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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 20 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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128 Saudi Women Obtain Khula Divorces in 10 Months

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Aug 2015

PKK militant, Kevser Elturk. (Photo courtesy: social media)


 Picture of Naked, Bloodied ‘PKK Female Militant’ Sparks Online Rage

 Pakistani-American Girl Elected President of Pro-Israel Group

 Women Make Up Less Than 1% of Pakistan's Police Force: Report

 16 Marriage Officiants in Saudi Arab Punished In 3 Months

 The Crucial Role of Women within Islamic State

 Al-Ahsa Charity Helps Out Saudi Women Convicted Of Sex Crimes

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




128 Saudi Women Obtain Khula Divorces in 10 Months

August 19, 2015

RIYADH — At least 128 women divorced their husbands through Khula in various parts of the Kingdom since the beginning of the current Hijra year (Oct. 25), the Dammam-based Alsharq newspaper reported on Wednesday, quoting a statistical report issued by the Justice Ministry.

In Islamic law, Khula allows women to divorce their husbands without their consent after returning the dowry and relinquishing any claims for alimony.

According to the report, 31 Khula cases took place in Abu Areesh town in Jazan, representing 39.68 percent of the total.

Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province came second with 18 cases and Buraidah third with 10 cases.

The report said there were five Khula cases in Al-Khobar and four in Qunfudah.



Picture of naked, bloodied ‘PKK female militant’ sparks online rage

19 August 2015

A leaked picture purporting to show a female militant from the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) bloodied and lying dead naked on ground in Turkey has sparked online furor.

Turkish media reported that Kevser Elturk, also “Ekin Van” was a “PKK terrorist” who was killed on Aug. 10, during a gun battle with Turkish forces in a rural area of the Varto district – Gimgim, Today’s Zaman reported.

In reaction to the photo, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Pervin Buldan wrote on her Twitter account that “stripping the body of woman naked after killing her is a disgrace to humanity.”

HDP parliamentary group chairman Idris Baluken also likened those “who stripped the dead body of a female terrorist” as not being “different” from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “gangs who have been waging a war against the dignity of humanity.”

Turkish authorities said a probe has been launched after the picture was circulated on social media.



Pakistani-American Girl Elected President Of Pro-Israel Group

By Web DeskPublished: August 20, 2015

A Pakistani-American girl was elected as president of  the national student board of a pro-Israel group, J Street U.

Amna Farooqi, a senior at the University of Maryland, was elected as president this week at the group’s ‘Summer Leadership Institute’ in Washington, where approximately 120 J Street U student leaders attended the four-day gathering.

J Street U boasts a total of 4,000 active participants on 75 college campuses in the United States.

Farooqi, a local of suburban Washington, DC, grew up in a ‘fairly religious Muslim home’ with ‘a lot of Jewish friends’.

Speaking at the J Street conference last March, Farooqi said, “Growing up in a household sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, the Palestine-Israel conflict was always the elephant in the room. This conflict evoked a level of anger and emotion in me, and I needed to learn more. Everything I was learning about the conflict made me not want to be pro-Israel. … As someone who wanted to contribute to ending this conflict I knew I needed to understand all sides.”

Farooqi said she “fell in love with Zionism” while taking a course about Israel in college, “because Zionism became about taking ownership over the story of one’s people. If Zionism is about owning your future, how can I not respect that?”

In order to understand the Israeli people and their viewpoint, Farooqi spent a semester at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School. She wanted to “meet people on the ground and understand the Israeli narrative from their perspective, and to put faces to things and see some of these issues up close”.

She revealed that her extended family has been “confused but supportive” about Farooqi’s pro-Israel activism. This summer she lived in Jerusalem as a J Street U intern, co-leading day trips, including a visit to Hebron, for American university students.



Women Make Up Less Than 1% Of Pakistan's Police Force: Report

By Ismail SheikhPublished: August 20, 2015

Despite the fact that women makes up of almost half of the country’s population, their representation in Pakistan’s police force is appalling.

Women make up less than 1% of the total police force, even though a quota of 10% is reserved for them, according to a recent report.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)’s report titled Rough Roads to Equality: Women Police in South Asia August, 2015, the number of female police officers in the country is just over 4,000 or 0.94% of the total police force of over 425,000.

The situation in Balochistan is the worst, with only103 female officers out of a total strength of 32,937 — less than one third of a per cent.

The situation in other provinces and departments are hardly better. In Punjab and Sindh, the number of female officers is 1,798 of a total of 149,719 (1.2%) and 902 of a total of 147,782 (0.61%), respectively. In K-P, the number of serving female police officers is just 438.

However, the situation is slightly better in Islamabad and Gilgit-Baltistan but not satisfactory. The percentage of female officers’ enrolment in the police force in the federal capital and G-B is 1.55% and 3.01%, respectively.

Of all the provincial and federal police departments, only the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is almost implementing the government’s order of reserving 10% seats for women, with 150 female officers, approximately 9.68% of the total force.

Further, women on higher posts in police is also a scarcity, with only one serving as female senior superintendent of police, 19 superintendents of police and three assistant superintendents.

Factors behind low enrolment of women

According to the report, the garishly low number of women officers in the country can be attributed to the overall patriarchal mentality of society and the disconnect between a stated desire to have more women involved in policing and the ground situation.

Citing the “Women Police as Change Agents” report published in 2013, CHRI said while an overwhelming majority of male police officers believe women should join the police force and also recognised that there is need to increase the number of women in the police. However, only 46% of them said they would encourage a female member of their family to join the service. Although the majority (approximately 75%) of the respondents did not declare an unwillingness to work alongside or even under women officers, a significant 25% of those surveyed expressed reservations.

Harassment at the workplace is another reason behind the low enrolment rate of women in the police force.

During the surveys conducted in 2013, out of the 17% of respondents who spoke about harassment at the workplace, only about half of them had the courage to complain.

Only 29% of the complaints lodged were addressed by the authority.

While some who chose not to lodge a complaint feared reprisals, others feared non-cooperation by superiors.

The report further stated that despite the promulgation of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010, some victims claimed that there was no mechanism in place to register a complaint.

While the overall security situation of the country has had an impact on the deployment of women to certain postings, the report also found that some women officers prefer desk jobs over field postings.

The report further claimed that only 42% of those surveyed were of the opinion that women should perform duties in remote areas, while 63% thought women should not be assigned duties in violence-prone areas.

The survey showed some conflicting views on the deployment and allocation of duties to women police officers, with 72% of respondents saying female police officers should be placed alongside their male counterparts. However, in response to a separate question, “45% believed that women police officers should be assigned cases and crimes specific to women and should handle only women offenders”.

It was also revealed during research that policewomen below an officer’s rank were not issued weapons, while men of the same rank were.

There have, however, been some positive developments lately. In April 2014, Syeda Ghazala was appointed as the first female Station House Officer (SHO) in Sindh. She was appointed SHO of the Clifton neighbourhood. Despite her 10 year-experience of serving at a women’s police station, Ghazala said after joining a mainstream police station, she realised she was very inexperienced in basic policing duties like responding to rescue calls and securing a crime scene. She was able to build these skills only by working in the mainstream police station.



16 Marriage Officiants in Saudi Arab Punished In 3 Months

20 August 2015

RIYADH: Ministry of Justice punished 16 marriage Officiants over the past three months for violation of rules, with suspension of licenses of 14 of them, local media reported on Wednesday.

According to the ministry, violations included issuing a marriage contract between a foreigner to a Saudi woman using an unofficial form, issuing a marriage contract without obtaining sponsorship from the father and with no clarification as to why the sponsorship went to someone else, failure to maintain records and making corrections on forms without providing necessary marriage information.

The ministry emphasized the need for marriage Officiants to abide by its instructions, which are issued to the General Administration of Marriage Officiants in the Kingdom.

While the number of certified legal Officiants in the Kingdom has reached 6,130, a report issued by the General Administration of Marriage Officiants reveals that they have issued licenses to 69 between the months of Rajab and Ramadan 1436 AH, and renewed 245 licenses.

The number of marriage Officiants in the Kingdom is steadily increasing, according to the general administration. The ministry is keen on issuing and renewing licenses of applicants in order to facilitate the certification of marriage contracts.

Applications are reviewed by specialized committees which puts forward its recommendations for approval.

Citizens looking to obtain a marriage contract can search for Officiants on the Ministry of Justice’s website by including their city and neighborhood. The names and mobile numbers of Officiants will then be made available.

As for the requirements for Officiants to obtain a license, the applicant must have a university degree in Shariah, must have good moral behavior, must provide two recommendations from well-known or high ranking Officiants in Sharia, and must be at least 25 years of age.



The crucial role of women within Islamic State

By Frank Gardner

20 August 2015

Whitehall Officiants have told the BBC that contrary to recent announcements, the number of Britons emigrating to Syria to live under Islamic State (IS) rule peaked two years ago. However, the proportion of women among those joining the extremist group has risen dramatically. So what's behind this and what exactly is the IS strategy behind luring women into their ranks? Our Security Correspondent Frank Gardner investigates.

Islamic State, also known as Isis, has a dual attitude to women.

On the one hand it treats those it considers heretics as almost sub-human, as commodities to be traded and given away as rewards to jihadist fighters.

Shocking footage from a modern-day sex-slave market in Mosul, Iraq, shows militants discussing prices for Yazidi girls, captured last year, many of them underage.

At least 2,000 Yazidi women are still being held, only a few have escaped.

'Corner stones'

"They put us up for sale," said one who did recently escape. "Many groups of fighters came to buy. Whatever we did, crying, begging, made no difference."

Undated family handout photo of Aqsa Mahmood

Aqsa Mahmood left Glasgow in 2013 to marry an IS fighter in Syria

But on the other hand, IS has big plans for Muslim women who migrate to their territory to play a key role in building the so-called caliphate.

"They want women to join them," says Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King's College London.

"They see women as the corner stones of the new state and they want citizens.

"What is really interesting is that people talk of IS as being a death cult, but that is the opposite of what they are trying to create... they want to create a new state... and they very much want women to join that as part of this utopian politics."

That utopia includes a treatise published in Arabic in February, setting out a code of conduct that harks back 1,400 years.

It is aimed primarily at Arab women in the Gulf states and the wider Middle East and includes passages that are incomprehensible to most people in the West:

"It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine. Most pure girls will be married by 16 or 17, while they are still young and active," the treatise says.

Putting down roots

Isis fighters rally in Raqqa

In June 2014, Isis fighters celebrated their declaration of a caliphate with a rally in Raqqa

A former al-Qaeda member with a deep insight into the jihadist mindset is Aimen Deen. He believes the IS approach to women is very different from that of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

'Unlike al-Qaeda, Isis is looking to establish a permanent society with roots. They are bringing families from the entire Muslim world, not just from Europe and the US but from Central Asia... providing families for the Islamic State."

Online recruitment messages are pumped out continually, in different languages, telling Muslims to abandon their safe but conflicted lives in the West and come to the caliphate.

Ignored by the vast majority, there are nevertheless a growing number of women heeding the call.

Some are like the British girls from Bethnal Green in east London, who wanted to be jihadist brides, marrying a fighter who will give them status.

"There is a romantic element here," continues Aimen Deen, who warns that it can often end in tragedy.

"The life expectation of a jihadist is a month or two. So what will happen is that a woman will marry someone, he will die and for four months and 10 days she will be in mourning.

"If she is pregnant then maybe longer, and then she will marry someone else and then there will be another martyred husband, another four months in mourning and she will go through this process again.

"That is not a happy life, that is a miserable one."

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum flew via Turkey to Syria in February

Social media role

But unlike the Taliban or al-Qaeda, IS have allowed many of their western female recruits a prominent public role on social media.

Perhaps the best known is the 20-year-old Glaswegian runaway, Aqsa Mahmoud, who calls herself "Umm Laith".

She has become famous for dispensing advice to women thinking of abandoning their families in Britain, from the mundane to the philosophical.

Mah-Rukh Ali, a Norwegian researcher at Oxford University who specialises in women and propaganda in IS, believes it is a deliberate strategy to give women a prominent role online.

"Isis uses women much more actively than we ever saw the Taliban or al-Qaeda using them," she says.

"There are about 100,000 pro-Isis tweets every day and many of these tweets appear to come from women who have joined Isis from western societies."

Researchers say that many of those women who make it across the Turkish border into IS-controlled territory end up frustrated by the roles they are assigned.

Unmarried women are kept in a safe house, usually with others who speak their language and given religious indoctrination and Arabic classes while a husband is found for them as quickly as possible.

Any thoughts of taking part in battles and wielding a Kalashnikov on the frontline are soon dashed. But some join the Khansaa Brigades, a women-only vigilante force that patrols cities like Raqqa and Mosul enforcing strict Islamist rules.

"They've been known to carry out harsh punishments like beatings and whipping someone for not wearing the right clothing," says Dr Katherine Brown.

They have also been known to put animal trap clamps on a women's breasts because they have been breastfeeding in public, she says.

But beyond the cruelty and the shocking practices that have propelled IS to international infamy, the uncomfortable fact is that their so-called caliphate is not going away.

I asked Aimen Deen, the former jihadist, if IS now sees women as essential to the group's chances of survival.

"Indeed, there is no question about it. They are half of the society. They are playing an important role in many departments: the medical department, the educational department and even the tax collection department, so they are essential for the survival of Islamic State."



Al-Ahsa Charity Helps Out Saudi Women Convicted Of Sex Crimes

August 20, 2015

AL-AHSA — Experts are advising women who had had sex before marriage to seek professional help to get a clean slate and move on, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.

Director of Al-Ahsa Women and Girls Care Association Samirah Al-Sultan said women who are convicted of adultery or premarital sex are in a very fragile state.

“We often see families rejecting women completely, without sympathy or asking themselves about the circumstance that forced them,” Al-Sultan said. “Perhaps she was under a lot of pressure, or was suffering emotionally.”

The association acts as a care home of sorts, where women are taken in and cared for immediately after they are released.

“We offer them a rehabilitation program, which helps their integration back into society,” Al-Sultan said. “They have the right to have a stable future and feel safe and are worthy of leading a happy life. Just because a woman had made one mistake at a tender age, no one has the right to condemn her forever.”

According to Al-Sultan, those who wish to get married should contact the Ministry of Social Affairs, as they are more likely to have a successful marriage that way.

“It is a shame to see marriages end in divorces and children are tossed in the middle because of a mistake a woman had made in the past,” she said. “Without the support of the family, a marriage can break apart. Our association keeps close contact with women who married through us.”

The association makes frequent house calls to make sure things are going well and offer support whenever needed.

“We even interfere in marital conflicts and disputes to settle things down," Al-Sultan said.

“Many parents refuse to have their daughters marry through the association even though they do not have a legitimate reason to decline our services.

“We ensure that the men have no medical or legal problems that they have not disclosed, and we ensure transparency in all matters.”

Huda Al-Abdulaziz is a social worker with the association. She said the biggest obstacle they face is contacting parents and gaining their cooperation.

“It is a very important step to achieve because without it, the woman’s recovery and rehabilitation is hindered,” Al-Abdulaziz said.

According to her, many members of Saudi society refuse to admit they have psychological conditions.

“They believe that society will look down on them and will consider them incurably crazy,” she said. “They also think if they seek therapy and medicine they would become addicted to it and will seep into more and more problems.”

The association’s public relations director, Amal Al-Muslim, said Al-Ahsa is also seeking to work with other organizations that provide similar services.

“We need to raise awareness in our society about such cases,” Al-Muslim said. “People need to be more accepting of girls who have made mistakes in the past. We have several partnerships and we work closely with the Ministry of Social Affairs to offer workshops and sessions educating the general public about our role in society.”