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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 May 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

First Muslim woman to qualify for IPS leads a pack of 11 from Kashmir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al-Qaeda in Yemen attacks women

Pak cleric declared poppy cultivationIslamic and female education un-Islamic

Yemen women use digital tech to improve society with ‘Safe Streets’

Nigerian State Plays Matchmaker To Thousands Of Single Women

New Film Explores How Temporary Marriage Affects Muslim Women

France's first unwed first lady may pose diplomatic dilemmas

Complied by New Age IslamNewsBureau

Photo: Syed Sehrish Asgar has become the first Muslim woman from J&K to qualify for the Indian Police Service

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/first-muslim-woman-to-qualify-for-ips-leads-a-pack-of-11-from-kashmir/d/7264

 

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‘First ‘Muslim woman to qualify for IPS leads a pack of 11 from Kashmir

Naseer Ganai/ Srinagar

 May 8, 2012

THIS is the story of the torchbearers of a generation struggling to shake- off the shackles of a life lived amid great tumult.

The UPSC results announced last week contained the names of a record 11 aspirants from Jammu & Kashmir — a first in the state’s history. While five of them are doctors, seven — including two Kashmiri Pandits — hail from the Valley.

Their tales of success are one more inspiring than the other.

Take for example, veterinarian Bashir Ahmad Bhat from Sopore, the hotbed of militancy in the state, who secured the 434th rank in the exam.

And then there is Pooja Hali ( rank 169), who is only the second Kashmiri Pandit woman to crack the exam.

Also exemplary is the achievement of Syed Sehrish Asgar, who secured the 118th rank this year.

At 25, she has become the first Muslim woman from J& K to qualify for the Indian Police Service ( IPS).

“ It was a childhood dream. My father used to be a civil servant and I wanted to be like him,” the MBBS graduate gushed.

Hailing from the remote Kishtwar district of Jammu, Sehrish says it is a challenge for women from the area to even dream about making it to the IAS. “ Schools there are far off, and the literacy level lags at 30 per cent. Girls have to walk miles together to reach school. That is why people here prefer the security of their daughters over education,” she said.

“ Mine is not an individual achievement. It was because of the tireless efforts of a lot of people that I managed to get where I am,” she added.

Sehrish gives the credit of her success to her family, especially her father Syed Asghar Ali, who is currently a member of the J& K legislative council.

Sehrish says she seeks to use her position as a civil servant to serve her people. “ I have opted for the state cadre,” she said. “ I hope I get it so I can come back to my state to help the people here.”

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Al-Qaeda in Yemen attacks women

Elena White

08 May, 2012

Disturbing reports of acid attacks and beatings of women are now coming from Yemen’ southern provinces as women are coming forward and accusing Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the region of using violent and repressive methods to impose their rules on women throughout their controlled territories.

Ansar al-Sharia whose name means the followers of the Sharia, God’s laws are claiming to want to return Yemen to strict observation of the Scriptures, promising redemption to all those who would follow in their footsteps.

In a move which chillingly resemble the Taliban, al-Qaeda is now turning its attention towards women dress code.

Although women inIslam are required to cover their hair, ears, neck and chest, preventing in essence any men other than their close relatives and husband to lay eyes on their charms, no text impose the covering of one’s face altogether.

And if the Prophet’s wives (PBUH) did indeed cover up when in public, it was because their station imposed on them an even stricter morality. Considered the “mothers of all Muslims” the face veil was protecting them from others, setting them apart to prevent vicious gossiping. In no circumstances did the Quran or its prophet (PBUH) require women to hide their faces. As proof, when women are performing Haj, the holy pilgrimage, the Scriptures specifically prescribe all women to only cover their hair prohibiting face covers.

“The face veil is a personal choice. If women feel they prefer to cover-up completely when in public it is perfectly admissible. However forcing one to do so out of bigotry if contrary toIslam,” said Sheikh Mohamed Hassan al-Sharjabi from Aden to the Yemen Observer.

He added that al-Qaeda was givingIslam a bad name by perverting its teachings and turning what was a religion of peace and free will into one of violence and punishment.

Islam has always been about one’s free will and choice. Our beloved Prophet taught us that only through patience and perseverance could one follow onto the path of God. He, himself never asked more form his disciples than to admit that there was only one God and that he was His prophet. He of course encouraged them to practice according to His teachings but never through violence. I wish Ansar al-Sharia to reconsider their positions towards women as they are held in great esteem inIslam.”

One woman, Fatma from Aden, who for obvious reasons preferred to hide her last name, told the Yemen Observer that men from al-Qaeda had harassed her as she was going to the market, calling her a whore for she wasn’t covering her face with the Niqab. “They pushed me around a bit and threaten to hurt me if I continued to defy God. One of them said he would throw acid at my face to forever remind me of my treachery towardsIslam.”

The young woman was much too scared to tell her father so she confided in her mother, who herself wears the veil. Determined to support her daughter’s personal choice, Fatma’s mother now accompanies her daughter wherever she goes, having sworn that anyone who would try to hurt her daughter would have to go through first.

But other women and young girls were not as lucky as Fatma…many were asked by their families to cover up as to avoid more persecutions.

“It is so unfair”, said Waffa Abdel-Aleem, “I don’t want to cover my face at all, I found insulting that I am being forced to do so because a group of extremists decided it is what they wanted me to do. I wish the government would do something to protect us,” she added angry.

Women all over Yemen are now watching with much fear the advance of al-Qaeda in Yemen, worry that their homeland will turn into another Afhganistan.

“I found that Yemen is reverting to lawlessness and moral piracy,” said Noora Saadi a right activist, adding “I personally fear that Ansar al-Sharia will turn a once traditional yet tolerant community into an Arabic version of the Taliban, in which case God help us all.”

http://www.yobserver.com/front-page/10022009.html

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Pak cleric declared poppy cultivationIslamic and female education un-Islamic

08 May, 2012

Islamabad, May 7 (ANI): A former National Assembly member and cleric from Pakistan's Kohistan district, has termed formal education for women as un-Islamic and has asked parents to withdraw their daughters from school, or else they would be 'doomed'.

Maulana Abdul Haleem, who during his stint as a parliamentarian, had declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan 'in accordance withIslam' said, "It is immodest to equip girls with secular education," adding that those Kohistani parents who were sending their girls to schools were acting against 'Islamic shariah' and the local customs, reports The Express Tribune.

Maulana Haleem also protested against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region, calling them 'hubs of immodesty'. He did not spare female NGO workers either.

"Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilising naive Kohistani women to follow theiragenda in the name of health and hygiene education," he said.

He threatened them with 'dire consequences', saying that married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men.

Haleem said the 'secular' education of women was againstIslam, adding that a woman, if educated, would eventually seek a job, which is not allowed inIslam.

The only responsibility men owe to women is their sustenance, and not education, he said. In return, the women should stay at home and look after their children and family members, he added.

Maulana Haleem claimed that 97% of girls schools in Kohistan were closed and the few girls that were enrolled, only visited their schools to collect cooking oil which the education department was distributing with the support of foreign donors.

Assistant District Officer Education Kohistan Saiful Malook Khan refuted Haleem's claim, saying there are 255 primary, 13 middle-level, and one high school for girls in the district.

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/05/07/278-Pak-cleric-who-declared-poppy-cultivation-Islamic-brands-female-education-un-Islamic.html

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Yemen women use digital tech to improve society with ‘Safe Streets’

08 May, 2012

YEMEN: Even though the connection to the internet has been intermittent at best and often too slow, women advocates in Yemen are now working to push digital tech as a means to improve society and gain human rights. As women continue to battle extreme sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo, Egypt, women in neighboring Yemen are also fighting the fight against what some say is a centuries old crime. Bringing action and efforts forward to stop their harassers, a strategic group of women activists are now working to stop what they consider ‘crimes against women’s dignity and rights.’

Women who have been verbally attacked on the streets do not usually share their experience publicly. Many internalize the experience thinking they have done something wrong to gather the unwanted and often damaging attention. Street harassment does not only include verbal abuse. It also includes being touched in a manner that is sexually aggressive. A December 2011 case in Cairo, Egypt has shown a woman who was critically harassed as her clothes stripped away as she battled with her harassers. This harassment was considered to be both political and sexual in nature.

‘Defying the Silence,’ an organized the ‘safe streets’ campaign in Yemen, aims to bring law and justice to the issues of sexual aggression against Yemeni women on the streets. Since 2009, Ghaidaa al Absi, an innovative leader and Global Voices (Rising Voices) grant recipient has been helping women jump to the cyber street of blogging to bring attention to injustice and issues of human rights under conditions that many have considered to be much deteriorated since the civil unrest and pro-democracy movement began in the region. In spite of this, the group of women activists have continued, often meeting in a members home.

“As of June 2011, public services in most parts of the country had ceased to function, as the escalating armed conflict began to claim an increasing number of civilian casualties,” said the UNHCR – United Nations RefugeeAgency describing challenges that still exist inside the region. Due to internal strife a rising tide of displacement has happened in Yemen as women continue to be marginalized.

“By August 2011, some 100,000 IDPs were registered in the south, in addition to the 299,000 IDPs already in the north of country as a result of the war between the Government and the ‘Al Houthi’ rebel movement,” added the UNHCR.

To push for safer streets in Taiz City, Ghaidaa al Absi, a rising group of 200+ women have brought attention back to the issues of women and Yemeni society. Persistent problems of street harassment throughout regions in the Middle East were discussed openly during a recent world conference on women in Istanbul. But what are the solutions?

The 12th AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) International Forum on Women’s Rights, April 19 – 22, recently provided a dynamic space for open discussion on issues facing women in Yemen and throughout the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Activism and action were highlighted.

As part of the work for ‘Defying the Silence’ in Yemen, Absi’s goal has been to train over 200 women to become ‘experts’ in using open source online digital publishing tools as they become active voices for their communities using digital cyber-activism.

“Society accepts it and women expect that they will be touched and talked to,” said Absi at the AWID conference.

Continued reports of harassment in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a has brought Maeen district police chief, Ahmed Al-Tahiri, to step up efforts to catch and prosecute predatory acts against women on the streets. Despite this promise for stepped up efforts, most men who are reported on sex-harassment charges often have their case caught up in what Sana’a policewoman Bushra Al-Khawlani explains is a process of office “referals’ where a case is referred from one department to another with often little to no final punitive measures being made against the offender.

Currently Yemen does not have any specific legislation protecting women from sexual harassment.

Using Google maps, Wiki and Facebook, numerous Yemeni women cyber-activists are currently now working with other activists to stop the abuse on the streets as they seek solutions, in spite of mobile challenges in certain areas and a lack of sustained internet connections they are working together to bring impact to the issues. Their work is based on efforts to improve, change and remove strife for women in the region.

“Every day I walk in the streets, and every day I face  sexual harassment. Unfortunately, it becomes daily life, and we women are forced to adapt to it either by being silent or yelling at the harassers,” shared Absi in a February 2012 interview to highlight the conditions many women face on the streets as they go about their daily routines.

Stepped-up efforts by the women under a recent micro-grant by the Tactical Technology Collective (TTC – Tactical Tech), along with the organizational leadership of Absi, are now working toward solutions. TTC is an online digital resource that shares open source toolkits, guides and information for cyber-activists worldwide. Through the TTC program grant the  Safe Streets website has produced an interactive map that now reveals ‘real-time’ locations where sexual harassment on the street has been reported by women throughout the Yemeni region.

http://womennewsnetwork.net/2012/05/03/yemen-women-use-digital-tech/

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Nigerian State Plays Matchmaker To Thousands Of Single Women

By Ruth Manuel-Logan

08 May, 2012

Nigeria’s Kano state has thousands of single women who are either divorced or widowed and they are looking for mates.  Many single women with families in the state are typically unable to make ends meet when they are left on their own.  Women of marriageableage who remain single are oftentimes seen as suspect — with their respectability questioned — so the government has decided to step in to fix the lonely hearts problem, reports the Digital Journal.

In order to take part in the program, there are mandatory free-HIV screenings for the applicants. One must also answer interview questions that seek information, such as occupation, income, and number of children. The men are asked why they want to marry, among several other questions that aim to determine their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. The selected applicants are then subjected to a meet-and-greet so that they can then decide on a spouse. Afterward, the couples are married in a group wedding.

In order to take part in the program, there are mandatory free-HIV screenings for the applicants. One must also answer interview questions that seek information, such as occupation, income, and number of children. The men are asked why they want to marry, among several other questions that aim to determine their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. The selected applicants are then subjected to a meet-and-greet so that they can then decide on a spouse. Afterward, the couples are married in a group wedding.

http://newsone.com/2006168/nigerian-state-plays-matchmaker-to-thousands-of-single-women/

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New Film Explores How Temporary Marriage Affects Muslim Women

By Asma Marwan

08 May, 2012

Afghan Actress Reha Zamani and Director Aisha K. have joined together to create a film on the important issue of Sigheh, temporary marriage under Muslim law, to give an honest view of how it affects women in the Muslim world.

The Dodge School of Film in California recently screened Aisha K. and Reha Zamani’s controversial Afghan titled Farishteh. Zamani’s scene, in which she performed and translated from Farsi, was instantly controversial due to its content about a woman who had partaken in temporary marriage.

Sigheh is a contentious subject in Iran, and the majority of the Muslim population has banned this law, but some still enter into such marriages mainly as means of legal prostitution and financial support. Zamani gives voice to this issue at a time when women’s rights are at the forefront of most political conversations in the United States. Through the use of media, Aisha K. and Zamani show the importance of women’s voices in art and politics, to speak on issues concerning women’s health and human rights.

http://bulletinoftheoppressionofwomen.com/2012/05/

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France's first unwed first lady may pose diplomatic dilemmas

May 8, 2012

PARIS: Taking over from a supermodel should not be a problem for Valerie Trierweiler, who has plenty of glamour of her own, but making state visits abroad as France's first unmarried first lady just might.

There is some speculation as to whether Trierweiler, whose partner Francois Hollande was elected Socialist president on Sunday, will marry her man before he gets the keys to the Elysee Palace on May 15.

If she does not, certain host countries may face some embarrassment as to the proper protocol to receive an unmarried head of state turning up with an unwed woman on his arm.

Trierweiler, a twice-divorced 47-year-old journalist and mother of three teenagers who says she plans to continue her media career and combine it with her first lady role, recently dismissed the issue.

"I'm not sure it will come up all that much. Maybe on a visit to the pope? Frankly, it really is not an aspect that bothers me. This question of marriage is above all a part of our private life," the brunette told AFP.

Apart from the Vatican, conservative countries that might view her unmarried status as a diplomatic dilemma include the Arab Gulf states, whereIslamic traditions apply, and in conservative societies like India.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Frances-first-unwed-first-lady-may-pose-diplomatic-dilemmas/articleshow/13047330.cms

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/first-muslim-woman-to-qualify-for-ips-leads-a-pack-of-11-from-kashmir/d/7264


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