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Malays Bare Insecurities In The Face Of K-Pop ‘Threat’

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Jan 2015

A session of Save the Children's Choices program in Cairo, Credit Elizabeth Stuart


 In A First, Woman Officer Leads Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

 ‘Women Can Seek More Maintenance under Domestic Violence Act’: Bombay HC

 Female Protester Killed On Eve of Egypt Uprising Anniversary

 In Egypt, Sowing Seeds of Gender Equality

 Domestic Violence in Turkey Climbed 33 Percent In 2014

 Syrian Women Fear Abuse during Marriage – But Divorce Frightens As Much

 Wife, Children of Australian ISIS Fighter Long To Go Home To Australia

 Angelina Jolie Visits Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

 Ghana: Gender Ministry to Eliminate Violence against Women/Girls

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Malays Bare Insecurities In The Face Of K-Pop ‘Threat’

25 January 2015

ANUARY 25 — A fan gets chosen to go onstage and meet the pop star he has previously only seen from afar.

He cannot believe his luck. His heart is still beating fast and he can barely contain his excitement. His eyes are fixated on the star, everything else is just noise.

There might be handshakes, friendly hugs. Photos are taken. The moment is awkward, but it is also fun and funny.

The same scene has replayed itself over and over again across the world. Anywhere else, it would be left alone and in time forgotten, except for the smitten fan.

It did not seem so recently when the fans were three Malay girls who were thrust into infamy just because their heads were covered in the traditional Tudung.

After a Facebook page maliciously labelled the scene as “Malay girls molested on stage by K-Pop men”, the incident has become a lightning rod that united certain quarters of the Malay community, hasty and eager in their moral policing.

The response that followed was mostly vile, with Malay daily Sinar Harian mentioning the incident on its front page, claiming that what happened was “worse than hugging dogs.”

Religious authorities and scholars were quick to condemn the event, promising brimstone and fire. You would have thought that the world was ending.

But above all, at the centre was a feeling the insecurities of the Malay community was finally unleashed after years of simmering denial and pent-up frustration.

1. Insecurity about pop culture

Hate it or love it, Korean pop culture — from K-pop music to TV dramas to variety shows — is perhaps South Korea’s most successful export. Starting in the late 1990s, the Korean wave, or hallyu, has since swept across the whole world and Malaysia together with it.

-Several Malay-language radio channels now play K-pop songs in their programmes and chart shows. Malay youths are actually paying big bucks for these concerts, merchandise, and even actual physical albums that cost up to hundreds for their special editions.

Shows like Running Man are household names. Songs and dances by artists such as Wonder Girls and PSY became viral to the point of annoyance, but it is a level of fame that many can only dream of.

Compared to that, where is Malay pop culture now? Are we to be forever defined by P. Ramlee, Sudirman, and Yasmin Ahmad?

It is understandable how this might have spooked the entertainment industry, where certain quarters held the audience to ransom with their tired cry of “support our local scene.”

2. Insecurity about virility

Some Malay men were quick to shame the Malay girls for allegedly being “cheap” with their Korean stars. The girls were made to feel unworthy of their faith.

Such comments masked the suspicion that some Malay men feel inadequate about their chances to attract a mate. As such, they fall back to their male entitlement: those Malay women belong to them, and it is only they who deserve the women’s attention.

Korean idols can look flawless, with their androgynous looks, perfect hair, stylish attire, and their toned physique. The fact that Malay women can fall head over heels for men with features that can be described as feminine can be unnerving to some.

One minister even tweeted, either jokingly or defensively, that Malay women should return to “real men”: the tall, dark, and handsome, instead of the pale, skinny, and pretty. It is telling that most men who support this notion would themselves only prefer the pale, skinny and pretty when it comes to women.

This myth has been recycled many times over, that the foreigners are coming for the Malay women: from Arabs, Africans, to South Asian immigrants, and even white expats. Now it is the Koreans.

3. Insecurity about identity

Lest we forget, K-pop is just the latest “threat” against the Malay and Muslim communities. Before this there were black metal and punk. Go years back, and there were probably warnings against just about anything that young people listen to.

Even years from now in the future, the same old folks will still cry the same warnings.

If you believe the religious authorities, Malay youths would suddenly forget to be Malays and Muslims if they expose themselves to foreign culture.

Years of failed nation-building and reconciliation with other ethnic groups have left the country without a cohesive identity. The ones suffering the most might perhaps be the Malays, many of whom retreat into their shell of Muslim identity when faced with culture clashes.

As always, when faced with a foreign juggernaut such as the Korean wave, the easiest step would be to blame “The Other” rather than face up to our own shortfalls.

There is always somebody else to blame behind the phenomenon: the liberals, Christian evangelists, church activists.

It is easier to call for protectionism for our own entertainment industry, or dismissing K-pop for being inferior, rather than stepping up our game.

Perhaps Malay men should look at themselves and figure out what it is that makes Korean idols so attractive, even sexually? Is it their image of being sweet, romantic and sensitive? Or their image of not seeing women as objects and possessions that belong only to men of certain ethnic groups?

Religious authorities should ask themselves, why are some Malays not taking religion as seriously as they take entertainment? How important is religion to Malay youths these days?

K-pop will still be around, at least for another few years. Should Malay fans now pre-emptively be banned from sharing the stage with their idols for fear of enraging some entitled, hypocritical men?

To punish our youths’ taste for our own insecurities would be unfair. Just as we can embrace K-pop, we can also learn a lot from it.



In A First, Woman Officer Leads Guard of Honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

Jan 25, 2015

Wing Commander Pooja Thakur became the first woman to lead the ceremonial Guard of Honour which was inspected by the U.S. President Barack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday.

Wing Commander Thakur belongs to the administrative branch of the Indian Air Force and is currently posted at ‘Disha’, the publicity cell under the Directorate of Personnel Officers at the Air Force Headquarters.

She hails from Rajasthan and is active in Para-jumping and adventure sports.

President Obama received a 21 gun salute at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and then met the President Pranab Mukherjee. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers were also present.

Mr. Obama later left for Raj Ghat to pay respects at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial.



‘Women Can Seek More Maintenance under Domestic Violence Act’: Bombay HC

Jan 25, 2015

Even if an aggrieved woman has been given maintenance under any law, she can seek further maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court has ruled.

“Once we consider Section 20(1)(d) of the D.V. Act, the conclusion would be that an aggrieved person is entitled to claim maintenance under this Section in addition to her maintenance right under any other law for the time being in force,” Justice S.B. Shukre said in his order passed last week.

After passing the order, the court dismissed the petition filed by a 30-year-old resident of Gadchiroli against his 23-year-old wife and one-year-old daughter, who reside in Chandrapur.



Female protester killed on eve of Egypt uprising anniversary

 25 January 2015

A female demonstrator was killed in clashes with Egyptian police during a rare leftwing protest in central Cairo Saturday, the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, an official said.

A health ministry spokesman said the woman died of birdshot wounds. Fellow protesters said she was hit with birdshot fired by police to disperse the march.

Islamists have called for protests on Sunday in a bid to revive what they say were the “revolution” that overthrew Mubarak and briefly brought an Islamist to power as president.

Police have warned they would confront protests “decisively.”

Police have cracked down on the Islamists since the military overthrew Mubarak successor Mohammad Morsi in 2013 after a year in power, and hundreds have been killed in clashes.

The crackdown has also extended to leftwing and secular dissidents who initially supported Mursi’s overthrow but have since turned against the new authorities, accusing them of being authoritarian.

Saturday’s central Cairo protest was organized by the Socialist Popular Alliance party.

“The party decided to hold a symbolic protest to commemorate the anniversary of the January 25 revolution,” said member Adel el-Meligy.

Police “fired tear gas, birdshot and arrested the party's secretary general and five other young members,” he told AFP.



In Egypt, Sowing Seeds of Gender Equality

25 January 2015

CAIRO — Sara was supposed to marry young. She was supposed to get a job teaching at the school a few minutes’ walk from her family’s apartment in Cairo so she’d always be close to home, safe from sexual harassment, keeping her reputation as a virtuous, Muslim woman intact.

But Sara — I’m using that name to protect her privacy — took another path. Today, she is 35 and unmarried. For her work teaching Arabic to foreigners, she travels across Cairo giving private lessons. Her choice has made relations with her family dangerous and drawn severe criticism from her conservative community, where it’s unusual for women to leave the house without a trusted male companion, and women are labelled promiscuous if they fraternize with men outside the family — particularly foreigners who, according to Sara’s family, “have no morals.”

There’s an apple-size scar on Sara’s chest where, she said, last year one of her brothers threw boiling water on her during an argument about her lifestyle. Several months ago, the same brother beat her with a wrench and wrapped an electric cord around her neck, leaving an angry red welt that made it difficult for her to turn her head for days. Neither Sara’s mother nor other siblings offered help, she said. Instead, they chastised her for being rebellious.

Sara’s story highlights a vexing challenge in women’s rights. Around the globe, activists have made important strides helping women in patriarchal cultures, like Egypt’s, embrace an expanded view of their rights. But Rabab Mansour, who helps direct a gender-based program for Save the Children in Egypt, says that because of resistance from men — fathers, brothers and husbands — many women still end up living as if in cages.

Years of efforts to produce attitudinal changes among men have proven more than disappointing, says Mansour. “They’re hopeless,” she says, throwing up her hands in exasperation. But there is hope, she adds, and it lies with the young. That’s the experience of Save the Children’s Choices program, which has shown promising results opening up the thinking of boys and girls ages 10 to 14.

Choices, which is made up of eight workshop sessions, is the first in Egypt to explore gender issues with adolescents and early teenagers in a mixed-gender environment. It was first piloted in Nepal in 2009, and, since then, Save the Children has spread the model to Bolivia, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Zambia.

Children begin forming ideas about what it means to be a boy or a girl early on, but, until puberty, those ideas remains somewhat fluid, said Rebecka Lundgren, director of research at the Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, who led an independent analysis of the Choices curriculum. One key to Choices is its focus on the sweet spot between childhood and adulthood — a time when children have the intellectual development to think critically, but are still shaping core ideas about themselves and their place in the world.

Egypt is ranked 110th out of 148 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Inequality Index. Patriarchal attitudes are deeply held. Egyptian women lag far behind men on educational attainment and labour force participation. Nearly 50 percent of women who have been married report domestic abuse, with close to half pointing the finger at fathers and brothers, according to Egypt’s most recent Demographic and Health Survey. Despite laws prohibiting the practices, 91 percent of women undergo female genital mutilation and 17 percent become child brides.

But Choices indicates that it may be possible to dislodge some of these attitudes. For instance, after completing the program in Egypt, boys and girls were significantly more likely to say they believe a girl can make her own decisions about education and marriage, according to a paired-sample t-test Save the Children commissioned from the independent market research agency Marketeers. Additionally, the percentage of Choices students who agreed that it is O.K. for a brother to hit his sister fell by close to half by the program’s end, dropping from 51 to 27 percent. The proportion of those who said they accepted wife beating declined from 49 to 31 percent.

Even more important, many of the boys who participated in the program changed their actual behaviour. To measure this, researchers interviewed sibling pairs who participated in the program. After completing Choices, sisters said their brothers were more likely to make tea, prepare lunch and do household chores — tasks that are traditionally pushed onto Egyptian girls. Most boys still said they believe girls need protection outside the home. However, in families where parents forbid girls to go out alone, 60 percent of sisters said their brothers now volunteer to accompany them so they can pursue interests or hobbies. At the start of the program, just 32 percent of girls said that.

Randomized control trials conducted at other locations produced similar results.

“There’s a lot of buzz about it in the gender justice community because it’s a relatively modest intervention that gets pretty robust results,” said Lundgren, of Georgetown. “If something like this was implemented on a broader scale, it could be really significant.”

On the first day of class in November, the boys lined up on one side of the room and the girls lined up on the other. Mohammed Hani, a volunteer from the community who teaches the Choices course, asked: “What’s your dream? Everyone, think about it. What do you want to be one of these days?”

The boys bounced in their seats like popcorn in a hot skillet. “An engineer,” one called out. “A police officer,” said another.

The girls sat in a neat row, arms folded quietly. Hani stooped low to address a 10-year-old with brown curls. “How about you? What’s your dream?”

She looked up at him, silent.

Often, programs that aim to transform gender attitudes seek to educate people about human rights and the gender gap, said Brad Kerner, an adolescent health adviser at Save the Children, who developed the Choices curriculum. But Choices doesn’t address those themes directly. It gets at them through a side door.

“We didn’t want to lecture 10-year-olds about gender and power,” he said. “Those concepts are difficult for college students to grasp.”

Instead, the program focuses on helping boys and girls articulate their hopes for the future and uses that as a framework to get children to make their own conclusions about inequalities, Kerner said. Mixing the boys and girls together for the discussions, an uncommon practice for gender-equality programs in Egypt, helps the children see different perspectives, which helps to build empathy across the gender divide.

“A lot of the boys didn’t know their sisters even had dreams,” he said. “They just expected them to grow up and have children because that was their role in life. It never occurred to them they might feel sad about that.”

Fatima Ahmed, 12, has wanted to be a flight attendant since she took a trip to Qatar with her family two years ago. She liked being among the clouds, watching buildings and cars turn to toys as the plane gained altitude.

“Travelling is my life goal,” she said. It never felt like a real goal, though. It was more of a fantasy that danced through her head when she was washing dishes or doing laundry. The Choices program made her feel “like it could actually happen,” she said.

The curriculum shows children how they can “fill each other’s buckets,” by helping one another work toward their dreams, Kerner said.

In one lesson, for example, the teacher asked the children to lift one of their classmates up into the air in his or her chair. It’s too hard for one child alone, the children quickly discovered. Together, though, it was easy.

Choices appeals to emotion as a motivator, Lundgren said. Teachers don’t tell boys to treat girls better. The show them how they can improve their own lives by changing their behaviour.

“What are people going to think about you in terms of being an ideal man?” Lundgren said. “Do you want to be admired by your peers and respected by your elders?”

Fatma’s twin brother, Mohamed Ahmed, feels uncomfortable imagining Fatima as a flight attendant. He hemmed and hawed a bit when he was asked whether he would support her.

“I will allow her to travel if she has a brother or her mother with her,” he said.

But then he paused, fiddling with a tear in his plaid school shirt.

“No,” he said, slowly. “I would be scared for her safety, but I would help her if it would make her happy.”

In at least one way, he’s already doing that.

After their Choices teacher asked them to brainstorm ways they could support one another, the twins have started studying together. Sometimes Fatma gets stuck on a math problem, so Mohammed helps her figure things out. Mohammed doesn’t like social studies, so Fatma coaches him through it.

In 2014, the Egyptian government took a number of steps to strengthen women’s rights. It criminalized sexual harassment. And, after a 13-year-old girl died on the operating table, officials filed the nation’s first criminal case against a doctor for conducting female genital mutilation. However, prosecution for harassment remains rare. And, recently, the doctor was acquitted.

Women’s rights activists argue that change won’t come just through the law. It will require major shifts in gender norms. That’s why Lundgren believes that Save the Children’s promising results working with adolescents has global implications.

“The message is simple, really,” she says. “It is possible to change gender norms.”

For Sara, that’s vital news: “I have to hope that there’s a way to a better future for the women of Egypt,” she said. “It helps me to get through the day.”



Domestic violence in Turkey climbed 33 percent in 2014

 25 January 2015

F.Y. had cuts and traces of cigarette burns over her body when the special police forces broke into her house in Istanbul in the early hours of Jan. 23 to save her from her husband’s torture.

The unfortunate woman was crying as the police, who entered by breaking the lock of the door upon a notice by neighbours, were looking for her husband hiding under the bed. Still, she was luckier than the 133 women – 76 men and 25 children – killed in 2014 in acts of domestic violence, according to new data submitted to parliament by the police, the gendarmerie and the Justice Ministry.

The figures show that efforts to end this specific kind of violence are still largely ineffective, as recorded domestic violence incidents increased last year by 33 percent from 2013.

A study in prisons in the Turkish capital Ankara showed that the leading motivation behind violence against women is “honour” in 33.6 percent of all incidents.

Justice Ministry figures showed that some 29.3 percent of the incidents are derived from a "will to gain dominance," while 17 percent had "economic roots."

The study showed that four out of every 10 convicts had been violent to women before the incidents that put them in jail. Nearly 66 percent of these men had attacked women with knives or guns.

The report, submitted to the parliamentary commission on inspecting the roots of violence against women, also showed that 40 women were killed last year while under legal protection.

Some 118,014 women, 29,419 men and 16,140 children faced domestic violence last year - figures that only cover recorded incidents. 

A comparison between the number of complaints in the first 30 months of a new protection code and the previous 30 months revealed that new legal rights had led to a 75 percent increase in complaints.



Syrian women fear abuse during marriage – but divorce frightens as much

 25 January 2015

Meet "Nur", a Syrian refugee who has suffered sexual exploitation at the hands of her Turkish husband. But was it rape, and can she even escape?

The night after their wedding, Eren stood over Nur in a dusky Mediterranean hotel, “You are old enough! Get ready to fuck or I will send you back to the camp!”

A friend of Eren’s married a Syrian woman last year who he said was pious and subservient. Wanting the same, Eren pursued an arranged marriage with Nur, promising her escape from the Kilis Camp on Turkey’s southern border. After he raped her repeatedly on their honeymoon, Nur fled, taking shelter at her brother’s house. But Nur says the stigma of divorce for Syrian women is unbearable, and so she prepares to reconcile with Eren.

Having fled the war, Syrian women and girls are vulnerable to exploitation and increasing levels of abuse. Some look to marriage for protection, others are victims of pimps or matchmakers out for profit. Recently, a Turkish man in Gaziantep threw his 22 year-old Syrian bride from a 5th story window. Still, the stigma of divorce is so strong that some women, like Nur, a refugee living in a camp in southern Turkey, would rather risk abuse.


It was 5:30am on the 7th day of Ramadan, 2012 when Nur heard the helicopter overhead. The rebels in Aleppo were taking government buildings and shooting any bureaucrat that resisted. Out her window, she saw them for the first time. In civilian clothes, a half dozen of them pointed an anti-aircraft machine gun at the hovering bird.

Abdul, Nur’s older brother, tried to push her inside so she wouldn’t see the gun.  She broke through his thick arms. DIDIDIDIDIDI, erupted from the barrel, and the buildings shook. Even in military training in school, Abdul had never heard fire like this. He found Nur cowering inside, crying.

Nur didn’t want to leave the house. She was 26 and no longer receiving suitors when Abdul bought it with savings from working in Saudi Arabia. He gave her a room facing the mosque so she could hear the muezzins’ call to prayer.

But after the helicopter and the shooting, tanks skirted the city. Nur’s neighbors filed out like worker ants, and she followed.

While Nur and her parents slept on the floor of a cousin’s dental clinic, Abdul crossed the border and got a toehold teaching English in Gaziantep, Turkey. By March of 2013, he had enough money to send for them, but not to feed them.

When Nur checked into Kilis Camp she thought she could survive it for a few months until the rebels took Aleppo. The two-room metal container had a toilet and with patience she could cook semolina pudding on the electric stove. The camp was sterile and clean, and she got $41 a month from the Turkish government to buy food.

By the summer, when days peaked at over 100°, and with the windows closed for modesty, the container became an oven. The water shortages went on for weeks during the fasting month of Ramadan, and stir crazed residents suspected the authorities were punishing them. Although Abdul long ago told Nur she could stop wearing her long coat, in the camp other women called her a prostitute unless she was covered in black, head to toe.

Four years into the war, she no longer indulged thoughts of returning to Aleppo. A friend showed her a picture of her house in Aleppo. Bombed and pocked with shrapnel, it reminded her of the moon’s cold surface.


Back in Syria, they used to call her Dr. Nur. That was after Abdul rescued her from the demonic Jinn spirits that tormented her.

Once, she wrote an exam for two hours and then handed in a blank form. She told Abdul that the Jinn visited her, threatening her, forcing her to erase each of her responses, one by one.

Afterwards, Abdul watched her spiral out of reach. She pleaded to someone that he couldn’t see, “Don’t touch me!” She punched the wall and yelled to the spirit, “Show me where you is if you are a man!” Only reading the Koran gave her relief.

"Four years into the war, she no longer indulged thoughts of returning to Aleppo"

After giving up on doctors and sheiks, Abdul tried something radical. He got Nur a job as an assistant in a dental office. Some mornings she ran the clinic in her boss’ absence, and when she took x-rays in her white coat, the patients called her doctor.

But when the war started, Nur stayed home again. Assad’s soldiers were everywhere, harassing girls at checkpoints and kidnapping them.

Abdul, lonely without his family in Gaziantep, talked often to the caretaker of his building. He was a balding, potbellied Turkish man, common but good. His nephew, Eren, wanted a subservient bride, and he said a Syrian woman would be suitable. With this Muslim man, Abdul thought Nur could find a decent life away from war.

At the engagement, Eren said he didn’t want Nur to work. He would pay for a year of Turkish lessons after the wedding. Until then, they could make due with the little Turkish she knew. In June, when Nur announced that she was engaged on Facebook, her friends wished the beautiful bride a thousand congratulations and the grace of Allah.


Nur didn’t want dancing at the wedding with so many friends dead in Aleppo. She sat next to Eren, holding hands under the table while picking at her kebab. Nur told him she was afraid of consecrating the marriage. She knew nothing about sex. When women gathered back in Syria to talk, she always excused herself, embarrassed. Eren promised he could wait, even ten days if needed.

The dowry wasn’t much to pay for Eren’s well-off family, just 30 grams of gold in bangles worth $1200. Abdul wanted his father to ask for ten times that much. When Eren’s father said, “I will treat her like my third daughter,” it cinched the deal.

That night, while Eren was in the shower, Nur padded through the rooms of the 15th floor apartment, taking video on her phone of the view, the stainless steel inset kitchen appliances, and the white furniture trimmed with gold.

Eren found her in the bedroom and demanded, “Take off your clothes,” and then again, louder, when she started shaking. He didn’t touch her, except to rip off each of the fake nails that she wore. He mounted her and penetrated her. He looked for the blood of her hymen on his prick, and checked her hands to make sure she didn’t deny him by fingering herself. Then he thrust into her mouth.

Nur’s mother, Muna, got married when she was fifteen, having never met her husband or seen her future home. After a few years, she was unhappy and wanted a divorce but she was uneducated, orphaned, and a mother in a country with no enforced alimony system.

A few weeks before the wedding, Muna sat in Abdul’s apartment and reflected on a woman’s rights in marriage. According to Muna, Islam says the man makes decisions in the home, but a woman has a right to discuss matters. Divorce was the only other right Muna could name. Years ago, her friends told her that her husband would change. Now Muna still wants a divorce, and says, “After six children and 35 years, nothing has changed. If I had taken a decision then, I would have been 18 years old.”

The day after Nur’s wedding, Eren wanted sex again, but Nur was sore. Livid, he left her alone in their hotel room for eight hours without money, food or water. She had never stayed in a hotel and didn’t know how to get electricity in the room without the key. That night, he returned. “You are old enough. You shouldn’t be sore,” he told her. After cussing at her, and telling her he’d send her back to her container in Kilis Camp for good, she submitted.

"She knew nothing about sex"

For eight days, Nur tried to please him by day. By night she asked herself if her husband was raping her.

When I saw Nur, she had fled to Abdul’s apartment, needing space to make sense of her jumbled, disappointed new life. I passed Eren’s uncle in his caretaker’s booth, his stomach resting on his thighs as he sat smoothing his comb over. He had told Abdul that he heard of Eren’s abuses and pitied Nur.

Comfortable in her brother’s apartment, Nur wore red slacks and a fitted sweater. When she got up to make coffee, I saw that if we walked together, I’d have to look up at her a foot. She showed me a picture of her husband just before they married. At 31, Eren has the easy frame of a football player, and light eyes under blonde hair.

While I wrote, Nur talked hurriedly, expelling the abuses onto my notebook, but when it was done, she asked, “Should I stay with him?”


In Syria, divorce is a frightening prospect for women. Although citizens have equal rights in civil law, family law and divorce falls within the realm of sharia. Men, but not women, can unilaterally divorce with only a verbal decree. If a woman divorces through court proceedings, she rarely gets alimony, and she loses custody of young children if she remarries.

In Turkey, divorce falls under civil law thanks to Ataturk-era reforms after World War I. The separating parties have equal rights, except for a stipulation that women cannot remarry for 300 days after divorce without permission from the court.

But Nur has not looked into family law in Turkey. Her concern is a social one. Each Facebook message she receives erases the hope of hiding her shame.

Back in Syria, women buy plastic hymens on the black market, afraid of being sent back to their families, or worse, if there’s no blood on the wedding night. Without her virginity, Nur fears she has little chance of remarrying. Even Abdul says, “Muna would never let me marry a divorced woman.”

Three weeks later, Nur decided the stigma would be unbearable, and that she would try again. She said it was half her fault for texting her friends too often, which made Eren mad. Abdul, full of hatred for Eren, with one arm around Nur, dialed Eren’s parents to arrange a reconciliation meeting.




Wife, Children Of Australian ISIS Fighter Long To Go Home To Australia

 25 January 2015

The family of Australian ISIS fighter Khaled Sharrouf had cried and begged to go home to Australia after they were forced to stay in Syria. A Yazidi woman who was captured and enslaved by Sharrouf escaped and revealed the story.

Two women who escaped from Sharrouf said and another ISIS fighter Mohamed Elomar told ABC that the militants had raped and enslaved women. One of the women who called herself “Layla” said the children were threatening to kill them with knives while calling them infidels. The women revealed they were required to do anything the children asked.

Sharrouf rose to notoriety in 2014 when he posted a photo of his young son holding up a severed head on social media. ABC said it has acquired more pictures that show his children handling submachine guns and sitting next to assault rifles.

Aside from Layla, the other woman who escaped from the ISIS fighters was named Nazdar who knew about Sharrouf’s wife and children. She said Sharouff’s family had often talked about home. She said Sharrouf was not mentioning anything about home but his family often complained of not being able to live in Syria.

“They were crying and quarrelling and demanding to return to Australia,” Nazdar said. According to the two women, the Australian ISIS fighters had bought them from a slave market after they were captured in Iraq and taken into ISIS territory in Syria. Previous reports indicate that ISIS fighters sell “slave girls” for $2500 on Twitter.

The women also revealed they were taken by ISIS along with thousands of others. Nazdar said Sharouff had threatened to kill her. She was told that she was to marry Sharouff and if she refuses, she will be sold.

The ISIS fighter forbade the woman to say anything to his wife or risk dying. Layla claimed Sharouff had forced them to convert to Islam. The slave girls were also forbidden to show their sadness or tears. Both women have taken refuge in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Australia remains committed to root out extremists both at home and abroad. U.S. Secretary John Kerry has singled out Australia for the country’s contributions in the fight against terrorism. reported that he is joined by Iraqi Prime Minister Hadier al-Abadi and officials from 20 other countries including Australia in a secret high security meeting in central London.



Angelina Jolie visits refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

 25 January 2015

U.N. refugee envoy Angelina Jolie visited refugee camps in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Rudaw news agency reported on Sunday.

The envoy and Hollywood superstar arrived on an unannounced visit late on Saturday.

She was expected to “visit a refugee camp in Duhok province that houses tens of thousands of Yazidis and other refugees from Mosul,” the news agency reported.

In September 2012, Jolie visited the Domiz refugee camp in Erbil and met with Kurdish officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

The region is home to 1.6 million refugees from Syrian Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, most of whom fled ISIS’s militant gains last year.

The American actress was appointed a Special Envoy in 2012 by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.



Ghana: Gender Ministry to Eliminate Violence Against Women/Girls

 25 January 2015

A Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mr John Ackon, has said it is the priority of the Ministry to ensure acts of violence targeting women and girls are eradicated completely in the country.

Speaking at the inauguration of an Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Child Marriage in Accra last Wednesday, Mr Ackon said it was estimated that one out of three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime.

He explained that child marriage was a global phenomenon with the highest instances being concentrated in the sub-Saharan Africa and South Asian nations.

Mr Ackon outlined lack of education, and poverty, strict traditional doctrines and gender inequalities as factors that led to early child marriage and expressed the hope that traditional leaders and the Advisory Committee would collaborate and stand firm to eliminate that act.

The President of the National House of Chiefs, Naa Prof. John S. Nabilla, was of the view that child marriage could not be solved without the support of the traditional leaders because of their roles in the communities and their great understanding and knowledge of what went on in the community.

He stressed that the early child marriage should be a concern to all and called on the Media to come on board and render their support to eliminate it.