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Controversy Engulfs UN Ambassador Over Claims of “Beautiful Nights” Between Qatari Officials and Libyan Girls

Age Islam News Bureau

22 Nov 2012 

 Iraq’s unveiled women face rising crackdown

 Somalia: Tough Foreign Policy Challenges for “Iron Lady”

 Kurdish rights defender Ms. Zainab Bayazidi released from prison

 New constraint for Saudi women: Electronic tracking

 Madrasa Schools in Bangalore, India Refuse To Teach Math, Science

 Pakistan: Malala's Wounded Friends Back In School

 UP Muslims Girls Fail To Shine from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas

 The Vote against Women Bishops, In U K, Is A Disaster

 GCC Female Journalists Exchange Experiences

 Tahmima and Three Indian Writers Shortlisted For the US$50,000 DSC Prize

 Iranian Blogger's Mother Accuses Authorities of Killing Him

 Low Breast-Feeding Figure In Indonesia a Big Concern

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: In his book, “The End of Qaddafi”, Abdurrahman Shalgham makes a number of explosive allegations against Qatar





Controversy engulfs UN ambassador over claims of “beautiful nights” between Qatari officials and Libyan girls

By Ryszard Bouvier and Nihal Zaroug.

 November 22, 2012

Controversy has engulfed Libya’s permanent representative to the United Nations following allegations made in his new book that Qatari officials bragged of “beautiful nights” spent in the company of Libyan girls during last year’s revolution.

Abderrahman Shalgham, who made worldwide headlines in February 2011 when he public denounced Muammar Qaddafi before the UN in New York, also accuses Qatar of ruthlessly pursuing “concealed” interests in Libya, stealing remnants of biological weapons from abandoned military sites, and attempting to further its own ideological agenda.

“Oil carries in it the virus of megalomania and the bacteria of delusion”, writes the ambassador, in a thinly-veiled warning to the oil-rich emirate, “which is what occurred under Qaddafi”.

The book has sparked fury amongst women’s rights groups in Libya, prompting calls for Shalgham’s immediate dismissal on the grounds of gross disrespect shown to Libyan women.

The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) has also issued a statement calling for Shalgham to be summoned for questioning over his allegations, whilst the Wattan party has demanded he be hauled before the Integrity Commission.

Shalgham is known to be critical of the influential Emirate, but the detailed revelations and explicit accusations against Qatar’s Emir and Crown Prince that feature in his writings have taken his deliberate exposure to another level.

Immediately after it came out in early November, “The End of Gaddafi” became the object of public debates. By touching upon claims of liaisons between Qataris and Libyan women, the book has broached an highly sensitive issue that usually remains unspoken.

In his book, the UN Ambassador does acknowledge the pivotal role that the Gulf state played in bringing about the downfall of the Qaddafi regime by providing “unlimited financial, political and military support to the Libyan Revolution” and by lobbying for the NATO intervention. Thereby, he claims, “Qatar became the reference point (qibla) for all Libyans”.

Support, Shalgham claims, did not come unconditionally. “We believed that the motive (for supporting the Revolution) was to bring about freedom, stop the killing and open the door to progress for the Libyan people”, he writes.

“But from July 2011 on, evidence of concealed interests began to appear and soon became blatant”. The diplomat accuses Qatar of furthering its own ideological agenda in Libya by pushing for certain candidates, buying loyalties and imposing policy.

Shalgham gives a few examples of what he thinks proves Qatar’s excessive meddling in Libyan domestic affairs. For instance, he writes, Qatar provided a “political ideological organisation” in Libya with “huge quantities of weapons” and “hundreds of millions of dollars”; sent Qatari officers to take over abandoned military sites near Sirte and seize remnants of biological weapons for their purposes, and set up its own military base in the South of the country.

Furthermore, adds Shalgham, Qatari troops for a time took control of the eastern town of Tobruk and subjected locals to humiliating security controls. Meanwhile, “Qatari officials and soldiers were showing off the ‘beautiful nights’ they were spending in the company of Libyan girls”.

In the chapter “Me, the Emir and his Son”, Shalgham recounts several encounters with the Qatari ruling family in Doha and New York through which he became aware of the scope of Qatari involvement.

The Libyan diplomat gives what he claims are detailed witness accounts of Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s “arrogant attitude” towards Libyans. During a visit to Doha following the liberation of Libya, the young crown prince (and heir apparent) supposedly told Shalgham and Mahmud Shamam that after the $3 billion it had spent on helping Libya, Qatar could not simply step back without recovering the money.

Shalgham assured the Qatari leadership that Libya was prepared to pay back its debt, he claims. Both he and Shamam tried to put the crown prince in his place in a diplomatic manner, emphasising Libyans’ hostility towards foreign meddling. According to the book, Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani tried to press his visitors into engaging more with people at the conservative end of Libya’s political spectrum, such as Ali Al-Salabi and Abdulhakim Belhaj of the Wattan party, ignoring Shalgham’s assurance that Libyans were perfectly able to talk to each other without foreign mediation.

This visit and another encounter with Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani himself, during which the latter boasted to the Libyan delegation that he had the ability to collect all weapons in Libya within 24 hours and gave interim Prime Minister Mahmud Jibril paternalistic advice on how to run his country prompted Shalgham to write that “the Emir speaks of the Libyan situation as if he was speaking of his personal bathroom”.

Shalgham also recounts a conversation with a well-connected American oilman who claims that his company would be willing to invest large sums in Libya but for the fact that Qatar had supposedly ruled out any possibility of entering the Libyan oil sector without granting it a share in the venture. According to this source, the Emirate has already taken control of four vital sectors of the Libyan State, namely the oil industry, the security apparatus, finance and investments, and the army.

This, Shalgham says, corroborates other statements he has heard from people across the region, according to which the Emir of Qatar is bolstering Islamist parties in North Africa, seeking to create an “Islamic Union” under his own leadership.

Put mildly, Shalgham’s claims are controversial. Reactions – both from the “Libyan street” and from domestic political forces – have been accordingly violent.

In addition to demanding he be summoned for questioning over his allegations, the Justice & Construction party has also gone on the offensive. As a Libyan representative abroad, the party has said, Shalgham should not make such statements without following diplomatic protocol and thereby “perpetuate the ways of the former regime”, whose lack of respect for states and public figures was legendary. On the diplomatic arena, statements should not be of personal nature or made in order to settle political score, said the party.

Unsurprisingly, the Wattan party has aso issued a similar statement  questioning the validity of Shalgham’s claims and requesting clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Taking it further than the JCP, Al-Wattan calls for Shalgham to be referred to the Integrity Commission, suggesting that his position as Libya’s ambassador to the UN should be revoked. Well aware of the fact that some view it as a Qatari stooge and that any defence of Qatar will play into the hands of its political opponents, the party emphasises that Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be guaranteed and that any kind of foreign interference categorically rejected.

Shalgham’s remarks on Qatari officers and local women have prompted public outrage and calls for legal action against the diplomat. In a letter addressed both to Congrss and Dar Al-Ifta (Libya’s Fatwa Office) the Libyan Women’s Association (LWA) has called for his immediate dismissal.

This is not the first time Shalgham has stirred up public debate with provocative claims. Libya’s UN representative is known for his decidedly critical stance regarding Qatar. Last November, he had already accused the Emirate of providing funds and weapons to Libyan Islamists and reportedly said that Libya would not allow itself to be controlled by “tiny Qatar”.

Then again, Shalgham’s allegations do reflect how Libyans generally feel about outside interference. Only recently, demonstrations in Benghazi and other places have shown that Qatar has become a prime target of popular protest and possibly also a scapegoat for domestic problems.

Whilst Qatar’s role might be particularly disputed in Libya, where it helped overthrow the regime, people across the region are reticent to allow the Gulf countries, and Qatar in particular, to extend their influence further. This is hardly surprising, given Qatar’s disproportional role in regional politics and its media power, which it indirectly derives from Al-Jazeera.

Whilst the international broadcaster, whose headquarters are in Doha, was hugely influential in the early stages of the Arab uprisings, its reputation has been tarnished by what many in the Arab world perceive as one-sided and activist reporting.



Iraq’s unveiled women face rising crackdown

22 November 2012

Iraqi women who do not wear the Islamic headscarf, commonly known as the hijab, are increasingly coming under crackdown as conservative Islam gradually permeates the Iraqi political scene.

“Day after day, I am seeing more indicators that there is discrimination against women who choose not to wear hijab in Iraq,” Hanaa Edwar, General Secretary of the non-government organization, Iraqi Al-Amal Association, told Al Arabiya.

Edwar, also founder of Iraqi Women’s Network, sounded the alarm about attempts to force women to wear the hijab, especially in government offices.

Head of Iraq’s Ministry of Women, Ibtihal Kasid al-Zubaidi, ordered in January that women working in government offices dress “modestly.” Zubaidi axed tight pants, short skirts and colorful clothes.

Zubaidi, who gender segregation in her ministry, stirred uproar in Iraq, where some lambasted her as “anti-female” and her ministry described as “anti-women ministry.”

Edwar’s Iraqi Women Network, made up of 18 civil society organizations, protested against Zubaidi’s policy, describing it as seeking to curb women’s civil liberties.

More women are approaching Edwar to file their complaints about government institutions and even TV channels belonging to religious political which enforce strict dress code and gender segregation.

Edwar, a member of the High Preparatory Committee for National Congress of Iraq, said that there is an interference even with the way some women wear their scarves. She said, they were forced to cover their chin as well.

“There is no legal restraint over the power of a boss or a manager who thinks he or she can control how an employee should dress,” she said, adding “this has become exaggerated.”

Sexual harassment is on the list, Edwar warned, with widowed or divorced women being the number one target.

“How many high-ranking bosses have to resign because of this,” she said, in reference to CIA Director David Petraeus’s scandal that forced him to step down.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s Minister of Education, Ali Al-Adeeb warned university professors who “financially blackmailing male students and immorally harassing female students.”

The frustration over sexual harassment prompted some women to speak out during a Ministry of Interior conference last month.

“A number of women from the media came and boldly expressed their frustration in front of interior ministry officials about sexual harassment even from the highest of all ranks,” she said.

While the interior minister looked nuanced over the sexual harassment discussion, the issue had to be confronted, she added.

The rights activist expressed her woes about the lack of administrative and professional structure in Iraq, adding that corruption in all forms should be fought.

“We do not live in a real country. There is no real administration that feels responsible over the country …everyone has become a prince of his own.”

Even when finding employment, professionalism ceased to exist, with people bringing their background or tribal lineage to get a position, she said.

Iraq, which was one of the most progressive countries in the region, had the first female cabinet minister in the Arab World and women enjoyed the liberty to pursue their profession.

However, the myriad series of economic sanctions and wars have led to dismantling some of the social and cultural aspects in Iraq. Also, the advent of more Islamist political parties that are more Iran-oriented after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to the rise of conservatism and new customs in the country.

“In Iraq, we never had temporary marriage. This is clearly an imported phenomenon from Iran,” she said.

While in Shiite Islam, temporary marriage is allowed, it was rarely practiced nor was culturally accepted in Iraq as the conventional, permanent type of marriage was prevalent.

Other waves of conservatism in Iraq included the ministry of education banning music and arts in late 2010. The ban was lifted in Jan. 2011 as a more liberal new education minister took office.

Late September, human rights groups in Iraq voiced frustration at a wave of assaults on nightclubs and other alcohol-serving places.



Somalia: Tough Foreign Policy Challenges for “Iron Lady”

21 November 2012

By: Abdurrahman Warsameh

MOGADISHU (Somalilandsun) - As little-known politician Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan was sworn in as Somalia's first female foreign minister and deputy prime minister on Monday Nov. 19, the stateswoman who hails from the unrecognised, self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland is tipped to become the country's "Iron Lady".

This is according to Adan´s political ally Mohamed Daahir Omar, who used to work closely with her in local Somaliland politics, in which he is currently active.

"We know Fauzia as a person with strong determination and as an approachable individual who likes to form consensus. But when she has to make a decision, she just goes for it and works to convince others of her way. She was mostly successful, and for that she can be considered Somalia's Iron Lady," Omar told IPS from Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, referring to Adan's strong will.

Adan, who returned from her first state visit to neighbouring Djibouti on Nov. 18 and missed the official swearing-in ceremony of the cabinet on Nov. 15, takes on the mantle of leadership in a country with a number of tough foreign policy challenges.

While details of Adan and her background are sketchy, and she has been reluctant to grant interviews to the press, Omar said that because of her skill as a consensus-builder, the new foreign minister could play a role in bridging the divide between this Horn of Africa nation and Somaliland.

One of her first tasks will be to advance tentative and delicate talks between the Somali government and politicians in the northern state. Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia following the collapse of the country's government in 1991.

"The talks between Somalia and Somaliland will be an acid test for Adan because as a northerner she will have to show her people that she does not want to force them into a union (with Somalia) that they don't want.

"But at the same time as a key minister in the federal government she has to represent the views of the government – the sanctity of national unity and sovereignty," Garaad Jama, an analyst from the Centre for Peace and Democracy, a think tank in Somalia, told IPS.

Adan, who is only one of two women in the 10-member cabinet appointed by Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, will also have to deal with the growing friction between Kenya and Somalia over the formation of local administration areas in southern Somalia.

The Kenyan military captured the Al-Shabaab-controlled southern Somali port city of Kismayo in late September. The port was one of the key strongholds of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist radical group.

But Kenya has reportedly been pushing for the region in southern Somalia known as Azania or Jubaland – where Kismayo is the main city – to be given the status of an autonomous state, to serve as a buffer zone between Kenya and the chaos in Somalia.

The Somali government has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the creation of such a state, which it fears would become a Kenyan satellite rather than a local administration that would fall under its control.

Although Kenya vehemently denied the charges, its soldiers in control of Kismayo's airport prevented a Somali government delegation from entering the city on Nov. 7, after a local militia leader objected to their arrival.

"The signs are already not good, with deteriorating relations between Kenya and the new Somali government and other tough and pressing challenges," Maryan Muumin, a women's rights activist from the Somalia National Women's Organisation (SNWO) in Mogadishu, told IPS.

"It seems that the daunting task for the new foreign minister is clear cut and it's for Adan to deal with the challenges facing her, not only as Somalia's foreign minister, but as the first woman to hold that post," she said.

Adan will also have to deal with Al-Shabaab, which still poses a threat to the government in many parts of southern and central Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, which is opposed to women taking up roles outside the home and has imposed strict Sharia law in parts of the country that it controls, has threatened to target Somalia's United Nations-backed government leaders. The militant group led a failed attempt to assassinate the country's new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Sep. 12, his second day in office.

"Although Al-Shabaab is now on the back foot, the group is the greatest threat to any government in Somalia," Jama said "How this new government deals with the militant group, which has assassinated several ministers and other top government officials, will be a major test for the ministers, including the first female foreign minister."

Adan described her appointment as a precedent that will open doors for Somali women.

"This is a historic day not only for Somali women but for all Somalia," Adan said after the announcement of her appointment on Nov. 4.

Haliam Elmi from SNWO told IPS that Adan's appointment was "a gift not only for Somali women but also for Africa and the world at large because women's situations are similar in many parts of the world."

She said she hoped that it would result in the acceptance of women's participation in politics in this conservative Muslim country.

"This is a step in the right direction and we hope that society will finally accept women's ascent on the political ladder," she told IPS.

But Adan will have a tough road ahead of her. Not everyone has welcomed her appointment. Somalia's Islamic clergy, for example, said that Adan's appointment was against the teachings of Islam.

"In Muslim society women are given the highest role a human being can take, which is rearing children and being head of a Muslim home. What we hear from the government is in contradiction to our way of life as a Muslim society, and nothing but calamity will come from giving such political leadership roles to Fauzia, not only for her, but for her family and society in general," said Sheikh Ali Mohamoud, a Muslim cleric in Mogadishu.



Kurdish rights defender Ms. Zainab Bayazidi released from prison

 November 22, 2012

(WNN) Tehran, IRAN: The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Campaign for Equality announced today after receiving reliable news that Kurdish political prisoner Ms. Zainab Bayazidi was released from a detention center in West Azerbaijan Province in Maragheh on Tuesday November 20 after spending 1,622 days there. Ms Bayazidi is a member of the ‘Campaign for One Million Signatures to Change Discriminatory Laws in Iran‘, which is the original name for the Campaign for Equality.

As an act of resistance during her four and a half years of imprisonment Zainab stayed under incarceration as she refused to use her power to write a letter of request that would have given her a chance to leave prison. Instead Bayazidi insisted on not writing a letter often written as a consolation to prison officials and parole Court for their consideration.

Zainab has also been an active member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, that works to bring cases of human rights abuse and discrimination to the public.

It was on July 14, 2008 that Change for Equality first announced that Bayazadi, as a human rights and women’s rights activist from the city of Mahabad in the Kurdistan Province, was arrested a few days earlier on Wednesday July 9, 2008.

Her arrest was originally confirmed at the time by her family through a telephone conversation Bayazadi made to them. According to her family on Saturday July 5, 2008 Bayazadi was summoned by telephone for an interrogation which lasted several hours. She was then told to return for interrogation again on Wednesday July 9, 2008. After three hours of interrogation, on the same day, she was arrested and was transferred to a Mahabad city detention center, managed by the Iran Ministry of Information and Security.

Bayazadi was summoned by the revolutionary court of Mahabad under charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran and membership in the Mothers for Reconciliation of the City of Mahabad.” The Mothers for Reconciliation is known locally as a group of Kurdish mothers who’s children have been killed during the Iran/Kurdish resistance movement. Zainab was also charged and sentenced for her “connection” with Kurdish political parties and activities.

Prior to her arrest in 2008, Zainab Bayazidi had been sentenced to 6 months’ with a suspended imprisonment for her activities with the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan.

On July 9, 2010 Bayazidi, along with other female prisoners, went on a declared hunger strike for 40 days to protest reports of “inappropriate encounters” forced on female prisoners by the Head Warden of Zanjan Prison.

“Kurdish human rights defenders, community activists and journalists face arbitrary arrest and prosecution. Some become prisoners of conscience – people imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their conscientiously held beliefs. Others suffer torture, grossly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts and the death penalty,” said Amnesty International in a comprehensive 2008 report.



New constraint for Saudi women: Electronic tracking

 November 22, 2012

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Full report at:



Madrasa schools in Bangalore, India refuse to teach math, science

By United Press International

Nov 21, 2012

BANGALORE, India, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Shabana Rizvi, 17, nervously shakes her legs as she talks. She is overshadowed by her eldest brother, Meer, and appears apprehensive to voice her opinion in his presence. She glances in his direction after every sentence she speaks, awaiting his reaction.

When he disapproves, Rizvi is quickly warned to choose her words more carefully.

This isn't unusual for young Shiite Muslim women living on the Arab Lane in the Johnson Market in Bangalore, India.

Full report at:



Pakistan: Malala's wounded friends back in school

Nov 22, 2012

MINGORA, Pakistan - For one month the dreams kept coming. The voice, the shots, the blood. Her friend Malala slumped over.

Shazia Ramazan, 13, who was wounded by the same Taliban gunman who shot her friend Malala Yousufzai, returned home last week after a month in a hospital, where she had to relearn how to use her left arm and hand. Memories of the Taliban bullets that ripped into her remain, but she is welcoming the future.

"For a long time it seemed fear was in my heart. I couldn't stop it," she said. "But now I am not afraid," she added, self-consciously rubbing her left hand where a bullet pierced straight through just below the thumb.

Full report at:



UP Muslims girls fail to shine from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas

Nov 19, 2012,

LUCKNOW: The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) opened to enrol out-of-school girls from the minority community may not be serving the purpose in Uttar Pradesh. An RTI query has revealed that only 14.2% minority girls are enrolled in 200-odd KGBVs operational in 20 districts of UP. The percentage is much low as compared to the number of SC and OBC girls enrolled in KGBVs across the state.

UP has 219 KGBVs operational in blocks with a sizeable minority population in districts like Badaun, Bahraich, Balrampur, Barabanki, Bareilly, Bijnore, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, JP Nagar, Lucknow, Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Santkabir Nagar, Shravasti, Siddharthnagar and Baghpat. While the enrollment of girls from scheduled caste (SC) and other backward class (OBC) categories is 38.2% and 33.9% respectively, Muslim girls are not benefiting much from these residential schools.

Full report at:



The vote against women bishops is a disaster

By again rejecting women bishops, the Church of England has detonated its credibility with modern Britain

Lucy Winkett

20 November 2012

On Tuesday afternoon, while the General Synod was detonating its credibility with contemporary Britain, I was with a group of homeless people in central London. These men and women were frank, they brooked no faffing or dissembling. We talked about the debate about women bishops happening nearby; it seemed to them like a marginal, rather quaint conversation. They live in the real world, where most people go about their daily lives without reference to organised religion. Whether women are bishops is inconsequential to them, although on balance they thought women should be allowed.

Full report at:



GCC female journalists exchange experiences

 22 November 2012

Twenty-five female journalists from the member counties of the GCC came together to discuss problems they face when working in the field. The discussion was part of the Gulf Female Journalists Forum that was held in Kuwait on Sunday. The forum was organized by the Gulf Press Association (GPA) and the Kuwait Journalists Association (KJA).

The journalists were chosen by their editors in chief from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia had six women — the highest turnout from one country.

On the first day of the forum, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Information Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah met with journalists and said that this forum was aimed at helping GCC female journalists exchange experiences and become acquainted with one another. “It is an opportunity for them to discuss their concerns and to establish a common meeting point. It is important for us in the ministry to be aware of the obstacles faced by the media today and to try to find solutions for them,” he said. “I am very impressed to see the sheer number of Saudi professional journalists. They are intelligent and ambitious individuals and I hope this sets a precedent for future liaisons,” he added.

Full report at:



Tahmima and three Indian writers shortlisted for the US$50,000 DSC Prize

 November 22, 2012

Bangladesh's Tahmima Anam and three Indian writers are among six authors who have been shortlisted for the US$50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature given to the best novel thematically linked to the South Asian region.

India's Jeet Thayil's "Narcopolis", Uday Prakash's "The Walls of Delhi" and Amitav Ghosh's "River of Smoke" are on the shortlist alongside Tahmima's "The Good Muslim".

The two other writers are from Pakistan--Jamil Ahmad (The Wandering Falcon) and Mohammed Hanif (Our Lady of Alice Bhatti).

Full report at:



Iranian blogger's mother accuses authorities of killing him

Mother of Sattar Beheshti, who died in custody, says campaign of intimidation has been launched against family

Saeed Kamali Dehghan

21 November 2012

The mother of an Iranian blogger who died in custody has accused the authorities of killing her son and launching an intimidation campaign against her family.

Sattar Beheshti was a 35-year-old blogger from the city of Robat-Karim who lost his life while being interrogated by Iran's cyberpolice, accused of acting against the national security because of what he had posted on Facebook. Iran's opposition activists have accused the regime of torturing Beheshti to death. In jail, Beheshti had no access to his family nor to a lawyer.

Full report at:



Low Breast-Feeding Figure in Indonesia a Big Concern

Dessy Sagita | November 21, 2012

The proportion of Indonesian mothers who exclusively breast-feed their babies remains worryingly low despite a campaign to promote the practice, Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said on Tuesday.

“I was shocked to learn that only 26.6 percent of Indonesian women exclusively breast-feed their babies for the first six months,” she said at the opening of a national conference on nutrition.

“This is a point of major concern, a sin even. God has provided mothers with the best possible food for their babies, but they don’t give it to them.”

She said one of the causes for the low prevalence of exclusive breast-feeding was the fact that many mothers had jobs that they had to return to just a few months after giving birth, thereby limiting their opportunity to give their babies only breast milk for the first six months of their lives.

Full report at: