New Age Islam
Fri Dec 08 2023, 03:28 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 May 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

I Wish To Inspire Girls in Subcontinent to Play Tennis: Sania Mirza

 New Age Islam News Bureau

7 May 2015

Female Afghan students win gold medals in a biology competition in Kenya


 ISIS' Women 'Every Bit' As Brutal As Its Men

 Kenya: Teenage Girl Remanded for 10 Days over Terror

 Saudi Women Leaders Inspire Schoolgirls

 Many Saudi Women Undergo Plastic Surgeries Secretly

 Labour's Women's Rights Champion Defends 'Sexist' Party Rally

 Boko Haram Impregnated Girls 'To Guarantee New Generation of Fighters'

 Qatar Revives Strict ‘Reflect Respect’ Dress Code Campaign

 UK Department Store Stocks Sports Hijabs

 Four Men Are Sentenced To Death for Brutal Mob Killing Of Afghan Woman

 Female Afghan Students Win Gold Medals in a Biology Competition in Kenya

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





I wish to inspire girls in subcontinent to play tennis: Sania Mirza

07 May, 2015

NEW DELHI: Outside Bollywood films, Sania Mirza might be the only Indian success welcomed as warmly in Pakistan and the 28-year-old expects her doubles feats to inspire girls on both sides of the border to pick up a tennis racquet.

Mirza has long been the face of the women's game in India and her high-profile cross-border wedding to cricketer Shoaib Malik five years ago placed her in a unique position.

Her rise to the top ranking in WTA doubles was hailed in both countries, though they remain suspicious of each after fighting three wars since independence in 1947.

Malik's international career has stalled since his last one-day match two years ago, but Mirza last month became the first Indian to climb to the top after winning the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, her third successive title partnered with Martina Hingis.

“It feels good,” Mirza said in an interview.

“Me and my husband, we live in a kind of extraordinary situation because we both are professional athletes from different countries who still represent their own country after marriage and I don't think that happens very often.

“We both are very active, still playing and it's great if it can inspire not just people in India and Pakistan but hopefully girls can pick up tennis racquets in the whole subcontinent, really think that sports can be a career option.

“That does not come first to the head of any girl or parent ... Whether it's India, Pakistan or anywhere in the subcontinent, I'd like to believe people hopefully will get a little inspired by this and hopefully things change.”

Once a top 30 singles player with a potent forehand, Mirza was the first Indian to win a WTA singles title in 2005, but after battling knee and wrist injuries, feels her switch to doubles has been vindicated.

“I ended my singles career solely for the reason that my body was not just able to take it anymore,” said Mirza, calling it a “surreal feeling” to top the doubles rankings.

“I had three surgeries in seven-eight years and in those years ... it was either playing doubles or not playing tennis at all. I love tennis too much to have given up on it so soon.”

Finally at peace, Mirza has set herself a couple of goals.

“It would be great to try and get records on how long I stay there and definitely try and win a women's doubles grand slam which has not happened. I have come close so many times even though I won mixed grand slams. Hopefully try and end the year at one, if not this year, next year.”




ISIS' Women 'Every Bit' As Brutal As Its Men

07 May, 2015

The Islamic State (ISIS) is recruiting large numbers of young women who end up serving the brutal terrorists as propagandists, recruiters, strict enforcers of harsh sharia laws, wives of ISIS fighters and even overseers of rape brothels filled with non-Muslim women auctioned as slaves.

At the Faith Angle Forum on Religion, Politics and Public Life in Miami, William McCants, author of "The ISIS Apocalypse," and Bernard Haykel, a Princeton Islamic scholar, exposed ISIS' vicious treatment of women it captures, and its insidious influence in recruiting young Islamic women from around the world to join its terrorist ranks, Fortune reports.

"What was eye-opening to me in my research is that the women were every bit as motivated as the men," McCants, of the Brookings Institution, told the forum.

Female ISIS recruits often are put in charge of the "morality police," who enforce dress and behavior codes on female Muslims of ISIS. "Women are doling out punishment to women," Haykel told the group.

"As outsiders, these young jihadists show a willingness to be more ruthless to local populations," Fortune reports.

Rape and slavery of captured non-Muslim women and girls, who are considered war booty, is considered acceptable by ISIS, Haykel said, adding that ISIS "enslaves non-Muslim women and children. That's what the early Muslims did."

Haaretz reports that thousands of Yazidi women and girls were enslaved by ISIS, repeatedly raped, sold, traded, and forced into brothels, as part of ISIS's plans to wipe out the religious minority.

If they are freed or escaped, they often are rejected by their families as having been shamed by rape, and as many as 60 each month commit suicide.

One woman captured by ISIS told Haaretz: "It was like a slave market. The ISIS commanders, including Turks, Germans, and Chechens, came every day and bought one of us females, including girls who were 12 or 13." The going rate for a woman captive was about $50.

How to battle ISIS recruitment in the West has authorities stumped. Using Internet sites, ISIS recruiters, many of whom are females, have lured up to 550 Western women to leave their homes and join ISIS in Iraq or Syria, to become fighters and the wives of ISIS soldiers, US News and World Report notes.

The appeal of ISIS female recruiters is enticing. One British Muslim girl, upset at being an outsider in a non-Muslim country, was approached by a female ISIS recruiter online, who sympathized and told her, "I swear by Allah I completely understand the feeling. I refused in the west to marry anyone unless he was a mujahid. I wanted someone who fought for Allah's deen," the responder wrote, "and it is a beautiful feeling being married to a mujahid."

"For women there is an added allure — the prominence gained by marrying an ISIS fighter, a status that grows even larger if her husband is killed," Fortune notes.

"To be the wife of a martyr brings you great status in that community, and it brings you a pension," McCants commented. "You can become powerful as a spouse. There is a long history of that" in Islam.



Kenya: Teenage Girl Remanded for 10 Days Over Terror

07 May, 2015

A form two student suspected to have links with al Shabaab will remain in custody for 10 days to allow police to complete investigations.

The 16-year-old student believed to have fled from Precious Blood Kagwe Girls High School to join the terror group was charged yesterday before Nairobi resident magistrate Miriam Mugure.

She was, however, not required to plead to any charges because the Anti-Terror Police Unit sought for more time to question her.

According to an affidavit filed before the magistrate by ATPU officer Jackson Chacha, the girl was arrested on May 4 at Juja town.

Authorities say she mysteriously disappeared from school in June 2014 to join the terrorists and only reappeared this year.

"After resurfacing, she insisted to be taken to a Muslim school," state prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said.

"She sneaked back into the country to cause the killings of innocent souls and her associates are at large."

The lawyer said they are planning to charge the girl with terror-related charges once they get further information from her.

The girl was remanded and will be taken back to court on May 15.



Saudi Women leaders inspire schoolgirls

 07 May, 2015

JEDDAH — Women’s leadership in Saudi society was the theme of the day at a Jeddah school event recently.

The event at Children’s Garden School, titled “Yes, She will Lead”, was the brainchild of one of the teachers and aimed to help students benefit from the experience of some Saudi leaders and learn from their achievements.

Several Saudi female leaders talked about their experiences including Samia Al-Amoudi, Lama Al-Sulaiman, Fatima Shaheen and Lojain Boker.

Rodeen Bader, one of the Saudi students who attended the event, said: “The program affected me and encouraged me.

"I was influenced more by the speech of Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi. She has a good role in society and many people perceive her as a leader.

“After her lecture I will try to develop my skills in the right way and benefit from the speakers’ guidelines.”

Hala Al-Olayan, a Saudi student in her ninth grade, said: “This event was amazing because many key personalities attended. Those speakers have encouraged me to be one day in their shoes.

“These female leaders proved to me that every woman with her dreams and hard work can lead society.

“I was influenced by Mrs. Lojain because I felt she is the youngest one and similar to us since she is closest to us in terms of age.

“Despite her young age she achieved many goals and succeeded at an early age.

“She did many projects and visited several schools while she was still in high school, so I realized that my age will not prevent me from working hard and achieving more things.”

Fifteen-year-old Noura Taj said: “I was happy with the event. “Mrs. Lojain and Dr. Samia influenced me, especially Dr. Samia's personality and her story of her battle with breast cancer is a good example of patience and endurance.”

Tala Edriss, a ninth grade student, said: “The event was a really good idea.

“Lojain Boker inspired me because she told us about the stuff she worked on and she gave us advice and she was funny.

“The way she was describing stuff was really simple and not boring and we liked her so much.”

“Now I'm not planning to do anything but I will keep taking advice to get more ideas on what I want later.”



Many Saudi women undergo plastic surgeries secretly

07 May, 2015

Many Saudi women are having plastic surgeries behind their husbands’ or relatives’ backs fearing their disapproval.

Recent statistics by the Ministry of Health revealed that 14,412 Saudi women had facelift surgeries. Riyadh topped the list with 8,504 surgeries, and Jeddah came in second with 3,384.

Contrary to global figures which put breast surgery as the most preferred type of surgery, body contouring surgery was listed as the most sought-after in the Kingdom. The Health Ministry warned Saudi women against undergoing surgeries by non-specialists, or abroad, where doctors usually care more about money than patients’ interests. Doctors advise patients to undergo such surgery in Saudi Arabia as they want to maintain a good reputation.

Psychologist Salwa Owain, from Salwa Clinics Consulting, said that there are several reasons women seek cosmetic procedures including a lack of self-confidence over the way they look; because of a birth defect; or they feel a need to imitate others without a real need for surgery.

Owain warned against keeping these procedures secret from family members, especially husbands, because this might cause problems in the future if the husband felt that his wife was hiding things from him.

Dr. Ayman Helmi, plastic surgery consultant, and deputy head of the plastic surgery department at the military hospital in Riyadh, said that he refuses to perform cosmetic procedures for any woman, even if it is simple, without her husband’s knowledge. He added that some women just try to imitate others by having these surgeries.

Shiekh Ali Al-Malki said a husband needs to know this issue about his wife. He urged women to take their husband’s permission before the surgery, especially if the goal is to fix a birth defect hoping to look better for their husbands. However, he doesn’t consider minor and simple changes a problem if a woman doesn’t share them with husband or family.

Dr. Ala Atallah, a dermatology and beauty consultant at a specialized center, said cosmetic procedures and skin care in Saudi Arabia increased by 50 percent during the past three years, adding that more than 40 percent of Saudi women visit beauty centers.

Dr. Ahmed bin Bader Al-Otaibi, a consultant in dermatology and plastic surgery, said that women between 28 and 37 are the ones who go for cosmetic surgery the most.

Cosmetic surgery consultant Dr. Murei Al-Qahtani explained that more Saudis seek contouring surgery because of multiple births, followed by nose jobs, saying that there are no local accurate statistics.

Regarding patient satisfaction on the outcome of the process, Al-Qahtani said that surgeries that include incorporating materials into the body, such as silicon and face fillers, usually have less patient satisfaction than other procedures, especially as they can have side effects such as long-term infection, especially when performed by nonspecialists. The doctor said he deals on a daily basis with patients who come to have materials removed after surgeries conducted abroad because these materials could cause permanent damage, he told Arab News.



Labour's Women's Rights Champion Defends 'Sexist' Party Rally

07 May, 2015

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman this morning defended the party's controversial gender-segregated election rally – insisting it was 'better than a men-only meeting'.

Ms Harman, who has made her political career fighting for women's rights, said boycotting the meeting would have been 'rude'.

It comes after the party was dragged into a furious 'sexism' row after senior Labour figures, including Ms Harman's husband Jack Dromey, spoke at a meeting in Birmingham on Saturday even though men sat on one side of the room and women on the other.

Labour has denied that people were forced to sit separately based on gender - even though photographs from the event show that the groups were clearly segregated.

Critics called the decision 'sickening' and claimed that the party was 'selling values for votes' in order to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street.

But Ms Harman this morning claimed the meeting was an attempt to get more women from the Muslim community involved in politics.

It would have been better if the organisers of the meeting had encouraged the men and women to 'sit round in a big circle'.

She told LBC Radio: 'We don't agree with sex segregation. We didn't agree with it in higher education, and we don't agree with it in politics either.

'This meeting was organised by a male Labour councillor and a female Labour councillor, and what they were trying to do is ensure there weren't men only meetings, which we are even more not in favour of it.

'It was actually bringing the women from the community into the meeting. But no, sex segregation in seating is not a good idea. But it's better than men-only meetings. We want to have meetings where men and women are on equal terms.

'I don't know the young woman Muslim councillor who organised this, but I bet I would be backing her up in getting more women from that community involved.'

Ms Harman said she was not a 'boycotting type of person' and did not like to be 'rude and walk out of things'.

She said: 'I perhaps would have discussed with the young woman councillor if we could have all sat together. Probably, I would have said let's all sit round in a big circle and mix everything up.

'We are for women's equality and women's progress. We want that for every woman in all communities. There's no uncertainty about that.'

Among the Labour grandees at the event was Khalid Mahmood, who is standing to be MP for Perry Bar.

Mr Mahmood previously spoke out against the alleged Trojan Horse plot in 12 of Birmingham's schools, including allegations of gender segregation, but was centre stage at Saturday's event - but said any criticism based on the rally photo was 'ridiculous'.

He told MailOnline that although the picture of the event showed men and women sat apart, afterwards the groups all mixed afterwards and took 'selfies' together. 

He said: 'I was happy to support the event. It wasn't as segregated as people are making out. The photo has been taken out of context.

'Nobody was told to sit anywhere. It just happened that men and women sat separately – but what the photo doesn't show is there were women and men together at the back.

'What people need to understand is that this part of a process of engaging with Muslim women and this was the start of that. It is about giving women in some communities the confidence to engage.

'People can say what they like. In 2010 I went to rallies where there were no women at all'.

MailOnline approached Liam Byrne for comment, and he said he had nothing to add to Labour's official statement.

Mr Dromey and Tom Watson were unavailable yesterday.

But one senior party figure has said the seating arrangements ensured that women from the city's Muslim communities were able to take part - ensuring all were 'treated equally and respectfully'.

Tory candidate Julian Smith said: 'Labour are completely desperate. They are selling their values in exchange for a few votes.'

Former MP Louise Mensch tweeted: 'Freedom of religion allows churches and others to segregate, a secular political event is not religious.'

Andrew Bridgen, the Tory candidate in North West Leicestershire, said: 'On the one hand, Labour is preaching about feminism and equality for women, and on the other hand they are happy with a segregated audience.

'It shows how desperate they have become at the fag end of this campaign that they will do anything for a few votes. This shows Labour talking out of both sides of its mouth – as usual.

Peter Walker tweeted: 'This is a Labour Party political event. Yes, the women have had to sit apart from the men. It is disgraceful'.

Paul Watson wrote: 'The 'progressive' Labour Party hosted an event where men & women were segregated'.

The event - for a predominantly Asian audience - was advertised as a 'Labour party jalsa / rally' in the Diamond Suite, a venue two miles outside the city centre.

Organised by Birmingham Labour councillor Ansar Ali Khan, a leaflet for the rally adds that Councillor Miriam Khan is organising a 'women's section for jalsa'.

The guest of honour was Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry - the former prime minister of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan - who once bragged he told people in the Pakistani community 'who to vote for'.

In 2010, an election year, he toured Britain and told the BBC he saw himself as a leader of the Mirpuri community, the people of Azad Kashmir, at home and in Britain.

He said: 'I always come during elections. It's basically so I can tell people how to vote and who to vote for.

'Most of the Pakistanis here are from Mirpur, and I am the MP from Mirpur, and I know the issues here and who will be the best candidates to help solve the issues in Kashmir.'

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, seen as a leadership rival to Ed Miliband, said that although he was uncomfortable with segregation by sex, it was important to respect the rules of religious organisations.

Labour MPs and candidates have previously turned down requests to speak at events due to be attended by a largely Muslim audience because only men were invited, but they supported this rally after a female Muslim councillor ensured women were able to attend, the source said.

In 2009, former agriculture minister Jim Fitzpatrick walked out of a Muslim wedding when he was told he could not sit next to his wife.

A party spokesman insisted: 'Labour fully supports gender equality in all areas of society and all cultures.There was no forced segregation. Speakers at the event included both women and men.

'Everyone was together in one room and all were treated equally and respectfully.'



Boko Haram impregnated girls 'to guarantee new generation of fighters'

07 May, 2015

The governor of Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, has said that terror group Boko Haram (now Iswap) deliberately impregnated the 214 girls recently rescued by the army in the Sambisa forest on the border with Cameroon.

The girls were part of some 234 women and children freed after being kidnapped by the terrorists, who are believed to have abducted some 2,000 civilians since the beginning of 2014.

Shortly after the girls were freed, Governor Kashim Shettima was quoted by Nigerian newspaper The Punch as saying: "These people [Boko Haram] have a certain spiritual conviction that any child they father will grow to inherit their ideology whether they live with the children or not."

"They also believe that whoever does not hold their ideology is an unbeliever that should be killed and rendered homeless and whatever belongs to him or her becomes a legitimate booty recovered from enemies," he continued.

"After getting their captives pregnant, they keep them to allow the pregnancy mature to an extent of say four or more months to make abortion difficult or impossible for the women due to threats in carrying out abortions at that level.

"They abandon the women afterwards to go and give birth anywhere else. In most cases, the women return home or get helped by traditional birth attendants."

Shettima's comments followed remarks by Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo who claimed that only pregnant girls would be released by the terrorists.

Obasanjo made the comment shortly after Boko Haram abducted some 220 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno, in April 2014.

Nigerian army enters group's 'last know stronghold'

A recent report by AP said that the Nigerian army freed another 25 children and women on 5 May and destroyed seven more of the extremists' camps in the Sambisa forest, which has been deemed "the terrorists' last known stronghold".

In March, the Nigerian army – currently aided by troops from Chad, Benin, Niger and Cameroon – started a ground and aerial offensive against the insurgents, who recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State (Isis).

The offensive was launched shortly before Nigerians headed to the polls for a general election that saw the victory of former army leader Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed to halt the deadly insurgence in the country.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan was accused by some of not having done enough to stop Boko Haram, who have killed thousands of people since its insurgency started in north-eastern Nigeria in 2009.

Recent rescued civilians reported that Boko Haram is fracturing due to lack of weapons, ammunition and fuel.



Qatar revives strict ‘Reflect Respect’ dress code campaign

07 May, 2015

After leaving many expats in Qatar “in shock” last year, a controversial dress code campaign has now been rebranded by organizers.

The “Reflect Respect” campaign had urged visitors or residents in Qatar last summer to wear “decent clothes” and show respect for the country’s traditions.

It has now been renamed to a softer: “You matter in Qatar.”

A poster accompanying the campaign last year had angered many on social media.

“Women should avoid wearing any garments that are too tight, too short or translucent such as mini-skirts or sleeveless dresses,” according to a campaign poster shared on the campaign’s Twitter account @reflect_respect.


The banned attire shown in the poster appeared to show a list of garments including short dresses, leggings and shorts.

Previously speaking to Al Arabiya News, Hammoud Brahim, an Arab expat who grew up in Doha, said: “Qatar is becoming a multi-cultural country and needs to accommodate the ‘cultures’ of other people.”

“Restricting what people wear is absurd. If there is an imposed dress code, it will only encourage oppression and intolerance in Doha … people must be able to wear what they want,” he added.

This year, the new campaign slogan has renewed attention on clothing and behavior of Qataris as well as expatriates, according to Doha News.

Now there are T-shirts, leaflets and literature brandishing the motto “You Matter in Qatar: Respecting the customs and traditions of this country that welcomes all guests.”

The organizers of the grassroots campaign, which was first launched in 2012, typically place special effort in the lead up to the holy month of Ramadan in order to shed light on the importance of non-Qatari tourists and residents and how they can help respect local values and culture.

Campaign leaflets are delivered mostly around Doha’s shopping malls, parks and other public venues, who also handed out more campaign guides, shawls and confectionary, according to Doha News.

“Appearances - including grooming, attire and manners - are clear reflections of cultural values. The re-emergence of the campaign is intended to inform newcomers to Qatar and remind citizens and residents,” Doha-based media analyst Dr. Joe Khalil told Al Arabiya News on Wednesday.

“The ability of the campaign organizers to expand their target to both citizens and residents is commendable: It shows they are responsive to criticism and that the issue of modesty concerns everybody regardless of age, gender and background,” Dr. Khalil added.

The drive ultimately urges men and women to cover their shoulders and knees and ensure their clothes are not provocative, tight and or revealing, the report added.

Ilhem Allagui, an Associate Professor of Mass Communication at Northwestern University in Qatar, said there were pros and cons to the ‘You matter in Qatar’ slogan.

“I find it strong because it addresses both expats and Qataris and is charged with some protective tones. Also the fact that it uses ‘you’ is engaging and direct,” she told Al Arabiya News.

“However, it is also vague and the audience may not relate to it; ‘Why do you matter? How do you matter?’ are questions left to subjective interpretation.”

Allagui also points out another issue with the campaign.

“Another problem is that the Arabic version of the message is charged with a different meaning [which translates as] ‘You are different in prosperous Qatar’; now the message is not inclusive anymore.

“It reminds expats that they have to behave differently – as guests – which was the original message of this campaign a couple of years ago,” Allagui added.

Conservative character

The Qatari constitution addresses the importance of public dress code by stating in Article 57 that “abiding by public order and morality, observing national tradition and established customs is a duty of all who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory.”

Despite Qatar’s Islamic character, the law does not extend to the specificities of a modest dress – but the dress code campaign had done so.

Expats make up more than 85 percent of Qatar’s population causing the topic of dress code an important one for expats and Qataris alike.

In line with its apparent conservative push, the Gulf state has recently launched a new crackdown on alcohol. Hotels in Qatar have been banned from serving alcohol in the nine days leading up to this year’s Islamic celebration of Eid Al Adha, which is estimated to fall on September 23.

Also, Qatar has recently passed a law forcing all shops to shut down during Friday prayers. According to the law, all shops, cafes, restaurants, malls, offices and even clinics must shut down for 90 minutes during the prayers, or face of a fine of QR 10,000 ($2,746).



UK department store stocks sports hijabs

07 May, 2015

LONDON: House of Fraser, a British department store group, has started selling ‘sports hijabs’ for women to wear when they exercise and even while swimming.

The store, which delivers to over 130 countries, offers a variety of head scarves on their website.

A spokesperson for House of Fraser told a newspaper, “I can confirm that are we are now stocking the Shorso sportswear brand online as we offer a wide range of products to suit our diverse customer base.”

The move is likely to make head scarves easily available for women in non-Islamic countries who would previously have to depend on specialist shops.

The hijabs, made by Shorso, are available in vibrant colours with floral, striped and plain black designs, retailing at £14.99 per headscarf.

The item description reads: ‘This patterned sports hijab is perfect for swimming and aerobics. The light weight and durable fabric adjusts to your head size, allowing for a perfect fit every time.’

Wearing a hijab in sports has long been a contested issue.

Previously, the Qatar women’s basketball team withdrew from the Asian Games 2014 in South Korea after they were prohibited from wearing the hijab during matches.

However, despite a ban on headgears and hair accessories in sports uniforms in world basketball, Fifa announced it was allowing the use of head scarves in matches for religious reasons.



Four men are sentenced to death for brutal mob killing of Afghan woman

07 May, 2015

KABUL — Four men were sentenced to death Wednesday for the brutal mob killing of a 27-year-old Afghan woman falsely accused of burning a Koran, a killing that triggered outrage and rare street protests and galvanized a nation against the all-too-common violent abuse of women in this country.

The men were among 49 defendants who were swiftly brought to trial amid a public clamoring for justice for the gruesome March 19 attack. Eight defendants were sentenced to 16 years in prison for their role, while 18 others were found not guilty and released, sparking anger from the victim’s family and friends.

The remaining defendants are 19 policemen, who were among the crowd that watched as the mob beat the woman, Farkhunda, with sticks and rocks outside a shrine in this capital city. The mob then dragged her body behind a car before setting her corpse on fire and throwing it into the Kabul River.

Verdicts and possible sentences for the policemen, all accused of failing to do anything to save Farkhunda — who, like many Afghans, used only one name — are expected Sunday.

In an interview after the verdict, one of Farkhunda’s brothers angrily denounced the sentences as insufficient. Hundreds of people “were involved in my sister’s brutal killing and only four of them are sentenced to death,” said Najibullah Malikzadah. “This is not justice at all.”

The four-day trial, which was televised nationally, was among the more unusual legal events that the country has witnessed in recent memory. Afghans watched the rare sight of policemen and mosque personnel facing charges over crimes that are seldom, if ever, prosecuted so swiftly. Violent acts against women, in particular, almost never get such treatment, and the trial underscored the extent to which Farkhunda’s killing rattled the nation and forced a collective soul-searching.

Among those who received death sentences was the seller of amulets who falsely accused Farkhunda of burning the Koran after she was thought to have confronted him about his business, which her family said she considered un-Islamic. It was unclear whether the seller participated in her killing, but he nevertheless received the harshest penalty possible.

Farkhunda’s death sparked an outpouring of anger on social media. Thousands of people demonstrated on the streets of Kabul, marching to the Supreme Court to demand justice and punishment for the police officers. Female activists painted their faces red, mimicking the bloodied face of Farkhunda.

Inside the packed court room Wednesday, Judge Safiullah Mojadidi asked Farkhunda’s mother whether she wanted to address the court before he read the verdict and sentences. She stood up and said: “Your Excellency, you are sitting on the chair of justice, and I want justice.”

Mojadidi then read aloud each verdict and sentence, beginning by naming the four men and informing them that they were “found guilty of murder and the burning of Farkhunda.”

“According to the law panel, you are to be hanged until death,” he continued. “This is not the final decision of the court, and you can appeal this verdict.”

As Mojadidi read down the list, there was a muted reaction from the audience. Many were expecting more of those on trial to face punishment.

In the killing’s aftermath, cellphone videos of the incident proliferated online, showing dozens of possible assailants. Some people proudly boasted on social media that they had participated in the death of Farkhunda.

Her killing was a grim reminder of the threats Afghan women continue to face more than 13 years after the Taliban Islamist regime was overthrown.

Under the Taliban, women were denied schooling and employment and were forced to wear the blue head-to-toe burqas that became a vivid symbol of female oppression around the world. The United States and other Western nations have made it a priority to bring gender equality to the country, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into programs to empower women.

But most parts of Afghanistan remain gripped by tribal customs, traditions and religious perceptions that still subjugate many women. Domestic violence is common. Women are routinely forced into marriages, and some are victims of honor killings.

On Wednesday, female activists said that they wished that the trial had sent a clear message that violence against women would no longer be tolerated by the judicial system. Instead, they said they were disappointed that only four of the accused were sentenced to death, adding that they were concerned that those verdicts could be overturned on appeal. They also noted that no senior police officials were brought to trial.

“We Afghan women do not feel protected after the decision of the court,” said Munira Yousifzada, a women’s rights activist. “We will witness more brutal killings of women in the country because of this injustice.”



Female Afghan students win gold medals in a biology competition in Kenya

07 May, 2015

Three female Afghan students brought home gold medals after participating in a competition scientific competition in Kenya.

The competition was hosted in Kenya which was attended by around 300 students from 27 countries around the world.

The winners of the competition who returned to Afghanistan said they had participated in the event to compete in biology.

They urged the Afghan families to allow their children, specifically their daughters to continue to their studies so that they can earn more honor for Afghanistan.

Girls’ education was almost non-existent during the years of Taliban rule but saw a rapid growth after U.S. troops entered the country resulting in the fall of the Taliban.

According to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) there are eight million Afghan children enrolled in schools; 2.5 million of them are girls.