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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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'Uyghur Girls Get Calls to Become 'Sex Slaves' For Jihadists'

 New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Aug 2014

Fighters from the female regiment of the Kurdish Peshmerga take their positions in Jalawla, Aug. 7, 2014. (Photo by Shaida al-Ameen)



 Witnesses Recount Tales of Yazidi Women Taken as War Booty

 Turkish Women Post Shoe Pictures in New Anti-Sexism Protest

 Meet the Female Peshmerga Forces Fighting IS

 Saudi Arab: Salons for Women in Asir Slapped With Penalties

 Woman Scales New Heights for Girls’ Education in Afghanistan

 Indonesia: New Abortion Regulation Stirs Up a Hornet’s Nest

 Gaza Teen's Tweets Tell Of Everyday Survival in a Warzone

 Kano’s Women Abandon Hijab to Avoid Suspicions

 Saudi Issues New Regulations for Sex Correction

 Fear of Female Suicide Bombers Beginning Of Wisdom

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





'Uyghur Girls Get Calls to Become 'Sex Slaves' For Jihadists'

PTI | August 14, 2014

Beijing: Chinese police is probing claims that teenage Uyghur girls based outside the restive Xinjiang province were being telephoned and asked to serve as "sex slaves" for Islamic State jihadists in the Middle East.

State-run Global Times, quoting online posts alleging a number of phone calls made to Uyghur girls, reported that they were being telephoned and asked to serve as "sex slaves" by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in the Middle East.

Xinjiang, which is on boil over the native Muslim Uygurs protests opposing Han settlements, as well as several parts of China have witnessed terror attacks recently allegedly carried out by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) comprising of Uygur youth who have also been found to be fighting in Syria along with IS.

A post on Sina Weibo, akin to Twitter, claimed that some Uyghur students from Xinjiang, who are studying at high schools outside the region, have received anonymous phone calls.

These appear to be soliciting them to give up studying and travel to Iraq to become "sex slaves" for IS fighters. The post immediately caught wide attention and was reposted at least 2,000 times before it was deleted on Monday. A person identified as Zheng who claimed knowledge about such calls was quoted by the Chinese daily as saying that he was told by several Uygur school girls about similar phone calls.

"They told me that they received anonymous calls, asking them to go to Syria through Indonesia for battlefield service. They were asked to dedicate themselves to jihadists. But the girls did not report this to the police. They were hesitant, because (they thought) all Muslims are brothers and sisters," Zheng noted. He said the solicitation may expand from individuals to larger groups.

"Many teenagers (studying outside Xinjiang) are from rural areas in southern Xinjiang. They are easily affected due to their family backgrounds," Zheng said. Police in Altay prefecture in Xinjiang said they are following up on the issue.

"It is possible that such calls do exist. One of our investigation focuses at present is how the students' numbers were leaked," a police officer from the Altay bureau said. The officer added that before local students leave to attend schools outside the region, they all have to go through a training session.

"Such training is more about warning against participation in illegal religious activities, instead of being designed to guard against such calls, but I believe students will be highly alert if they receive such calls," the officer said.

Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism official in Xinjiang said they have taken note of similar online revelations, and authorities are looking into the issue. However, this is yet to be confirmed. Li Wei, an expert on anti-terrorism with the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said it would be very difficult to actually send those students out of the country, even if the alleged instigators are able to contact the students.

Sun Lizhou, a Xinjiang-born scholar from Chongqing University, said the authenticity of such calls still needs to be verified, "but since some Uygurs are reportedly fighting alongside IS in Syria, it would be possible to speak to the students on the phone."

"Junior or senior high school students are an easy target of such incitement since they are psychologically immature and many are rebellious in their teenage years. A lack of objective judgment also makes them vulnerable to these audio or video files," Li said.

An anonymous anti-terrorism official in Xinjiang said separatist groups tend to link themselves with overseas terrorist organizations, such as the IS, so as to boost their international standing, and win recognition from those groups in exchange for financial and personnel support.

The IS is also reportedly planning on expanding its "holy war" to Xinjiang. According to a report from Phoenix Weekly, in a video released early July, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed he will take revenge on those who took away the rights of Muslims in 20 countries, with China allegedly placed at the top.

"This is the habitual practice of terrorist groups for propaganda efforts. It won't have any substantial influence," Li said.



Witnesses Recount Tales of Yazidi Women Taken as War Booty

14 Aug, 2014

DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Stories of some 500 Yezidi women taken as war booty by Islamic State (IS/ISIS) militants after the capture of Shingal are now being confirmed by witnesses, some of them helpless about what to do about their lost loved ones.

A Yezidi man who miraculously escaped IS jihadists said he knew three women who were still held captive by militant Islamists, who took over Shingal some 10 days ago.

"The last time I talked to them on the phone was three days ago," said Farman Qado. He quoted one of the women telling him how she was taken: ‘They (the jihadists) came into our room and openly said who was the prettiest or the funniest (to be with)."

Witnesses told Rudaw that more than 500 Yezidi girls and women were abducted by the IS militants, whose fate so far remains unknown.

Karim Rito, 46, a Yezidi resident of Shingal, said he had seen two IS vehicles “full of women.”

"There were seven women in the back of the truck -- five younger women and two who appeared to be above 50. They killed the two older women on the spot in the street and took with them the other women," he told Rudaw.

Rito said that IS militants had abducted more than 500 girls and women from the Yezidi localities of Sheikh Khider, Gir Uzer and Gir Zarkey.

"The ISIS attacked these villages first," he said, "and the residents had no chance of escape."  Rito said he feared that most of the women have already been transferred to Syria, Mosul and Baaj.

He told the story of two sisters, Ghalia and Markaz, both locally known for their apparent beauty who were taken away by the militants in the first round of abductions.

"They (the militants) knew about Ghalia and Markaz, because they went to their house directly after entering the village," Rito said. “I’m sure the Arab neighbors had told ISIS about them."

Iraqi human rights minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani was reported as saying that the militants had killed hundreds of Yezidis, burying some alive and taking women as slaves.

In a statement authorizing air strikes on IS positions to stop their advance towards Erbil before the weekend, US President Barack Obama mentioned that “chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.”

Another Yezidi witness, 22-year-old Farman Qado who was just recently rescued from the Shingal Mountain where he took refuge for the past week with tens and thousands of others, said three female members of his family had been missing.

"Three of my relatives, all women, were not on the mountain. We knew then that they were in ISIS captivity."

Farman said he spoke to the three women on a daily basis until recently.

"We spoke at least four times. They told me they and other women were forced into a car and led to Mosul. They said at least two militants assaulted them (sexually). Then other militants came in and spoke abusively about which one of us they found most beautiful or fun to be with."

Qasim Aata, also rescued from the mountain, said he met a 23-year-old woman in a terrible shape who had asked him to kill her.

"The girl said ‘kill me,’ and when we asked why, she said the militants had raped her and told her to go to the mountain and tell the others what had happened.”



Turkish women post shoe pictures in new anti-sexism protest

14 Aug, 2014

Turkish women took to social networks to post pictures of shoes in a new viral campaign against sexism inspired by a female deputy's incendiary speech in parliament.

Turkish opposition MP Aylin Nazliaka had launched a withering denunciation of gender discrimination in Turkey, during which she became so incensed she threatened to throw one of her high-heeled shoes at her fellow deputies.

"I swear to God, the devil inside me tells me to take off my shoe and throw it at you. But I take a look at my shoe and then I take a look at you and say, 'It's not worth it'," she said in the speech in parliament on Tuesday.

In the Islamic world, throwing a shoe or exposing a shoe sole at an opponent is considered one of the biggest possible insults.

Inspired by the powerful speech, Turkish women were posting pictures of their shoes under the hashtag #geliyorterlik (the slipper is coming).

"My slipper is coming and it can hurt just like a police truncheon," Twitter user @blenderella wrote.

The new campaign comes after Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc caused a furore last month by saying that Turkish women should not laugh in public.

This prompted thousands of Turkish women to post pictures of themselves laughing deliriously, under the hashtag #direnkakhaha (#resistlaughter).

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was elected president on Sunday, has long been accused by critics of seeking to erode the country's secular principles and limiting the civil liberties of women.

Nazliaka's angry outburst came during a heated session in parliament during which she urged lawmakers to immediately discuss a bill that would grant victims of domestic violence residing in women's shelters the right to vote.

She said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was exposing women to violence "due to the policies that you impose on the female body".

She said the AKP wanted to control "what women wear, what women eat, even what colour of lipstick they use."

Domestic violence is a major problem in Turkey, with dozens of women killed by their husbands every year.

Looking in the direction of where the AKP lawmakers are seated in the parliament, she said: "Do not look far away, I am talking about you. You are the ones who encourage those murderers."

Her impassioned speech was unable to win over the AKP lawmakers, who hold a comfortable majority in parliament and turned down her proposal to speed up the passage of the domestic violence bill.



Meet the female peshmerga forces fighting IS

14 Aug, 2014

Kurdish female peshmerga fighters have been active during battles against the Islamic State (IS). According to the female troops’ leaders based in the Sulaimaniyah governorate, Kurdish female fighters have been on the front lines in the battles against IS.

The military participation of women is not something new in the history of Kurds. At first, few women joined the ranks of fighters, while some used to dress up as men. However, when women had been allowed to enroll in the army, they used to provide services outside the battlefield such as medical aid and administrative and communication tasks. Their army work was limited to the support of war efforts, not combat-related duties.

Nevertheless, radical groups such as IS are imposing fundamental rules, especially against women, by calling for the implementation of radical measures such as female genital mutilation, imposition of the niqab and veil, marrying off women against their will and promoting sexual jihad in all areas and regions under the organization’s control. Hence, the female regiment of the Kurdish peshmerga in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq — which was established in 1996 — took the decision to fight against this hard-line group, warding off a possible attack in Kurdish areas.

The peshmerga female regiment consists of four battalions and one commander for every brigade. The ranks include officers and noncommissioned officers, while the highest ranks are held by female colonels, who serve as the regiment commanders.

Al-Monitor met Lt. Col. Lamiah Mohammed Qadir, one of the regiment's leaders, while she was performing her duties on the front lines of the peshmerga in Jalawla, 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Baqubah, the capital of Diyala governorate.

“The peshmerga female fighters are fighting on the front lines along with men against IS in Kirkuk, Daquq, Jalawla, and Khanaqin. In addition to their participation in actual battles, women are providing the peshmerga men with necessary military materials and equipment,” she said.

Qadir added, “So far, there are no victims in our ranks despite being deployed on the front lines. Our sites have not been heavily attacked until now, unlike other military sites where men are fighting. It is not necessary for all ranks to start direct confrontations with IS. However, female fighters stand ready for any sudden attacks, as they have a military background that they acquired in previous battles, including the battle of liberation of Iraq in 2003, and their participation within the two axes of Khanaqin and Kirkuk, in which I took part. This is not to mention the battles they fought against the Ansar al-Sunna group in Halabja in 2002.”

Qadir, who was carrying a sniper rifle, said that the female fighters were not required to have certain education degrees to join the peshmerga ranks. “However, many of the female fighters hold college degrees, or are graduates of institutes or junior high schools, while others graduated from the military academy. We do not have any illiterate fighters among our ranks, as the Educational Directorate of Sulaimaniyah is keen on supervising their education,” she said.

Chelan Shakhwan is a fighter in the peshmerga female regiment, who talked to Al-Monitor about her daily activities. “We have two types of training: the traditional exercises that we do on a daily basis and the seasonal drills. As for daily trainings, our day starts at 6 a.m. with morning exercises for a full hour. We then attend theoretical, political, military, educational and cultural seminars and we perform our military duties. As for the seasonal drills, we start our day at 5 a.m. with theoretical studies on political, military and intelligence topics. We apply the theories in exercises in the courtyard, and we train to use all kinds of light, medium and heavy weapons. We are divided into groups; each group is specialized in one type of weapon such as sniper rifles, automatic firearms, RPGs or others. These exercises take place in military schools or special training locations, which are different from our camps where we operate on a daily basis. Seasonal training is carried out with male fighters.”

“We are now on the battlefield, but I'm married and I have a daughter, whom I left with my parents to fight against extremists. I'm happy to perform my national duty to defend Kurdistan,” Shakhwan said.



Saudi Arab: Salons for Women in Asir Slapped With Penalties

14 August 2014

Asir’s municipality recently confiscated a controversial device at female salons in Abha and has pledged to penalize any establishments found to be in violation of safety standards.

Salwa Al-Qahtani, head of the municipality’s women’s department, said inspectors found several cupping devices, used for suction to firm the skin, while inspecting women’s salons and shops in the area.

She said the shops were also given fines and penalized for extremely poor hygienic standards.

According to Al-Qahtani, this device must only be used under the supervision of a medical experts at specialized clinics and medical centers, but should not be used at salons and female-only shops by technicians without proper experience and training.

“Such activities can lead to the spread of dangerous diseases,” she said. “We have warned these facilities to stop offering specialized services of face penalties.”

Abdul Aziz Al-Qahtani, head of general inspections at the municipality, affirmed that inspection teams are on the lookout for violations regularly and even during holidays.

He called on citizens and residents to immediately report any violations by calling 940.



Woman Scales New Heights for Girls’ Education in Afghanistan

14 August 2014

Mona Tavassoli is looking to raise $6,000 to secure two years of stationery supplies for 12 schools with around 24,000 female students in Afghanistan.

Entrepreneur, mother, campaigner, and now adventurer, Mona Tavassoli has just returned from her latest challenge, scaling the Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of girls’ education projects in Afghanistan.

Working with the Womanity Foundation, Tavassoli who is a postgraduate in International Business from the University of Wollongong, Dubai, is looking to raise $6,000 to secure two years of stationery supplies for 12 schools with around 24,000 female students in Afghanistan.

By supporting the education of the next generation of women, Tavassoli who is also founder and director of Mom Souq and Mompreneurs Middle East, hopes to empower them to shape the future and accelerate progress in their communities.

Driven by her passion to make a difference, Mona set out on a gruelling seven-day trek to scale the Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru peak, the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, at 5,895 metres.

With fewer than 50 per cent of all ascents to the peak being successful, Mona recognised it would be a tall order. UOWD was one of the main sponsors of Tavassoli’s expedition that was carried out under the banner ‘World Peace through Women’s Empowerment’.

Tavassoli said: “Women have a huge influence on their family, community and society. Although most of our leaders are men, a woman raised the majority of them. A woman’s belief system has a direct influence on her children.

“In today’s world, it’s very challenging to change our current leaders’ belief system, but what we can do is invest in the next generation, raise them differently - with love. I am a strong believer that a person who has experienced love and is at peace with himself or herself, cannot harm another being.”  She said: “I knew that the trip would challenge me physically and mentally. I am fascinated by our abilities and how our limiting beliefs stop us in life; human beings are a very powerful species and we sometimes forget about that. Every challenge in my life – planned or not – has made me a stronger person.”

Tavassoli’s training for the adventure involved cold weather acclimatisation at Ski Dubai, rock climbing sessions at Wafi Mall, and trekking practice up and down Jebel Hafeet, alongside regular intensive gym sessions. She even took to the air to overcome her fears with a tandem skydive. Ultimately her hard work paid off as she reached the top of Uhuru peak following a final day’s climb of 16 hours without sleep.

“It was unlike anything I’ve done before”, concluded Tavassoli, who is now focused on continuing her campaign to reach her $6,000 target.

“We have already raised over $4,000 dollars for girls’ education in Afghanistan and every step of my climb was worth it. The campaign will continue until I reach my goal.” To find out more about Tavassoli’s campaign, visit



Indonesia: New Abortion Regulation Stirs Up a Hornet’s Nest

14 Aug, 2014

Jakarta. A new government regulation placing a 40-day restriction for rape victims and women with serious medical conditions to have abortions has sparked criticism, with some experts suggesting that it might as well mean a whole ban on abortion, while others still reject the abortion policy altogether.

Although the 2009 Health Law allows women in Indonesia to get abortions under specific circumstances, a new presidential regulation derived from the law imposes a 40-day restriction on that.

The regulation on reproductive health, which was signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last Friday amid little media attention, stipulates that women who get pregnant as a result of rape and those with serious medical conditions may apply for a legal abortion within 40 days of their last menstrual period.

Experts say the new rule will give rape victims virtually no time to make a clear and informed decision about whether they want to abort the fetus.

“There shouldn’t be this 40-day restriction,” Masruchah, a member of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas HAM, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday. “Rape victims in rural areas, for instance, often never find out that they’re pregnant” until two or three months later.”

Suryono Slamet Iman Santoso, a gynecologist at Jakarta’s Abdi Waluyo Hospital and a former reproductive health lecturer at the University of Indonesia, notes that most women don’t even think about testing for pregnancy until after 40 days from their last period.

“That’s when their expected period is typically about two weeks late. So it’s only after 40 days that you can make a reasonably accurate decision of whether a woman is pregnant or not,” he told the Jakarta Globe. “I believe there shouldn’t be this restriction. It will be hard to implement.”

The new regulation also fleshes out the process for determining what constitutes a life-threatening health condition for the mother or fetus, which is the only other circumstance where a woman may get an abortion, but restricts this too by requiring that the woman obtains approval from her husband.

No such condition is listed in the 2009 Health Law.

Government officials, however, are crowing over what they call a progressive regulation, saying it places women’s health at the fore.

“It takes into consideration every aspect of the health, safety and comfort of the woman, her family and the fetus,” Anung Sugihantono, the health ministry’s director general for maternal and children’s health, said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

“It should also be understood that this regulation does not legalize abortion,” he added.

The government regulation will be shored up with a Health Ministry regulation that details the processes and mechanisms for a legal abortion, Anung said.

Abortion to save lives

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin defended the new regulation by saying that it was already in line with an edict issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) stating that abortions may be performed based on very strong reasons such as medical considerations.

“The government regulation on abortion is in line with the MUI edict because abortion can only be performed on several conditions,” Lukman said.

The minister said abortion was allowed if it was the only way to save the mother’s life or for health reasons — either physical or psychological.

Rape victims usually suffer from either physical or psychological problems he said.

“Both pose problems to the mother’s safety and medical experts, doctors are authorized to decide on that,” he said.

Lukman said the permission to perform an abortion was very strict because it had to be done based on strong medical grounds and the pregnancy should not be more than 40 days.

Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar corroborated Lukman’s views, saying that many underage rape victims suffer endless trauma and are not ready to raise a child.

“We’ve received information from many rape victims that this trauma continued for a very long time, especially when they were minors and not ready to have children.

This means that there is a place for such a government regulation,” Linda said.

Linda also said that aside from strong medical reason, abortions could be performed after the patient went through  counseling and after receiving approval from her husband or family.

“And there are still steps in the health ministerial regulation that need to be taken in order to implement the government regulation,” she said.

Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said the counseling was provided before and after the abortion.


However, some health professionals and children’s activists reject the regulation altogether.

Zaenal Abidin, chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), lashed out at the government for issuing the regulation, saying doctors should not be dragged into performing abortions on patients as it violates the Criminal Code (KUHP) and doctors’ code of ethics.

“Don’t drag us [doctors] in if you want to perform abortions. We don’t want to be jailed because the KUHP is still in place. Old laws from Babylonia and the Hippocratic Oath made by Hippocrates strongly object to abortions,” Zaenal said in his office on Wednesday.

But he agreed that an exception could be applied if the abortion was carried out in a medical emergency in order to save the mother’s life.

He said such exception was also stated in the famous Islamic philosopher Ibnu Sina’s book on medical principles.

“So, we have to refer to the basic principles of medical sciences. If you want to perform an abortion, don’t take us along. Don’t create a dilemma for doctors,” he said.

Zaenal said the government should take into consideration the sociological aspect of the abortion when issuing a regulation.

He said no religions allow abortion and that people engaging in casual sex would take advantage of the regulation.

“Wise people have principles. You will fall into the deepest pit if you loosen the moral ties. So, it’s better not to issue such a regulation because it would pave the way for the emergence of other regulations that would loosen the moral ties,” he said.

Arist Merdeka Sirait of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) also opposed the regulation, saying it was contradictory to the 2002 Law on Child Protection.

“Article 1 of the child protection law states that children are those under 18 years of age and that includes fetuses. This means abortion cannot be justified because it ignores the child’s right to life,” Arist said.

He said abortion is not only violating the law but it is also a form of human rights violation, adding that only God has the right to take lives.

“I totally agree that we have to protect rape victims. But we also have to be careful that it could be contradictory to Article 1 of the Child Protection Law,” he said.

Arist says that normally there are no witnesses in rape cases and therefore it cannot be determined that the woman was a rape victim.

Arist acknowledged that the psychological burden of rape victims was very high and therefore the government should protect them. “The fetus carried by the rape victims should not be killed. The government should protect them. This is the responsibility of the government,” he said.



Gaza teen's tweets tell of everyday survival in a warzone

14 Aug, 2014

A Palestinian teenager has been propelled to newfound fame by live-tweeting events in the Gaza Strip. Farah Baker says she wants to tell the world the truth about the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.

In the midst of a warzone, 16-year-old Farah Baker's weapon is her mobile phone. The teenager, who tweets under the handle @Farah_Gazan has shot to fame with her candid tweets and real-time videos of the current fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Baker says she turned to social media because she wanted to make a difference in an often seemingly futile situation.

"I started tweeting the war because I couldn't stand watching innocent people getting killed, and I can help by showing the world exactly what happens in Gaza," she says.

She says while Western media shows a bias toward Israel, she is also heartened by the sheer amount of coverage they have given to the current unrest in the 360-square-kilometer strip of land.

"I didn't expect the media could care that much about what happens in Gaza. I have been through two previous wars when I was younger, so I didn't expect that they could care this much."

'I could die at any moment'

The teenager began tweeting and blogging in 2012, and since then has amassed more than 193,000 followers on Twitter. Almost 30,000 of these have been in the last three days alone. Baker, who tweets largely in English, says she is astounded by the sudden surge in her popularity, with most of the recognition coming from the international community.

"I knew that I would become famous a little bit but not this much."

"Many people told me that they didn't know that this was happening in Gaza," she says. "So I am happy because I can show them the truth."

In between videos of flares lighting up Gaza's skies and sometimes graphic pictures of the aftermath of a bomb explosion are the more conventional thoughts typical of a 16-year-old. One photo shows the blue-eyed teen smiling into the camera, showing off her newly straightened hair.

But mundane moments such as these can be quickly forgotten, as on the night of July 29 which Baker describes as her most terrifying moment so far.

"They were bombing in my area and the power was cut off so the only light we could see was flares. The only sounds we could hear were ambulances and people shouting, fire engines, bombs and rockets falling. The bombs were so heavy that I thought I could die at any moment," she says.

Her tweet "This is in my area. I can't stop crying. I might die tonight" was retweeted more than 17,000 times around the world.

Hope for peace

With less than eight hours left until an Egypt-brokered temporary ceasefire expires, Baker says she is unsure what will happen next to the place she calls her home. Especially, she says, as she has already heard evidence the fighting has started up again.

"They (Israel) bombed in the early morning. I was sleeping when it suddenly woke me up; it was horrible for me to hear. I was so angry because they broke the ceasefire and told many people that Hamas broke the ceasefire first, but they didn't."

"Israel doesn't want us to live in peace," she says. "(But) I think that if Arab countries and many other countries try to help yes, we might reach a solution, why not?"



Kano’s women abandon hijab to avoid suspicions

14 Aug, 2014

Women in northern  Nigeria’s largest city Kano are abandoning their traditional religious dress after a spate of suicide bombings by young girls with explosives under their hijab.

The commercial city was hit last month by four separate attacks involving teenaged girls in the Muslim dress, leaving at least nine people dead and scores more injured.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, fingers have been pointed at Boko Haram, the Islamist militants blamed for a string of attacks on the city.

But the bombings ( )have cast fear and suspicion on young women wearing the loose clothing, prompting many to dress differently.

“I no longer wear my hijab because people now see any young woman in hijab as a potential suicide bomber because of the recent incidents,” said 17-year old Hajara Musa.

“I now put on my shawl (headscarf) when I go out pending the time the city gets over the trauma of this frightening trend,” the fashion design apprentice told AFP.

Musa said she was recently barred from entering a shopping mall while dressed in a hijab, which covers the hair, neck and upper body, despite agreeing to be frisked.

“I was turned away because of my hijab, which I found very disturbing,” she added.

The hijab is a common sight in conservative Kano, an ancient seat of Islamic learning where it has become a convention of modesty for women leaving their homes or meeting men who are not relatives.

Many women wear the hijab with a traditional cloth wrapper that goes past their knees.



Saudi issues new regulations for sex correction

14 August 2014

The Ministry of Health has issued new regulations for dealing with cases of sex correction in Saudi Arabia, stressing that such cases, of any kind or age, should be reported to the concerned body at the ministry.

Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Mansour Al-Hawasi has issued a directive to the council of medical cities, specialized hospitals and directors of health affairs in all regions and governorates, stressing the importance of establishing a national record for such cases.

The circular stressed that all medical practitioners in the country should be informed of the new regulations.

It said necessary medical and clinical investigations should be conducted before preparing reports on such cases.

Al-Hawasi explained that these reports will be reviewed by three consultants and a medical committee will on the appropriate action.



Fear of female suicide bombers beginning of wisdom

14 August 2014

MIA BLOOM, a professor of security studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and the author of “Bombshell: Women and Terror” and “Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror”, in this piece for Washington Post argues that female suicide bombers are not a new phenomenon

There were four suicide bombing attacks by young women in Kano, Nigeria. Especially worrying is that the reported ages of the suicide bombers are getting younger and younger. A 10-year-old girl strapped with a suicide bomber’s explosives belt and her older sister were taken into police custody. The attacks raise concerns that Boko Haram has doubled its mobilisation base.

These attacks and others led the city of Kano to ban public worship and celebrations of Eid, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Local police have issued warnings about women covered in hijab.

Who are the female suicide bombers in Kano?

Three narratives have emerged about who these young bombers were. A handful of reports originally suggested the women were among the Chibok girls kidnapped April 14 and other women and young girls abducted by Boko Haram over the past year. Another report instead alleges the young women are actually impoverished Kano beggars who have been outlawed by Kwankwaso. But a Nigeria-based security analyst says the suicide bombers are more likely to be the offspring of Boko Haram members.

The truth is we don’t know who these female bombers are, and we likely won’t anytime soon. In contrast to male suicide bombers, few female bombers leave “last will and testament” videos that could provide positive identification. What is clear is that regardless of whether the young women were girls abducted in Chibok or poor women picked up off the streets, Boko Haram has now embraced this tactical innovation quickly and with deadly results.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Nigerian scholars have echoed what I have claimed in my own research on women and terrorism – that female suicide bombers are not a new phenomenon, even in Africa. As early as December 2009, Al Shabaab began to disguise themselves as women in order to effectively carry out suicide-bomber targeted assassinations. Al Shabaab began to pair a male and female operative to give the appearance of a couple on a date. This was particularly effective when the group would attack soft targets like hotels, restaurants or markets.

Women have been involved in terrorism since the 19th century, but religious groups previously eschewed the use of female bombers. The innovation in tactics by these groups introduces new challenges to those defending against terrorism. As scholar Nojeem Shobo of the University of Lagos has said, including women as perpetrators in terrorist attacks brings a “disturbing twist to the fight against insurgency.”

The nature of the organisations that employ female suicide bombers has changed.

Female suicide bombers were active in the 1980s in Lebanon and in the 1990s in Sri Lanka, Turkey and Chechnya. And by the turn of the century, female suicide bombers had spread to conflicts around the globe. What changed was the nature of the organization that employed them. Initially, leftist groups or secular organiSations were more likely to employ a female in suicide attacks. Time and time again, they proved to be deadlier and more effective than men.

Bruce Hoffman illustrated how effective female bombers were in The Atlantic in June 2003:

“A person wearing a bomb is far more dangerous and far more difficult to defend against than a timed device left to explode in a marketplace. This human weapons system can effect last-minute changes based on the ease of approach, the paucity or density of people, and the security measures in evidence…In April of last year a female suicide bomber tried to enter the Mahane Yehuda open-air market—the fourth woman to make such an attempt in four months—but was deterred by a strong police presence. So she simply walked up to a bus stop packed with shoppers hurrying home before the Sabbath and detonated her explosives, killing six and wounding seventy-three.”

Most Islamist groups (besides the Chechens) were slow to adopt the strategy of female bombers either because they assumed they had more than enough men for the job or because the social limitations of women traveling without a chaperon (Mahram) required additional considerations and planning for female bombers. Some feminist scholars (e.g., Andrea Dworkin) assumed this reticence might also be a function of wanting to limit women’s roles in political violence lest this influence women’s power in a patriarchal society and politics as a whole.

The Islamic groups had an infinite ability for adaptation and doctrinal flexibility. Starting in 2004 with the release of a Web-based magazine called al Khansa’a, the evolution of religious ideology on female suicide bombers changed from advising women what to do while their men were on Jihad to telling women they, too, could be Jihadis and even be suicide bombers.

Why have Islamic groups recently taken so enthusiastically to including female suicide bombers?

I highlight four primary changes.

First, there has been an ideological shift. Debates emerged on-line and fatwas were issued stating that women’s obligation for Jihad is equal to that of men. This was largely led by Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric living in Qatar who has legitimized the use of women as suicide bombers.

Second, Al Qaeda’s structure changed. As the central core of Al Qaeda gave way to a host of regional affiliates, those affiliates were more inclined to involve women in front-line violent activities. While al Qaeda’s leaders swore that there were no women in the organization, Al Qaeda in Iraq, al Shabaab, Chechen militant groups in Chechnya and Dagestan, and groups in Pakistan and Uzbekistan and others began using female bombers as early as 2005. It’s only recently that female bombers have emerged among the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, relatively late adopters compared to the affiliated groups killing Western contractors or people in line for food aid.

Third, there were changes in targeting. Women are ideal operatives when attacking soft targets and blending in with civilians. As terrorist organizations have shifted from attacking military targets (hard targets) to civilian targets (soft targets), women have been especially useful. When an improvised explosive device is strapped around a woman’s midsection, it gives the impression that she is pregnant, throwing off security forces who don’t expect a woman — let alone one who is pregnant — to be carrying a bomb. As a result of the existing stereotypes we have of the inherent peacefulness of women, they are less likely to be searched at checkpoints and if the security services are too invasive (and reports of sexual violations at checkpoints is common in many of these conflicts), then invasive searching of women in traditional settings only helps the terrorist organisations recruit more men who are outraged that women are being abused. Mobilising men to protect the honor of women is hardly a new tactic and was extremely effective in the 1960s and 1970s for the provisional IRA who used the strip-searching of Republican women in Belfast by the RUC to motivate men to join the movement.

Finally, including women offered a new mobilisation strategy – not just of women, but also of men. Women serve a unique purpose in helping mobilise men into terrorist organisations. It is a powerful narrative when women (especially online) accuse men of being unmanly unless they step up and join the Jihad to protect their sisters in Islam. In addition to tapping 50 percent of the population, recruiting women is an effective strategy of goading men into participation. This also explains the effectiveness of women online as propagandists, fundraisers and recruiters for terrorist groups.

When are female suicide bombers used most often?

That said, my research suggests that terrorist groups tend to gravitate toward female operatives not when they are at their strongest but when they are at their weakest. Terrorist groups include women either because they are having a difficult time accessing hard targets — which are more valuable in the long term for their struggle — or because men are not signing up unless they are guilted into it. The fact that Boko Haram is using women may be an indication of their weakness more than their strength.