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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Apr 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Graduation Events Banned In Dammam Girls Schools for Being against Shariah

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Apr 2014

The female basketball team of Jeddah United warm up in Jordan on April 21, 2009. Jeddah United is the only private sports company with women's


 Drive to End Child Marriage Stalls, but Fight back Begins

 Tanzania: Need To Save House Girls from Sexual Harassments

 Educated Young Tanzanians Reject FGM

 UAE Students Take Part in Ripples of Happiness Programme

 Balochistan Regularises Services of Over 7,000 Lady Health Workers

 Saudi Woman Wins 3 Gold Medals at Geneva Expo

 HRW Praises Saudi Proposal to Lift Ban on Sports in Girls’ Schools

 Islamic Centre Will Better Help Muslim Women Wanting To Pray In Milton Keynes

 Uzbek Girl’s Escape: FIA Investigator Suspended for Negligence

 Mozambique: First Lady Warns Against Premature Marriages

 South Africa: Leering Glances - The Silence on Sexual Harassment Is Untenable

 Namibian Rural Women Negotiate For Safer Sex and Family Planning

 15-Day Prison, 30 Lashes for Beating Wife

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Graduation Events Banned in Dammam Girls Schools for being Against Shariah

April 13, 2014

DAMMAM — The Department of Girls' Education in east Dammam has sent a circular to all government and private girls' schools under it banning graduation parties, which are typically organized to celebrate the end of the academic year.

The circular, issued by the department's division for Islamic Enlightenment, threatened all principals and school teachers with punishment if they take part in the celebrations, which it considered to be against Shariah.

The move came only a few days after the Shoura Council voted in favour of introducing physical education in all government-run schools across the Kingdom.

The decision has sparked a heated a debate in the country. The department said much of the activities taking place in the celebrations are un-Islamic.

"The girls and the teachers tend to wear transparent and short dresses, which are open from the top and bottom," the circular said. It also said the celebrations include songs, music and dancing, which are all against Islamic teachings.

A number of school principals were astonished by the decision, which came at a time students are making preparations for the convocations. They said the ban was not expected and was unprecedented.

The ban also included all kindergartens, Qur'an memorization schools, autistic centres and intellectual rehabilitation facilities.

A girls' school principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied that the celebrations included any activities or dresses forbidden by Islam. "The girls are anxiously waiting for these events to express their joy and happiness," she said.

Meanwhile, a number of scholars said they did not see anything wrong in wearing graduation gowns. “The Abaya and the hat worn for the graduation ceremony are permissible according to Islam. They are not violating the Shariah," said Essam Al-Ouwaid, a professor of religious studies.



Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fight back begins

By Gordon Brown, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education

13 April 2014

It is a descent into barbarism. This month’s plan by Iraqi parliamentarians to legalize girl marriage at nine follows the Pakistan Islamic Council’s demand last month that Pakistan abolish all legal restrictions on child marriage, the revelation that Syrian refugee girls are being sold into marriage against their will and the increased pressure in many African countries to ease the restrictions on selling child brides.

As one who has believed that worldwide disgust at child marriage would end it within our generation, I now find that progress has stalled. In the last few months Mauritania, at the center of allegations of girls’ genital mutilation to make possible the early marriage of eight and nine year olds, has resisted pressure to enforce a legal minimum age for marriage.

Attempts in Yemen to do so have also failed. Even Nigeria has been considering reducing the age of marriage.

In India, the rape of girls has brought millions on to the streets in protest and it has now been exposed as the country with 40% of the world's child brides.

The U.N. says one in nine girls is a bride by the age of 15 and that by 2020 142 million - or one in three girls in developing countries - will be married before they are 18. For example, in Afghanistan 60% are married before they turn 16 and in Niger 74% of girls are married by the age of 18.

Fortunately, the reluctance of governments to end abuses is being met with an even stronger movement from girls themselves.

Their anger is now kicking off a global civil rights struggle to rescue children from exploitation and guarantee them their right to education.

Alongside the Iraqi women’s network, who declared last month's International Women's Day an Iraqi day of mourning, are Nepal’s Common Forum for Kamlari Freedom, the Ugandan Child Protection clubs, the Ghanaian Upper Manya Krobo Rights of the Child Club and Indonesia's Grobogan Child Empowerment Group.

These civil rights movements may not yet be household names but they are borrowing the tactics of the U.S. civil rights movement in defying parents and authorities who try to marry 8, 9 and 10-year-old children off against their will.

Child-marriage-free zones, where girls club together to refuse to be married off, often defying their families' wishes, are springing up in the Indian subcontinent. The first has been formed in Pakistan. In Bangladesh there are now several zones and they are soon to be started in countries like Malawi.

Many of them are linked to the growing global movement, Girls not Brides.

One secure way to prevent child marriage, child labor, child trafficking and discrimination against girls is to ensure we deliver the right of every child to be at school.

On April 10 in Washington, a worldwide emergency coalition for education will be launched. It will show that the answer to ending child marriage is to uphold the right of all children to be free of exploitation and involved in education.

A girl with some education is not only unlikely to be married at 8, 9 or 10 but is also six times less likely to be married by 18.

The coalition will call for four zeroes:

1. Zero child marriage

2. Zero child labour

3. Zero discrimination against girls

4. Zero exclusion from education.

It represents the world’s last chance to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal target which after huge initial progress –- getting 40 million children to school –- has stalled.

Now 57 million of the most marginalized children, the boy labourer, the trafficked youngster, the nine-year-old bride and the street kid, do not have anyone to make sure they get into a classroom and are learning.

But the violations of children’s rights can best be ended by ensuring universal education. It is education that unlocks not only the educational potential of a child but progress in health, employment, opportunity and higher standards of living.



Tanzania: Need to Save House Girls from Sexual Harassments

13 April 2014

IN the city of Dar es Salaam today, there are cases of sexual violence which unfortunately go unreported. Victims of such dreadful actions are normally young girls who are either ignorant of the law or they fear reporting such acts to the relevant authorities.

The threats they get from their assailants usually trigger fear in them. This week I met Sofia (Not her really name) who works as a barmaid in one of the famous bars located at Africa Sana area, along Shekilango Road in Dar es Salaam.

This is my drinking joint where I normally meet with my friends to pass the evening and have a drink or two before going home. When I met Sofia on Wednesday I was with my wife, as we were waiting some relatives for a short 'kikao' concerning a family matter that we needed to resolve.

I then asked my wife to look at that little beautiful girl who had served us and she dared to call and ask her how old she was. "I am seventeen Madam and I was employed here two weeks ago," she said. My wife asked her why she had decided to work as a bar attendant at that juvenile age.

The young girl looked at us then tears started dropping from her eyes as she dared to recount us the following story. "I come from Karagwe District in Kagera Region. My tribe is Mnyambo. I came to Dar es Salaam two years ago after my aunt requested my parents to come with her to the city, to take care of her child when she goes to work.

She promised my mum that after two years she could either send me to school or help me with some money to begin small business. After a long talk with my parents, it was later decided that I come to Dar es Salaam to be a babysitter for aunt's baby.

We arrived at Tegeta where I started working under the supervision of my aunt. After a short while I got used to my responsibilities and even the absence of my boss, I had no problem attending that toddler. After four months or so, the husband of my aunt started seducing me.

He wanted me to sleep with him but I always resisted, though he was promising to assist me financially, on condition that I do not tell his wife. I always said 'no' to his requests and for my own security I even feared to tell my aunt about the entire saga.

Things turned sour over a month ago, when my aunt's husband returned home earlier than his wife and forced me to have sex with him.I persisted but since he was stronger than me he managed to rape me. I experienced severe pain in my private parts after that brutal attack.

He did it for the second and third time and since I feared to tell his wife I decided to run away without telling anybody. I did not know where I was going as I did not know how to travel back to Karagwe. The first girl I met is the one who told me that this bar was looking for maids and that is how I ended up being here, though I do not like this job at all. What I just need is go back to my parents in Karagwe."

This story made my wife and I shed tears before we decided to give her some counselling. We have also promised to assist her with transport back to her parent's home in Karagwe. Having shared this story with some friends it has come to my knowledge that some house girls in Dar es Salaam experience sexually harassment but they do not know where to report such cases.

The question is - How can the society help such young girls who are being sexually harassed by their employers? Strong media campaigns are needed to sensitise the public that such shameful actions should be reported to the police for the relevant actions.

It is encouraging to see that Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) alongside other three local organisations have teamed up in a joint initiative named Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE II) to stop gender-based violence.

The community at large should support the GEWE II initiative which hopes to stop gender violence both in urban and rural areas. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a grave reality in the lives of many women in Tanzania. It results from gender norms and social and economic inequities that give privilege to men over women.

There is a mounting recognition of gender discrimination and gender equity in different facets of life. This awakening includes a growing acknowledgement of how prevalent gender- based violence is and the ways and extent to which it harms not only women and girls but also men and boys and, furthermore, the country's developing economy and health and social welfare systems.

Recent researcher claim that many forms of gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence and rape, are seen as normal and are met with acceptance by both men and women- although the justifications for acceptance differs between women and men, as discussed below.

Women and girls are also frequently blamed for causing or provoking gender-based violence. In part due to blame and shame, women and girls rarely report gender-based violence to authorities or seek other kinds of treatment or support.

President Jakaya Kikwete has publicly stated that gender-based violence (GBV) should be included as one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, Tanzania's Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction, lists violence against women as one of its indicators of poverty - a feature that is rare among PRSPs in other countries.

The Sexual Offence Special Provisions Act of 1998 poses harsh penalties for perpetrators of sexual violence. However, gaps remain in the legal system. In particular, domestic violence is only minimally and vaguely addressed in The Law of Marriage Act - although without specified penalties -and through the penal codes on general violence and assault.

There is no law against domestic violence, specifically. Recent institutional reforms in government also point to promising paths toward responding to and preventing GBV.

For example, each ministry has a gender focal point and the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children has initiated efforts to train the focal points on ways to mainstream gender in their ministry work plans and budgets.

The former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Saidi Mwema instituted reforms to make the police more accessible to the community and more responsive to the community's needs. Out of this initiative, the Tanzania Police Female Network (TPFNet) was created and with it came the creation of gender desks to respond to cases of GBV at police stations.



Educated Young Tanzanians Reject FGM

13 April 2014

WHEN Janet Hosea and Elly Mgomba got married in their home village of Chiwe in Kongwa District, they did something unimaginable in their area.

Janet wore a poster saying: "I am not circumcised" and her groom wore a matching one that said: "I am very happy to marry an uncircumcised woman." Janet is the first woman in her village to declare in public that she had refused the mutilation to her genitals, considered as a rite of passage for all girls and young women of her tribe.

Between the ages of 13 and 15, young women in that area of Tanzania are subjected to genital mutilation where the clitoris, as well as the inner and outer labia, is removed. Before her wedding four years ago, Janet says she ran away from home rather than undergo the suffering.

The conservative families of the groom and bridegroom refused to attend the wedding ceremony, protesting that it was against their will as Janet was not circumcised.

Young men and women advocating for an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) and obsessed with the courage shown by the couple, attended the ceremony chanting: "The end of FGM has come."

Today, however, their families have accepted the couple, who are blessed with two children, a son and a daughter. Janet and Elly are the torch bearers in their community in the battle against the outdated custom.

Educated young men and women have today joined the campaign to end FGM in their communities. "What Janet and her husband did was really worth emulating by today's dynamic young men and women who want to bury bad customs which have existed for ages in our communities," says Mgaya Malanda, a campaigner against FGM.

"In the past, conservative parents considered a girl who is not circumcised as not suitable for marriage," Malanda says. Educated women both in rural and urban Tanzania are emphatic on the need for women's groups in the country to speak with "one voice" against the practice without mincing words in deference to cultural relativism.

"When culture affects one's human integrity, when it violates it, be it in terms of gender or in terms of ethnic group, I think that culture should be condemned because whenever one individual is affected, denied that right of whole being, denied of their integrity and human right, we're diminished as people wherever we are," Malanda adds.

Tanzanian activists against female genital mutilation are already working in high gear as the issue reaches a breaking point in many countries. The youth are beginning to have access to the type of information that permits them to question and resist the routine mutilations despite the cultural pressures.

"We must be each other's supporters for whenever one of us is hurt or violated, all of us are violated," says Merina Sekwao, a Form III student at Kibedya Secondary School in Gairo District. She says the real problem in combating female genital mutilation is finding a way to break the silence surrounding the practice.

"I hear that in some countries, leading and courageous women managed to do it, and managed also to gather public support from local leadership. If this happens, then things go very quickly," explains the 15-year-old student. The World Health Organisation estimates that 6,000 girls a day are genitally mutilated.

The least extreme form is known as clitoridectomy, which is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. The most extreme form is infibulation, which is the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva, leaving only a very small vaginal opening.

Doctors say genital mutilation causes lasting psychological trauma, extreme pain, chronic infections, bleeding, abscesses, tumours, urinary tract infections and infertility. Tanzania needs to set up a monitoring mechanism similar to that of the United Nations' Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to ensure the practice is brought to an end.

Like elsewhere in Africa, women's issues in Tanzania are often intensely controversial and that can constrain local activist groups from taking their governments to task. However under the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (GEWE) project being implemented in selected regions of Tanzania such as Coast, Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Mtwara and Zanzibar, there is ample evidence the practice of women genital mutilation will be a thing of the past.

Implementing agencies such as the Tanzania Media Women's Association (TAMWA), Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZEFLA) and the Tanzania Gender Networking Group (TGNP) are encouraged by response of the community on the campaign's objectives.



UAE students take part in Ripples of Happiness programme

Dhanusha Gokulan / 13 April 2014

Over 600 Students from 43 Universities across Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine and the United Arab Emirates took part in the programme.

Sowing seeds of happiness, a few UAE students have brought smiles into the lives of several others by partaking in little acts of ‘giving’.

Emirati national Reem Al Khalid, a second-year BBM student at Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai  Women’s College, along with eight of her classmates brought smiles on the faces of 10 Dubai Municipality workers as part of the Coca-Cola Foundation’s Ripples of Happiness Youth Empowerment Initiative — in association with Injaz Al Arab. Over 600 Students from 43 Universities across Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine and the United Arab Emirates took part in the ‘Ripples of Happiness’ Programme with the intent of bringing happiness to their communities. This was the fourth edition of the programme and the first prize went to a team from Jordan University for their environmental conservation ‘Warm Light’ project winning them $10,000.

Though their project did not make a cut as final winners, a project by the girls of Dubai Women’s College is definitely an inspiring one. ‘Minutes of Happiness’ was born, a programme that sought to assist municipality workers to communicate with their loved ones without spending a major part of their salaries on making calls. This project was especially impressive because students demonstrated initiative by breaking down social barriers, entering labour camps and interacting with them.

The students were given a mere sum of $500 to work with to make them understand the importance of fiscal responsibility. They exemplified this trait seamlessly in their projects and were able to accomplish a lot with the small sum of money.

Reem Al Khalid, team leader said: “Nine of us worked together on the project. After our initial research, we found that municipality workers spent most of their income on making calls back home. When we found that they spent a lot of money on phone calls, we decided that the best way to help them was to get them mobile phone credit vouchers from du and etisalat.”

Imad Al Sayed, mentor from the Coca Cola foundation for the Minutes of Happiness programme helped the girls achieve their goals. Reem added: “It took us about three weeks to collect funds for the calling cards. We used social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to raise awareness about the project and get people to donate.”

She said: “A lot of people transferred credits on to our mobile phones and others gave us vouchers. We collected about Dh1,000 worth of recharge coupons and distributed them to 10 Municipality workers. Each worker was given 30 minutes of talk time.”

Emirati national Noora Abdul Rahman (20) another student who took part in the initiative said: “We asked a lot of people for help to collect funds and there was a lot of support for the same.”

She added: “I personally felt really happy after the project. Initially we were worried that we would not get any help to complete the project, but it worked out great.”

Emirati national Zainab Bakir (20), another participant said: “It was a great experience helping out the workers. We helped them communicate with their families back home. Call charges are really expensive and even though it is only 30 minutes of talk time, it felt great to bring them closer to their families and children.”

Dar Al Hakma College in Jeddah came in close second with its child obesity ‘My Health, My Responsibility’ project, which secured them $7,000 grant to implement their idea. The University of Bahrain secured third place and $5,000 for their ‘You are responsible’ or ‘Enta el Mas200l’ project that will raise awareness of the impact of electronic waste.

Antoine Tayyar, Director of Public Affairs and Communications Coca-Cola Middle East Region said: “It brings us great pleasure to witness how the Ripples of Happiness Programme continues to gain momentum among the Arab youth and awaken social consciousness in the hearts and minds of every individual the programme touches. The aim of Ripples of Happiness is to train the youth on the necessary skill-sets required to identify problems that arise in their local communities and how to proactively tackle these issues by looking past the problem and into the opportunities. The programme also drives public interaction and rallies the support of the society as a whole in aiding the students spread their messages. It truly is a beautiful thing to watch the ripples extend far beyond the end of a semester.”

For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at, and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes



Balochistan Regularises Services of Over 7,000 Lady Health Workers

April 13, 2014

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has regularised services of 7,265 lady health workers (LHW) who had been waiting for the confirmation of their jobs for the past 21 years.

This was announced by Health Minister Rehmat Saleh Baloch at a ceremony jointly organised on Saturday by the government and Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation, to give awards to lady health workers.

The minister said: “The chief minister has approved the summery that I had moved for regularisation of lady health workers’ services.”

He showed to the audience a copy of the official order for the regularisation of LHWs’ services.

Saleh Baloch said government was aware of the difficulties faced by lady health workers and community midwives and recognised their efforts for helping mothers and children in need of urgent medical attention.

He said the provincial government was committed to improving the standard of public health facilities.

Balochistan Assembly’s member and National Party leader Dr Shama Ishaq said that a mafia of private hospitals in Quetta was affecting the performance of doctors in public sector hospitals. But, she added, all doctors in public hospitals were not involved in corrupt practices and there were many who performed their duty honestly.

Dr Mohammad Irshad Danish, representative of Save the Children programme in Pakistan, spoke about the challenges the lady health workers and community midwives were facing in Pakistan.

He said the Save the Children’s EVERY ONE campaign focused on reducing child and mother mortality and that it had provided a platform to appreciate services being rendered by lady health workers and community midwives, especially those working in remote areas of the province.

Provincial Health Secretary Abdul Saboor Kakar and Dr Noor Qazi also spoke.



Saudi woman wins 3 gold medals at Geneva expo

13 April 2014

A Saudi woman won three gold medals at the Geneva International Exhibition for Inventors, which is an outstanding achievement, Sabq newswire said.

Ghaida Al-Sulami, a lecturer at the College of Nursing in Umm Al Qura University won the medals in a joint collaboration with a team from King Abdullah Medical City (KAMC). Her project was concerned with the invention of an electronic screen for communicating with patients in intensive care units (ICUs). Dr. Tariq Jailani, the Head of Anesthesia at KAMC was part of the team, local media said.

Al-Sulami also won two gold medals from the Portuguese and Roman Wings. She expressed joy at her unique achievement and cooperation with the KAMC, Sabq daily quoted her as saying.

The Saudi inventor said that she will take her project to the Paris International Conference for patient safety in 2014. She also expressed pride in conveying Saudi women’s message to the international events.

KAMC achieved seven international medals along with two certificates of excellence in the exhibition.

The Geneva Exhibition of Inventions 2014 brought together more than 1,000 inventors, representing some 54 countries. It aims to encourage young inventors to continue doing scientific and technical research. The event, which drew more than 3,000 visitors from 70 countries, closed sessions last Friday.



HRW praises Saudi proposal to lift ban on sports in girls’ schools

13 April 2014

DUBAI Human Rights Watch welcomed on Saturday a recommendation by Saudi Arabia’s consultative Shura Council to lift the ban on sports in girls’ state schools.

On Tuesday, the council recommended that the longstanding ban, relaxed in private schools last year, be ended altogether, state media in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom reported. It is now up to the education ministry to decide whether to lift the ban, as the council is only advisory. 

All education in Saudi Arabia is single-sex, but sports in girls schools remains a sensitive issue in a country where women have to cover from head to toe when in public.

“Saudi Arabia has a long way to go to end discriminatory practices against women, but allowing girls to play sports in government schools would move the ball down the field in ways that could have major long-term impact,” HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson said. 

“It’s a good sign that Saudi authorities appear to realise letting all girls in Saudi Arabia play sports is important to their physical and mental wellbeing,” she said.

The group urged the government to “set out a clear strategy and accelerated timeline for rolling out physical education for girls in public and private schools.” It also demanded the kingdom start licensing women’s gyms and facilitate the participation of women in all sports.

The issue came under the spotlight at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when the kingdom bowed to international pressure and sent female athletes to compete for the first time. 

The International Olympic Committee agreed to allow the two Saudi women –a judo player and a middle-distance runner – to compete with their heads and bodies covered in deference to the Islamic dress code enforced at home. Despite that, HRW says millions of Saudi women remain effectively barred from sports.



Islamic Centre will better help Muslim women wanting to pray in Milton Keynes

13 April 2014

MILTON Keynes’ first ever Islamic Centre is nearing completion.

The facility is much-needed for the Muslim community, according to Mohammed Ageli, chairman of the Milton Keynes Muslim Association which has funded and will run the building.

The MKMA have been forced to rent out several buildings across the city over the years, and Mr Ageli is looking forward to being able to call the Islamic Centre in Coffee Hall home.

“We’re really happy and there is a lot of potential here,” said Mr Ageli.

A particular source of satisfaction for Mr Ageli comes with the space provided for women to pray.

Mr Ageli said that during Friday prayers, there have been occasions when women have not been able to pray due to a lack of space at other facilities.

But with an ablution room - a place for people to wash before praying - being created specifically for women, that problem should no longer occur.

“It’s really difficult for women to have a place to pray in Milton Keynes,” said Mr Ageli.

“Friday prayers are the big event of the week but women are not obliged to come, so it’s annoying when women are put to the side.

“We’ve worked really hard to have a facility for women to pray so we’re particularly proud of that aspect.”

The association’s work with the Food Bank will also be able to continue, while more children can join their Olive School, which supplements 60 children’s education by teaching them how to read and write in Arabic.

The facility also has a room to let out for community use, and has 68 parking bays.



Uzbek girl’s escape: FIA investigator suspended for negligence

13 April 2014

ISLAMABAD: A top Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official has suspended an investigator for negligence in the case of the Uzbek girl who violated her bail and fled Pakistan two weeks ago.

Talking to The Express Tribune, official sources said FIA Islamabad Zone Director Inam Ghani suspended Inspector Mehar Tasneem of the agency’s Anti-Human Trafficking Cell (AHTC) after it was learnt that her negligence had allowed the Uzbek girl, Cherinka Aksan, to escape.

According to the sources, Ghani had ordered a departmental inquiry under the supervision of AHTC Assistant Director Babar Khan to find out how Aksan managed to fly back to Uzbekistan while on bail. The inquiry, they said, revealed that Tasneem never requested the interior ministry to put Aksan’s name on the exit control list (ECL) and failed to caution airport authorities against the possibility of her escape.

A show cause notice was then issued to Tasneem on the basis of the report. After being provided a chance to explain her position, she was suspended on Thursday.

FIA arrested Aksan along with seven other Uzbek girls following a raid in an upscale Islamabad neighbourhood on February 17. A case was registered against them after they failed to produce any valid documents to verify the reason for their stay in the country.

The eight Uzbek girls secured bail last month. Aksan, however, violated the bail and fled back to Uzbekistan on March 25.The names of the other seven girls were subsequently placed on the ECL.

Earlier, on January 30, two other Uzbek girls – Svetlana Yashkina and Allina Gilayzova – entered Pakistan without undergoing immigration after being assisted by some FIA immigration officials. The human trafficking gang could not be traced despite the lapse of three months. The interior ministry suspended five immigration officers over the incident.



Mozambique: First Lady Warns Against Premature Marriages

13 April 2014

Magude — Mozambique's First Lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, on Monday denounced premature marriages as damaging to girls' educational and professional prospects.

Speaking at a rally in Magude district, in Maputo province, she stressed that the education of girls is fundamental for building a prosperous country.

“We ask the parents and the older people to work with our daughters”, she said. “In the health unit here we have seen some 20 year old girls who already have two babies. When did they start bearing children?”

The country needs more trained girls, Guebuza insisted. “We want them to work for the development of Mozambique, and so the girls must study”.

She cited the cases of some mothers who want their daughters to marry an adult in a traditional ceremony so that they can obtain the bride-price he will pay.

“It's true that we, the parents, are sometimes concerned about the bride-price. We ask someone who works in South Africa, who has material possessions, a bicycle, a motorbike, cattle and goats, to marry our daughter”, Guebuza said. “So we give our daughters in marriage so that we can obtain those goods”.

She warned that this attitude might bring some wealth to the parents, but misery to their daughter.

Earlier in her working visit to Magude, Guebuza expressed concern at the high levels of malaria and of HIV/AIDS in the district.

“We already know what we should do”, she said, “but often our population takes the mosquito nets and uses them as fishing nets, or to fence barns or plants, instead of to protect themselves”.

The district health director, Helio Mandlate, recognised that there has been an increase in malaria cases in Magude this year, which he blamed on the recent floods on the Incomati river.

He said it was difficult to assess the impact of the spraying of homes with insecticide, while there were still stagnant pools of water resulting from the recent rains and floods, which provide ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes.

In Magude, Guebuza inaugurated a “Waiting House” for pregnant women at the local health centre.

This house, within the grounds of the health centre, allows women to stay close to medical care as the time for the birth approaches. It can house nine women and cost rather more than a million meticais (about 30,000 US dollars).

The women in the Waiting House are entitled to meals (which they can cook themselves, if they so choose), and receive clinical observation every day.



South Africa: Leering Glances - the Silence On Sexual Harassment Is Untenable

13 April 2014

Sexual harassment on the streets is a pervasive phenomenon that women from a range of racial and cultural backgrounds as well as social circumstances experience in daily life. Most men, even educated men from so-called respectable backgrounds belittle women's experiences of sexual harassment. Internationally, this has led to a spate of new films and campaigns where women are calling attention to casual and more aggressive forms of sexual harassment by turning the tables on men. Their initiatives are highlighting what has almost become a taboo subject to talk about.

Last week The Guardian's website posted an article and video by filmmaker Leah Green, which quickly went viral. Done in comedic style, in her movie, "Get Your Arse Out Mate", Green reverses the gender situation and becomes a sexual street pest herself harassing men in public spaces. While her behaviour appears extreme, all the scenes in the movie are based on real experiences reported by women. The results are really very funny as men react with disbelief and in fact turn down the feminine sexual predator. Their destabilised reactions speak volumes about who claims the right to behave as a sexual predator on the streets.

Green argues, "The disbelief of the men in my film mirrors the disbelief we should all feel when acts of everyday sexism happen to women."

French filmmaker, Eléonore Pourriat's short film "Oppressed Majority" also went viral on You Tube when it turned convention on its head by telling the story of a man who is sexually violated in a matriarchal society. Pourriat who wanted men to experience the rejection experienced by female victims of sexual violence received a flood of hate mail after her film was released.

Meanwhile in India, a student film project that produced a video campaign against street harassment also went viral. It's message is sharp and simple and goes a long way to holding up a mirror to men allowing them to understand why this behaviour is unacceptable to women.

Yet sexual harassment, often casually dispensed by men, has not been part of the public debate on violence against women in South Africa. With appallingly high rape statistics, femicide and hate crimes against lesbians living in townships in South Africa, catcalls and wolf whistles seem trivial in comparison. And yet street harassment is so widespread that it is perhaps more pervasive than these other types of violence against women. It makes women feel insecure and anxious and thus restricts their mobility. It also thwarts women's efforts to achieve control over their public lives and to feel legitimate in public spaces.

Far from innocuous, street harassment ensures that public spaces become masculanised, as gender inequity and multiple infringements on the autonomy of women are disregarded in what should be free and open spaces. This creates a situation where no woman is deemed sacred or self-governing and in order to remain secure is forced to perform a consummate femininity to please and placate potential sex pests on the streets. In this way then, street harassment is a form of low-grade war on women in the public sphere. In fact feminist writer Hawley Fogg-Davis, author of "A Black Feminist Critique of Same-Race Street Harassment" calls it sexual terrorism.

"Sexual terrorism is an apt description of street harassment. As a young woman you know it will happen, but you never know for certain when or how it will happen. This makes street harassment hard to define, and difficult to combat. Its insidiousness derives in large measure from its venue: the semi-private, semi-public everyday occurrence of walking, sitting, or standing along city streets, or other public spaces such as parks and shopping malls."

This focus on women's harassment abroad prompted me to ask South African women to share their personal experiences of this occurrence with me on my Facebook platform. I wanted to understand the collective experiences of women in their everyday lives as social actors negotiating public spaces.

It became clear to me in this informal poll that men representing a cross section of demographics are capable of street harassment and do practice it.

Respondents listed harrowing experiences of harassment whilst engaged in routine activities like going to the supermarket, at public swimming pools and of course whilst using public transport.

Elise Black Athena Fernandez: I think many coloured and black women can vouch that this has been happening to them from a very young age. Especially when using public transport. My friend and I were about 16 years old when we took a train into town. A man sitting opposite us masturbated right there. No one I know likes walking through the taxi rank in Cape Town because of this. No one really speaks about it.

Mbali MamakaUmi Mthethwa: I once got slapped by a guy who was trying to 'hit on me' and I wouldn't respond to his advances. The thing about it that was scary was that I was in a busy area at Bree Street taxi rank and a lot of people saw it happen, but not one person did a thing. I just walked off crying. And when you don't return men's advances in town, you get called a whore or a bitch, just because you wouldn't say hello back!

Goitsy Freeverse Lehmann: Yep, Van der Walt Street Pretoria...I have had buttocks grabbed, name calling just because I would not reply to you owe someone your smile and your 'good' mood. They feel entitled and I think the root of the problem lies with the general feeling that women are objects of pleasure...I mean how can you get harassed because you refused to smile at a stranger.

Barbara Abdinor: I had this gross old guy staring at me relentlessly a few days ago while I was sitting in my cozzie at the water slide park with my kids. My sense was that he felt he had paid the entrance fee and that was why he was there, to stare at women in swimming costumes.

imasa Mkentane: I was walking with my little sister to a supermarket around 5pm, and I noticed that there was a car going up and down (following us). We went into the supermarket, came out and I noticed the same car following us back to our place. Then this old white man stopped the car, (got) out with no clothes below the belt and played with his penis while he waved at us to get closer. We ran and took a different route back to our flat...

Liza Jane Shuttleworth: I can assure you that white girls get it just as badly as black women...aside of course from the fact that as a white woman I am lucky enough not to have to use public transport or walk anywhere other than for recreation (in "safe" areas, with a man and a dog in tow). But that said, I do a lot of work in rural areas and it seems that there is never a time or place where openly talking about my body, trying to grab me, talking about sexual acts and insisting I go out with/marry them is inappropriate.

Black and coloured women and working class women who rely on public transport or the taxi system, are most exposed to and vulnerable to aggressive forms of sexual harassment. However, it is also abundantly clear that from the maid walking to work to the madam going out for her morning jog, no woman in South Africa is safe from sexual harassment.

Of most concern is the fact that this sense of entitlement over women's bodies is perpetuated by mainstream culture.

Women are tired of being stared at by men and it's not just the creepy guys that bother us. Street harassment, sexual terrorism, leering, and unwanted advances - all of these categories of sexual harassment wear women down. Men clearly need to be educated on the intimidation and mistreatment of women who are recipients of unwanted advances, lecherous glances, utterances and actions.

It is time that this syndrome was outed and spotlighted in the very public spaces where it occurs. South Africa needs a visible public campaign against this untenable treatment of women, which has become normalised in our masculine society and rendered invisible to everyone but its victims.

Schutte is an award winning independent filmmaker, writer and social justice activist. She is a founding member of Media for Justice and co-producer at Handheld Films.



Namibian rural women negotiate for safer sex and family planning

13 April 2014

By Ndalimpinga Iita WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- On a Sunday afternoon, in a far flung village in northern Namibia’s Omusati Region, Hileni Kampangu sees off her two children to Sunday school. There and then, she multi-tasks between breast-feeding a small baby and tinkling a three-year-old girl.

“They are a handful. Being a young mother of four is no child’s play,” Kampungu said as she juggles between giving attention to the children.

Kampungu’s greatest wish is not to have any more children. But this might just be a wish, as exclusion from negotiating safer sex and discussing family planning with her partner may shatter that, she said.

“This is my fourth child, and by the look of things, it will not be the last,” she told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.

Kampungu is one of the rural women finding it hard to negotiate safer sexual practices with their partners, let alone family planning.

According to 28-year-old Kampangu, she finds it hard to negotiate and discuss family planning with her partner.

“I am not very comfortable openly speaking about sexual matters with him. In addition, he rejects my suggestions to have no longer bear children, reasoning that he needs to prove his manhood, which he argues is determined by the number of children he fathers,” she said.

Kampungu shared that the community and society do not make things easy either.

“It is the mindset here. Many people in our community were raised to believe that a woman should be submissive to a man at all times and in all ways, which is seen as a sign of obedience,” she said.

She is not alone. Her younger neighbor, aged 25, courted by a 37-year-old man, finds herself in a similar situation. Ndemutya Tutaleni, a mother of four at 25 too has a tale to tell.

“Although we have attended the family planning session together, he convinced me that the nurse is jealous of me because she is not able to have more children,” said Tutaleni.

“I wish I could decide, but who will support me? My family also believe that the more children the merrier. However, taking care of four children all under the age of 10 is not easy, given that I have an inconsistent income. My partner is not very supportive with the children on a regular basis, yet he boasts of having a soccer team. He has six other children already,” she said on Sunday.

Despite the Ministry of Health and Social Services and nonprofit organisations’ efforts to decentralize health and sexual health services such as condom distribution and contraceptives to rural Namibia, Tutaleni said it’s hard to break away from her circumstances.

The ministry distributes close to 25 million condoms annually at identified outlets such as local shops, shebeens, clinics and health centers in villages. The ministry spends over 20 million Namibian dollars on purchasing condoms annually.

Information from the Ministry of Health and Social Services also shows that a certain percentage in rural areas do utilize condoms as a means of prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies as well as family planning.

In the face of rapid sensitization, education on radio and campaigns by health officials, still, Tutaleni negotiating rights for protected sex with her partner remains a taboo in their domiciliary. “When I get back home, the decision lies with my male partner because of traditional setting we grew up in, where men are the decision makers. Unfortunately this trend still holds in my area,” she said.

Takatsu Tukwatha is an elderly woman in the area. She believes that there is a need to break this cycle, starting by educating young people.

“But then again, young girls of nowadays do not listen. We tell them to get an education and commit to it, yet they go astray. When things go wrong, they want to reverse their situation. By then the damage is already done,” Tukwatha added.

“We also need to change the traditional practices and the mindset currently prevailing in our community. It needs to change, “ she added.

Meanwhile, Sheila Tlou, the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, said during a visit to Namibia in April that to address challenges on sexual health amongst young people, Eastern and Southern African countries can do more to reach out to young people, through implementing comprehensive sexuality education, inclusive of both boys and girls to enhance the provision of services.

“Eastern and Southern African countries have good facilities such as health care centers in place, but we need to ensure that these centers to translate into good indicators,” she added.

She added that sexual health education amongst young people should also actively involve leaders at grassroots level.

“The cultural leaders need to be part and parcel of the equation and actively engaged in sexual education efforts targeted towards young people,” she said.



15-day prison, 30 lashes for beating wife

13 April 2014

AL-QATIF — The District Court in Al-Qatif  handed down a 15-day prison sentence and 30 lashes of the whip to a husband who assaulted his wife. He was asked Thursday to sign an undertaking that he will never beat her again or else face an even harsher sentence. The wife told the judge that she had suffered from physical abuse for the past ten years and that her husband regularly fights with her over trivial things.