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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim Teen Shares Dad's Response To Her Taking Off Her Hijab


New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Apr 2017

Lamyaa, 17, is a Muslim girl living in the US. Source: Twitter/lxmyaa



 U.S. Media 'Spinning Lies' About Female Genital Mutilation

 Yemeni Women’s Living Conditions Difficult Under Houthis

 Bangladeshi Advert On International Women’s Day Grabs World’s Attention

 Malala's Mother Focuses On Education In Rare Interview

 Female Commuters Are The Worst Sufferers In Bangladesh

 Dubai Women’s Establishment Launches Five-Year Plan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Muslim Teen Shares Dad's Response To Her Taking Off Her Hijab

April 19, 2017

Pennsylvania teenager Lamyaa, 17, was engaged in a group chat about President Donald Trump's policies when she identified herself as a Muslim.

The response she received from a friend of a friend was angry and threatening, but what her father said afterward was heartening.

Hurt by online criticism the girl told her father she wanted to take her hijab off. Her father replied that it was a decision no man could make. Other Muslim girls in the conversation said they did not have such freedom

"I personally had very strong views [on President Trump] considering the presidency did impact me because I am an Arab, Muslim woman," the teen told BuzzFeed.

Within moments of revealing her Muslim identity, one member of the group turned on her and attacked her religion.

The person in the chat called her a "bitch", telling her to "shut up" and "stop defending Islam".

They also said: "you couldn't take that scarf off, or your dad would beat your ass".

No stranger to this kind of treatment, Lamyaa texted her father, who lives in Saudi Arabia, to tell him she wanted to take off her scarf.

"Sweetheart that's not my decision to make," he texted.

"That's no man's decision to make.

"If it's what you feel like you want to do, go ahead. I'll support you no matter what."

Lamyaa received much support when she shared the two responses on Twitter, but for telling her story there were other Muslim women who said their oppression was being marginalised.

"So because you're not oppressed, therefore no one is oppressed... so the countless of girls (like myself) who do want to take it off, but can't and face the literal threat of violence from parents, are now all liberated. Thanks!" one Twitter user wrote.

Lamyaa said she was sorry to hear the stories of these women and reached out to them, but acknowledged women everywhere – especially in the Middle East – faced oppression.

The teenager said the oppression was "due to culture not religion".

"People often mix the two and say the cultural practices are religious practices," she said.

"That is far from the truth."



U.S. media 'spinning lies' about female genital mutilation


It was an explosive story: A U.S. emergency-room doctor in Detroit was prosecuted for intentionally mutilating the genitals of two young girls. But major TV networks simply ignored the alarming news, according to a media watchdog that slammed the outlets Tuesday.

Media Research Center said ABC, CBS and NBC all failed to report on the case of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, an emergency-room physician who was arrested April 13 on charges that she performed the grisly practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM. The practice involves removing all or part of the clitoris of girls between the ages of 6 and 8.

The media that did report the horrific crimes the doctor allegedly committed have failed to associate the practice with Islamic countries, despite a 2013 United Nations report showing large swaths of Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia still subject their daughters to the procedure in stunning numbers.

According to the 2013 UNICEF report covering 29 countries, Egypt has the region’s highest total number of women who have undergone FGM – 27.2 million – while Somalia has the highest percentage (prevalence) of FGM at 98 percent.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against Nagarwala for performing FGM on two Minnesota girls brought to her suburban Detroit office by their parents. Minnesota has a large community of Somali refugees. Several additional victims of the doctor have come forward in Michigan this week.

The New York Times, and CNN have all posted news articles online about the case, and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ran a segment about it on his Friday show. So far, the morning and evening news shows at the big three networks have been silent, as has CNN.

WND reported last week that even the media companies that reported on the arrest of Nagarwala have almost universally failed to inform audiences that FGM is an almost exclusively Muslim practice in today’s world.

The Detroit News finally did publish a story Monday that identified Dr. Nagarwala as a Muslim, after omitting the fact in three previous stories on the case.

But the newspaper spins its latest story in such a way as to suggest that Nagarwala’s grotesque procedure is practiced only by a tiny sect within Islam, the Dawoodi Bohras, which has about 1 million followers out of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.

“The Dawoodi Bohras hail mostly from western India and were traditionally comprised of businessmen, entrepreneurs and professionals. There are approximately 1 million followers worldwide,” the Detroit News reports.

The newspaper then quotes Dawud Walid, the Michigan chapter leader for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, who assures Michiganians that this practice is not condoned by any members of the state’s mainstream mosques.

“It is a more insular community,” Walid said. “They do not mingle, and that mosque doesn’t really affiliate with any of the other mosques in Metro Detroit.”

Walid also told the News he has never heard of a religious procedure described by Nagarwala’s defense attorneys.

But Walid should be very familiar with the practice because it is widespread across the Muslim world, experts on the Islamic culture and practices told WND.

Dr. Mark Christian, an OB-GYN who was trained in his native Egypt, said he has personally had to treat hundreds of women who suffered negative effects of FGM.

“In the Middle East, it’s called female circumcision. I never did it, but I fixed a lot of side effects from it,” Dr. Christian, a Christian convert from Islam who now lives in Nebraska, told WND.

Egypt: The FGM capital of the world

Dr. Christian said Egypt is the FGM capital of the world. At least 91 percent of Egyptian women are “circumcised,” according to the 2013 UNICEF report. In Somalia, 98 percent of woman have had their genitals mutilated, the highest of any country.

The U.S. Justice Department case against Dr. Nagarwala involved Somali parents bringing their daughters to the doctor in Detroit to have the procedure done. Those children have now been seized by social services in Minnesota and removed from their homes.

“A lot of patients would have this done in outside practices, by midwives predominantly, and then they would come to me later in life with some serious problems, problems with fertility and with urinary tract issues that can be very painful,” Dr. Christian, who founded the Global Faith Institute,

“There are 200 million women in the world today who have had this done to them. Egypt is the capital of female circumcision in terms of the number of procedures done there,” he said.

Ironically, the procedure was banned in Egypt in 2008, and the penalty was increased from a misdemeanor to a felony in 2017. But it will never be wiped out, as long as Islam is the dominant religion, Christian said.

The procedure itself involves cutting all or part of the clitoris and sewing together the two labia menora of the vagina, allowing just a small opening for urination. It usually is done before the girl reaches puberty but sometimes later in her teen years.

Before she is married, another surgery is performed to reopen her sewn-shut labia.

“So basically they make the girl unable to have intercourse before marriage. And she will never be able to enjoy sex after that,” said Dr. Christian, who was also a child imam in his teens, had memorized most of the Quran and led pilgrimages to Mecca.

This barbaric practice is traced historically to the Egyptian pharaohs, he said, but was adopted by Islamic scholars and became part of Shariah law in many countries.

“It’s as old as Egyptian civilization. We have to note that Islam never came up with a genuine, original idea,” he said. “Islam never invented anything. Prayers, fasting, dietary rules, the five pillars and its rituals were all adopted from other religions and civilizations. This is true also for circumcision.”

Christian said Islam’s founder and prophet, Mohammad, talked about circumcision extensively.

“He said whoever, as a man, converts to Islam, even if he is old, has to be circumcised,” he said. “As for the female, Muhammad did not circumcise his own daughter, but he did not forbid it and, in fact, he encouraged it for everybody but his own family.” For Muhammad and the many Muslim leaders who followed him, circumcision is about keeping a woman’s “honor” intact until marriage.

“It’s basically closing the woman until the marriage contract and then then go back and cut her again, and this way they make sure she never has premarital sex and denying her any satisfaction or arousal, for life, even after marriage,” he said. “They don’t want the woman to be needy in that way.”

The only significant population of Christians who participate in this brutal practice are the Coptic Christians in Egypt, Dr. Christian said, and there is a reason for this.

“Egypt was Christianized very early on. As soon as the Christians came to Egypt, female circumcision became forbidden, and they tried to eliminate all the traditional practices of the pharaohs and Islam,” he explained. “It soon became completely gone from Egyptian society, but when Islam came in during the seventh century, this is when FGM became endemic again right away.”

This is when the Copts got snared into the practice, Christian said.

“The Church tried to push against it, and the Muslim dads kept telling the Christian dads, ‘Your Christian girls are more promiscuous, less honorable, because they are not circumcised,’ so in return the Christians start engaging in this as well, even though the church preaches against it,” he said. “The Copts are pretty much the only Christians who are doing it today. And this is because of the ongoing tensions between the Christians and Muslims there in Egypt.”

Whenever the government of Egypt tries to crack down on the practice, the imams coming out of al-Ahzer University in Cairo resist such movements, he said.

“Imams will say that since Muhammad did see it being done and he did not stop it, then it is up for every family to make this decision on their own,” he added. “And Muhammad did say it was honorable and no man wants his daughters to go around being promiscuous and having premarital sex, so this is why they push for it.

“It has been very customary that it is done by midwives and not by doctors in the hospitals.”

Dr. Christian said the impacts of FGM on women can be devastating, from bleeding to death from the procedure itself, infertility, infection and sexual dysfunction.

“A 17-year-old girl died just few months ago in Egypt, and they upgraded it to felony status. About 16,000 women and girls have died in Egypt over the past decade as a result of this procedure,” he said.

“And this is not one or two cases; this is the main surgery I would do at least once or twice a day in Cairo to fix these problems,” he said. “It is very common.”

Even with the new laws against FGM in Egypt, he said the practice will likely never be eliminated or even severely curtailed as long as Islamic clerics hold sway over Egyptian society.

“It is dying out in highly educated families, but the majority of families in Egypt do not live in this highly educated status,” he said. “It could have died away like many prehistoric practices, but the reason it has been carried through to our current age is because Muhammad did not forbid it but encouraged it.

“There is no case for changing or reforming, because, if you do, you are guilty of apostasy.”



Yemeni women’s living conditions difficult under Houthis

April 19, 2017

JEDDAH: The life of Yemeni women is exceedingly difficult because of the mounting violations and atrocities committed by the Houthi militias against them in the provinces controlled by the putschists, according to Human Rights reports.

Violations against women take the shape of verbal and sexual harassment, physical abuses, including rape and murder, as well as preventing them from working.

Riyad Al-Kaabari, Yemen’s representative to the Arab League in Cairo, said that human rights activists’ reports show an increase in the number of cases of violence and intimidation, as well as other human rights violations, including preventing thousands of girls from attending school, and contributing to growing rates of poverty, unemployment and begging.

Media sources quoted Al-Kaabari as saying that since September 2014, women in Yemen have been subjected to verbal and sexual harassment, and the denial of employment.

“They have suffered the greatest share of abuse and harassment at the hand of militias in cities and areas under their control,” he said.

At the end of last month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said that 10,000 cases of violence against women were reported in Yemen in 2016.

During a seminar titled “The Situation of Women and Children during the Armed Conflict in Yemen,” held on the occasion of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, hosted recently by the UN in Geneva, Yemeni women activists highlighted the terrible violations committed by the militias against Yemeni women.

Journalist Bushra Al-Amri said that Yemeni women journalists suffered attacks, especially those who condemned the practices of the coup militia, which undermine rights and freedoms, particularly of journalists.

Wessam Basandouh said that the rights of many women were violated, whether by torture or kidnapping, over and above the tragedy of having to face bombing of their residential areas and assassinations.

The Human Rights Information and Training Center in Yemen said that 459 women were killed and 1,281 were injured between September 2014 and March 30, 2016.

In the same period, 647 children were killed and 1,822 were injured in attacks committed by Houthi and militants loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In its report to the plenary session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the center stressed that women and children have been subjected to serious violations by the Houthi militia and Saleh loyalists.

The center also reported that children form one third of the fighters in Yemen, and that the Houthi and Saleh militias recruited 72 percent of the documented cases of children pushed to fight.



Bangladeshi Advert On International Women’s Day Grabs World’s Attention

April 19, 2017

On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, Ashutosh Sujan produced an advert to protest the torture and discrimination of women.

After its release online, the commercial started taking the Internet by storm.

From small-screen star Niloy Alamgir to promising model-actress Sporshia, many a celebrity shared the commercial featuring a young woman in respective Facebook profiles.

The advert garnered praise through Facebook comments by many such stars. Now, the advert has drawn the attention of the world media, who are analysing and hailing it, according to a Bangla Tribune report published on Tuesday.

On April 5, The Indian Express, a leading Indian news agency, ran a special report on the commercial, while the New York Times published a special article on it eight days later, the report said.

Even Twitter, another popular social networking site, is flooded with growing admiration for the work, the report added.

The commercial of Bangladeshi brand Jui Coconut Oil was produced marking International Women’s Day-2017.

Directed by Ashutosh Sujan, the key model in the advert is Shahnaj Sumi.

Ashutosh has said: “I am delighted that the commercial has gone viral across the world. Foreign media are analysing the advert after it appeared online, which is good news for Bangladesh. But, I do not deserve the success alone. Actually, Sun Communications gave me the task. Without their support and idea, it could not have been possible for me do make the commercial.”

The New York Times in a special supplement wrote that the commercial, lasting around two minutes, shows a young woman going to a hairdressing saloon to have her hair cut. Each time a female barber cuts her hair, the latter suggests it be cut “even shorter.” Finally, the customer says: “Cut my hair so short that nobody can grip it in their hand.”

The last dialogue, in essence catches the attention of the audience.

Sumi, the actress portraying the young woman, was first noticed in a dance show on a private TV station called Channel i. She became the talk of the town through the advert.

When contacted, she told Bangla Tribune: “This is the kind of advert which was not even aired on TV. It was produced only for online. And, we are getting immense response. After watching it, many filmmakers from India contacted me to work with them. A Kolkata-based movie director also talked to me. But I am not working with him. I am satisfied with the chatter taking place in the world media about the advert.”



Malala's mother focuses on education in rare interview

April 18, 2017

The mother of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai said she hopes to devote more time to helping others get an education in her first major interview since her daughter was shot by the Taliban for defying its ban on girls´ schooling in Pakistan.

Toor Pekai Yousafzai has largely stayed out of the spotlight since the 2012 attack on a school bus, which resulted in Malala being airlifted to Britain for treatment.

Her husband Ziauddin is seen more often accompanying the teenage activist, who became the world´s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014 aged 17, on trips to promote girls´ education around the world.

"When Malala was being treated in hospital we were very busy looking after her," Toor Pekai told the BBC´s "Woman´s Hour" daily radio programme.

Then she wrote a book and we were busy with that too, so that´s why I wasn´t in the public eye. “Now I am trying to help other people get an education, so from now on I want to be more involved in these kinds of things.”

Malala´s mother also described the shock of being forced to flee her home in Swat Valley. She remarked that it was quiet hard for her to leave everyone and everything behind in Pakistan. But, she had to go ahead with it for the betterment of her daughter. "When other people leave their country they accept everything that comes their way and they´re ready for it, but we couldn´t prepare," Toor Pekai said.

"We had to suddenly leave Pakistan. The attack changed everything. We had to focus on Malala´s life." Now, living in England´s second city Birmingham, Toor Pekai did not receive an education in Pakistan herself, is learning English while caring for Malala, who is now 19, and her two brothers.

Despite winning a host of accolades, including being named a UN Messenger of Peace last week, at home Malala is like any other teenager, Toor Pekai said.

"I sometimes get upset with her when she throws everything around in her room and I tell her to keep her room clean and tidy," she said.

Nevertheless, Toor Pekai said she and Malala cried when the teenager received an offer to study philosophy, politics and economics at a British university next year.

"I´ll miss her a lot and home will be empty without her. It´s difficult but I have to accept it," Toor Pekai said.



Female Commuters Are The Worst Sufferers In Bangladesh

April 19, 2017

'I demand resumption of the service as many women fall prey to harassment in overcrowded buses'

Stopping so-called seating service or gate-locked service in  system appears to be adversely affecting female commuters, even though the move has apparently been meant for preventing fleecing and harassment of passengers.

On Tuesday, when speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, many female commuters in Dhaka said they found the seating service safer and more comfortable. Now, riding in overcrowded vehicles has become troublesome for them, they added.

Shamsunnahar, an honours student of Lalmatia Mohila College, said: “There were several buses that used to run the seating service on my way. But as the service has been stopped, it is now quite difficult for me to go to college.

“I demand resumption of the service as many women fall prey to harassment in overcrowded buses.”

Rimana Jahan, a Master’s student of Dhaka University, said: “Previously, female commuters used to feel safe using public transport as they were certain that they would get a seat and the vehicles were not crowded. But they are now facing harassment.”

Mozammel Haque, general secretary of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samiti, said: “We observe that Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is conducting mobile court drives only to check fares and legal documents. But they are not concentrating on ensuring female passengers’ safety and security.”

Stopping a long-standing practice overnight is not tenable, Nagarik Sanghati General Secretary Sharifuzzaman Sharif said, adding that allowing the service with some terms and conditions would be a practical solution.



Dubai Women’s Establishment launches five-year plan

April 18, 2017

Dubai: The new strategic plan (2017-2021) for the Dubai Women’s Establishment (DWE) was launched on Tuesday by Shaikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of the DWE and wife of Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

The new strategic plan will serve as the foundation for the next phase in the DWE’s ongoing work to enhance the participation of Emirati women in social, economic and political fields, and their influence across various sectors said Shaikha Manal.

“The strategy has been developed in line with the key objectives of the UAE’s strategic plans to promote a culture of innovation throughout the nation,” said Shaikha Manal. She added that the plan would support the DWE’s continued efforts to promote the vital contribution of Emirati women in shaping the UAE’s economic and social future, enhancing the level of female participation across various sectors, and boosting the UAE’s competitiveness on a global level.

Mona Al Merri, Chairperson of the Board of DWE, said: “By incorporating innovation into our corporate values and mission, the strategic plan will help us to continue enhancing the status of Emirati women, strengthening their role in decision-making positions, and supporting the aspirations of more talented women in the years to come.”

Al Merri added: “We firmly believe that Dubai is a place where nothing is impossible, and Emirati women have an important part to play in the continued success and development of the emirate. Building on our achievements, our long-term strategic vision will continue to provide Emirati women with the right tools, capabilities and opportunities to achieve their goals.”

Shamsa Saleh, CEO of DWE, said: “Through adopting best practices, and supporting amendments to existing policies regarding women in the workforce, we can pave the way for further participation among Emirati women at all levels, by unlocking new opportunities through collaboration, encouraging women to pursue studies in targeted industries, conducting research to gain insights into their needs and challenges and establishing a conducive work environment which attracts and retains female talent.”

The plan is built on four key pillars, each of which features a number of pioneering initiatives designed to support DWE’s mission and goals for

the next five years. The four pillars include:

Catalyst for Change — providing recommendations to shape policies and developing new initiatives to enhance the participation of Emirati women across the workforce;

Research and Knowledge Hub — involving in-depth research and studies, data profiling and knowledge exchange to drive the engagement of Emirati women across various fields and sectors;

Representation and Strategic Partnerships — fostering strategic partnerships across the public and private sectors and increasing the representation of Emirati women through integrated, high-impact initiatives; and

Development and Capacity Building — developing customised, interactive programmes with leading institutions across the world to enhance the skills and capabilities of Emirati women, and fostering the next generation of women leaders.




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