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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 28 Jun 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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British female journalist ‘stripped’, ‘tossed’ in Egypt’s Tahrir Square

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 Jun 2012 

 'Rape-Law' Triggers Fury in Jordan, it allows rapist to marry the victim

 They Question My Character Because I Wear a Swimsuit: The Fifteen-Year-Old Pakistan

 Plight of Domestic Workers Still Forgotten in the Sex Abuse Debate

 Singer Turned Actress Julia Perez: 'I'd Remain Sexy Even with a Veil'

 Launch of the Arab International Women's Forum initiative on Arab Young Women Leaders

 Prophet Muhammad’s Respect and Love for Women

 70 Percent Obesity in the Persian Gulf, but No Saudi Female Olympiad

 ‘Talkative’ Girl Gagged With Tape in Hyderabad school run by Muslim couple

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: British female journalist ‘stripped’, ‘tossed’ in Egypt’s Tahrir Square





British female journalist ‘stripped’, ‘tossed’ in Egypt’s Tahrir Square


New Delhi: Natasha Smith, 21, the young female British journalist was subjected to a horrific sexual assault by hundreds of men near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, reported Daily Mail. The incident happened when the  crowd was celebrating the announcement that Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood had won the vote to become Egypt’s first elected president.

She feared her life as the mob had stripped her and ‘tossed’ her like ‘fresh meat’ after she was attacked by the mob in Cairo. She managed to escape the sight only after she covered herself with a burka (veil) and pretended to be a wife of a local inhabitant. With the help of British Embassy, she has now returned to her native place Weymouth in Dorset.

Natasha, a student of MA in International Journalism at Falmouth College, was making a documentary movie on women rights.

She describes the ordeal in her blog.

Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way.

So many men. All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.

A small minority of men, just a couple at first, tried to protect me and guide me to a tent. The tent was crushed, its contents scattered all over the ground. I was tossed around once more, being violated every second.

I was dragged naked across the dirty ground. Men pulled my  blonde hair – a beacon of my alien identity.

The men trying to protect me tried to guide me into another tent. I was able to scramble on to the ground. I sat with my back against a chair and surveyed the surging mob.

Although a few men tried to form a human shield around me, offering me rags to cover my bruised body, men were still able to touch me. There were just too many.

I gazed around at the bared teeth and raging eyes. I was struggling to breathe. One man lifted a tent pole and attempted to strike me with it.

At this point, I said aloud to myself, calmly, over and over: ‘Please God. Please make it stop. Please God. Please make it stop.’

I’m not religious. But at times of desperation, we all feel compelled to appeal to some higher power to save us. It’s human nature.

I began to think: ‘Maybe this is just it. Maybe this is how I go, how I die. I hope it’s quick. I hope I die before they rape me.'

I looked up and saw a couple of women in burkas scattered around. They looked at me blankly, then looked away.

After five to ten minutes, my friend managed to convince people inside a medical tent to form a pathway through the crowd to guide me into the tent. During transit I was mauled and invaded.

I reached the tent and saw my friend Callum. Muslim women surrounded me and frantically tried to cover my naked body. I fell to the ground and apparently temporarily lost consciousness.

It was not the first attack on Western female journalists covering the uprising in Egypt. In February 2011, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was set upon by 200 men in Tahrir Square while covering the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Also, US-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy suffered a brutal sexual and physical assault inside Cairo’s interior ministry last November, the same month a French journalist said she had been beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the protests.



'Rape-Law' Triggers Fury in Jordan, it allows rapist to marry the victim

June 28, 2012

By Musa Hattar

AMMAN: The ordeal of a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped and raped repeatedly for three days has infuriated Jordanians, especially when her attacker agreed to marry her to avoid going to jail.

In conservative Muslim societies like Jordan, rapists can walk free thanks to penal code Article 308, known as the "rape-law."

In April, the unidentified girl was shopping in the northern city of Zarqa when a 19-year-old man kidnapped her, took her to the desert where he had a pitched a tent and raped her for three consecutive days, judicial sources said.

Police found the girl during a routine patrol drove her back to her family home and arrested the man.

Within days news emerged that the boy had agreed to marry the girl, while all charges against him have been dropped.

Earlier this month, another girl, aged 15, was talked into following a young man to an empty apartment in Amman where she was also raped.

Judicial sources say the young man is now desperately trying to work out an arrangement with her family to marry her, to avoid going to jail.

Article 308 allows rape charges to be dropped if the perpetrator agrees to marry the victim. He cannot divorce the woman for five years.

"This article of the law not only helps perpetrators walk free, it rewards them by allowing them to marry their victims, who get punished ... for God knows what," Nadia Shamrukh, head of the Jordanian Women's Union, told AFP.

"By applying this law, another crime is committed. How can this 14-year-old girl, who is a minor anyway, marry her rapist? Can you imagine this?"

The rape of a child under the age of 15 is punishable by death in Jordan, which recorded 379 cases of rape in 2010, according to court documents.

"In one case, we tried so hard to prevent a rapist from marrying an 18-year-old girl, who did not want to end up being his wife," said Eva Abu Halaweh, a lawyer and human rights activist who heads law group Mizan.

"But the girl's father struck a deal with the unemployed rapist, who was already married to another woman and had six children. He was unable to provide for his family and his wife was a beggar."

Abu Halaweh said the law is "inefficient anyway."

"It should be scrapped. What if a girl gets raped by more than one man? In this case, Article 308 will fail to address the problem," she said.

"Even if the victim does not resist marrying her rapist, he should not walk free ... The penalty could be reduced."

But Israa Tawalbeh, the country's first woman coroner, sees "nothing wrong in Article 308 as such."

"The problem is how some local and international human rights groups interpret the law," she told AFP.

"Actual rape cases are rare in our society. Sometimes, girls under 18 lose their virginity to force their families to accept marriage to their boyfriends. The law categorizes this as rape."

Tawalbeh said the law "solves problems for some."

"Accepting marriage under Article 308 is better than leaving girls to be killed by their parents or relatives," she said.

"I think the law fits our society and reality. It protects the girls by forcing attackers to marry them."

In Jordan, between 15 and 20 women are murdered annually in the name of "honor" and at least six such killings have been reported so far this year, according to authorities.

Murder is punishable by death, but in "honor killings," courts sometimes commute or reduce sentences.

But Hani Jahshan, who is a forensic pathologist and physician at the health ministry and the Family Protection Directorate, has a quite different view of Article 308.

"This law is a stark violation of rights of women and children," he said "Sexual violence has a deep impact on victims that could last for a long time, and if a raped girl marries her rapist, her suffering will only be aggravated."

Jahshan blamed social misconceptions.

"Society believes that a female's virginity must be preserved until marriage. This forces girls to marry their rapists in order to protect her reputation and avoid social problems," he said.

Jordanians, particularly women activists, have held several street protests against the law.

"This issue must be effectively addressed," Nadia Hashem Alul, Jordan's first state minister for women's affairs, told AFP. "I think Article 308 should be amended to ensure justice to rape victims."




They Question My Character Because I Wear a Swimsuit: The Fifteen-Year-Old Pakistan

By Myra Iqbal

June 27, 2012


The recently concluded Islamabad Women Swimming Association (IWSA) summer swimming gala was contested with enthusiasm, appreciated by not only the participants but also followers of women swimming in Pakistan.

Over 25 girls from the city competed in nine events but, more than the medals, they were competing for pride, to make a stand for themselves after being largely neglected. Wardah Fatima, the fifteen-year-old swimmer who bagged three bronze medals in the 12th National Women’s Junior Swimming Championship in Karachi earlier this year, took home gold medals in all over-12 events but spoke of the lack of opportunity and help available.

“When my sister and I were younger, our mother would take us to the edge of a pool and make us hold on to the skirting and kick until we got tired,” Wardah told The Express Tribune. “We are completely self-trained with no help from anywhere.”

Wardah realised that she was capable of a good show after competing in the first of the three national events that she has taken part in, explaining that despite being aware of the limited scope for women in the sport, hard work and a strong resolve allowed her to pursue something she loves doing.

“There are odds against women everywhere,” she said, pointing to the lack of facilities and funding. The swimming pool at the Sports Complex is open between from 6am to 10pm. However, female swimmers can only access it between 4 and 6pm.

“I have tuition at 4pm and due to that, I only have an hour each day to swim and rush to my academy. Also, we don’t have proper lockers or changing facilities which is a huge drawback for us.

“People around me tell me I have no future. They even question my character because I wear a swimsuit. But I’ve proved myself by not giving up.”

While Rana Seerat, member of the Federal Board of Revenue, presented certificates to the winners, and the praise was not only restricted to the participants but also the mothers who encouraged the effort, ensuring the girls took part in a sport that sees limited female participation in the country.

Meanwhile, the IWSA President Parveen Qadir Agha confirmed that a survey of swimming facilities in Islamabad had started and the association had plans on improving what was on offer currently – providing they have available funds.



Plight of Domestic Workers Still Forgotten in the Sex Abuse Debate

Noah Beaudette | June 28, 2012

In March, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali made headlines by announcing plans to ban skirts above the knee, calling such attire “pornographic.” That month, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Marzuki Alie, proclaimed: “There have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently and this is because women aren’t wearing appropriate clothes . . . You know what men are like. Provocative clothing will make them do things.”

Sexual assault is a serious problem in Indonesia. A 2011 national study found that an average of 28 women are victims of sexual violence in Indonesia each day. Yet instead of blaming the rapists, senior government officials are blaming women themselves for being attacked.

This attitude is sexist, dangerous and wrong. It is also a distraction from initiatives that could actually prevent sexual assault.

If Indonesian lawmakers really want to stop rape and other sexual violence, they could start by providing legal protection for some of the most vulnerable women and girls: domestic workers.

Human Rights Watch has been investigating the abuse of domestic workers in Indonesia since 2005. We found that girls in Indonesia typically enter domestic work between the ages of 12 and 15. Many said their employers forbid them to leave the workplace to visit family or to receive any visitors, leaving them isolated, depressed and susceptible to sexual harassment and assault.

Many suffered some form of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, including rape and murder. One girl, Dian, began working for an older male cousin when she was 13. She told Human Rights Watch: “I was forced to have sex with him. He threatened me. He said he would hit me if I told anyone ... This happened for three years.”

Sexual abuse is not a domestic worker’s only concern. Most of the girls we interviewed worked excruciating 14- to 18-hour days, 7 days a week. Far too often workers are driven to exhaustion, exploited for little or no pay and starved. Because labor laws exclude domestic workers from protection, employers are rarely penalized.

Police investigations into such abuse are sluggish, inadequate, and frequently lead to dropped cases. During interviews with Human Rights Watch, officials at all levels of government underplayed the importance of and even denied there is a problem.

This apathy, along with the backward thinking of politicians like Marzuki Alie, has led to a lack of conviction and urgency in legislative reforms. A bill designed to protect domestic workers has been on the agenda since 2010, but it is still gathering dust on legislators’ desks.

A year ago the International Labor Organization adopted a groundbreaking international treaty known as the Domestic Workers Convention. The treaty offers hope for domestic workers that their labor rights will be respected, and they will have greater protection from violence.

By ratifying the convention, Indonesia would be making a commitment to ensure that domestic workers get effective protection against all forms of abuse, harassment and violence. The treaty would also provide protection from labor exploitation, including a minimum wage, overtime limits, holidays and mandatory employment contracts.

Slowly, steps have been taken in the right direction. In April the government ratified the Migrant Worker Convention, to better protect Indonesian workers abroad. The government should show the same concern for workers at home, and move quickly to adopt the proposed domestic worker bill and ratify the Domestic Workers Convention.

It is time for the government to recognize that when it comes to stopping sexual assault, legal protection goes further than longer skirts.

Noah Beaudette is the associate for the children’s rights division atHuman Rights Watch.



Singer Turned Actress Julia Perez: 'I'd Remain Sexy Even with a Veil'


Following her recent return from a small Haj pilgrimage or Umrah, dangdut singer turned actress Julia “Jupe” Perez says she is considering taking roles in films that require her to wear a jilbab (Muslim women's headscarf).

Suggesting that she will tone down her signature provocative style, she was confident that she would remain sexy even with most parts of her body covered.

"Upon my return from umrah, I was criticized for wearing full-coverage dresses that were too tight. Next time, I will appear in a different way, still sexy despite the fully-covered outfit,” Julia was quoted as saying by on Thursday.

Julia said that she had been approached with roles in films that would require her to wear a jilbab.

“I've received offers from several producers. I am happy and thankful that some of them require me to wear a jilbab,” she said.

She added that she also tried to change the way she dressed by picking long sleeves and clothes covering more of her chest, although she insisted on continuing to wear miniskirts.

“For me, the most important thing is to cover my chest,” she asserted.

Starring in more than 20 films, mostly horror movies, Julia said she wants to try other roles in drama and action movies.



Launch of the Arab International Women's Forum initiative on Arab Young Women Leaders

27 June 2012

The Arab International Women's Forum (AIWF) held a conference on June 26th 2012 to launch an initiative entitled Young Arab Women Leaders: The Voice of the Future in partnership with PwC. As the first of a series of events planned for the year and beyond, the debut event was attended by guest of honour HE Mrs Nadia Aloul, Minister of State for Women's Affairs, who delivered a keynote address.

The first-of-its-kind Forum aimed to assist a wide spectrum of young women leaders in Jordan and across the region to further optimise and strengthen their personal business skills and overall contribution to the business world and community at large.

Designed to assist young women leaders in understanding the role of gender in shaping political, economic and social opportunities available to women in the Arab world, the Forum's main objectives were to provide the ideal opportunity for participants to gain key insights into best practice methods that transform challenges and barriers into success stories and various opportunities for development and enhancement.

It also served as a platform for the generation of young aspiring women to support, engage and network with other women in pioneering political, economic and social leadership roles in the Arab world while learning more about the qualities of leadership for women in the 21st century, in addition to encouraging women to use their experience and expertise to serve and promote the gender gap concept.

Full report at:



Prophet Muhammad’s Respect and Love for Women

By Sariya Contractor

27 June 2012

I have recently finished writing a book on Muslim women in Britain.

This book discusses many important issues around the role, rights, responsibilities and resilience of Muslim women.

Although this book is written in a Western British context, it discusses core issues that resonate in Muslim communities all over the world – of our collective successes with regard to gender equity and of our failures.

Why do I mention my book here in an article about Prophet Muhammad?

Muslim Women Rights

I do so because this is relevant. Throughout the book and in the research that informed this book, it was evident that Islam inherently and irrefutably gives women rights and respect – as equal before God and also in this world. Often however, I have noticed that although Islam gives women rights, Muslims do not. And so we hear about women’s rights abuse ranging from the petty to the serious.

I must however stress here that this is not a problem that is exclusive to the Muslim community. Indeed even in our 21st. century post-modern, post-feminism, post-globalization and post-what-have-you world, women continue to be deprived of their rights – domestic abuse, female infanticide and rape.

Full report at:



70 Percent Obesity in the Persian Gulf, but No Saudi Female Olympiad

27 June 2012

By Maryam Louise

Someone like me -- born in America and separated from Arab and Muslim culture for most of my life -- cannot understand a true insider's perspective as to why a few countries in the Middle East want to restrict women from sporting events like the Olympics. In my Gulf Arab family, the idea was the opposite. Instead of being restricted from sports, I have been chased into athleticism my whole life due to ongoing weight problems.

However, a recent article by the New York Times says that at least three Gulf countries (primarily Saudi Arabia) have an issue that extends far beyond the Olympics. Countries like Saudi Arabia are reportedly restricting women from any kind of exercising outside of their home. If these allegations are correct, I find them absurd considering that Saudi Arabia's obesity rate is almost the same as America's.

The lack of exercise in Saudi is severe

How bad is the anti-athletic attitude of Saudi Arabia toward their female citizens? It is so severe that Human Rights Watch's Christopher Wilcke told the New York Times that his group wants the Saudi Arabia International Olympics Committee to, "promote change at the Olympics but to promote better conditions for all female athletes in Saudi Arabia."

Full report at:



‘Talkative’ Girl Gagged With Tape in Hyderabad school run by Muslim couple

June 28, 2012


A schoolgirl, accused of being talkative in the class, was forced to stand for over five hours outside the classroom after her lips were sealed with an adhesive tape, in a private school in the Noorkhan Bazar locality of Old City here on Wednesday.

Syeda Sadar Fatima, studying in Class 9 at Sam British School, rushed home weeping and reported the matter to her parents. Her father Syed Mujtaba Hussain lodged a complaint with the police who registered a case of voluntarily causing hurt and wrongful restraint (under Sections 323 and 341 of the IPC) against the principal and a teacher. No arrests have been made so far.

Ms. Fatima told The Hindu that when the principal walked into the classroom she was talking to other students. Then “the principal called our teacher Mrs. Sajida and asked her to put an adhesive tape on my lips. I was ordered to stand outside the classroom for the whole day. I could not eat. I was just talking to my friend when the teacher decided to punish.”

“Principal not apologetic”

Full report at: