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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 12 Oct 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Lawmakers, Civil Society in Pakistan Seek End to Child Marriage

New Age Islam News Bureau

12 Oct 2012 

 Arab Women Wage Cyber 'Uprising' Demanding Rights

 Madonna Slams Taliban, Dedicates Song to Malala at Concert

 Women Protest against Murderous Attack on Malala

 Syrian Alawite female officer defects, urges national unity

 ‘A Diary That Highlighted Swat’s Human Tragedy’

 Targeting Women: Malala, Taliban’s Third Female Victim

 Fight against Child Marriage in Afghanistan Must Go On: UN

 Malala Yousafzai condition 'satisfactory'        

 Violence against Women: Call to join ‘One Billion Rising Campaign’ in Pakistan

 Feminists behind the Veil

 Kuwait’s first women-only karting revs up enthusiasm

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Women Protest against Murderous Attack on Malala





Lawmakers, Civil Society in Pakistan Seek End to Child Marriage

October 12, 2012

* Early girl marriage termed modern-day slavery

ISLAMABAD: The government should take stringent measures to stop violence against girls who are forcefully married at early age and are involved in child labour in the home-based industry, said MNA and member of Human Rights Standing Committee of the parliament, Dr Attiya Anayatullah, on Thursday.

Speaking to participants of a press conference held by ActionAid, Blue Vein (BV) and Girls Not Brides (GNB) in front of National Press Club in the federal capital to mark International Girl Child Day, Dr Attiya said that the Women Parliamentary Caucus has introduced three bills on the issues of women and children, which include Domestic Violence Bill, Child Marriage Restraint Act (revised) and Child Rights Charter. “But the progress on the passage of those bills is slow and it needs to be paced up so that helpless women, girls and children start exercising their rights to live a dignified life,” she demanded.

While condemning terrorist’s attack on Malala Yousafzai, Dr Attiya said that the culprit should be brought to justice and the society should widely condemn such inhuman and un-Islamic act of terrorism. She said that Council of Islamic Ideology should play a proactive role in this regard by issuing decrees against those who commit such atrocities.

The “Doll Protest” involved the display of toy figures holding miniature placards against the early girl child marriages on the occasion of the international day for the girl child. This was an innovate approach to express concern over the issue of child marriages in Pakistan as the dolls and other toys played the role of demonstrators. The toys were arranged to mimic a protest, complete with signs against the girl child marriages.

Nasreen Azhar, a social activist and member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said, “Early marriage is such a big evil that it darkens the future of more than 37 percent girl children of Pakistan who have been married off at any early age, denying them the right to education. Early marriage causes severe physical and emotional challenges for innocent girls who are married at early age.” Nasreen said that it was the right of every girl to be married at the same age defined for boys. “In practice, however, girls are married even before they reach the legally defined age of 16. We demand that girls should also be married only when they reach the age of 18,” she said.

Talking on this occasion Action Aid Programme Manager Uzma Tahir said that Child marriage practice was rife in Pakistan, despite being illegal. It is modern day slavery. Child brides drop out of school and are rarely allowed to work. Often they become victims of domestic violence. They lose their childhood completely. And with their bodies too young for child bearing, pregnancy results in serious health risks for both mother and child. Forcing children, especially girls, into early marriages can be physically and emotionally harmful. It violates their rights to personal freedom and growth.”

With a strong belief that this day will raise awareness about these life-hindering obstacles, and will proactively break down those obstacles locally and globally Blue Veins, Action Aid Pakistan, who are members of the End Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance and members of the Girls Not Brides (Global Alliance to End Child Marriages), organised a “Doll Protest” followed by a token rally and Press conference at Islamabad Press Club.

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child, establishing a day to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

Programme Implementation Manager Shahleela Khan while talking to the participants of the rally said that “For both boys and girls, early marriage has profound physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional consequences, cutting off educational opportunities and chances for personal growth. For girls, in addition, it will almost certainly mean premature pregnancy - which causes higher rates of maternal mortality - and is likely to lead to a lifetime of domestic and sexual subservience. Teenage girls are also more susceptible than mature women to sexually-transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS”

“The prevalence of child marriages has hindered the achievement of almost all the millennium development goals. Some of the most vulnerable groups, including girls who are married young, have been left behind in development efforts. We need to ensure that adolescent girls are on the agenda for any dialogues on the post-2015 global framework and that our policy asks incorporate their needs,” Khan said. Recent recognition by the international community of the impact of child marriage on girls’ educational and employment opportunities (G8 foreign ministers, the UN Commission on Population and Development, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and delegates at the World Health Assembly) needs to be sustained and integrated the post-2015 agenda,” she added.



Arab Women Wage Cyber 'Uprising' Demanding Rights

October 11, 2012

By Ali Khalil           

DUBAI: Taking their cue from the Arab Spring, but fearing a backlash from Islamists the uprisings brought to power, Arab cyber activists have embarked on a daring campaign urging women fight for equality.

"The uprising of women in the Arab World" is the title of the Facebook page where the campaign was launched on October 1 to highlight "discrimination" against women in the Arab world.

Within days, the number of "likes" that the page has attracted has increased from about 20,000 to almost 35,000.

Some 500 people, mostly women but also a surprising number of men, have posted pictures with statements of support, some even challenging religious and traditional taboos.

"We expected a response because we knew that women were holding out for a platform (to air their grievances)... but this response has been astonishing," Diala Haidar, one of four organisers of the campaign, told AFP by telephone.

The campaign began amid an outcry in Tunisia and Egypt, the first two countries to oust their long-serving autocrats in the Arab uprisings, over serious threats to women's rights from newly installed Islamist rulers.

In Tunisia, civil society groups were outraged after a woman who was raped by two policemen found herself last month facing a charge of indecency.

In Egypt, activists were enraged over leaked proposed drafts of the new constitution suggesting a lower marriage age for women, legalising female circumcision and the use of Islamic jurisprudence in a way that could limit women's rights to work and education.

"Revolutions aim to achieve freedom, justice and dignity. These could not be fully achieved if women are to remain in the back seat," said Haidar, a Lebanese physicist by profession.

"There has been disappointment" over the sidelining of women in politics, she said, pointing out that "women were not standing idle during the revolts, when they faced bullets and got dragged on the streets" by security forces.

Haidar kicked off the campaign along with fellow Lebanese Yalda Younes, Palestinian Farah Barqawi, and Egyptian Sally Zohney -- active rights campaigners in their respective countries.

Among the aims of the campaign is to stir debate "over the situation of women, mainly after the backlash they faced following the success of revolutions in (some) Arab Spring countries," said a statement.

The group asks supporters to write "I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world", and why, on a paper or computer screen, to take a picture of themselves with the statement and post it on the Facebook page.

Tamara Reem and Yousif Abbas are Palestinians who posed in a picture with written statements.

Reem's read: "I support the Arab women's uprising because my virginity is my business," while Abbas wrote that he supported the cause because a woman's "virginity is her business."

Such declarations have not gone down well with some zealous visitors to the website who have plastered the page with insults, although this has failed to stem the flow of supporters.

"I am with the uprising... because my body is mine and you don't have the right to sexually harass me," wrote Nihad Mohammed from Egypt. "No to rape. No to violence," wrote Farah Joy from Tunisia.

Fatimah from Lebanon carried a statement saying she backed the cause because her "honour and moral values cannot be represented by just a hymen".

Assil, a Palestinian, was more daring: "I'm sick and tired. I wish I had a penis so that I can go out whenever I want, just like my brother," read her message.

She was highlighting the restrictions imposed by traditional Arab families on the movement of their daughters for fear of committing acts that could tarnish a family's honour.

Sarah from Yemen highlighted the problem of child marriage and marital rape in her impoverished nation.

Abdulkarim, a 16-year-old Saudi, ridiculed a law that makes younger male members of families responsible for adult women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

"According to law, I am the guardian for my widowed mother!" he wrote.

Larissa from Lebanon wrote: "A Lebanese woman should have the right to pass her nationality to her children," highlighting a dilemma for mothers married to foreigners in several Arab states.

Based on Islamic jurisdiction, men get the upper hand in courts when it comes to divorce, child custody and inheritance.

Social traditions relegate women to the level of second-class citizens, subjecting them to various restrictions depending on how patriarchal her society is.

"Our aim is (the implementation of) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CEDAW" or Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, said Haidar.

Most Arab states that are CEDAW signatories have reservations on articles stipulating equal rights for women and men, mainly in matters related to marriage and nationality of children.

"We have to continue the revolution to oust male chauvinism that turns every man into a dictator over his wife, daughter, sister, and even mother," said a campaign statement.



Madonna slams Taliban, dedicates song to Malala at concert

October 12, 2012

After the outpour of grief and anger over the attack on Malala Yousafzai from world leaders and officials, the teenage girl from Swat received support from an unexpected quarter when Madonna dedicated a song to Malala in a concert in Los Angeles.

According to a report on The Hollywood Reporter, the music diva said she cried when she heard about the shooting of the girl in Swat valley. “This song is for you, Malala,” she said and then went on to sing “Human nature.”

“The 14-year-old schoolgirl who wrote a blog about going to school. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her. Do you realise how sick that is,” Madonna asked her fans in LA.

The 54-year-old then shouted “Support education! Support women!” to loud cheers from the crowd.

Madonna even went on to reveal Malala’s name, which was written on her name when she stripped during the concert.

Some of the fans who attended the concert were moved by Madonna’s and took to social media websites to praise the act:

@tecknotot: The dedications tonight got me all choked up. Madonna dedicated couple sets to kids who died #bullying & to #Malala the Pakistani girl #MDNA

@rbasileh: Madonna wrote the name MALALA on her back tonight she was the Pakistani girl killed by the Taliban

@childfreediva: #Madonna talked about #Malala from stage today. I like my artists to be well informed, tyvm. #MDNA

@xavier69: Madonna Writes Malala on her back in LA for girl killed by Taliban!



Women protest against murderous attack on Malala

October 12, 2012

KARACHI: Women from different walks of life joined representatives of NGOs working for cause of women empowerment in large numbers, at Karachi Press Club on Thursday, to register their protest against cowardly attempt on life on Malala Yousufzai. Protesters who strongly condemned the attack on the girl student’s van that injured three girls, including Malala, said it was an assault on the symbol of resistance against resistance and extremism. The protest organised by the Joint Action Committee comprising Women Action Forum, Pakistan Peace Committee, National Students’ Federation, Labour Party Pakistan, Aurat Foundation and the Workers Party Pakistan was followed by a candle lit vigil. The protesters lit candles as well as oil lamps. They also had bands tied around their arms and heads, inscribed with slogan, “I am Malala”. Speakers, including Anis Haroon, Karamat Ali, Saleha Athar, Ramzan Memon, Nasir Mansoor, Malka Khan, Farhat Parveen, Khurram Abbas and others on the occasion demanded an immediate enquiry into the matter where all the culprits must be brought to justice. They also prayed for early recovery of the brave daughter of Pakistan and expressed their solidarity with her family. The speakers urged the government to prepare an anti-terrorism policy to combat the menace and said that across the board deweaponisation was also essential to get rid of terrorism.\10\12\story_12-10-2012_pg12_2



Syrian Alawite female officer defects, urges national unity

11 October 2012

As the daily bloodbath in Syria continues, so do Syrian army defections.

The social media site, YouTube, has witnessed videos showcasing defections of soldiers. While the list of defectors has been dominated by males, the latest defection announcement comes from an Alawite woman, Zubaida al-Miqi, whose work for the Syrian army’s recruitment department is now history.

In the YouTube video, Miqi claims to be the first female officer to defect.

“Oh people of my country, oh people of my sect; the conflict ensuing in the country is between the oppressor and the oppressed, between the regime and the citizens. The struggle has never been about sects or minorities, but the regime is trying to turn it into a sectarian clash and to demolish the purpose of the revolution. Oh army friends, let us claim victory for our country out of pride and nationalism. Show people that the country’s geography is not a sectarian one. Show them that national unity surpasses sectarianism. Teach people that sectarianism destroys a country,” she said.

Miqi continued by quoting verses from the Quran, saying that murder of others is haram or prohibited.

She also concluded her defection statement by thanking all of whom supported her decision and helped her defect. She announced that she would join the Free Syrian Army (FSA) wing in Damascus and its suburbs.

Defections have peaked over the last few months but there is no exact figure to sum the number in total.

Earliest records of defection came in July 2011, when the Turkey-based Colonel Riad al-Asaad announced his defection and the formation of FSA.

FSA has sought to unify fighters and defectors against regime of President Bashar al-Assad by forming a military council tied with the country’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council.



‘A Diary That Highlighted Swat’s Human Tragedy’

By Manzoor AliP

October 12, 2012

PESHAWAR: Malala Yousafzai was only 11 years of age when she became the “voice of Swat” through her diary entries on the BBC Urdu website.

While Abdul Hai Kakar, the brains behind Malala’s diary, admits that the attack on the 14-year-old was a possibility, he maintains that her blogs played a crucial role in highlighting Swat’s human tragedy.

Kakar, a former BBC Urdu journalist from Peshawar, spoke to The Express Tribune via Skype from Prague, where now he works for Radio Mashal, a Pashto service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

“I covered the Swat conflict extensively for the BBC and observed that reporting in Pakistani media was clichéd and missed a humanitarian angle,” he said.

Kakar said that Malala’s dairy was an attempt to creatively and objectively portray the situation on ground in Swat.

Full report at:



Targeting women: Malala, Taliban’s third female victim

October 11, 2012

PESHAWAR: The attack on a 14-year-old girl shook the nation, but Malala Yousafzai is not the first female to be targeted by the Taliban.

The ruthless militants have previously targeted and killed two women from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Female empowerment

Earlier this year, on July 5, militants killed Khyber Agency-based social worker Farida Afridi. Her crime, purportedly, was to be an agent of change in the conservative tribal agency.

Full report at:



Malala Yousafzai condition 'satisfactory'        

October 12, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: A Pakistani military spokesman says a 14-year-old girl shot by a Taliban gunman is in "satisfactory" condition but cautions next few days will be critical.

Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said Friday that Malala Yousufzai is being kept unconscious and on a ventilator, and doctors will decide when to take her off. He said her blood pressure and heartbeat are normal.

Full report at:



Violence against Women: Call to join ‘One Billion Rising Campaign’ in Pakistan

October 12, 2012

KARACHI: Chairperson, National Commission on Women Status, Anis Haroon has invited every Pakistani to join “One Billion Rising Campaign,” aimed at promotion of “Zero Tolerance to Violence against Women.”

Chairing a meeting here on Thursday, she urged people pertaining to all age groups and from all spheres of life to join their counterparts across the globe by launching the campaign. The issue is universal, however, is at the same time extremely important in context of Pakistan where violence continues to be a problem because of social and traditional norms.

Full report at:\10\12\story_12-10-2012_pg7_23



Feminists Behind the Veil

Michael Ray | October 11, 2012    

Seven of us dined recently at Hotel Laguna on the outside terrace, overlooking the waves. The two women in our group, aged 24, wanted it that way.  They are from Afghanistan and had never seen the ocean. A surfer required a definition. Their clothing enveloped them and partially hid their faces.

They had been in the United States for only a few days and were students in a program at a local law school, which I was asked not to further identify. Both already had completed law school in Afghanistan.

Full report at:



Kuwait’s first women-only karting revs up enthusiasm


Women in Kuwait are finally breaking into another male bastion by going kart racing, a sport so far restricted to men. The first kart racing for women will be held next month. Within a few days of the race being announced, 17 teams have officially registered for it. The kart racing to be held on November 24, 2012 will be a women-only event. “This is the first event of its kind for women to be held in Kuwait.

Full report at: