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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 24 Nov 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Government Sector in Pakistan Tops in Sexual Harassment

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 Nov 2013

JIH Women leaders urge political leaders to understand Islam in its true sense


 Infertile Couples in UAE Urged To Seek Help Early

 Lack Of Privacy Drives Saudi Women Away From Store Jobs

 Jamaat e Islami-Hind Women Leaders Urge Politicians to Understand Islam in Its True Sense

 Jerusalem to mark International Day to stop violence against women

 Gender-based violence: 8,539 women reported torture in 2011 in Pakistan

 Indian PM calls for institutional mechanism for women safety

 Nawaz Grooming Daughter for Major Political Career

 Campaign for Girls Education in Pakistan

 Turkish Women Want Bigger Role in Politics

 Women Employment in Turkey Shows High Rise But Low Quality

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Government Sector in Pakistan Tops in Sexual Harassment

 November 24, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Mystifying, but it is official. More woman workers fall victim to sexual harassment in the government sector than in the private sector.

This emerged from the number of complaints received by the office of the Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace.

Since its establishment in 2011, the court of the Federal Ombudsman has received 160 cases of harassment and disposed of 153. Seven cases are under process.

That government departments score high in debauchery, when job insecurity is higher in the private sector, is baffling. It would be natural for a victim to suppress her rage for fear of losing her job.

“Job insecurity in the private sector is the main reason why women and men alike do not come forward with complaints of being harassed,” observed Registrar of the office, Chaudhry Aziz Iqbal.

It could be that the very security that a government job provides emboldens the perpetrator to misbehave and his victim to raise her voice.

Chaudhry Aziz said the government and the private organisations were not doing enough to make their employee aware of the law that protects them against sexual harassment in a work environment.

“That is the biggest challenge for our office,” he told Dawn.

“The law obliges the management of organisations, both in the public and private sectors, to display the Code of Conduct in English, as well as in the language understood by most of their employees, at conspicuous places in the organisations.”

Most of the complaints about harassment came to the office from women working in the education sector across the country.

The court of the Federal Ombudsman has decided 18 of them, the highest number among the cases from all the sectors adjudicated by the court.

Some prominent incidents of sexual harassment happened in Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, and Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi.

Employees of the state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation each registered four cases, as did three employees of Lok Virsa, a cultural entity, two employees of the Alternate Energy Development Department and one each of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Pakistan Television (PTV).

A senior officer of the government of Pakistan had charged a Southeast Asian diplomat of the crime, disclosed a source in the office of the Federal Ombudsman against sexual harassment at workplaces.

“He was held guilty and had to return to his country,” said the source.

A journalist’s complaint of sexual harassment is pending with the office of the Federal Ombudsman.

Chaudhry Aziz Iqbal said individuals working in the private sector registered 13 cases.

“Men and women in the private sector were equally productive citizens and no harm should come to an individual’s dignity,” he said.

After the Ombudsman’s court held two senior professors of the Quaid-i-Azam University guilty as charged by their students, the university administration engaged NGOs, put up posters, and held seminars to educate its faculty and students of their duties and legal rights.

“But those posters and Code of Conduct copies are nowhere to be seen today. They should have stayed up on the walls and notice boards,” said a senior official in the QAU administration, suggesting that the fight against sexual harassment needed to go on.

In the private sector, the Code of Conduct is not found displayed in most corporate offices.

A Telenor official explained that the company policy explains the code to the employees at the time of induction but it is not displayed. The same was true in Mobilink.

According to the office of the Federal Ombudsman, some government ministries and divisions had publicly displayed the Code of Conduct.



Lack Of Privacy Drives Saudi Women Away From Store Jobs

 November 24, 2013

JEDDAH — Many Saudi women have objected to working in shops selling abayas and women’s clothing after a ministerial decision to feminize shops in this sector, claiming the sector lacks the right environment for women to work in.

Most of these shops are located in old markets where there is no privacy, they said.

They pointed out that there are no bathrooms for women, no places for prayer and no designated place for resting, as is the case in big malls.

Another major obstacle is the two-shift working hours: the first one from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and the second from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Most of the women working in this sector are married and are finding difficulty adjusting to this timing.

Muna Muhyuddin said she got a job through the Hafiz program to work in a women’s shop in an old market.

“They told me my salary will be SR4,000 but they will deduct social insurance from it. They also told me that I have to work two shifts, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. I am a widow and I have three kids and I cannot work such long hours," she said.

"In addition, there are no bathrooms for women. My colleague and I find great difficulty making ablution for prayer. We reached a point where we cannot continue any more because the place is not suitable for us.”

Fatima Ayesh, who worked in one of these shops, described her experience as painful. She said there is no privacy for women and there are difficulties at work, especially when dealing with customers. "Customers think we hike prices because we work in small stores," she said.

“We are facing many obstacles, the main one is the two shifts. Many girls are not attracted to these jobs because of the working hours. The salaries are not enough and transportation alone eats half the salary. In the face of all this, I had to leave work. The environment is not suitable for me. The experience is a failure before it starts.”

Aisha Mansour, a widow, said she has been working in a shop for two months and cannot leave despite the many difficulties she has been facing. “I am a widow and I support my children. The long hours, however, made me neglect my children, as I work 10 hours a day. There is nothing I can do but to be patient,” she said.

Abdullah Al-Mukhtar, manager of a famous commercial center in Jeddah, said the plan for the shops, which include 80 women's shops, is to feminize them all. “The biggest problem we face is women who come to work in these shops for a week, sometimes a day or two, and then quit because they cannot adapt to the working environment. Maybe it is because of the long working hours or there are no privacy for women."

Al-Mukhtar said the whole place was not designed for women to work in. "These are the obstacles that drive women away, despite the attractive salaries offered,” he added.

He said they were given limited time to feminize all the shops and now they will be forced to change their line of business because they cannot find enough women willing to work in these places.



Infertile Couples in UAE Urged To Seek Help Early

 November 24, 2013

Dubai: A fertility expert has advised couples who do not conceive within a year to seek medical help, but said the main hurdle is that people come for treatment very late.

The doctor said with the advances in medicine, there are several treatment options available for couples facing infertility issues.

The main causes for infertility among women are obesity or a genetic condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). “This affliction leaves cysts in the ovaries that affects the woman’s menstrual cycle. Doctors can detect if a woman has PCOS through blood tests, a pelvic exam or a vaginal ultrasound,” said Dr Awatif Al Bahar, consultant in endocrine infertility at the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre.

She was speaking at the Emirates Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Fertility Forum that opened on Thursday. The two-day forum will discuss the latest advances in the field of gynaecology and fertility.

Doctor Al Bahar, who is also the chairperson of the Forum, said low sperm count among men is also the other cause for couples unable to conceive. The doctor urged the need for early detection for infertility issues. She said that according to international guidelines, couples who fail to conceive after one year of trying to have a baby should approach an infertility specialist.

But couples reach the doctor late because many do not acknowledge there is a problem, experts here said.

According to Dubai Health Authority (DHA) figures, more than 50,000 women in the UAE are infertile, out of the total number of infertile cases of 150,500.

The other reasons for infertility is smoking, drinking alcohol and high Body Mass Index of more than 35, that indicates the person is obese.

DHA predicts the figure for women seeking infertility treatment will reach 6,000 every year in the near future.

Dr Al Bahar said fertility testing should especially be performed if a woman is over the age of 35 or if either partner has known risk factors for infertility.

She said average success rates in infertility treatment for patients above 40 is 45 per cent. “For women below 40 years, it is 55 per cent,” she said.

It costs Dh22,000 for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The cost for intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is Dh26,000, she said.

Al Bahar highlighted: “The important message for couples is that there is hope. With advances in science and technology, fertility centres around the world have high success rates.”

Dr Ahmad Bin Kalban, CEO of Hospital Services at the DHA inaugurated the Forum.



Jamaat e Islami-Hind Women Leaders Urge Politicians to Understand Islam in Its True Sense

November 24, 2013

Kozhikode: Those parties which want Muslim support should understand Islam in its true sense, said KK Suhra, Jamaat e Islami Kerala secretary during her inaugural address of Muslim women’ conference organised by women’s’ wing of JIH in response to the ongoing public debates on Muslim women.

The ongoing debates between the secularists and clergies of Muslim community on women regarding her freedom and social status exclude Muslim women’s involvement, she said. Muslim woman is not permitted to express their remarks even in the subject concerning them.

Modern society does not acknowledge or recognise the progress achieved by women across the globe. Still being conceived materially, exploitation of women still continues. Religious orthodox people should abandon their adamant nature against Muslim women and be ready to take the half part of the community in their way forward. Muslim society at whole is being abused for the fall of some orthodox clergies.

Marriage is a strong mutual contract. It necessitates maturity and awareness. Dowry system should be abolished throughout the ‘Mahal’s (Islamic Parishes). Muslim leaders should explicit their stand regarding this immoral system. She urged the religious leaders to come forward to eradicate the creeps and reinvest the glory of the community.

JIH women’s’ wing president, Safiyya Ali presided over the programme. Girls Islamic Organisation (GIO) president P Ruksana, JIH Kerala State Council member PV Rahmabi, Calicut Corporation Councillor Saifunnisa, Adv. Leila, State Council Member A. Rahmathunnisa also talked.



Jerusalem to mark International Day to stop violence against women

 November 24, 2013

The Jerusalem Municipality will host an event in the capital Sunday to observe the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The day was created in 1999 by the UN General Assembly to raise awareness of the international blight.

According to a report that Women’s International Zionist Organization released last week, approximately 200,000 Israeli women are victims of domestic violence. The study also revealed that over the past year 7,335 women were treated in 89 centers for domestic violence across the country.

In a statement announcing the event, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denounced any form of violence against women. “We must act with all our means to prevent violence against women and to promote women in all of society,” he said.

Barkat added that the Jerusalem Municipality is working diligently to promote the status of women via numerous empowerment programs – including awareness classes, conferences, women’s council activities and a campaign to foster greater awareness of the issue.

Orly Ben-Aharon, an adviser to the mayor, noted the prevalence of violence against women in all sectors of society, as well as the urgency to increase awareness.

“We believe that by combining forces between different organizations with shared reading illustrating the clear struggle women face against violence, we will increase awareness and strengthen the struggle to eradicate this phenomenon,” she said.

The municipality will hold its event at Yad Ben- Zvi at 7 p.m.



Gender-based violence: 8,539 women reported torture in 2011 in Pakistan

 November 24, 2013

BAHAWALPUR: “As many as 8,539 women in Pakistan were tortured in 2011…a 6.74 per cent increase from 2011,” District Coordinator Razia Malik said on Saturday.

She was speaking at a press conference organised by the Cholistan Development Authority, Bahawalpur in connection with the International Campaign Against the Torture of Women starting from November 25.

She said violence against women had increased in Pakistan. “Illegal arrests, in-custody torture, physical and mental torture, sexual harassment, karokari, verbal abuse and early marriages are all forms of abuse women in Pakistan have to go through,” she said.

The district officer said 8,000 cases of violence against women were registered in 2010. “Incidents of sexual harassment have increased by 48.65…acid attacks have increased by 37.5 per cent,” she said.

Malik said 6,745 cases of honour killing were registered in 2010 and 2011. She said 911 of them were not reported and there is no available information about 883.

“Most unregistered cases of violence against women took place in Sindh where 605 cases were not registered and there is no information available on 316.”

“Hundreds of cases take place everyday but they are not reported…the government however has passed a law to protect the rights of women,” she said. The International Campaign against the Torture of Women, represented in 145 countries around the world, will go on till December 10.



Indian PM calls for institutional mechanism for women safety

Nov 24 2013

New Delhi: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised the need to put in place institutional mechanism to ensure safety of women and children and also strengthen community policing to prevent crimes. Addressing top police brass, Singh said the tragic rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi last December not only brought into focus the issue of women’s safety but also the rising expectations of the people from the police.

“We have recently enacted several laws providing stringent punishment for such crimes and more sensitive treatment of victims during investigation and trial. We also need to put in place other institutional mechanisms to ensure the safety and security of women and children. I expect the DGPs of states to show leadership in this area,” he said.

His remarks came in the midst of controversy over the alleged sexual assault on a woman colleague by Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal.

The PM, however, did not elaborate what the institutional mechanism would be. After the December 16 incident, the government had amended various provisions of law and strengthened those related to crime against women and children. Singh also focussed in the growing challenges of policing in metropolitan areas.

Singh said, “The process of rapid urbanisation that we have witnessed in the past few decades will further accelerate in the future. Factors like the anonymity offered in the urban landscape, individualistic lifestyles and floating populations make the detection of metropolitan crimes difficult, and therefore we need special techniques to tackle this growing menace.”

While urging the police to institutionalise community policing, Singh said, “There is a need to place greater emphasis on community policing which not only helps in the prevention and detection of crimes but also encourages citizens to associate themselves with the local police in solving neighbourhood problems, thus generating greater public confidence in our police forces.”



Nawaz grooming daughter for major political career

 November 24, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The appointment of Maryam Nawaz as Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme symbolises her further grooming in the statecraft, and she may be ultimately inducted in the parliament in a direct or indirect election.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to let his daughter run his key programme reflects his preference to get a leading role for her while keeping his two sons, Hussain and Hassan, preoccupied in business in Britain and Saudi Arabia respectively.

From day one, he has kept his sons away from politics. The duo is also not known to have demonstrated any interest in this murky field. They have not been seen flanking their father whether he is in government or in opposition except for a brief period when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won the May elections and he was elected prime minister.

The PML-N chief declared some time back that Hamza, son of his brother Shahbaz Sharif, was his political successor. Hamza recently got a key role in running the official affairs in Punjab. By virtue of this position, he remains in close touch with the federal and provincial legislators of the PML-N.

Nawaz Sharif had in the past many opportunities, which are not in dearth even now, to get Maryam elected as a member of the National Assembly or the Punjab Assembly, but he didn’t for his own reasons. However, she contributed a lot to PML-N’s campaign for the last parliamentary polls when the “youth bulge” tremendously mobilised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was going to play a major role. She presented herself as a representative of the youth and a campaigner for the PML-N.

Maryam is an active Tweet user and frequently and sharply responds when it is essential not to ignore certain messages about the prime minister, her family or the government.

Even after winning the elections and defeating the PTI, the political threat posed by the PTI to the PML-N is not over. Maryam’s nomination as chairperson of the youth programme is meant to continuously make efforts to woo the young voters.

After assuming office, the prime minister launched this programme for the first time to attract the youth. It has six elements including Interest Free Loan Scheme, Youth Business Loans, Youth Training Scheme, Youth Skills Development Scheme, Scheme for Provision of Laptops, and Scheme for Reimbursement of Fee for Students from the Less Developed Areas.

Conscious of any likely criticism on her appointment and in a bid to justify it, the official statement, which announced the nomination, noted that since 1997 Maryam has been the chairperson of Sharif Trust, founded by her grandfather Muhammad Sharif, Sharif Medical City and Sharif Education Institutes.

It was stated that she takes keen interest and is directly involved in the working of Sharif Trust and its allied institutions including Sharif College of Engineering & Technology, Sharif Education Complex, Sharif Model Schools for Boys and Girls, Sharif Institute of Technology and Islamic Centre.

When Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and several members of their family and many PML-N leaders were imprisoned after the October 1999 coup by Pervez Musharraf, Begum Kulsoom entered the political field and showed her guts and courage although it was her first experience.

She came out well. As they were released, she abandoned this role and reverted to her old apolitical position. At the time, Maryam was also seen accompanying her mother and used to pass sharp comments on the military rule.

Her husband, Capt (R) Safdar, who is member of the National Assembly from Mansehra, is in the background after his membership was suspended by the PML-N following his harsh remarks against some party leaders of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Although he was later restored, he has since been on the sidelines.



Campaign for Girls Education in Pakistan

 November 24, 2013

LAHORE - The six-day campaign for girls’s education is in full swing. The campaign was started on Karbath Bedian Road Tuesday. The Girl Guides are visiting door-to-door to highlight importance of education and training among girls and women. Pakistan Girl Guides Association (PGGA) Chief Commissioner Nafisa Skindar Melhi, ex-minister for Welfare Punjab Shaheen Attique Rehman and eminent writer Maqsood Ahmad Chughtai visited area of the campaign on Friday and shared views with the campaigners.



Turkish women want bigger role in politics

 November 24, 2013

As the deadline for the finalization of local election electoral lists draws closer, an association of women’s groups has launched a campaign to entice political party leaders to nominate more women as candidates in 2014 elections.

“We are appealing to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli; don’t forget women candidates,” Çiğdem Aydın, head of the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates (KADER) said on Oct. 22 in İstanbul.

Aydın was speaking at a publicity event to promote KADER and its campaign for more female candidates at the 2014 local elections.

Currently, only 26 of 2,950 mayors, 110 of 3,979 provincial council members and 1,340 of 31,790 municipal council members are women, Aydın noted. “Although women [in Turkey] were granted the right to stand in local elections in 1930, we are still being neglected. Women are not being nominated as candidates as frequently as they should therefore they cannot be elected in local elections since party leaders are the only decision-makers in the determination of candidates,” she said, adding that there’s no democracy, equality and justice in a country where half of its population is disregarded.

The KADER addressed its call to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the CHP and the MHP, however, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and its sister People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were not the target of their campaign, Aydın stressed.

“This is because both parties [the BDP and the HDP] have gender equality policies as part of their party programs and internal regulations. Since they did not forget women, they were not included as part of this campaign. We hope their stance sets an example to other political parties,” she said.

Following her speech, Aydın was asked to comment on the AKP deputies that entered a plenary session of the Parliament headscarved for the first time in the Republic’s history.

“Politicians should not use women’s dress to serve its political interests. This is not right. Everybody knows what to wear; we don’t need regulations on clothing. In this respect, it was an event that relieved Turkey. It was good,” Aydın said.

At the end of the meeting, Aydın and other board members of KADER pinned placards saying “Don’t forget women candidates” on posters of Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu and Bahçeli.

The KADER usually campaign for more women representation before local and general elections. Most recently, they conducted a campaign titled “275 women in [550-seat] Parliament” before the 2011 general elections and “No vote if there’s no woman candidate” before 2009 local elections.



Women employment in Turkey shows high rise but low quality

 November 24, 2013

The indicators regarding women’s participation in business life in Turkey show that women’s participation in the work force and employment is rising year by year. This shows that women’s economic independency is in progress but despite quantitative developments, can we talk about a qualitative jump in the men’s world?

According to the Household Labor Statistics revealed by state-run statistic body TÜİK every month, the population of women over 15, able to take part in the work force, is one point above half of Turkey’s total population. However, the number of women that take part in the labor market is under one third of the total.

The number of women above the age of 15 that are excluded from labor force market rose from 18.8 million in 2005 to 19.4 million in 2013. 61 percent of those women (11.4 million) are classified as “housewife.” The number of women who participated in the work force is 8.8 million, and as 12.5 percent of them (1.1 million) are unemployed, the rest are somehow employed. It is important that female employment rose from 5.3 million in 2005 to 7.7 million in 2013. It means a 45 percent rise in eight years. But, the quality of this quantitative rise is also important as well.

HDN Illegal, informal

In order to ease unemployment, which quickly rose due to the 2008 global economic crisis, the AKP rule promised employers that if they employed women or young workers, the state would pay an employer premium. So, the number of registered and paid female workers showed a considerable hike. There are currently 3.1 million female workers that have social security and the number tends to keep rising. Most of them work in the retail, education, health, bureau, food and beverage, ready wear and food sectors. But, 53 percent of 7.7 million female workers (4.1 million) work informally and without insurance. 2.5 million of them work in the agriculture sector as 1.6 million of them work in the non-agriculture sector in urban areas.

There is limited female labor in occupations dominated by men, which require qualitative labor and provide social security. There are also women at top and decision making positions and even they are few. According to TÜİK figures, there are 220,000 women in “law-making, high level executive and managers” professions, but they only make up 11.5 percent of the total. However, 29 percent of female workers are farmers. 20 percent of them work in elementary occupations that do not require qualifications; this shows that half of the female workers are employed in occupations that don’t require serious qualifications in agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.

Women in management

Turkey’s Sabancı University’s Corporate Management Forum has recently organized the First Turkey Women Directors Conference, in cooperation with the Swedish Consulate and Egon Zehnder International Turkey Office. A report on the rate of participation from women and men in companies’ executive boards was revealed at the conference. Research was conducted among 3002 chair persons in 427 companies, quoted in Bourse Istanbul (BİST). The report shows only 8.5 percent of board members are women. While the female director rate in supervision committees is 8.2 percent, the rate of male directors is 91.8 percent. As the rate of female directors is 7 percent in corporate management committees, the male director rate is 93 percent.

Also, another report shows that in companies listed in BIST-100, the female director rate in executive boards rose from 8.6 percent in 2008 to only 11.2 percent this year.

Only 352 seats of approximately 3000 board chairs belong to women. When regarding current tendencies, this share (11.2 percent) can rise to 25 percent in 44 years.

However, in more participative and democratic countries, the situation is much different. For instance, 36 percent of executive members in companies are women; in Norway the rate is 27 percent, in Sweden, Finland, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom are around 13-14 percent.

The report on Turkey shows in 44.5 percent of BIST companies, there aren’t any women board member in executive boards. We need 13 years to have at least one woman board member. 66 percent of the companies that have women board member have only one woman in their boards. The rate of companies that have three female board members is 0.5 percent.

It should be understood that female participation in the work force as worker, or bourgeois in a male dominated capitalism isn’t enough. It is obvious that women should fight for a more fair and humanistic labor process by demanding more participation in management.