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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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British Muslim Woman Goes Undercover To Document Islamic State Recruiting Techniques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Channel 4 Screenshot

 

Women urged to raise voice for peace, justice, equality

AIMPLB to take up issue of ‘sexual abuse’ at madrasas

Women vital for peace, democracy, justice: Tawakkol Karman

Muslim women ‘entitled to privacy’ Garda says

Beirut swaps Baghdadi’s former wife with soldiers

Indian-American Muslim group express support to Rajeena

Now Jeremy Corbyn faces sexism storm after speaking at mosque where Muslim women were segregated from men

Two Pakistanis on BBC's 2015 100 Women list

95% Saudi women got AIDS from their hubbies

Women denied franchise: LHC restrains ECP from notifying results

Small steps for women's rights and democracy in Saudi poll

College girl murdered

EP has largest number of female voters

Law changes focus on women and children

185 refugee children die in Aegean Sea in 2015

UAE leads the way in women empowerment

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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British Muslim woman goes undercover to document Islamic State recruiting techniques

December 1, 2015

A British woman who goes by the name Aisha spent a year secretly documenting Islamic State’s (IS) efforts to radicalise young women in London.

She began her undercover campaign by tweeting in support of radical Islam, and was soon contacted by recruiters who encouraged her to use her “mum’s bank card” to book a ticket to Syria. Aisha also received a private message from Sally Jones, a 45-year-old, former British punk singer who defected to the IS.

62% of Pakistanis ‘don’t know’ how they feel about Islamic State

When Aisha tweeted at Jones, complaining that her mother did not want her to wear a hijab, Jones sent a direct message to Aisha that said, “Start saving for a plane ticket xxx and don’t tell anyone.”

Soon, Aisha would be exposed to IS’ on-the-ground recruiting tactics. Abu Haleema, a preacher who was arrested on terrorism charges in January, reached out to Aisha on Twitter and offered to put her in touch with women’s “study groups” in London.

He also asked her to attend a leafleting campaign outside a McDonald’s in East London. It was there that Aisha met some of the female supporters of IS whom she had been following on Twitter. A few days later, she was invited to attend one of the aforementioned “study groups,” during which a Twitter radical mocked the Western coalition fighting against IS, and praised militancy.

“What can you do to a person who looks down in the barrel of a gun and sees paradise after that?” she said. “What can you do? The world is his oyster.”

During the second session that Aisha attended, the preacher accused Israelis of imprisoning Palestinian children. “The amount of Muslim children — I won’t even use the word Palestinian — Muslim children in the custody of those filthy Jews…” she said. “The audacity and the arrogance of these Jews — they encourage killing of Muslim children and Muslim women.”

Islamic State women and enforcers in Syria recount collaboration, anguish and escape

Aisha recorded the study groups with a hidden camera. A film about her undercover exploits was broadcast by the UK’s Channel 4.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1001752/british-muslim-woman-goes-undercover-to-document-islamic-state-recruiting-techniques/

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Women urged to raise voice for peace, justice, equality

December 02, 2015

islamabad - Women should struggle for comprehensive solution to build a society based on peace, democracy, rule of law, justice, equality and freedom.

They should also raise their voice against injustices, corruption, illiteracy, poverty in the society; their voice must be loud as we as women are the solution to every problem – fighting for the women’ right is likely to fight against custom.

Tawakkol Addel-Salam Karman, first Muslim Arab lady awarded with Noble Peace Prize in 2011, stated this at Emerging Young Women Leaders Congress 2015 organised by Institute of Peace & Diplomatic Studies (IPD) and Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSP) in partnership with Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS) and National Testing Service Pakistan (NTS).

She said that the governments, institutions and laws should guarantee active participation of women in all walks of life. In this regard, special quota should be reserved. “In my opinion, the quota for women should be 60%,” she added. The political parties should also ensure effective representation   of women in general elections.  Women must struggle of inclusion women’s social and economic liberty in the constitution and law, she said.

“Pakistan is country of Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and Malal Yousafzai and women from all over the world, especially Muslim women, are proud of their dedicated contribution,” Tawakkol Addel-Salam Karman remarked.

She was of the view that economic liberty is the only way to achieve the desired goals aiming at women empowerment. She emphasised the young women to put their maximum efforts for bringing about positive changes in the society.

In her welcome remarks, President IPD Farhat Asif shared the objectives of the congress and shed light on low representation of young women in various spheres of life in Pakistan. She extended thanks to the organisers and collaborative efforts of IPD, HSF and IUCPSS for promoting peace and democratic values in the society.

Resident Representative Hanns Seidel Foundation, Kristof W Duwaerts lauded the efforts and contribution of Pakistan women for promoting peace and democracy.

The event was attended by diplomats, women parliamentarians and party leaders, senior government official and young women from all over the county.

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/02-Dec-2015/women-urged-to-raise-voice-for-peace-justice-equality

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AIMPLB to take up issue of ‘sexual abuse’ at madrasas

By Mohd Faisal Fareed

December 2, 2015

Amid reports of sexual exploitation of students by teachers in madrasas, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) — the apex body of Islamic Shariah in the country —has decided to take up the issue during its working committee meeting on December 9 at Amroha. The board also plans to issue an advisory to madrasas.

“We are shocked at rising incidents of sexual exploitation in madrasas. We admit that people in madrasas are not farishta (angels) but human beings. They are also prone to social evils. We have to take corrective action immediately,” Kamal Farooqui, member, AIMPLB working committee, told The Indian Express.

The issue came to light after journalist V P Rajeena shared instances of sexual abuse of children in madrasas. Voices came out in her support and even the Indian America Muslim Council, a Muslim group in the United States, called for an internal, independent and transparent assessment of the situation by credible community leaders.

Though the issue is not listed in the agenda of the working committee, Farooqui claimed it will be taken up since several such incidents have been reported over the past few months. “It is not listed in the agenda but there is clause in the agenda where any item which is not listed can be raised. We cannot hide it anymore,” Farooqui said. Currently, Farooqui is camping in Amroha and is engaged in preparations for the AIMPLB meeting.

The AIMPLB is also expected to issue an advisory to madrasas to keep check on such activities. “We cannot permit anything, which is against our religion and the law of the land. Proper do’s and don’ts will be circulated to madrasas,” Farooqui said.

Normally, AIMPLB looks into issues confined to the Shariah but a section of its members are now raising issues, which concern Muslim community outside it as well.

“Obviously how can we say that we are not concerned with anything happening in madrasas. They are our foundation and if such incidents are reported from their premises, it is shocking for all of us… We cannot close our eyes,” said Farooqui.

He claimed that such incidents occur everywhere — in schools, colleges, hostels — but few incidents at madrasas are blown out of proportion.

Soon after Rajeena made a post on Facebook, many others came to fore alleging that they too faced abuse in madrasas. Prominent among them is Malayalam film director Ali Akbar who alleged that he was sexually exploited by an ustad (teacher) after which he stopped going to the madrasa. Akbar’s statement came after Sunni Muslim leader Kanthapuram Aboobacker Musliyar claimed that that Kerala madrasas were free from sexual abuse.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/aimplb-to-take-up-issue-of-sexual-abuse-at-madrasas/

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Women vital for peace, democracy, justice: Tawakkol Karman

December 01, 2015

Islamabad: Women should struggle for comprehensive solutions to build a society based on peace, democracy, rule of law, justice, equality and freedom. They should also raise their voice against injustices, corruption, illiteracy, poverty   in the society; their voice must be loud as we as women are the solution to every problem – fighting for the women’ right is likely to fight against custom.

It was stated by Ms. Tawakkol Addel-Salam Karman Noble Peace Laureate, first Muslim Arab lady awarded with Noble Peace Prize in 2011 at Emerging Young Women Leaders Congress 2015 organized by Institute of Peace & Diplomatic Studies (IPD) and Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSP) in partnership with Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS) and National Testing Service Pakistan (NTS).

She said that the governments, institutions and laws should guarantee active participation of women in all walks of life. In this regard, special quota should be reserved.” In my opinion, the quota for women should be 60%” she added. The political parties should also ensure effective representation   of women in general elections.  Women must struggle of inclusion womens’ social and economic liberty in the constitution and law.

“Pakistan is country of Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and Malal Yousafzai and women from all over the world especially Muslim women are proud of their dedicated contribution”, Mrs. Karman remarked.

She was of the view that economic liberty is the only way to achieve the desired goals aiming at women empowerment. She emphasized the young women to put their maximum efforts for bringing about positive changes in the society. In her welcome remarks, President IPD Ms. Farhat Asif shared the objectives of the congress and shed light on low representation of young women in various spheres of life in Pakistan. She extended thanks to the organizers and collaborative  efforts of IPD, HSF and IUCPSS for promoting peace and democratic values in the society.

Resident Representative Hanns Seidel Foundation, Mr. Kristof W.Duwaerts lauded the efforts and contribution of Pakistan women for promoting peace and democracy.

The event was attended by diplomats, women parliamentarians and party leaders, senior government official and young women from all over the county.

http://nation.com.pk/international/01-Dec-2015/women-vital-for-peace-democracy-justice-tawakkol-karman

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Muslim women ‘entitled to privacy’ Garda says

Dec 1, 2015

Sorcha Pollak

Muslim women wearing headscarves are entitled to privacy when they apply for visas, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) has said, following complaints from those visiting its offices.

Saudi Arabian students are “extremely unhappy” about the treatment they receive at the GNIB’s Burgh Quay offices in Dublin, according to Ebbas Ali of AFA Consultancy, which brings foreign students from the Gulf states to study in Ireland.

Saudi students strongly objected to “females being asked to remove their face cover in a public place”, he said, adding that it was humiliating for some Muslim women to have their photo taken in public.

However, the GNIB said women were entitled to ask for a screen to be used during meetings with immigration officers, though headscarves and veils must be removed so that the full face – but also the ears – of an applicant were visible.

“The configuration of the booths allow for photos to be taken, and if required a screen can be placed at the entrance,” said a GNIB spokesman, adding that staff can use an on-call translation service if applicants do not have enough English.

In a letter to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, however, Mr Ali said students from Gulf states were “voting with their feet and choosing countries who are more sensitive to their culture”.

“Ireland is losing a lot of money because many students choose to go elsewhere because the visa system is much simpler and less costly elsewhere,” Mr Ali wrote to the Minister in a letter seen by The Irish Times.

Dr Ali Selim from the Islamic Cultural Centre said he had met Supt John O’Driscoll of the GNIB in 2012 to discuss cultural sensitivities towards the Muslim community at visa application centres.

Having explained the reluctance of women to take off scarves, on religious grounds, Dr Selim said he appreciated the “flexibility and understanding” that had been shown, to respect the culture of those coming to the Burgh Quay offices.

Reasonable privacy should be provided for women, along with meetings with female immigration officers, he said. “If a woman chooses to cover her face in a particular way, I think her wishes should be respected,” he added.

An online system to handle visa renewal applications has been introduced, but there are complaints that it has been poorly advertised. It is written in English only, so is of little use to foreigners travelling to Ireland to learn English.

The Department of Justice announced on Twitter on November 11th that re-entry visa appointments could be made online from November 16th, though it has not been promoted since then.

Saying that the system was working well, the Department of Justice said the introduction of the new service meant people seeking re-entry visas no longer needed to queue outside the offices on Burgh Quay – a long-standing complaint of those applying.

“If they wish to attend in person, they must first make an appointment to do so,” said Andrew Kelly, an official with the department, though “the simplest and easiest way” to apply was by registered post.

“There is no necessity to attend at the public office and all applicants are urged to make full use of the postal service insofar as possible,” said Mr Kelly, He added that postal applications were normally processed within 10 working days.

Separate arrangements for foreign students registering from the main Dublin universities – DCU, DIT, RCSI, Trinity College and UCD – were also introduced in October to help address queuing times, according to the department.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/muslim-women-entitled-to-privacy-garda-says-1.2449376

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Beirut swaps Baghdadi’s former wife with soldiers

2 December 2015

BEIRUT: A former wife of Daesh's leader was released Tuesday after more than year in custody in Lebanon as part of a prisoner swap involving Lebanese security forces held captive by militants in Syria.

Lebanese authorities handed over Saja Al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi who was briefly married to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the presumed head of Daesh. Along with Saja was a group of mostly radical detainees, according to officials in Lebanon’s military.

In return, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate released 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen captured more than a year ago near the Syrian border, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing lack of authorization to discuss the issue.

The exchange took place near a town on the border with Syria and marked the culmination of months of Qatari-brokered negotiations involving Lebanon’s government and the Al-Qaeda faction, known as Jabhat Al-Nusra.

Video of the exchange showed dozens of Nusra fighters, clad in fatigues and waving assault weapons, celebrating the release on Lebanese soil.

A Lebanese military intelligence officer familiar with the issue suspected that Baghdadi asked Nusra militants to include Saja in the swap. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal also was a turning point in a heart-wrenching saga for many Lebanese, who watched in horror as the militants executed several of the captured soldiers. Lebanon has faced a surge of militant attacks linked to the nearly five-year civil war in Syria.

As many as two-dozen of the soldiers and police were seized after fighters linked to Nusra and Daesh briefly captured the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August 2014. The fate of rest of the rest of captured Lebanese security personnel remains unclear.

In an interview with Qatar-based Al Jazeera television shortly after her release, Saja said she intended to travel to Turkey, although she did not specify details.

Released with her were an unspecified number of prisoners, including several women, Lebanese military officials said. They confirmed that one of the released women is the wife of a senior Nusra commander.

Over a year ago, Lebanese authorities arrested Saja, who was then pregnant, accusing her of secretly transferring cash to militant groups.

She is believed to have wed Baghdadi about seven years ago, before he became head of Daesh, which now controls vast territory spanning parts of Iraq and Syria. Their union lasted only a few months, but the couple had a daughter, the officials said.

While held in a Lebanese military prison, Saja also gave birth to a boy from a different man, the officials said.

“It’s a shame that they were able to do this. How can anyone accept that such a group can operate openly like this inside Lebanon?” said Ali Khoder, 27, a resident of Beirut.

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/843951

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Indian-American Muslim group express support to Rajeena

December 2, 2015

An Indian-American Muslim group has called for an internal but independent and transparent assessment by community leaders in India into claims by woman journalist VP Rajeena who recently described instances of alleged sexual abuse of children in a Madrasa.

Rajeena, who works for a Malayalam newspaper, posted on Facebook about her childhood experiences at a Madrasa, where an "ustad" (teacher) allegedly engaged in alleged sexual exploitation of children.

"We support Rajeena's right not only to speak up about past abuse but also warn the community about the potential for such abuse, that would victimize innocent children," Umar Malick, president of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).

In a statement, IAMC called for an internal but independent and transparent assessment by credible community leaders, leading up to an investigation by law enforcement in all instances where there are grounds to believe the law has been violated.

"Unfortunately, instead of taking the journalist's revelations with the seriousness they deserve, many Muslims questioned her motives or launched a harassment campaign online including threats and hateful remarks," IAMC said.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/indian-american-muslim-group-express-support-to-rajeena-115120200198_1.html

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Now Jeremy Corbyn faces sexism storm after speaking at mosque where Muslim women were segregated from men

2 December 2015

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was caught up in a new segregation row today after it emerged he campaigned at an event where Muslim women were split up from men.

Mr Corbyn was speaking at the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, once linked with hate preacher Abu Hamza and the 7/7 bombers, where attendees sat according to their gender.

At the 2012 Coalition Against Islamophobia event in his constituency, the left-winger was photographed speaking to a hall where predominantly Asian men and women were segregated.

Men sat in the centre row while women sat in the two outer rows.

It is the latest in a series of scandals where Labour MPs have supported events where the sexes were split up.

Yesterday photographs emerged of a Labour Friends of Bangladesh rally in Oldham ahead of Thursday's by-election, where people also sat grouped by their gender.

And in May there was a separation of men and women at a Labour rally in Birmingham attended by deputy leader Tom Watson.

Mr Corbyn has promised a 'new kind of politics' since taking over as leader in September - but was also attacked for appointing no women to the most senior posts in the shadow cabinet.

In a different form of segregation the Labour leader also called for women-only train carriages could be introduced at night to guard against sex attacks.

Mr Corbyn has regularly visited the Finsbury Park Mosque, because it is in his north London constituency.

He last visited in the summer and called it a 'wonderful place' that 'guides me and many others'.

It was shut down in 2003 because of its links to extremists including Abu Hamza but reopened two years later and has won community cohesion awards.

It came 24 hours after his party was rocked by a segregation scandal in Oldham.

Only young women were visible on one side of the audience listening to speakers including Oldham West and Royton candidate Jim McMahon.

Across the aisle, only men could be seen, apart from two white women.

After a Labour MP tweeted the pictures, Ukip – which is fighting to overturn the late Michael Meacher’s 15,000-vote majority in Thursday’s by-election – accused its opponents of hypocrisy in claiming to be the party of equality while supporting segregation.

But Labour denied there had been any segregation by gender at the event – which was organised by Labour Friends of Bangladesh – with one Muslim MP putting the arrangement down to the young women’s cultural sensitivities.

About a fifth of voters in Oldham are from an ethnic minority, with 17 per cent of residents saying they were Muslim in the latest census.

Pictures of the campaign event in Oldham over the weekend were posted on Twitter by Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP for neighbouring Oldham East and Saddleworth.

She is shadow minister for disabled people whose role involves fighting inequality.

Mr Corbyn was due to visit Oldham on Friday but cancelled at the last minute to deal with the growing crisis in his party over whether to bomb Syria.

Before the May election Labour was rocked by a similar segregation scandal when men and women were split at an Islamic centre.

Senior party figures, including Liam Byrne, Tom Watson and Harriet Harman's husband Jack Dromey, spoke at the event in Birmingham where men sat on one side of the room and women on the other.

Labour has denied that people were forced to sit separately based on gender - even though photographs from the event show that the groups were clearly segregated.

Critics called the decision 'sickening' and claimed that the party was 'selling values for votes'. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3341507/Now-Jeremy-Corbyn-faces-sexism-storm-speaking-mosque-Muslim-women-segregated-men.html

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Two Pakistanis on BBC's 2015 100 Women list

December 2, 2015

Paraplegic artist Muniba Mazari and schoolgirl Ayesha Ishtiaque have been featured on the BBC 100 Women list for 2015.

The BBC 100 Women list focuses on sharing the stories of women who are often overlooked.

Muniba Mazari: fighting the taboo of disability

Mazari, 28, describes herself as an artist, motivational speaker and mother. She now speaks out about rights for disabled people in Pakistan.

The wheelchair-bound model and state television anchor lost the use of her legs in a car accident seven and a half years ago.

When she was hospitalised, she began painting, and says she hopes to spread the message of hope through her work.

"I always says it's a blessing in disguise because it made me realise the potential that I had in me. This injury really helped me in proving myself... You just cannot judge a person on a wheelchair. We are strong." she tells BBC.

"I was a housewife who was not allowed to do many things in life. Now I'm free to do everything. I did modelling, I'm into music. Now when they say I'm inspirational, I like to think these wheels are my wings," she says.

"People were telling me you won't be able to be a mother, you won't be able to walk again, you won't be able to live a happy life because you're in a wheelchair," she says.

She says she started painting to "add some colour" to the "sad, dull moments" she experienced.

"Using bright colours, I can probably hide that grief and sorrow in my work... This is the only way I can white it out and be myself," she says.

She says her four-year-old adopted son has helped her feel complete. "I have learnt so much from this little boy," Mazari says.

"If I lose hope around me, many people around me will lose hope."

Ayesha Ishtiaq: 'what makes a good girl?'

Ayesha Ishtiaq, 17, is "extremely passionate" about tackling sexism in Pakistani society and studying gender roles.

The Islamabad resident and schoolgirl also conducts talks on feminism and human rights with friends and aspires to study journalism and women's studies in the United States before returning to Pakistan to help others.

Ishtiaq says she has been writing poems about these issues since primary school, and considers Taylor Swfit and Emma Watson role models.

"In our society we have a separate concept about what being a guy is and what being a girl is," she says.

Ishtiaq narrates an incident highlighting what it is to be a girl in Pakistan: "I came to school and the principal had changed. I don't think he knew even my name and the first thing he said to me was, 'Tie your hair you are a girl'. I just stared at him. 'What does that have to do with this?' 'You're going to get distracted. You can't focus on your studies if you have your hair open.'"

She remains hopeful for the future. "I think that things are changing now and a lot of the older generation is much more sexist than our generation... Many of my guy friends are starting to realise that a lot of us have the same rights as them," she says. She, however, maintains the difference between genders must be preserved and says, "You don't have to fight anyone, you just have to be yourself and you just have to be more confident in who you are and not feel insecure about being a girl... You have to live up to it."

http://www.dawn.com/news/1223735/two-pakistanis-on-bbcs-2015-100-women-list

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95% Saudi women got AIDS from their hubbies

Dec 2, 2015

Hussain Hazazi

JEDDAH — About 80 Saudi women were diagnosed with AIDS in 2014, Sanaa Filimban, AIDS program director in the Ministry of Health, has said. “It was a shock to many women. Most of them did not ever leave the Kingdom and 95 percent of the patients contracted the disease from their husbands through sex,” he said.

The ministry participated in the International AIDS Day, celebrated every year on Dec. 1, by raising awareness of the disease through workshops and lectures.

Filimban said the ministry has set up 48 centers for AIDs checkups and consultancy in the Kingdom. Out of them, 36 will be stationary and 12 mobile, he said.

She added that confidentiality of the patients is paramount in AIDs centers.

“We deal with the women by giving them numbers. We don’t call them nor record their names to protect their privacy. Only their doctor knows their names for administrative reasons,” said Filimban. She added there are 21,761 AIDs patients in the Kingdom.

“Of them 6,334 are Saudis and 15,427 non-Saudis. In 2014, the program recorded 1,222 new patients. Of them 364 are Saudi men, 80  Saudi women and 778 non-Saudi women,” said Filimban.

She also said the Kingdom recorded its first AIDs patient in 1984. “Statistics show that 3 percent of the recorded patients are children and the rate of contracting AIDs through breastfeeding from an infected mother is also 3 percent. There is one Saudi woman with AIDs for every four Saudi men with AIDs. Saudi patients aged 15 to 49 constitute 81 percent of the total number,” said Filimban.

She added only 2 percent of the patients contracted the disease by taking drugs through syringes.

“AIDs is usually transferred through men and women during unprotected sex. In developing countries where most people have protected sex, homosexual sex is the most common way of contracting the disease,” said Filimban.

She added there are other ways of contracting the disease mainly by using infected equipment such toothbrushes, razors, tattoo tools. Patients can also contract the disease by going through an organ implant surgery in which the organ implanted was infected with AIDs.

Meanwhile, Prof. Tawfiq Bin Ahmed Khoja, director general of the Executive Board of GCC Health Ministers, said the rate of HIV cases among GCC citizens ranges between 0.15 and 1.95 for every 100,000 people. “This is the lowest rate in the Arab region,” he pointed out.

Khoja said the number of HIV cases among GCC citizens increased in recent years as a result of unhealthy lifestyle followed by some groups of people and lack of knowledge about the dangerous impact of the disease.

“Increasing foreign travel, important social transformations in major cities, rising use of drugs through injection and presence of a large number of expatriates from different countries are other reasons for the growing HIV cases in the GCC,” he added.

Khoja said health ministries in the member countries have taken a series of measures to contain the contagious disease, including stoppage of blood import, increasing public awareness through the spread of moral and religious values and explaining methods to protect against the virus. “We also provide HIV-positive patients mental and social care,” Khoja said.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/95-saudi-women-got-aids-from-their-hubbies/

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Women denied franchise: LHC restrains ECP from notifying results

December 2, 2015

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from notifying results of two union councils of Sargodha’s Lalyani tehsil, where women were allegedly not allowed to cast their votes.

A voter of UC-34 filed a petition and alleged that candidates for chairman and vice chairman slots in his constituency and UC-35 had an ‘unwritten’ agreement according to which they did not allow women of both UCs to cast their votes.

The petitioner’s counsel asked the court to restrain the ECP from issuing notification of the returned candidates from both constituencies. The PML-N candidates won election in UC-34 and 35.

A deputy attorney general argued that the petitioner was not an aggrieved party and could not agitate the matter. He further said the ECP received no complaint from any woman voter of the constituencies.

Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan rejected the arguments and observed that every citizen of Pakistan was an aggrieved party if women were not allowed to cast votes in any constituency of the country. He said the matter was of grave concern and the court could not let it go merely on technical grounds.

Justice Khan restrained the ECP from notifying final results of both UCs and sought its reply by Wednesday (today).

summoned: The election tribunal on Tuesday summoned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Hamid Zaman for his ‘objectionable’ remarks on its decision in the NA-118 alleged rigging case.

The tribunal had on Nov 25 dismissed an appeal of Mr Zaman against victory of Riaz Malik of the PML-N from NA-118, Lahore.

The tribunal had observed that the petitioner failed to establish allegations of rigging in the general election of 2013 held in the constituency.

The tribunal-member, Rashid Qamar, directed the PTI leader to appear in person on Wednesday (today) and also sought record of his statements from the media.

The tribunal also released detailed verdict of the case.

Correcting a mistake in the short order, the tribunal said 145 voters had obtained double vote for using their franchise against whom direction for taking action by the ECP had already been ordered whereas, in short order, the number of 145 was inadvertently mentioned as 291.

“So said number of voters 291 be read as number of voter as 145,” the verdict said.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2015

http://www.dawn.com/news/1223678/women-denied-franchise-lhc-restrains-ecp-from-notifying-results

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Small steps for women's rights and democracy in Saudi poll

December 02, 2015

Angus McDowall - Saudi Arabian women are running for election and voting for the first time on Dec 12, but their enfranchisement marks only a pigeon step towards democracy and gender equality in the Islamic kingdom.

"For 10 years, since men first voted, we have waited for this chance," said Fawzia al-Harbi, one of hundreds of female candidates who began campaigning this week.

"Now they have given it to us I decided I have the ability to do it.

"

Fully veiled apart from her eyes and hands and with male chaperones at her side, she met potential voters in a Riyadh shopping mall.

Only a fraction of them actually will go to the polls however, and the councils they will choose will have little power.

The ruling Al Saud dynasty has no intention of sharing power with elected politicians, say analysts, and it fears combative campaigns or rapid social reform could unleash unrest in a patriarchal state with deep tribal and religious loyalties.

While top princes privately discuss the possibility of eventual elections for the Shura Council, the appointed parliament that discusses new laws and advises the government on legislation, it is still seen as a distant prospect.

But political liberalisation is edging forward, pressed by a powerful business class that supports modernisation and the growing number of educated and working women and their families, and prodded by Western allies.

"The Al Saud recognise the need for change.

They started with the municipal elections.

Now it is for a majority of seats and they let women vote.

They don't discuss it publicly, but in private they talk about elections for the Shura Council," said Khaled al-Dakhil, a Saudi political scientist.

The introduction of women into public life and gradual moves towards electoral politics were won in the face of stiff opposition from the religious establishment - the conservative clerics upon whose support the Al Saud rely for legitimacy.

While the clergy has always - eventually - gone along with reforms pushed by the Al Saud, its opposition has sometimes legitimised a conservative backlash, such as the riots that followed the introduction of girls' education in the 1960s.

In Saudi Arabia's gender segregated society, campaigning is difficult.

The owners of the mall, one of the only public spaces in Harbi's electoral district, were worried the religious police would complain if she spoke to men.

As her male campaign team, a social networking and website company she found online, negotiated with the management, Harbi stood at the end of the corridor, observing social proprieties.

Saudi Arabia is the only country to bar women from driving and requires them to have a male "guardian" who can stop them travelling, marrying, working or having some medical procedures.

The Grand Mufti, the most senior cleric, wrote in a web posting in 2011 shortly before the late King Abdullah announced women would take part in this election that allowing women to participate in politics was "opening the door to evil".

However, Abdullah appointed 30 women to join the 150-member Shura Council in early 2013 and their participation in discussions has put difficulties faced by women on the agenda, said one of them, speaking anonymously.

One recent proposal would allow mothers, as well as fathers, to get a document necessary to register births and to enrol children in schools, approve medical procedures and perform other basic tasks that now need the approval of a man.

It has been approved for formal study, said the council member.

NO POLITICAL PARTIES

This year's national election differs from the two run in 2005 and 2011 by giving voters the power to elect two thirds of council members instead of half.

However, political parties remain banned and, in a sign of how far the Al Saud want to keep any whiff of national or ideological politics from the poll, several candidates with histories of activism have been barred from running.

Candidates are not allowed to deploy religious or tribal symbolism, cannot use their photographs on election material, and are barred from working together.

They campaign purely on the basis of published biographies and promises on local issues.

What alarms the Al Saud is the emergence of any recognisable bloc, such as Islamists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, that could challenge its power, or that campaigns would push divisive tribal, religious or social issues.

An Islamist activist, who did not want to be named, dismissed the councils as being so insignificant that the vote did not warrant the term 'election'.

"Is this going to change power? We need a real election," he said.

DEMOCRACY

One place where the performance of elected councils has been particularly watched is Qatif, the only municipal district where a big majority of residents are Shias.

Jafar al-Shayab, who was elected to the Qatif council in 2005, and was then appointed as its leader in 2011, said it had had mixed success in meeting voter expectations.

While it had created a new channel for communication between citizens and the government, and given a measure of oversight of the municipality, which is a main provider of state services, entrenched bureaucracy made it hard to get things done, he said.

He cited the example of efforts to coordinate public works for Qatif residents tired of roads being dug up by different departments on successive weeks.

"They failed to do anything in that regard," he said.

On the other hand, the council did help persuade the government to deal with Qatif independently instead of treating it as part of Eastern Province.

That helped it gain a bigger budget and more control of spending, he said.

The relative lack of powers is evident in the low number of Saudis who have registered to vote.

Of a population of 20 million, 1.

74 million men have registered and only 130,000 women.

Of the 7,000 candidates cleared to run, 978 are women.

Outside the mall, Harbi approached a family group of five women and spoke about local problems, her plans to open family centres and improve services, and the experience that had led her to stand.

They listened, laughed and entered into the discussion.

But when asked if they had registered to vote, they said no.

http://nation.com.pk/international/02-Dec-2015/small-steps-for-women-s-rights-and-democracy-in-saudi-poll

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College girl murdered

December 02, 2015

A college girl was found murdered at Tamayit village in Bhaluka upazila of the district on Monday night.

The deceased, Mohima Akhtar, 19, daughter of Ekabbor Ali, was a student of Sonar Bangla Degree College in Bhaluka upazila.

Police said earlier on the day, the victim's parents went to visit one of their relatives' residence at the same village, keeping Mohima alone at their house.

On their return at night, they found Mohima going missing, said Mamun-ur-Rashid, officer-in-charge of Bhaluka Police Station.

Later, the family members found her body at a place near the house.

On information, police rushed to the spot, recovered the body and sent it to Mymensingh Medical College Hospital morgue for autopsy.

Criminals might have strangled the girl as the body bore several injury marks, said police.

A case was filed in this connection.

http://www.thedailystar.net/country/college-girl-murdered-180943

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EP has largest number of female voters

2 December 2015

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province (EP) topped in the number of females enrolled in the Dec. 12 municipal elections with 20.1 percent, followed by Riyadh (14.8 percent) and Northern Region (9.1 percent).

An official report titled “The municipal elections system project” has revealed that 22 percent of females will participate in the elections across the Kingdom, as against 78 percent males.

The elections are historic considering that women are participating, as voters as well as candidates, for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

Women voters in Hail comprise 8.7 percent, Al-Jouf 6.8 percent, Qassim 6.3 percent, Madinah 5.5 percent and Jazan 5.2 percent. Their number is estimated at 5.1 percent in Tabuk, 4.9 percent in Al-Ahsa, 3.3 percent in Jeddah, 3.1 percent in Najran, 2.6 percent in Asir, followed by Makkah with 1.9 percent, Taif 1.7 percent and Al-Baha 0.9 percent.

The report showed that Riyadh ranked first in the total number of male and female registered voters with 100,937 voters, and the EP second with 75,874 voters. Hail came in third with 40,085 voters, followed by Madinah (45.589), Qassim (43,760), Asir (31,208) and Northern Region (28,610).

According to the report, Hafr Al-Batin province came in the eighth place with 27,780 voters, followed by Jazan region (27,300), Tabuk (25,174) and Jeddah (23,997). Besides, the number of male and female voters in Al-Jouf is 23,852, Najran 22,270, Taif 21,395 and Al-Ahsa 12,407.

The report said that the total number of male and female registered voters during the third phase of elections is 552,239, with an additional 791,441 enrolled in the first phase and 405,763 in the second phase.

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/844216

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Law changes focus on women and children

2 December 2015

RIYADH: The Shoura Council has backed a proposal to amend current health care legislation to ensure more comprehensive care for women and children.

The proposal filed by Shoura member Mona Al-Masheit was supported by fellow members at the consultative body’s 68th ordinary session held recently, according to a report in a local publication recently.

Al-Masheit had called for a review of the Kingdom’s health care system to ensure better care for women and children. Several members said that it cost more to treat people for illnesses than institute preventive programs, which educate people on living healthy lifestyles.

They said that the country’s universities and colleges should include women’s health care programs in their curricula, and set up special clinics at government and private sector hospitals, the report stated.

In other discussions, member Abdullah Al-Harbi recommended setting up a national data bank in cooperation with other bodies, including statistics departments at universities. The Shoura should also consider assisting in establishing a center for surveying public opinion, he said.

The Shoura further discussed the report of its energy and economy committee and its recommendations about the annual report of the Central Department of Statistics and Information, which included an upgrade of its systems.

Mohammad Al-Najji accused the department of using outdated data gathering systems to calculate unemployment figures. Mohammad Al-Mutairi called for the department to provide more information on its geo-location statistical system.

Saeed Al-Sheikh said the department must produce reports that are more up to date, while Mansour Al-Kredies suggested it should produce special surveys of the labor force every three months, so that the government could have a clearer idea of the state of the market.

http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/844186

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185 refugee children die in Aegean Sea in 2015

02 December 2015

Some 185 refugee children have died in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece in 2015 so far UNICEF has said.

"In the Aegean (Eastern Med), about 30 percent of the deaths this year have been of children. This is currently 185 children out of a total of 590 deaths in the Eastern Med this year," UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

Images showing the body of drowned three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi provoked worldwide reaction when they were released last September.

However, since then at least 90 refugee children have died in the Aegean Sea in October alone.

One in five of these victims were aged two years old or less. Overall, UNICEF says five percent of the fatalities in the Eastern Mediterranean were under the age of two.

Most of the refugee children who have died this year are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and were under the age of 12, according to UNICEF.

According to UNICEF statistics, 30 percent of the 3,500 deaths in Mediterranean Sea this year were children, meaning more than 1,000 youngsters died in perilous sea voyages in 2015 so far.

However, the charity is reluctant to give definitive data on the tragedies.

"We not have a total figure of children deaths for the whole Mediterranean because data on age of those who die are poor in the Central Mediterranean," Crowe said.

"Generally many more people [of all ages] have died in the Central Med: 2,890 so far (or about 81% of all deaths in the Med).

“We don’t know what share of those who died are children though. It is likely a lower share than in the Eastern Med as fewer children travel through the Central Med," Crowe added.

According to UNICEF, since the beginning of this year, more than one in five of the over 870,000 refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean are children.

Between Jan. and Sep. 2015, more than 200,000 child applications for entry to the EU were received, UNICEF said.

A quarter of all these child applicants originate from Syria, followed by Afghan children on 18 percent.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the total number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 has reached 878,000, which is four times higher than last year.

So far, some 3,563 people have died crossing the Mediterranean; 589 of these deaths have been in waters between Greece and Turkey.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/166945/185-refugee-children-die-in-aegean-sea-in-2015

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UAE leads the way in women empowerment

December 1, 2015

Dubai: Across society’s spectrum, from the political arena to the diplomatic corps, from the judiciary to the commercial sector, Emirati women have helped build a stronger nation in 2015 as the vision of UAE’s leaders enabled them to take greater strides. The year has seen a series of milestones being reached in the field of women’s empowerment.

In February, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the formation of the UAE Gender Balance Council, which was designed to activate the role of women as an essential partner in building the country’s future and as the main building block of society.

In March, Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme President of the Family Development Council and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, took the issue a step further and launched the Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women 2015-2021, which provided a framework for federal and government institutions and organisations in developing work programmes to empower women in all areas of sustainable development.

In representing the nation, women have made up 17.5 per cent of the UAE’s partially elected representative body, the Federal National Council (FNC), and in senior positions, five women hold ministerial positions in the Cabinet, including Najla Mohammad Al Awar, who has been holding the position of Secretary-General of Cabinet since 2006.

Furthermore, three of the UAE’s ambassadors, one Consul-General and the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York are women. Dr Hessa Abdullah Al Otaiba (ambassador to Spain), Shaikha Najla Al Qasimi (ambassador to Portugal), Hafsa Al Ulama (ambassador to Monte Negro), Noura Mohammed Juma (Consul General in Milan) and Lana Nusseibeh, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN.

In the local political arena, eight women were among 20 members appointed to the new House. Naema Abdullah Saeed Al Sharhan, from Ras Al Khaimah, made history as she won a seat in the FNC election 2015, one among 20 victorious candidates from across the country. Naema became the third woman to be elected to the council, with 1,004 votes. Women empowerment reached new heights with the election of Dr Amal Al Qubaisi as the first woman Speaker of the Federal National Council in November, a position which ranks her among the most powerful women in the country and in the Arab world.

In the last few years, four women have been appointed as judges, two as public prosecutors and 17 as assistant public prosecutors and marriage officials. four women were appointed as judges, two as public prosecutors and 17 as assistant public prosecutors and marriage officials.

Women serving in diverse fields, such as the Armed Forces, Customs and Police — that are usually dominated by men — have also come under the spotlight, particularly after the heroic efforts made by Major Mariam Al Mansouri who became the UAE’s first woman pilot to lead a strike mission in Syria against Daesh in October 2014.

Significant government entities, such as twofour54 media free zone, Tecom Business Park and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, are headed by women.

Women currently constitute 66 per cent of the public sector workforce in the UAE — the average global rate is at 48 per cent — with 30 per cent in senior and decision-making positions, which is close to the level in advanced countries.

(With inputs from WAM)

Emirati women speak on empowerment

“While the legal practice [in the UAE] is dominated by men, it changed about 10 years ago when it began to take a different route and women became engaged with it on many levels and many ways, such as including women in the in-house council and having them as judges. UAE women studying at universities in the faculty of law and Sharia have increased and it makes me happy to see that. My father has practised law all his life and I didn’t hesitate to enter that field. When I studied law, I found it to be a very hospitable environment where law firms wanted to have women on board. I believe the country has empowered women to do many things and have a diversity of job opportunities, such as having your own legal practice.”

“Art is a powerful tool that empowers everyone; [so] I do not like to be labelled as being just a woman [because it suggests that your work] is secondary. Having a creative outlet to express opinions and ideas is a powerful medium to bridge cultures and create a dialogue. There are various art forms that lend themselves powerfully to a message and convey it to the audience. To me, that is empowerment. A message can lead to change and change empowers individuals. Through it, communities form, ideas develop and conversations take place. Education is a powerful tool that lends itself to art, and the more aware you are about your surroundings, the stronger your message.”

“I have been working as a psychiatrist for 20 years and, apart from myself, there was only one other woman doctor employed in the psychiatric department at Rashid Hospital at the time, as it was male-dominated. Our colleagues would try to protect us from difficult cases because they assumed that as women we were sensitive and would be affected by our patients’ condition. On the contrary, we did not want any help and did not want to be treated any different from our male colleagues. As a woman, I did not have to prove myself. All I had to do was be a professional and show that I could protect myself from violent patients. I received a lot of support from my family; everybody encouraged me to get into this field.”

“The UAE has set the bar for gender equality in business, not just in the region but, arguably, in the world. The late Shaikh Zayed [Bin Sultan Al Nahyan] and our leaders, as well as Shaikha Fatima have developed a strong legacy that encourages and supports women to pursue any field of interest and contribute to society. Women have made a noticeable presence and have achieved a great deal in different sectors, private and public. As a woman, I feel the sky is the limit for what my gender can achieve in this country. Having applied for jobs and gone through several interview processes, I have come to appreciate that employers are eager to hire women and are not presumptuous regarding stereotype [impressions] that women might not commit to their jobs fully, or might eventually quit to raise a family. Employers are keen to develop their women employees at whatever level they happen to join and make their experience meaningful and fulfilling.”

Milestones in women empowerment

18.11.2015

Dr Amal Al Qubaisi makes history by becoming the first woman in the Arab world to be elected as Speaker of UAE Federal National Council (FNC)

15.10.2015

Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female squadron leader, and F-16 fighter pilot of the UAE Air Force, receives the Asia Game Changer Award at Asia Society’s Game Changer Awards at the UN headquarters in New York

15.10.2015

The UAE is setting a precedent in gender balance and women’s empowerment at the workplace. Accounting for more than 66 per cent of jobs in the workforce in the public sector, they occupy key decision-making positions, according to Dr Shamsa Saleh, CEO of the Dubai Women Establishment and General Coordinator of the UAE Gender Balance Council.

12.10.2015

UAE women leaders attend the 11th Women’s Forum Global Meeting held in Deauville, France. They visit the forum under the directives of Shaikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment.

21.09.2015

Hind Abdul Aziz Al Owais becomes the first Emirati woman to be posted at the United Nations headquarters in New York as a senior adviser since the UAE became a member of the United Nations in 1971.

26.08.2015

Martyrs Mothers’ and Children are Ours, a humanitarian initiative, will see a group of Emirati media representatives visit the mothers of martyrs to support them emotionally and financially.

28.08.2015

The UAE dedicates the day as Emirati Women’s Day in recognition of the role of Emirati women in the sustainable development of the country. This is announced by Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), Supreme President of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood

14.06.2015

Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak is named the Islamic Personality of the Year 2015, making it the first time the award has been conferred on a woman.

9.4.2015

35 young women, including Emiratis and expats from all seven emirates, launch ‘e7 Daughters of the Emirates’. The young women will have the opportunity to make their country better.

25.04.2015

The Dubai Women’s Establishment (DWE) signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ducab for ongoing partnership and collaboration towards empowering Emirati women in the workplace, especially in the private sector. The agreement will see Ducab sponsor the annual Women Leadership Exchange Programme (WLEP) organised by DWE in collaboration with the Women for Sustainable Growth network and Sweden-based Mil Institute.

7.03.2015

Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak launches the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE from 2015-2021

10.02.2015

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announces formation of UAE Gender Balance Council. The council aims to boost UAE efforts to evolve and enhance women’s role as key partners in building the nation’s future.

http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/government/national-day/uae-leads-the-way-in-women-empowerment-1.1628975

 

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