Twenty-two-year old Neslihan Kiose was trained as a vehicle instructor in Thessaloniki, Photo Credit: xronos.gr
• Muslim Woman Becomes First Female Bus Driver in Komotini, Greece
• Tanzanian Women’s Savings and Loan Groups in Flux During COVID-19
• KwaraWomen Demand Stiffer Punishment for Rapists
• Risks of Home Birth Loom for Women in Rural Africa Amid the Lockdowns
• Uttar Pradesh: Women PAC Receive Special Training in Moradabad To Fight Maoists
• Muslim Women InEdo State Seek Harsher Punishment For Rapists
• Study Shows Malaysian Muslim Women Most Curious About How To Get A Divorce When Denied By Their Husbands
Compiled ByNew Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Woman Becomes First Female Bus Driver in Komotini, Greece
Jun 11, 2020
A Muslim woman this week became the first female bus driver in Komotini, a city in Thrace which has long been home to a sizable community of Greek Muslims.
Twenty-two year oldNeslihanKiose was trained as a vehicle instructor in Thessaloniki — the only woman among fifteen men, as she says — and after a trial period in her hometown she was hired by the local municipal bus company.
“I do not have a problem with young people. But the older ones at first were afraid to get into the bus when they saw me at the wheel. But after a few days, they started trusting me and showing love and affection,” she tells local news website xronos.gr.
Fueled by her love of driving, Kiose says she is not intimidated by the disparaging comments she sometimes receives from other drivers, and insists she will not stop doing this job.
Kiose’s first contact with driving was at a very young age and the first vehicle she drove was her father’s. “Yes, I drove it without having a license,” she admits sheepishly.
The bus conductor says that her father was very supportive when she decided to take up professional driving, especially when she decided to choose bus driving. Her mother was more cautious and feared for her daughter’s security, but she was eventually convinced as well.
Most of the Muslim community in Greece resides in the Greek region of Thrace, where they make up 28.88 percent of the population.
Muslims form the largest population group (54.77 percent) in the Rhodope regional unit, where Komotini is the capital, and they comprise sizable percentages in the Xanthi (42.19 percent) and Evros (6.65 percent) regional units of Greece as well.
Tanzanian women’s savings and loan groups in flux during COVID-19
11 June 2020
Vicoba, which stands for “village community banks,” are ubiquitous microfinance savings and loan institutions across Tanzania.
The majority of members are women who rely on vicoba to provide access to credit for business and other living expenses. Women widely describe these groups as a way to reduce their economic dependence on men and enable social solidarity.
Vicoba provide members with credit access during times of financial hardship, but they are not structured to support members during a societal level crisis — such as a drought or a pandemic — when everyone needs to borrow at the same time.
When Tanzania issued a stay-at-home order in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — essentially closing its economy for several months — most vicoba ceased to meet.
The World Bank issued a press release on June 8 that predicts a sharp slowdown of economic growth in 2020 due to COVID-19. Tourism operators forecasted revenue losses of 80 percent or more in 2020, and the crisis could push 500,000 more citizens below the poverty line.
Now, many women members are unable to contribute toward group savings or to pay back loans, which has raised concerns about how vicoba will cope with the long-term financial effects of the coronavirus.
As vicoba members struggle to pay back loans, a decline in group capital has limited the ability of members to borrow, according to a news report in The Citizen.
Women’s participation in vicoba has shifted gender norms and enabled women’s economic agency — to varying degrees — but as groups experience the financial strain of COVID-19, vicoba are in limbo.
Vicoba have operated in Tanzania since the early 2000s. They were inspired in part by a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) model that was first implemented by the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) in Niger in 1991.
Before vicoba, women participated in rotating credit associations and informal economic activities in Dar es Salaam at an unprecedented level in the late 1980s and early 90s, according to political scientist Aili Mari Tripp. At that time, Tanzania was transitioning from first President Julius Nyerere’s socialist project of Ujamaa (Swahili: “Familyhood”) and enacting structural reforms to liberalize its economy.
Established during a subsequent era of rapid global microfinance expansion, vicoba have been adapted to Tanzanian cultural contexts. They are usually self-initiated and self-sustaining, unlike borrower groups who acquire credit and accrue debt through formal microfinance banks. Women often establish vicoba with family members, neighbors, friends, and/or work colleagues.
In Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous archipelago off the coast of mainland Tanzania, where the majority are Muslim, many women give their savings groups names that allude to the socialist past or to Islam, like Umoja niMaendeleo (Unity is Development) and TunaombaMungu (We Humbly Ask for God’s Support) groups — both on the island of Pemba.
Individual members buy into vicoba with shares, which enables them to take out loans to support their own business ventures or other living expenses, like health care costs or school fees.
Vicoba help women meet their own financial needs, but they also enable and strengthen the notion of umoja or “unity,” which embodies ideas of community and mutual support.
Twitter user Myra complained to her more than 5,900 followers about the propensity of men to force their wives to wash laundry by hand rather than buying washing machines:
Hey, you young men just enjoy persecuting your wives with this issue of hand washing clothes. Even if you have the 500,000 [Tanzanian shillings or $250 United States dollars] for a washing machine. I say ‘wife’ because if you haven't gotten married yet and you do, you will have decided to become a laundry woman.
Semawatotowakiumemnapendatukuwatesa wake zenunahizi issue za kufua. Washing machine hadilaki 5 zipo. Nasemamke coz kamahujaolewaukajifanya we dobiutakuwaumeamua.
Even young women who are married, they enjoy persecuting themselves by hand washing clothes. If a washing machine is about 500,000 [$250 USD], which they can reach with their vicoba savings, then they can buy their own rather than waiting for their husbands to pay for everything.
The Twitter exchange highlights changing ideas and social norms related to the division of household labor and finances in Tanzania — and how vicoba play a role.
The situation in Tanzania points to the vulnerability of microfinance savings and loan groups worldwide when faced with large-scale crises.
During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, restrictions on movement limited women’s economic activities, which drastically reduced the capital of savings and loan groups in Liberia and Guinea, according to a report by the United Nations Development Group.
Several humanitarian agencies have issued emergency measures and guidelines to mitigate the health and economic effects of the coronavirus on microfinance initiatives. CARE, with 357,000 VSLA groups in 51 countries, issued emergency guidelines for supporting savings and loan groups.
Some vicoba leaders on Tanzania’s mainland have considered emergency measures like extending loan repayment terms and reducing the interest rates on existing loans, according to The Citizen.
One possible emergency measure may be a government bailout. The Citizen reported that the Ministry of Finance and Planning was conducting a COVID-19 economic impact assessment and would provide recommendations for vicoba and other savings and loan groups. Its emphasis on recommendations, however, suggests that governmental financial assistance may not be forthcoming.
If women default on their loans, group members may decide to liquidate their assets to recoup group debts, which could potentially devastate vicoba and strain social relationships. Members may also decide to accept their COVID-19 related losses.
Kwara women demand stiffer punishment for rapists
Women groups in Kwara state have called on the National and state assemblies to come up with legislations that will deter rape and gender based violence in the country.
The groups which included the Federation of Muslim Women Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Women Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, National Council of Women Societies, Federation of Women Lawyers and Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, said the rising cases of rape and other gender based violence are worrisome.
They are all united in condemning rape in its entirety and want suspected rapists to be quickly tried and the guilty ones punished accordingly.
They reasoned that it is only when there are scapegoats that an end can be brought to rape in Nigeria.
The women who displayed emotions also appealed to parents to give proper home training to their children and wards
Risks Of Home Birth Loom For Women in Rural Africa Amid the Lockdowns
June 12, 2020
One of the indirect effects of the Ebola epidemic that tore through West Africa between 2014 and 2016 was the dramatic decline in access to care for pregnancy and childbirth, increasing the risk of injury or death among expectant mothers across the affected zone.
Now experts worry the novel coronavirus could have the same effect in poor countries around the world, worsening a global maternal mortality rate the World Health Organization has described as "unacceptably high."
In a study published in May in the Lancet Global Health, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said the spillover effects of Covid-19 could result in an additional 56,700 maternal deaths over the next six months in 118 low- and middle-income countries.
Even in the best of times, these countries account for an estimated 94 percent of the 295,000 maternal deaths recorded annually worldwide, the bulk of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The leading cause of those deaths is what's known as postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive blood loss after the birth of a baby. And that's driven in large part by the fact that, for a variety of reasons, millions of women still deliver at home (or en route to a health facility), many of them with no one else present.
Despite early predictions that the coronavirus would wreak havoc in African countries, many have so far managed to limit its spread, offering lessons for the world. Still, the United Nations has raised the alarm about the grave threat to women and girls, predicting that reductions in routine health services and access to contraceptives could result in 7 million unintended pregnancies.
"Left unchecked, these reductions ...will be more catastrophic for mothers and children than Covid-19 itself," wrote Henrietta Fore, executive director of the U.N. Children's Fund, in a mid-May commentary to the Lancet Global Health.
"There may likely be a decrease in facility births," says Jeffrey Smith, deputy director of maternal and child health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a funder of NPR and of this blog. "That's what we saw at the height of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone," all places where a woman's risk of bleeding out in childbirth was already very high.
For Smith, the prospect of a similar situation in the months ahead underscores the importance of a controversial intervention he and colleagues have championed for decades: equipping pregnant women in remote rural areas with a drug they can take to prevent postpartum hemorrhage should they deliver at home.
An inexpensive, widely-available medication, misoprostol reduces blood loss by causing the uterus to contract, compressing the blood vessels that feed the placenta.
But the drug is also well known for its ability to safely end an early pregnancy, and the controversy has stemmed in large part from concerns about the latter – that impoverished women with little control over their reproductive lives might be tempted to use it for abortion.
Though unsupported by the evidence, these fears have long hampered efforts in some countries to make the drug more widely available, say researchers like Ndola Prata, director of the Bixby Center for Population, Health, and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley.
"A number of governments have started down this path," says Prata, whose work helped bring about regulatory approval of misoprostol for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage in countries across sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia. "But the extent to which women who need misoprostol have access to it – we're still very far away. We're missing a huge opportunity to save lives."
Misoprostol's story begins in the mid-1980s, when it came on the market under the brand name "Cytotec" for the prevention of gastric ulcers.
Soon after its introduction, women in Brazil discovered that the cheap, over-the-counter drug could be safely and discreetly used to induce an abortion. As its popularity grew, physicians there noticed a reduction in the number of women presenting with severe post-abortion complications, and by the mid-1990s, word of misoprostol's abortifacient qualities had spread across Latin America and beyond.
Meanwhile, scientists were learning of misoprostol's many other obstetric applications, including the ability to treat a miscarriage by expelling retained tissue and to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
When it comes to the latter, misoprostol is not the gold standard; WHO instead recommends oxytocin, which studies have shown to be marginally more effective and to have fewer side effects than misoprostol, which can sometimes cause shivering and fever.
But oxytocin suffers from several crucial limitations: the drug can only be administered via injection, must be given by a skilled provider, and requires constant refrigeration. So it isn't feasible for use in places where electricity is unreliable, skilled care is scarce and basic supplies are often out of stock.
Misoprostol, by comparison, comes in a tablet form that can be stored for years at room temperature and taken with a cup of water. Those qualities led the United States Agency for International Development to support programs in poor countries promoting its use at the community level. In 2011 WHO added misoprostol to its Model List of Essential Medicines, recommending it for prevention of postpartum hemorrhage where oxytocin is not available.
Yet in doing so, WHO stopped short of endorsing misoprostol for "self-care," citing a dearth of large-scale evaluations of its advance distribution to women at risk of giving birth at home. And Prata and others say that's had a chilling effect on efforts around the world, leading all but a small handful of countries to curtail their programs or discontinue them altogether.
"The global community continues to urge the WHO to look at this situation and to consider the movement toward self-care," says Smith, who as chief maternal health advisor to USAID's Maternal and Child Survival Program oversaw pilot studies of advance distribution of misoprostol in more than a dozen countries. "There is one person who will 100% of the time be there for the birth, and that's the woman herself. She should be the one holding the drug."
For Prata, WHO's reluctance to endorse advance distribution smacks of paternalism and an inability to appreciate the reality on the ground – a reality she knows all too well.
A native of Angola, she remembers with painful clarity the first patient she lost to postpartum hemorrhage. It was in the capital, Luanda, in 1987, at the height of the country's 27-year civil war, and Prata, then a newly minted physician at the city's main maternity hospital, had just delivered a healthy baby boy.
Part of the placenta had broken off in the mother's uterus, causing her to hemorrhage. Though Prata and team were able to remove the retained tissue, they couldn't stop the bleeding. "And this was in a hospital," she says. "So you can imagine the risks for women who deliver at home."
Opponents counter that the distribution of misoprostol perpetuates a dangerous double standard whereby women in developed countries receive high quality care while women in poor countries are left to make do with an inferior alternative.
"Pregnant women in rural Africa are expected to give birth...with the false assurance they will deliver safely with misoprostol," wrote the authors of a 2011 letter to WHO on behalf of the faith-based health organization Maternal Life International. "We believe there are significant dangers in the unregulated use of misoprostol," they added, claiming that these dangers have been "underplayed by misoprostol advocates whose real agenda is... unregulated medical abortion."
In a 2018 application to remove misoprostol from WHO's essential medicines list, Petra Sevcikova and Allyson Pollock, public health researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, outlined what they describe as "crucial gaps in clinical evidence," arguing that efforts to reduce maternal mortality should focus instead on strengthening health systems. Where skilled birth attendants are present and oxytocin is available, they wrote, "oxytocin is more effective in reducing postpartum bleeding."
As far back as 1987, WHO worried that high temperatures during transport and storage in tropical climates might compromise certain essential medicines. A 1993 analysis confirmed those fears, finding a "widespread problem with the stability of ergometrine," then the drug of choice to prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
The report's authors noted that with oxytocin injection there seemed to be "less of a problem," but that the data were "too few to draw definitive conclusions."
According to a 2016 systematic review of oxytocin quality in low- and middle-income countries, 57% of oxytocin vials tested in Africa failed international specifications. A study in three districts in Ghana found that the quality of oxytocin "is likely a serious problem," and a similar study in five provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo found evidence of "widespread product degradation."
In March of last year, representatives of WHO, the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. Population Fund issued a joint statement outlining "urgent actions" necessary to ensure the availability of quality-assured oxytocin at all assisted births.
"Like vaccines, when oxytocin is not of sufficient quality or when it is not managed in cold chain, the medicine will rapidly degrade and become ineffective," they warned, noting that countries with tropical climates are at particular risk for oxytocin failures.
"Oxytocin is the best for control of postpartum hemorrhage," said Momade Bay Usta, president of the Association of Mozambican Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which partnered with the government on a 2009 pilot project in four of the country's districts. "But unfortunately, Mozambique is a warm country with not enough electricity. So we knew we needed something else."
Usta recalls that when the pilot was getting underway, some in Mozambique's reproductive health community worried that women with little education might take misoprostol before the baby comes out, which can cause the uterus to rupture. "But now we know that's not true – that if we give women good information, they will use it correctly."
And that's backed up by the data: in a 2013 review of misoprostol distribution programs, Smith and colleagues reported that out of more than 12,000 women who had self-administered misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, just 7 did so incorrectly and none had an adverse outcome.
Mozambique's ministry of health has since expanded the pilot to the rest of the country, making the distribution of misoprostol the centerpiece of a national strategy to prevent postpartum hemorrhage at home births – the largest and still one of the only such programs in Africa.
"The criticism that community-based distribution of misoprostol for postpartum hemorrhage prevention will increase its use for abortion – that is probably true," says Angel Foster, a professor of global health at the University of Ottawa and one of the world's foremost experts on reproductive health in post-conflict settings. "And I would argue there's a real ethical problem with introducing misoprostol for prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage and not talking about the fact that it can be used for abortion care."
Foster adds that while researchers probably won't be able to conduct the kind of rigorous randomized controlled trials that would allow WHO to recommend misoprostol's advance distribution, "the evidence we have really aligns with what we're seeing on the ground, which is that this is a drug that has multiple purposes and can save women's lives."
With fears that many African countries could face a prolonged outbreak over several years, Prata says the need for misoprostol has never been more urgent, adding that governments should distribute the drug and contraceptives to all households with a pregnant woman. "We have these powerful tools," she says, "but we don't trust women to take care of themselves. And now in many places, they're the only ones who can."
Uttar Pradesh: Women PAC Receive Special Training In Moradabad To Fight Maoists
12th June, 2020
As many as 190 women personnel of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), an armed police division of Uttar Pradesh, will receive special training to catch Maoists alive without killing them during the operations in Moradabad. The decision comes in order to combat the threat of Maoism in the State.
According to ANI, special yoga sessions are also being organised for these women soldiers to increase their immunity and power not only to fight Naxals but also COVID-19 pandemic. They are also been given glasses of 'Kadah' each day to keep themselves fit in these testing times.
"I cannot give you information regarding the type of training we are giving to these women soldiers. With this, the Naxals will not be able to escape easily," said PSC Commandant Ashok Kumar while speaking to ANI. For practical training, a jungle scene has been created for the women personnel, and also leaves have been tied to their uniforms.
Last year, in its annual report, the Ministry of Home Affairs said over 3,700 people were killed in Maoist violence in 10 states, the highest in Chhattisgarh, in the last nine years. In its report for 2018-19, the ministry said the CPI (Maoist) continues to be the most potent among various LWE outfits in the country and responsible for more than 88% of the total violent incidents and resultant deaths.
“Amidst increasing reverses, the CPI (Maoist) has been making efforts to expand to new areas along the inter-state borders without any significant success,” the report said. As many as 3,749 people lost their lives in 10,660 incidents of violence in 10 states since 2010, the report said.
The 10 Maoist-hit states are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
Muslim women in Edo State seek harsher punishment for rapists
The women who went round the major roads in Benin metropolis said the only way to put an end to the menace in Nigeria is for those in authority to enact a law for stiffer penalties for rapists, such as castration among others.
The protesters comprise of women and young girls want rape stopped immediately.
They are advising parents to teach their male child how to treat and respect the girl because there is no justification for rape.
Study shows Malaysian Muslim women most curious about how to get a divorce when denied by their husbands
11 Jun 2020
BY SOO WERN JUN
KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Questions related to obtaining a divorce based on fasakh topped the list of inquiries to Telenisa last year, according to a study released today by women’s advocacy group Sisters In Islam (SIS) which set up the legal aid clinic.
Fasakh is one of six methods of dissolving a marriage under the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act (IFLA) 1984 and is initiated by a woman, particularly when the husband refuses to grant a divorce.
“Our clients face a really challenging process. Part of it is due to evidence required by the Shariah Court including a police report, a medical report and a witness,” Telenisaprogramme manager Shareena Sheriff said today at the Facebook “live stream” launch of The Telenisa Book: Statistics & Findings 2019.
Shareena said Telenisa received 307 cases concerning children in 2019, of which 95 were about child support payments and 33 cases involving arrears on their payment.
She said that while the percentage of cases involving child maintenance has not increased significantly over the years, the percentage of arrears rose four-fold between 2016 and 2018, jumping from 5 per cent to 20 per cent.
Other factors that contributed to the non-payment of child maintenance were found to be fathers disobeying the Shariah Court order (9 per cent) and the maintenance order not served to the husband is (4 per cent).
Telenisa found that 3 per cent of fathers did not pay any maintenance at all. In 1 per cent of these cases, it was because the father had gone missing.
Telenisa also said a major complaint from its Muslim working women clients were that their husbands had never paid them their wifely maintenance or had stopped doing so. This was attributed to the argument that they were earning their own money and did not need the cash support.
Another top grouse received from 107 clients concerned husbands giving inadequate maintenance. Of these, nearly half (49 per cent) said it was because their husbands did not earn enough, while almost a quarter (24 per cent) complained that their husbands were jobless.
Examples of psychological abuses include instilling fear in a spouse through threatening behaviour such as damaging property or abusing pets, constant supervision or controlling what the victim does and who they talk to.
Other types of abuses documented were financial abuse (12 per cent), sexual abuse (6 per cent), social abuse explained as being isolated (3 per cent). Telenisa recorded one case of marital rape.
Shareena said other significant legal aid questions asked concerned polygamy. She said Telenisa had 89 clients in polygamous marriages last year.
“Most of the issues on polygamous marriages are related to husband’s inability to be just and fair in maintaining two or more families.
Telenisa’s clients age range from 18 to 72 years old, with 31 to 40 years old and 20 to 30 years old being the highest age range.
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