New Age Islam News Bureau
20 May 2018
© Fayez Nureldine / AFP | Saudi women check out cars at an automotive exhibition for women in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 13, 2018.
• Coalition Hands Yemeni Government Infant Girl Used As Human Shield by Houthis
• Minor Girl Found Tortured, Chained At Home in Lahore
• International Rights Groups Slam Arrests of Seven Saudi Women Activists
• Mariam’s Journey to North Pole ‘An Inspiration for Saudi Women’
• Women from the Village Waiting For the 10th of Shawwal, When Women Will Be Allowed To Drive
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Detained Saudi women driving campaigners branded traitors
May 20, 2018
DUBAI: Just weeks before Saudi Arabia is set to lift its ban on women driving, the kingdom’s state security said on Saturday it had detained seven people who are being accused of working with “foreign entities.” Rights activists say all those detained had worked in some capacity on women’s rights issues, with five of those detained among the most prominent and outspoken women’s rights campaigners in the country.
Pro-government media outlets have splashed their photos online and in newspapers, accusing them of betrayal and of being traitors.
The women activists had persistently called for the right to drive, but stressed that this was only the first step towards full rights. For years, they also called for an end to less visible forms of discrimination, such as lifting guardianship laws that give male relatives final say on whether a woman can travel abroad, obtain a passport or marry.
Their movement was seen as part of a larger democratic and civil rights push in the kingdom, which remains an absolute monarchy where protests are illegal and where all major decision-making rests with the king and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Some state-linked media outlets published the names of those detained, which include Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef and Eman al-Najfan.
Rights activists say Madeha al-Ajroush and Aisha al-Manae are also among the seven detained. Both took part in the first women’s protest movement for the right to drive in 1990, in which 50 women were arrested for driving and lost their passports and their jobs.
All five women are well-known activists who agitated for greater women’s rights. Several of the women were professors at state-run universities and are mothers or grandmothers.
The Interior Ministry on Saturday did not name those arrested, but said the group is being investigated for communicating with “foreign entities,” working to recruit people in sensitive government positions and providing money to foreign circles with the aim of destabilising and harming the kingdom.
Coalition hands Yemeni government infant girl used as human shield by Houthis
20 May 2018
The spokesperson of the coalition supporting legitimacy in Yemen has said that forces handed over a 4-year-old infant girl over to a representative of the Yemeni government after rescuing her from Houthi militants.
Col. Turki al-Malki said on Saturday that the girl, identified as Jamila, was handed over to the Yemeni government in the presence of representatives from the ICRC, the Saudi Red Crescent the Human Rights Commission and the Head of the Child Protection Unit in Armed Conflict led by the Joint Forces of the Alliance.
Malki said that the Yemeni National Army forces captured the father of the child during the liberation operations of Saada.
He pointed out that during the Yemeni National Army forces advance in the area, an armed vehicle attacked them led by a Houthi fighter.
During the monitoring process, a child was identified with the commander of the vehicle and the Yemeni armed forces took precautionary measures to prevent the vehicle from being targeted for the safety of the child.
During the arrest of the driver of the armed vehicle carrying a number of weapons, a four-year-old girl was found dressed in boys clothing.
The commander of the vehicle was identified as her father, who used her presence on the battlefield as a human shield. Using children and minors as shields go against the rules of engagement, especially with regard to child protection applied by the coalition forces.
The leadership of the coalition’s joint forces represented by the Unit for the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict provide the necessary medical and full care of the infant child. She was then delivered on Saturday to the legitimate government in the presence of her relatives and financial assistance was provided to both the girl and her family.
Malki stressed that the actions of the Houthi armed militias was a clear and explicit violation of international humanitarian law by recruiting and enlisting children in the battlefield as well as using them as human shields to ensure their movement and not being targeted because they represent legitimate military objectives.
Minor girl found tortured, chained at home in Lahore
May 20, 2018
LAHORE: Police recovered a minor girl from her house who was chained and allegedly tortured by her stepmother in Baghbanpura here on Saturday.
Identified as Sehrish, 12, the girl had torture marks on various parts of her body, particularly the face and arms.
Take a look: Footprints: A poor man's daughter
Some neighbours claimed to have heard cries of the girl from her house near Mahmood Booti, Bund Road and alerted police on emergency 15. Police raided the house and rescued the girl whom they found chained. She told police she had been chained by her stepmother Najma and maternal uncle Shahbaz.
Sehrish further told police her stepmother would torture her over petty issues and upon resistance chained and locked her in a room.
Her neighbours, who accompanied police during the raid, filmed the statement of the girl.
Police arrested both Najma and Shahbaz on the statement of the girl, and sent the girl to a local hospital for a medical examination.
A case will be lodged against them on the basis of the medical report which was awaited.
International rights groups slam arrests of seven Saudi women activists
May 19, 2018
International rights groups have slammed the arrests of at least seven prominent Saudi Arabian women's rights activists, which were made just one month before the kingdom is set to lift its decades-long driving ban on women.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch named six of the detainees, both men and women, and called on Saudi authorities to release them.
"It appears the only 'crime' these activists committed was wanting women to drive before [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman did," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
"Saudi Arabia cannot continue to publicly proclaim support for women's rights and other reforms, while targeting women human rights defenders and activists for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," said Samah Hadid, Amnesty's Middle East Director of Campaigns.
Amnesty denounced Saudi authorities and government-aligned media's public smear campaign to discredit the activists, whose faces have appeared online and on a newspaper front page labeling them as traitors.
Authorities said in an overnight statement that they were still identifying others allegedly involved in activities that "encroach on religious and national constants." Fellow activists said others had been arrested, but the total number was not clear yet.
The statement claimed that seven people had been arrested for suspicious contacts with foreign entities and providing enemies overseas with financial support, but did not elaborate on the issue.
In addition to agitating for women's right to drive, two detainees signed a petition in 2016 calling for an end to Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain a male relative's consent for major decisions.
Saudi Arabia is the last country in the world to permit women to obtain driving licenses. Women will be allowed to drive starting on June 24.
In September last year, Riyadh removed the driving ban on women as part of reforms to undo the damage the kingdom has suffered for decades of human rights violations both inside and outside of Saudi Arabia.
The move came shortly after women were also permitted access into a sports stadium, for the first time, to watch a concert.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia was ranked 141 out of 144 on the Global Gender Gap Index.
In recent years, the Al Saud regime has come under intense pressure by rights groups for mistreating women.
Saudi women had been banned from voting until 2015, when they were allowed to vote in local elections.
A United Nations independent expert said in January 2017 that the Saudi government should end its ban on women driving, urging the kingdom to do more to reform its male guardianship system.
Philip Alston, an Australian legal expert who reports to the UN Human Rights Council, said after a 12-day visit to Saudi Arabia that the government in Riyadh was urgently required to cast aside rules and regulations that have hampered social life in the kingdom.
Mariam’s Journey to North Pole ‘An Inspiration for Saudi Women’
May 20, 2018
LONDON: Mariam Hamidaddin was skiing toward the North Pole in temperatures as low as minus 38 C when she was advised by her team leader to give up on her dream and take a helicopter back to base camp.
She did so reluctantly. Frostbite had taken its toll on the Jeddah-born entrepreneur’s hands, but with no previous experience of such climates, Hamidaddin was unaware of the severity. Only when she was assessed by a Russian medic who spoke pidgin English did she appreciate how close she was to losing her fingers.
“The words he told me were: ‘No chop’ ... which was scary but also a great relief to hear,” said Hamidaddin, one of 11 women from Europe and the Middle East taking part in the recent Women’s Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition, an initiative aimed to foster greater dialogue and inspire women to push their limits and fulfill their ambitions. Team leader Felicity Aston deliberately chose women with no athletic or Arctic experience with the intention of demonstrating that anybody can achieve their goals with determination.
As Hamidaddin discovered, however, having an expert on hand helps. The transition from frostnip to frostbite can be a matter of five or 10 minutes, so it is essential for people in extreme weather to pay attention to their body. The tiniest sign can help avoid severe consequences.
The 32-year-old had followed all the instructions learned during training camps in Iceland and Oman: She kept moving to circulate her blood and had not removed her gloves even once in the Arctic. She felt pain, yes, but the entire team had frostnip, so why should she consider quitting?
Fortunately for her future — and her fingers — the decision was taken for her.
“There was no proper moment where I realized I had frostbite,” Hamidaddin told Arab News after returning to the heat of Saudi Arabia. “If it was up to me, I would have wanted to continue, so I am extremely thankful that I was asked to evacuate because the frostbite gradually got worse and worse.
Basically, the team leader saved my fingers.”
Two weeks later and Hamidaddin still could not feel her fingertips. She struggles to cut a steak and needs help to tie her shoelaces. Medics say it could be months or even years before she fully recovers.
This month on her Instagram feed @InTuneToTheSound, she is posting photos of her journey in non-chronological order. The intention is to be “open and vulnerable and hopefully inspire people.” In a post, a video shows her typing at a computer using only her right pinky finger.
“There is a negative media perception of what a Saudi woman looks like and what she can and can’t do,” said Hamidaddin. “For this reason, it’s important for us to show that what you see in the media isn’t necessary a true reflection of who we truly are.
“It is also important to share our failures as well because when I see success upon success, I cannot connect with that. I am human, I have weakness and I fall, and I need to know that when I fall, I can rise again. Those stories are the ones that will connect most with people.”
With Saudi Arabia women now competing at the Olympic Games, being allowed to attend football matches at certain stadiums and the imminent lifting of a ban on driving, opportunities for women in the Kingdom are blossoming.
Hamidaddin, founder of the Humming Tree, a co-working space and community center that focuses on creativity and wellbeing, said she sees examples of strong, athletic and confident women every day.
“You can see them everywhere — women running, biking, climbing mountains,” she said.
“So we are already there. It’s just a matter of sharing these stories more. We are strong women; we know what we want and we find a way around it. We do what we need to do and we get it done. The fact that driving now is going to be open for us, just makes all that easier.”
Although Hamidaddin’s journey to the North Pole was cut short, the team’s doctor said she could wait out the expedition in the warmth of base camp and celebrate with her team when they reached their destination.
It was an opportunity that, even with frostbite, she was never going to turn down. What she found at the top of the world was a beautiful, dreamlike landscape — and, perhaps fittingly, a perpetual chase to reach her goal.
“Unlike the South Pole, which is a landmass, the North Pole is a constantly drifting landscape. It’s sea ice on top of the Arctic Ocean and it’s always moving, so you are constantly trying to catch it,” she said.
“One minute you’re on top of the world taking a photo and by the time you’re done taking it, well, the North Pole is a few miles away. You have to keep trying to catch it.”
Women from the Village Waiting For the 10th of Shawwal, When Women Will Be Allowed To Drive
May 20, 2018
NAJRAN — A number of women from the southern part of Saudi Arabia told Okaz that they are waiting for the 10th of the month of Shawwal when women will be allowed to drive.
That date will mark the end of the era of driving in fear and secrecy in rural areas and far away from the road. This time, they will be driving in city roads without any fear.
They told Okaz that they would be adhering to the rules and regulations of the road, and they even consider themselves strict followers of the rules than men.
A Saudi women, who did not mention her name, said that she has been driving from when she was 16 years old, but she only sat behind the wheel if the car was far away from the city and away from police eyes. When she became old, she was the only one who was able to drive.
She was transporting her parents to the hospital and health centers and to the social insurance department. Her younger children are also dependent on her to driverthem to school every day.
She said, “I am proud that I am driving the car and carrying out my duty toward my family. I feel proud when I am driving and serving my parents and helping my children to get their education.”
Another old woman who has been driving in a village south of Saudi Arabia, said, “Every time the traffic department stops me on the road I tell them who is going to transport my parents to the hospital or take me to the shopping center to buy groceries? Who is going to take care of our daily needs?”
She said that driving the car was a dream for women living in villages until the decision by the Custodian of the Two Holy mosques came. She said now women can take care of their daily needs.
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