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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Apr 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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More Muslim Women Go Online To Find Grooms, Somewhat Coyly

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Apr 2013 

Photo: Palestinian schoolgirls in Gaza City, AFP/Mohammed ABED


 35 Women in Aceh Netted for Straddling Motorcycles by Shariah Police

 Human Rights Watch watchdog says 'huge obstacles' face Saudi female lawyer

 Bangladeshi Maids Ready for Jobs in Saudi Arabia

 “Medical Miracle” First Womb Transplant Woman Pregnant

 Allow Women to Pass On Nationality, Says Oman MP

 Al-Aqusa University’s Islamic Dress Code Call Riles Gaza Students

 Five Women Found Dead Over the Past Three Weeks in Afghan Province

 Indian Woman Denies Prostitution, Admits To Overstaying In Saudi Kingdom

 Spotted At Fashion Week: Dr Fauzia Siddiqui Of The Aafia Movement!

 Two Harrovians vie for Asian Women of Achievement Awards

 Mumbai Gets Its First All-Woman Post Office on GPO's 100 Years

 160,000 Saudi Women in Private Firms

 One Up On Einstein: UK-based Neha Ramu in League of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





More Muslim Women Go Online To Find Grooms, Somewhat Coyly

Chitra Unnithan, TNN | Apr 13, 2013

AHMEDABAD: "Assalam o Alaikum. My sister is a fair, slim, post-graduate, non-working, Allah fearing girl (prays five times & recites Quran) from a very educated Sunni Muslim family. We are looking for a religious, Muslim groom, should be well educated and earning (Halal). Please don't ask to chat. If interested, kindly contact me with your photograph and other details."

Indian Muslims are increasingly using the internet to seek matrimonial alliances, but they are also making critical adjustments while presenting themselves, says a study - Self presentation in online environments: A study of Indian Muslim matrimonial profiles. The study has been done by Smeeta Mishra from Jamia Millia Islamia University (Delhi), Mathukutty Monippally of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Krishna P Jayakar of Pennsylvania State University.

The study found that the profiles also conformed to the gender stereotypes prevalent in Indian society. For instance, 75% of the female profiles claimed to have been posted by someone other than the candidate, showing the importance given to the involvement of family members in spouse selection. Besides, it is 'unconventional' for Indian women 'to initiate their matrimony', unless the candidate is considerably older or divorced.

"Throwing oneself open to premarital online interaction in a community which often does not provide space for unmarried men and women to meet without supervision sends out a dual message: we are modern, yet we are traditional," says the study.

Among other findings, education occupied a critical place while income was not equally important for both. Sixty-eight per cent female profiles did not even mention their income. Some 42% women claimed to be either students or not working.

"Few Indian Muslim profiles in our study highlighted external manifestations of religiosity, such as praying five times a day, wearing a hijab or burqa, and observing Ramadan. Relatively more Muslims (35%) in our sample portrayed themselves as internally religious, that is, they referred to general declarations of Islamic faith," says the study.

Overall, women claimed to be more religious than men. Nearly one-fourth (23%) of all profiles included an Islamic greeting, with more women's ads (29%) than men's (18%) featuring them. Evidently, a woman advertising for herself in a still-traditional community might be afraid of being seen as too progressive or 'forward' and compensates through more explicit markers of religious values.

Shaheen Afzal, 22, who lives with her parents in Ahmedabad, has been getting alliances for her profile on one such site. "My parents decided the content after a lot of consideration. Our main criterion is to get a well-educated and tall groom, who also takes care of his family duties as per the laws of Islam. It is true that most Muslim families are traditional when it comes to seeking matrimony. Dating or chatting is strictly not allowed," said Shaheen.

Eighty-four percent of the profiles belonged to the Sunni sect, which is the largest sect in Islam globally and within India. Most Muslims across the world repudiate identification on the basis of caste distinctions. However, 27% of the matrimonial profiles of Indian Muslim men and women referred to the candidate's caste. Furthermore, more men and women from Northern India included a reference to caste in their profiles than those from any other region in the country. Among those who mentioned their castes, 83% belonged to the high-ranked castes such as Syeds, Shaikhs, Pathans, and Mughals while only 17% belonged to the low-ranked caste group.

The study concludes that 'complementarily' between traditional matchmaking and spouse searching on the internet may be a principal driver of the ready acceptance of online matrimonial ads in general population as well the traditional Muslim community. However, the Internet also presents critical differences and challenges for matrimonial advertising.

"The internet, through association with pornography, online gambling, political extremism, and such assorted vices, is also a profane medium, and those advertising themselves on it might place their traditional and conservative identities under question. To counter this negative stereotype of the Internet, advertisers might have been tempted to display their traditional religious values in their profiles and that also explains why women felt more compelled to use -Islamic greetings than their male counterparts, especially when advertising for themselves."



35 Women in Aceh Netted for Straddling Motorcycles by Shariah Police

Jakarta Globe | April 13, 2013

Thirty-five women in Aceh’s city of Lhokseumawe have been let off with a warning after the Shariah police caught them straddling a motorcycle and not wearing appropriate Islamic dress.

The Shariah police were conducting a raid on the main roads of Lhokseumawe on Friday, to monitor the administration’s bylaw that prohibits female passengers from straddling motorcycles.

“The aim of the raid today [Friday] is to uphold and inform people the regulation on straddling motorcycle issued by the mayor,” Irsyadi, the acting chief of the Lhokseumawe Shariah police, told the on Friday. “We also warned people who were not dressed up in an Islamic way. With what we did today, people will be more aware [of the regulation].”

While the women were not arrested, they were warned to not straddle a motorcycle again and to not wear tight outfits.

“As we saw today, many of our people were still straddling motorcycles, probably they don’t understand the regulation, that’s why we informed them,” Irsyadi explained.

Lhokseumawe mayor Suadi Yahya explained that the bylaw was expected to discourage women from wearing pants in public. He said that the bylaw was needed because he had seen people’s behavior and morals straying too far from Aceh’s Islamic cultural values.

“We want to save women from things that will cause them to violate Shariah law,” he said. “We wish to honor women with this ban, because they are delicate creatures.”



Human Rights Watch watchdog says 'huge obstacles' face Saudi female lawyer

Following registration of Saudi Arabia's first female lawyer, New York-based Human Rights Watch says Saudi women still face 'series of obstacles' to entering legal profession

 12 Apr 2013

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday called on Saudi Arabia to ease restrictions regarding the registration of women as lawyers, stressing the need for "protection against discrimination" and ending "guardianship restrictions."

The statement comes two days after Saudi Arabia registered Arwa Al-Hujaili as the first female trainee advocate, paving the way for women to practice the legal profession in the kingdom where strict Islamic Law is applied.

Arwa is a King Abdulaziz University graduate from Jeddah. She is a legal trainee, which allows her to practice law and become a licensed lawyer within three years.

"Saudi authorities need to lift the many obstacles facing the first woman to train as a lawyer in Saudi Arabia before she can enter the profession on an equal basis with men," HRW said.

"For Saudi women to practice law on anything close to an equal footing with men, they need protection from discrimination against women in the courtroom, freedom to travel and to drive, and the ability to make their own decisions about their work lives," HRW Deputy Middle East Director Eric Goldstein said.

Moreover, the statement referred to the necessity of ending the guardianship system, which forces females to get the consent of their male guardians in most legal procedures.

According to AFP, the Saudi justice ministry said in October that women lawyers would be allowed to plead cases in court starting November 2012. But the promise did not materialise.

Female law graduates launched a campaign in 2011 asking to be allowed to plead in court.

Arwa's registration as a lawyer comes amid efforts to widen the scope of women's rights in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.

King Abdullah swore in the country's first female members of the Shura Council – an appointed body that advises on new laws – on 19 February, in a move that has riled conservative clerics in the Islamic monarchy.

"Your place in the Shura Council is not as those who have been honoured, but as those who have been charged with a duty, as you represent part of society," Reuters quoted Abdullah as saying as he addressed the new women members.

The decision to appoint women to the Shura Council prompted a protest by dozens of conservative clerics outside the royal court in January.

They complained that the move, and other reforms aimed at making it easier for women to work, violated Islamic Law.

In September 2011, Abdullah granted women the right to cast ballots and run as candidates in local elections set for 2015.

Saudi women were also allowed to attend a book fair held in March with men, an unprecedented move in the country's history.



Bangladeshi maids ready for jobs in Saudi Arabia

13 April 2013

Bangladesh is to send thousands of its women aged 25 to 45 to work as housemaids in the Kingdom.

“Thousands of women are to be trained here for overseas employment in the Kingdom, other Middle Eastern countries and Far East countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore,” Begum Shamsun Nahar, director general of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), told Arab News here yesterday.

She said talks were held with a Saudi delegation last month on the employment of Bangladeshi housemaids. She said the recruitment process would commence after an agreement is signed between the two parties.

She said the Saudi delegation also visited the BMET training centers where housemaids are being trained for Middle East postings. The members of the delegation were satisfied with the training provided.

"The delegation also saw how smart cards and biometric passports are issued for foreign workers in our country, which would prevent impersonation and ensure the right worker goes to the right job,” she said.

Housemaids are trained over 21 days.

The government has stipulated $ 200 as a minimum wage for housemaids working in the Middle East and $ 500 for other jobs. The government launched online registration of female workers last week in Rajshahi, Rangpur and Sylhet.

Nahar said the online program eliminates intermediaries in the recruitment process, with women workers dealing directly with the government.



“Medical Miracle” First Womb Transplant Woman Pregnant

April 13, 2013         

ISTANBUL: The first woman ever to receive a uterus from a deceased donor is two-weeks pregnant following a successful embryo transplant, her doctors said on Friday.

The 22-year-old Derya Sert was revealed to be almost two-weeks pregnant in preliminary results after in vitro fertilisation at Akdeniz University Hospital in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya, her doctor Mustafa Unal said in a written statement.

“She is doing just fine at the moment,” Unal said. “We will continue to announce any further developments.”

Sert was described as a “medical miracle” when she became the first woman in the world to have a successful womb transplant from a dead donor in August 2011 at the same Antalya hospital.

The groundbreaking news of her pregnancy will rekindle hopes for thousands of childless women across the world who are unable to bear their own babies.

Sert was born without a uterus, like one in every 5,000 women around the world, and her doctors waited 18 months before implanting the embryo to make sure the foreign organ was still functioning.

Hers was the second womb transplant to be performed in the world, the first being in Saudi Arabia in 2000 from a living donor, which failed after 99 days due to heavy clotting.

Doctors had to remove the organ.

The baby is expected to be delivered via C-section and the uterus to be removed from Sert in the months following the birth to avoid further complications and the risk of rejection.

The young woman had started to menstruate after the transplant, which her doctors had said was an important signal that the womb was functional.

Doctors waited 18 months to start fertility treatment and last week implanted an embryo — one of Sert’s eggs fertilised with her husband’s sperm — into her new womb.

Experts, however, warn the pregnancy carries several health risks to the patient as well as to the baby, including birth defects due to the use of immunosuppressive drugs as well as preterm delivery.



Allow Women to Pass On Nationality, Says Oman MP

Muttrah representative Al Lawati wants apparent gender bias removed

By Sunil K. Vaidya

April 13, 2013         

Muscat: A Shura Council member has tabled a motion in the elected Shura advisory council to amend a law regarding nationality of children born to one Omani parent.

“Our Basic Law gives equal rights to all – men as well as women – then why discriminate when it comes to giving nationality to children born to one Omani parent,” Muttrah representative in Shura, Tawfiq Abdul Hussain Al Lawati, who tabled the motion in Shura, told Gulf News.

“I have proposed an amendment to the nationality law, asking for equal rights for children born to an Omani woman and a non-Omani father,” he said.

He said that he has asked fellow elected members to discuss the need to modify the law.

“[Such[ children... should get all the rights, including education, health care, the right to start a business, the right to buy property,” he said, hoping that such children would not be treated like expatriates, as they currently are.

“What is worse is that they are considered expatriates even if the mother is divorced or widowed after marrying a non-Omani,” he said.

“The children of Omani men [married to non-Omani women] are granted citizenship but children of Omani women [married to non-Omanis] are not entitled to Omani citizenship,” he pointed out. “The Nationality Law is old and needs to be modified,” Al Lawati reiterated.

Citing the country’s Basic Law he said the law was contradictory. “The Basic Law assures equality among genders regarding all rights but the law about nationality for children born to a non-Omani parent was discriminating,” he said. “Many countries in the region give nationality to the children of their women citizens but we in Oman deny them that right,” he pointed out.

Al Lawati said the nationality law granted citizenship to children abandoned by their parents but not those born to an Omani mother.

Meanwhile, the Shura Council’s Legislative and Legal Committee also discussed a report on establishing the ownership of lands, unification of the salaries of employees in the government civil sector and unification of civil pension funds.

The Committee is also assigned by the Council to study the amendment of the law of juvenile liability submitted by a social consultancy and studies centre in accordance with the comments and recommendations of the Symposium on Juvenile Liability: the Reality and Aspiration, held recently.



Al-Aqusa University’s Islamic Dress Code Call Riles Gaza Students

By Ruth Michaelson in Gaza


The Al-Aqusa University in Gaza has stirred controversy with a request that its female students wear Islamic dress when attending class.

The university declared that it will also give classes on “appropriate” female dress, including the enforced wearing of the hijab (headscarf) and loose clothes such as wide trousers and long jackets.

Many, including some students, have objected to the decision, arguing that it is more about politics than religion.

Al-Aqusa University teaches around 6,000 students, where 97 per cent of the female student body in the conservative Gaza Strip already cover their heads with the hijab.

The university is already enforcing single-sex classes, meaning that boys and girls attend lessons on different days of the week, which has led many to question the reasons behind the new dress code.

Full report at:



Five women found dead over the past three weeks in Afghan province

She feared the prevalence of suicidal tendencies among girls could rise faster due to domestic violence

By Muhammad Jan Tamkin


Civil society and human rights activists on Friday expressed their deep concern over increasing murders of women and rising tendency of suicide among them in northern Jawzjan province, where five women were found dead over the past three weeks.

Four women were found dead in Aqcha district and one in Shiberghan, the provincial capital, where police had arrested a man for beheading his wife over "moral crime".

Bodies of a woman and a 10-year-old boy were found in Aqcha. The boy has reportedly been murdered after he was sexually abused.

Full report at:



Indian Woman Denies Prostitution, Admits To Overstaying In Saudi Kingdom

Marie Nammour / 11 April 2013

A jobless woman, who was busted by the police when she was about to have sex with an informant, has been charged with indulging in prostitution and violating the Residency and Foreigner Entry Law.

The 36-year-old Indian woman is accused of overstaying in the country and not paying a fine.

She is also accused of working for others without her sponsor’s written consent or the authorisation of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs.

She pleaded not guilty in the Court of First Instance to the prostitution charge but admitted to overstaying in the country.

Full report at:



Spotted at fashion week: Dr Fauzia Siddiqui of the Aafia Movement!

 April 12, 2013

KARACHI: Guess who we spotted sitting silently in the front row on Day 2 at FPW? Dr Fauzia Siddiqui and Pasban President Altaf Shakoor! But rather than enjoy the show, the two looked awkward and uncomfortable and preferred to concentrate on their smartphones.

“We were invited by designer Hasina Khanani and her husband,” Shakoor told The Express Tribune. “Her collection was scheduled to be showcased last or second last at the event,” he said, adding that they “were stuck in a very awkward situation”. He explained that Khanani’s husband Fahad Topra is an ardent supporter of Dr Fauzia Siddiqui. “They [Hasina and Fahad] insisted that we attend and invited us with such love and earnestness that we could not refuse.”

Full report at:



Two Harrovians vie for Asian Women of Achievement Awards

Apr 11 2013

 Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer

TWO successful Harrovians have been shortlisted in a series of awards recognising Asian womens’ contribution to British business, public, cultural and political life.

Vying in different categories in the 2013 Asian Women of Achievement Awards are Rimla Akhtar and Sue Kukadia, who will find out if they have won at the ceremony on May 15.

Ms Akhtar, 30, of Yeading Avenue, South Harrow, is nominated for the Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport Award for her achievements as the chairwoman of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, based in Station Road, North Harrow.

Full report at:



Mumbai gets its first all-woman post office on GPO's 100 years

Bella Jaisinghani, TNN | Apr 13, 2013

MUMBAI: Twelve proud female employees took charge of the city's first all-women post office that was inaugurated at Old Custom House on Friday. The record was timed to coincide with the centenary celebration of the Mumbai General Post Office.

This is the second post office of its kind in the country, the first having opened in New Delhi on Women's Day on March 8. Padmini Gopinath, chairperson of the Postal Services Board, released a commemorative stamp in honour of the 100-year celebration. A philately exhibition was also inaugurated.

Full report at:



160,000 Saudi Women in Private Firms

 13 April 2013

About 160,000 Saudi women are currently employed in the private sector, according to statistics from the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). There were not more than 70,000 Saudi women in this sector until recently.

The increase in the number of women workers is being attributed to reforms recently introduced by the Ministry of Labour and the Human Resources Development Fund.

The government is trying to ensure women find jobs that allow them to participate in the economic life of the nation and in accordance with local customs and traditions.

Full report at:



One Up On Einstein: UK-based Neha Ramu in League of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates

 Apr 13 2013

Is their child exceptionally gifted or is she just a cut above the rest? When UK-based Neha Ramu, 12, took the Mensa test (an association of people with high IQ with branches across the world) in February this year, it finally ended the suspense for her ophthalmologist parents Ramu Muniraju and Jayashree. Neha achieved a score of 162 on the IQ test — the highest score possible for someone under 18 years of age.

Full report at: