New Age Islam News Bureau
23 Oct 2013
A Jewish activist, a member of the Women of the Wall group, prays at a spot a short distance from Western Wall plaza during a monthly prayer session in Jerusalem's Old City, July 8, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
• Sponsorship Transfer Puzzles Women in Saudi Arabia
• Syria Frees 14 Women Detainees after Hostage Deal
• ‘Children Paying the Price in Syria Conflict’
• Israeli Women Battle for Jerusalem Municipality Elections
• Lady Doctor Records Statement in Benazir Bhutto Murder Case
• 1,204 Children Subjected To Violence in Six Months, In Pakistan: NGO Report
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Killed By Dad? Yemeni 15 Year-Old Girl Burned To Death for Meeting Up With Husband-To-Be
22 October 2013
A 15-year-old Yemeni girl has been burned to death for allegedly meeting her fiancé before their wedding, police said on Tuesday, adding that her father was the chief suspect.
Prosecutors are to press charges against the 35-year-old over the death of his daughter in the village of Shabaa in the southern highland province of Taez, the police website said.
Killings of daughters, wives or sisters to punish perceived breaches of family honor are not uncommon in Yemen, despite pressure from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs for more effective action by the authorities to protect women.
Tribal loyalties run deep in the impoverished Arabian peninsula nation and often take precedence over the writ of the central government.
Sponsorship Transfer Puzzles Women in Saudi Arabia
23 October 2013
Many female expats have voiced concern over ambiguous regulations regarding their sponsorship transfer.
Rania Al-Homsi, an engineer, said that the decision to legalize the status of female dependents is unclear. “While authorities and our employers are stressing the need to transfer our sponsorships, we are discovering that such a step is the beginning of a difficult process.”
Rania had transferred her sponsorship from her father to the office where she works, but due to personal circumstances, was forced to leave work and stay at home. “I am unable to return under the sponsorship of my father although my office has said it would give me a waiver to transfer.”
A source confirmed to Arab News that the generalization of corrective measures was not in favour of female dependents and that such decisions remain unclear.
It has put many dependents at the mercy of their sponsors, who are primarily concerned with their work interests.
Rania said: “I was working as an accountant after transferring my sponsorship onto the company. I was asked to undertake the job of another female employee who was unable to transfer her sponsorship.” Rania was promised overtime but was never paid.
Bandar Al-Harthy, a lawyer, told Arab News that the issue of changing sponsorship back to the original sponsors needs further clarification. “There are adopted decisions that need to be corrected and addressed, especially decisions related to female dependents.”
A spokesman at the Department of Labour explained that the decision applies only to male dependents and does not include women. The decision indicates that if a married female dependent wishes to work, she must transfer her sponsorship to her employer but does not clearly state a course of action should a female employee wish to go back under her father's sponsorship, he said.
Syria frees 14 women detainees after hostage deal
October 23, 2013
BEIRUT: Syrian authorities have released 14 women detainees as part of a weekend hostage exchange but dozens of others are still being held, a prominent human rights activist said Wednesday.
Nine Lebanese Shiite hostages held for 17 months by a rebel group in northern Syria were exchanged on Saturday for two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon since August.
The release of scores of female detainees held in regime jails formed part of the deal brokered by Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.
"Fourteen of the women whose names were on the list" were freed late Tuesday, activist Sema Nassar told AFP. "For their own safety, they will have to leave the country."
Among them was a cancer patient who had been imprisoned twice before and whose husband has been killed in Syria's 31-month-old conflict, said Nassar.
"Another 128 women whose names were on the list have yet to be set free," she said.
There has been no official comment in Damascus on the women detainees.
Tens of thousands of people are being detained by the Syrian regime, many of them without trial, activists say. Rights groups say torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Syria's jails.
‘Children paying the price in Syria conflict’
October 22, 2013
The UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has requested that leaders in countries neighbouring Syria try their best to bring the fighting parties to the negotiating table.
In a special interview with Gulf News she talks about her last visit to Syria and warns that the consequence of this war will be dire if the violence, hate and hunger in the country continue.
What was the reaction from Syria, after you released your report about the situation there, involving innocent children as victims of the conflict?
I think that the most important for us is to engage with them and to let them understand that children are paying a very high price in this war. We have invited government officials and members of opposition groups to have a discussion with the UN to facilitate access and to work to eliminate the suffering of the children. We have succeeded to get them engaged with the UN. Of course, we are not expecting to have an announcement soon to finally end the bombardment, but we raised these grave violations committed against civilians, especially innocent children, but still the war is unfortunately ongoing.
Opposition groups are listed for using children in recruitment but they made clear that they would like to engage with us and stop recruiting minors.
The Syrian government recently adopted a law forbidding the recruitment and use of children under 18; the UN encourages authorities to enforce the law and protect children.
How difficult was it to collect the information for your report? Did the fact that you belong to the United Nations help you to get it?
[Being the] UN representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict gives you the legitimacy to address very sensitive issues with the parties of conflicts and also to allow those who are working on the ground, the UN and other partners, to have an open forum where they can engage with the government and the armed groups that are fighting. I think it was a good opportunity and my interaction with people on the ground made this visit helpful and allowed us to list the problems that affect the people and engage both parties to end them.
Whether being from UN helps in collecting information? It depends.
Yes it could help — sometimes people misunderstand the role of the UN. They consider that we have the power to end the suffering, to end the war, to find a solution. It is not the case. We are a mediator but we are not the one who can just push the button and it will be solved.
Yes! We have the UN legitimacy to engage with the parties to the conflict and try to eliminate the suffering of those who are paying the high price in this war.
In your last press conference you said that, even for Syrian officials who are responsible for humanitarian issues in their own country, it is difficult to access and help Syrian children. If it is difficult for them, how can the UN do it?
The UN considers particularly those who are working on humanitarian issues, the major qualification is that they are neutral. They try to help those who are in need in both sides and that are why they sometimes have more access to the parties that agree to work with them in good faith. Their intervention is accepted on both sides.
Of course, if you send people to an area under the control of a [rebel] group and if those people are seen as a part of the government they will not be welcomed and vice versa.
That is why the UN and humanitarian groups have a role to play in this kind of polarised situation, where people are fighting each other. The UN has more legitimacy to work and possibility to have access, but access is very complicated and very difficult. It is difficult because you are operating in a war zone, inside the conflict where everyone would like to weaken the others. And it is complicated on both sides; those controlled by the government or by armed groups.
Is it the responsibility of each country to build its own laws to protect its children?
It is the responsibility of everyone fighting. Of course, the primary responsibility of the government is to protect the civilians and children. The government is the first to take the precautionary measures to ensure that even in a very difficult situation the civilians aspect will be respected but when it comes to the belligerents fighting, it is their responsibility to ensure that their modus operandi, their interventions and the fight they are involved in do not affect children or at least they ensure they take the precautionary measures to reduce the impact on civilians and of course primary the children.
Does the UN have a team in Syria to follow the situation closely?
When the Security Council decides to take a mandate under their umbrella, it gives us the responsibility to report to the Security Council any violations, to list parties that are committing these violations particularly killing or maiming, recruitment and use, abduction, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access.
The Security Council also put in place tools and one of the tools is the Task Force of the UN working in every country under the actionable agenda. The Task Force is the country team and particularly if you have a mission, the head of mission, UNICEF, UNHCR and other agencies working on the ground. We are not only in Syria but also in neighbouring countries — teams that provides the information to the UN. The Security Council insists that before taking any sanctions, if necessary, there must be UN verified information.
How can other countries help out?
First of all by providing the necessary support to the humanitarian assistance to those who are working to help all affected by the conflict and children are the majority in every camp, they are more than 50 per cent.
Second is to provide financial support.
I also raise the issue of education of children and explain that children that are in camps need a system that would allow them to continue going to school, to follow the curricula that allows them to be reintegrated when they return to their country. The international community can play a role in supporting Unicef and other humanitarian groups working in the camps to ensure continuing education for the children.
Another request is that all the countries in the region try to do their best to influence the parties that are fighting and bring them to the negotiating.
This war is happening in a populated area, affecting the majority of the population and destabilising the regional countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Certainly the consequence of this war will go beyond if we continue to see the violence and levels of hate and hunger [prevailing] in the community.
Israeli Women Battle for Jerusalem Municipality Elections
October 21, 2013
By Inna Lazareva
It is hard to imagine Queens Melisende and Sybilla, ancient rulers of Jerusalem, being impressed with the political obstacles faced by women in the city today. Yet, as the municipal election campaigns gather pace, they have placed a spotlight on the rights of the city's females. While Melisende successfully fought her jealous husband in an all-out war in the 12th century, achieving not only a peace agreement but access to her kingdom’s innermost councils, and as Sybilla personally led the (ultimately unsuccessful) defense effort against the advances of Saladin himself, the bar for the power vested with Jerusalemite women today is considerably lower.
Israel is without a doubt a relatively positive model for women’s rights by global — and certainly regional — standards. While Switzerland did not allow women the right to vote until 1971, Israel already had a female prime minister two years earlier. Men and women serve in the army, fly military airplanes, lead political parties and work in a variety of positions. Yet, in the region’s most important city of Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim females continue to be sidelined.
There has been a “tsunami of segregation of women and disappearance of women from the public sphere,” which has gained speed in the past few years, said Rachel Azaria, a Jerusalem city council member and founder of the Yerushalmim political faction. “Suddenly, everything we had accomplished over the past 100 years or so wasn’t obvious anymore — it wasn’t obvious that women could sing, could sit anywhere they liked, could work anywhere they wanted to,” she noted.
Although Jerusalem is a modern city overall — welcoming tourists, pilgrims and politicians — some neighbourhoods have become increasingly radical in their treatment of women. Some of the battles waged — and won — at the Supreme Court in recent years have included gaining the "right" for a woman’s face to appear on a bus advertisement, and for women not to be forcibly relegated to the back of the bus to separate them from their religious male counterparts. There are reports of "chastity squads" occasionally sighted in Jerusalem’s bars, trying to encourage young women to turn to God and dress modestly, while only a minority of Arab and ultra-Orthodox women in Jerusalem have paid employment. At the local political level, there are only six women on Jerusalem’s 31-member City Council, not one of them a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, a Muslim or an ultra-orthodox Jew.
Elsewhere in Israel, the issues of women’s rights and representations vary widely. In secular, modern Tel Aviv, the issue of female representation simply does not feature prominently in local elections — which focus on the issues of rising costs of living — while in the Israeli-Arab city of Nazareth Knesset member Haneen Zoabi is the first Arab woman ever to run for the position of mayor. Al-Monitor columnist Mazal Mualem noted that in the municipal elections, “if only a quarter of the [female] contestants for the various positions are elected, the results would still be considered a real revolution regarding the representation of women in local politics that is currently controlled by men.”
Having spearheaded — and won — many of the Supreme Court victories, supported by many secular, Orthodox and even some ultra-Orthodox residents, Azaria said that appealing to the legal system is good, but not enough. Many others agree. “There is something wrong with the system, and we need a game changer,” said Naomi Tsur, the secular deputy mayor of Jerusalem. “Game changing means you have to get right out of the box, change the parameters of the game. It’s not enough to appeal to the High Court not to be forced to sit on the back of the bus. Women need 50% representation in leadership positions throughout society — there’s no doubt about that,” she said.
Tsur does not mince her words. Her new party, Ometz Lev ("Braveness of the Heart"), is the city’s first political party led primarily by women, with females in eight of the 10 top spots. Among the key candidates is an ultra-orthodox woman — the first time a female from that community has ever held such a position. The list also includes a naturalized Israeli activist, “who walked all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem,” and prominent female Rabbi Susan Silverman, one of the key activists behind the Women of the Wall movement (and cousin of popular US comedian Sarah Silverman).
East Jerusalem Palestinians — who make up approximately 38% of the city’s population — have always boycotted the municipal elections for political reasons, but there are rumblings of change there, too. Tsur’s list also originally included two Palestinian women, but both candidates pulled out due to pressure from their communities. “I believe that next time round, these young Arab women and the groups that they work with will join us,” said Tsur, stressing that she was not establishing a political party but rather “a movement of solidarity for Jerusalem."
“The main problem I think is that each sector is so busy guarding itself off from the others. … This is the next challenge,” she added.
Both of the women-led parties are set to lead a strong role in municipal politics after the elections. Tsur is set to win at least four seats in the upcoming elections, but she is hoping for more. “With growing local enthusiasm and nationwide backing, we are ready to surprise,” she told Israeli daily Jerusalem Post. Azaria’s Yerushalmim is set to win a minimum of two seats, with more expected if voter turnout increases from previous years.
Other women forced to pull out from the municipal elections come from some of the city’s ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods. Racheli Ibenboim is originally from Mea Shearim, one of Jerusalem’s most extreme ultra-orthodox areas. In recent years, locals there have been erecting 2-meter-high cloth-covered barriers to divide men from women on stretches of road, to prevent intermingling during the busy Sukkot Jewish holiday festivities. Despite being offered the third-highest place on the HaBayit HaYehudi Party’s list — which would have made her the first ultra-Orthodox woman to ever assume such a position — Ibenboim was forced to withdraw her candidacy after the community blackmailed not only her but also her children and husband.
But Ibenboim is far from downhearted about her situation. “At the same time, I got so much support from the community for what I was trying to do. I am determined to create a change for my community from within,” she said.
Today, she is advocating for quality employment for ultra-Orthodox women as well as setting up women’s circles to bring about broader changes in the community.
“I believe that there will be a change within the ultra-Orthodox community,” added Ibenboim. “But the voices from outside the community are no less important,” she concluded, casting a smile to Azaria and Tsur, who were both sitting nearby.
Inna Lazareva is a British journalist and political analyst specializing in the Middle East and based in Tel Aviv. Read more of her writing on www.innalazareva.com. On Twitter: @InnaLaz
Lady Doctor Records Statement in Benazir Bhutto Murder Case
October 23, 2013
RAWALPINDI: A lady doctor working at the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) recorded her statement before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC-I) which initiated the retrial of Benazir Bhutto murder case on Tuesday.
Dr Hina Bukhari, in her statement, apprised ATC Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman about the treatment provided to the injured, and the postmortem of the dead brought to the HFH on December 27, 2007 following the attack on Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Benazir Bhutto at Liaquat Bagh. The doctor, who appeared as a prosecution witness, said she had prepared the medico-legal report of an injured and conducted postmortem of four dead.
The witness was cross-examined by the counsel for the accused and other parties, who raised the objection that copies of hospital’s record containing details of the injured and dead were presented in the court instead of the original record. After the cross-questioning, the court adjourned the hearing until October 29 when three more doctors –Dr Rida Khan of HFH, Dr Qasim and Dr Ashraf of District Headquarters Hospital – would record their statements. Malik Rafique, counsel for the accused former police officials Khurram Shahzad and Saud Aziz, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar and counsel for other accused, Rao Rahim, were present in the court.
1,204 Children Subjected To Violence in Six Months, In Pakistan: NGO Report
October 23, 2013
* Highest number of child abuse cases reported in Punjab; 71 cases reported in capital
ISLAMABAD: As many as 1,204 children – 817 girls and 387 boys – faced violence during the first six months of the year, said a report issued by Sahil, a non-governmental organisation.
The report revealed that from January to June, 640 cases of child abduction were reported, while 136 cases of rape, 73 of gang-rape, 45 of abduction and murder, 30 of attempted rape, 26 of attempted gang-rape, 24 cases of abduction and gang-rape and 11 cases of abduction and harassment were registered.
Nine cases of gang rape and murder, two cases of abduction, rape and murder, and two cases of abduction and attempted rape were also reported during the period.
The report further said that 29 cases of forced marriages, one case of early marriage and murder, one case of abduction and forced marriage, and five cases of vani were also reported from different parts of the country.
The report states that there were 599 registered cases of torture against children, while 217 cases of child abuse were reported from children’s own homes.
There were 194 cases of child abuse of which location is confirmed out of which 65 cases were reported to have taken place on the streets, 48 in fields, 17 in schools or colleges, 15 in forests, eight in religious places, and eight in the children’s places of employment.
As for the reported abusers of the children, 524 victims were abused by strangers, while 500 children knew their abusers in one way or other. In 40 cases, the abusers were relatives of the children, while 135 were neighbours.
According to the report, highest number of child abuse cases was reported from Punjab which had a total number of 810 cases, Sindh had 226 cases, Balochistan had 44 cases and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported 37 cases.
Islamabad reported 71 cases, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 14 cases and Gilgit-Baltistan two cases. Of the total 1,204 cases of child abuse, 645 were reported from the urban areas of the country and 559 from rural areas. app