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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 28 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Chhattisgarh HC: Muslim Women Can Claim Maintenance under CrPC

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 May 2014

Photo: Muslims Protest Christian School in Jerusalem over Hijab Ban


 Ban The Bikini! Kuwait in Nudity Crackdown

 Italy's Far Right Protests Muslim Women Swim

 Muslims Protest Christian School in Jerusalem over Hijab Ban

 Iran’s Population Drive Worries Women’s Rights, Health Advocates

 Dr. Khoja Receives Youngest Saudi Female Broadcaster, Marian Taher Al-Saleh

 Crime-busting Saudi female investigators now an ‘urgent need’

 Saudi Women Hit Back At Twitter Critics

 Imam Prays For the Girls of Nigeria

 Women in Iran's Factories Face Hardship, Discrimination

 156 Children Sent Back To Mukkam Muslim Orphanage

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Chhattisgarh HC: Muslim Women Can Claim Maintenance under CrPC

TNN | May 28, 2014

BILASPUR: Chhattisgarh high court has ruled that even though Muslim Women Act 1986 has a provision for claiming maintenance, yet an application filed under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) — that deals with order for maintenance — cannot be rejected holding it not sustainable.

Setting aside an order passed by principal judge of a family court at Raipur, who rejected an application filed by a Muslim woman seeking maintenance under CrPC, single bench of Justice P Sam Koshy disposed the petition and remitted the case back to family court.

Issue cropped up after Abdul Javed Khan gave a 'Talaq-ul-bain' (divorce) to the petitioner woman, who had approached family court seeking maintenance under section 125 of CrPC, but family court rejected her plea on the ground that proceedings under CrPC was maintainable on account of provisions of The Muslim Women (Protection and Divorce) Act 1986. Accordingly, the application was rejected at the initial stages itself without entering into the merits of the case.

Petitioner's counsel Pankaj Agrawal quoted Supreme Court orders to argue that proceedings under section 125 of CrPC, initiated by divorced Muslim woman, would be maintainable and prayed for setting aside the order of the family court.

In his order, Justice Koshy observed that apex court had categorically held that divorced woman would be entitled for claiming maintenance from her divorced husband as long as she does not remarry and it has also been held that proceedings under section 125 CrPC would be maintainable. The order pointed out that judgments have emphasized that proceedings under section 125 of CrPC always have to be treated as a piece of beneficial legislation.

High court noted that the benefit so acquired under statutory provisions should not be denied to anyone on hyper-technicalities, particularly when other law also provides for grant of maintenance.

Raghevendra Pradhan, counsel for non-applicant, had contended that after enactment of Act of 1986, there is a specific condition for obtaining maintenance for a divorced Muslim woman and CrPC provisions would not be applicable as the Muslim Women (Protection and Divorce) Act 1986 has an overriding effect.



Ban The Bikini! Kuwait in Nudity Crackdown

28 May 2014

Tourists and residents in Kuwait may no longer be able to strut their stuff in bikinis, after a proposal to ban the nudity of women in swimming pools and public places was approved, according to a report on Wednesday.

The head of the Kuwaiti National Assembly committee who approved the move, MP Hamdan Al-Azemi, said the ban also applies to women at hotels, according to the Kuwait Times.

While the Islamist lawmaker did not provided a definition for the term “nudity”, a few days ago “he issued a statement strongly criticizing women dressed in bikinis at some swimming pools on beaches and in hotels. The term also includes revealing or improper dress,” according to the report.

To become a law, the proposal must be approved by the Assembly and accepted by the government, the newspaper added.

In 2011, a parliamentary committee in Kuwait rejected a motion to ban bikinis, saying that it was unconstitutional.

The motion would ban women from wearing bikinis, revealing bathing suits and clothes with deep cleavage at the beach. It also stipulated that offenders be sentenced to one year in prison and to pay a fine.

“The MPs had said that they submitted the motion after noticing that several women did not comply with public moral standards by wearing “inappropriate” clothes, engaging in intimate activities, dancing and singing, listening to loud music and taking their dogs to the beach,” according to a Gulf News report back then.

In similar news, a Qatari campaign urging tourists and foreign residents to respect the country’s strict dress code recently sparked controversy and sent jitters among its majority expatriate population.

The banned attire were shown in a picture tweeted by the campaign. The pictures also appear to show a list of garments including short dresses, leggings and shorts.

“Both men and women should also avoid walking around in their swimming suits away from beaches or swimming pools,” according to the campaign.

The campaign says visitors and residents of Qatar “should know that courtesy and hospitality are of the virtues that are highly appreciated and respected in the Arab world. They will surely feel how friendly and gentle the Qatari people are.”



Italy's Far Right Protests Muslim Women Swim

28 May 2014

Members of the far-right Forza Nuova party have marched on a Venice swimming pool to protest a time slot to integrate Muslims, Italian media reported on Monday.

Forza Nuova supporters from across the north east, including Verona and Vicenza, travelled to mainland Venice to protest at the swimming pool, Vicenza Today reported.

They approached the Polisportiva Bissuola di Mestre sports centre in a convoy of a dozen cars shouting, “A free swimming pool!” the news website said. Protesters also unfurled a banner - “We are at the swimming pool - you go back to Medina” - targeting women of Saudi Arabian origin.

They were stopped by police outside the sports centre, where scuffles briefly broke out, Vicenza Today said.

The far-right supporters were aiming to put an end to the 90-minute weekly swim sessions for women and children, being piloted this month at the pool in an aim to integrate Muslim women in the community.

Announcing the plans earlier this month, Club President Ugo Di Mauro said the move was a chance to “raise awareness of women from different backgrounds” and followed a similar successful project in Turin.

But Italy’s extreme right has repeatedly hit back against efforts to bring the country’s increasingly diverse communities together.

Last year, Forza Nuova supporters protested public appearances by Cecile Kyenge, then integration minister, by hanging nooses up around a town and leaving bloodied mannequins in another.



Muslims Protest Christian School in Jerusalem Over Hijab Ban

28 May 2014

Pope Francis was probably unaware that during his visit to Bethlehem earlier this week, a Christian school in east Jerusalem was being attacked by Palestinian families for allegedly banning their daughters from wearing the hijab, the veil that covers the head of Muslim women.

Of course the Palestinian Authority did not tell Pope Francis anything about the smear campaign that was being waged by Muslims against the Rosary Sisters’ School in east Jerusalem.

At the demonstration outside the girls’ school in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, protesters shouted slogans against the administration and carried placards that read, “No To Racism,” “Hijab Is A Personal Freedom” and “Enough To Racism.”

Some of the protesters pointed out that the hijab had “triumphed in France and Europe” while it was being banned by a school in east Jerusalem.

Other Muslims demanded that the nuns running the school also remove their head covers in return for the ban on the hijab. A school teacher, who also refused to be identified, called for the closure of the school for failing to respect girls wearing the hijab.

Some Muslims went so far as to use derogatory terms to denounce the nuns who are in charge of the school.

Another Palestinian named Rami pointed out that the Rosary Sisters’ School was a private institution that has its own regulations. “Would an Islamic school or college allow a Christian girl to enter its premises without a hijab?” he asked.



Iran’s population drive worries women’s rights, health advocates

28 May 2014

Iran’s supreme leader has called for a population increase, in an edict likely to restrict access to contraception that critics fear could damage women’s rights and public health.

In his 14-point decree, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said increasing Iran’s 76 million-strong population would “strengthen national identity” and counter “undesirable aspects of Western lifestyles”.

“Given the importance of population size in sovereign might and economic progress ... firm, quick and efficient steps must be taken to offset the steep fall in birth rate of recent years,” he wrote in the edict published on his website.

Khamenei’s order - which must be applied by all three branches of government - in effect replaces the “Fewer Kids, Better Life” motto adopted in the late 1980s when contraception was made widely available.

Since then the birth rate has fallen from 3.2 percent in 1986 to 1.22 percent now, according to the CIA World Factbook. At current fertility rates, Iran’s median age is expected to increase from 28 in 2013 to 40 by 2030, according to U.N. data.

But many Iranians are concerned about policy shifts to boost the population, something proposed for years by conservatives, including former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who favoured nearly doubling the population to 120 million, encouraging women to stay home and devote their time to child rearing.


Reformist Iranians fear the fertility campaign could undermine the position of women in a country where 60 percent of university students are female but only 12.4 percent of the work force is, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran.

There are also fears about sexual health.

“In order to fight AIDS, our only route is to distribute and teach people to use condoms,” Dr Minoo Moharez, head of the AIDS Research Centre at Tehran University told Shargh daily.

“If, based on some policies, the distribution of condoms in the country is faced with limitations, it will cause horrible events, the increase of AIDS patients from unprotected sex will be compounded,” she added.

Fertility is one of many issues that divides conservatives and reformists in Iran where President Hassan Rouhani has called for as easing of social restrictions.

Rouhani has said little on birth control, focusing his attention on seeking a deal with world powers on Iran’s nuclear program in order to escape economic sanctions.

Farzaneh Roudi of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based think-tank, said that if Tehran is concerned about an aging workforce, it could employ more of its women.

“The government could tap the women labour force, many of whom do not work in the formal economy,” she said, arguing that the political drive for a baby boom was unlikely to succeed.

“It’s hard for me to imagine that people will have more children because Khamenei wants them to,” Roudi said.



Dr. Khoja Receives Youngest Saudi Female Broadcaster, Marian Taher Al-Saleh

28 May 2014

Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja receives Marian Taher Al-Saleh, the youngest Saudi female broadcaster and actress, in his office in Jeddah on Tuesday. The minister praised the outstanding performance of the talented girl Marian, who is the member of the Council of Youngest Male and Female Media Personnel in the Kingdom.



Crime-busting Saudi female investigators now an ‘urgent need’

28 May 2014

Security and legal experts have said there is an urgent need to employ female investigators to deal with sensitive cases involving women, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Such cases include harassment and rape where detailed information is needed from victims, many of whom find it embarrassing to reveal such information to male investigators.

Women are currently employed in women’s prisons and as inspectors but there is a need to train women to work as investigators to allow for better and unbiased investigations, the experts said.

A security expert who requested anonymity said employing female investigators will help solve a number of issues that male investigators currently face. He pointed to a case where a woman refused to reveal any details of her abuse and harassment and investigators sought the assistance of a female inspector to act as a mediator.

Commenting on the matter, Shoura Council member Thurayya Al-Urayed said employing women as investigators is a necessity.

“Sometimes, police stations simply ignore complaints by women and consider them personal issues that men find it difficult to deal with. Women are often reluctant to complain to the police unless the situation they face becomes unbearable,” she said.

Al-Urayed mentioned the case of a father who allegedly abused his daughter till she died. The child’s grandmother had complained to police but they failed to investigate the matter.

“The child’s grandmother complained to the police multiple times of her son’s abusive behavior toward his daughter but the police did not document the complaints, nor did they bother to verify them. Had they done so, the child may be alive today,” she said.

Al-Urayed recommended setting up women’s sections in specialized security colleges to train and qualify women to work as investigators.

Legal consultant Ahmad Othman concurred and said there is a need to employ women investigators but only after they receive the proper training. “Their role should be confined to dealing with cases involving women and this will preserve the rights of women,” she said.



Saudi Women hit back at Twitter critics

28 May 2014

Several Saudi women have drafted a defamation report denouncing tweets that criticize their existence in numerous professions.

Many of these women have argued that anyone who criticizes the role played by women is attacking the government, which has sanctioned and supported their work in various domains.

Criticism was especially sharp about the recent decision to allow women to work in pharmacies, which is expected to be implemented soon.

One female nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the nursing profession is routinely criticized and looked down upon.

“I am shocked that people criticize women who work as nurses to help support their families,” she said. “I demand that authorities help us put a stop to being undermined and having our work in a vital profession underestimated.”

One woman working at a commercial store concurred.

“Anyone who abuses honest work should be held accountable to prevent dragging women into defamatory dilemmas,” she said.

“Our existence in the working world has become a necessity. What is wrong with working as a cashier? Does this make us any less honorable or respectable?”

“People who slander women working in the health sector are indirectly criticizing the government through their insinuation that government authorities have opened up a loophole for bad conduct,” said Dr. Sabah Abu Zinada.

“These critics are hypocrites, because many allow male doctors to treat their wives,” she said.

Abu Zinada has criticized the silence of the Labor and Health ministries toward the very attacks that have hindered the involvement of women in various sectors for so long.

“The nursing sector might be affected by these vicious online attacks,” she said.

“The government has spent millions on health education. My colleagues and I have personally taken it upon ourselves to educate the community about jobs in the health sector for thirty years now.”

“These tweets threaten the health sector as a whole, especially since the number of female students studying nursing has doubled during the past decade,” she said. “This is a quantitative leap, so why are so many people trying to wreak havoc and destroy this vital sector?“





Imam prays for the girls of Nigeria

28 May 2014

Our thoughts and prayers are with the kidnapped schoolgirls, their families and the Nigerian people during this painful time.

We stand united with the concerned people of the world in condemning the acts of barbarism against innocent children seeking an education. The seeking of knowledge and education is both a universal human right for all people and a central element of the Islamic faith. However, the acts of kidnapping and the selling of human beings are crimes against humanity and have never been sanctioned or justified in any religious tradition.

We hope and pray that goodness and human decency prevails, that no harm comes to the children and they are rescued or safely returned to their families.

OMAR HAZIM, Topeka imam, Islamic Center of Topeka



Women in Iran's factories face hardship, discrimination

28 May 2014

Iranian female workers, many of whom work under dire circumstances, are often slighted and undergo hardship alongside the tough nature of their jobs. In an interview with Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), Haleh Safar-Zadeh, an activist for female workers’ rights, talked about many of the issues facing Iranian women who work in factories. She said, “The minimum wage female workers accept for work is so low that it has angered their male co-workers, who tell them these kinds of agreements may backfire on them and result in lower wages for them — the male workers — as well." She added, "In certain instances, single women are employed in factories on the condition that they commit to remaining single and/or refrain from reproduction.”

While many offices and companies, including in the public sector, have free day care centers for their personnel, rarely does a factory or industrial complex offer such facilities. Meanwhile, the government's recent policies of promoting having more children and offering incentives such as longer maternity leave is lowering numbers of women personnel, as they faced more complicated problems upon their return to the workforce. And as for governmental factories, employers and recruiters generally prefer to hire men over women on account of the conditions they have recently become obligated to follow, such as granting longer periods of paid maternity leave, establishing day care centers and allowing nursing breaks for new mothers.

Many women endure difficult circumstances and lower pay to find employment. That is how most women end up working in private industrial and manufacturing units, where there are no official statistics for working women or the circumstances they endure.

Official numbers issued by the Iranian government in 2013 show that only around 5% of the total workforce in factories and manufacturers in the public sector are women, and some experts believe that the small number might be part of the reason the rights for women workers being overlooked.

The National Syndicate of Women Workers was established in 2003 to protect women workers and make serious efforts to create equal conditions for men and women in the workplace. Most female factory workers and women's rights activists, however, believe that what has been done so far has not been nearly enough and that the problems female workers face continue to seriously outnumber the solutions.

I conducted a telephone interview with the head of a regional female workers syndicate in eastern Iran. The head, who did not wish to be named, said, “The number of women workers declined during [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s presidency, and the approval of fewer working hours and telework for women was another major blow to female Iranian workers. It was, in fact, literally a liability, not an asset for women.”

Official figures — the latest of them published in 2011 — show that Iranian women suffered double the current unemployment numbers during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. The most recent official statistics — announced for the first quarter of 2014 — of unemployment in Iran show 10.5%, while many agree that the unofficial rate of unemployment among Iranian women was close to 20.3% within the same time period.

The latest statistics for female Iranian workers were presented in May 2013 by parliament member Alireza Mahjoub, the managing director of Iran’s “Khaneh-ye Kargar” (Workers Home). Mahjoub pointed out that in total, 15-17% of factory workers (public and private) are women, and that during Ahmadinejad’s administration, women tried as hard as they could to refrain from joining the factory workforce.

Nahid, a 33-year-old worker in a textile factory, tells me that although she and a few of her co-workers are the breadwinners of their families, they are overtly discriminated against, as their male colleagues are assumed to be the household heads and breadwinners.

Official and totally outdated figures published by the government conclude that 22% of serious workplace accidents — safety mishaps — gravely hurt women employees. Unofficial statistics, however, claim that this number is much higher among female workers.

Unofficial statistics also count women as more than 90% of workers in the rug-weaving and carpet-manufacturing industry. A study conducted and published by a group of medical students of Yazd University in Iran proved that over half of the workers in rug-weaving shops and workplaces are girls under the age of 16, the majority of whom work 12 to 16 hours a day. The same research shows that at least 10 different kinds of health conditions, including skin, bone and muscle afflictions, chronic headaches and vision problems are quite common among the female workers of this domain due to the environmental conditions they face at work and the types of material they work with.

Despite serious warnings against employing women to work in brick factories and mines due to health threats, female workers continue to be active in these sectors and continue to face serious health issues.

While the official and unofficial numbers may vary, the undeniable facts are that Iranian female workers are slighted, their circumstances and issues remain overlooked and they are in grave need of attention.



156 Children Sent Back To Mukkam Muslim Orphanage

28 May 2014

They were among those detained at Palakkad railway station on Saturday

All the 156 children (68 girls and 88 boys) who were handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) by the Palakkad district authorities after detaining them at the Palakkad railway station on Saturday were sent back to the Mukkam Muslim Orphanage (MMO) on Tuesday night after verifying their identity.

Committee chairperson Sreela Menon said all the children were found to be students of the Mukkam Muslim Orphanage Higher Secondary School.

“All of them will be temporarily released and handed over to the orphanage authorities as they were found to be students there,” said Ms. Menon. She, however, maintained that their release will be “absolute” only after the formal completion of the procedure.


Ms. Menon, who maintained that as many as12 students in the group did not have “destitute certificate,” said they would also however be sent to the orphanage along with the rest as they had all the other required documents to prove their identity.

“We have kept the best interest and safety of the students while taking a decision through the verification process,” said Ms. Menon.

In the meanwhile, authorities of the MMO are going ahead with their plans to bring back the rest of the children, who were detained and handed over to the Child Care Home in Palakkad on Saturday, by producing the required documents to the authorities.

ID provided

V. Muhammadmon Haji, vice-president of the orphanage committee, said the Palakkad district authorities had decided to hand over rest of the children too to the Child Welfare Committee in Kozhikode.

“They are expected to reach Kozhikode on Wednesday,” said the Haji. He said the orphanage authorities had already sent all required documents and identity proof to the authorities in Palakkad on Monday itself.

Blaming the authorities for “the confusion and trauma” caused to the children, the Haji said the authorities could have sent the entire children directly to the orphanage at Mukkam and verified their identity then and there, instead of traumatising the children denying them food and rest in inhospitable circumstances.

“We have all the required documents of the children with us,” said the vice-president of the orphanage committee.