New Age Islam News Bureau
29 May 2012
• Malaysian First Lady: women are capable of turning negatives into positives
• Badminton Drops Skirts-only Rule for Women
• Edo State governor denies impregnating 16-year old girl
• Malaysia: Lori Anne at 6, is youngest ever in National Spelling Bee
• Maldives has solid framework for women’s rights, but numbers still disturbing
• Christians and Muslims Campaign against Muslim Women’s Soccer Headdress
• Pak woman 'poisons' husband and minor daughters, Killing two of them
• Afghan poisoning scares: Mass hysteria stemming from fear of the Taliban?
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Badminton Drops Skirts-only Rule for Women
Mosques in Sweden Tell Women: Polygamy is Sometimes Acceptable
28 May 2012
An undercover investigation in Sweden has found that mosques are telling women not to report abusive husbands and that polygamy is sometimes acceptable.
Many are fearful that similar injustices are happening under Sharia law in Britain, and a Bill to tackle the problem is currently before the House of Lords.
The Swedish findings were reported after an undercover investigation by women posing as abused wives.
Only two out of ten mosques directed the women to report their abusive husbands, and six of the mosques told the women to have sex with the men even if it was against their wishes.
In Britain, there is concern that similar situations are occurring.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, introduced by Lady Cox, would place a legal duty on public bodies to inform women that they have fewer legal rights if their marriage is not recognised under English law.
Critics say Sharia law discriminates against women and should not operate as a parallel legal system.
In January the BBC reported that the use of Sharia ‘courts’ is on the increase in Britain with thousands using Islamic law to settle disputes.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who grew up in Pakistan, has criticised Sharia law.
He said: “The problem with Sharia is that it is inherently unequal for certain kinds of people. Muslims and non-Muslims are treated unequally. Similarly, men and women are treated unequally.”
Lady Cox’s Arbitration Bill has received support from groups including British Muslims for Secular Democracy and the National Secular Society.
Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, has said that the proposed legislation would give women greater clarification on their rights.
She said: “There is a gap in the system for Muslim women due to the prevalence of Sharia councils.
“They don’t have any legal power and are completely informal so very hard to regulate and they rule on things such as divorce in Muslim communities. We want to educate women so they know what their rights are.”
Malaysian First Lady: women are capable of turning negatives into positives
First Lady Ani Yudhoyono spoke about the important role of women in society at a meeting with female members of Nahdatul Ulama (NU).
She said that women are capable of turning negative things into positives.
"Lots of people admit that women are tougher than men," Ani said on Sunday during a commemoration to mark NU's 62nd anniversary as quoted by kompas.com.
"Women have their own character. They can easily adapt and are flexible, and they are also tenacious."
At the same occasion, Arief Rahman, a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), took a photo of the First Lady as she was speaking to members of the NU.
The photo was circulated with a caption that read, "This is the way the NU greets a presidential candidate for 2014".
The caption refers to rumors that have been circulating over the past week that Ani could potentially be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate for the 2014 election.
Various members within the Democratic Party have raised the possibility that this might happen, although President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the party's chief patron, has repeatedly said that he would not nominate any member of his family to become a presidential candidate.
Badminton Drops Skirts-only Rule for Women
28 May 2012
WUHAN, China – Plans to force Badminton women players to wear skirts have been shelved by the game’s world body following a fierce opposition that threatened to overshadow the Olympics.
"We have shelved the ban (on women wearing shorts)," Paisan Rangsikitpho, deputy president of the Badminton World federation (BWF), said during the Thomas and Uber Cups event in Wuhan, China, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The BWF sparked uproar last year after proposing to make it mandatory for women players to wear skirts.
But the move sparked protests from several countries, particularly China, Indonesia and India.
Malaysia’s opposition Islamic party PAS has also protested the move, calling for boycotting badminton tournaments.
Badminton is a racquet sport played by two opposing players or two opposing pairs, who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net.
Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their opponents' half of the court
Badminton is hugely popular in large parts of Asia but often struggles to compete with sports such as football or tennis.
More prize-money, stars and TV coverage are all part of the plan to reach a wider audience.
Badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992.
The BWF argues that its suggestion to enforce the skirts-only rule was meant to spread the sport to a wider audience.
"We just want to encourage women and men players to dress properly. We want them to dress nicely, professionally," Paisan said.
The governing body said it hoped for a "collaborative effort with the players and apparel sponsors", meaning that they want more appealing sportswear on offer, and more players wearing it.
Jan Lin, BWF media and communications officer, said the drive to look good was intended to win more TV air-time.
"To get more badminton on TV there are as much expectations on the presentation and charisma of the sport," she said.
"The onus is on the BWF to get players ready and used to the camera and being in the public eye... TV and sponsors are drawn to stars and icons, looking good on court is one way to be noticed."
Last week, the BWF unveiled new, cycling-style shirts for their umpires and technical officials, in another move aimed at smartening up the sport.
Sport outfit in the Olympics has been a thorny issue, particularly for Muslims.
A controversy has raged over the wearing of hijab for footballers after the game’s governing body, FIFA, announced plans to ban the Muslim headscarf and other religious outings during the 2012 London Olympics.
Under this rule, Iran women's football team were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kickoff.
Last march, the world football's lawmakers approved in principle to overturn a ban on the wearing of hijab on pitch.
Edo State governor denies impregnating 16-year old girl
By Osagie Otabor
Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Monday denied reports that he impregnated a 16- year old girl.
Oshiomhole spoke while testifying as first prosecution witness in a suit between him and Dockland Communications Limited, publishers of News of the People Magazine.
The hearing took place in a Benin High Court on Monday.
The governor had dragged Dockland Communications to court, asking for unspecified amount of money as damages for the publication by the company which alleged that he impregnated the under-age girl.
He told the court that the content of the publication, which came out sometimes last year with a front page caption - “Oshiomhole’s Sex Power Exposed: Impregnates young girl six months after death of wife” was scandalous.
The governor informed the court that he was alleged in the publication to have bought the girl a Jeep and that he was also interfering in the decisions of authorities at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, because of the girl.
Oshiomhole said he was seeking damages because the publication caused his family serious psychological trauma six months after the death of his wife.
Malaysia: Lori Anne at 6, is youngest ever in National Spelling Bee
This week, a precocious 6-year-old will be onstage with youngsters more than twice her age — and twice her size — as one of 278 students who have qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Lori Anne Madison has hit all her milestones early. She was reading before she was 2. When her mother tried to enroll her in a private school for the gifted, the headmaster said Lori Anne was too smart to accommodate and needed to be home-schooled.
"She's like a teenager in a 6-year-old body," her mother, Sorina, said. "Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age."
When Lori Anne spelled "vaquero" to win the regional bee in Prince William County, Virginia, in March, she set a new standard for youth in the national bee's 87-year history.
"It was shocking," Sorina said. "I didn't expect all the media attention. We're private people. We're regular people. It was intimidating. But I'm happy for her. She loves it and she does it because it's a passion, and we never push her into anything and want her to make her own choices."
Lori Anne was more than happy to let a reporter and photographer tag along at a picnic with other gifted home-schooled children, but she steered any questions about spelling back toward the day's pursuit of snails, tadpoles and other slimy things.
On all the attention she's getting: "I asked for no interviews, but the media seems to be disobeying me, and that's why we're looking for snails and water slugs right now."
Asked to spell her favorite word, she raced through the letters of "sprachgefuhl" like a blur. Asked to spell it backward, she paused a bit and had to take her time, but she got it right.
"It's even crazier backwards than it is forwards," she said with a giggle. "Now let's look for some slugs or snails."
The spelling bee doesn't have a lower age limit, but no one younger than 8 had ever previously qualified for the nationals. Spellers can compete until they're 15, or until they've completed eighth grade.
"She doesn't sit at a table for hours to study anything. I mean, she's 6," Sorina said with laugh. "She's still a 6-year-old, and we want to allow her to be a 6-year-old."
But, at this pace, she'll be a spelling bee force for years to come.
Asked how she thinks she'll do this year, Lori Anne simply answered, "Great" and kept on hunting.
Maldives has solid framework for women’s rights, but numbers still disturbing
By Hawwa Lubna
May 26th, 2012
Ling Ya is fighting a challenging battle to protect young girls forced into sex slavery in Cambodia. She is a survivor of the sordid crime which is destroying lives of thousands of young girls in the turbulent region.
Khadija is among several lobbyists in Pakistan who are tirelessly working to push authorities to expedite the endorsement of stalled legislations on ending the sexual harassment and domestic violence Pakistani women are suffering.
Bothaina from Jordon is fighting with a system that allows a man to kill his wife for suspected infidelity and escape harsh punishment. Similar to several other Muslim communities, Jordanian young girls and women are forced to marry their rapists or abusers while some parents often dictate decisions for daughters who have to oblige in silence or face unimaginable consequences.
These are just only few stories shared by participants at the UNiTE Global Youth Forum held in Bangkok with a focus on strengthening the youth movement in ending gender inequality and violence against women and girls.
Forty participants aged 18-30 from 29 countries participated and shared their experiences and challenges they faced in ending violence against women and girls. The forum began on May 22 and came to a close on May 24 with all participants pledging to carry forward the UNiTE Campaign in their personal and professional lives.
Listening to these horrifying stories at the workshop, I was naturally prompted to ponder on the comparative successes my small island nation has achieved in ensuring the rights of women and girls. Indeed, we have come a long way forward.
Progress in Maldives
In the Maldives – despite our religious conservative exterior – women can choose their spouses, marry, get divorced and even re-marry more easily than anywhere else in the world, while openly engaging in relationships outside marriage is not so taboo.
Not only do Muslim women and girls have equal access to education, health services and opportunities in Maldives – but these rights are guaranteed under the country’s constitution.
Women are also encouraged to be economically active in small and medium scale businesses to jobs in public officesor private companies. They receive equal protection under laws and are subjected to same punishments as men.
There is no institutional discrimination or barriers to political or social activism, thus allowing women to be teachers, police officers, judges, parliamentarians or even the President should she choose to be.
Full Report at:
Christians and Muslims Campaign against Muslim Women’s Soccer Headdress
By: James M. Dorsey
May 27, 2012
Proponents of allowing observant Muslim female soccer players to wear a head dress and anti-autocratic protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are running up against similar conservative attempts to roll back their achievements. Ironically, they are both confronting alliances that at times cut across confessional boundaries.
While the battle to secure the goals of successful protests in post-revolt Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has largely moved from the street to the polling station and backroom horse trading, the campaign for a woman’s head dress on the pitch that meets security and safety standards is being waged in the secretive board rooms of authorities that govern association soccer.
While protesters in the Middle East and North Africa have learnt the hard way that toppling an autocrat is but the first step to ensuring greater freedom and social justice, pro-head dress campaigners are discovering that tentative board decisions are no more than tentative and open to challenge. That is even truer given world soccer body FIFA’s lack of transparency and accountability and its failure at times to avoid conflicts of interest.
FIFA Executive Committee member, medical doctor and head of the soccer body’s medical committee Michel D’Hooghe, in the latest twist in the campaign for observant Muslim female soccer player’s rights, has thrown into doubt a decision last March by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that sets the rules for association soccer to temporarily allow the wearing of a head dress that meets safety and security criteria while various designs and models are tested. IFAB decided at the meeting that it would take its final decision in July based on the testing results.
Speaking at a news conference at last week’s FIFA congress in Budapest, Dr. D’Hooghe, in a sudden about face withdrew from his earlier backing of the IFAB decision saying that “we have received some samples and some doctors, including from the Muslim countries, said they (headscarves) represented a danger. When a girl is running at speed someone can hit the head scarf and that can lead to head lesions,” he said. Dr D’Hooghe suggested that further testing may be needed.
It was not immediately clear what prompted Dr. D’Hooghe’s turnaround and he did not respond to requests for comment.
Dr. D’Hooghe was a co-drafter and signatory of a statement that favoured allowing a head dress issued last October at a meeting in Amman of soccer executives, referees, players and this reporter convened by FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a half-brother of Jordanian King Abdullah who campaigned for his soccer post on a platform that called for greater women’s rights.
Full Report at:
Pak woman 'poisons' husband and minor daughters, Killing two of them
May 28 2012
Lahore: Upset over her husband's plans to marry again, a woman in Pakistan's Punjab province allegedly poisoned him and their three minor daughters, leading to the death of two of the girls.
Five members of a family -- Abdul Hafeez, his wife Mumtaz Begum and their daughters, eight-year-old Kainat, five-year-old Komal and seven-month-old Saiqa -- were found unconscious in their Model Town house a few weeks ago, police said.
They were shifted to a hospital at Gojra, 125 km from Lahore, where Kainat and Komal died. The others were then sent to Allied Hospital in Faisalabad.
After the couple recovered, police from Gojra city began interrogating them.
During questioning, police said, Mumtaz Begum told them that she was behind the whole episode which resulted in the death of her two minor daughters.
She told police that she had become frustrated after she learnt that her husband was planning to marry again.
In a fit of depression, she decided to kill the whole family.
"I mixed poison in milk and served it to the whole family and I also drank it," she told police.
Police registered a case of double murder against Mumtaz Begum after arresting her.
They released three persons who had been held on suspicion of involvement in the incident.
Afghan poisoning scares: Mass hysteria stemming from fear of the Taliban?
29 May, 2012
Afghan schoolgirls’ claims of being poisoned last week could be a case of mass hysteria linked to fears of a Taliban takeover, some specialists say.
Last week a group of schoolgirls in the northern Takhar province felt ill and began fainting, so poison was considered a possible explanation. The Taliban were then blamed by local officials for contaminating the air with “toxic powder.” The organization, however, has firmly denied any responsibility in a statement on Sunday through the Afghan Islamic Press.
In April, over 150 girls suffered symptoms of what doctors suspected was poisoning in the same province. Fingers were also pointed at the Taliban, though neither the Afghan government nor NATO found any traces of poison.
Another alleged case of mass poisoning happened in the eastern province of Khost in early May, with some 200 students falling ill. The Afghan government prompted the NATO’s ISAF to take samples, but results came back negative for any poisonous substance.
Meanwhile, within the past few years, Afghan officials have leaned toward mass hysteria being the cause for 'poisoning epidemics', since no group has confessed to carrying out any of the attacks.
The Taliban are known for their aversion to girls attending schools, and their ban on the education of women from 1996-2001.
Poisoning cases have all signs of “mass hysteria”
With no physical evidence established in recent cases, Robert Bartholomew, an expert with published works on Mass Sociogenic Illness (“mass hysteria”), told AFP that the poisoning scares had "all the earmarks of mass psychogenic illness, also known as mass hysteria".
Bartholomew, who has collected more than 600 cases of mass hysteria in schools dating back to 1566 in Europe, said "the Afghan episode certainly fits the pattern."
"The tell-tale signs of psychogenic illness in these Afghan outbreaks include the preponderance of schoolgirls; the conspicuous absence of a toxic agent; transient, benign symptoms; rapid onset and recovery; plausible rumors; the presence of a strange odor; and anxiety generated from a wartime backdrop."
Bartholomew also cited examples of similar cases in combat zones, including cases from conflicts in Palestinian territories in 1983, Soviet Georgia in 1989 and Kosovo in 1990.
He also believes that the mass hysteria fits into a “larger social panic involving the fear of Taliban insurgents.”
With the withdrawal of the 130,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Afghan citizens worry that civil war could ensue, or that the Taliban could be re-established in their country.
The situation is more complicated to just attribute the mass hysteria to fear of the Taliban. "Two out of four Afghans suffer from trauma, depression and anxiety," the director of the government's mental health department Bashir Ahmad Sarwari told AFP. "They are in trauma mainly because of three decades of war, poverty, family disputes and migration issues."
Meanwhile, many Afghan women are not willing to try their luck with what happens after the 2014 handover, and are leaving the country in droves.