-originated harem trousers that turns out to be an eclectic match to various Muslim blouses and head covers. She first showcased them at Jakarta Fashion Week in 2009.

The 21-year-old Dian said that she was thrilled at the development of fashion in Muslim women. “Yes, we have fixed rules for wearing the hijab, but I also think that we can add our personal flavour to it.”

Dian says the street style of hijab should reflect the characters of the wearers. “The most important thing is that you have to be comfortable with what you wear and it should be in line with Islamic teachings.

Full Report at:



Young Talented Designer in the Arms of the Rainbow

Niken Prathivi, The Jakarta Post,

 Jakarta August 05 2012, Indonesia has witnessed the birth of another young talented designer who draws inspiration from the colors of the rainbow.

She is known as Dian Pelangi (Pelangi means rainbow), but her real name is Dian Wahyu Utami and she’s just 21 years old. Despite her tender age, Dian has the demeanour of a mature person.

Her bright and expressive eyes when conversing about fashion and clothing designs are a true sign that she has a deep-rooted passion about her field.

“I actually have been very intimate with fashion since I was a little girl. And because I started to wear Muslim clothing since fifth grade, I think it was quite natural for me to do what I do now,” Dian said on the sidelines of the launch of her fashion book, titled Hijab Street Style: Dian Pelangi.

Palembang-born Dian says that her mother gave big support for her to become involved in the fashion world.

“My mother often made me Muslim clothing when I was a kid. However, when I entered a pesantren [boarding school] for junior high students, I was not interested in fashion at all,” says Dian, the daughter of Djamaloedin and Hermani.

Fashion called her back when Dian and her family moved to Pekalongan, Central Java. In a small town that is famous for batik, Dian signed up to study fashion in a vocational school.

“Later, I enrolled in the ESMOD fashion school in Jakarta. Since ESMOD, I’ve been developing my fashion-design skills until now,” says the 2009 graduate who became a designer for her parents’ business, Dian Pelangi Gallery, in 2008.

Her own line, Dian Pelangi, offers various styles of Muslim wear using traditional Indonesian fabrics such as batik as well as woven and jumputan (tie-dye) cloth.

Dian’s tie-dye pieces steal the attention of fashion lovers, especially when showcased at several fashion shows, including Jakarta Fashion Week as well as the Fair of the Muslim World at the Le Bourget exhibition in Paris.

Tie-dye is a process of resist dyeing textiles or clothing that is made from knit or woven fabrics, usually cotton, typically with bright colours.

Dian’s tie-dye designs and styles on covered attire, including headscarves, brings modernity and a new look for Muslim women’s fashion, which has traditionally been confined to one or two solid colours or dark colours.

“The tie-dye technique has been used by my parents since they built the Dian Pelangi brand about 20 years ago.

Full Report at:



'I Strongly Felt President Would Support Women's Demands,' Says Head Of Women's Council

Ahram Online, Saturday 4 Aug 2012

Mervat El-Tellawi, secretary-general of the National Council for Women (NCW), said Saturday after meeting with President Morsi that although she was disappointed with the low number of women in the newly-appointed Cabinet, she "strongly felt" during her talks with the president that he supports the cause of Egyptian women and is willing to meet their demands.

"The president discussed the status of women in Egypt as well as the status of the council, and talked about the issue of development of women in rural areas. Asserting that women are the true indicator of success in achieving social justice," El-Tellawi said in a news conference following her meeting with Morsi Saturday afternoon.

El-Talawi, ex-social affairs minister and a prior vocal critic of the Mubarak regime, was elected last year by the NCW board as the new secretary-general. Previously, the NCW was a stronghold of Egypt's former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak.

The election of Morsi, a senior member of the conservative Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, has raised concern over the status of women issues in Egypt.

The newly-appointed Cabinet, whose members swore the oath Thursday, contains only two woman ministers, one of which is Coptic.

President Morsi was sworn in on 30 June after narrowly winning in the presidential elections second voting round in mid-June against Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.



Muslim Women Athletes Break The Taboos At The Olympics

By Nida Dar

KARACHI: 04 August 2012, The Muslim women athletes of UAE have had to overcome several political, social, religious and sporting obstacles to reach the 2012 Games.

Generally, most athletes at the Olympics start their fight when they take their place on the starting blocks.

But for women athletes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei who have all entered into the Olympics for the first time, it’s more like victory itself.

Shaherkani, 16, came from Saudi Arabia, an ultra-conservative society where women are banned from driving and cannot leave the house without a male member.

Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani’s Olympics lasted just over a minute but the fact she made it to the Games can be termed as a revolutionary moment for the women of Saudi Arabia.

She faced strong discouragement and people even labelled her the ‘Prostitute of the Olympics.’

The 23-year-old Tahmina Kohistani, from Afghanistan is competing for the first time at the

Olympics and trailed in last in the 100 metres but only the presence meant a lot.

She has suffered months of harassment from her countrymen who believe women should not be permitted to play sport.

“I faced a lot of challenges in my training for the London Olympics. One day I was coming to the stadium and the taxi driver asked me where I was going. I said ‘I am training, I am going to London Olympics’ and he said ‘get out of the cab, I don’t want to take you there,”

Kohistani said after the race.

Noor Hussain Al-Malki, only the fourth female athlete from Qatar to enter the Olympics, who lasted just a dozen strides before pulling up injured in her 100m heat.

Although, these women athletes couldn’t achieve any noticeable achievement in the games but only participation in the mega-event in front of millions of people can be termed as the biggest achievement itself.