Rana Abdelhamid (C) demonstrates a move to a student during a self-defense workshop designed for Muslim women in Washington, DC, in March. Credit: Rawan Elbaba/Handout via Reuters
How to Deflect a 'Hijab Grab' and Other Lessons from a Muslim Black Belt
Woman Calling For Secularism in Istanbul Detained After ISIL Attack on Nightclub
Pakistan’s landmark Hindu marriage bill inches closer to enactment
Ashkona Raid: Two Female Militants Placed In Six Days Remand
Pak Punjab Govt to Launch Women’s Safety Phone App
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Child Marriage Almost Doubles In 2016 in Bangladesh
January 03, 2017
With criticism over the proposed Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2016 growing, a study conducted by a rights organisation says child marriage saw a countrywide sharp rise last year.
According to the report prepared – based on information from 14 dailies – by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP), the number was 177 in 2016, which stood at 94 the year before.
The report implies that 2016 was the worst for women in last four years in terms of several forms of violence.
There was a noticeable increase in gang rape in the first six months of 2016 with the rest of the year seeing significant rise in individual rape too.
According to the study, at least 2,537 women and girls were tortured in various forms. 499 of them were raped between January and June, including gang rape of 64.
As many as 4,896 women and girls were subjected to multiple forms of torture in the entire year. In total, 1,050 women and girls were raped with the gang rape victims numbering 166.
The number of gang rapes was 199 in 2015.
The incidents of attempted rapes increased to 165 in 2016 from the previous year’s 142.
Sixty-seven women and girls were set afire allegedly by their relatives and others last year while 35 in 2015. The number of women and girls falling victim to the criminal act was 22 and 26 in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Ninety-seven women and girls were abducted in 2015, but the figure jumped to 132 last year.
Like most forms of violences, an increased number (413) of physical assaults was recorded in 2016, whereas it was 302 in 2015.
Both 2016 and 2015 saw almost the same number of suicides by women and girls.
The number was 337 last year, merely one more than that registered in 2015. Out of the 337 suicides, seven were committed by housemaids. Twenty-five other housemaids were tortured to death in the same year.
179 housewives were murdered last year for dowry, a very common cause behind death of women in Bangladesh. The number of such deaths dropped in 2016 compared to the 202 cases in 2015, 236 in 2014 and 245 in 2013.
Less number of women and girls were trafficked last year than the previous years, but the numbers still remain high.
BMP General Secretary Rakhi Das Purkayastha told the Dhaka Tribune that there was no alternative to changing mindset towards women for their safety.
Insisting on reporting all crimes committed against women and girls, she said it is important to ensure justice for the victims.
She said the completion of trial and their execution would make people from all walks of life more aware of women’s rights.
Law enforcers, administration and the judiciary will have to play bolder roles to help change the situation, she said, otherwise the country would experience even worse days in future.
How to deflect a 'hijab grab' and other lessons from a Muslim black belt
January 03, 2017
Rana Abdelhamid was just 15, walking to a volunteer job in Queens, New York, when a man came up behind her and tried to yank off her headscarf, or hijab.
“I just remember he was taller than me because I remember him hovering over me,” she says, “and he was wearing almost like a bomber jacket.”
What he couldn’t have known was that his 5-foot-1 target was a black belt in Shotokan karate. Abdelhamid pivoted to face her attacker, deflected his grab, and was able to escape unharmed — physically at least.
“The look he had in his eyes and the hate he was carrying towards me was something that followed me around for a long time,” she says.
But the incident also gave her an idea. She began knocking on the doors of mosques, offering self-defense classes for Muslim women. Eventually she founded the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, WISE, which has offered classes in seven cities. More than 1,000 women have signed up.
Today, demand for the classes is surging. Anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States posted a 67 percent increase in 2015, according to the FBI. And experts and advocates say divisive rhetoric during the presidential campaign added fuel.
In the days following the election, a man reportedly threatened to cut the throat of an off-duty police officer in New York who was wearing a hijab. In California, a college student said she struggled to breathe when an attacker grabbed her hijab from behind.
“I remember the day after [the election], I didn’t feel comfortable taking public transportation, to be honest. I would take a lot of Ubers,” Abdelhamid says. “And then when I was in New York I would wear my hijab differently so it looks more fashion-y, less Muslim.”
Concern that an attacker might target Muslim women for wearing a hijab is one of the reasons women come to this self-defense class. Abdelhamid’s team at WISE has devised three techniques for deflecting a “hijab grab,” depending on whether an attacker approaches from behind, the side, or the front.
Abdelhamid tells women to tuck their chin if they’re attacked, to avoid the scarf tightening around their neck, choking them.
Women are often pressured to be soft-spoken, says Pallavi Mittal, an instructor at a recent self-defense class for Muslim women in Washington, DC. When they need to draw attention to themselves, sometimes their voices fail them.
“Even when our instincts are telling us that it’s not a safe environment, or there’s something like the heebie-jeebies. We often still are in that socially conditioned mode,” Mittal says. “It’s really important to use your voice and be heard ... to shout, and say clearly, ‘No.'”
In a chilly church basement under fluorescent lights, Mittal coaches a dozen students on kicks, elbow jabs and strikes. She volunteers her time, and the class is free.
Some students wear street clothes, some sweats, and some hijabs.
“I’m not fearful for myself. I am for my children,” says Mirriam Shah, who brought her two daughters, 4 and 12, to the class. “I want them to experience the America that I love.”
Shah says she’d like to help her daughters face the world head-on. And she says her faith offers a few role models.
“Hadija, Zaineb, Fatima,” she says, listing several. “Look up those women. They are fierce, they are strong. They were not in the shadows. They did not take a step back. They were diplomats. They were revolutionaries.”
Instructional self-defense videos are also cropping up online. One of them, featuring a Chicago-based Muslim woman, Zaineb Abdulla, has had more than 3.7 million views.
“Besides these techniques, I think the most important thing these women should be able to take away from these classes is just their own power,” Abdelhamid says. “Both their agency over their voice, [and] their body.”
Woman calling for secularism in Istanbul detained after ISIL attack on nightclub
A women calling for secularism was detained after participating in a speech protesting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub that killed 39 people and wounded 65 others.
The video of a speech delivered by a member of the Halkevleri (People’s Houses), Ergin Çevik, at a teahouse in the Istanbul neighborhood of Okmeydani calling for secularism emerged on social media on Jan. 1, prompting a user to report it to the Interior Ministry asking for the “traitors to be stopped.”
“We say ‘enough.’ From now on, we won’t allow ISIL or any reactionary jihadist gang into our neighborhoods,” Çevik says in the video, as other Halkevleri members - including Aysegül Basar, who was later detained - listen in the background.
“There is a flag that needs to be raised against reactionaryism. The name of that flag is the flag of secularism. Secularism means freedom, brotherhood and struggling for a humane life. We are calling on everyone to be soldiers of this struggle. We are calling on you to bring fascists and lovers of the presidential system to account. Thank you for listening to us,” Çevik added.
After the video went viral on social media, a Twitter user denounced it in a tweet posted to the Interior Ministry’s official Twitter account.
“Terrorists are inviting people to civil war in Okmeydani. Stop these traitors,” wrote the user, addressing the Interior Ministry.
The tweet received a reply from the ministry, which stated that the person speaking in the video should be identified and the location of the speech found.
“The video has been transmitted to anti-terror units. Please identify the person wherever you see him,” the reply sent by the Interior Ministry’s official account read.
The ministry’s tweet drew a condemnation on social media and was deleted nearly two hours after it was posted. Lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) slammed the exchange and a hashtag reading “Secularism is not a crime” was launched.
Despite the Interior Ministry deleting its tweet, Halkevleri member Aysegül Basar, who can be seen in the background of the video listening to Çevik’s speech, was detained by police at her house in the early hours of Jan. 2.
CHP Istanbul deputy Baris Yarkadas released a statement after Basar’s detention, saying she would be held by police for five days.
“Why is the Interior Ministry bothered by youths making anti-ISIL propaganda?” Yarkadas asked.
Pakistan’s landmark Hindu marriage bill inches closer to enactment
January 3, 2017
The much-awaited bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan on Tuesday moved closer to reality after a Senate committee approved the landmark draft legislation, nearly four months after it was passed by the National Assembly. The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 will become a law after it will be passed by the Senate, the upper house of the Parliament.
The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights unanimously approved the much-awaited Hindu Marriages Bill, paving the way to its presentation in the Senate. The Senate committee under the chair of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Senator Nasreen Jalil took up the bill for discussion and later approved it.
Considered as a comprehensive and widely-acceptable family law for Hindus living in Pakistan, the bill will enable the Hindu community to get their marriages registered and to appeal in courts of law in cases of separation.
There are penalties for violating the provisions of the bill, which allows Hindus to finally have a proof of marriage document called the shadiparat, similar to the nikahnama for Muslims. The bill also allows separated Hindu persons to remarry.
Clause 17 of the bill states that a Hindu widow “shall have the right to re-marry of her own will and consent after the death of her husband provided a period of six months has lapsed after the husband’s death”.
The Dawn reported that soon after the bill was approved, the Committee Room 4 in Parliament House echoed with jubilation as senators and officials of different ministries started thumping their desks.
Minority member in National Assembly Ramesh Kumar Vankwani called the move a new year’s gift for Hindus living in Pakistan. “Today, we are proud to be Hindu Pakistanis after the approval of the bill. Hindus will now be able to get registered their marriages and also apply for divorce under family laws,” he said.
Top constitutional expert Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said the bill is in accordance with the essence of the Constitution. After passing through the committee stage, the bill will be presented before the Senate where it is sure to win bipartisan support.
The bill will be applicable to all Pakistan minus Sindh province which last year separately adopted its own Hindu marriage law. Hindus make up approximately 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s Muslim-majority 190 million population, but they have not had any legal mechanisms to register their marriages since independence in 1947.
Christians, the other main religious minority, have a British law dating back to 1870 regulating their marriages.
Ashkona Raid: Two female militants placed in six days remand
January 03, 2017
A Dhaka court yesterday placed two suspected female militants on a six-day fresh remand in a case filed with Dakkhinkhan police under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The two were arrested during a police raid at a militant den in Dhaka’s Ashkona near Dakkhinkhan area on December 24.
The remanded are Jebennuhar alias Shila, 34, wife of major Jahidul Islam who was killed in an earlier raid, and Trisha Mani alias Umme Aysha, 22, wife of fugitive militant Maynul Islam alias Musa.
The two women surrendered to law enforcers during the December 24 raid.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Satyabrata Shikdar passed the order when Md Sayedur Rahman, investigation officer of the case and inspector of CTTC unit, produced them before the court, seeking a 10-day fresh remand.
The court also directed the investigation officer to submit a probe report before the court by January 17 in the case.
Case filed against eight militants
On Sunday, SI Shahinur Islam of DMP’s CTTC unit filed a case with Dakkhinkhan police against eight suspected militants in connection with the Ashkona raid.
The case was filed under sections 6(2)/7/8/9/10/12/13 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The accused include Shakira alias Tahira Afif Quaderi alias Ador, Trisha Moni alias Umme Ayesha, Jebunnahar Shila, Samina, Maynul Islam Musa, Rashedur Rahman, Salim and Firoz.
Two suspected extremists, including Shakira alias Tahira – wife of absconding militant Sumon, were killed and a seven-year-old girl who is the daughter of slain extremist Iqbal was injured during the police raid named “Operation Ripple 24” on December 24. The CTTC unit conducted the raid at a house in Ashkona’s Purba Para area near Dakkhinkhan which led to the capture of female militants Jebunnahar Shila and Trisha along with two children.
Pak Punjab Govt to Launch Women’s Safety Phone App
January 03, 2017
The Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit in collaboration with the Punjab Safe Cities Authority and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) will the launch the Women Safety Smart Phone Application on January 4.
The Smartphone application developed by the Punjab Safe Cities Authority includes a special button for women’s safety that provides access to the PCSW helpline (1043), SMU’s Women-on-Wheels campaign, and the Police, and allows users to avail an option to mark unsafe spaces. The launch will be attended by government officials and members of civil society.
In regards to the launch of the app, Law and Order Special Monitoring Unit Head Salman Sufi said that the Punjab Government is keen to launch the Women’s Safety app to ensure that women have an effective platform to report incidents of harassment.
The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Fauzia Viqar added that the application includes a button connecting the application with the Punjab Women’s Helpline that provides information on available laws and services for women and to address complaints of inaction or discrimination by other government institutions. She assured women and girls of support from the Government of Punjab to protect their safety in public spaces. PSCA Chief Operating Officer Akbar Nasir Khan stated that the application will make it easier for women to report harassment at all hours and will also be available offline.
The app will allow women to notify Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication (PPIC3) officials regarding the kind of harassment they are subjected to along with their exact geographic location. The law enforcement agencies will dispatch a team of first responders to immediately tackle the situation upon receiving the notification. The app has been comprehensively designed to allow women to report any experience that renders public space unsafe.
The Punjab Safe Cities Authority, Special Monitoring Unit and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women are working in their respective areas to make Punjab a safer province for women. SMU’s Women-on-Wheels campaign alongside being the first government-sponsored initiative to provide free motorcycle training to women also raises awareness regarding street harassment.
The Government of Punjab is taking steps to ensure women’s safety through various initiatives.
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