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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 18 Apr 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Joyous Kabul Girl Skateboarders Defy War, Light up London Exhibition

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 Apr 2015 

The young girl is all set before firing from the machine gun at an undisclosed location.


 Young Kurdish Girl Fires a Machine Gun, Claims She Has Killed 400 ISIS Men

 Malala on Times’ 100 Most Influential People’s List

 Nigerian Schoolgirls Who Escaped From Boko Haram Offer Hope to Captives: ' Always Believe in God, That God Is There for You'

 Extremist Groups Dominate Use of Sexual Violence In Conflict

 Tanzanian Woman Wins Landmark Case over Childbirth Operation

 Honour Killings on Rise in Pakistan - Report

 Second Indonesian Woman Is Executed In Saudi Arabia

 Wedding Behind the Bars in Palestine

 Mrs Imran Khan Asks Women to Strive For High Position in Society

 Iran Gives Women a Much-Needed Breakthrough

 Melbourne Grandparents’ Desperate Plea for Jihadi Bride to Bring Back Kids from Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Joyous Kabul girl skateboarders defy war, light up London exhibition

18 April, 2015

LONDON, April 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Wearing scarves under helmets that look too big for little girls' heads, and knee protectors strapped over colourful dresses, the Afghan girls on skateboards seem a world away from the insurgency battering their country.

The skateboards may have seen better times, but the photographs in this London exhibition catch the joy and passion in the eyes of the girls riding them, casting away the hazards of life outside the skateboard park they visit several times a week.

"I've always felt from the start that the girls are the story," Jessica Fulford-Dobson, who photographed the Kabul skateboarders, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday.

"It was wonderful to come uplifted from ... a part of the world you only hear the grim news from."

Fulford-Dobson first photographed the girls in June 2013, after approaching Skateistan, a non-profit which uses skateboarding as one of the ways of empowering Afghan youth through sport and education.

"I felt very privileged that they chose me," said Fulford-Dobson, for whom it was an eye-opening trip in many ways.

"I remember one morning I heard a rumbling and I thought it was thunder because I had never heard bombs before."

Fulford-Dobson won 2nd prize in the Taylor-Wessing Photographic Portrait competition in 2014 with 'Skate girl', one of the portraits from "Skate girls of Kabul" that are displayed in the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London this month.

"It's very rare that you go somewhere where there are 300 girls a week skateboarding," Fulford-Dobson said.

"They arrive, the minibus picks them up, they come running in excited. More excited than your average school child because ... the other days they're just working in the streets."

More than half the students who come to Skateistan are from low-income families and 40 percent of them are girls, some working in the streets.

"You can see by their hands when you look closely, the hands are a telltale sign that these girls are doing a lot of manual work in between their schooling," Fulford-Dobson said.

While some of the girls look like little rebels, others look as if they're having the best time of their life. Some already show signs of leadership that Fulford-Dobson said is what the project aims to nurture.

"When you watch them skateboarding you see they are natural leadership material and have the power to say 'Move away, I'm coming through'. The others are looking up to them," she said. (Reporting By Magdalena Mis; Editing by Tim Pearce)



Young Kurdish girl fires a machine gun, claims she has killed 400 ISIS men

18 April, 2015

Kurdish female fighters have been in news for battling Islamic State (IS) jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobane. But this particular video of a young Kurdish girl firing a machine gun has gone viral.

In the video the girl can be seen talking to man while sitting next to a machine gun. The gun is loaded and she fires several shots.

Speaking in an Arabic language, the video shows the young girl dressed in a pink dress and is saying "shooting at Daesh."

She is simply firing rounds one after one in a desert without targetting anyone.

According to Live Leak report, the girl boasts about killing 400 men as she shows four fingers when asked how many ISIS fighters have been killed.



Malala on Times’ 100 most influential people’s list

18 April, 2015

NEW YORK: Pakistan’ nobel laureate, education activist, Malala Yousafzai once again made it to the list of the Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.

The list includes US President Barack Obama and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mrs Hillary Clinton, Cuban leader Raul Castro, Presidential contender Jeb Bush, Judge Of US Supreme Court, Ruth Bader

Ginsburg and Pope Francis are also on the list.

The Time Magazine said the list also includes Hollywood celebrities “some names you’d expect, it also features some that may surprise you: Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Bradley Cooper among them”.



Nigerian Schoolgirls Who Escaped From Boko Haram Offer Hope to Captives: 'Always Believe in God, That God Is There for You'

18 April, 2015

Four Chibok girls, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014 and later escaped, acting as silent witnesses during a Hudson Institute discussion on Boko Haram in Washington D.C. on March 23, 2015.

One year after Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram raided an all-girls school in Chibok, Nigeria, and took 200 young girls captive, three of them who managed to escape are now offering hope to the remaining captives, with a message that God is there for them.

"The message is be brave and courageous," said Deborah, one of the three escapee escapees who spoke to Al-Jazeera marking the one year anniversary of the event which drew international attention. "Be a hard worker and always believe in God, that whatever you are going through, God is there for you, He will help you. Have ambition that you are great and you were made to be a great person."

Boko Haram, reportedly targeted the school because it was educating young women, including 163 Christians and 15 Muslims. The organization wants to establish an Islamic caliphate and return to Sharia law, often described as oppressive to women and girls.

"Chibok local government is 90 percent Christian," Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna, told the group International Christian Concern. The "majority of the girls abducted are Christian! Why did Boko Haram visit Chibok local government? Why didn't they visit so many other local government girls' secondary schools in Borno State?"

The other escapees, Mary and Blessing now attend the University of Nigeria in Yola with Deborah and want to effect changes in their community.

"I want some changes in Chibok, like the environment," Blessing told Al Jazeera. "I want to be a lawyer. I want to fight for justice."

Mary wants to "become a medical doctor" and "to go to Chibok and build clinics and hospitals because we don't have educated doctors there. I will try hard."

Deborah also wants to go back to Chibok and help the people of her hometown, to empower them to rise up and be able to fight if necessary. Mainly, however, she wants to continue countering Boko Haram's message of keeping women uneducated.

"It was said that if you educate a girl, you educate the whole nation," she explained. "It is very important. They haven't stopped me. That's why I am going back when I graduate. The education there is very poor. So I want to help by building a school. I want to empower women by creating centers that will teach them things."

Leaders from Boko Haram have said the missing girls have been converted to Islam and married off to locals.

"I abducted your girls," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video released in May and translated by CNN. "I will sell them in the market, by Allah. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."

In another video released in November, Shekau asked, "Don't you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorized two chapters of the Quran. We married them off. They are in their marital homes. If you knew the state your daughters are in today, it might lead some of you … to die from grief."

Despite efforts from local government and assistance from the United States, the girls were not located, leading to international outrage and frustration. Numerous people gathered on April 14 and 15 to remember those who have not been found and are still being held by Boko Haram, which has led a war on Nigeria's government for over five years now and targeting Christians.



Extremist groups dominate use of sexual violence in conflict

18 April, 2015

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Armed extremist groups are now using sexual violence more than government-controlled groups in what is a "catastrophic" new trend in war zones, the United Nations expert on sexual violence and conflict said.

The groups include Boko Haram in Nigeria, al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in Mali and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

The development is "a catastrophic new trend of the use of sexual violence as a 'tactic of terror' by extremist groups", she said.

And, since these groups are non-state actors operating outside the rule of international law - and include fighters from many different countries - bringing them to justice poses a major challenge, she said.

Bangura spoke in prepared remarks to the U.N. Security Council on April 15 as that body met to discuss findings from the just-released 2015 annual report by the U.N. secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict.

While the report said sexual violence committed by state actors remains of "grave concern" in countries like Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Congo, it bluntly stated that "non-state actors account for the vast majority of incidents".

The report "for the first time articulates how sexual violence is integrally linked with the strategic objectives, ideology and funding of extremist groups", Bangura said.

Earlier in the week, Bangura spoke about this new challenge on a panel in New York following a screening of a BBC Arabic documentary, "Slaves of the Caliphate", which chronicles the sexual and other violence perpetrated on civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan by Islamic State militants.

"This is a problem the world has never faced," Bangura said of the prospect of bringing extremist perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict to justice.

It's one thing to bring commanders of state armed forces or state-sponsored groups to the International Criminal Court (ICC), she said.

But it's unclear what should happen to the fighters of "100 nationalities" joining extremist groups in places like Iraq and Syria, who include Australians, French, British and Americans, she said.

Should these foreign fighters be brought before the ICC, should they be tried in the country where the human rights violation was committed, or should they be tried in their home countries, she asked.

There is also a question of whether there are the proper legal tools in place for successful prosecutions, she added.

Dealing with non-state actors also poses challenges to NGOs trying to assist the victims of sexual violence, said panelist Karen Scriven, senior director for youth, gender and girls at Mercy Corps, a global aid agency for people affected by disaster and conflict.

The dangers posed by extremist groups have limited aid agencies' access to victims and constrained their ability to provide services, she said.

Meanwhile, the brutality of sexual violence in conflict was vividly portrayed in the BBC documentary. It focused on the plight of the Yazidi people, a religious minority in Iraqi Kurdistan, at the hands of Islamic State extremists who consider them devil worshippers.

The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that is a combination of Sufi Islam and Zoroastrianism and considered heretical by fundamentalist Sunni Muslims.

The Islamic State is believed to have kidnapped thousands of Yazidi women and girls, often raping them, forcing them into marriage with fighters, selling them into slavery or killing them if they refused to convert to Sunni Islam.

"There is no horror I haven't witnessed," said one Yazidi woman in the film. She described seeing Yazidi girls being bought, three and four at a time, as slaves.

Like others interviewed, she had escaped, been ransomed or released from captivity.

A pregnant woman described the women and men being separated when the Islamic State fighters came into their village. They told the men to lie down and then shot them to death, including her 24-year-old husband, she said.

"Then each Islamic State fighter took the hand of a Yazidi girl and led her away," she said. "It was harder than facing death."

The documentarians estimated that some 300 or more Yazidi women and girls have escaped or been released or ransomed from captivity since August 2014, but another 2,600 remain captives of the Islamic State.



Tanzanian woman wins landmark case over childbirth operation

18 April, 2015

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A woman left unable to have children after a defective caesarean section operation in Tanzania has won a landmark case against a local hospital whose surgeon left a piece of cloth inside her.

Mwamini Adam and her husband filed a lawsuit at the high court in western Tabora region against Urambo District Council's hospital four years ago, demanding 500 million Tanzanian Shillings ($265,000) for physical and emotional distress.

Adam, 37, accused Jacob Kamanda, a gynaecologist and obstetrician at the district hospital, of professional negligence and misconduct after he left a piece of cloth in her stomach after performing a caesarean section operation.

She told the court her condition deteriorated within days of the operation on January 6, 2011, in which her baby survived.

"I was very ill and constantly discharging pus. It was a terrible blow to my family since I could no longer engage in my daily activities," she said.

She said the defective operation meant she can no longer give birth because doctors performing a life-saving corrective operation decided to remove her uterus.

Pregnancy and childbirth are among the biggest dangers faced by rural women in Tanzania due to a shortage of qualified doctors and lack of quality health care and maternity services.

Tanzania is one of a list of African nations that have the world's highest rates of maternal mortality. For every 100,000 live births, 454 women die of childbirth-related complications, according to UNICEF data.

Delivering the verdict this week, High Court Judge Amir Mruma said the court was convinced Adam suffered significantly due to negligence by one of the hospital's doctors and ordered hospital owner, Urambo District Council, to pay compensation.

Lawyers for Adam said this was the first time in Tanzania that a court had ruled in favour of a woman whose life was put in danger by defective surgery related to childbirth.

The judge ruled the council pay 25 million Tanzanian Shillings with accumulated interest to Adam and her husband and also cover the costs of the law suit.



Honour killings on rise in Pakistan - report

18 April, 2015

LAHORE (Thomson Reuters Foundation)-- Honour killings of women and girls in Pakistan increased in 2014, while rape and some other forms of violence against women posted significant declines, a leading human rights group said on Friday.

In its 2014 annual report, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said honour killings in Pakistan rose to 1,005 in 2014, a 15 percent increase over 869 such murders in the prior year.

Illegal in Pakistan since 2004, honour killings are a long-standing customary practice usually committed by family members and are not always reported. They usually take place when a woman, or more rarely, a man, is perceived to have disgraced the family in some way, including conducting an unapproved romantic relationship, marrying without permission or refusing to consent to an arranged marriage.

According to the report, cases in 2014 included family members bludgeoning Farzana Iqbal, a pregnant woman, to death outside the high court in Lahore for marrying without their approval.

HRCP researchers found a decline in reported rapes and incidents involving acid attacks. In 2014, 828 women and girls were raped, down from 2,703 in 2013 and there were 105 acid attacks on women and girls compared with 150 incidents in the prior year.

Human rights campaigners said, however, that violence against Pakistani women is rampant and perpetrators are too rarely arrested or prosecuted.

Although Pakistan has passed legislation to eliminate violence against women, honour killings continue to target women and girls and represent a crime that largely goes unpunished, said Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist.

In a report released earlier this month, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a nonprofit organisation that researches issues involving conflict, said violence against women was still endemic in Pakistan amid a climate of impunity and state inaction.

According to Samina Ahmed, ICG South Asia project director, discriminatory laws and a dysfunctional criminal justice system leave women in Pakistan at grave risk.

“The federal and provincial governments should support new legislation and implement existing (laws) to empower and protect women,” said Ahmed.

he HRCP report came to much the same conclusion. It urged that where laws do not exist they should be adopted and current laws should be implemented to reduce incidences of child marriage, forced religious conversions, honour killings, domestic violence, acid attacks and other crimes of violence against women.



Second Indonesian woman is executed in Saudi Arabia

18 April, 2015

Saudi Arabia has executed an Indonesian domestic worker, two days after beheading another Indonesian woman.

In the latest case, Karni Binti Medi Tarsim was convicted of murdering a child in her care, the Indonesian foreign ministry told the BBC.

In both cases Indonesia's government summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Jakarta in protest.

Indonesia is due to execute several foreigners convicted of drug crimes, despite international criticism.

Thursday's execution in western Saudi Arabia came two days after Siti Zainab was beheaded for murder.

In neither case, Indonesia says, was advanced given to its consular staff in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement about Tarsim's case, the Indonesian foreign ministry expressed "regret and disappointment" that its representatives had obtained no information about the time, place or method of execution - even though an Indonesian official visited her a day before the sentence was carried out.

Officials say the 37-year-old stabbed a four-year-old boy to death in the city of Yanbu in 2012. The victim's family refused to have her sentence commuted as they are entitled to do under Islamic law.

"The government of Indonesia has done its utmost to provide legal protection and has sought forgiveness from the victim's family with the aim of getting Tarsim's death sentence commuted," the foreign ministry said.

Migrant Care, an NGO that campaigns on behalf of Indonesian expatriate workers, alleged that Zainab had been acting in self-defence against an employer who had abused her.

Amnesty International said she had made a "confession" during police interrogation but she had had no legal representation or access to a consular representative.

Indonesia itself resumed executions in 2013 after a four-year moratorium. None were carried out during 2014, but six people, including five foreigners, were put to death in January.



Wedding behind the bars in Palestine

World Bulletin / News Desk

18 April, 2015

Reem Abu Wahdan, a Palestinian woman, will wear her white wedding dress on July 27 – even though her husband-to-be will not be there to share the joy of the moment.

Reem, 18, will visit her mother-in-law in the occupied West Bank on that day to marry a man who is behind bars inside an Israeli jail.

While the husband-to-be will not be there – on that day or for many more days to come – but Reem nevertheless feels extremely proud.

"This is the least I can do for a man who sacrificed his entire life behind bars for the Palestinian cause," Reem told The Anadolu Agency.

The last time Reem saw her husband-to-be, Mahmoud, in person, was in 2002, when she was only five years old.

A short time later, he was locked up by Israel for allegedly planning to carry out attacks on Israeli targets.

He was slapped with three life sentences and an additional 30 years of imprisonment.

-Ray of hope-

When Mahmoud's mother approached Reem to make a marriage proposal on behalf of her jailed son, the 18-year-old Gaza Strip resident was overjoyed.

For her, being engaged to a symbol of the Palestinian resistance against Israel's decades-long occupation is a source of pride.

"I just want to give him the message that imprisonment will not last forever," Reem said. "Hope and determination can do anything."

On July 27, after officially documenting her marriage to Mahmoud, Reem will attend a wedding ceremony, even though the groom will not be present.

The following day, Mahmoud's mother will visit him in jail to give him the engagement ring, upon which Reem's name is engraved.

-On tenterhooks-

Reem says she cannot wait for the marriage to be officially documented so she can visit Mahmoud in prison after obtaining permission from the Israeli authorities.

She says she is ready to wait for him until he serves out his sentence.

"I will wait for him until he is free and victorious," she declared.

She voices hope that Mahmoud will be included in a future prisoner swap between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel.

Reem's father voices similar sentiments, stressing that imprisonment does not last forever.

"My daughter and I are happy because we managed to make my nephew [Mahmoud] happy in prison," the father said.




Mrs Imran Khan Asks Women to Strive For High Position in Society

18 April, 2015

MARDAN: Reham Khan, wife of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, asked women to come forward and get a high position in the society through maximum participation in different sectors of life.

She was speaking as chief guest at the concluding ceremony of women’s cricket tournament in Mardan. “Being a woman I know better that women have great talent and competency to get a very high position in the society if they are provided opportunities and required facilities,” she said, adding that women were often ignored and they did not pay heed to get advantage of their talents.

She said that organising a women’s cricket tournament on the Pakhtun soil had proved wrong the general perception of the outside world that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had negative thoughts about women.

Mrs Khan asked women to take part in positive activities outside their homes besides making themselves good mothers.

Gives away prizes at women’s cricket tournament final

The final match of the first “Mrs Malik Saad Invitation Women Gold Cup Cricket Tournament” was played between women’s teams of Mardan and Peshawar districts on the ground of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKU M) here.

Mardan defeated Peshawar by five runs to lift the trophy.

The tournament was organised by Malik Saad Shaheed Memorial Sports Trust in collaboration with AWKUM. Teams of Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad, Charsadda and Haripur took part in the tournament. On this occasion, provincial minister for education Mohammad Atif Khan said that the PTI-led provincial government was committed to providing education and health facilities to girl students as well as women of the province.

He said that paperwork was in the final stages for establishing a women’s university in Mardan which would also benefit the residents of adjacent districts.

“The provincial government is going to organise an international festival in Mardan in the next couple of weeks,” he said, adding that it would remove the negative impression regarding deteriorating law and order situation in the country.

Earlier, the chief guest gave away trophies to the winner cricket team of Mardan and the runner-up team of Peshawar.



Iran gives women a much-needed breakthrough

18 April, 2015

Iran is to appoint its first female ambassador since the 1979 Islamic revolution, marking a breakthrough for women in government under the moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

Marzieh Afkham, who is the country’s first foreign ministry spokesperson, will head a mission in East Asia, the state news agency reported. It is not clear to which country she will be posted.

Afkham will only be the second female ambassador Iran has had. Under the last shah’s rule, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, a three-time MP known for her advocacy of the family protection law, which gave women the rights of divorce and child custody, became an ambassador to Denmark in 1976, a post she held until the revolution.

Women in Iran need the permission of their husband or legal custodian, such as their father, to travel abroad. The government is also reluctant to promote women who are single. Afkham is reported to have married last year.

Rouhani said this week he saw it as his government’s duty to create equal opportunities for women and spoke against crackdowns by the religious police on women who push the boundaries of the mandatory hijab by showing their hair. But a decision to overturn discriminatory practices is not solely in his hands.

Ongoing concerns

Gissou Nia, the deputy director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a leading rights group based in New York, hailed Afkham’s appointment this week.

“This is certainly welcome news for women in Iran,” Nia said. “It is a positive step that the appointment has been made … but it doesn’t alleviate the ongoing concerns about pending legislation in the Iranian parliament that seeks to restrict women’s role in the public sphere.”

Sadegh Zibakalam, a prominent Iranian professor, said: “This is a great decision and will pave the way for women being promoted to more senior jobs in Iran.”

Despite setbacks for women’s rights after the Islamic revolution, women continued to hold government jobs. Afkham has served in Iran’s diplomatic service for about 30 years as a ministerial aide and later as head of its public relations department.

In 2013, following Rouhani’s election, Iran’s new foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, appointed Afkham as his spokesperson. – ©?Guardian News & Media 2015



Melbourne grandparents’ desperate plea for jihadi bride to bring back kids from Syria

18 April, 2015

A MELBOURNE woman has fled to Syria and dragged her two preschool-aged children into the Islamic State’s “evil ideology”, her former in-laws say.

Mother Dullel Kassab has bragged online that her four-year-old daughter wants to watch videos of Muslims killing bad people.

She fled to Syria about eight months ago — just months after her husband, “Sam”, was killed on the border with Turkey. Sam’s death, late in 2013, remains a mystery and his body has never been found.

Kassab, 28, has since remarried — as single foreign women are removed from Islamic State’s controlled area.

She has ignored pleas from her in-laws to bring the children home and instead has posted worrying pictures of bombs dropping just streets away from her home in Islamic State’s headquarters of Raqqa.

A spokesman for her dead husband’s family said they prayed for the children’s safe return.

“We miss the children a lot. Their safety and religion has been compromised and we are deeply worried but unable to do anything about it,” a spokesman said.

“We pray they come back but it does not look good.”

The former house captain of a private Uniting Church school has emerged as a major supporter of Islamic State, providing step-by-step instruction to those women wishing to go to Syria.

Her in-laws fear she is also “brainwashing” her four-year-old and two-year-old.

“Jst asked my 4yo wat she wants 2 watch. “Muslims killing bad ppl” (i.e. #IS vids obv not beheading ones) LOL” she tweeted last October.

“My 4y/o encouraging her little bro to eat his eggs. C`mon eat ur eggs so u can be big & strong & fight the Kuffar (Unbelievers!” Allah yehmikum (God bless)!.’’

“When an air strike/plane hovers She says “I hate kuffar” I ask why? “Cos thy hate Islam + Muslims” Take note.”

Her father, Jalal Kassab, said his daughter had found peace with the extremists.

“She went there searching for answers about her husband. She found some but not all. She was in a bad place, didn’t want to speak to anyone and found some peace there.

“I know she wants to come back and we are trying everything we can to bring her back.”

Mr Kassab lashed out at authorities, claiming the threat of prison was making it harder for her to return.

He said his family took comfort that there was very little crime in the region but ­admitted it was an “active war zone”.

“Of course, we miss them and want them back,” he said.

Mr Kassab said he was disappointed to hear his grandchildren glorify violence. “I abhor violence but then again, should we be giving children toy guns, cowboy hats and tell them to shoot Indians?”

He said his daughter enjoyed scuba diving, riding horses and other activities.