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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Sept 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Israel Police Bust ‘Messianic’ Sex Trade Ring

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Sept 2014

UNESCO Chief Says ‘Woman of Courage’ Bangladesh PM Showing the Way


 'I Want Cameron's Head on a Spike': Female British Jihadist

 Islamic State Executes Female Doctors and Politicians

 2-Child Norm for Local Bodies in India Hurts Sex Ratio

 ‘Love Jihad’: Muzaffarnagar Girl Denies Conversion

 Saima Wazed Daughter of Bangladesh PM Wins WHO Award

 ISIS Sex Slave: Yazidi Woman, 17, Describes Horrific Ordeal At Hands Of Islamic State

 Are Saudi Women’s Societies Incapable of Providing Services?

 UNESCO Chief Says ‘Woman of Courage’ Bangladesh PM Showing the Way

 30,000 Syrian Babies Born In Turkey's Border Provinces

 A Jewish Cult Leader with 21 ‘Wives’

 Women 'Insufficiently Competitive,' So Saudi Arabia Selects All-Male Team

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Israel Police Bust ‘Messianic’ Sex Trade Ring

9 September 2014

Israeli police say they have broken a prostitution ring where Jewish women were brainwashed into having sex with non-Jewish men as a path to religious redemption. Court documents seen by AFP on Monday show the prime suspect was an eccentric 60-year-old man from Kiryat Arba, a hard-line settlement in the southern West Bank.

Police say they arrested a group of eight “messianic” men and women who targeted vulnerable women and “prostituted them under the influence of drugs and alcohol.” They told them that having sex specifically with non-Jews would “save the Jewish people and bring about redemption.”

Superintendent Arik Mordechai, who is heading the investigation, told Haaretz newspaper that some 15 women had been recruited, some of whom were believed to be minors. Their “clients” included Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign workers from Tel Aviv, the newspaper said.

The affair was brought to the attention of police by an extremist Israeli group which fights against intermarriage. Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein said the prostitution ring was operational for six to seven years and involved “four or five women.” He said the ringleaders had exploited the women’s gullibility.



'I Want Cameron's Head on a Spike': Female British Jihadist

9 September 2014

A female British jihadist has condemned David Cameron for 'waging wars' against Muslims, saying she wants his 'head on a spike'.

The 18-year-old, who is believed to be living in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, north-east Syria, also hit out at the Prime Minister's plans to prevent British Jihadis from re-entering the country.

She claimed she would not care if she was stripped of her UK citizenship, describing the notion as 'quite laughable'.

It comes amid concerns that a growing number of young women are leaving their families in Britain to join the Jihadi cause in Syria.

Taking to Twitter, the girl wrote: 'Insha Allah [God willing] a day will come when David Camerons head will be on a spike as he continues to wage war on the Awilya [protectors] of Allah... and strike terror in the hearts of the Kuffar.'

She added: 'I really do not understand why Britain is threatening to remove our citizenship like we care lool its actually quiet laughable (sic).'

Although the girl, who uses the handle @UmmKhattab_, has posted photos to the social networking site showing her wearing a Niqab with a gun slung over her shoulder, she is yet to reveal her identity.

In recent weeks, she has also called for the black flag of ISIS to be raised over Downing Street and claimed she is 'excited' at the thought of U.S. soldiers being 'slayed' if an invasion took place.

She has even encouraged other Britons to travel to Syria, saying: 'I might be only 18 but I know coming to Shaam [is] the best decision. Staying in the UK completely diminishes your Islam.'

The jihadist set up her Twitter account on June 27 - just one day after schoolgirl sisters Salma and Zahra Halane fled to Syria.

The 16-year-old twins, who have 28 GCSEs between them, ran away from their family in Chorlton, Greater Manchester, on June 26 for 'paradise' in the war-torn Middle East.

They have vowed never to return home after following their brother to Syria, and are said to have already married ISIS fighters.

Yesterday, it was claimed that female British jihadis are operating a religious police force in Syria that punishes women for 'un-Islamic' behaviour.

The al-Khanssaa brigade is a female-only militia set up by the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, with a key figure believed to be Aqsa Mahmood, 20, of Glasgow, who fled to the country last year.

Academics at King's College London have identified three other British females as members of the group - and say there are about 60 UK women who have gone to Syria on jihad.

Most of these women - including privately-educated Mahmood - are aged between 18 and 24, with al-Khanssaa said to be seeking out people engaging in Western culture in Raqqa.

Melanie Smith, a research associate at King's College's International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, told journalists Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik of The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Al-Khanssaa is a sharia police brigade. This is Isil’s female law enforcement.

'We think it’s a mixture of British and French women but its social media accounts are run by the British and they are written in English.

‘Given how small the community networks are - we know there are about 500 male British jihadis out there - it is quite likely these women move in the same circles as the British killer of Foley and Sotloff.'

Among the British women currently waging jihad in Syria are the Halane twins, mother Khadijah Dare, 22, and Muslim convert Sally Jones, 45, from Chatham, Kent.  

Earlier this month, Mr Cameron unveiled controversial new plans to crack down on jihadists bringing bloodshed to Britain’s streets.

He vowed to introduce measures to bar home-grown fanatics fighting in the Middle East from re-entering the UK, either by stripping them of their passports or stopping them boarding flights back home.

It has been reported that as many as 30 British jihadis are looking at ways of returning to the UK after losing faith with the brutal cause, but fear being imprisoned.



Islamic State Executes Female Doctors and Politicians

9 September 2014

The brutal Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organization has continued its bloody string of executions, this time finding fit to shoot two female doctors to death after they refused to treat members of the terror group.

According to reports six people, including three women, were executed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul by IS terrorists on Saturday publicly and without trial.

Witnesses told AFP that the terrorists broke into the homes of the two female doctors who refused to treat members of their group, as well as the home of a female candidate that ran unsuccessfully in parliamentary elections for the US-backed Iraqi government, shooting all three and taking their bodies with them.

The recent act follows the execution of a female doctor two weeks ago who refused IS's orders to dress "modestly" and cover her face with a traditional Islamic veil.

IS terrorists are also continuing to target political activists who cooperated with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

The method the terrorists use in such cases remains uniform: armed forces arrive at the homes of the politicians and local public figures, shoot them to death right outside their homes, and leave with the body. Occasionally the additional touch of burning the home is mixed into the standard formula to make sure the public "gets the message."

A similar act used to enforce IS rule was recently seen when members of the jihadist group abducted 50 youths from a village where IS flags were burned.

The Islamic State organization is enforcing stringent Sharia (Islamic law), killing those drinking alcohol or not attending public prayer, chopping off the arms and legs of thieves, and crucifying, beheading or shooting to death those charged with cursing Islam or its founder Mohammed, as well as those supporting democracy.

The brutal punishments are carried out in public, before the eyes of hundreds of residents including children.

Responding to the threat posed by IS and similar jihadist groups that seek to conquer the world, Middle East studies expert Dr. David Bukay of the University of Haifa told Arutz Sheva that the world should recognize the dangers of such groups and fight Islam like Nazism.



2-Child Norm for Local Bodies in India Hurts Sex Ratio

9 September 2014

India’s attempt at a China-type population control policy appears to have had drastic but unintended consequences. Laws enacted by State governments in the late 1990s and 2000s restricting political eligibility to candidates with two or less children did reduce family sizes in those States, but severely affected the sex ratio, a new research has found.

Over the period, 11 Indian States passed laws disqualifying persons with more than two children from contesting Panchayat elections. Some States like Bihar, Gujarat and Uttarakhand enacted such laws later, while Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh repealed their laws after 2005. Uttarakhand and Bihar implemented the law only for municipal elections.

In a working paper, economists S. Anukriti from Boston College and Abhishek Chakravarty of the University of Essex looked at seven States — Rajasthan, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra — in which such laws were in effect between 1992 and 2005.

Using data from various rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and District-Level Household Survey (DLHS), the researchers found that there was a marked decline in the number of women in the general population reporting third births exactly one year after the new policy was announced; the first year was a “grace period” in all of the State laws.

This decline was relative to that State’s own history of decline in fertility as well as other States which didn’t enact such laws.

Anti-poor, anti-women laws

Laws enacted by 11 State governments in the late 1990s and 2000s restricting political eligibility to candidates with maximum two children has severely affected the sex ratio, a new research has found.

So did the norm for politicians effect a change in the overall population? “We think that the effect is not so much from a role-model effect via people emulating local leaders, but more from people’s desire to remain eligible for future elections themselves. This is because the decline in fertility begins immediately after the grace period ends, whereas a role-model effect would take some time to become visible,” Dr. Chakravarty explained to The Hindu.

The research by economists S. Anukriti from Boston College and Abhishek Chakravarty of the University of Essex also shows that the enactment of these laws led to the worsening of sex ratio in these States. This was particularly true for upper caste families whose first child was a daughter.

There is evidence that men were divorcing their wives to remain eligible for elections, and that such laws were putting the third children at a disadvantage, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, told The Hindu. “These laws – which are purely political decisions – are completely unacceptable. They are anti-poor and anti-women,” she said. “In a country with such a vast unmet need for family planning measures, which is unable to guarantee the survival of children, it is unacceptable that such laws are imposed,” Ms. Muttreja said. Across the world, data has shown that when women got educated, they reduced fertility themselves without needing laws, she said. Moreover, such laws disproportionately impact the poor whose children have worse chances of survival, Ms. Muttreja said.

In 2009, Chintaram Sahariya, an Adivasi farmer, stood for and won the Sarpanch’s seat in his panchayat – or so he thought. The losing candidate appealed against Mr. Chintaram in Rampur Todiya, a panchayat in Rajasthan’s Baran district, and the latter was disqualified. “I have four sons and admitted as much in my affidavit. I had no idea about the law. The man who appealed against me himself had three children,” he told The Hindu over the phone. “You will not find a Sahariya with less than four children,” Mr. Chintaram said. “So should all of us quit politics?”



‘Love Jihad’: Muzaffarnagar Girl Denies Conversion

9 September 2014

The Muzaffarnagar police gave a clean chit to a youth, who was accused of kidnapping and forcibly converting an 18-year-old girl. The statement by the police came after the girl denied that Pervez, her alleged boyfriend, kidnapped her or tried to convert her. The youth and the girl belong to different communities.

The case came to light after BJP MP Yogi Adityanath raised the issue of ‘love jihad.’ According to the police, the girl, in her statement in a local court, said she was not kidnapped or raped as alleged by her parents. She also said that she had gone with Pervez out of her own will.

The girl and Pervez had eloped on August 25, allegedly because of opposition from their families to their relationship. The girl’s family had lodged a complaint against six persons, including Pervez, his mother Praveen and brother Savaiz for kidnapping the girl.



Saima Wazed Daughter of Bangladesh PM Wins WHO Award

9 September 2014

Saima Wazed Hossain, daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has won an award of the World Health Organization for her contributions to the fight against neuro-development disorder and autism.

WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh will hand over the “South-East Asia Region Award for Excellence in Public Health”, introduced this year, at a reception at 7:30pm tomorrow.

“We congratulate her on behalf of the health and family welfare ministry,” Health Minister Mohammed Nasim told a press conference at the capital's Sonargaon Hotel.

He made the announcement while briefing reporters about the four-day South-East Asia Regional Conference of WHO, beginning at the hotel tomorrow.

Saima, nicknamed Putul, is a school psychologist in the United Sates. WHO appointed her an expert adviser on mental health in June.

Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh, she has played a critical role in creating South Asian Autism Network (SAAN).

She also led campaigns for the passage of a resolution on autism in the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland this year.

Nasim said 11 health ministers of the South-East Asia region would attend the 32nd meeting to discuss ways of addressing vector-borne diseases and adopt the Dhaka declaration on the issue. This will be followed by the 67th session of the WHO South-East Asia Regional Committee, to review progress of the World Health Assembly resolutions.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, and Dr Poonam will attend the meetings.

The regional committee's sessions will feature traditional medicines, health workforce education, universal health coverage, and civil registration.

Mohammed Nasim said Bangladesh would sign a memorandum of understanding with India on traditional medicines, and another with the Maldives on the latter's recruiting physicians and importing drugs from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh will also sign MoUs with some other countries on Kala-azar, a fatal parasitic disease of internal organs, he said.



ISIS Sex Slave: Yazidi Woman, 17, Describes Horrific Ordeal At Hands Of Islamic State

9 September 2014

A teenager taken captive by ISIS has described being forced into sexual slavery by the Islamist terrorists along with 40 other women, some as young as 12.

Islamic State fighters are killing and enslaving members of Iraq's ancient religious minorities, including Assyrian Christians and the Yazidis.

The 17-year-old Yazidi, who is still in captivity, said her torturers were "people without a heart" who "do not even spare the women with small children".

She claimed the women in her group of captives - all Yazidis - were being sexually abused on a daily basis, while being held in a building with barred windows and guarded by armed men.

"I beg you not to publish my name because I'm so ashamed of what they are doing to me," she told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper in an exclusive report.

"There's a part of me that just wants to die. But there is another part of me that still hopes that I will be saved and that I will be able to embrace my parents once again."

The paper was given a mobile number for the girl by her parents, who are in a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The distraught teenager added: "To hurt us even more, they told us to describe in detail to our parents what they are doing. They laugh at us because they think they are invincible.

"They consider themselves are supermen. But they are people without a heart. Our torturers do not even spare the women who have small children with them.

"Nor do they spare the girls - some of our group are not even 13 years old. Some of them will no longer say a word."

The girl was captured by ISIS in August as they attacked the town of Sinjar, forcing many Yazidi families to flee into the adjacent mountain range and face starvation and death by dehydration rather capture or execution by the fanatics.

Though most of those there ultimately escaped, many were captured by the group, which has been accused of committing ethnic cleansing in Iraq on a historic scale.

ISIS has also been forcibly converting Yazidis, whose faith dates back 4,000 years, to Islam.

The girl, whom the paper gave the pseudonym Mayat, said she wished she was dead.

"They treat us as if we are their slaves. The men hit us and threaten us when we try to resist. Often I wish that they would beat me so severely that I would die," she said.

"If one day this torture ever ends, my life will always be marked by what I have suffered in these weeks. Even if I survive, I don't know how I'm going to cancel from my mind this horror.

"We've asked our jailers to shoot us dead, to kill us, but we are too valuable for them.

"They keep telling us that we are unbelievers because we are non-Muslims and that we are their property, like war booty. They say we are like goats bought at a market."

Mayat is being held in a village south of Mosul, Iraq's second city, which fell to ISIS shortly after they pushed into Iraq.

She said she had hoped the Peshmerga Kurdish forces, which have been fighting ISIS with assistance from American airstrikes, would rescue her.

She said: "I want them to hurry up and drive them all out, because I don't know how much longer I can stand this. They've already killed my body. Now they're killing my mind."

After more than 3,000 women were abducted into slavery by ISIS in just two weeks, human rights campaigners Amnesty international told The Daily Mirror: “The victims are of all ages.

"It seems they took away entire families, all those who did not manage to flee.”

Last month two UN officials issued a joint statement on the "barbaric acts" of sexual violence committed by ISIS fighters.

"We condemn, in the strongest terms, the explicit targeting of women and children and the barbaric acts the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control, and we remind all armed groups that acts of sexual violence are grave human rights violations that can be considered as war crimes and crimes against humanity," Nickolay Mladenov, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq and Zainab Hawa Bangura, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, said.

The statement, reported by Newsweek, cited evidence of "savage rapes" being used as weapons of war against women and teenage boys and girls belonging to the Yazidi, Christian, Turkomen and Shabak minority groups in Iraq.

Academic and Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari has said ISIS allow their followers to rape captured girls and women as a "reward".

"ISIS has received considerable world attention for its savage beheadings, executions of captured soldiers and men in conquered towns and villages, violence against Christians and Shiites, and the destruction of non-Sunni shrines and places of worship," she blogged for the Wall Street Journal.

"But its barbarity against women has been treated as a side issue. Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS’s systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women.

"To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves."

Amnesty International spokeswoman Donatella Rovera, who is in Iraq, told Huffington Post UK that, though the charity had not verified any cases of women suffering sexual abuse at the hands of ISIS, she said there was evidence that captured women were under "strong pressure to convert to Islam and strong pressure to marry (ISIS) fighters".



Are Saudi Women’s Societies Incapable of Providing Services?

9 September 2014

DAMMAM – After nearly 65 years since the beginning of organized charitable work through the Ministry of Social Affairs, only 1 percent of the 591 registered societies are run exclusively by women.

Women’s societies, run only by female employees, have been accused of being unprofessional and not providing enough substantial services because they focus on providing assistance rather than contributing to development.

Social activist Naseema Al-Sadah is of the view that the role of women’s societies, like all charitable societies, is restricted to charitable work including providing financial assistance and a little training for needy women.

She said the work of these societies is limited and its effect does not meet society’s needs as a whole.

The charitable work of these societies needs to be specialized and more professional, she said.

Professor of sociology at King Abdul-Aziz University and head of the studies and research team at Iktifa Women’s Society Su’ad Afif said women’s societies in the Kingdom have been exerting great effort since their establishment.

Their activities include social, rehabilitative, educational, health, recreational, cultural and development services, she said.

She claimed these organizations provided care to women with special needs at a time when there were no centres to provide such programs and activities.

She said: “These societies were not established to avoid playing a role in society.

“On the contrary, they provide social services depending on their financial capabilities.”

Chairwoman of Al-Awamiyah Charitable Society’s women’s committee, Sabah Al-Qasim, defended the charitable work of women.

She said that dismissing their work as unsubstantial was a false accusation and easily refuted by her experience of 10 years in the field.

Al-Qassim added: “We are working within a social service institution affiliated to the Ministry of Social Affairs.

“We have subjected our activities and programs to a strategic plan before carrying them out.

“We have also drawn up a vision that takes into consideration the developmental needs of several segments of society.”



UNESCO Chief Says ‘Woman of Courage’ Bangladesh PM Showing the Way

9 September 2014

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a ‘woman of courage’ and lauded her role in empowerment of the women and girl children.

Handing over the UNESCO ‘Peace Tree’ memento to her in Dhaka on Monday, Bokova said Hasina ‘is a strong voice’ on the globe in their empowerment.

The prime minister was presented with the Peace Tree at an international conference, marking the International Literacy Day, in recognition of her contribution to education and empowerment of women.

The Bangladesh government and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) organised the conference titled 'Foundation for Sustainable Development: Girls Literacy and Education' at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

Apart from several Cabinet ministers, the event was attended by representatives from different countries including the education minister of Ecuador Augusto Espinosa, and deputy education minister of Burkina Faso.

Bokova recognised Hasina as a "close friend of the UNESCO" who is a "strong advocate on world stage in girls and women education".

The UNESCO chief said she was honoured to have been joined by Hasina in launching the Global Partnership for Girls and Women Education in 2011.

Bokova said it was Hasina's able leadership that made Bangladesh a champion in the field of ‘global education first initiative’.

She said the award was ‘a symbol of understanding peace and freedom’.

Hasina dedicated it to the women of the world.

The prime minister said her government believed that only proper education could make a woman self-reliant ‘socially, psychologically and economically’.

Education could give the women courage to stand against injustice and discriminatory behaviours, she said while highlighting Bangladesh’s progress in the sector.

She said government measures to improve education quality bolstered the students' confidence.

“The pass rate in public examination is 92 percent," the prime minister said. "Our aim is to take it to at least 98 percent in future.”

Hasina identified educating every child, especially girls, as "one of the biggest challenges" for the world.

She said Bangladesh pulled itself out of the situation that had hampered girls' education.

Earlier, the prime minister handed over the 'UNESCO Literacy Award 2014' to seven representatives of six countries including the USA, Spain, South Africa and Algeria which are champions in mass literacy.



30,000 Syrian babies born in Turkey's border provinces

9 September 2014

Some 30,000 Syrian children have been born in Turkish cities where there are refugee camps since the beginning of the war more than three years ago. Another 30,000 Syrian babies are believed to have been born in various other provinces of Turkey.

As of August 2014, some 1,370,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Turkey since the civil war began in Syria. Out of these, 220,000 people were accommodated in 24 refugee camps set up in 10 provinces.

According to a UNICEF report, 5.5 million children have been affected by the civil war in Syria; while 10,000 children have died. A total of 8,000 children have lost their parents and family in the civil war.

More than 1.2 million children, 450,000 of them in Turkey, have left their country to become refugees in neighboring countries.

220,000 refugees in camps

According to information provided by officials of the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), about 30,000 babies have been born in these camps or in the cities outside camps. The births of these children cannot be registered in their own countries, but AFAD recorded them so that they can enjoy some rights, especially basic health services. The children have also been provided identification cards.

On the other hand, there is no clear information about the number of babies born outside the refugee camps. Officials believe another 30,000 babies have been born to Syrian refugee families in other provinces of Turkey. 

The children born in camps have become hope for their families and most of them have been given the Arabic names for spring, peace and hope. Many families have given their children Turkish names to show their gratitude to Turkey.

More than 25,000 refugees live in the tent city called the Süleyman Şah Social Facilities in the border town of Akçakale set up in August 2012. Pregnant women have routine health checks and are taken to Şanlıurfa Hospital for births. Baby food, diapers and a cradle are provided to the families after birth.

In Akçakale, in the first eight months of this year, 926 babies were born. The number of babies born since the camp was set up in August 2012 is 4,001. Some of them have left the camp.

The newest resident of the camp is an 11-day-old baby girl named İlef.

Also, Abdülkerim and Emel Vardi’s second child, a baby boy named Leys Vardi, was born on May 1. The couple are thankful to Turkey and they said they were safe here. “We are so used to here, we feel like we are Turkish. But we want to go back to our country.”

Another couple, Amir and Meryem Mirshagh, came from Syria with their seven children last year, and their eighth was born on May 22. Amir Mishagh said, “Our children now speak Turkish. We are waiting for the day peace will come to Syria.”

Syrian Teheni Gazel is just 20 years old, but she already has two children, the second one born in Turkey. She and her husband live in Reyhanlı in Hatay, and they named their second baby after First Lady Emine Erdoğan.

The 24 camps in Turkey include Hatay (Altınözü, Boynuyoğun, Apaydın, Yayladağı-1, Yayladağı-2), Gaziantep (İslâhiye, Karkamış, Nizip-1, Nizip-2), Kilis (Öncüpınar, Elbeyli, Seve), Şanlıurfa (Ceylanpınar, Akçakale, Harran, Viranşehir), Osmaniye (Cevdetiye, Düziçi), Kahramanmaraş, Mardin (Midyat, Nusaybin), Adıyaman, Adana (Sarıçam) and Malatya.



A Jewish cult leader with 21 ‘wives’

9 September 2014

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – An Israeli cult leader alleged by prosecutors to have kept 21 wives under his spell for years was convicted on Monday of sexual crimes but acquitted of charges of enslavement.

The suspect, Goel Ratzon, 64, had denied the allegations, which prosecutors described as a “mind-boggling” saga of dominance and delusions.

Ratzon, whose first name means “redeemer,” kept 21 wives and 38 children in various homes around Tel Aviv, according to the indictment.

A Tel Aviv court convicted him of sex offenses that included rape and indecent assault over the indictment said was “many years.” Some of his daughters were among the victims, according to the verdict, distributed by the Justice Ministry. Ratzon’s sentence will be handed down later.

The court found him not guilty of holding people in conditions of slavery.

Ratzon had argued that the women, many of whom had his name and portrait tatooed on their bodies, lived with him on their own accord.



Women 'Insufficiently Competitive,' Saudi Arabia Selects All-Male Team for Asian Games

9 September 2014

REUTERS - Saudi Arabia has failed to include a single female athlete in its 199-strong team for the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea, saying its women are not sufficiently competitive.

The Saudi stance sparked criticism from Human Rights Watch, which condemned its all-male line-up, saying the ultra-conservative state was shutting the door on female athletes, having previously shown signs of wanting to break down barriers.

Saudi authorities were widely applauded for including two women in their team for the 2012 London Olympics, a symbolic first for the Islamic kingdom.

But just over two years later, the oil-rich nation has opted not to pick any females for the 17th Asian Games, to be held in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.

Mohammed al-Mishal, the secretary-general of Saudi Arabia's Olympic Committee, told Reuters that Saudi Arabia was committed to sending female athletes to the next Olympics, but said they were not yet competitive enough for Asian Games.

"Technically, we weren't ready to introduce any ladies and the new president of our Olympic committee (Prince Abdullah bin Musaed bin Abdulaziz) rejected sending women to only participate, he wanted them to compete," said Mishal.

"We will be having women in Rio de Janeiro on a good scale, but not at the Asian Games."

Mishal said Prince Abdullah, who was appointed Saudi Arabia's General President of Youth Welfare this year, had discussed his country's plans with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"He doesn't like seeing them (female Saudi athletes) being always the last (place). He wants to do it right and he already communicated this to (IOC President) Thomas Bach," said Mishal.

"We are obliged for Saudi ladies to participate and we will do our duty in a manner that doesn't contradict with the major rules of the kingdom."

No comment

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), which organizes the Asian Games, said that while it fully encouraged the participation of women, it did not comment on team selections.

"OCA clearly wants as much female participation as possible in Asian Games. We try to encourage all countries to send their top female athletes," OCA secretary general Randhir Singh told Reuters.

"Some of the west Asian countries have started sending (women) and we encourage it.

"The women athletes of the region have been doing extremely well in Olympic Games and world championships, and their numbers in Asian Games have also gone up."

Qatar and Brunei, which also included female athletes at the London Olympics for the first time, have both picked female competitors for the Asian Games.

Of the 45 competing countries at the multi-sports event - which sports the slogan "Diversity Shines Here" - only Saudi Arabia failed to include both genders.

Last month, Saudi Arabia also failed to select a single female athlete for its team at the Youth Olympics in China, even though it had done so four years earlier when Dalma Rushi Malhas won an equestrian bronze medal.

Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, called on the IOC to act, saying Saudi females should be able to compete at the Asian Games to help prepare for the Olympics.

"The next summer Games are only two years away and it would be a real failure for the IOC and global sport if there is another crisis of women's participation," she told Reuters from New York.

"That is something the IOC can and must act on now."

Social reforms

Human Rights Watch has closely monitored the state of women's sport in Saudi Arabia and welcomed the introduction of social reforms.

A year ago King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the 150-member Shoura Council. Last year, the world's top oil exporter officially lifted a ban on sports in private girls' schools - a groundbreaking rule for a state where women are banned from driving and need formal permission from male relatives to leave the country, start a job or open a bank account.

Saudi Arabia's appointed Shoura Council, which advises the government on policy, also asked the education ministry to look into including sports for girls in state-run schools with the proviso they should conform to sharia rules on dress and gender segregation.

But the country's cautious social reforms to improve women's rights have also been met with resistance from religious conservatives, who fear the kingdom is losing its Islamic values in favour of Western ideas.

Adam Coogle, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said progress was being made but was slow.

"There are a lot of serious reformists who want to see change but it takes a lot of time, months and years, to get the smallest changes," he told Reuters.

"But more or less, things are moving in the right direction and I think international pressure does have an impact. They are starting to care more about what people think about them but it's a tight balancing act."

No medals

Under pressure from the international community, Saudi Arabia picked two athletes for the London Olympics - judoka Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and teenage 800 metre runner Sarah Attar.

Neither won a medal but Mishal said Saudi Arabia was planning a bigger female contingent for Rio.

"We're focusing on equestrian, fencing, shooting and archery - sports that are accepted culturally and religiously in Saudi Arabia. Women were doing these sports even 1,000 years ago," he said.

"Our ladies will be there, accompanied by their husbands or parents or brothers and this is the way we do it when women travel."

The local organizing committee for the Asian Games, a competition held every four years dating back to 1951, said it was up to each competing team to nominate their competitors.

"It is Saudi Arabia's decision who they will send and we respect their decision and freedom of choice," an official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.