New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Syrian brides not for sale (Photo: AP)
• No Cover-Up: Burqa Businesses Go Bust in Afghanistan
• Malawi Muslim Women Fighting AIDS through the Qur’an
• Woman Injured In Acid Attack in Balochistan
• Wife of a Terror Convict in UK 'Thought Jihad Was Excuse'
• In Iran a German Lady Converts to Islam
• Syrian Brides Not For Sale: The Story of a Rumour
• Egypt's Women Council Slams Shura MPs over UN Criticism
• Sharia Courts Putting Women at Risk, Crown Prosecution Service Warns
'• Pulling Nails Out Of a Little Girl's Flesh Is Just Awful': Horror of Boston Bombings
• Cycling Past an Afghan Taboo
• Inaugural Meeting of Conservative Women’s Group in Libya
• Women Victimized By Yemeni ‘Exchange Marriages’
Primetime TV Is Right Place to Highlight Dangers of Female Genital Mutilation
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
A Case of Honour Killing In District Administration Office Complex, Etawah, UP
Proof of Residence an Essential Mantra For Marriage
By Asif Iqbal
16 April, 2013
Etawah, in Uttar Pradesh witnessed a case of honour killing in the complex of the District Administration Office. The news was covered exclusively by the news channel viz. India TV on 24th Feb 2013. According to the girl named Kirti, she went with Adnan for filing the papers of solemnization of their marriage under Special Marriage Act. Adnan was shot and killed by two motorcyclists who escaped. I would like to highlight the statement of Kirti, “the Marriage Officer rejected our form for intended marriage for 3 consecutive times” and according to her, he said, “you are doing a wrong thing, I will never let it happen”. After listening to the news, I felt not much have changed in the state like Uttar Pradesh since decades. The above statement gave me reason to recollect the statement of SDM, NOIDA during my efforts for solemnization of my marriage in the year 1999. He shared candidly, “You are doing a nice thing but, I can’t do it from my jurisdiction as it might lead to law and order problem”.
The incident of honour killing in Etawah has highlighted again the role and importance of the Special Marriage Act for couples particularly with different religious background. It has also questioned the role of electronic media which is usually limited to breaking sensational news. India TV showed this particular news in the morning and later covered the complexity of inter-religious marriage for at least half a day by interviewing a few couples and individuals. I contacted the channel on behalf of DHANAK through phone and emails on 4-5 times to getting the contact details of Kirti. The objective was to make a representation against the concerned Marriage Officer of Etawah who played a malicious role in the case of Kirti and Adnan. I was informed that the news team will take a decision about sharing the contact details. Surprisingly, the team didn’t even care to respond to my several requests through emails.
Now let me share the importance and challenges in implementation of the Special Marriage Act – 1954. The Act is the only possible option for a-religious form of marriage but, at the same time it also acts as a major threat to the life and liberty of the marrying couples due to its poor and shoddy implementation. Section 5 of Special Marriage Act – 1954 states that “when a marriage is intended to be solemnized under this Act, the parties to the marriage shall give notice thereof in writing in the form specified in the Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer of the district in which at least one of the parties of the marriage has resided for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which such notice is given.” The above mentioned Section talks about the address proof of only one of the marrying couple. But, almost all the Marriage Officers push the marrying couple to submit their respective address proofs. The marriage solemnization is denied where only one of the couple has the address proof. In most of the small towns the Marriage Officers take extra interest in confirming the address proof by ordering a police inquiry. Let me share few examples to substantiate my point.
Shri. Umesh Narian Pandey, Marriage Officer of Jhansi was approached by Sunaina and Tariq (names changed). They filed their form for Intended Marriage with the help of an advocate and with the consent of their parents from Jhansi in the month of May 2012. The SDM sent a police enquiry, locally known as LIU (Local Intelligence Unit) to confirm their residence proofs. The police inquiry at their respective houses found that Sunaina and Tariq are working and staying in Delhi. The police officials who did the enquiry discouraged both the parents for the marriage of their daughter/son with a person from different faith. They convinced Tariq’s parents to sign a declaration stating they have no contacts with their son after he went to Delhi for his job. The enquiring police official convinced them that the declaration will protect them from a legal action in case of a possible complaint by Sunaina’s parents of her abduction after the marriage.
Based on the LIU report, the SDM Jhansi called Sunaina and Tariq and asked them to submit affidavits stating their present address of stay and job in Delhi. They were also asked to write the addresses of the concerned police station and the ADM/SDM in Delhi, which shall be contacted by him. SDM Jhansi sent letters to Police Station, Mukharjee Nagar and SDM North-West in Delhi with a list of questions about the couple. Surprisingly, he also enquired about the age of the couple doubting the age certificate submitted by the couple to his office. The SHO, Mukharjee Nagar sent his report back to SDM Jhasi, confirming the residence and age proof of the couple. But, this 4 month long exercise proved useless when the SDM Jhansi turned down the couples request with a verbal apology of his oblivion about the section 5 of SMA. According to the Section – 5, they can’t marry from the place where they are not residing at the time of marriage.
After failing in Jhansi, the couple restarted the process at the office of SDM West, Delhi. They tried using their police verification report as an address proof since the couple didn’t have any of the required proof of residence in Delhi. Initially their request was declined by concerned Marriage Officer. But, later he agreed to accept the police verification report after he was shown state govt. rules related to acceptance of police report as address proof. In the meantime the jurisdiction of the Marriage Officer shifted to District North therefore, they approached the concerned ADM with a request for usage of the police report as address proof. Luckily he accepted it as an address and finally, the couple got married after 7-8 months of perseverance.
Similarly, Kripal and Shabiha (names changed) faced the problem at a place called Erode in Tamil Nadu. Shabiha is based in Coimbatore and has the residence proof of Kolkota. They filed their form for intended marriage in March 2013 to the Marriage Officer, Erode in the presence of their respective parents as witnesses. Kripal used his address proof of Erode for filing his papers but, the Marriage Officer had asked for confirmation from the concerned officer in Kolkota to authenticate a copy of passport submitted by Shabiha as her address proof. The requirement again is against Section -5 of SMA. Later, after telling him that it is not possible to get such document he agreed to solemnize the couple’s marriage by the end of next month. In their case the parents were in support of their marriage therefore, the Marriage Officer obliged them or else they were left with no other option but to go for a religious marriage.
It is important to share one more case of misuse of authority by ADM (Marriage Officer), West Delhi. Asim (name changed) is working in UK and Kiranjit (name changed) is working in Delhi. Asim was honest to write his present address of UK in the intent of marriage form and therefore, the concerned official asked for address proof of UK although, Asim had attached the address proof of his permanent address at Delhi. The Marriage Officer was questioned the requirement on the basis of Section – 5 of SMA. He was also shown a copy of the rules by Delhi Govt. in support of provision in Section – 5 of SMA. The requirement of address proof of Asim was not required as the principle applicant was Kiranjit who used her jurisdiction for the marriage solemnization. But, the ADM decided otherwise and said, “I have the power to ask for the address proof of both of you, leave aside the rules & guidelines”. Challenging of ADM’s decision would have delayed the marriage. Therefore, Asim submitted a copy of his bank statement of UK to prove his present residence.
One can also question that how is it possible to get a proof of residence within one month of stay at a place according to Section – 5 of the Act? And that too, it has to be a passport, ration card, voter ID, adhar card or any other official document like identity card issued by a government office. In such a case, the Marriage Officer can order the local police station to provide a report, also known as police verification report to establish the received information from the marrying couple is correct. This was mentioned above in the case of Sunaina and Tariq. But, this provision for police verification is never shared in written or verbally with such a couple. This attitude from the officials proves that they are not in favour of such secular form of marriages. Our attempt through couple of representation for making the information about police verification public is under consideration by the Special Secretary (Revenue) Delhi and City Magistrate, Sector – 19, NOIDA for past several months. At present, government of India is expediting the process of issuing the Adhaar Cards. I hope, it should consider doing away the provision of address proof of specific jurisdiction for marriage solemnization/registration. The Marriage Officer should accept the Adhaar Card of any location in India for the marriage of a couple from its jurisdiction.
The write-up will be incomplete if I don’t write about the horror in marrying couple about receiving the “notice of intended marriage” by their respective parents. The notice is sent by the Marriage Officer on the basis of received attested copies of the couples address proof. This dirty practice serves as a major deterrent to couple planning to solemnize their marriage according to Special Marriage Act. In the states like Delhi, Maharashtra, Kolkota and Kerala the practice has stopped largely due to the efforts of the ruling political parties or due to the court’s order. But, in all other states the practice is being followed religiously. This practice is highly intimidating for the marrying parties who face threat to their life and liberty by their decision of marrying to the partner of their choice.
With reference to the above shared examples, I would like to write that the government is countering its own efforts of marriage registration by overlooking the regressive and discriminatory practices by its officials. Several states are promoting and practicing compulsory registration of marriage. The efforts are only for documentation of religious marriage. But what about solemnization of a-religious marriage under Special Marriage Act - 1954? Government should recognize Special Marriage Act as one of the essential tools of retention of secularism in India. Till date, the Act is being used by a few urban elites who can afford to wait and plan their marriage. The simplification of its rules and amendment of Section – 7 of the Act which mandates 30 days of period of notice before solemnization/registration of the marriage are today’s need. The proposed changes will offer an option to all those, irrespective of their socio-economic background, who dares to place love before faith.
The writer is a Founder Member of a group viz. Dhanak. This group is working on the issues of couples in inter-faith/caste relationships for past 8 years. Kindly visit www.dhanak.org.in to learn more about Dhanak
No Cover-Up: Burqa Businesses Go Bust in Afghanistan
16 April 2013
Afghanistan’s home-grown Burqa industry is facing a decline in demand, with fewer young women choosing to cover their faces.
Despite advances in women’s rights, Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative country and most women continue to wear the all-enveloping garment.
But tradesmen say times are changing in the capital, Kabul, with the demand for Burqas declining among young women who are increasingly going to school and taking office jobs.
75 year old Haji Hussain has been dying fabrics for Burqas for the last 40 years and has noticed the change.
He used to dye between 30 to 40 Burqas per day during Taliban rule, but now only dyes a few garments on a good day.
“The reason is that now more people are going out with bare faces and fewer with Burqas, it is out of fashion,” he explained.
China’s entry into the market in recent years has also changed the industry dramatically.
“Compared to the past, Chinese Burqas are outselling homegrown burqas... Business is down compared to the past. In the past, we’d sell lots but now it’s much less,” said young burqa seller, Mohammad Ashraf.
Even families that still make the Burqa in Afghanistan use material from China or from neighbouring Pakistan, in part, because it’s easier to pleat.
Imported Chinese Burqas also come embroidered, which means Afghan seamstresses only have to sew on the cap and netted veil for the garment to be ready.
This is a much simpler and cheaper process than making an Afghan burqa which involves a number of steps, including the hand embroidery of unique patterns on the sleeves and the cap.
While the demand for the burqa has lessened in Kabul, shopkeepers have seen an increase in demand from conservative societies in the provinces, in part because women welcome the anonymity of having everything covered, even their eyes, amid growing insecurity in the country.
35 year old Mohammad Akram owns a burqa shop in downtown Kabul and has noticed an increase in demand from unstable regions in the south of the country from where U.S. troops are withdrawing.
“The business is good for now. We do wholesale, we sell around $1,000 to $1,500 worth of burqas to provinces like Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul on a weekly basis,” he said.
Akram sells a variety of burqas in his shop, with Afghan-made burqas being the most expensive at 1-thousand to 3-thousand Afghanis (between $20-60) and Chinese-made burqas costing between 500-800 Afghanis (between $10-20).
For many in the West, burqas have come to symbolize the state of women’s rights in Afghanistan, provoking images of the oppression enforced on women by the strict Taliban regime.
But many women’s rights activists in the country have dismissed the West's fascination with the burqa as the least of their problems, pointing out that they continue to battle with issues of domestic violence, forced marriages, and a society in which they lack full autonomy.
Malawi Muslim Women Fighting AIDS through the Qur’an
17 APRIL 2013
Khadijah Hamdan: “The Qur’an teaches us how to deal with any kind of problem we are in, including the problem of HIV/AIDS. So for us to meet as women, we are trying to remind each other what the Qur’an says and how we can deal with this plague.”
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - It has been over 20 years since HIV/AIDS was discovered. Throughout these years, efforts have been underway to find a solution for the virus that causes AIDS.
A number of awareness messages have been spread out far and wide and Malawi is no exception in receiving these messages. An estimated 90% of the Malawian population, which is approximately 15 million people, are said to be aware of HIV/AIDS, how it is being transmitted and how it could be controlled or avoided.
Millions of dollars have been spent on awareness and treatment. Government and other aid agencies continue to spend on issues relating to the prevention and cure of HIV.
Some scientists have predicted that the cure for AIDS is within reach and it may take no more than 10 years to accomplish this task.
Religious organizations, including the Church and Islamic centres, have also been in the forefront in asking followers to help in the fight against this tragic disease.
But why is it that until now the virus continues to spread despite all of these efforts used in dealing with the disease?
At a gathering that took place in Mchinji district for the Muslim Women’s Organization from the Central Region of Malawi, a call was made to women and men to help deal with the HIV virus. As with the case of many Christians who believe a cure for AIDS is in the Bible, Muslims indicated that answers for all situations lie with Allah according to the Qur’an.
“The Qur’an teaches us how to deal with any kind of problem we are in, including the problem of HIV/AIDS. So for us to meet as women, we are trying to remind each other what the Qur’an says and how we can deal with this plague,” said Khadijah Hamdan, an executive member of the organization.
She noted that for a number of years, scholars and teachers have been preaching and dealing with the issues of AIDS from a religious perspective and yet the HIV virus continues to cause havoc amongst Muslim men, women, and children.
“This disease can only end if we follow the teachings of Islam.” she said, adding, “Islamic teaching does not allow prostitution and other immoral behaviours.”
Ms Hamdan stated that most Malawians accept the fact that AIDS is here but “it has also brought a lot of problems and sufferings.” Malawi has a number of orphans and widows who need care and it is the responsibility of all Muslims to care for them as we have been asked by Allah to do so.
Hamdan runs an orphanage care centre in Salima and helps widows and women who dropped out of school, return to the classroom. She believes that women need the support of all men for them to succeed in life. A number of women have gone back to school through her program .
“This is also one way of making women aware of HIV/AIDS. If they learn how to read and write they will be empowered with knowledge and skills to fight the disease,” she said.
“In fact the Qur’an contains everything,” said Sheikh Ayubu during the sermon on the theme, why HIV/AIDS is still progressing amongst Muslims?
Sheikh Ayubu said the Qur’an does not allow sexual immorality or any sort of prostitution and these are the main causes of this pandemic illness.
“These days many people when they read about these verses in the Qur’an they think it is just for pleasure but they forget that Allah does not condone such behaviours,” he said.
He said that anything a man wants in this world, he can find guidance for it in the Qur’an even “if you want a business and how to run it just read the Qur’an.”
“But your wealth should not lead you into sexual immorality because it is this act which spreads the HIV and AIDS,” he said.
Deputy chair of the Muslims Association of Malawi, Sheikh Ibrahim said, “Women are playing a key role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and at the same time they are the most vulnerable group in our society.”
He said the fight against HIV/AIDS is everybody’s responsibility but as Muslims we ask ourselves “why is the disease on the increase amongst us despite all the messages and interventions being employed?”
He stated that abstinence was one of the best ways out of this disease and also that married couples should be faithful to each other.
For those who already have the disease, they should not despair because Allah loves them. As Muslims, said Sheikh Ibrahim, the Qur’an teaches that “we should be kind to all those who are in need and help them if we can.”
HIV/AIDS has devastated many families in Malawi. UNICEF statistics show that an estimated 920,000 people in Malawi are living with HIV. An estimated number of women aged 15 and above living with the virus is 470, 000 while about 120,000 children are said to be HIV positive. (UNICEF Malawi Statistics)
The UN children’s agency also estimates that about 650,000 children are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS and over 100,000 children are orphaned due to AIDS and other factors combined.
According to National Aids Commission (NAC) an estimated 110,000 new infections are taking place annually with 46% occurring among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years. Sixty percent of new infections occur among women. (Malawi National AIDS Commission)
Hamdan, however, blames these high levels of new cases among women on poverty. She said with high levels of poverty among women, as shown by statistics, most women’s likelihood of heeding the call from the Qur’an to abstain is very low.
But as Muslims, she said, women “are very responsible and are ready to help their spouses in fighting the disease. Through the Qur’an we will be able to teach each other on how to best tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS.”
Woman Injured In Acid Attack in Balochistan
Syed Ali Shah
17 APRIL 2013
BALOCHISTAN: Gunmen on a motorcycle attacked a woman by throwing acid on her in the Khuzdar district of Balochistan on Tuesday, police said.
Qadir Bakhsh Qambrani, a senior police official, told Dawn.com that two gunmen on a motorcycle flung acid on Bilquis, resident of Bazgir Khuzdar, and fled away.
She was shifted to civil hospital Khuzdar in an injured condition.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Dozens of people, mostly women, but also men and children, are disfigured every year by one of the most brutal forms of domestic violence in a country where women are often treated as second-class citizens.
Few have faith in the Pakistani courts, but campaigners say the conviction rate for acid attacks has tripled since tough new penalties were signed into law in late 2011, which introduced a minimum sentence of 14 years in jail and a fine of one million rupees ($10,000) for those found guilty of throwing acid.
Wife of a Terror Convict in UK 'Thought Jihad Was Excuse'
16 Apr 2013
The estranged wife of a convicted terrorist thought her husband's professed commitment to "jihad" was an excuse to get out of their marriage, a court has heard.
Salma Kabal, 22, denies hiding from police the fact that her husband, Ashik Ali, was planning terrorist acts.
He was one of three men convicted in February of plotting a bombing campaign in the UK.
She told Woolwich Crown Court she thought he had met another woman.
She said she thought he was using his commitment to jihad as an excuse not to get back together.
Full report at:
In Iran a German Lady Converts to Islam
17 APRIL 2013
Miss Berger who was born in Germany in 1991 and is currently a highly successful student in Britain converted to Shia Islam in presence of Ayatollah Rohani in Qom, Iran.
IRAN (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Miss Berger who was born in Germany in 1991 and is currently a highly successful student in Britain converted to Shia Islam in presence of Ayatollah Rohani.
At the start of the simple ceremony, the German lady explained about her research into Islam and then Ayatollah Rohani pointed to Islam as the only true religion of God and stressed the responsibilities of being a Muslim researcher to the young convert.
She then said the Shahadah (statement of faith) and converted to Islam choosing the name Hosna as her Islamic name.
Hosna expressed her concern regarding the lack of Shia books and said that most of Islamic references are from the Sunni or Turkish sources.
She also mentioned that the translation of Ayatollah Rohani’s book about Imam Husain (AS) drew her attention to Islam.
Syrian Brides Not For Sale: The Story Of A Rumour
Ahram Online investigates recent reports that thousands of vulnerable Syrian refugee women are being married off to Egyptian men as cheap brides
Zeinab El Gundy
16 Apr 2013
In 6 October City just outside Cairo, a satellite city which is home to one of the largest communities of Syrian refugees in Egypt, rumours quickly spread about how it was easy to find “mostly Islamist” NGOs promoting the marriage of Syrian women to Egyptian men for a small fee.
Allegations have already been levelled at particular Islamist organisations like well-known NGO El-Hosari that they are promoting marriages to Syrian women fleeing violence in their home country, for a small amount of money.
However, Rasha El-Maati, a Syrian-Egyptian activist who has been working with Syrian refugees in 6 October City for the last two years, denied knowing any Syrian refugees who had auctioned their daughters off.
Full report at:
Egypt's women council slams Shura MPs over UN criticism
The National Council for Women was criticised in a Shura Council session on women's rights
16 Apr 2013
The state body the National Council for Women (NCW) sent a letter to the speaker of the Shura Council, Ahmed Fahmy, on Monday denouncing an attack on the NCW during a meeting of the Shura’s human rights committee on Sunday.
The committee meeting was discussing the rights of women in Egypt at the request of Shura Council member Nadia Henry, and included discussion of a recent UN charter on ending violence against women.
The NCW urged the human rights committee not to speak without evidence, saying that the charter did not include some of the points raised by members of the committee.
The council also asked Fahmy to make sure that the council is not biased towards a single ideology.
Full report at:
Sharia Courts Putting Women at Risk, Crown Prosecution Service Warns
Sharia courts are putting women at risk of violence from abusive husbands, the Crown Prosecution Service has warned.
07 Apr 2013
The courts, which issue rulings according to Islamic law, have been found to be giving Muslim women advice which experts warned may place them in danger.
Undercover filming in some of the 85 councils operating in mosques and houses across the country has revealed that the courts, which are run by sharia councils, are ruling in favour of men meeting estranged wives or having access to children when they have found to have been abusive.
Full report at:
'Pulling Nails Out Of a Little Girl's Flesh Is Just Awful': Horror of Boston Bombings
16 APRIL 2013
Surgeons have spoken of their horror as they were forced to amputate several limbs following many “lower extremity” wounds caused by flying shrapnel from the Boston bombs.
After law enforcement officials said a pressure cooker stuffed with gunpowder and shrapnel caused at least one of the blasts, medics spoke of their decision to amputate limbs that were “beyond salvation” among the 176 wounded.
At least 10 people who had limbs amputated after the blast with the floor-level explosion causing injuries below the waist, including bone, soft tissue and vascular damage.
Doctors said the amputations had been part of a frantic bid to stop patients bleeding to death.
Full report at:
Cycling Past an Afghan Taboo
By JED LIPINSKI
In November, Shannon Galpin was riding her single-speed mountain bike through the hills outside Kabul. It was her 11th visit to Afghanistan, and she had grown accustomed to the sight of camel caravans, abandoned Soviet tanks and soldiers sweeping the desert for land mines.
One thing she had not seen was another woman on a bicycle. But one afternoon a barista at a local cafe who happened to be an amateur cyclist told Galpin that not only were Afghan women riding bikes, but that they had formed their own national cycling team. Dressed in long pants and full sleeves, with headscarves tucked beneath their helmets, they practiced on the highways before dawn on dated road bikes, accompanied by the coach of the men’s cycling team.
Full report at:
Inaugural Meeting of Conservative Women’s Group in Libya
BY REEM TOMBOKTI TRIPOLI
16 APRIL 2013
The first meeting of a socially conservative, young women’s group has said it wants to ensure the role of women in building Libya as an Islamic state.
Meeting for the first time today at the Fahaty Hall in Tripoli’s Ben Ashur district, the Pen Movement drew together some 25 women; almost all dressed in black Abayas, to discuss women’s rights from an Islamic perspective.
Full report at:
Women Victimized By Yemeni ‘Exchange Marriages’
11 April 2013
Women living in areas of rural Yemen are increasingly losing their say regarding whom they marry as they become caught-up in the widespread phenomenon of "exchange marriages," in which money and family ties outweigh romance.
The expression rises from the phenomenon of spouses from two families being traded in what is essentially more of a business arrangement than a traditional marriage, Dr. Abdul-Baqi Shamsan, professor of sociology at Sana'a University, explained.
Shamsan told The Media Line that the main victim of this type of marriage is the woman. “In such exchange marriages, the women are dealt with as commodities by the family’s or group's elders, who strip them of their right to choose their life partners,” he said.
Full report at:
Primetime TV Is Right Place to Highlight Dangers of Female Genital Mutilation
Alan Wardle Head of Corporate Affairs at UK children’s charity the NSPCC
It only takes an evening spent in front of the television to see that popular drama and soaps rarely shy away from tackling serious issues. On the contrary most appear to relish in depicting some of the grittier or more controversial aspects of our society. And yet, despite an estimated 20,000 girls thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK, the BBC is the first broadcaster to address the seemingly taboo subject in a mainstream TV drama.
Full report at: