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

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16-Year-Old Malaysian Schoolgirl Keeps Dead Newborn in Bag for 17 Hours

New Age Islam News Bureau

7 Jul 2012 

 16-Year-Old Malaysian Schoolgirl Keeps Dead Newborn in Bag for 17 Hours

 'Cover Up', UAE Women Tell Foreigners

 United States-Based Businesswoman Linked To Defence Payoffs Scandal, CBI Told

 Libya’s New Women Politicians Seize Chance in Election

 Bahrain Reports 200 Breast Cancer Cases

 Thousands More Job Opportunities for Women in Saudi Arabia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

16-Year-Old Malaysian Schoolgirl Keeps Dead Newborn in Bag




16-Year-Old Malaysian Schoolgirl Keeps Dead Newborn in Bag for 17 Hours

 July 06, 2012

In an appalling incident, a 16-year-old Malaysian schoolgirl kept a classmate's schoolbag for 17 hours without realising that there was a dead newborn inside.

The classmate was handed the bag by the girl shortly after giving birth to the baby girl in the school.

Doctors in Kuala Terengganu found out about the birth when the girl sought medical treatment complaining of abdominal pains, leading to her confession that she had put the dead infant in a school bag and given it to her friend.

"They found the dead baby girl in the bag. The friend was traumatised when she learned that she had been carrying around a bag containing a dead baby," ACP Manoharan told reporters, adding that the post-mortem showed the baby was successfully delivered, but suffered bruises on the head and had water in the lungs which led to her death.

Malaysia has seen an increase in the number of baby dumping cases recently. After dropping from 102 cases in 2008 to 79 in 2009, the figure of baby dumping increased to 91 in 2010 and to 98 in 2011.

This year, so far 31 cases have been reported, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry deputy secretary-general Harjeet Singh said here.

Concerned at the increase in such cases, he said that the rise in numbers could be due to more reports being made and society becoming aware of the scourge.

Feedback from counselling sessions and case studies at several shelter homes for those aged under 18 listed peer pressure and lack of knowledge about reproductive health as the two most important factors that led to unwanted pregnancies, he said.

"The desire to fit in influenced many teenagers into adopting the lifestyle of their peers," he said after launching a "Say No to Baby Dumping" seminar here.

Singh said that teenagers mixed freely with little parental supervision these days.

He added that soon all government hospitals may be able to function as "hatches" for unwanted babies once a standard operating procedure was put in place.

Of the 31 cases of baby-dumping so far this year, 10 babies have survived while 19 died.

"The status of the remaining two babies has yet to be confirmed by the hospitals," Singh said.



'Cover Up', UAE Women Tell Foreigners

5 July 2012

It was a Saturday afternoon and I was meeting a friend for coffee in one of Dubai's extravagant shopping malls.

I put on a flowery dress which went to just below the knee and I grabbed a cardigan to cover my shoulders and wrap up warmly - mindful that the air-conditioning in shopping malls here is on full-blast to compensate for temperatures that reach the low fifties in the summer.

I browsed through a few shops while waiting for my friend and it wasn't long before I noticed a lady staring at me.

Dressed in the traditional black cloak, or abaya, she was veiled and her face was covered with a niqab. All I could see were her eyes - and they were firmly pinned on me.

I'd only just moved to Dubai and it had - until this point - seemed pretty relaxed. People sunbathed on the beach; for a foreigner, having a drink in a bar seemed OK too. But as I was being stared at, I was beginning to feel regret.

Why did I come out wearing a dress? I've got it so wrong, I should have worn trousers. The woman kept staring. Finally she turned to her husband. They were now both staring at me and it was getting awkward.

A few words were exchanged between the couple and then a whisper. "Where did you get that dress?" she said. And then a big thumbs up. "It's great, I love it."


While I was given the seal of approval, not every foreigner here is getting it right. In recent weeks, rumours have circulated of men in skimpy swimming trunks walking down the street; of women doing their grocery shopping wearing bikinis.

Fed up with what's seen as a lack of respect for the local culture, two young Emirati women started a twitter campaign called #UAEDressCode, urging foreigners to cover up in public places.

And hundreds of people have weighed in - with one tweet suggesting setting up a police department where you could complain about inappropriate clothing. "An extra few inches of cloth won't kill you," said another.

Twenty-three-year-old Asma started the campaign with a friend. Greeting me, and wearing a low-cut tunic and leggings in the privacy of her own home, she told me why she got involved.

"The way some people dress here is offensive to our beliefs," she told me. "Malls are public places and there are families and children." A sundress, she says, is good for a beach, but not for shopping.

All the malls here have notices at the entrances asking shoppers to cover their shoulders and knees but Asma says that is not enough. She wants a law to be introduced to ensure the dress code is adhered to.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, the saying goes.

But in Rome, the Romans are the majority - here in the UAE, Emiratis make up less than 20% of the population's estimated 8 million people.

So the government here has a difficult balance to strike, ensuring the local population is looked after while not putting off tourism and trade with too many rules and regulations either.

Regional unrest

And there is another issue at play - politics. Although the UAE has been largely insulated from regional unrest, helped by a generous welfare system for its people, the government is very aware of what is happening elsewhere.

Ahmed Mansoor is a blogger and pro-democracy activist whose views led to him spending some time in prison last year for criticising the authorities.

He thinks that while the dress code campaign probably has no political dimension, the government wouldn't want to bring in a law on clothing - because it might send a message to conservative Islamists that their views were being given too much weight.

But these are testing times in the region and the government here has a difficult line to tread.

Islamism is gaining popularity in other parts of the Middle East - so perhaps it's significant that respecting Islamic values is becoming quite a talking point here as well.



United States-Based Businesswoman Linked To Defence Payoffs Scandal, CBI Told


July 07, 2012

Jailed Abhishek Verma obtained visas for fashion consultant on false pretences, alleges former business associate

Zohal Hamid, a United States-based businesswoman who hit the headlines after she accused Australian cricketer Luke Pomersbach of assault in May, may have facilitated the operations of a firm linked to a 2011 defence payoffs scandal, documents sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation say.

C. Edmonds Allen, a New York-based lawyer and businessman whose complaints form part of the evidence which led the CBI to arrest New Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma and his Romanian-born wife Anca Neacsu last month, says Ms. Hamid was hired to escort influential retired Indian defence officials to an arms fair in Las Vegas.

The CBI alleges that Mr. Verma received $5, 30,000 from a Zurich-based equipment supplier Rheinmetall Air Defence to bribe civil servants, to prevent the firm from being blacklisted. It is also investigating allegations that he parked several million dollars more in an escrow account controlled by Mr. Allen.

In a statement sent to the CBI, Mr. Allen alleged that Mr. Verma instructed him to obtain a multiple-entry Indian visa for Ms. Hamid, representing her as a fashion consultant employed by their firm, Ganton. “In the past three years, there have been several other women for whom I was requested to write letters of recommendation to the Indian Consulate for them to visit India for short-term employment. No proof of services was ever given to me or records of payments. Their photographs have been found on dubious websites not in keeping with the services for which recommendations were written,” Mr Allen alleges in a dossier complete with supporting photographs.

“My several requests to Abhishek Verma and Anca Neacsu about this lady’s remunerations and role in the company met with studied silence and winks, but Abhishek Verma once mentioned she was in India to do liaison work on his and Anca Neacsu’s behalf. He also informed me that Ms. Hamid will also be undertaking work for sales of small arms on behalf of the company.”

The Hindu made repeated efforts to contact Ms. Hamid on a cellphone she had used in May, but it was switched off. Her lawyer said he did not have current contact details. Mr. Verma, for his part, has moved a Delhi court saying e-mail produced by Mr. Allen was forgery.

Mr. Allen told The Hindu he had sent the CBI a detailed statement, and that investigators had been in touch. He, however, declined further comment on their conversation.

A CBI spokesperson confirmed that the agency had received a statement from Mr. Allen on Ms. Hamid, but said she was not immediately being investigated. However, “this does not mean the investigation will not turn in that direction at a later stage.”

Earlier this summer, Ms. Hamid accused Pomersbach of having outraged her modesty and physically assaulted her fiancé. The two sides, however, later settled the case out of court.



Libya’s New Women Politicians Seize Chance in Election

July 07, 2012

Coming less than a year after an uprising ended four decades of autocratic rule by Muammar Gaddafi, the vote will be the North African state’s first nationwide exercise in democracy in 60 years

Majdah al-Fallah flashes a broad smile and pumps the hands of shoppers in downtown Tripoli as she works potential voters on the campaign trail ahead of Libya’s landmark national assembly elections on Saturday.

A doctor by trade who lived in Ireland for years, Fallah is running for the Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood which is tipped to do well. But her small team of election helpers often find the going tough. “Sometimes when I give out the flyer some people reject it or take it and then rip it up in front of me because there are women on it,” said Huthaifa al-Harram, a 20-year-old male backer of Fallah and another female candidate on the same ticket. “People say, ‘I don’t think women should play a role in the government - they don’t know what to do’,” Harram added. Coming less than a year after an uprising ended four decades of autocratic rule by Muammar Gaddafi, the vote will be the North African state’s first nationwide exercise in democracy in 60 years.

The election will determine the make-up of a national assembly that will in turn appoint a prime minister and cabinet ahead of full general elections under a newly drafted constitution to be staged next year. Yet while election rules mean that Fallah and other female candidates have guaranteed places on party lists, a strong current of social and religious conservatism means their role in politics is still questioned by many Libyans.

In both Tripoli and Benghazi, the second city that was the launchpad of the uprising, the faces of female candidates on dozens of posters have even been slashed or spray-painted out.

Gaddafi’s famed appearances at foreign summits flanked by female bodyguards may have projected an image of empowered women as pillars of his rule. But in reality women have a fragile place in a Libyan society that is resolutely patriarchal. “The women I work with tell me they wouldn’t vote for a woman, that a man will lead better,” said Fatima Gleidan, a 47-year-old woman and teacher who came to hear Fallah campaign. Attitudes like that suggest Libya may emulate other “Arab Spring” countries, where women who marched side-by-side with men to oust entrenched dictators have since been sidelined.

In Egypt, the percentage of female parliamentarians even fell from 12 percent before the overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak to two percent after the last parliamentary elections, a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found. In Tunisia, the picture for women is more mixed. Quotas mean that 30 percent of assembly members are female, but local rights groups complain that women ended up with less than a handful of posts in a transitional cabinet of over 40 ministers. The Inter-Parliamentary Union report estimates that women make up just 10.7 percent of all parliamentarians in the Arab region as a whole last year - making it the only region in the world where female representation was less than 30 percent. But Fallah the Libyan candidate is undeterred and says the requirement for parties to alternate the genders on their election lists will allow women to get a crucial first foot in the door of local politics. “Certainly there will be women added to lists just to meet the criteria. But there are those of us who are running because we believe in the work and it will fall on our shoulders to prove we can do politics,” she said.

Yet the question remains whether Libya’s new crop of female politicians will substantially change women’s lives. In Tunisia, many of the female parliamentarians were on religious group tickets and so did not prioritise reforms sought by women’s groups. “We really need an overhaul of our rights especially in issues of divorce, child custody and inheritance,” Amani Benzeitoun, a shopper in Tripoli’s Girgaresh neighbourhood, said of areas in which many women say they face discrimination. Others say the sheer novelty of democracy in Libya - where elections and political parties were deemed bourgeois by Gaddafi - means at least that women will be entering the political fray with no less experience than their equally novice male rivals. “Politics is a new field for men and women in Libya,” said Lamia Busidra, 38, a leading candidate for the al-Wattan party in Benghazi. “The qualifications are there, women can do it, they just need the confidence in themselves to do it.”\07\07\story_7-7-2012_pg4_9



Bahrain Reports 200 Breast Cancer Cases

5 July 2012

Two hundred new breast cancer cases were reported in Bahrain last year out of a total 550 cancer cases.

According to the Ministry of Health’s statistics, a 28-year-old Bahraini female was the youngest woman to be diagnosed with breast cancer. The statistics also revealed that lung cancer was the most common ailment followed by breast and colon cancer. A recent study revealed that the lifespan of a Bahraini female reduces by 20 years after getting breast cancer.

To reduce breast cancer cases or ensure treatment of the aliment in its early stages, the Think Pink Bahrain has been campaigning to promote annual screening among women who are 40-year-old or older.



Thousands More Job Opportunities for Women in Saudi Arabia

 7 July 2012

Bab Rizq Jameel (BRJ), an initiative of ALJ Community Initiatives, created 30,444 job opportunities during the first half of the year, an increase of 22 percent compared to the same period last year.

Job opportunities created for women accounted for 74 percent.

Hassan Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, BRJ president in Saudi Arabia, announced BRJ has achieved positive results through its diversified programs.

Jameel stated the program is cooperating with several government authorities including the Ministry of Labor. It is cooperating in Taqat and Hafiz programs and the programs set up by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) and other public and private sector organizations such as the National Commercial Bank (NCB).

Jameel added: "We truly appreciate the unlimited support that we get from them in the area of job creation."

Abdulrahman Al Fihaid, BRJ Saudi Arabia executive director, said the productive household program created 15,705 jobs during the first half of the current year, which represents 52 percent of total job opportunities created during this period.

Full report at: