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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 11 Jan 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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In Nigeria, New Boko Haram Suicide Bomber Tactic: ‘It’s a Little Girl’

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 Jan 2015

Two women in full-face veils are pictured at a square in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Aug 31, 2010. [Photo/CFP]


 Legislature OKs Ban On Full Veils, Body Coverings in Urumqi, Xinjiang

 Hayat Boumeddiene: The Jihadist ‘Bride’ Who Trained With Al-Qaida

 Maryam Nawaz to Home-School 10-Year-Old Daughter for Security Reasons

 World Still Unfair To Women despite 15 Years of UN Efforts

 Libya: Promoting Women's Rights and Political Inclusion in Arab States

 ‘Violence against Women on the Rise Because They Don’t Speak Out’

 Nigeria, Procter and Gamble Sign MoU on Women Empowerment

 The Many Views on Legalising Abortion in Uganda

 African Church Leaders Worry about the ‘Medicalisation’ Of FGM

 Mass wedding to Take Place at the Ijtema Grounds Today in Bangladesh

 Fighting Sexual Harassment: Nepal's Women-Only Buses

 France's Most-Wanted Woman Has Fled To Syria

 Madonna under fire over Charlie Hebdo posts

 Russia: Transgenders ‘ineligible’ to drive

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





In Nigeria, New Boko Haram Suicide Bomber Tactic: ‘It’s a Little Girl’


Jan 11, 2015

DAKAR, Senegal — A girl perhaps no more than 10 years old detonated powerful explosives concealed under her veil at a crowded northern Nigeria market on Saturday, killing as many as 20 people and wounding many more.

The blast inflicted devastating damage on shoppers at the Monday Market in Maiduguri, the shopping hub in a city that is at the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency. The explosion, witnessed by dozens of people, represented a new tactic in the Islamists’ campaign with their decision to use perhaps their youngest-ever suicide bomber.

The terrorist group has increasingly employed women as suicide bombers, even as it has stepped up its abductions of girls across northeast Nigeria, including the kidnapping of more than 200 in the town of Chibok last April. Late last year, two women hit the Monday Market in suicide attacks, killing dozens, and in one week last summer four women carried out bombings in northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Kano.

But the use of a child to kill — witnesses, police officials, a top hospital official in Maiduguri and local vigilantes all agreed that the bomber was very young — may be unprecedented in the insurgency.

“It’s a little girl,” said the hospital official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of his position. “The body is beyond recognition, but from the face you can see it’s a young person. A young pretty girl.”

A vigilante group has taken responsibility for much of what little security exists in Maiduguri, and on Saturday morning, before the blast, several members of the group had screened the girl with metal detectors as she entered the market, said a spokesman, Abubakar Faruq.

The girl resisted, the vigilantes noticed a bulge around her waist and the bomb went off, Mr. Faruq said. A police spokesman said 20 people were killed and 18 others critically wounded.

Several witnesses said it appeared that the girl might not have been aware of her deadly burden. Bakura Bashir, a shopper who witnessed the explosion, said: “This girl may not necessarily know she was conveying a timed bomb. The girl was torn into two halves, and half of her body was thrown across buildings by the devastating blast.”

A top federal police official in the capital, Abuja, who once worked in Maiduguri, said Saturday that the terrorist group appeared to have embarked on a new path.

“It’s something quite new, and it’s disturbing, using these young, young girls wearing hijabs,” the official said, referring to the Muslim veil.

“Now, one has to be suspicious of any lady wearing a hijab — whether it’s a young lady, or an old lady,” said the police official, who asked not to be quoted by name because of concerns about his position.

Boko Haram has carried out a spate of attacks recently in the northeast, including a devastating one in Baga, a fishing village north of Maiduguri, that killed dozens last week; an assault on the nearby city of Damaturu on Friday evening that set off a gun battle lasting more than four hours, but that was ultimately repelled by security forces; and a bombing in Potiskum on Saturday that killed two police officers.

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Maiduguri, Nigeria.



Legislature OKs Ban On Full Veils, Body Coverings in Urumqi, Xinjiang

Jan 11, 2015

Regulation to introduce the ban on full-face veils and full-body coverings in public in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was approved by the legislature on Saturday.

Officials in Xinjiang said the wearing of full-face veils and full-body coverings is associated with religious extremism.

The regulation will be revised by the Urumqi People's Congress, the local legislative body, based on the suggestion provided by the Standing Committee of Xinjiang regional People's Congress before being introduced in the city, according to a press release from the regional People's Congress on Saturday.

The proposal was resent to the regional People's Congress by legislators in Urumqi in December 2014.

The move is to use the law to curb the spread of religious extremism, which is one of the region's top priorities this year.



Hayat Boumeddiene: The Jihadist ‘Bride’ Who Trained With Al-Qaida

Lizzie Dearden,The Independent | Jan 10, 2015

LONDON: Police are still hunting the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly after the gunman was killed during the violent end of the siege of a Jewish grocery shop in Paris, in which he killed four hostages.

The whereabouts of Hayat Boumeddiene are unknown after police named her as an "armed and dangerous" suspect. She was reported to be Coulibaly's accomplice during the shooting of a female police officer on Thursday.

Boumeddiene is believed to be of Algerian descent but changed her name to make it appear more French and reportedly worked as a cashier before being radicalized.

She and Coulibaly are believed to have married in a religious ceremony in 2009, which is not recognized in French law.

The 26-year-old reportedly lived in his apartment while he was in prison for his part in a plot to help Paris metro bomber Smain Ait Ali Belkacem escape.

During that time, he is believed to have met Cherif Kouachi. Both men and possibly Boumeddiene were avid followers of extremist Djamel Beghal.

According to Le Monde, Boumeddiene said she and Coulibaly practised firing crossbows together in the countryside while on holiday visiting Beghal, who claims to have met Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to plan a suicide bombing.

The newspaper published a series of 2010 pictures showing her pointing the weapon at a camera while wearing a full-face veil, which is banned in France.

Beghal, a convicted terrorist who was once based at London's Finsbury Park mosque, was jailed for plotting to bomb the American embassy in Paris and mentored Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, according to Le Monde.

He allegedly set up a suspected jihadist training camp in Cantal, a mountainous area of central France, where he was visited by Boumeddiene, Coulibaly and others.

Boumeddiene was previously interviewed by French anti-terror police in 2010, it was reported, but it was unclear whether any action was taken against her.

During interrogation, she reportedly said she was inspired by her boyfriend and radicals she lived with to "read a lot of books on religion".

"When I saw the massacre of the innocents in Palestine, in Iraq, in Chechnya, in Afghanistan or anywhere the Americans sent their bombers, all that ... well, who are the terrorists?" she said, according to Daily Mail.

After her lover's release from prison, they couple lived in the southern Paris suburb of Bagneux, where neighbours knew them as quiet, religious and "normal".

They had exchanged about 500 phone calls with the companion of one of the Kouachi brothers during 2014, it has emerged.

The attack on the supermarket was carefully coordinated with the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the suspects' subsequent escape, police said.



Maryam Nawaz to Home-School 10-Year-Old Daughter for Security Reasons

January 11, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, clarified that she was not sending her 10-year-old daughter to London due to the worsening security situation in Pakistan.

In a tweet on Friday, Maryam censured an ARY News anchor who made the allegation.

An ARY anchor y'day said I'm sending my 10 year old to London for her schooling. Responsibility warranted verification before vilification.

— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) January 9, 2015

Further, responding to the allegation, the prime minister’s daughter clarified that her younger one was pulled out of school for the time being not only because she faced serious threats but for the reason that it imperiled the lives of her fellow school kids.

“The anchor ought to know that to us all kids are as dear as our own and this is why we have put all at stake,” she added.

She also tweeted about the rising sensationalism of such anchors.

Rejected allegations, Maryam spelled out in her tweet that her daughter will be home-schooled for the time being, and her family would not leave the country despite serious threats.

My daughter will be homeschooled for now. None of us will leave Pakistan despite serious threats. This only strengthens our resolve.



World still unfair to women despite 15 years of UN efforts

Manash Pratim Gohain, TNN | Jan 11, 2015

NEW DELHI: Even after 15 years of promotion of gender equality and women empowerment, the world remains an unequal place. One in three women worldwide has reportedly experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner. Also, in most of the 83 countries evaluated, women earn 10% to 30% less than men. Worse, 60% of the 781 million adults who lack basic literacy skills are women.

There are 1.2 billion people in developing countries living on less than $1.25 a day and India tops the list with 32.8% of the world's extreme poor living here.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations provided a global overview in 'Women and Poverty', drawing co-relation between the two and gender inequality, as the Beijing Platform for Action aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women turns 20 and United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), whose third goal is to promote gender equality and empower women, completes its schedule this year.

Among the top five countries with the largest share of the world's extreme poor, three are Asian — India, China and Bangladesh — which cumulatively have 50.9% of the people living in extreme poverty. Giving a snapshot of gender gaps and effect of poverty, the report cited how the average life expectancy of women in high-income countries is higher (82 years) than their counterparts in low-income countries (63.1 years). Globally, there are more than 1.3 billion women who do not have an account in a formal financial institution. Women suffer the worst under poverty.

As per UN data, rural primary school-aged children are twice as likely to be out of school as compared to their urban counterparts, and only 23% of poor rural girls complete their primary education in sub-Saharan Africa. In just one day, women collectively spend an estimated 16 million hours fetching water in 25 sub-Saharan African countries.

There is a digital divide as well with two thirds of the world's population not having regular access to internet. In developing countries, women are 23% less likely than men to be online.

Despite 20 years of global attempt at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women, the world today lags behind in the protection of human rights of women.

Despite 143 of 195 countries guaranteeing gender equality in their constitution as of 2014, discrimination against women persists in many areas, directly and indirectly, through law and policies, gender-based stereotypes and social norms and practices. In more than 60 countries, women who are non-national spouses are denied the right to acquire property, and change or retain their nationality.




Libya: Promoting Women's Rights and Political Inclusion in Arab States

Jan 11, 2015

Female leaders from seven countries given skills to conceptualise and plan work on political participation and rights.

IWPR has joined forces with Hivos, Oxfam Novib and Price Waterhouse Coopers to partner with 20 organisations that promote women's rights and political participation.

Women on the Frontline is an innovative programme funded by the Netherlands government to strengthen women's institutions in the Middle East and North Africa.

Most of the participating organisations, based in seven countries across the region, were founded after the Arab Spring uprisings. They are now pushing for equality, civil rights and inclusion in the political process at a critical time when the aspirational aims set out in 2011 are in jeopardy in some countries and have been reversed in others.

Since October, IWPR has held a series of strategic planning sessions with groups from Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. More than 100 female leaders attended each of the three-day events. IWPR's network of trainers and mentors will support these organisations to further define their missions and long-term planning, and will provide each of them with training designed to meet their specific needs.



‘Violence against Women on the Rise Because They Don’t Speak Out’

Jan 11, 2015

Gender activists observe that violence and discrimination against women are widespread due to a misconception that women are subservient to men.

Corroborating this observation, the United Nations describes violence and discrimination against women as a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women.

The activists note that the development has affected womenfolk to the extent that most women cannot fully exercise their fundamental human rights.

They support the view of the former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan that “violence against women knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth, which is, perhaps the most shameful human rights violation.’’

They opine that women often face assault and intimidation in the society which demand practical measures aimed at addressing the trend.

They also note that in some cases, many women are forced to remain in abusive relationships due to threats of abandonment from their spouses and lack of economic power.

According to them, it is worrisome that some people emphasise on customs of bride price payments on women, by which most men in some parts of the world erroneously assume that they acquire women as wives that they can treat as they wish.

Mr Chinaza Uzochukwu, a psychologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, raised similar sentiments, noting that some women were often intimidated in relationships because the man would always want to be in control of scheme of things.

According to her, violence and discrimination against women have short and long term consequences on the woman’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health.

She observed that in some cases, teenagers were forced into marriage without economic skills or viable education necessary for independent living.

Uzochukwu also said in some instances, women are not allowed to hold a job or have a viable source of income.

“Even if she works, her husband or partner is in total control of her money, a woman can be abused when a man controls everything she does.

“This includes the types of food she eats, the cloth she wears, who she speaks with and who visits her.

“Women’s right can also be violated psychologically when a man verbally plays her down; calling her names such as being too fat and comparing her with others,’’ she observed.

She listed gender based violence to include sex trafficking, forced labour, sexual coercion and abuse, neglect, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, harmful traditional practices, early or forced marriage and female genital mutilation, among others.

In his view, Mr Clement Abah, a clinical psychologist in Abuja, observed that violence against women was rampant and neighbours, friends and families were not willing to report such cases, in some instances, to appropriate authorities.

“When a boss decides to sexually harass a lady before recommending her for promotion, he abuses the lady and it should be reported.

“Silence is crippling the issue of abuse in our society because most women don’t speak out,’’ Abah said.

According to him, the primary solution for stopping violence against women lies with the women; they should speak out when it happens.

“Due to the silent nature among the violated women in Nigeria, reliable statistics on number of abuse cases has not been put in place and, in most cases, violent activities against women are justified.

“Marriage is beautiful but it is not slavery or ownership, it is a relationship between the head and the neck and not the head and the ground which the husband steps on,’’ he said.

Expressing concern on the implication of violence against women on the Millennium Development Goals, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said Nigeria should act fast to end it.

He said in an interview that the Federal Government should set up a system that could respond to the needs of the women whose rights were violated because they were prone to a lot of challenges.

In her opinion, Ms Mary Wandia, the Africa Women’s Rights Coordinator for ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation, solicited accessible law enforcement and court processes for women as a method of ending violence against them.

“The police are often not interested in domestic violence unless a woman can show physical evidence of being violated.

“The police and law-enforcement authorities are unwilling to believe women’s report on issues such as these and they are not willing to assist,’’ she observed.

Reviewing some of the suggested solutions for ending violence against women, Mrs Tochie Odele, the Programme Analyst of UNFPA, gave an assurance that the organisation would promote public awareness on how to fight gender-based violence.

In an interview, she said that UNFPA had intensified efforts to ensure that laws prohibiting violence against women were enacted by the National Assembly.

Giving further assurance, President Goodluck Jonathan said the Federal Government was committed to reducing discrimination against women and girls.

Speaking after he received Miss Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist in Abuja in 2014, the president said that his administration was “taking steps to curb all forms of discrimination against girls and women.’’

He noted that the government had also undertaken many affirmative actions on behalf of women.

According to Jonathan, women and girls make up about 50 per cent of the country’s population that must not be deprived of basic rights.

All in all, concerned citizens opine that, apart from efforts of various stakeholders at ending violence against women, it is the duty of every man to ensure that rights of girls and women are protected.

Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African social rights activist, supports this view. He was once quoted as saying: “It is by standing up for the right of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.’’



Nigeria, Procter and Gamble sign MoU on women empowerment

Jan 11, 2015

Nigeria and Procter and Gamble (P&G), a multinational organisation, have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding to support women empowerment initiative called `Growing Girls and Women in Nigeria (GWIN).

Speaking at the ceremony on Friday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that the partnership was a welcome development for the empowerment of women in the country.

She said that GWIN would provide structured trainings and skills acquisition to girls and women in the country.

“The GWIN is an innovation programme being implemented through MOU among the ministries of finance; communications technology; water resources; agriculture and women affairs,” she said.

Explaining the gains of the initiative, she said that 1,120 women had been trained on agricultural skills and 2.5 million women registered under the e-wallet system for collection of fertilizers.

The Managing Director, Procter and Gamble Nigeria, Mr George Nassar, said that the company was desirous of leveraging the GWIN project to further propagate its global strategy of improving the lives of women.



 The Many Views On Legalising Abortion in Uganda

Jan 11, 2015

A group of youths called on the Uganda Parliament to legalise abortions, saying such a law will help avert reproductive health complications resulting from unsafe abortions. But not everyone agrees...

The Uganda Penal Code Act on abortion says, "A woman who procures an abortion on herself is liable to imprisonment of seven years." The Law further states that any person who supplies drugs to procure an abortion faces three years imprisonment upon conviction in courts of law. The Law also prescribes a life sentence for killing an unborn child.

Gift from God

Steven Wadada works as a street cleaner in Mbale town in eastern Uganda and has come across a number of aborted babies wrapped in polythene bags and dumped on rubbish heaps. His experience, however, cannot make him support the recent call by a group of youths asking Uganda Parliament to legalise abortion. The group of young people came from different parts of Uganda and were attending a youth dialogue on 'Promoting comprehensive sexuality education' held in Kampala. The event in September last year was organized by the Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU), a local NGO, with support from several international agencies.

"A child is gift from God and therefore terminating a pregnancy should never be allowed but the young girls who find themselves in such situations should be helped to accept responsibility instead killing the unborn child," says Wadada.

Back street abortions

Jafira Hamba, a tertiary institution student, says she supports the proposal to legalise abortion, pointing out that the back street abortions carried out by non-medically trained people not only causes reproductive health complications but also death.

"If abortions are legalised, women who want to terminate unwanted pregnancies will freely walk into health units to be handled by qualified medical workers," Hamba argues.

Hamba, however, says that women seeking to end pregnancies in an official health unit should be made to pay for the service - tax payers should not be footing the bill. She also believes that the decision to end a pregnancy should involve the man responsible, as well as [the couple's] parents, and not just the expectant mother and the involved medical workers.

Family planning

Nicholas Gonakubyoma, a journalism student, says Uganda, whose national motto states 'For God and my Country', should not legalise abortions, but instead intensify family planning programmes by encouraging girls and women to access contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Legalising abortions in Uganda will likely encourage girls to engage in irresponsible sexual relationship, according to Gonakubyoma, because they know they can get an abortion on demand.

Dr Dominic Waburokho of St Martin's Medical Centre in Mbale town says abortion should not be legalised in Uganda, because such a law will be against the culture of the people who value human life.

But he admits, "It's on record that at Mbale regional referral hospital teenage girls come seeking medical attention after developing health complications like heavy bleeding after performing an abortion, using crude methods like swallowing an overdose of medicine or taking herbs to induce an abortion."

Yet Waburokho still believes in the current medical practice that allows medical doctors to end a pregnancy in case of threat to the expectant mother's life - and then only in consultation with other doctors.

Only when life-threatening

A senior medical officer, Dr Gideon Wamasebu, says as a doctor and Catholic he would never recommend to parliament to pass a law legalising abortion. He also believes no one should destroy the life of the unborn child unless it is medically proven that the pregnancy may cause death.

Christine Simiyu, a senior nursing officer attached to Budadiri Health Centre, says although unsafe abortions leave about 100,000 Ugandan women every year with reproductive health complications such as the rupturing of the uterus, the idea to permit abortions-on-demand presents dilemmas from a Christian and ethical point of view, where everyone, including the unborn, has a right to life.

Stay in school

Alex Mboizi, a social worker, says women should be able to seek medical assistance from government health facilities if they want to terminate 'unwanted pregnancies', adding that this would reduce fatalities that occur from abortions performed outside health facilities.

"Some girls who engage in sexual relationship with peer groups find themselves in a situation where they drop out of school because of pregnancies. Therefore legalising abortion would not only reduce the burden of teenage pregnancies on families, but give the girl a chance to continue with her academic studies," says Mboizi.


Mbale Member of Parliament, Connie Nakayenze Galiwango, however, says she will never support legalising abortions, citing it as an 'un-godly' act that terminates human life and likely encourages young people to engage in unprotected sexual relationship without fear of the consequences.

"If a bill proposing to legalise abortion is ever tabled in Parliament, I will speak against its passing into law as long as I am still a Member of Parliament in Uganda," the MP promises.



African church leaders worry about the ‘medicalization’ of FGM

Jan 11, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) International rights groups, churches and activists are escalating campaigns against female genital mutilation now that a new practice has emerged in which girls are checking into hospitals to have the procedure.

In what being referred to as the medicalization of FGM, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are secretly performing the procedures at the request of families.

“Like abortion, they are performing FGM for the money in hospitals and other places,” said the Rev. Richard Nyangoto, a Roman Catholic priest in Kisii County, an area in the country’s southwest where FGM is widely practiced.

“Taking it to hospital does not make it right,” added Nyangoto. “It’s evil.”

Health care providers now perform up to 18 percent of FGM cases and the trend is growing, according to the World Health Organization.

The move to hospitals is driven by the desire to improve hygiene and avoid infection, said Grace Uwizeye, the FGM Program officer at Equality Now, a global women rights organization.

A mix of religious, cultural, and social factors perpetuate the practice. In many communities the partial removal of woman’s external genitalia is part of the traditional rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood.

Traditional circumcisers have often been accused of using unsterilized tools. Immediate consequences include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty passing urine, infection and even death.

In 2014, an Egyptian father and a doctor were acquitted for the murder of a young girl, Soheir al-Batea, who died at the operating table while undergoing FGM.

In Kenya, at least three deaths have been attributed to FGM in 2014. They include 13-year-old Raima Ntagusa who bled to death after undergoing the cut in Kajiado County, south of Nairobi, and 16-year-old Alivina Noel from West Pokot County who bled to death after giving birth because her body had not healed from the cut.

In some cases, girls willingly undergo FGM to conform to family and community demands. Some girls worry they won’t be able to marry unless they undergo the procedure.

FGM has caused friction between Christians and native African cultures, church leaders said.

“Communities claim it’s difficult to stop since the practice is deeply rooted,” said Judith Nyaata, FGM Project coordinator at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya.

Nyaata, who works among the Pokot people of Kenya, said circumcision is treated as part of marriage — women who have undergone the rite can barter for more cows as part of their bride price. During the FGM process, women go into seclusion and are taught about life as wives and mothers. As it concludes and they are returning to society, there is a big celebration.

“The festival involves strong teaching about life and is accompanied by a lot of celebration and feasting, “said Nyaata. “This makes it hard for communities to quit it.”

African governments have unveiled new laws that ban FGM, alongside strategies that protect girls against the harmful practice. More than 20 African countries have such laws in their constitutions.

But little progress has been achieved since 1997 when the pressure to end it started mounting, according to WHO. Rates in most African countries have stayed stable or fallen marginally since then. The organization estimates that over 125 million girls and women in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East have undergone some form of FGM.

“I think we still need more strategies and action to deter this,” said the Rev. Adama Faye, a Lutheran church leader in Senegal, where the cutting is practiced.



Mass wedding to Take Place at the Ijtema Grounds Today in Bangladesh

  Jan 11, 2015

A mass wedding ceremony will be held at the Biswa Ijtema ground today afternoon, to be conducted by Maulana Zubair Hasan.

More than 100 couple will be married to day, without dowry, and in the presence of the brides’ and grooms’ families. A special prayer for the newly-weds will follow afterwards.

The first phase of Biswa Ijtema, one of the biggest congregations of Muslims in the world, started at Tongi on the bank of Turag River yesterday, attended by thousands of Muslim devotees from 32 districts in Bangladesh as well as several countries in the world.

Maulana Gias Uddin, chief maulana of Biswa Ijtema, said Maulana Shawkat Ali, Omar Ali and Abdur Rashid from Bangladesh, Maulana Saad from India, and Maulana Md Ehsan from Pakistan are giving sermons this year, among others.

Sermons at the Ijtema are delivered in several languages to cater to the attendees coming from different countries.

Several organisations, such as Tongi Hospital and the Gazipur civil surgeon’s office, have set up medical camps for the Ijtema attendees.

Dr Mahbubur Rahman Chowdhury from Tongi Hospital said some patients are already being treated for cough, cold, dysentery and asthma.

Around 10,000 members of police and RAB will be in charge of security during the Ijtema.



Fighting sexual harassment: Nepal's women-only buses

 Jan 11, 2015

Nepalese females can now take women-only buses in Kathmandu as the government tries to fight sexual harassment and groping on public transport.

Four 16-seat buses will take women across a popular east-west route, and if the initiative proves successful the government plans to add more.

While there are no official sexual assault statistics in Nepal, police say reports of violence against women have almost quadrupled as the country sees increased awareness of gender crimes.

"There were complaints that women are facing groping and sexual harassment while travelling in crowded buses," said Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, a senior transport ministry official.

The buses will initially have male drivers and only one female would be serving as a conductor. While authorities want to hire more female drivers and conductors, they say they are hard to come by.

"It is safer as well as more comfortable, but the buses must also run when it gets dark and when it is difficult for women to travel," said 17-year-old student Parbati Gurung.

Gurung’s views echo those of most females in the world’s 15 largest capitals who said in a recent survey that they would feel safer in single-sex-areas whilst taking buses and trains.

Inside a women-only bus, pictured above, someone scrawled the words "Seats Reserved for Women".



France's Most-Wanted Woman Has Fled To Syria

 Jan 11, 2015

rance's most-wanted woman has fled to Syria by traveling through Turkey, police sources confirmed to Le Figaro on Saturday. Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, is the suspected female accomplice of three Islamists behind the recent attacks in Paris last week.

Citing intelligence sources, Le Monde and The Wall Street Journal and other outlets are reporting Boumeddiene crossed the border to Spain and flew from Madrid to Istanbul where she crossed into Syria.

Boumeddiene is believed to be the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, who is accused in the murder of a policewoman in France on Thursday. This occurred a day after Cherif and Said Kouachi massacred 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The mugshot provided by the police shows a sleepy-eyed young woman, her face and brown hair showing, whom they had questioned in 2010 about Coulibaly. The police notice, however, warns that she is considered "armed and dangerous."

Police also suspect she might have had a hand in Coulibaly's supermarket hostage-taking, though she was not identified among the dead or wounded. Coulibaly, 32, was a longtime criminal who apparently became a radical Muslim during one of his frequent stints in prison.

He claimed in a brief phone call to French television station BFMTV midway through the supermarket siege that he belonged to the Islamic State jihadist group.

Coulibaly also said he had coordinated his hostage-taking with the other two gunmen, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who claimed separately to BFMTV that they belonged to another fundamentalist group, Al Qaeda in Yemen.

'Married' In 2009

Cherif Kouachi, a 32-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, was said to have pushed Coulibaly, also a French citizen, toward extreme Islam while the two were in prison together.

There was "constant and sustained" communication between Boumeddiene and the girlfriend of Cherif Kouachi, according to Paris's chief prosecutor François Molins, who said "more than 500 calls" were made between the two women in 2014.

Investigators are going through phone records and wiretaps, and other material seized during searches, to determine the extent of the complicity and whether anyone else who might be connected to the gunmen.

But the focus right now is on Boumeddiene.

Coulibaly moved back in with her in May last year when he was released from his last period behind bars.

One of seven children to a mother who died when she was six, Boumeddiene was put into foster care with her young siblings because her father, a delivery man, was unable to take care of them.

She had a religious ceremony in 2009 to "marry" Coulibaly, though such unions are not recognised in France unless preceded by a civil ceremony conducted by local officials, and the couple lived in a modest apartment in the poor suburb south of Paris.

Boumeddiene accompanied Coulibaly several times to a forest in central southern France to fire a crossbow.Le Monde published several photos of the couple holding up the weapon, with Boumeddiene wearing her niqab.

The newspaper Le Parisien said she lost her job as a cashier because she insisted on wearing the top-to-toe Islamic wear known as a niqab.

Her whereabouts are not known, but thousands of police have been deployed to search for her.



Madonna under fire over Charlie Hebdo posts

 Jan 11, 2015

U.S. pop icon Madonna came under fire as she was accused of using the Charlie Hebdo massacre and Paris attacks to promote her album, Britain’s the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The artist used the "#JeSuisCharlie" hashtag, along with “#RebelHeart” the title of her new album, in posts on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

#JeSuisCharlie was created out of solidarity with those killed in an attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“Madonna has been aggressive in the promotion for her new album, but I am surprised that she didn’t realize, or no one advised her, that in the wake of such a senseless attack, self-promotion is definitely prohibited,” quoted a blogger as saying.

“Tell me you just didn't put an advert for your album on that message of solidarity,” one user on Twitter said.

Under her Instagram post, one user said: “I've been a fan since 84 but sorry that's a little f***** up to tag your album.. Cheers.”

Another user commented under the same picture saying “…way to self-promote through a tragedy [sic].”



Russia: Transgenders ‘Ineligible’ To Drive

 Jan 11, 2015

New Russian road safety regulations bar transsexuals, transvestites and others with sexual “disorders” from driving.

The new regulations have been criticised by rights activists, who see them as unconstitutional and part of Russia’s crackdown on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

The government resolution, dated Dec. 29, lists numerous medical conditions that make someone ineligible for a driving license, including “mental and behavioural disorders” as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO classification includes “gender identity disorders” such as trans-sexualism and “disorders of sexual preference,” including fetishism and voyeurism.