New Age Islam News Bureau
3 Oct 2012
• UNESCO Appoints a Saudi Female as Goodwill Ambassador
• Woman Murdered Allegedly For Dowry in Bangladesh
• 31 girl students win Fatima award
• Three charged with forcing woman into prostitution
• Teen says she was sold to traffickers in Batam: Lawyer
• Employers Urged To Create Sound Work Environment for Women in Saudi Arabia
• Cancer Campaigners to Reach 500,000 Girls
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: 31 girl students win Fatima award
Muslim Divorces without Shariah Can Get Tricky
By Omar Sacirbey
New Jersey lawyer Abed Awad has been involved with more than 100 cases that involved some component of Shariah, or Islamic law, and knows firsthand how complicated things can get.
In one of those cases, a woman claimed she was married to a man according to Islamic law in her native West Africa. The man asserted there was no valid marriage, leaving a judge to decide whether the two were ever legally married in the first place.
If the judge rules they were married, there will be a divorce and she will receive alimony and a share of marital assets. If the judge rules that there is no marriage, then the woman will be left with nothing from her relationship.
To make a ruling, the judge will need to consider what Shariah, as understood in one corner of western Africa, says about what constitutes a legal marriage. He will likely have to consult Islamic law experts and apply what he learns to his decision.
But what if American judges were prohibited from considering Shariah and other foreign laws, as many state and national politicians want to see happen?
"How can I bring in testimony of Shariah generally, or Shariah as the law of a foreign country, when it comes to marriage? The judge won't be able to adjudicate the case," Awad explained.
"He can't say yes or no because now it becomes, is he going to apply New York law or New Jersey law on the validity of a marriage that did not take place here but that took place in a foreign country?"
Such a ban, said Awad, would strip judges of their ability to fully and fairly consider such cases, and deprive Muslims of their right to marry and divorce according to their religious beliefs.
Counsellors and activists estimate that roughly one in three Muslim marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Many Muslim Americans who divorce want their marriages dissolved in accordance with Islamic law. That means having dowries and other provisions of marriage contracts enforced, as well as obtaining an Islamic divorce certificate, which imams in the U.S. issue only after a civil divorce has been finalized.
"We recognize the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts," said Suhaib Webb, imam at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. "We won't issue a divorce unless they bring a certificate from downtown."
"Even for culturally religious people, religion plays a big role on certain occasions -- weddings, funerals, and divorces," said Suzy Ismail, a family counselor who has written several books about Islamic marriage and divorce. "They still have that connection to Islam, and they will want to dissolve that marriage Islamically."
There are now six states -- Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee -- where state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting judges from considering foreign laws; about 20 other states have tried or are trying to pass similar laws. Such a ban is also part of the Republican Party platform.
Muslim lawyers say the Shariah bans violate the constitutional freedom of religion, right to equal protection, and freedom of contract, and could complicate the task of divorcing couples who were married according to Shariah.
Islamic marriages typically include a marriage contract that usually states the name of the couple, their parents, and a dowry amount. Couples with more assets opt for more detailed contracts, and sometimes even get prenuptial agreements sprinkled with Islamic terminology.
Some judges see the dowry -- money or property that a bride brings to a marriage -- as a simple contract, others as a prenuptial agreement, and others as a strictly religious matter in which they don't want to get involved.
"When a judge says he will not get involved in religious issues that makes it hard to enforce the dowry provision. The judge will say let your local imam deal with it," said Dalya Youssef, an attorney in New Brunswick, N.J., who specializes in family law. "There's nothing you can do about it."
If a judge does decide to rule on a dowry provision within a marriage contract, he will consider the dowry not as a stand-alone issue, but in relation to all of a couple's assets.
For example, if a divorce is between two recent college graduates making $40,000 per year, but the dowry is $100,000, a judge would likely see paying the full dowry as unreasonable. On the other hand, if a divorce is between a couple married for many years, with children, and the husband is worth $100 million, a dowry of $100,000 would be too small.
Such nuances are lost on both critics and advocates of Shariah, said Awad.
"Everybody misses the point," he said. "It's about fairness. It's not about Shariah. It's about to what extent is there fairness at the dissolution."
The fairness principle should also apply in custody cases. In another case Awad was involved in, a state judge declined to recognize a Syrian court order that would have transferred the custody of a child to her father because the mother got remarried. The judge decided that remarriage was not a good enough reason to transfer custody.
This example, Awad said, shows that U.S. judges consider Shariah only if it is consistent with U.S. law.
There is one New Jersey case, S.D. v. M.J.R., that anti-Shariah critics point to as evidence that Shariah is threatening the American legal system. "It's more than a simple red herring," said Awad.
In that case, a wife sought a restraining order against her husband, alleging that he repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted her.
At the trial, the husband presented an imam who testified that, in Islam, husbands have the right to expect sex whenever they want. The judge concluded that because the husband had no criminal intent and was only following his religious beliefs, there was no crime, and did not grant the restraining order.
The ruling was wrong under both Shariah and New Jersey law, lawyers said; a New Jersey appellate court reversed the decision in 2010.
Most Islamic legal experts have said that husbands have no right to expect sex whenever they want, and said the judge erred on U.S. law by basing his ruling on the intent of the husband, and not on whether the wife was assaulted.
"It's not about the rapist's mindset; it's about the victim's mindset. If she doesn't want it, if she says no, then its rape," said Youssef. "The real issue is that the judge was wrong on the law altogether. It's unfortunate that Islam was in the middle of that."
(This story was made possible by a fellowship from the French-American Foundation-United States as part of the Immigration Journalism Fellowship.)
UNESCO Appoints a Saudi Female as Goodwill Ambassador
3 October 2012
PARIS: Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova appointed yesterday Saudi Female Researcher, Hayat Sindi, as Goodwill Ambassador for the support of science education, especially among girls, at the Organization.
Paris-based UNESCO said in a press statement yesterday that Sindi made major contributions to diagnosis at care and medical testing point in or near the site of patient care, which is specially designed for a large number of people who do not have access to hospitals and medical facilities through her invention of a biochemical chemical sensor with flexible thermal sensors, in addition to her development of acoustic magnetic resonance sensor.
Woman Murdered Allegedly For Dowry in Bangladesh
October 3, 2012
A mother of a two-year-old baby girl was brutally killed allegedly by her husband for dowry at Jamrildanga village in Kalia upazila on Sunday midnight.
The deceased, Rikta Begum, 25, daughter of Hasan Fakir of Khasial village, was wife of Khairul Islam of the village.
Victim's elder brother Alamgir Fakir said Khairul and his family members used to torture Rikta for Tk 3 lakh since their marriage three years ago.
On the fateful night, Khairul beat up Rikta mercilessly following an altercation over the issue.
At one stage, he tied his wife with a tree near their home, poured kerosene and set her on fire.
She was rushed to Khulna Medical College and Hospital where the doctors declared her dead. The body was sent to Narail Sadar Hospital morgue for autopsy.
Police arrested Khairul in this connection, said Motiar Hossain, officer in-charge at Kalia police station.
A case was filed accusing five people, including Khairul, said the OC.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad yesterday condemned the incident and demanded appropriate punishment to the culprits.
The Parishad in a press release issued in Dhaka also urged the government to take stern steps to stop repeat of such brutal incidents and called for a country-wide campaign against repression of women and children.
31 girl students win Fatima award
3 October 2012
Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, on Tuesday awarded the Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Award for Excellence to 31 girls from the GEMS network of schools across the Middle East and India.
The eighth annual award ceremony, for the first time, was supported by the Varkey GEMS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education, and each prize winner would receive a scholarship to cover a year’s tuition fee at a GEMS school.
The award was introduced by GEMS in 2005 to honour Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, wife of father of the nation late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for her contributions to the empowerment of the UAE women, and her support for excellence in all areas. The event acknowledges her role as the mother of the nation, and her vision to celebrate and support women’s achievements and self-determination.
The award has traditionally recognised young women from GEMS Schools in the UAE. Since 2009, the award has been extended to all female students from GEMS Schools around the Middle East and India.
Full report at:
Three charged with forcing woman into prostitution
Marie Nammour / 3 October 2012
Two Bangladeshi men, identified as T.I. and M.R., and a Pakistani identified as Z.I., were charged with human trafficking on Monday by the Court of First Instance for forcing a woman into prostitution.
The three men, all aged 27, are accused of forcing the woman into prostitution after beating her up and illegally confining her in an apartment in Naif. They are also accused of running the flat as a brothel where they also sexually exploited other women, who worked for them willingly in prostitution.
Full report at:
Teen says she was sold to traffickers in Batam: Lawyer
Yuli Tri Suwarni
October 03 2012
The lawyer of the 14-year-old Depok girl who was held captive for a week and raped by a Facebook “friend” says he suspects human traffickers were to blame.
Dwi Handy Pardede said that his client, identified by her initials, SAS, claimed that her captor said she would be sold to someone in Batam, Riau Islands.
“We strongly believe that they belonged to a syndicate. Perhaps they aborted the plan to send the victim to Batam because of the media coverage about the missing girl,” Dwi said.
The captors of SAS took her from a house in Parung, Bogor, and left her at the Depok bus terminal on Monday, where local residents recognized her from flyers distributed by her family. The girl, a junior high school student in Depok, befriended a man named Den Gilang or Yugi on Facebook last month, according to Dwi.
Full report at:
Employers Urged To Create Sound Work Environment for Women in Saudi Arabia
3 October 2012
Health Ministry officials announced Sunday a package of initiatives in the field of training and information technology to enhance the infrastructure of the health care sector.
The package includes a Healthcare Learning and Simulation Center in the Saudi capital.
The initiatives will be carried out by the ministry in partnership with the General Electric (GE), an official from the ministry of health told Arab News Sunday.
The announcement followed talks held between Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and Chairman and CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt, at the headquarters of the ministry in Riyadh on Sunday.
Full report at:
Cancer Campaigners to Reach 500,000 Girls
October 3, 2012
ISLAMABAD: To mark October as Pinktober - the breast cancer awareness month – the Pink Ribbon Campaign (PRC) on Tuesday launched a nationwide breast cancer awareness drive. Higher Education Commission (HEC) and a private telecommunication company with a target to reach out to 100,000 young girls support it.
Addressing the ceremony held at local hotel, Pink Ribbon Campaign (PRC) CEO Dr Omer Aftab said that Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia where one out of nine women are at the risk of having breast cancer. Prevalence of breast cancer is the highest amongst all the cancers in Pakistan, i.e., 38.5 percent. Every year 40,000 women are killed by breast cancer in Pakistan.
Full report at: