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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Jun 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Kolkata: She is 16, her husband is 17, Contrasting Laws save Marriage, For Now

 New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Jun 2015

Pakistan Women Commandos Ready to Take On Enemies


 Afghan Clerics Protest Nomination of First Woman to Supreme Court

 Pakistan Women Commandos Ready to Take On Enemies

 The First College for Rural Afghan Girls Could Be a Game Changer

 National Geographic To Launch Film on Malala Yousafzai in 171 Countries

 Women More Likely To Be Victims of Real-World Anti-Muslim Attacks: Report

 Muslim Woman Wants To Be First Hijabi Anchor on American TV

 Teen Girls to Create Africa's First Private Satellite

 Volleyball Ban for Women Revives Debate in Iran

 Theresa May: Isis Luring Women and Children Is Pernicious New Phenomenon

 Products by Asiri Women in High Demand at Abha Fair

 Girl-Child Education - How Far Has Nigeria Gone?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Kolkata: She is 16, her husband is 17, Contrasting Laws save Marriage, For Now

Saibal Sen,TNN | Jun 19, 2015

KOLKATA: She is 16. Her husband is 17. They claim to have married under Muslim Personal Law. The girls' father, however, wants her back because she is a minor under the law of the land.

Faced by conflicting laws, Calcutta high court on Tuesday held that the marriage cannot be nullified unless the father cites child marriage to annul it. The girl, however, has been given the right to decide where she wishes to go: her parents' home or her husband's.

Ayesha (name changed) went missing last October. On October 6, 2014, her father filed a complaint alleging that she has been abducted and compelled to marry. But, when police failed to act, he moved court demanding that police rescue his daughter. He named some suspects. The court summoned them.

When Ayesha appeared before the court, she readily admitted she was 16. On May 13, the judge remanded her to a state-run home till it decided the plea.

Her counsel pleaded that a Muslim girl, or boy for that matter, could marry after puberty at the age of 15 under the Muslim Personal Law. Her father, however, contested this and pointed out that as per the law of the land, the marriage was illegal since his daughter was a minor.

The matter came up for hearing before the bench of Justice Nadira Patherya and Justice Indrajit Chatterjee. The bench appointed senior lawyer Bikash Bhattacharya to help. Bhattacharya was specific in his inputs to the court. "I believe a girl below 18 years cannot marry. That is the law of the land. If they did, it wouldn't be legal," he said. Bhattacharya submitted to the court that the enactment of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 would prevail over Muslim Personal Law.

The court observed that The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 in Section 2 has specifically stated that where both parties are Muslims in case of marriage, the Muslim Personal Law shall prevail. According to it, a person of sound mind who has attained puberty may enter into a contract of marriage and "puberty" as per the explanation given "is presumed in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of 15 years".

Academic Dr Makbul Islam said, "In Islamic edicts, girls can't be married when adolescent. Only adult girls can be married. It doesn't put an age on either. Different countries interpret this differently. In my view, the law of the land must prevail in India and the marriageable age should be 18."

But there are differences in its interpretation too. According to the commentaries on Mohammedan Law by Ameer Ali, puberty will mean the age of understanding and such age of understanding cannot be 15 years. On the other hand, the high court observed that the Parliament has passed multiple laws on this issue. The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, the Special Marriage Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 have all fixed the age of a male attaining majority at 21 years and a female at 18 years. Others too say a person of India shall attain the age of majority on completing 18 years.

The HC didn't brush aside the marriage and hand Ayesha over to her father. It held that to nullify the marriage, either of the parties needed to take steps as per law. Till then, it directed police to move the Child Welfare Board and release Ayesha from the home.



Afghan clerics protest nomination of first woman to Supreme Court

19 June, 2015

Members of an influential Islamic panel in Afghanistan have protested against President Ashraf Ghani's nomination of a woman to the Supreme Court, a milestone appointment in a country where the Taliban once banned women from most areas of public life.

Ghani's decision last week delivered on an election promise to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court, but conservative lawmakers could fight the parliamentary confirmation of Anisa Rassouli, who now heads a juvenile court.

The step represents good news for civil rights activists worried that gains made by women might be eroded after the withdrawal of most foreign troops last year, 13 years after the U.S.-led military intervention that toppled the Taliban in 2001.

The Taliban ruled with a strict interpretation of Islamic law and forbade women to work, attend school or leave home without a male relative and the all-encompassing burqa covering the face and body.

More than a decade later, Afghanistan remains a largely conservative Muslim society and members of the Ulema Council, an influential panel of clerics, protested against Rassouli's nomination in a meeting with Ghani.

"We told him that a woman cannot be a judge in capital crimes and other serious criminal issues," said Shams-ul Rahman Frotan, a panel member who attended last Friday's meeting.

Rassouli's confirmation is likely to face opposition from conservative religious lawmakers.

"Ghani's decision is a big mistake. Under Islam, a woman can only be a judge in small family affairs," said Qazi Nazir Hanifi, a lawmaker from the western province of Herat, who vowed to vote against the confirmation.

Rassouli declined to comment before the parliamentary vote. Ghani's spokesman could not be reached on Thursday, the first full day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

However, the Afghan parliament's own future is in question, since its five-year mandate officially expires next week after elections for new lawmakers, due in April, were delayed indefinitely.

Some politicians and analysts expect Ghani to introduce several nominees, including his defense minister and Rassouli, during the parliament's last official days, in exchange for his support in extending the lawmakers' mandate.



Pakistan Women Commandos Ready to Take On Enemies

19 June, 2015

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first batch of women commandos graduated from Nowshera Elite Force Training School, now ready to take on enemies of the state.

Six months ago, the decision to set up a first woman’s special operations in the area met with wide acclaim.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and IGP Nasir Durrani on Tuesday attended the batch’s passing out parade.

Commando Fauzia said, “We are capable of handling any untoward situation. Our training has enabled us to tackle all forms of combat scenarios.”

The 11th Elite Force squad comprises cops hailing from different parts of the province, including Peshawar, Mardan and Abbottabad. Khattak expressed profound delight over the graduation and in his address and press talk he termed the induction critical to the government’s resolve against militancy.

“The determination of these officers is inspiring,” he said. He announced a pay raise and different perks for the newly-trained commandoes – an additional stipend of Rs3,000 per month along with a Rs15,000 special combat allowance.



The First College for Rural Afghan Girls Could Be a Game Changer

19 June, 2015

A new campaign aims to raise funds for a women's college specializing in engineering, nursing, and midwifery.

Shortly before Afghan native Razia Jan opened a school for girls in the Deh Sabz district of Afghanistan, a group of local men asked her to make it a boys' school. Boys were the “backbone” of Afghanistan, they said.

“Well, you know, the women are the eyesight of Afghanistan,” Jan told the men in a new documentary on the founding of her school. “And unfortunately, you all are blind.”

What Tomorrow Brings, produced by Principle Pictures and in postproduction, follows the progress of the K–12 Zabuli Education Center opened by Jan in 2008. Located northeast of Kabul, it was originally a historic boys' school—a gift to the community from the Afghan king of the 1930s, Amir Amanullah Khan—but over time had been nearly destroyed under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Now the film’s director, Beth Murphy, is traveling the country with a work-in-progress version of the documentary to support Jan’s next project: building the first women’s college in rural Afghanistan.

Because of the remote location they live in, high tuition costs, and a culture that doesn’t prioritize women’s education, most of the girls who are now graduating from the school won’t be able to go to college, according to Jan’s nonprofit foundation, Razia’s Ray of Hope. So Principle Pictures is fund-raising on Indiegogo to open an all-girls technical college that will specialize in nursing, midwifery, and engineering. The campaign has raised $30,000 of its $115,000 goal, and the funds will go toward infrastructure, school supplies, and teacher salaries.

Jan, 71, initially came to the United States in 1970 for college, but stayed after her home country was invaded by the Soviets. Settling down in Duxbury, Massachusetts, she started a tailoring business. Following the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, she began organizing relief campaigns for 9/11 victims, first responders, and soldiers and children in Afghanistan. Jan and other volunteers sent homemade blankets to rescuers at ground zero and care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan and collected more than 30,000 boxes of shoes for Afghan children. After a trip home to Afghanistan in 2002, she was inspired to create the foundation and set about raising funds to rebuild the school in Deh Sabz as a girls' school. Support came from the new government in Afghanistan as well as Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, who wrote the novel The Kite Runner.

Since filming began in 2009, Murphy says she has witnessed remarkable changes made possible by education.

"Illiterate fathers who were leery about sending their daughters into the classroom now express pride that their little girls can help them read letters—even in English," she told TakePart. "The leading men in the community—the village elders—who once refused to look Razia in the eyes now praise her efforts and support the school's growth. Girls who once were silent about forced engagements and early marriages are now speaking up and finding ways to negotiate more time in school. I can’t help but imagine what will be possible for them with college education, a job, and an income."

Women’s rights in Afghanistan hasn’t always been an uphill battle. Before the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the Taliban takeover in the 1990s, Afghan women enjoyed greater independence, and many had thriving careers. In Kabul, for example, 50 percent of government workers were women, 70 percent were schoolteachers, and 40 percent were doctors, according to U.N. Women.

That progress, however, came to a halt under the Taliban’s rule, which has set women’s progress back by decades. Girls’ education was forbidden. So was riding a bike, laughing loudly, wearing bright colors, or showing your face in public. Women and girls were also forced into early and arranged marriages, often suffering physical and sexual abuse as a result. A number of Afghani women have set themselves on fire trying to escape from forced marriages. Even after the Taliban was toppled in December 2001, and despite the drafting of a new constitution in 2004 that gave men and women equal rights, the Taliban’s conservative values and control continue to persist.

"It is heartbreaking to see the way these terrorists treat...women," Jan told CNN in 2012, describing how the Taliban had thrown acid in the faces of girl, poisoned the water, and tossed grenades into schools to deter girls from getting an education. “In their eyes, a woman is an object that they can control. They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being."



National Geographic to launch film on Malala Yousafzai in 171 countries

19 June, 2015

NEW YORK: National Geographic Channel will help in the global theatrical release in October of Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim’s feature documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’, an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.Additionally, in 2016, the film will air on the National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and 45 languages, including in India.“This is a film that you leave not only feeling incredibly inspired, but truly wanting to make a difference.  As leaders in bringing stories of global importance to the largest audience possible, it is more than just an honor to be part of this project, I feel it is our duty,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Channels, in a statement.“That is why we are joining this project as true partners (with Fox Searchlight Pictures), from the global theatrical release through our eventual television broadcast, and dedicating our collective resources to bring Malala’s important journey and advocacy for girls’ education to millions of people worldwide,” she added.The documentary offers a look into Yousafzai’s life both before and following the attack. Fifteen at the time of the incident, she was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education. The shooting sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. Malala miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula termed the film endeavor as “…Davis’ masterful eye captures this inspiring young individual and we are proud to champion her efforts to bring awareness to the critical global issue of the education of girls.”Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “Waiting for Superman”) examines also how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. The film delivers an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young girl’s life – from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the United Nations, to joking around at home with her parents and brothers.The launch of the film will also coincide with an international advocacy and fundraising campaign in partnership with the Malala Fund, Malala’s nonprofit organization working to empower adolescent girls globally through a quality secondary education.



Women More Likely To Be Victims Of Real-World Anti-Muslim Attacks: Report

Jun 19, 2015

A report released today reveals that women are more likely than men to be victims of anti-Muslim attacks off-line (in the 'real world') – while men are more often targeted online.

The study was compiled by Professor Matthew Feldman of Teesside University, and Dr Mark Littler of Hull University.

It found that of 111 off-line attacks reported to Tell MAMA (which measures anti-Muslim attacks) between March 2014 and February 2015, over half were against women – and the majority were wearing religiously distinctive clothing, such as a hijab.

"This might be because they outwardly identify themselves as being Muslim, which makes it easier for those who're angry about [terror] attacks to identify them as a possible target," Mark told Cosmo.

"That's not to say Muslim women are responsible for being attacked because they wear a headscarf – they should have the absolute freedom to wear whatever they want at all times."

While overall there's been a decrease in attacks since last year – from 734 to 548 – the results show a spike in incidents in the UK directly after acts of terrorism – even if they happen in other parts of the world. It means British Muslims are falling victim to acts of retaliatory abuse.

Mark told us, "When there's a broadly Islamic act of political violence – for example the 7/7 bombings or the attack at Charlie Hebdo magazine – the whole [Muslim] community is punished, and we see a rise in anti-Muslim violence."

In the seven days before the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, which killed 12 people, there were 12 reported incidents – compared to the seven days after, when this figure shot up to 45.

A similar pattern can be seen in the aftermath of the atrocities in Sydney and Copenhagen, as well as the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby here in the UK.

And that's just those incidents reported. Matthew told Cosmo, "We know hate crime is generally underreported – with less than half reported to the police – so there are likely to be a much higher number of victims than this. Reminding all victims of hatred that their voice will be heard and taken seriously is vital."

Fiyaz Mughal OBE, of Tell MAMA said in a statement, "From the work we do with victims of anti-Muslim hate, it is clear that local, national and international incidents have real impacts on people's lives here in the UK.

"In a globally connected world, it seems that hate is no different, and that the actions by one group lead to counter-reactions and impacts on another set of communities in another country."

One woman who has seen and felt the impact of such behaviour is Sajda Mughal OBE, director at JAN Trust, a non-profit organisation that supports women in minority communities to help them lead better lives.

Not only is she a survivor of the 7/7 bombings in London, but as a Muslim herself, she's also seen how her community has been affected by the rise of anti-Muslim attacks in the last ten years as a result of it and others since.

"[After the attack] I needed counselling and time off work, and suffered flashbacks," she told us. "But the entire Muslim community suffered too. There was a rise in hostility towards us that I'd never experienced before.

"I saw women wearing headscarves subjected to abuse. They were spat and shouted at and had their headscarves torn off… Britain as I knew it had changed."



Muslim woman wants to be first Hijabi anchor on American TV

Jun 19, 2015

WASHINGTON: Noor Tagouri's thick black curls spiral several inches past her shoulders. It's easy to imagine a news director telling the reporter to cut her hair into a more broadcast-friendly bob. But Tagouri doesn't have to worry about having a conversation like that. Her enviable tresses will always be covered.

That's because Tagouri is hijabi. As in, she artfully drapes a scarf over her head when she's going to be around men she's not related to. So, essentially, whenever she leaves the house.

A hijab, which means "cover" in Arabic, is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women (as well as some men and non-Muslims). Most often covering the hair and neck, it's usually paired with an overall fashion style geared toward modesty — loose-fitting clothing, long sleeves, no shorts.

"It empowers me," says Tagouri. "It helps me do what I want to do."

What she wants to do is to be the first hijabi anchor on American commercial television. And she's in a hurry to get there. After graduating early from high school, she went on to earn her bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. At 21, she now reports part-time for CBS Radio and Prince George's Community Television.

She's also a smartphone celebrity. In December 2012, she joined the ranks of social media stars after posting a Facebook photo of herself sitting at the anchor desk at ABC 7 news in Washington, labeling it "my dream." The post went viral, and Tagouri quickly amassed thousands of followers. Now she boasts more than 96,000 likes on Facebook, nearly 62,000 followers on Instagram and 17,000 on Twitter.

Unlike her onscreen role models, who include the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Lisa Ling, Tagouri has to navigate the image-centric media landscape wearing an immediate marker of her faith — a square of cloth that signifies, "I am Muslim." That can be a high hurdle in a country where a lot of misunderstanding still surrounds Islam.

Consider the case of Samantha Elauf, who didn't get hired by Abercrombie & Fitch after she wore a headscarf to a job interview in 2008. When the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the retailer had violated anti-discrimination laws when it rejected Elauf because her hijab conflicted with its dress code, "I was pleasantly surprised," says Tagouri.

She sees the decision as a victory not just for Elauf or other Muslims but for all women. "It was a huge step forward" in establishing a societal rule that people shouldn't be penalized for dressing differently. "I think people are starting to get past that. We're tired of being carbon-copy cookie cutters of what society expects us to be."

What really matters is not what you wear but whether you can do the job well, says Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. It's insulting, he says, "to think that an individual who wears a hijab or turban isn't capable of being unbiased" or fair in a media job or any other job. "They are more than capable of taking up any occupation."

Despite other hijabi women warning her that "it'll always be the scarf or the job," Tagouri is confident that she won't have to hide her beliefs to find employment. Besides, she says, "My identity is way more important to me than a job."

She definitely doesn't lack for self-confidence. Perched on a wicker chair, one leg tucked beneath her, in the sunroom of her Libyan American family's palatial home in Bowie, Maryland, Tagouri says she has no interest in being anyone other than herself. She still lives at home with her father, a pathologist at St. Mary's Hospital in Southern Maryland, her mother and four younger siblings and likes to hang out with her 10-year-old sister, Lena. She has no interest in drinking but she's always up for a show by Florence + the Machine, one of her favorite bands.

Like many a millennial, she talks in excited bursts, sprinkling her speech with "likes" and getting sidetracked on giggle-filled tangents about the various people she's met on the extensive trips spawned by her Internet celebrity. On camera, she says, she ditches the "reporter voice" and speaks as if she's having a conversation with the viewers. "I'm, like, 'This is what's going on, here's what's happening,'" she explains of her style.

She's not concerned about her otherness in an industry long known for its focus on standardized perfection — impeccable blowout, straight teeth, no accent. Millennials are hungry for new faces that they can see themselves in, she says, noting that so often, all you see are success stories from people who are 20 years into their careers.

"It's a totally different perspective that I'm able to bring when I'm still on the journey," she says. "These are my struggles, this is what I'm going through, this is what worked for me, this is what hasn't worked for me."

Capitalizing on her initial viral success, Tagouri and her family came up with the hashtag campaign #LetNoorShine. Noor means "light" in Arabic, and Tagouri wanted to use her name to inspire others to share their own passions and to give people a platform to celebrate their difference, she says.

Today, she supplements her reporting gigs with travel and speaking engagements. Recently, she spoke at a Foggy Bottom TedX on the theme of "Being Rebellious" before jetting off to Paris to talk about hijab and women's rights on France's nightly news talk show, Le Grand Journal.

She acknowledges that her hybrid career model — part reporter, part motivational speaker — is not the norm. But she's not so sure that she wants to follow a traditional path. "Journalism is changing," she says. "You can't remove yourself so much from the story."

She shrugs off the idea that some may think that her religion will affect her objectivity, that mightiest of journalistic ethics. "Me wearing a scarf on my head won't make me report a story any differently," she insists.

Plus, that scarf instills her with confidence that people are paying attention to what she's saying rather than to her looks or her body.

Still, this being the digital age, she receives her fair share of hateful comments. "I get hate every day" from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, she says, about everything from how she prays to the tightness of her jeans. But she doesn't obsess.

"That says a lot more about you than it says about me," she says with a shrug. "Whatever."

If anything, Tagouri sees her hijab and her modesty as playing in her favor. She remembers a woman approaching her at a gala last year. "She's like, 'You know, you're the most covered person here, yet everyone's eyes are on you,' " she recalls with a laugh.

And that's just the way she wants to keep it.



Teen girls to create Africa's first private satellite

19 June, 2015

Cape Town - Africa’s first private satellite will be launched in 2016.

But scientists and engineers will not be behind this bold move – it is being powered by a group of South African high school girls.

Pupils from across Cape Town on Youth Day attended the launch of the ambitious project, run by the Meta Economic Development Organisation (Medo).

A shortage of technical skills required for building businesses motivated the company to launch a science, technology, engineering and maths focused programme, explained Medo CEO Judi Sandrock.

“The intention of this programme is not to be a once-off. It is to be the start of at least a decade-long drive to inspire young people to enter the science and technical fields,” she said.

She referred to the National Advisory Council on Innovation in April, confirming that in the 2014 matric results, only 7.6% of pupils passed maths with more than 60%, while 5.5% managed the same in physical science.

'Technically passionate households'

The programme is crucial in reversing the legacy of apartheid which excluded maths and science from the curriculum of non-white children, the company said in a statement.

Today’s children are “not brought up in technically passionate households” and the number of technical degree applicants is decreasing year-on-year".

The Medo programme has been designed to inspire young women to consider science, technology, engineering, and maths as a career.

These careers represent eight of the top 10 occupations in demand in the country, Sandrock pointed out.

At the launch, the girls were introduced to the programme through an interactive workshop.

Focused on creating their own jiggy bot – an electrical device which uses different mechanisms to light up a bulb, vibrate, and move – the goggle-wearing teenagers then assembled and soldered their creations with meticulous precision.

'Space trek' camps

This was part of the first stage of the project which introduces the women to electronics and the basics of practical science.

“Space trek” week-long camps will take place during the holiday following the end of the third term, where participants will design their satellite payload experiments and test them using high altitude weather balloons.

In December, extended school holiday internships to finalise payload designs will take place, and the satellite will be built for launch.

Absorbed in assembling her jiggy bot, Siddiqah Latief told News24 she never thought science could be so exciting.

'I always thought it was for nerdy boys'

“It’s amazing to see how all these bits come together to create something so technical and amazing,” the Pelican Park High School pupil enthused.

“It has never been my favourite subject, but I am starting to love science. I always thought it was for nerdy boys. Now I am thinking of making this my career.”

Nina-Rose Clarke of Pinelands High School agreed.

“I never thought building things could be this interesting. I am loving this experience. It’s so exciting to be exposed to more than just drawing and studying ideas. Constructing stuff is so much better.”

The satellite is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2016.



Volleyball ban for women revives debate in Iran

19 June, 2015

A ban on women attending two volleyball matches against the United States is reviving a fierce debate in Iran, with some accusing the government of backing down to conservatives.

The Volleyball World League men's games in Tehran on Friday and Sunday are generating huge excitement here, especially given the two countries' difficult relations after 35 years without diplomatic ties.

When the government announced this month that some women would be allowed entry despite a long ban on them attending men's sporting events, many female fans were hopeful.

But media have since said only 200 of the 12,000 seats in the arena at Tehran's Azadi sport complex will be reserved for women -- specifically female officials from the volleyball federation and players' relatives.

This has sparked accusations that, despite promises of increased openness, Iranian authorities are still not willing to take on the country's hardliners.

Many women's rights activists have taken to social media to voice their frustration, posting on Twitter under the hashtag #letwomengotostadium.

"Really, what's wrong with women being in stadiums?" one asked, while another wrote: "So they just lied that they would let women in the #volleyball stadium? Is that how we work?"

Rules prohibiting women's access to stadiums have been in place since Iran's revolution of 1979, officially to protect them from obscene behaviour among male fans.

The government of President Hassan Rouhani, despite opposition from religious conservatives, has been trying to relax the restrictions. Recently, some women watched a male basketball match from a cordoned-off section of a venue in Tehran.

The issue of gender at sporting events garnered international attention after the arrest last summer of a British-Iranian law graduate, Ghoncheh Ghavami, who took part in a protest outside a stadium in the capital before a male volleyball match.

Jailed for five months before being released on bail, she was later sentenced to a year in prison for propaganda against the regime and for having contacts with opposition groups. An appeals court eventually dropped other charges against her.

The case caught the attention of volleyball's governing authority, the FIVB, which last November banned Iran from hosting international championships because of the single sex rules on spectators. Football's FIFA was also critical and urged reform.

Iran's vice president for women's affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, this month expressed support for women being allowed to watch sports played by men, admitting to not knowing the reasons for restrictions.

In April last year, Rouhani admitted there were "deficiencies in women's rights and in gender equality," urging acknowledgement that "women stand alongside men and the two are equal."

But the government's moves toward reform have hit barriers, highlighting a split between conservatives anxious to preserve Islamic traditions and others in Iran who want greater openness.

Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi, an ultraconservative, recently questioned the "need in the current situation" to allow women to enter a stadium.

The president of the Iranian parliament's cultural affairs committee, Ahmad Salek Kashani, also criticised the move.

"Women who are allowed to enter the stadiums, what are they going to watch? Is it anything other than men's bodies that have been left bare because of sports clothes?"

A small protest against women in stadiums took place in Tehran on Wednesday, despite such demonstrations being deemed illegal.

The country's police chief, General Hossein Ashtari, has said his forces will act "under the law, even though some criticise us, because police are the guarantors of law enforcement," stressing that Iran is "a country where we must defend Islamic values."

His predecessor last year said diversity in stadiums "was not in the public interest".

The issue is expected to resurface during this summer's Asian Championship for volleyball in Tehran, organised by the Asian Federation and not by the FIVB. So far, stadiums are only expected to be open to women supporters from foreign countries during that tournament.



Theresa May: Isis Luring Women and Children Is Pernicious New Phenomenon

19 June, 2015

The home secretary has said attempts to get women and children to go to Syria are a “pernicious new phenomenon” and directly appealed to those tempted to go by saying: “Do not travel.”

Speaking at a police counter-terrorism conference in London on Thursday, Theresa May said the deadliest threat came from Islamic State (Isis). “They want to lure young women and families with false promises of starting a new life,” she said.

Her comments came after it emerged that three sisters from Bradford were believed to have travelled to Syria with their nine children. Parts of the country are controlled by Isis.

The home secretary said Isis used the “powerful allure” of propaganda to “recruit and brainwash” men and women and poison others against western values.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, used the conference to call for more research to understand why people were attracted to a regime many considered barbaric.

“We’ve got to understand more and come up with some structured way of intervening better,” he said. “There can never be any justification for a child being taken to a war zone.”

Hogan-Howe described the apparent situation of children being taken to Syria as difficult to understand. “Do you need to tell a mother not to take a child to a war zone? That seems really difficult. It must be that they are getting overwhelmed by some passion for the things they are attracted to in terms of what they believe is happening in Syria,” he said.

Hogan-Howe also said it was too early to conclude that new powers to seize passports should be broadened to cover situations where there might be a child safety issue: “We have to look at some of these cases. There are powers available and we have to make sure we’ve got enough information to use them.”



Products by Asiri women in high demand at Abha fair

19 June, 2015

Heritage and traditional pieces from all over the Kingdom took center stage at the Ram 2 fair, especially pieces from Jazan and Asir. The event, organized by the Abha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, saw the Asiri dress, Al-Khous, ceramic pots, incense and silver pieces and other heritage products.

Several women urged the organizers to extend the exhibition in Asir for 15 days and provide them with transportation and workshops for Asiri heritage where they could hone their skills and share experiences with others.

Zafaran Asiri said that she presented the Asiri dress and handicrafts. “People love this dress. It ranges from SR800-2,500, depending on whether it is hand-made or not. I need support for selling my products in mall so that I can have a good income to support my family,” she said.

Explaining that she gained considerable experience in marketing by taking part in events like Ram 2, she said: “It was helpful for us to know how to deal with clients, reach to a wider client-base in a quick time and identify the needs of people,” she said urging the bodies organizing the event to hold periodical fairs throughout the year and set specific areas for productive families.

Amna Adam Yasin said that there was high demand for her products made of wool, crochet and leather. She added that these events help them sell their products and sustain their family hoping that the event would extend longer so they can benefit more.

Um Faisal said that the heritage section is one of the most important corners of the Ram 2 fair. She added that many visitors come looking for heritage pieces to be showcased in their houses and declare their pride of the ancestors’ heritage and traditions. She also stressed the need for more training workshops.

The General Secretary of the Janub Women Charity Association, Mona Al-Braik, said that the organization was keen on developing the heritage product of productive families in the Asir region, stressing that the organization planned many training courses for women to meet their needs of acquiring certain skill sets.

She added that the training was in many fields to enable women to excel in making handicrafts including incense, traditional cooking and popular gifts industry heritage, Sadu, embroidered Asiri dress, as well as courses and workshops specializing in tissue industry, pottery and Khus.

She concluded by praising efforts of her Highness Princess Nora bint Mohammed who has focused on maintaining such courses to keep this popular tradition.

Copyright: Arab News © 2015 All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (



Girl-Child Education - How Far Has Nigeria Gone?

19 June, 2015

Yabo Yakubu had a dream of becoming a nurse. She developed interest in the profession right from her childhood after seeing how her community accorded respect to a female nursing officer that used to attend to sick persons in her area.

Yabo told Daily Trust: "I always admire the nurse and said to myself that I will be a nurse when I grow up."

However, Yabo's dream was cut short while she was 10 years when her uncle visited her home and took her with him to Abuja to serve as a maid.

As a maid, she was paid a monthly salary that was sent to her parents, usually at the end of the year.

She said that most girls of her age from her community in Plateau State work as maids in exchange for money, items or schooling, adding that in her own case, her parents resolved that they needed the money to take care of the family and prepare for her marriage.

Now at 21years and only attended school up to primary four, Yabo said she had served over five families in Abuja and only visits home occasionally.

She said: "I have no hope of going to school again to become a nurse because my parents are looking forward to me getting married."

Yabo is one of the many girls whose dreams of going to school with a view to having brighter future were cut short.

In Nigeria, many children do not attend school because their labour is needed to either help at home or to bring additional income into the family.

Full report at: