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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 20 Jul 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Christian Girls Being Snatched by Islamist Traffickers in Egypt

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Jul 2013 

Afghan women wait to receive free food donated by Muslim Hands, a not-for-profit organization, during the second week of the holy month of Ramadan in Kabul. Photo: AP


 Taliban-Style Edict for Women Spreads Alarm in Afghan District

 Jihad to Convert Hindu Girls to Islam Rages on In Pakistan

 Hindu girl rescued after gun battle with kidnappers in Karachi

 Clerics Bar Women From Markets In Northwest Pak

 Saudi Woman rights activist, Iman al-Qahtani given travel ban

 Women May Vote For Women in New Khyber Pakhtunkhwa LB Reforms

 Widowed By Honour Killing: “My Family Killed My Husband”

 Haia: Women Shouldn’t Work After 7 P.M.

 Saudi King Orders Cancer-Hit Iranian Girl’s Treatment

 Dr Fouzia Welcomes Development on Aafia Issue

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Christian Girls Being Snatched by Islamist Traffickers in Egypt

 July 20, 2013

The recent upheaval in Egypt once again brings to the forefront the plight of the country's Christians who have come under increased attack from Islamists since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

Now they're hoping and praying Egypt's next government will do a better job of protecting them from attacks and the trafficking of Christian girls.

Funerals like the recent one at St. Mina Church in North Sinai have become all too familiar for Egyptian Christians. Friends and family recently paid final respects to Father Mina Aboud, a beloved Coptic priest. Islamist gunmen opened fire on Mina July 6 while he drove his car after shopping in the northern Sinai town of el Arish.

Father Mina's murder was no surprise to Egypt's Christians because they are frequent targets of attack during times of political instability. Christians have struggled for years--not only to protect their churches, homes and businesses, but also their daughters.

One of the challenges facing Christian families, particularly in Upper Egypt, is the kidnapping of young Christian girls. It generally happens when the girls enter their teen years.

To help avoid this tragedy, some families re-locate to Christian villages. But with that comes a whole new set of challenges.

Manel moved her family from a Muslim village to a Christian one near el Minya because she wanted to protect her oldest daughter Maryam from abduction and forced conversion. She made the decision after noticing some Muslim girls and boys attempting to lure Maryam away from her family and faith.

"The girls used to tell Maryam, 'Come with us, we will give you a some money, you are having a hard life.' The young boys were sending the young girls to do this," Manel explained. "I feared they would kidnap her and then demand a lot of money to return her, or they would return her and she wouldn't be in the same way as they took her."

Now residing as strangers in a new town, Manel's husband has difficulty finding work.

"I'm much happier now because it is safe for my daughters here, but the working opportunities for my husband are little because few people know my husband," she said.

Maryam's family borrowed money to buy food and make their house payment. They prayed God would provide help.

She and her family are not alone. Last year, a Helsinki Commission hearing revealed the number of disappearances and abduction of Christian girls is increasing. Human trafficking expert Michel Clark told of more than 800 cases.

Still, many Islamic leaders and government officials debunk claims that Christian girls are being trafficked. They insist the conversions and marriages are not forced; they are simply the result of amorous love between young people of different faiths.

"A boy and a girl from different religions love each other and thus one of them converts his religion in order to get married," Helmy al Sayed, Freedom and Justice Party Secretary for Giza, said. The FJP is the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The problem is that families do not accept that, also the two religions--neither the church accepts any of its people to Islam because of love, nor Islam accepts this type of conversion," Sayed said.

Sayed claims it is a social problem that must be addressed, not a religious one.

Earlier this year, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch,Tawadros II told CBN News efforts to prevent trafficking and forced conversions often fail.

"This is very sensitive issue for us...we try with the government, with the local authorities... sometimes we are successful, but sometimes no success," Tawadros said.

The Mohammed Morsi government did little to curtail the trafficking. But the political change gives many Egyptian Christians hope. They pray the next government will force police to treat Christian kidnapping complaints seriously and prosecute the kidnappers.

As for Maryam and her family? Their prayers for help were answered when CBN provided them with the seed money needed to start a small clothing business.

Menal said she and her daughters will "tell people in the church that we sell new clothing and the profits we get will help buy clothes for my children and feed my family."

She also expressed gratitude to her American brothers and sisters in Christ.

"May the American Christians who helped us have a long life and may God be with them to help others like me to become self-supporting," she said.

The effort is much needed help from caring American Christians at a time of uncertainty, bringing not only a glimmer of hope, but also a new beginning in Egypt.

Christians are calling Morsi's ouster 'a miracle,' why was this second revolution so important to them? And what do they hope the future will bring? CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane talks about this and more on CBN Christian World News, July 19.



Taliban-Style Edict for Women Spreads Alarm in Afghan District

 July 20, 2013

One of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's main religious advisers will not overturn a decree issued by clerics in the north re-imposing Taliban-style curbs on women, in another sign of returning conservatism as NATO forces leave the country.

Just days after the United States launched a $200 million programme to boost the role of women in Afghanistan, a senior member of the country's top religious leaders' panel said he would not intervene over a draconian edict issued by clerics in the Deh Salah region of Baghlan province.

Deh Salah, near Panshir, was a bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment prior to the ousting of the austere Islamist government by the US-backed Northern Alliance in 2001.

But the eight article decree, issued late in June, bars women from leaving home without a male relative, while shutting cosmetic shops on the pretext that they were being used for prostitution - an accusation residents and police reject.

"There is no way these shops could have stayed open. Shops are for business, not adultery," Enayatullah Baligh, a member of the top religious panel, the Ulema Council, and an adviser to the president, told Reuters late on Friday.

Residents of Deh Salah described the order as a "fatwa", or religious edict, although only senior clerics in Kabul should issue such a binding religious order.

But underscoring opposition to the edict, a mayor was shot dead by a teenaged shop owner while trying to enforce the order, which also barred women from clinics without a male escort, threatening unspecified "punishments" if they disobeyed.

Afghanistan has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates and more than a decade after the US-backed toppling of the Taliban, it still ranks as one of the worst nations to be born a girl.

Under Taliban rule from 1996 until 2001, women were forced to wear the head-to-toe covering burqa and sometimes had fingers cut off for wearing nail varnish.

The decree, signed by a conservative cleric in the area named Zmarai, contained a warning of holy war if authorities tried to block it: "If officials do react to our demands, we will start a jihad."

There is growing fear among many people in Afghanistan that the withdrawal of Nato-led forces and efforts to reach a political agreement with the Taliban to end the 12-year-old war could undermine hard-won freedoms for women.

"Like the Taliban again"

In the deeply conservative, male-dominated country where religion often holds more sway than legal authority, religious leaders have often been a major barrier to women obtaining the rights granted to them under the constitution.

In Deh Salah, home to about 80,000 people, most of them ethnic Tajiks rather that the majority Pashtuns, the main community from which the Taliban draw support, a cosmetic shop owner named Abdullah stood before his business - now hidden behind plywood sheeting - and said clerics were increasingly flexing their muscles.

"They want to bring back the Taliban days. If they have their way they will take control in this district and make life impossible," said Abdullah.

"We are poor people and they have closed me down. I want the government to take action or we are going to have mullahs running the place like the Taliban again," he said.

Shah Agha Andarabi, a doctor, said the rumour of prostitution and adultery in Deh Salah was without foundation and was being used as an excuse by conservative clerics to crack down on women.

"There is nothing going on in these shops and I guarantee that. There was no proof. They just wanted to close these shops to women," he said.

Deh Salah police commander colonel Abdul Ahad Nabizada also rejected the claims underpinning the decree, but said the mayor who was shot while closing the shops had been frightened into action by the threat of jihad against him if he was deemed to be blocking the edict.

"Everyone here is Muslim. We haven't seen any behaviour like they claim in this small city. There were women coming to get their needs in the market and conservative people were against it," said Nabizada.

US aid officials this week announced a $200 million assistance package for Afghan women, to be matched by other international donors allied with the Nato-led coalition in the country, due to end combat operations by the end of next year.

Human rights and women's groups have accused Karzai's government of backtracking on pledges to protect women's freedoms, highlighted by parliamentary opposition to a presidential decree outlawing violence against women.

The government also appointed a former Taliban official to the country's new human rights body, while criminal laws under consideration in parliament would prevent women and girls testifying against family members accused of abusing them.



Jihad to Convert Hindu Girls to Islam Rages on In Pakistan

July 19, 2013

The Jihad to convert Hindu girls is continued unabated under the indifferent attitude of Pakistani authorities. In recent months, seven Hindu girls have been targeted in the conversion to Islam campaign. Of the seven, five have been abducted and converted by Muslim goons. One Hindu girl was abducted and forced to convert to Islam, but she has been subsequently recovered by the police. In one case, the attempted abduction was foiled by the passer-byes.

The Muslim abductors have also begun using new modus operandi. In one case, a Muslim man first became the 'brother' of a Hindu girl, and also observed the Rakhi Bandhan, a custom cementing the bond between brothers and sisters. Later, the same 'brother' abducted his 'sister'. After the abduction, he married her. Perhaps, as the prevailing understanding goes, he will be extra pleased with the idea that he will be rewarded after death for converting one Hindu girl to Islam.

Incidents of abduction of teenage Hindu girls are of no concern to the Sindh provincial government. And, such abductions are music to the ears of Muslim fundamentalists and powerful local elements that operate freely within and around the local administration.

According to advocate Veerji Kolhi, President of Progressive Hindu Alliance and Council for the Defense of Bonded Laborers, two Hindu sisters belonging to a low Hindu caste were abducted on 7 July 2013 by armed men from their village Kohli Vairi, located in Nangar Parka Taluka, Tharparkar District, Sindh. The girls, Ms. Tarki aged 16 years and Ms. Beena aged 14, daughters of Vanoon Kohli, were abducted by Hanif Nohri, Inayat Nohri, Majnoon Nohri , Jamal Nohri and Ismail Khoso, residents of Bado and Jud'dan villages located in the same taluka and district. They forcibly entered the house of the Kohli family in the night at 8 p.m. Mrs. Savarian Kohli, mother to the girls, was taking dinner with her children when the armed men entered her house. The abductors are alleged to be henchmen of the former chief minister of Sindh who has now joined the ruling party, the PML-N.

Mrs. Kohli fears that her daughters will be moved to another location, converted to Islam forcibly, and be killed by her abductors, as they are powerful and have great influence in the area. Demonstrators also appealed to the authorities to search the madressas for the recovery of the girls.

The Daily Awami Aawaz has recently reported that the case of Hindu Girl from Tendo Jam village who was kidnapped on the pretext of  a 'love marriage' has been solved. Police have arrested a man, Mr. Mohammad Ali Machi, along with a woman, said to be his sister. There was an emotional scene in the police station as the girl, upon seeing her father Lilaram and mother Laxmibai, embraced her mother and started crying. In her statement the girl said that she came to Korti with her maternal uncle. She visited a dargah to seek blessings, after which she proceed to the Md. Ali Machi residence where she was forcibly taken to Kinri, converted to Islam, and married to Md. Ali Machi. She pleaded to be handed over to her parents. After recording the statement of the girl, the police arrested Md. Ali Machi, along with his sister Zarina. A case of kidnapping has been registered against them.

According to the Internationally Unity for Equality (IUFE), on 28June 2013, a Hindu girl Ms. Rekha was abducted by Mr. Yaseem Lashari when she was on her way home from her work place. Rekha and her mother, Naavi, work in the factory where they met with Yameen Lashari. He made Rekha his sister and Rekha tied him a Rakhi (thread cementing bond between brother and sister, tied on the Hindu festival of Raksha bandhan by a girl around the wrist of boy, making them both brother and sister). Lashari became close to the family. He often visited their home. One day Rekha didn't come back home from work and on the same day Lashari was also absent from the work place. Navvi realized that her daughter had been abducted by Yameen. She filed a case of kidnapping against Yameen Lahari. On the day of  the hearing the couple came to court and Naavi tried to meet with her daughter, but Lashari did not allow them to meet and talk. He abused and insulted Navvi and told her to get out of the court. Navvi informed the police about the incident but police didn't take any action.  Later, one day,  Lashari informed the mother through a messenger that he and Rekha have gotten married and there is no need for her to follow them.

On April 6, six persons riding motorbikes tried to abduct a Hindu woman from a bus near Toban Shakh, in Kanri, Sindh. The bike rider stopped the passenger bus and tried to drag out a married Hindu woman, Ms. Tarri, from the bus. When they were pulling her, she cried and shouted loudly for help. Other passengers and bystanders near the bus came to her aid and the perpetrators ran away. The Hindu community tried to file a first information report at the Kinri police station, but even after 6 hours of making the complainants wait, the police refused to file a case. According to the police the incident took place outside the limits of the Kinri police station.

Jamna Kumari, a 12 year old girl, was abducted by influential persons from village Arbab Rind, located near Bhit Shah, Hyderabad. According to the father of the girl Altaf Rind, Pathan Rind, Wazir Rind along with their companions entered his house, looted cash, gold, and other value able things. After looting, the men dragged out and took away his daughter Kumari. He filed a First Investigation Report (FIR) against the criminals. The Bhit Shah police arrested the men. But after taking bribes, the police released the them. The abductor goons are said to be from a religious seminary. The whereabouts of Jamna is still unknown.  Her Hindu family fears that the girl will be sold to the Taliban in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkha, after her forced conversion to Islam.

In March 2013, Ganga, 18 years of age, daughter to gold trader Ashok Kumar, was abducted at dawn from her home located Jhanjhri Street, Sarafa Bazaar, in the limits of the City Police Station, Jacobabad. Mr. Asif Ali, the son of another gold trader Bahadur Ali Surhio, converted the abducted girl to Islam and married her. The marriage ceremony took place at the Amrot Sharif shrine.  An FIR was lodged by the parents of the girl against Asif Ali, Bahadur Ali Surhio, and Miran Bukhsh. This abduction occurred at the time of the election of the Hindu Panchayat, which was postponed until this incident could be resolved. A big protest was organized against the alleged abduction and forced conversion. The protestors demanded protection of Hindu girls and Hindu people. They demanded the reunion of Ganga with her family. See and

According to the Hindu Panchayat, every month around 20 girls are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. The role of officials in the police and in the Courts is questionable in these cases. The general view is if they were to act in accordance with the laws of the country, they will lose the reward awaiting them after death for such a conversion and also that the Muslim society will retaliate against them, declaring them as infidels or agents of India.

This thinking was evident in the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Rinkle Kumari and Dr. Lata. The Court decided in favour of perpetrators hailing from a notorious seminary that abducted and converted Rinkle Kumari to Islam. The Chief Justice himself met the abductor of Rinkle Kumar during Friday prayers and congratulated him for converting a Hindu girl to Islam.

Because of the vulnerability of Hindu girls and the attitude of the Courts, the government, and the police, Hindu families have started migrating to India. Hindu families are worried about their girls, and they try to keep them inside the house. But Muslim bigots have begun attacking their homes and kidnapping the young girls from inside their houses. Hindu boys appear to be of no interest to the Muslim fundamentalists.

The Hindu community has protested that even after forcibly converting the girls to Islam and marrying the girls, the perpetrators never allow the girls to meet with their parents. In many such cases even the courts have not allowed the girls to meet their parents. In the case of Rinkle Kumari and Dr. Lata  the Supreme Court did not allow such a meeting to take place for fear that the real story would be told. It is also alleged by the Hindu community that girls are sold to the Taliban after they are converted to Islam.

In the absence of fair trial, the Hindu community continues to fall prey to the 'Islamic Justice'.



Hindu girl rescued after gun battle with kidnappers in Karachi

Jul 19 2013

Karachi : A three-year-old Hindu girl in Pakistan was rescued by police here in an operation during which her four captors were killed. Mahi Suchdev, daughter of Sunil Sachdev was kidnapped last week and a ransom of Rs 50 million was demanded by her kidnappers, police said. "Mahi had been taken away on July 13 by the family's house servant Rano, from the doctors' mess in Walika Hospital where her father and mother both doctors worked," said Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) chief Ahmed Chinoy and Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) head SSP Niaz Ahmed Khoso while addressing a joint press conference here yesterday. The gun battle also left five policemen and one employee of the CPLC wounded, the police said. The family engaged the kidnappers in talks over the ransom amount which was scaled down to Rupees 600,000 and it was agreed that the ransom would be paid near Kashif Centre, the Dawn reported. A police team was already deployed there when a kidnapper came to collect the money the police challenged him and in the ensuing encounter the suspect sustained a single bullet in his abdomen, while his accomplices managed to escape in the car.

"The wounded suspect told the police that the girl was kept in Neelum Colony," said SSP Khoso. "He did not tell his name but only identified himself as Hindu. He died while being taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre," he added. The police later gunned down the three accomplices from the hideout in the congested Neelum Colony.

Following the shoot-out, the police added that four Kalashnikovs, four pistols were seized from the kidnappers.

The identity of other suspects could not be ascertained immediately, the officials said.



Clerics Bar Women From Markets In Northwest Pak

July 20, 2013

Islamic clerics on Friday barred women who are not accompanied by a close male relative from entering markets of Karak area in Pakistan's restive northwest. A committee of "Ulema" (clerics) in Karak district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province said only women accompanied by a "Mehram" or close male relatives like a brother or son would be allowed into markets.

The clerics issued the directive during a meeting held at a mosque in Karak, TV news channels reported. The meeting, chaired by former Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Hafiz Abne Amin, contended that women roaming alone in markets were "spreading vulgarity" in society.

The clerics met the local administration and police and asked them to implement the decision. However, officials refused to facilitate the implementation of the decision.

The clerics asked shop-owners not to sell goods to women shopping alone in markets.

Mir Zaqeem, head of the Khattak Ittehad, told the media that the decision was made because "most unaccompanied women were becoming a source of spreading vulgarity, especially in the holy month of Ramzan".

He claimed a group of such women were involved in thefts and robberies.

He further said the presence of unaccompanied women in markets went against Pashtun culture and religious norms.

Women accompanied by male relatives would not be stopped from entering bazars, he said.



Saudi rights activist Iman al-Qahtani given travel ban

Jul 19 2013

A Saudi Arabian activist and journalist has been banned from travelling abroad.

In a message on Twitter, Iman al-Qahtani said she had been stopped from flying to Istanbul. Only then, she said, was she told of her travel ban.

Ms Qahtani has been outspoken in her support for fellow human rights campaigners in the Arabian kingdom.

Saudi officials were said to have been unhappy with her reporting. In April, she said she would stop tweeting to protect her family from reprisals.

In a brief, dramatic tweet, she told her followers she was doing it for her mother's sake.

Live-tweeting trials

There were reports Ms Qahtani had been coming under pressure from the security services over her reporting of the trials of two leading Saudi human rights activists, Mohammad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid.

The two men founded the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). They were tried on a variety of charges including breaking their allegiance to the king and setting up an unlicensed organisation.

Iman Qahtani was among a group of activists and journalists who live-tweeted the hearings, posting pictures from inside the court. This allowed a rare transparency for the legal process in Saudi Arabia.

One of the judges originally ordered Ms Qahtani's arrest for providing false information, although this charge was later dropped.

Both the ACPRA founders were finally found guilty and given sentences of 10-11 years in jail.

Several other rights activists have been imprisoned in the past two years - indication the Saudi authorities are taking a harder line on dissent in the wake of the Arab Spring upheavals.

Iman Qahtani's silence on Twitter had raised concerns for her.

Now, she has broken that silence - if only to show she is clearly being closely observed by the security services.

A travel ban is a common penalty in Saudi Arabia for those who are believed to be stirring political unrest.

On Twitter, there have been messages of support from Saudi tweeters for Iman Qahtani, as well as fears expressed that the government's campaign to silence critical voices is intensifying.



Women May Vote For Women in New Khyber Pakhtunkhwa LB Reforms

 July 20, 2013 

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has begun to prepare a draft constitution for the next municipal elections which will allow female candidates to be elected exclusively through female votes, reports Express News.

The provincial government is also considering the officiating of youth counselors as a way of facilitating the representation of youth.

Despite the traditional hurdles discouraging women to vote, the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa registered a particularly enthusiastic female turnout in this year’s general elections.

However, poor organisation, social taboos and Taliban proved to be some of the barriers preventing women from a wider participation in many areas during the May votes.

In some areas, like Upper Dir and other parts of the province, the ballot box did not yield even a single female vote, either because of threats or due to informal agreements between political parties disallowing women participation. There were also reports of a deal in some tribal areas where it was decided not to let women vote.

Nevertheless, women voters in Peshawar, Mardan and other areas turned out in thousands. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which emerged victorious by a large margin in the province, is said to owe a good share of its success to youth and especially to women.

A month before the elections of May 11, the government had already warned of imprisoning anyone who barred women from voting.



Widowed By Honour Killing: “My Family Killed My Husband”

By Jalees Andrabi

July 19, 2013

Mehvish Hakim, 24, fights back tears as she watches her two small children, Mantasha and Zoya Hakim, playing on the floor. She still can’t believe she’ll never see them running to her husband, their hands aloft, waiting to be picked up and cuddled. She’ll never hear Abdul Hakim’s voice again.

That’s because her husband was the alleged victim of an ‘honour killing’. His crime: he and Mehvish were in love and married without her parents’ consent.

“My family killed my husband,’’ she claims. “They would not let us live in peace and now they’ve taken revenge. I will never forgive them. My children will never have a father because of them; they disgust me.’’

Abdul was shot dead on November 22 last year. He was on his way back from a pharmacy where he’d gone to buy medicine to help Mehvish with a headache.

Five men – including, according to some Indian media reports, members of Mehvish’s family – are now in a prison in Lucknow, northern India, awaiting trial.

His death at the age of 28 was just five months after the couple appeared on Aamir Khan’s popular TV show Satyamev Jayate (Truth will triumph) claiming there was a threat to their lives because they had married without her parents’ approval.

The local police deny this, saying personal enmity was the reason behind the killing. “The girl’s family had come to accept the marriage. Nothing indicates this murder is linked to the couple’s marriage,” a spokesperson said.

But Mehvish refuses to believe this. The man she’d fallen in love with while in school and married in 2009 would have been saved if the police had offered him protection, she claims.

A forbidden love

Coming from an affluent upper-caste family in Adoli village, Maharashtra, central India, Mehvish was Abdul’s neighbour. But her family always looked down on Abdul’s because they were of a different social standing and so had nothing to do with them.

“He was a nice boy, different from others in every way,’’ says Mehvish. “I first met him when I was 11 at school. Even at that time I remember we used to enjoy each other’s company. A few years later, we expressed our feelings to each other. It was true love.’’

The pair met in secret frequently. Both were aware of the class divide but thought their families would forget that when they saw how happy they were.

Mehvish was 14 when her family found out about their relationship through neighbours who’d seen the couple talking. They promptly took her out of school, while Abdul’s parents, fearing threats from the village elders, sent him to pursue a computer course in town.

Now that they did not have a chance to meet, they planned other ways to keep their love alive. “We maintained our relationship quietly without meeting each other,” Mehvish explains. “We didn’t have mobile phones at the time so we used to exchange letters. I used to put a letter under a brick in a wall near our homes and the next day he would put his letter there. It continued for four to five years.’’

Marriage at any cost

Mehvish knew she had fallen in love and decided she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Abdul. He too was determined to marry her at any cost. So in the summer of 2009 the couple decided to elope.

While visiting her grandmother in Delhi, Mehvish slipped off, secretly met with Abdul and married in Meerut, a nearby city, aged 20. “I was so happy. I’d dreamt of this moment for so long. I knew I always wanted to be his wife,” she says. “I felt nothing could come between us now. We were safe as man and wife and I truly believed one day my family would accept us.’’

But when she returned home she kept her marriage a secret. Since they couldn’t afford a ring, she didn’t have to worry about hiding it and carried on as normal, waiting for the right time to announce their news.

Her parents, however, had other plans. “They began looking for a groom for me,’’ she says. They arranged for Mehvish to marry one of her cousins in November 2010.

“I was terrified. I kept overhearing them planning my life, all the while I knew I was already a wife to my true love. I kept sending letters to Abdul and we wondered what to do.’’

On the run

Just 11 days before her arranged marriage, Mehvish ran away with Abdul. “We were scared we’d be caught so we travelled around India, by train and bus hiding in friends’ houses in places such as Aligarh, Meerut and Mumbai,’’ she says.

Back in the village, her incensed family filed a kidnapping case against Abdul and reportedly targeted his family through the traditional village council – a group of elders who enforce traditions and customs in their community. If anyone fails to adhere to their rules they impose strict punishments.

Members of Abdul’s family were asked to leave the village, alleges Mehvish. But Abdul’s father, Abdul Hafiz, 76, refused to move. A few weeks later he was found dead, hanged from a tree. “The police said it was suicide,’’ she says. “I don’t believe that.’’

Fearing for their lives, Abdul and Mehvish took refuge at the Love Commandos, a New Delhi-based organisation protecting couples on the run from their families. The organisation provides shelter, legal and financial help and physical protection to couples. (Read our previous feature on the organisation in our June 7 issue

“I was devastated it had come to this,” Mehvish says. “I wanted to live a happy life with my husband. I was so upset. I had never expected my family to behave in such a way.

“Once we contacted the Love Commandos they gave us accommodation for six months and put us in touch with some charities. The volunteers also tried to arrange police security for us if we wanted to go back to our village.’’

The Love Commandos also helped the couple appear on Aamir Khan’s TV show, on which Abdul announced that he feared he would be killed because of the marriage.

Abdul started working as a rickshaw driver in Delhi, earning around Rs6,000 (Dh370) a month. They rented a house in Delhi, and in August 2011, Mehvish gave birth to their first child, a girl Mantasha Hakim.

“We were very happy,” she says. “We forgot all our miseries. We even hoped my family might have a change of heart now we had a child. I used to call my mother to try to convince her to accept our marriage but she’d always threaten me,” Mehvish claims.

Meanwhile, the Love Commandos held discussions with the police and other authorities and managed to get the kidnapping charges against Abdul dropped. That meant they could return to their village.

“We didn’t believe we were at risk going back,” says Mehvish. “We thought the police were on our side so we were protected. We really believed that slowly, as we lived close to our families, they’d come round.’’

In August 2012 Mehvish became pregnant for the second time. Too poor to provide the safety of secure accommodation, she went to stay with Abdul’s family, who had moved to the nearby village of Bhatgarhi, until the baby was born.

“We were still terrified of my family hurting him, so Abdul used to sneak into the house at night. It was no life, it was like a prison but his safety was more important.’’

Shot down in cold blood

Mehvish remembers the day Abdul died clearly. “I had a severe headache and he decided to go out and buy the medicine,” she says. On his way back from the pharmacy he was ambushed by a five-man gang, which Mehvish claims included members of her family.

A neighbour’s child ran to tell Mehvish what was happening. “I screamed and rushed to the place as fast as I could,’’ she says. Seeing her approach, the attackers began to flee. But not before Abdul was shot in the neck.

“It’s an horrendous memory. I hugged him and placed his head in my lap. Tears filled my eyes. He didn’t move; I just held him.

“He always used to tell me he would die for me and in the end he actually did.’’

Three days later five men were arrested. Mehvish was nine months pregnant. “I have no idea how I coped. I went into autopilot.”

Mehvish now wants to build a memorial for her husband in her village. “I want to keep his memory alive for those who hated him and killed him, and for those who admire him for having courage,’’ she says.

She now lives with her in-laws and her two children under police protection.

“It breaks my heart that Abdul never got to hold our second child,” she says. “I’m thankful I have his children. Every time I look at them I see their father. They are the proof of our love.’’



Haia: Women shouldn’t work after 7 p.m.

 20 July 2013

The chief of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia), Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh, says women should only work until 7 p.m. because working late hours affects their family life. He says it is also not good for men to work shifts that end late at night.

Al-Asheikh said it was unacceptable for women to work until midnight. “Women should work reasonable hours in order to lead normal lives with their families.”

He said that “current working hours in the marketplace are deeply disorganized, and unlike work regulations in other parts of the world.”

“Men and women salespersons are not given their human and familial rights and are made to work long hours. Workers in the marketplace simply do not have rights.

“Workers in stores are subjected to practices tantamount to slavery. If the Ministry of Labor is serious about working in the public interest and helping localize jobs for Saudi citizens, it has to set regulations for working hours like developed countries,” Al-Asheikh said.

“Our lives, first and foremost, revolve around obeying the commands of Allah.

We are supposed to build healthy family lives. For a man or a woman to work two shifts, from the morning until noon, and from the afternoon until midnight, ruins their family life and (violates their) rights,” he said.

The Haia chief said he supports initiatives to provide “decent jobs for Saudi women that can help them lead respectable lives without seeking financial help from others.” But there are “proper ways to do this. I recommend that stores close at 7 p.m., like the rest of the world. Of course there will be exceptions, but these too can be set within reasonable hours,” he said.

“But for a woman to leave work at late hours in the night is not safe for her. There are religious strictures that prohibit this. Many citizens are reluctant to work because they simply can’t stay for long hours away from their homes. They have duties to their families and to themselves,” he said.

He said the Haia was working with the Ministry of Labor to ensure Saudi women are employed at woman accessory and clothing stores in the country “in a safe and proper working environment. Women should work in legal jobs sanctioned by Shariah law, and should be protected from being used.”

He said the Haia plans to take action against stores where barriers between men and women are transparent.



Saudi King Orders Cancer-Hit Iranian Girl’s Treatment

 20 July 2013

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered the treatment of an Iranian girl suffering from cancer at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh.

The girl, Mariam Ahmed Baraweh, has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

The king also ordered the facilitation of entry of Mariam and her father.

The Kingdom will meet all expenses of the treatment, the SPA reported on Friday.



Dr Fouzia welcomes development on Aafia issue

 July 20, 2013

KARACHI - Aafia Movement Pakistan and the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, welcoming the media reports that steps are being taken for early repatriation of the daughter of nation, urged the government of PML-N to further spur the efforts of Aafia Release Committee in the right direction so that Aafia spends this Eid with her children.

In a joint statement here on Friday, the family of Aafia Siddiqui and the Aafia Movement are delighted to read the news that some steps are being taken towards the repatriation of Dr Aafia.

Welcoming the efforts and timely action of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, the Aafia family invited his attention that the Interior Ministry, Government of Pakistan, had received a letter from US in 2010 regarding how the sentenced prisoners can be repatriated. This was shared at a Press conference by the former Interior Minister Rehman Malik. However, after the initial splash it was put on the back burner.

Aafia Movement Pakistan said that two treaties in connection with prisoners repatriation from the US are being discussed that includes the inter-American Convention on Serving Criminals Abroad 1993 and Convention of the Council of Europe on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad.

The statement further stated that according to the Transfer of Offenders Ordinance 2002 now implemented the Interior Ministry has to initiate the case and direct the Foreign Office to proceed. It said since US has accepted the treaty and if Pakistan does so it will open a path to bring back several Pakistani prisoners serving inhuman sentences in the member countries and vice versa, and hopefully one of them will be Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

It said as per media reports what the Free Aafia taskforce of committee has recommended a list of 10 points. However, the committee has refused to share these points with Aafia’s family or lawyer, which makes one wonder if this hype is a bit premature. Aafia’s sister Dr. Fouzia will go to Islamabad in the hope that the points are shared and a positive way forward achieved.

Fouzia has appreciated the committee’s rapid action and the Interior Minister’s resolve in this matter. She also thanked the media for its vigilance in this issue and hoped that the independent Pakistani and international media will clarify the common myths and misunderstandings regarding Aafia issue.

She hoped that the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif will pursue this matter with sincerity, adding, unlike the past regime, the sitting government has shown very positive attitude to bring innocent Aafia back home.

She said that the PML-N government had promised the nation to bring a change and this is the time to fulfil this promise in the shape of Aafia’s release and repatriation.