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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 15 Sept 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Attempt to marry a minor girl with a 40-year old man foiled

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Sept 2012 

 Muslim Anger at 'Barbaric' Female Genital Mutilation

 Sexual Harassment in Egypt Escalates

 Aceh Teenage Suicide Puts Focus on Sexist Laws

 Fundamental Feminism: Iranian University Ban on Women in Almost 80 Programs

 Canada to Promote Gay, Women's Rights in Foreign Policy

 Girl Injured In Alps Attack Returning Home: UK Police

 Same Election Rules For Women in Saudi Arabia

 Women ‘More Vulnerable’ to Vote-Buying in Jakarta

 Kate Middleton's Headscarf Recalls Princess Diana Circa 1996: Fashion Flashback

 Help! She Wants To Force Me into Marrying Her Son

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Fundamental Feminism: Iranian University Ban on Women in Almost 80 Programs





Attempt To Marry a Minor Girl with a 40-Year Old Man Foiled

September 15, 2012 

LAHORE: A mother’s attempt to marry her 11-year daughter to a 40-year-old man failed on the intervention of the neighbors.

Mother of an underage girl Sonia, living in Ghoray Shah Lahore, arranged her marriage to a 40-year old man.

As the preparations were being finalized for the ceremony, the neighbors intervened and locked the mother and the daughter in a room.

As soon as Geo News broke the news the police immediately came into action and arrested the mother and the daughter.



Muslim Anger at 'Barbaric' Female Genital Mutilation

Janet Fife-Yeomans, Mark Morri

 September 14, 2012

MUSLIM and community leaders yesterday slammed the "barbaric" act of female genital mutilation, saying it has no place in any society.

As police appealed for public help in exposing the practice after the arrests of four people, including a sheik, lawyer Wajiha Ahmed said female genital mutilation had nothing to do with the Muslim faith.

"The Islam that I am born under does not condone violence against women and does certainly not condone any form of FGM," Ms Ahmed, 36, said yesterday.

"Most Muslims I know are offended by any such claims that FGM would be considered an Islamic act."

Police have claimed that Sheik Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, who is accused of involvement in the "genital circumcision" of sisters aged 6 and 7, told his Muslim community in Auburn to lie about its widespread practice.

Community leader Jamal Rifi said a lot of work had been done to educate religious leaders to "condemn such a barbaric act".

"I was disturbed to learn that this is still taking place in NSW after all the work we have done," Dr Rifi said.

"I know for a fact that a lot of girls are suffering because of this and will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives."

The ABC yesterday backed radio presenter Linda Mottram, who asked the vice-president of Muslims Australia, Ikebal Patel, if there should be a "controlled version of FGM available through hospitals, carefully policed and done under strict medical conditions, in order to cater for those communities that insist that this is important".

Mr Patel said he did not share that view and believed the practice was "abhorrent".

An ABC spokesperson said: "Ms Mottram was doing what any good journalist would do, asking questions of the interviewee in order to reveal his opinion about the topic."



Sexual harassment in Egypt escalates

Jordan Smith

September 14, 2012

Although sexual harassment has always been present in Egypt, the issue has escalated in recent months. Reports of extreme verbal and physical abuse are finally sinking in and causing awareness to spread.

Early this June, over 20 women’s groups came together for a protesting demonstration. Men with rocks and glass shards attacked them. Thankfully, no one was severely injured. Likewise, on International Women’s Day in March, more protesters were assaulted. Many were injured, leaving one woman with eight stitches in her head.

In December 2011, Egyptian military forces stripped and beat a woman who was protesting in her traditional Islamic garment. Her blue bra, which was exposed, became a symbol of protest for Egyptian women. The symbol’s significance triggered a march in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and marks one of the largest female protests in Egypt since 1919.

The severity of harassment also shows in the stories of female journalists visiting the country for their work. In 2011, Lara Logan of CBS was assaulted while reporting, and British journalist Natasha Smith was stripped naked and beaten in Tahrir Square while attempting to film a documentary. She had to be disguised and escorted out of the area in order to escape.

“I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression,” she wrote on her blog. “I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.”

Mahmoud, a bus driver interviewed by a France 24 reporter, confidently stated, “Harassment? Personally, I do it! I do it every day on this bus! And between you and I, what does a girl expect when she goes out in the street dressed in tight clothing?”

Many men justify their actions by blaming the victims, saying their clothing or location was the cause. Some also claim that girls should not go outside unless they have a male relative or husband with them for protection. Counter to those claims, even women dressed in conservative Islamic or traditional dress become victims of sexual assault.

Egypt’s National Council of Women Chief Mervat Tallawy claimed that women are harassed seven times every 200 meters. An additional study found that over two thirds of Egyptian women are harassed daily.

For years, sexual harassment has been considered playful in Egypt, something that could not be avoided. Slowly, things are beginning to change. In December 2010, a movie entitled “Cairo 6, 7, 8″ came out in the country, revealing the presence of sexual harassment in various settings. This, paired with social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube, has helped to spread awareness.

“It exceeds personal bitterness to grieve what Egyptian women have to face daily … from the systematic violation of their dignity, and the male-enforced twist of the catastrophe by a very bad vindicatory (type of) speech,” said Amr Hamzawy, an Egyptian political scientist, in reference to the common practice of blaming women for their harassment.

Protests and assaults have both been rising in number as women assert their freedom even more fervently. While the issue remains critical, the world’s growing knowledge of the problem will hopefully help to improve the nation and end the suffering of women in Egypt.



Aceh Teenage Suicide Puts Focus on Sexist Laws

Ismira Lutfia | September 15, 2012

The suicide this week of a teenage girl in Aceh after she was arrested and apparently humiliated by the province’s Shariah police has again put the spotlight on laws that discriminate against women.

“She was another victim of discriminatory policies,” said Andy Yentriyani, a commissioner from the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan).

“She was not the first person to fall victim to such laws in the name of religion and morality and eventually take their own life.”

The teenager, identified only as Putri, was reportedly arrested with her friends by the local Shariah police while attending a concert at Langsa on Monday.

Andy said the circumstances surrounding her arrest were not clear, but she was believed to have been released on bail to her family.

She added that she might have been accused of failing to wear Islamic garb or being out in the evening with men who are not her direct relatives. Other reports suggested she was accused of prostitution.

Although the charges against her were unclear, Andy said the stigma felt by the young woman after her arrest burdened her with guilt for shaming her family and is believed to have prompted her decision to end her life.

“It is deplorable that such a tragedy should happen and we demand the state takes responsibility. We have been repeatedly reminding the government to immediately annul discriminatory policies based on religion and morality,” she said.

Saur Tumiur Situmorang, another Komnas Perempuan commissioner, said the central government and Aceh’s local governments should have ensured rehabilitation for the victim and her family, and guaranteed the fulfillment of Aceh citizens’ rights under the Constitution.

“We demand the president take immediate action to annul the discriminatory laws and reprimand his subordinates that defy him by insisting that those laws be maintained,” she said.

As of last month, Komnas Perempuan said it had found 282 local government policies that discriminated against women, mostly in the name of religion and morality. “There have been an additional 128 discriminatory laws since we first formally complained about it to the government in March 2009,” Andy said, adding that as many as 207 of the 282 regional policies directly discriminated against women.

She also said that there were 60 policies that dictated a woman’s mode of dress and religious expression. Some 96 others criminalize women through regulations related to prostitution and pornography.

There are also 38 policies that infringe on women’s rights to freedom of movement by imposing a curfew on women unless they are accompanied by a male relative. Seven policies discriminate against women exercising their right to seek jobs abroad.

In 2007, woman Lilis Lisdawati was arrested in Tangerang, Banten and charged with prostitution for being out alone at night while returning from work.

She was denied access to justice and a chance to clear her name. As a result, she was unable to get her job back.

The stigma led to severe depression and she eventually took her own life.

“Putri’s and Lilis’s cases should serve as reminders to all government entities and policymakers at the national and local levels on the urgency to deal with these religious- and morality-based discriminatory laws,” Saur said.



Fundamental Feminism: Iranian University Ban on Women in Almost 80 Programs

Saba Farbodkia

14th September 2012

The first female scholars admitted to the University of Tehran were in 1934. Reza Shah, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, was successful in implementing the modern values that were previously melded into Persian society by its intellectuals.

Now in 2012, almost 100 years after such ground-breaking movements, multiple universities in the Islamic Republic of Iran have closed almost 80 university programs to women. They’re a mix of courses, but many are in engineering and sciences. Though these fields have traditionally been male-dominated, they have also led women to employment and admission at Western universities.

While the government of the Islamic Republic isn’t directly responsible for the changes in university courses, the influence that it holds over educational institutions cannot be understated.

So what happened to cause a modern society to regress in educating women?

Simply, it may be the fault of the extreme religious ideology on the part of the Iranian government. It has certainly played its role in supporting a multitude of prejudices against women that have resulted in the gender-restrictive class changes. These beliefs support pre-defined feminine roles that restrict women to households.

Along with the ignorance against female capabilities in general, Iranians are inundated with biased propaganda and education from the Islamic Republic. This reinforces false ideas about women that have been ingrained in Persian society for centuries.

There is no single form of Islamic ideology that all Muslims agree on, but in the forms that are mostly practiced in Iran and most Islamic countries, women are (although not very explicitly) regarded as sexual objects created for the purpose of pleasuring men.

In the process of following this ideological tunnel vision, economic consequences have been ignored.

A study from the World Economic Forum indicates that in communities where women aren’t recruited into the structure of society as much as men, the economic growth of a country falls short. In its current form, the Iranian regime is based on fundamentalist Islamic values and teachings that limit the education of its people, thus shutting down discussions on women’s status and rights in society.

These decisions to shut out women may have been justified by the regime as matters of protection — ensuring women follow set Islamic ideals. Whatever the justification, the restrictive nature is problematic in practice.

When Abdu’l Baha, the Persian founder of the Bahá’í faith travelled to the US in 1912 to communicate his vision for the future, he spoke these seemingly outdated words:

“Woman’s lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her need of equal education and opportunity. Had she been allowed this equality, there is no doubt she would be the counterpart of man in ability and capacity. The happiness of mankind will be realized when women and men coordinate and advance equally, for each is the complement and helpmate of the other.”

At the time of Baha’s speech, there were still universities that didn’t allow women in certain programs. In the US, Columbia University didn’t admit women to Engineering until 1942. Queen’s first held classes for women in 1869 and had women graduating with degrees as early as 1884, although women weren’t admitted into Engineering until 1942. The words of Abdu’l Baha were definitely progressive for the time period and still hold relevance today. This is especially reinforced by current interpretations of Islam that have resulted in this controversial change in educational policy.

The attitude of Shiite Islam towards women’s education is mixed. Examples from certain Islamic hadiths praise men who raise their daughters with education, but there are also those that indicate that men should teach women nothing but the Qur’an.

Iranian women remain discriminated against both culturally and religiously. Ultimately, the Iranian government can be recognized as the most important factor in preserving such patriarchal views — the very views that have led to the banning of women in so many productive fields of study.

The root of the problem, therefore, is not that Islam devalues women. It’s that the most powerful decisions made within a country are based on the

ideologies of a group

that prescribe their own understanding of the ‘truth’ upon their citizens.

Unfortunately, this version of ‘truth’ is often something not supported by logic or science.

This is a serious problem and as long as this is what women in Iran face, the reality is the same regardless of who is making the decision. Fundamentalist ideologies don’t belong in the education system.

Saba Farbodkia is a graduate student at the Queen’s Centre for Neurosciences.



Canada to Promote Gay, Women's Rights in Foreign Policy

Sep. 14, 2012

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada will continue to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle East, despite the ongoing violence targeted at Western embassies in the region.

As outrage continues over an anti-Islamic video that surfaced in the United States, Baird told reporters in Montreal on Friday that the protesters are trying to exploit the situation.

Pointing to the violence in Libya, where a U.S. ambassador was killed after a mob attacked the embassy in Benghazi, Baird said Canada believes strongly in Libya’s future.

“Whenever a diplomat is a target and a victim, it’s a terrible day,” Baird said. “We will continue to be actively engaged in the future of Libya politically, to promote good governance and civil society.”

The minister was speaking at a luncheon held by the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

During the event, Baird said a key aspect in the development of a civil society is upholding the rights of women.

Full report at:



Girl injured in Alps attack returning home: UK police

15 September 2012

LONDON: A 7-year-old girl who survived the grisly shooting in the French Alps that killed her parents and grandmother left a French hospital yesterday to return to Britain, though police could not say how soon she might be questioned about the murders.

Zaina Al-Hilli, who was shot in the shoulder and severely beaten, emerged on Sunday from a medically-induced coma and was traveling from France back to Britain, where the family lived, Surrey Police said.

Police would not confirm who was accompanying Zaina back to the UK, or comment on the role the child might play in assisting French and British detectives investigating the case. Britain’s Foreign Office, which had been offering support to the girl, declined to comment.

British-Iraqi engineer Saad Al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal, her mother and an unrelated French cyclist were shot dead last week in a quiet wooded area near France’s Lake Annecy. Zaina was found covered in blood and suffering from head injuries by a passerby. Her 4-year-old sister Zeena was left unharmed, but lay undiscovered for eight hours — huddled under the legs of her deceased mother.

Full report at:



Same Election Rules For Women in Saudi Arabia

15 September 2012

Saudi women will run for the next municipal elections under the same rules as male candidates, the local Arabic daily Al-Watan reported this week, quoting a senior official of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

“All conditions which men are asked to fulfill will equally apply to women intending to run for the next municipal elections,” said Jidaie bin Nahar Al-Qahtani, director of the affairs of the municipal council in the ministry.

He said the system of the municipal councils does not differentiate between men and women on the question of participation. “The only difference will be in the executive procedures to be followed in voting which are currently being studied by the ministry,” he added.

Al-Qahtani said the system of the municipal council has been forwarded to the supreme authority and will soon be announced. “People should not confuse between the participation of women in municipal elections and the system of the councils. They are two different things,” he said.

Full report at:



Women ‘More Vulnerable’ to Vote-Buying in Jakarta

Lenny Tristia Tambun | September 14, 2012

Women are a prime target of vote-buying efforts in the Jakarta gubernatorial election but stand to be swiftly disregarded once their votes are in, a women’s empowerment group warned on Thursday.

Wahidah Rustam, chairwoman of the group Women’s Solidarity, said that women across the city, and particularly those from low-income families, were “soft targets” for campaigners handing out food parcels, cash and other gifts designed to secure their votes.

“In the political scheme of things, women are simply a target for the candidates, political parties and campaign teams,” she said.

Women’s Solidarity says some 52 percent of women in Jakarta have been targeted through some form of vote-buying exercise this election year, based on a poll of 1,500 women, but that the courtship is mounted purely to get their votes.

“If you study the platforms and programs of all the candidates from the first round of the election, none of them gave a special focus or serious attention to women’s issues,” Wahidah said.

Full report at:



Kate Middleton's Headscarf Recalls Princess Diana Circa 1996: Fashion Flashback


Kate Middleton may the most famous royal in the world (and today, certainly the most Googled). But this morning, when she stepped in front of the flashbulbs at Malaysia's Assyakirin Mosque, there was another princess on everyone's minds: Diana.

The Duchess of Cambridge joined Prince William in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the second country on their nine-day royal tour of Southeast Asia. The first event of the day was a visit to the Assyakirin Mosque, the first Muslim place of worship Will or Kate has ever visited.

Out of respect for tradition, both the duke and duchess ditched their shoes (allowing us to see the L.K. Bennett label on Kate's ubiquitous nude pumps). Kate also donned a light, white headscarf that wrapped gracefully around her head and neck.

Full report at:



Help! She wants to force me into marrying her son

 13 September 2012

Dear readers,

A victim of circumstances who was raised by a benefactor after losing her mother at the age of 12

Our today’s writer needs your help to get out of this situation.

Please read and advise her.

Thanks, Monica Taiwo.

Dear Taiwo,

I am in a dilemma and I find it difficult to open up to people on this issue, because the few people I have discussed with are of the opinion that I am a bad person and nobody seems to understand me.

A friend of mine who reads your column advised me to write you and I will appreciate your advice and those of your readers because she (my friend) also got her problem sorted out through the advice she got from your readers.

Apart from the fact that some people who know about this issue feel that I am bad, some even think it is not a possible scenario. But I am right in the middle of it. Apart from knowing that it is very tight, I also know that, I haven’t done anything to be labeled black.

I am just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I never asked to be born at the time I was born. Things like these are beyond our choice, neither did I enjoy living at the mercy of others.

Full report at: