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Kazakhstan: Bride Kidnapping Caught On Video

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Oct 2014

Photo: Kashmir Muslim Women Welcome Sikh Volunteers with Roars of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal”


 Young Girls Married in Hyderabad, India, as Temporary Brides

 ISIS Sold Muslim Women to Jews, Kuwaiti Cleric Charges

 Obama Girls, Malala, Lorde Make Time's 'Influential Teens' List

 Kashmir Muslim Women Welcome Sikh Volunteers with Roars of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal”

 How the Islamic State Justifies Kidnapping Non-Muslim Women as Sex Slaves

 Divorces in Saudi Arabia Taking Too Long, Say Disgruntled Wives

 Saudi Woman Struggles To Get Nationality for Children

 Saudi Women Harassers Face SR500, 000 Fine, up to 5 Years in Jail

 Women’s Role in Islamic Art, Architecture Highlighted

 Girls at Risk as Bangladesh Mull Lowering Age of Marriage

 13 Brides Tie Nuptial Knots under Madhya Pradesh’s CM Nikaah Scheme

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Kazakhstan: Bride Kidnapping Caught On Video

October 14, 2014

A “Borat”-style bride kidnapping was caught on tape in his home country of Kazakhstan — where taking a woman to be your lawfully wedded hostage is a very real and widely accepted custom.

Disturbing video footage titled “Stealing the Bride” shows a girl in the central Akmola region screaming and crying as she is dragged to the home of her future husband, Central European News reports.

The scene has all the makings of a traditional marriage ceremony — Kazakh music, a special bridal carpet and loads of confetti being thrown in celebration.

But instead of a blushing bride-to-be enjoying her big day, the shocking video shows a frightened girl being seized from her home and forced into marrying someone against her will.

Forcibly seizing a woman and marrying her is very common in Kazakhstan, according to CEN.

The shocking deed was jokingly made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen in his 2006 hit, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” In the movie, Borat kidnaps Pamela Anderson because he wants to marry her — a scene which is meant to be ridiculous and funny, but is also very accurate and startling.

n reality, an anxious groom will pay relatives and friends to use deception, cohesion or force to physically take a girl and bring her to his home.

Once she arrives, the girls in his family will dress the kidnapped bride in a special neckerchief called an Oramal — something Kazakh women must accept to show their “consent” to marriage.

The process of accepting this garment can often take days of being locked up, but money almost always plays a role in saying yes.

“Often the families of the victims agree because the groom pays them a lot of money,” said local women’s rights activist Anfisa Zuyeva. “But it is an outdated and horrific tradition which has no place in modern Kazakhstan.

“No wonder people think we’re backward and barbaric,” she added.

Due to the latest video going viral and the fact that over 60 percent of adults and 74 percent of teenagers had either been victims or knew people who were, authorities are now looking to make bride-kidnapping illegal in the country.



Young Girls Married in Hyderabad, India, as Temporary Brides

October 14, 2014

HYDERABAD, INDIA—Tasleem Begum didn’t get a new dress for her wedding day. Instead, she put on her usual worn-out outfit, a white and blue shirt with pants and a long scarf, her dark hair tightly braided, and picked up the small tattered brown satchel filled with half-a-dozen Grade 8 textbooks.

But it would be a day like no other.

Her mother said she would walk Tasleem to school. Instead, Shahnaz Begum took her to a two-storey house with tall gates, where she exchanged a few words with two men and two women in the living room. Then her mother took Tasleem to a small room for a quiet moment. There, Shahnaz told her daughter, 14 years old with almond eyes and dimples, that she was getting married. Her husband was to be a 61-year-old from Oman.

April 15, 2014, is the day Tasleem got married and divorced. Though, she didn’t know about the divorce until much later.

Her mother, Tasleem found out later, had been paid about $700 — the price of the 14-year-old’s virginity.

“I hadn’t even showered that day,” she says. “I was running late for school.”

She is sitting on the floor of a friend’s house, sipping tea. Her voice cracks every time she talks about her wedding, the man from Oman and how he repeatedly raped her during the two nights she was forced to spend with him.

In Hyderabad, in southern India, Tasleem’s story isn’t uncommon. Since the 1990s, the city has been the hunting ground for men from oil-rich Arab countries seeking young, virgin brides — some as young as 11 or 12. The connection between the city’s poor Muslims and wealthy, older men from the Gulf countries was forged in the ’70s and the ’80s by expats from Hyderabad.

The situation has worsened in the past couple of years, becoming a de facto child prostitution supermarket.

But a group of women has taken justice into its own hands: they pose as desperate child-sellers while wearing Burqas with hidden cameras in unorthodox “sting operations.”

In two years, they have done more than police have in two decades.

About 10 million girls under the age of 18 get married every year around the world; 40 per cent of those weddings take place in India. There are economic reasons, like poverty and marriage costs, cultural traditions, concerns about girls’ safety and family honour.

But what is happening in Hyderabad is different.

The city of 7 million is a mix of new and old unlike any other city on the subcontinent. It is a thriving tech hub and a base for companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, whose gleaming glass towers congregate in the new area called Cyberbad. The Old City, home to forts, bazaars and narrow streets that attract tourists, has a history going back more than 400 years.

The city is predominantly Hindu but Muslims make up 40 per cent of the population, dominating neighbourhoods around the Old City. They are abysmally poor.

It is hard to pinpoint when Arab nationals started arriving in Hyderabad to seek very young, virgin brides. Miriam Alam, a lawyer, believes it began when Muslim men started taking oil and construction jobs in the Middle East and, it is believed, talked about how poor their families were in Hyderabad.

Some expats may have tried to play matchmaker between Hyderabad families and men from their adopted homeland, says Alam, adding that it didn’t start as a child bride bazaar. But “in the ’80s, people started seeing Arab sheikhs, in their 50s, 60s and even 70s, flock here to buy young brides.”

They came from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman.

Soon, there were marriage brokers, who for a steep price could find a child bride for an aging man.

For many poor Muslim families in the Old City, the financial proposition was irresistible. Such families are typically large, with six to 10 children. Once the girls are of marriageable age, which could be any time after puberty, prospective grooms and their families seek exorbitant sums of cash as dowry, which was outlawed in 1961 but remains pervasive in India.

Rather than paying a groom’s family, desperate families were willing to receive money from wealthy Arab men in exchange for a young girl in marriage.

At first, many men took the girls back to their home countries as second, third or fourth wives. Some were treated well, had children and regularly returned to visit Hyderabad. Some even sent money back to their families.

But increasingly the young brides became sex slaves or maids.

Then a 10-year-old named Ameena inadvertently blew the lid off this secret world.

In October 1991, Ameena was on a flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi. She was sitting with an older man and sobbing in her seat. A flight attendant took her aside and Ameena confided that the man was her husband and they were going to Saudi Arabia.

According to media reports, Yahya M. H. al-Sagih, 60, had come to marry Ameena’s 14-year-old sister but he found her “dark and ugly.” He liked Ameena. Her family received about $240 in return.

Ameena was taken off the airplane and the story made headlines for days in India and around the world.

Arab men continued to seek young brides in Hyderabad but it became more secretive. “Neighbours would talk of girls disappearing overnight ... or teachers would realize that a girl was gone when she didn’t show up at school for a few days,” says Alam. “It would turn out that they were married off.”

There was yet another twist. In the mid-2000s, Gulf countries started banning their citizens from bringing in foreign brides without prior permission.

For a while, everyone thought this would end child marriages. It hasn’t.

Men and marriage brokers — Alam calls them pimps — have changed their modus operandi: rich men from Arab and lately African countries arrive in Hyderabad, marry young girls and sign divorce papers at the same time. The divorce papers are dated for a week or two after the marriage. They take the girls to posh hotels and when it is time for the men to leave, the girls are sent home. (Islam forbids prostitution; these short-term “marriages” circumvent that.)

Many families secretly hope the rich foreigner will actually like their daughter and either set her up in a home in Hyderabad or take her with him, says Alam. It hardly ever happens.

It costs a “husband” between $500 and $1,500 for a bride. Typically, the fee is divided between the girl’s family, the marriage broker and the qazi, the Muslim judge who performs the wedding. Sometimes, there are multiple brokers involved and the family’s share shrinks.

The “wife” is left stigmatized — and sometimes forced into prostitution. In most cases, the girls are supposed to stay with the man for a fixed period, usually between a week and a month, during which they are repeatedly raped.

When the man leaves, the girls return home as a divorcee. But in some cases their parents don’t let them back in because they are “unclean” — no longer virgins and of little value.

Schools, too, shun them.

“They have little education, no skills,” says Alam. “It is tough for them to survive on their own ... many of them fall into the prostitution trap.”

They end up in brothels in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.

Some girls, says Alam, are “married” multiple times.

“This is Hyderabad’s curse,” says Jameela Nishat. “There are at least a dozen cases that we hear about every month ... and I know there are many more that we don’t (hear about).”

Nishat, a published poet and activist, is the person to whom most women in the Old City turn for help. She heads the Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association, better known as just Shaheen. It educates and empowers poor Muslim women, teaching them skills like embroidery and stitching, it has a shelter for abused, ostracized women and it recently started a hotline for child brides to call when they need help stopping a forced marriage.

“But I realized it wasn’t enough when stories of young pregnant child brides abandoned by men would make the local news, tug at the conscience of the people for a few days and then everything went back to normal. Until the next such story.”

While India prohibits marriage of women under 18 and men under 21, civil law based in part on Hindu and Muslim religious practices does sanction marriage among minors. In the case of Islamic law, girls who have reached puberty are permitted to marry, if they agree to the match.

Most young girls are blindsided by the marriage and have no say. “The parents will usually tell the girl that there is no money, not even to feed her siblings and if she marries (the older man), she will be the saviour of the family,” says Nishat.

Few girls complain, largely because of shame.

The solution, says Nishat, was to expose the unscrupulous marriage brokers and the men who prey on children. That’s how the “sting operations” started.

A woman, usually a Shaheen worker, pretends to be the mother of a 12- or 13-year-old girl looking for a foreign groom. She lets it be known in Old City bazaars that her family is poor. When a broker approaches with details of a prospective groom, she agrees to meet. She goes with other women — for safety reasons — and all wear burkas fitted with hidden cameras and microphones.

They record the conversation about the age of the girl and proof of virginity. They reach a bargain about how much money the family, the broker and the qazi, the man who will perform the wedding, will get.

The women promise to return with the girl.

Instead they give the video and pictures to TV channels and newspapers. Nishat says the revelations have shocked people who didn’t know how the sleazy world of temporary contract marriages works.

“Ideally, when a marriage broker is talking about a young child to a man in, say Bahrain, he should think about us ... that we could do a sting operation and his face could be all over TV.

“He should be so scared that he shouldn’t do it.”

The group has done six stings to date and all have been nerve-wracking, says Shaheen Sultana, 48.

Sultana usually plays the mother in stings. Shaheeda, an outspoken woman in her 20s, plays her young daughter, while Sultana Begum, a fast-talking woman in her late 20s, plays an aunt.

The burkas shield their identities and allow Shaheeda to pretend to be so young.

About six months ago, Sultana heard about a man from Yemen looking for a virgin, not more than 15 years old, and willing to pay about $200.

“I told (the man’s marriage broker) that I needed a foreign groom for one of my daughters,” Sultana says.

They met at a hotel and Sultana says the man from Yemen was bald and seemed to be in his 70s. He was accompanied by two marriage brokers and a man who looked like a guard. The Yemen national saw Shaheeda, who was posing as a 15-year-old, and liked her. Then he threw a bombshell: he wanted to marry her right there.

He was willing to go up to $250.

“We freaked out,” says Shaheeda. “We didn’t know what to do. It seemed for a few minutes that they wouldn’t let us leave.”

Sultana tearfully told the broker that she had sewed a wedding outfit for her daughter. He let them go on the promise that they would return that evening.

Police descended on the hotel room a few hours later and arrested the brokers and the Yemeni man.

Some stories are so appalling that it is hard to believe they are true.

Tayaba’s story is one of these.

“She was just 13 when her parents married her to a man in his 50s,” says Shaheeda. Tayaba had never attended school, was rarely allowed outside the house and like every other woman in the Old City, she wasn’t allowed to look at a man in the eye. On the wedding night, the man tried to rape her and a petrified Tayaba bit him. He phoned her mother, who “gave her some sort of injection that knocked her out.”

The second night, Tayaba’s mother sat outside the hotel room so that she did as she was told. But the 13-year-old had heavy vaginal bleeding and had to be taken to a hospital. There, a nurse called Shaheeda.

“It took Tayaba a long time to tell me what happened ... she was so ashamed,” says Shaheeda.

A mother feeding her daughter date rape drugs is not uncommon, says Nishat. “The mother wants the marriage consummated so that the broker doesn’t ask her to return the money.”

In some cases, the broker gives the money to the family after the marriage has been consummated.

Fatima, 13, was married to a 54-year-old from Sudan in 2011. He gave the family $150, which they used to buy a refrigerator, a television and clothes. He spent a month with the girl at a guest house close to the Old City and then left for Sudan, promising to send her a visa and immigration papers. The family never heard from him again. She has a 2-year-old son with short, curly hair and dark skin.

Every child marriage activist in Hyderabad knows the story of Rehana. First married at age 13, by the time Rehana turned 18 she had been “married” 17 times to men from Arab and African countries. She has a daughter but doesn’t know who the father is.

Her family refuses to acknowledge her now.

Umapathi Sattaru, a high-ranking police officer in Hyderabad with experience in human trafficking investigations, is loathe to call these stories forced child marriages.

“Children being forced to have sex ... is trafficking.”

An imposing man with a booming voice, Sattaru says many young girls from Hyderabad end up in Mumbai brothels because, after they lose their virginity, they are of no value to their family and are usually unwelcome at home. He estimates there are a dozen cases of forced child marriage every month.

When he was posted at the Hyderabad airport in the late ’90s, it was common to see little girls leaving with much older men. There was nothing he could do if they had marriage certificates.

Sattaru says “local politicians can do much more but they don’t. They don’t want to lose votes so they have kept quiet and let the situation be. This is a community that listens to its political and religious leaders ... and they have kept quiet.”

Minutes before Tasleem got married, to Madasari Masaaod Rashid, 61, her mother took her aside and told her that she had to marry because the money would help her father buy his own auto-rickshaw.

Tasleem couldn’t eat anything all day. That night, she was so tired that she passed out as soon as she and her new husband reached a hotel in Banjara Hills, a posh Hyderabad neighbourhood. She remembers waking up in the middle of the night: the man was on top of her.

She says she screamed because she was frightened, and the pain was unbearable. He put his hands on her mouth and raped her.

He raped her seven times that night and the next day, she says.

The pain, she says, got worse every time.

On the third day, when she was alone for a few minutes, she called an uncle. She sobbed loudly and couldn’t talk coherently. Within an hour, her uncle was at the hotel with two police officers. Rashid was arrested along with three brokers.

Tasleem’s mother was also arrested. She spent six weeks in prison.

“If I had known that my mother would have also been arrested, I would have never called my uncle,” says Tasleem. “I didn’t want any trouble for her ... it was so painful that I didn’t know what else to do.”

Tasleem’s family didn’t let her back into the house, saying she had brought them shame. They also kicked out Naseem, her 16-year-old sister, for supporting Tasleem. Her school made it clear that she wasn’t expected back.

The two young women now live with a family friend. Tasleem is trying to get a job, any job. For now, the two sisters attend classes at Shaheen’s office every morning.

But Tasleem is grateful she didn’t end up being “married” again and again, or wind up in a Mumbai brothel.

“I don’t know what I’ll do now ... but it can’t ever be this bad again.”

As for Rashid, he was charged with raping two minors. It turned out that he had “married” another 14-year-old Muslim girl from Hyderabad’s Old City, just days before he met Tasleem.



ISIS sold Muslim women to Jews, Kuwaiti cleric charges

October 14, 2014

The coalition to fight ISIS is a fraud and ISIS is selling Muslim women to Jews, according to Kuwaiti Shi'ite cleric Imam Saleh Jawhar.   

In a video released by The Middle East Media Research Institute, Jawhar can be seen making the remarks in a recent sermon in Kuwait.

"Even if we accept everything else - what kind of religion allows the capturing of a Muslim woman, and on top of that, allows her to be sold to a Jew?!" the cleric asks in the sermon entitled The False War on ISIS.

Jawhar points to ISIS's successes in the northern Syrian town of Kobani as evidence that the US-led coalition fight against the extremist Islamist group may not be real. 

"Today, on the northern border of Syria, all those countries are fighting ISIS, yet ISIS has managed to capture that city [Kobani].. Is this conceivable? Or perhaps there is a premeditated scenario at play here.

"It was reported that ISIS members had managed to survive the air strikes by starting fires and generating black smoke that concealed them. But [the coalition] has cameras, and can even smash through rocks, and see through cave walls, so how come they cannot see through some smoke?," he queried.

Jawhar said the coalition itself created ISIS, and has a vested interest in its survival.

"These people, commanded by Mistress America, are lying hypocrites. They do not really want to fight ISIS and destroy it," he said.

The cleric has doubts regarding the real intentions of the coalition, he also says he does not back ISIS which he charges has sold thousands of Muslim women and girls to Jews in Israel. 

"What kind of religion is this?! Even if we accept everything else – what kind of religion allows the capturing of a Muslim woman, and on top of that, allows her to be sold to a Jew?," he asks.




Obama girls, Malala, Lorde make Time's 'influential teens' list

14 Oct, 2014

(Reuters) - The daughters of U.S. President Barack Obama, entertainers, a Nobel laureate and a girl baseball player all made Time's annual list of most influential teenagers, the magazine said on Monday.

First daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13; Grammy-winning New Zealand singer Lorde, 17; and Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai, 17, the Pakistani education activist winner, were all on the unranked list dominated by 20 females.

Time said it compiled its list of 25 teens - 29, counting accolades shared by siblings and partners - by analyzing their social media following, business successes and cultural importance.

The youngest were Sasha Obama and fellow 13-year-old Mo'ne Davis, a pitching sensation who led her Philadelphia boys' baseball team to the Little League World Series and landed a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Tavi Gevinson, the 18-year-old fashion writer and founder of popular online magazine Rookie, was noted as emblematic of the contemporary teen in the Internet age, while transgender activist Jazz Jennings, 14, and Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, 18, also made the list.

The dominant categories were athletes, actors and singers.

Actors taking center stage were Kiernan Shipka, 14, of "Mad Men," Rico Rodriguez, 16, of "Modern Family" and "The Equalizer's" Chloe Grace Moretz, 17.

Pop singers Becky G, 17, and Austin Mahone, 18, earned plaudits as did New Zealand pro golfer Lydia Ko, 17, and Afghan National Cycling Team member Salma Kakar, 17.

Teens noted for business success include 15-year-old Erik Finman, founder of the online tutoring site; YouTube fashion star Bethany Mota, 18, and actress-turned-stockpicker Rachel Fox, 18.

Irish trio Ciara Judge, 16, Emer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, were noted for their discovery of bacteria that deposits nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil.

Los Angeles teen chef Flynn McGarry, 15, joined stars of Twitter's Vine short-form video service, Nash Grier, and singer Shawn Mendes, both 16.

Smith, 16, son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, was recognized for acting and his Twitter following, while reality TV stars the Jenner sisters Kendall, 18, and Kylie, 17, were noted for their burgeoning Hollywood and merchandising careers.

Also in the spotlight were 19-year-olds Megan Grassell, founded of the Yellowberry clothing company that makes bras for teens, and South African-Australian YouTube star and actor-musician Troye Sivan.



Kashmir Muslim Women Welcome Sikh Volunteers with Roars of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal”

14 Oct, 2014

JAMMU & KASHMIR, India— The Sikh Relief (SOPW) team, which has been providing humanitarian aid to the flood hit areas of Jammu & Kashmir, was welcomed in Bimla Nagar of Kashmir with roars of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” by the local Muslim women.

The Sikh Relief team, along with other Sikh humanitarian organizations, have been providing aid to local towns and villages which have been cut from the world.  In addition to food supplies, Sikh volunteers have handed out clothing, medicines and other materials to put the families at ease.

The humanitarian aid has been distributed without discrimination of religion or caste by the Sikh volunteers.

The Sikh Relief team posted that in Bimla Nagar of Kashmir, its volunteers distributed blankets to 250 Muslim families.  A Sikh Relief Sevadar posted online that, “our Muslim sisters were so overwhelmed [that] their thank you was with the roar of jakare Bole So Nihal.”

The Sikh Relief project is funded by Sikhs living in Europe.  In addition to this team, Sikh Awareness Foundation, a group spearheaded by Sikh Youth from Canada has also been providing much necessary aid to the flood victims.

Sikh24 urges its readers to support the work by Sikh organizations in Jammu & Kashmir through monetary donations.



How the Islamic State Justifies Kidnapping Non-Muslim Women as Sex Slaves

14 Oct, 2014

Islamic State militants use their interpretation of Muslim theology to justify kidnapping non-Muslim women as sex slaves, CNN reported.

“One should remember that enslaving the families of the Kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law,” the group said in an online magazine published Sunday, CNN added.

The title of the article in question? “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” which refers to Judgment Day, CNN noted.

The fourth edition of the group’s English-language digital magazine Dabiq said that female members of the Yazidi sect, an ethnically Kurdish minority living mostly in Iraq, may legitimately be captured and forcibly made concubines or sexual slaves, CNN reported.

The Islamic State forced scores of Yazidis to flee their homes in August during an offensive in Iraqi Kurdistan, CNN noted, adding that in the aftermath hundreds of Yazidi women and girls, many of whom were sold or given away to militants as “spoils of war.”

The glossy Dabiq is a “propaganda magazine aimed at recruiting jihadists from the West,” according to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian journalist and moderate Muslim.

This latest issue titled ”The Failed Crusade” also includes an alleged copy of slain American journalist Steven Sotloff’s last letter to his mother and claims his Jewish identity justified the Islamic State beheading him, CNN added.

British journalist John Cantlie, another Islamic State captive, allegedly wrote the last section of the magazine, noting he expects to be killed soon “unless something changes very quickly and very radically,” CNN reported.

The Islamic State’s magazine issue coincided with a Human Rights Watch report on crimes committed by the terrorist group against the Yazidis in Iraq based on interviews with 76 displaced people in Dohuk, CNN said:



Divorces in Saudi Arabia Taking Too Long, Say Disgruntled Wives

14 Oct, 2014

HOFOUF, Al-Ahsa — The divorce process is too convoluted, according to women looking to leave their husbands.

This is not only due to judicial procedures that must be followed and the necessity for both parties to attend hearings, but also the judicial authorities’ desire to mediate between the two parties and keep them together, they said. This leads to cases being postponed many times.

Even a woman seeking a Khula, where she can petition for a divorce without the husband’s consent and without having to prove any grounds for wanting it, requires the services of a professional lawyer, Al-Sharq daily reported. Abeer Abdullatif said she has a divorce case and the hearings are immediately adjourned the moment the man requests mediation, even if she objects.

A grace period is provided for the woman to reconsider her decision. She said: “One grace period after another is given and the woman is left in a state of limbo for 18 months to two years or even more.

“The man comes up with excuses with the intention of delaying the divorce and humiliating his wife.”

Mona Ahmed, who is also in the middle of a divorce, said a woman suffers due to delayed verdicts.

“Many women lose several years of their lives waiting for the divorce verdict. “The numerous personal status cases in the courts could be one of the factors that delay the issuance of verdicts in such cases, but this should not be a justification because it is the woman who suffers due to the delay.”

Noora Saud, who is also going through a divorce, said: “Why does a man have the right to divorce his wife before the judge immediately without requiring her to be present at the court?

“Some women do not know that they have been divorced for some time. “They might even suffer from shock.

“How is it that a woman does not get the opportunity to express her opinion in a case that concerns her?”

Sociologist Fathiya Saleh said delays in resolving divorce, khula or custody cases can lead to instability in the family and society.

She said: “This leads to an aggravation of social problems and family breakups. “It creates a big gap in social relations between members of the same family. “This might increase resentment in women toward men. “It might become an obstacle in women’s future lives.”

Saleh said it is necessary to employ women in courts and grant those who are qualified advocacy licenses to resolve these problems, because in some cases certain matters cannot be disclosed to a man.

Furthermore, many women are ignorant about the law and their rights.



Saudi Woman struggles to get nationality for children

14 Oct, 2014

HOFOUF, Al-Ahsa — Um Maaz, a Saudi woman, has long forgotten the taste of happiness.

Living in a derelict house in Hofouf, Eastern Province, with her five children, she has been dealing with the triple threat of diseases, debts and the fruitless search for Saudi nationality for her children.

“All the doors have been closed in my face and I have only the door of God still open,” she told Al-Hayat newspaper on Sunday. Um Maaz was married to an Arab expatriate for 32 years. She said their life together was happy and smooth. They had five children, three boys and two girls.

Um Maaz said her ordeal started about five years ago when her old and sick husband traveled back home looking for free medical treatment.

“At that time my eldest daughter got a chronic disease. “I have to take her every month to King Fahd Teaching Hospital in Al-Khobar.”

Um Maaz said the debts have accumulated since then and she is now not able to pay her rent of SR12,000 a year.

“My three boys are unable to assist me because they cannot find jobs as they are not considered Saudi citizens. “I have applied for Saudi nationality for all five of them several times but nothing has happened so far.”

Um Maaz, who has a heart condition, said she was not able to go to hospital for the open heart surgery she desperately needs because she cannot leave her children alone.

She said the social security money that she and her children live on is not enough to sustain them.

“We had no new clothes for the past Eid Al-Fitr. “Many times during Ramadan we did not have iftar (breaking the fast) because we had no money to buy food.”

Um Maaz appealed to philanthropists to help her financially and urged the authorities to grant her children Saudi citizenship.



Saudi Women Harassers Face SR500, 000 Fine, up to 5 Years in Jail

14 Oct, 2014

Harassers may face up to five years in prison and incur a SR500, 000 fine under a new draft law that is currently being studied by the Shoura Council’s Social Affairs Committee.

The move comes in the wake of increasing cases of harassment against women at workplaces, streets and malls.

The draft law proposes that anyone found guilty of making sexual advances be punished according to its articles. However, it pointed out that specialized courts would have the right to issue alternative forms of punishment.

The law considers harassment a crime since it violates an individual’s honour. The law also covers individuals and groups involved in the crime.

“The law aims at protecting honour and prestige and preventing all types of harassment,” a Shoura official said.

Badr Almotawa, a political analyst, emphasized the significance of the law, saying it would serve as a deterrent for sexual perverts.

However, he pointed out that harassment cases in the Kingdom are fewer compared to Western countries, where one case is reported per minute on average. He attributed this to people’s adherence to Islamic values.

He said the establishment of women-only work places and institutions is one solution for preventing harassment and cited the Kingdom Tower, of which the third floor is women-only, and Princess Nora University as good examples.

Almotawa also stressed the need to punish anyone found guilty of drunk driving.

“These people, who endanger their own lives and those of their families and road users, deserve tough punishment. They have caused many road crashes in Riyadh, Jeddah and other parts of the country, killing innocent people,” he said.



Women’s role in Islamic art, architecture highlighted

14 Oct, 2014

KARACHI: History has been unkind to women. There is an apparent gap left that relegates their contributions to the abyss of times, crediting them sparingly for some achievement or the other. This trend is also prevalent in art and architecture and so it was a relief to come across historical documentation of the contributions of women in Islamic art and architecture, at a talk at T2f on Saturday.

Led by Noha Sadek, a specialist in Yemeni art and architecture, the focus of the presentation was on “women as patrons and as creators of art and architecture in the Islamic world”. It has always been a fact that only women enjoying a certain stature and privilege became prolific patrons, and as a result of their significance in society, their work got documented.

One of the main reasons, according to Ms Sadek, why women rampantly indulged in this patronage was because they considered it a charity; they also wished to leave their individual mark on society which is why most of the work commissioned by such women carries a distinctive flavour of the times they were built in and as well as the position the patron enjoyed.

Presenting snippets of history and the various contributions of women to art and architecture, the presentation revealed some valuable information. One such was the story of the Darb Zubaydah, a 900-mile pilgrimage road beginning at Kufa in Iraq and ending at Makkah. Ms Sadek spoke of how the road had a series of wells, reservoirs and artificial pools built as ordered by one of the Abbasid princesses, Zubaydah bint Ja`far. In lieu of her contributions, the road was renamed in her honour and had a lasting impact on Muslim pilgrims travelling back and forth.

Zubaydah’s endeavours were later emulated by another significant historical character, the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent, Hurrem Sultan, who shaped much of the architecture in 16th century Ottoman period. Ms Sadek showed many images of buildings that Hurrem had commissioned that greatly “testify to the considerable wealth she must have accumulated”. She is credited for building a mosque which comprised a school, an extensive library and even a soup kitchen. The hospital for women that she set up is still functional. Her daughter Mihrimah is credited for the grand Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Istanbul.

Another interesting element of the discussion was the endowment both women enjoyed. Ms Sadek displayed images of the vakfiye or the deed of endowment that established the meticulous documentation of the properties both owned as well as stipulating “the salaries and duties of the staff”. For Ms Sadek this is probably one of the first instances of the use of such a deed, one that is being replicated in the modern world in many charitable institutions.

Ms Sadek insisted on the significance of these historical sights and documents and how “the presence of women in terms of architecture can be felt all over the Islamic world” employing examples from different parts of the Islamic world, such as Yemen, Syria, Central Asia and Ottoman Turkey to showcase the nature of this patronage. Another trend that she credits to Muslim women is that of the mausoleum. According to historical records, this trend can be attributed to Shajar Al-Durr, who ruled Egypt after the death of her husband, Sultan Al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub. In memory of her late husband, she built a mausoleum in 1250 which is now known as the mausoleum of Al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub.

For Ms Sadek, almost all architecture commissioned by known and obscure women was generally marked with political intrigues. However, this does not in any manner mitigate the importance of their impact on the Islamic world. She went into great detail about the construction of these monuments as well as the materials and aesthetics employed. There were also references to subcontinental art and architecture, especially the contributions of Nur Jahan.

The audience especially appreciated Ms Sadek’s extensive knowledge about women calligraphers. Giving examples from the 10th century Cordoba and Tunisia, slides depicted different scripts of Quranic calligraphy as practised by women calligraphers. Even though many were proficient enough to become masters and teach professionally, their names are lost as the practice of calligraphers signing their names was not widely practised.

The well-researched talk reinforced the premise that women did hold a particular position as patrons of art and architecture in a male-dominated industry, and their aesthetic influence shaped further eras, though history does not recognise them in the manner they deserve.



Girls at risk as Bangladesh mulls lowering age of marriage

October 14, 2014

NEW DELHI - Millions of girls are at risk if the Bangladeshi government goes ahead with a proposal to lower the age of marriage to 16, Human Rights Watch warned on Monday.

The impoverished South Asian nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a three-decade-old law which bans marriage for girls under the age of 18.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government was now considering an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which would also lower the age of marriage of men to 18 from 21.

"Setting the age of marriage for girls in Bangladesh at 16 would be a terrible step in the wrong direction," said Liesl Gerntholtz, HRW's women's rights director. "The rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is already off the charts.

Meher Afroze Chumki, Bangladesh's junior minister for women and child affairs, said no firm decision had been made yet.

"We will discuss the proposal in detail and whatever is suitable for society, we will do that based on a consensus," Chumki told Reuters.

"There are certain countries where even 14 years is allowed to get married. To avoid any illicit relations or living together, we will consider (changing) the law."

Bangladesh has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, after Niger, says the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF. About 74 percent of Bangladeshi women currently aged 20 to 49 were married or in a union before 18.

Human rights campaigners say child marriage triggers a series of violations that continues throughout a girl's life such as rape, domestic violence and forced pregnancies.

It starts with forced initiation into sex and on-going sexual violence, resulting in early and unplanned pregnancy, which may put her life or that of her child's at risk.

Girls married as children are often denied the chance to go to school and are isolated from society and forced into a lifetime of economic dependence as a wife and mother.

Yet the practice continues largely due to a combination of social acceptance and government inaction, say activists.

"Recent media reports indicate the prime minister's cabinet is considering a revision to the law to make 16 the minimum age of marriage for girls," HRW said in a statement.

"The proposed revisions would reverse stated government aims to reduce child marriage among girls," Human Rights Watch said.

At a July summit, Hasina pledged to take steps to reduce, and ultimately end, child marriage in Bangladesh by 2041.

She told the Girl Summit in London that she was committed to end marriage for girls under age 15 and reduce by more than one-third marriage among girls between ages 15 and 18 by 2021.



13 Brides Tie Nuptial Knots under Madhya Pradesh’s CM Nikaah Scheme

 By FPJ Bureau, October 14, 2014

Nagda : The Municipal Council organized a programme under the CM Nikaah ( marriage) Scheme to marry off 13 Muslim community girls. MLA Dilip Singh Shekhawat was the Chief Guest of the programme.

The programme was held under the presidency of the Council President Shobha Gopal adav and former MLA Lalsingh Ranawat, Sajjansingh Shekhawat, Dharmesh Jaiswal and Gopal adav were the Special Guests. The guests informed that the Municipal Council has implemented the scheme at first. The girls will be provided with Rs 25,000 to support their married lives. The government also provided Rs 5,000 to buy necessary stuff after marriage and Rs 7,000 will be transferred to the accounts of the girls’ right after one day of the marriage.

The Nikaah procession was taken out from the railway station which passed through various roads and reached to Eidgaah Garden. The guests and Emams were welcomed at Eidgaah Garden.