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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 23 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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After 70 Years of Men, Some Say It Is ‘High Time’ a Woman Led the U.N.

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 Aug 2015

•   After 70 Years Of Men, Some Say It Is ‘High Time’ A Woman Led The U.N.

•  German Woman Starts Living On a Train – Because She's Fed-Up Paying Rent

•  10-Year-Old American Girl Survives Shark Attack, Saves Pal

•  Bring Back Indian Women Involved In Sex Rackets Abroad: Kerala HC Tells Govt

•  The Reasons Women Don’t Join The Police In India

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




After 70 Years of Men, Some Say It Is ‘High Time’ a Woman Led the U.N.


From left, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile; Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, head of Unesco; Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria, a European Commission vice president; and Helen Clark of New Zealand, head of the United Nations Development Program, have been cited as possible nominees as possible successors to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.


UNITED NATIONS — The bearded diplomat in a striped tie addressed a roomful of his peers the other morning on the subject of how the next United Nations secretary general should be chosen.

Among the suggestions offered by the diplomat, Margus Kolga of Estonia, was to finalize the selection as early as three months before the new term begins, in January 2017, “simply in order for him to prepare,” as he put it.

“Him?” piped up Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland, so quietly that Mr. Kolga did not hear her at first.

“Him?” she repeated, a bit louder.

Mr. Kolga threw up his hands in surrender and began to apologize.

“Him or her. Sorry,” he said, adding that in his native Estonian, “there are no genders. When I’m saying ‘he,’ I’m meaning he or she.”

Possibilities to head the United Nations include: Irina Bokova, the director general of Unesco; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia; Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief. Editorial: The Push for a Woman to Run the U.N. AUG. 22, 2015

Whether the next secretary general will be a he or a she has become an increasingly potent subject of conversation, both inside and outside the corridors of the United Nations. Three dozen countries, led by Colombia, are promoting the idea that it is a woman’s turn to lead the organization. Women’s groups have put out lists of candidates. Prominent world leaders — including members of the group Ms. Robinson belongs to, the Elders, composed of former heads of state — have called for countries to nominate women.

Women have been elected to lead countries as varied as Germany and South Korea. The International Monetary Fund is led by a woman, and some of Europe’s biggest companies are required by law to set aside 30 percent of their supervisory seats for women. Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, has pursued “a feminist foreign policy,” calling women’s rights critical to global peace and security. And Hillary Rodham Clinton — who, 20 years ago, spoke as the first lady of the United States at a landmark United Nations women’s conference in Beijing — is running for president.

The United Nations, though, has been something of a holdout. Since its inception in 1945, it has always been led by a man.

“After eight male secretary generals in a row, the Elders are very sympathetic to the idea that it is high time for a woman to be chosen,” Ms. Robinson said when it was her turn to speak. “But if it turns out that the right candidate is a man, then so be it.”

The “right candidate,” she took pains to say, should be “independent and not beholden to the interests of individual member states.”

The calls reflect not only an appeal for gender equity but also a growing sense of frustration with the opaque way in which world powers — namely, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — bargain over the choice of the world’s top civil servant. Diplomats and civil society activists say that if the process does not change, it stands to make the United Nations anachronistic, irrelevant and unfit to handle the most pressing global crises.

“Whatever the selection process for the next secretary general is, historically there’s been no attention paid to the representation of half the world’s population,” said Louise Arbour, a Canadian jurist who was the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 2004 to 2008. “It is geography; then it is horse-trading on state interests, much more than the personal qualities of the candidate.”

Few countries have announced their nominations, and in keeping with the protocol of giving different regional blocs a chance, Eastern Europe is angling for its turn, though nothing in the United Nations Charter requires it.

Because of the calls for female nominees, many more of the names being talked about are of women than ever before. They include Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, director general of Unesco; President Michelle Bachelet of Chile; Kristalina Georgieva, another Bulgarian and a vice president of the European Commission; and Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand who heads the United Nations Development Program.

One of the men whose name has come up is Danilo Turk, a former president of Slovenia.

Ms. Clark declined to confirm in a telephone interview whether she was interested in the job, though some of her staff members described her travels to major capitals around the world as part of a campaign for the post. She said only that women were underrepresented in senior leadership positions in the United Nations, in sharp contrast to other organizations, and that women tended to bring different issues to the table when they were represented at the top.

“My perspective is that women bring a wider range of life experiences,” Ms. Clark said. “All top positions globally, women should have an equal chance to compete for them.”

The United Nations Charter does not specify exactly how to fill the top job. In practice, for most of its 70-year history, the Security Council has announced its preferred candidate, who has then been ratified by the broader membership of the General Assembly. The Council’s deliberations are private, and many diplomats complain that the Council’s permanent members try to make sure that their selection bends easily to their wishes — more secretary than general, the saying goes.

The current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is known as an advocate of promoting women to management posts, sometimes scolding heads of state and government for not putting more women in cabinet positions. Still, female peacekeepers remain scant, as do female mediators appointed by the United Nations to negotiate peace deals.

Among the ambassadors for the permanent members of the Council, only Britain’s, Matthew Rycroft, has explicitly said his government would favor a woman among equally qualified contenders. The Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, has warned that men should not be discriminated against.

More than one-fourth of the ambassadors representing their countries at the United Nations are women. That is a far greater share than when Ms. Arbour first came to United Nations headquarters 18 years ago and watched the parade of diplomats and heads of state entering the General Assembly halls.

“Is there a separate entrance for women?” she recalled asking a veteran United Nations staff member. “No, honey, this is it,” she was told.

There is, however, a flip side to the chorus for a female secretary general.

“If you have a woman who doesn’t deliver, they will use her to judge the rest of us. That’s my worry,” said Zainab Bangura, the secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict. “What I’m looking for is an exceptionally good woman who can demonstrate that women can really do that job.”



German Woman Starts Living On A Train – Because She's Fed-Up Paying Rent

RICK NOACK, 23 August 2015

When others get off the train to finally go home, Leonie Müller stays behind. That's because she already is home. The train is her apartment, and she says she likes it that way.

The German college student gave up her apartment in spring. "It all started with a dispute I had with my landlord," Müller told The Washington Post via e-mail. "I instantly decided I didn't want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn't want to live anywhere anymore."

Instead, she bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country for free. Now, Müller washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment. "I really feel at home on trains, and can visit so many more friends and cities. It's like being on vacation all the time," Müller said.

The 23-year-old's unusual housing choice has gained her media attention in Germany and appeared on national news sites such as Spiegel Online. "I read, I write, I look out of the window and I meet nice people all the time. There's always something to do on trains," Müller told German TV station SWR in an interview. Since risking the move, Müller's life fits into a small backpack in which she carries clothes, her tablet computer, college documents and a sanitary bag.

So far, her experience contradicts studies that have recently claimed that "long commutes are killing you." And financially, she  benefits from living on a train: The flat-rate ticket costs her about $380, whereas she had to pay about $450 for her previous apartment. However, living cheaper is not the only goal she has in mind.

"I want to inspire people to question their habits and the things they consider to be normal," Müller told The Post. "There are always more opportunities than one thinks there are. The next adventure is waiting just around the corner — provided that you want to find it."

Müller frequently travels late at night, although she tries to sleep at the apartments of relatives or friends. Often, she is accommodated by her boyfriend, her mother or grandmother.

"Normally, we would have to have a long-distance relationship, but living on a train enables me to see him all the time," Müller told German TV station SWR regarding her boyfriend. "Most of my friends really like the idea, although some consider it to be quite adventurous. Others, however, have reacted more negatively: They feel offended by the fact that I question the ordinary way of life and living."

Living on a train is also supposed to have an academic purpose: Müller is documenting the unusual experiment on a blog. Her final undergraduate paper will be based on her experiences as a modern train-nomad. The only problem? "Possessing a headset that mutes most surrounding noises is crucial," she said. Copyright: Washington Post



10-Year-Old American Girl Survives Shark Attack, Saves Pal

AFP | Aug 23, 2015

MIAMI: A 10-year-old American girl who was bitten in the leg by a shark at a Florida beach waded back into the surf to save a younger friend, relatives said.

Kaley Szarmack is recovering in a hospital after receiving 90 stitches following the shark attack on Wednesday in shallow water off the city of Jacksonville, her father told WJXT radio.

"She got bit on the right leg. She said she felt it and she turned around and she could see the shark and she could see the fin flailing around," Dave Szarmack told the station. The girl got out of the water and yelled to a friend to do the same, screaming about the shark. But that younger girl stayed put.

"So she turned around and went back and got the other 6-year-old and took her out of the water. She pulled the little girl back out of the water," the father said.

Kaley's wound is large and took surgeons an hour to suture, but she is expected to recover fully, he added.

"She'll be able to run, jump, swim and surf in not too long of healing time. Going to have a pretty big scar and quite a story to tell, though," Dave said.



Bring Back Indian Women Involved In Sex Rackets Abroad: Kerala HC Tells Govt

Mahir Haneef,TNN | Aug 21, 2015

KOCHI: Central government should take steps to bring back women who have become victims of sex rackets abroad, the Kerala High Court directed on Friday.

A division bench comprising chief justice Ashok Bhushan and justice AM Shaffique issued the directive while disposing a petition filed by the victim of Sharjah sex racket case. Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs should take urgent steps on complaints filed by Indian women who become victims of sexual abuse and other criminal offences abroad, the court ordered.

In the petition, the victim had alleged that a proper investigation is not being conducted despite filing a complaint to Pathanamthitta police. She had demanded a probe by an investigation team headed by an officer in the rank of a superintendent. Prosecution had informed the court that investigation has been completed and a charge sheet has been filed in the case against two of the accused. Rest of the accused are abroad and central government's intervention is required, police had informed.

The court pointed out that central government didn't submit data on number of women involved in sex rackets abroad despite repeated directions.

The petitioner, a 34-year-old divorcee was lured abroad with the promise of a job and forced into prostitution by a gang led by a Malayali woman. The prime accused in the case is Sauda Beevi, the kingpin of the racket, who allegedly runs brothels in Sharjah and Dubai. Details of the racket came to light when the victim resisted the racket's moves after reaching Sharjah on a visa for working in a supermarket and escaped from the gang's confinement. She approached the police after reaching Kerala with the help of Malayali associations there.



The Reasons Women Don’t Join the Police in India

Aug 20, 2015

The number of women in the ranks of India’s police has risen significantly over the past decade. In 2014, there were more than 105,000 policewomen, or about 6% of the total force, in India according to government figures. That’s a higher proportion than in neighboring Pakistan (1%) and Bangladesh (4.5%), but far behind levels in some Western countries.

A new report, based on surveys and interviews with more than a hundred policewomen in five Indian states by the New Delhi-based nonprofit Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, underscores the challenges female officers face in doing their jobs in a society where conservative patriarchal traditions still often hold sway.

In the report, “Rough Roads to Equality: Women Police in South Asia,” CHRI found that a pervasive view of policing as a job for men was an impediment to policewomen at every stage of their careers. It said authorities often fail to understand the contribution women can make to effective law enforcement.

A shortage of female officers in India was cited by the report’s authors as a significant barrier to improving justice for female victims of gender-based violence. Many women are reluctant to report crimes such as rape or sexual harassment to male officers, the report said.

In India, the study said, women officers are typically relegated to desk jobs or tasks that shield them from frontline policing. Such assignments away from core law-enforcement duties are an impediment to career advancement, the report said.

Less than 1% of policewomen in India occupy senior ranks and almost 90% of them serve as constables, the report showed. One state even has guidelines that say women must not be deployed into roles usually held by male officers. The Jharkhand state police manual says that women “should be employed on duties which they alone could perform more effectively and with greater advantage than male police,”  such as cases relating to violence against women and helping male officers in investigations involving females, the report said.

A spokesperson for Jharkhand police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Outnumbered by men, policewomen often tend to internalize and accept the bias against them, said Kanwaljit Deol, a woman who served 38 years in the Indian Police Service, a federal police force, during a press conference Tuesday ahead of the report’s launch. Police forces “should bring out the virtues of women and not push them to be ‘poor copies’ of male police,” she said.

India’s federal government has repeatedly prodded states to raise the number of women in their police forces. In 2013, it issued guidelines saying police ranks should be at least 30% women. The government also said every police station should have at least 10 female constables and three female sub-inspectors.

No state meets those guidelines. The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, whose police force is about 12% women, comes the closest.

Some other approaches to policing are also problematic, experts say.Many states in India operate all-women police stations, staffed exclusively by policewomen to tackle crimes against women and encourage women to report crimes in an environment free of male-bias.

Jacob Punnoosse, the former chief of police in Kerala, often held as one of the more progressive states for police reform, said that during his tenure he realized that “the concept doesn’t work well; it segregates women into a separate group, “ahead of the report’s launch.

Kerala, which has four women-only police stations, has seen bigger benefits from making sure five female officers are assigned to each of Kerala’s 475 police stations, he said. From traffic control to community policing, interviewing suspects and registering complaints, “women bring in better techniques,” he said.

Still, the report notes, not a single Kerala police station was being led by a woman.

T.P. Senkumar, the chief of police in Kerala said Thursday that the state plans to recruit women directly as sub-inspectors, the minimum rank that allows a cop to head a police station. In the current structure, “women in lower ranks don’t have enough training” to head police stations, he said.