New Age Islam News Bureau
1 Nov 2015
Red Brigade in India was started to provide much needed intervention to victim’s of domestic abuse
• Finally, Saudi Women Have Their Own ID Cards!
• Female Trainer Motivates Saudi Students to Do Community Work
• Malawi Islamic Charity Empower Rural Women
• Anti-Muslim Sentiment Targets Women on Melbourne's Streets
• Fatwa against Indian Model over Sex Tweets
• She’s Solved 124 Cases of Corruption & Domestic Abuse, Meet the Fiery Founder of the Red Brigade
• 97-Year-Old US Woman Gets High School Diploma
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Finally, Saudi Women Have Their Own ID Cards!
Oct 31, 2015
On October 13, 2015, members of the Saudi Shoura Council voted 96-28 to amend the Civil Status Law as proposed by three female Shoura members (Princess Sarah Al-Faisal, Dr. Latifah Al-Shalan and Dr. Haya Al-Manea) and one male Shoura member (Dr. Nasser Bin Dawoud). The proposal calls for enhancing women’s citizenship and eliminating any form of discrimination against women as stipulated in the Kingdom’s laws which are based on the Shariah, especially the right of women to have their own ID cards.
Nine points were raised in the proposal, including a definition of the ID card as an official document which identifies the relationship of children under 15 and their guardians. Article 23 of the existing Civil Status Law was amended to read that each and every male and female citizen can obtain a copy of his or her ID card. Article 28 of the law regarding the ID card of each head and member of a family was amended to read that the information of a husband and wife and their family members must be registered at a Ministry of Interior Civil Status Department office to ensure that the rights of a wife are not lost should the husband marry another woman. The most important amendment focused on Article 30 of the same law regarding the domicile of a married woman and minor. Members proposed that the minor’s domicile must be the place where his father, mother or custodian is resident and not restricted to the father’s domicile as is the case now.
Mothers may report the birth of children and women must also apply for an ID card within 60 days of marrying. Documentary evidence for the matrimonial relationship should be submitted to acquire the ID card, which will be separately issued to both husband and wife. Women will also have the right to report deaths (Article 53).
The proposal calls for discarding unnecessary clauses to eliminate contradictions and to comply with pertinent procedures. It listed justifications for and aims of the amendments and emphasized the negative effects and harms of not allowing women to apply for separate and personal ID cards that preserve their dignity. Women should be issued ID cards that prove their paternity, something that will end all forms of exploitation by guardians, some of whom resort to adding names of non-biological children on their own ID cards. The proposal will also end the unjust practices some mothers are subject to because of their need for ID cards.
Undoubtedly, the amendments will be viewed as revolutionary because they introduce major legal changes relating to Saudi women who have suffered as a result of the old legal clauses. I would like to thank all Shoura members who voted in support of the proposal. Some accused those advocating the changes of being ignorant; this is wrong because Saudi people support the proposal. This was clear on social media websites as many people celebrated this victory, while some were against it and even used obscene words to vent their anger.
Because of the proposal, the blackmailing of women will come to an end. It is high time that the dignity of women was preserved. We hope that the amendments are immediately implemented and that further changes are proposed to change the guardianship law so that widows and divorced women can win custody of their children and women can assume their own responsibility and be their own guardians.
Female Trainer Motivates Saudi Students to Do Community Work
Nov 1, 2015
JEDDAH — As part of a leadership preparation program conducted by Hand by Hand Volunteering Organization, 130 Saudi students at Morgan State University in Baltimore, US, have been encouraged to become more active in charitable community work.
The training session was conducted by Saudi female trainer Ahad Daghrairi and aimed at preparing leaders, raising awareness about the importance of volunteer work, and teaching how to find volunteer opportunities and how to transition from volunteering to a career in a non-profit.
Speaking about the training session, Ahad Daghrairi, the certified trainer by Hand by Hand Volunteering Organization, said that it was important for Saudi students of both genders to become involved in voluntary services in their local communities and to participate in activities that would help develop their skills and prepare them for the real world of employment.
“This training organized to motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership,” she added.
The session lasting 8 hours in two days was attended by 130 students from Baltimore and the surrounding cities.
Mohammed Zamzami, vice president of Hand by Hand Volunteering Organization and general supervisor of training programs department, pointed out that his organization was encouraging the students to do their volunteering as a means to develop skills and access new educational and professional opportunities in their country or around the world.
He said: “We believe that leadership skills can and should be continually improved and refined. We provide programs and services to foster lifelong leadership learning opportunities.”
Malawi Islamic Charity Empower Rural Women
By Prince Jamal
Friday, 30 October 2015 00:00
LILONGWE – In an attempt to rescue poverty-stricken rural women in Malawi, a local Islamic charity is providing entrepreneurship skills to the women regardless of their faith to achieve sustainable solutions to poverty, an initiative which is widely being praised as a “living hope” in the highly impoverished and least developed southern African nation.
“In Malawi, women constitute 60% of the total population and a larger percentage is rural women who are poor,” Abdul Razzaq Fattani, National Chairperson of Islamic Relief Agency (IRA), the charity implementing the program, told OnIslam.net.
"They encounter enormous challenges in their quest for survival. It is for this reason that we introduced this empowerment program to alleviate their suffering and safeguard their integrity.
Malawi Muslims Champion Safe Motherhood
“Through this program, Fattani said, “we are identifying the poorest of the poor regardless of their faith inclinations, and we are providing them with tailoring and entrepreneurial skills and after the training, we give them sewing machines and start –up capital to enable them stand on their own.”
He added: “The needs of poor rural women are quite overwhelming. Most of our beneficiaries are either divorced or widowed mothers. They shoulder a huge responsibility to provide for their families. They go through pain to get something for their children to eat. We are therefore, doing everything possible to reduce rising levels of poverty among women in the rural areas of the country.”
He said since the inception of the program a few years ago, the number of beneficiaries has been on the rise.
“We started with a small group of women, but there has been a rise in the number of those in desperate need of support. We have so far reached out to more than 1000 thousand women.
“But due to limited resources, we are unable to take all on board. Funds permitting, we plan to reach to as many women as possible and extend the program to other parts of the country.”
Rural Areas First
Currently, Fattani said the program is being implemented in the rural areas of the country’s commercial city of Blantyre.
He said besides giving out the sewing machines, beneficiaries were also being provided with farming tools to boost food security at house hold level.
“Agriculture is an effective way of alleviating poverty. People should have enough food to eat and sell for them to have cash. If they enough food, they will not beg and in this way, their dignity will be preserved. We are making sure that we invest considerably in agriculture so that these women would be self=sufficient in food,” Fattani, told OnIslam.net.
“These women are going through depressing situations. They have no money and at the same time, they lack food. For them to survive, therefore, they have to go about looking for money to enable them have food. But as long as we boost food security at house hold level, there is an assurance that their lives would be better off.”
Since the initiative started, according to Fattani, “there has been a marked improvement in their lives.”
“Through the businesses which they embark on after getting the training, the women are able to provide for their dependants and send their children to school. This was not possible for them before this program was rolled off. We have managed to bring smiles on the faces of people who had lost hope and had resigned to their fate.”
A group of beneficiaries in Kachere Township in the outskirts of Blantyre city praised the program and testified how much their lives have been improved.
A widow in her 40’s indentified as Edna said before she was drafted as a beneficiary in the program; her life has been a “continued struggle”.
“Since the death of my husband a few years ago, life has been a continued struggle for me and my children. It has been a painful experience for me to provide for children. But when I became a beneficiary of this program, I’m now able to support my dependants through money realized from my tailoring business. At least, my suffering has been alleviated,” Edna, told OnIslam.net.
She added: “This initiative has brought light and hope, to the needy like me. Poverty stole my pride and dignity, but this initiative has restored my dignity. We are very grateful to IRA for this intervention.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Lucia Banda, a Christian of the Church of Christ who described the program as a “living hope.”
“I have been a person without hope for many years since my husband died, but since I started benefiting from this intervention, hope in my life has restored. This initiative is a living hope. I don’t know where I could have without this level of intervention. And being a Christian beneficiary, has changed m mindset towards Islam and Muslims. I’m extremely moved and grateful,” Banda told OnIslam.net.
Fatima Ndaila, National Chairperson of Muslim Women Organization (MWO) has hailed the program describing it as a “huge treasure”.
“The level of pain that poverty has subjected women to is quite indescribable. Scores of women in both urban and rural areas of the country are going through immense pain in their endless struggle for sustainable source of livelihood. This program is therefore a huge treasure which deserves our commendation,” Ndaila told Onislam.net.
“There are millions of women who are in this country who are bearing the brunt of poverty. They are going through enormous pain for them to afford something to eat. Therefore, unless we have interventions of this nature, we are going to have a larger population of this nation in pain of poverty.
“All faith groups in this country need to unite to rescue women from the trap of excruciating poverty,” said Ndaila.
Through the program, beneficiaries especially the aged are provided with basic clothing and blankets.
Malawi is rated by the World Bank as one of the poorest and least developed nations in the world. Its majority poor according to the bank, struggles to survive on less than US$1 a day.
Currently, the country is passing through severe economic challenges following the suspension of 40% budgetary support by its cooperating partners following a major corruption scandal dubbed “cash gate” which has seen huge millions of taxpayers’ in US dollars being stolen by civil servants, politicians and business people.
This development, according to economic experts has deepened poverty levels in the country. The delivery of basic social services has been greatly affected. Public hospitals in the country which provide free medical services to the country’s majority poor have been running without essential drugs for many years now.
Malawi is a secular, but diverse religious nation. Islam is the second largest religion in the country after Christianity. Muslims account for 36% of the country’ 16 million population.
Anti-Muslim Sentiment Targets Women on Melbourne's Streets
November 1, 2015
Multicultural Melbourne might win plaudits as Australia's most tolerant city, but social campaigners warn comforting statistics can obscure the personal damage from anti-Muslim sentiment and other bigotry.
Saara Sabbagh, director of Benevolence Australia, a prominent Muslim charity, told a forum hosted by Darebin city council in Preston the hatred preached by far-right groups was frightening.
"You can ask any Muslim woman with a headscarf and she'll tell you a story," Ms Sabbagh said.
Ms Sabbagh said anti-Muslim suspicions had surged with what she now called the "ISIS crisis", after a lull in prejudicial attitudes in the years following the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Drive-by abuse shouted from vehicles was common and "causing genuine fears" for Muslim mothers and their daughters, according to a recent report from the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria.
Ms Sabbagh said far-right groups had also taken to photographing women in headscarves and publishing them online.
A major national survey last week found Melbourne the Australian city most positively disposed towards Islam – with just 16 per cent of people professing a negative attitude to Muslims, compared to almost twice that number in Sydney.
But the personal stories – not only from Muslims but also from the African or Indigenous community – are seen as a reminder Melbourne cannot be complacent in tackling prejudice.
In a sign of sensitivity around discussions of "Islamophobia", Victoria Police felt compelled to send a handful officers to mill outside the forum in Preston last Thursday night in case of trouble.
Bendigo recently saw protests and counter-protests in the campaign against the building of a local mosque.
Fatwa against Indian Model Over Sex Tweets
TNN | Nov 1, 2015
A fatwa has been issued against model-turned-actress Arshi Khan. As per a report by India Newzstreet, a fatwa has been issued against model Arshi Khan for tweeting about her physical relationship with cricketer Shahid Afridi on Twitter. The fatwa has been issued by a mufti from Madrasa.
Last month, Arshi Khan had tweeted, "Yes, I had sex with Afridi! Do I need the Indian media's permission to sleep with someone? It's my personal life. For me it was love." However, these tweets were later deleted. A Pakistani news channel has claimed that the fatwa has been issued because Arshi put Pakistan and Islam in bad light. Reacting to the fatwa, Arshi tweeted, "Very disappointed with Pakistan. Not a word of support for me from anyone against d fatwa. Wake up Pakistan @SAfridiOfficial." She further tweeted, "I am not afraid of anyone or any fatwa Allah is my protector. Neither Shiv Sena or any Mufti can threaten me @PakPressWatch @PakFilmIndustry."
She’s Solved 124 Cases of Corruption & Domestic Abuse, Meet the Fiery Founder of the Red Brigade
November 1, 2015
Aparna’s father was an alcoholic and she had seen its ill-effects personally. When she saw many women from her neighbourhood being abused by their alcoholic husbands, she started a Red Brigade group which fights domestic violence in an interesting way.
Aparna Darade says she would see women in her Pune neighbourhood work all day and then be abused by their drunken husbands at night. “I wanted to stop this. So on January 3, 2012, I formed the Red Brigade,” she says.
Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade, named after a female leader in Maharashtra’s Communist Party of India, has solved 124 cases of corruption and domestic abuse in Pune district since its founding three years ago, and claims a membership that is several-thousand-women strong.
The organization is known in Pune for its relentless determination to bring cases to justice, and for the bright red sarees members wear when they protest, which is the reason for it being nicknamed the ‘Red Brigade.’
Its founder, 35-year-old Aparna Ganesh Darade, says she was inspired to establish the organization after seeing flagrant violations of the law in her district, which were going unprosecuted. At protests, you will find Aparna holding one fist defiantly in the air and the other holding the hand of her young son, his small body partially hidden in the folds of her bright red saree.
The Red Brigade has a committee that determines cases on which to focus. Some cases are chosen from submissions by community members, and others are the outcome of committee research.
The first step the Red Brigade takes in its mission to address the situation brought to their attention is to send a warning letter to the offending party, in which he or she is directed to come to a meeting to discuss the problem. These meetings, which are an attempt to ameliorate the situation, are led by Aparna and attended by a lawyer and several other members of the organization.
Following this, if the situation does not improve, Aparna takes the second step, which is to contact authorities at the courthouse and at the police station and ask them to intervene. However, due to the often drawn-out process of Pune’s legal system, these interventions are frequently ineffective in curbing the abuse and further action is required.
This is the point at which the Red Brigade swings into action and a protest is launched. Anywhere from thirty to two hundred Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade members — numbers vary depending on the situation — all clothed in red, appear at the site where the transgressor resides or enacts his illegal business.
Members chant, drum and march until the accused agrees to reform. This method has proven to be so effective that when perpetrators are sent the initial warning letter by the Red Brigade, they are invariably pressured by family, friends and police to comply in order to avoid being shamed by further action.
Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade always follows a case through to completion.
Aparna Ganesh Darade was born in a village called Tambua in Maharashtra. She says that in her early childhood her parents owned a number of farms and were relatively affluent. However, Aparna’s father was an alcoholic.
Due to this addiction and the mismanagement of the family’s finances, Aparna’s family was forced to sell their properties, and they quickly descended into poverty. To make ends meet, Aparna learned how to sew and was able to earn enough money in this way to pay for her education.
Aparna feels that her background makes her feel especially sympathetic to cases involving alcohol abuse. “Whenever I hear of a case of alcoholism, I jump in to help immediately,” she says. In college, Aparna discovered that she had natural leadership abilities and felt an affinity for activism.
Her village was located 10 kms from her college and while travelling to class, she and her fellow female classmates faced constant harassment by men. Consequently, one of Aparna’s first projects was to work with the principal of her college to increase the safety for women en route to the institution. Aparna graduated in the top tier of her college class. Subsequently, she went on to graduate school to be awarded a Master’s degree in computer science, and received top honours there as well.
While in graduate school, in 2001, Aparna married a man who would one day have a significant impact on her activism. Prior to this, on several occasions, her family had made arrangements for her to meet various eligible men in her village. Each time, however, the potential groom had insisted upon receiving a dowry, which her family could not afford to pay.
Then, her future husband, who had been brought to her area to marry another woman, had his engagement fall through. At the time that he was introduced to Aparna, he was an active member of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (a communist organization), had an undergraduate degree in journalism, and was working for Airtel.
Of special significance to Aparna, he was firmly against the practice of dowry, and had even refused a previous marriage proposal in which he had been offered Rs. 5 lakhs. He and Aparna were married soon after they were introduced to each other. Aparna says she is continually inspired by her husband’s beliefs about the tradition of giving dowry.
In 2010, Aparna and her husband received information regarding a scam related to slum redevelopment near their home outside of Pune, which was not being addressed by the appropriate authorities. Together, they organized a protest in which 2,000 people participated.
This was the point at which Aparna decided to focus on problems in her district, especially those most oppressive towards women, which were being overlooked by the police.
Though her flat is very spare, in the corner of the room, on a shelf, sits a large purple binder filled with newspaper cuttings that describe the many achievements of Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade. Flipping through them, one sees that the organization has solved many diverse cases.
In one of the clippings, Aparna and other members are being celebrated for closing down a blackmarket ration operation. In this case, families who were to receive government rations were given rice that had been mixed with cement. Aparna led those affected by this to work with the police and law enforcement to revoke the rice distributor’s licence, and the operation was closed down. In another newspaper article, members of the Red Brigade are acknowledged for bringing to prosecution several black market alcohol operations, which had been responsible for the deaths of over 100 people, as a result of toxic ingredients that they had used in their products. At the time the article was written, two of these operations had been shut down, thanks to the Red Brigade, and a third would be presently.
Aparna describes dozens of cases her organization has worked on since its founding. She remembers each detail as precisely as though it had happened that morning. She says, “In our first case, the husband of a member of the Red Brigade used to beat her and the police refused to help because they said it was an ‘internal matter.’ One day, we were supposed to go to a rally in Mumbai, but this member could not go because her husband was beating her. She called me and I went to her house, along with several other members. Even when we went inside her house, her husband would not stop beating her, so we called the police. While we were waiting, the man said a bad word to me, so I slapped him in the face. Then we dragged him outside to take him to the police. He said that we were hurting his prestige in the area. I said, ‘If you want prestige, don’t beat your wife.’ Everyone around knew what was happening because he was known for abusing his wife. After that incident, he stopped beating her. I told the wife that if he beats her again to just call me anytime, and I’ll be there. Now he treats his wife in a good way and he does not drink anymore. He is employed as a rickshaw driver and they have two children. He does not object to his wife being in the organization, and he even attends some meetings himself.”
Aparna speaks of another case in which a professor at a university in Pune had been sexually assaulting students and concealing this through blackmail. “These girls were helpless. Two girls came across the Red Brigade in the newspaper and contacted us. We made the whole college know about it, and forced the college to suspend him. The man was arrested and put in jail for three years,” Aparna says.
In addition to addressing the cases submitted to them, Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade also runs an emergency clinic out of their office in an area of Pune called Akurdi, to offer legal and medical assistance to victims of domestic violence.
They are also planning to open an office in another region of Pune that is known to have a high frequency of domestic abuse. Aparna says that Ahilyatai Rangnekar Brigade’s vision is to “give every girl, from village to university, the message that whenever they feel unsafe they can call the Red Brigade and they will receive help.”
When asked if she would like to have her email included in the article, Aparna says she does not have email. She requests that her cell phone number be included instead: +91 9762750107.
97-Year-Old US Woman Gets High School Diploma
PTI | Nov 1, 2015
WASHINGTON: A 97-year-old woman has received an honorary diploma from a high school in Michigan, 79 years after she was forced to drop out to care for her sick mother.
Margaret Thome Bekema who would have walked with the Catholic Central High School class of 1936 in Grand Rapids, had to drop out in her junior year to care for her cancer-afflicted mother.
Over the summer, her family contacted the school and shared her story, 'Time' reported.
Bekema was overwhelmed and burst into tears when she received the honorary diploma in front of her friends and family at Yorkshire and Stonebridge Manor senior community on October 29.