New Age Islam News Bureau
25 November 2021
• Body Search of Women by Policemen under Any Circumstances Is Illegal: Peshawar High Court
• Princess Nourah Prize Opens Nominations for 4th Edition to Honor Outstanding Saudi Women
• Riyadh Conference Focuses on Women’s Empowerment
• From Protection to Prevention, How Saudi Arabia’s Stance on Violence against Women Has Changed
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Women, Abandoned By Their Husbands to Escape the Consequences of Triple Talaq Struggle to Live In Hyderabad
Picture used for representational purpose only
Nov 25, 2021
HYDERABAD: Majority of Muslim women from the city abandoned by their husbands to escape the consequences of triple talaq either have meagre income or beg to survive.
Desperate for money, food and shelter, many have taken to odd jobs, living on less than Rs 2,000 a month or have temporarily moved in with their family and relatives, shows a recent survey conducted by women members of a city-based social organisation.
The social organisation’s study covered about 350 women living in various colonies of Shaheen Nagar.
“Though the survey is limited to one pocket, it is reflective of the condition that most of these women are in today,” said Nikhat Begum from Helping Hand Foundation, who headed this survey in the city along with a team of volunteers.
At least 45% respondents are victims
Their findings show that at least 45% of the respondents — aged between 18 and 35 years — are victims of abandonment. “The numbers have increased lately,” added Nikhat, alluding to this being a result of the ban on instant talaq.
Shaheen Begum, one among those left stranded almost suddenly, has taken up work on a farm. “I end up earning a maximum of Rs 100 per day and that’s just not enough to take care of three children and myself,” the 40-year-old said. Her daughter, also divorced recently, has started some tailoring work to support the family.
Many younger girls have taken to peeling garlic that fetch them Rs 25 for every kg, become domestic helps or are engage in menial jobs for textile traders. Even their pay is poor. “I get orders for just two or three kg of garlic. Not only is the money insufficient, it even damages the skin,” said another woman from Habeeb Nagar.
Mujtaba Hasan Askari, founder of the foundation admitted to receiving a “steady flow of abandonment cases of women from underprivileged sections looking for social support”. Speaking about the startling revelations of the survey, he said: “By circumventing the law, men are pushing women into deeper social stress as all their legal entitlements like ‘mehr’, which is like a social security net, are unpaid,” he said.
Source: Times of India
Body Search of Women by Policemen Under Any Circumstances Is Illegal: Peshawar High Court
Photo courtesy of Nazish Brohi. (Representational use)
November 25, 2021
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has declared that policemen are not allowed to conduct body search of a woman under any circumstances and that under the law, a woman could be subjected to body search by a woman only.
Justice Mussarat Hilali of a single-member bench observed that under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a woman was entitled to ‘special treatment’ regarding body search.
“Section 52 of the CrPC provides that whenever it is necessary to cause a woman to be searched, the search should be made by another woman with strict regard to decency.
“Under no circumstances, male police personnel shall actually touch the person of a woman for making search or arrest,” it ruled.
Court grants bail to woman in drug case
The bench made the order while accepting bail petition of a woman suspect,who was arrested by the officials of Pishtakhara police station on Sept 6, 2021, on the charge of narcotics smuggling.
It granted bail to the petitioner on condition of furnishing two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each.
The FIR of the case was registered under Section 9-D of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Control of Narcotics Substance Act.
The police had alleged that they had seen the petitioner stand on the roadside on the Ring Road in Peshawar with a shopping bag in her hand and that the search led to the seizure of 3,280 grammes of heroin in the bag.
The petitioner’s counsel, Umer Zafran, contended that his client was falsely implicated in the case. He stated that the petitioner was six weeks pregnant and was a mother of three children.
He said on record, there was no female constable with the police team which claimed of recovering contraband from her possession. He added that the petitioner was arrested on Peshawar’s Ring Road which was a busy public place without a female constable.
The bench observed when the petitioner was searched by police on public road in presence of all male police personnel, the norms of decency could not have been observed.
“The question is how the petitioner, who is pregnant of six weeks, was searched on road side where there no prior information of her being involved in trafficking narcotics,” it observed.
The bench also expressed concern about the policemen keeping that woman in their custody for three long hours.
“It has also been noticed with great concern that though the FIR was registered against the petitioner at 1650 hours but she was sent to Women Police Station at 1950 hours Ice after a delay of three hours during which she remained in exclusive male police custody as no female constable is shown to have been associated with the proceedings,” it observed.
The court added that the situation was extremely intolerable, undesirable and against the statutory and executive directions.
It observed that despite the lapse of 65 days, the prosecution had failed to produce the Forensic Science Laboratory report of the contraband allegedly recovered from the petitioner.
Princess Nourah Prize opens nominations for 4th edition to honor outstanding Saudi women
November 25, 2021
RIYADH: The secretariat of the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Prize for Women’s Excellence has opened nominations for its fourth edition, which is the first annual award to celebrate and highlight the outstanding achievements of Saudi women.
The prizes for the winners will be awarded on March 8 by Minister of Education Hamad Al-Asheikh, during a ceremony held under the patronage of King Salman.
The award focuses on six areas:
- Health sciences and women’s health
- Natural sciences and energy and renewable energy
- Human studies and scientific studies that highlight local identity and national heritage
- Artworks and Arabic calligraphy
- Social work and women’s endowments
- Economic projects and pioneering projects that contributed to supporting domestic tourism.
Dr. Inas Al-Issa, the president of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University and chair of the prize’s supreme committee, said that the unlimited support that Saudi women receive from the Saudi leadership comes from the belief in their abilities and confidence in their success in contributing to achieving development plans in accordance with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision alongside their male counterparts.
She said honoring and celebrating women’s outstanding achievements and supporting their participation in sustainable development is a living witness to King Salman’s generous patronage of the Princess Noura Prize for Women’s Excellence, which aims to support the presence and excellence of women locally and globally.
She added that the prize “is a platform that bears witness to the success stories of Saudi women in all fields, and motivates new generations of women to contribute seriously to comprehensive development.”
Nomination for the prize will remain open until Jan. 15, and is available to government agencies, the private sector, and reputable scientific and cultural bodies and institutions or by individuals. Registration can be done through the website: https://nourahprize.pnu.edu.sa.
Source: Arab News
Riyadh conference focuses on women’s empowerment
November 25, 2021
RIYADH: The empowerment of Saudi women was the focus of a conference in Riyadh organized by Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University under the patronage of Princess Fahda bint Falah Al-Hithlain.
More than 110 researchers representing more than 90 government and private sector agencies discussed the empowerment of Saudi women, legislative reforms in the era of King Salman, and the most important government initiatives.
The conference sessions dealt with the reality of empowering Saudi women in state institutions, the degree of empowerment and political participation of women, and future proposals for empowering women within the framework of legislative and institutional reforms supporting women’s empowerment and achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
The president of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Dr. Enas Al-Issa, said the process of empowering Saudi women had seen historic leaps in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. She said the total number of Saudi female faculty members had reached 33,000 and that women constituted about 44 percent of the total faculty members in Saudi universities. Of these, 37 percent had a doctorate while 1,300 women held senior leadership positions in universities.
Nouf Al-Ajmi, vice rector of the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University for female students, said the institution had made remarkable progress in the indicators for women’s empowerment in university education.
“The university is increasing activities, projects and initiatives directed at developing the skills of its members, improving the work environment, removing challenges and introducing new specializations for female students in the fields of medicine, media and law,” she told the conference.
Source: Arab News
From protection to prevention, how Saudi Arabia’s stance on violence against women has changed
November 24, 2021
JEDDAH: To commemorate the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, let’s explore how Saudi Arabia’s progress in strengthening laws on violence against women and preserving their rights.
In 1979, the UN adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, also known as the international bill of women’s rights, comprehensively addressing what constitutes women’s rights.
In 1999, the UN General Assembly officially designated Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On this occasion, governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations work to raise public awareness on the issue.
Since 1991, 187 countries have endorsed the CEDAW, adopting it as the legally binding international treaty that requires them to abolish discrimination against women by providing them with the same access and opportunities as their male counterparts.
According to UN figures, fewer than 40 percent of women who experience violence seek help of any sort. One-third of women aged 15 and above worldwide have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, non-partner, or both at least once in their lifetime.
There’s still a long way to go to change these figures. To date, only two-thirds of the world’s countries have outlawed domestic violence, while 37 countries worldwide still exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution if they are married to or eventually marry the victim; 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.
In the past two decades, Saudi Arabia has made a significant effort to empower women through different initiatives that address matters of concern. In 2005, and by royal decree, the National Family Safety Program was established. The program established foundations of an aware and safe community, protecting and defending individual rights and helping victims of domestic abuse.
The program has come a long way since its establishment. Dr. Maha Almuneef, the founder and executive director of the NFSP, told Arab News that the program has gone through several stages since its initiation, and each step played a pivotal role in paving the way for legislation and an extensive collaborative effort between civil society, business, and government agencies in the Kingdom.
“The first stage I’d like to call the recognition stage, where we recognize the problem, one that was considered a taboo, and recognize it as a major public health issue and not simply a family dispute. This period spanned approximately 10 years, where we focused on awareness, advocacy, changing the mindset from a family dispute and taboo subject to a public health issue that is affecting the health and well being of women,” said Dr. Almuneef.
The next stage was the legislative stage. After recognizing the problem and finding ways to deal with the taboo subject, in 2013, the Law of Protection from Abuse was issued with 17 articles addressed.
“There’s a political will to fix the issue after conducting all the necessary research. The law that was issued to criminalize domestic violence and is one of the strongest in the Middle East, with fines and imprisonment. If and when the offense is repeated, the punishment is doubled according to article 13,” said Dr. Almuneef.
By 2016, the program moved to the prevention stage through various women empowerment laws that elevated their status politically, socially, economically.
These changes, according to the director, are the first steps to not simply protecting women, but to also prevent the onset of abuse towards them through empowerment.
The Kingdom has shifted its efforts from protecting women to preventing the act from happening by realizing the fifth UN Sustainable Development Goal: “To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
Last November, the Saudi Public Prosecution Office issued new penalties for abuse against women that included imprisonment and hefty fines for any physical, psychological, or sexual assault against women in the Kingdom. The Violence Against Women laws are some of the strictest in the region, with the Public Prosecution Office mandating a minimum jail sentence of no less than one month and up to five years.
Assault and harassment penalty fines reach as high as SR300,000 ($ 80,000).
Lawyer Waleed bin Naif told Arab News: “The laws and regulations issued in the Kingdom guaranteeing women’s rights are constantly evolving. A woman’s silence about claiming her rights does not mean the forfeiture of her rights if she demands it.
“A case I recently handled was concerning a woman physically assaulted by her husband, where the court found the defendant guilty and imprisoned him for a month.”
He added: “With that being said, the Saudi judicial system today ensures women’s right to represent themselves in criminal cases of violent abuse and assault, without the need to bring a Mahram (legal guardian). Only her presence is required to submit the complaint before it is referred to Public Prosecution, where the perpetrator is summoned for interrogation.”
One of the ways Saudi Arabia is empowering women is by raising awareness on new protection laws, providing clear channels for complaints, and moving away from complex to simplified and confidential bureaucratic procedures.
Saudi efforts to eradicate violence against women include preparing civil workers with the tools and training to coordinate with the concerned authorities when supporting victims of abuse.
With the program’s backing and various initiatives to empower women, Saudi women have greatly benefited from economic legal reforms, training initiatives, and programs. They have been given the tools to not only protect themselves, but also allow them to walk away unscathed due to the sheer number of entities and agencies that support women, especially the most vulnerable.
Dr. Almuneef believes that these achievements are significant and have further protected women from discrimination and abuse, but there is still more to be done.
The NFSP partnered with the UN Development Program and made significant achievements in capacity-building programs to promote mental and physical health and social well-being. It also provides practitioners with critical knowledge and diverse skills to deal with domestic violence cases.
This initiative has enhanced the NFSP’s training programs to entice and support qualified professionals to handle domestic violence cases.
“Since its initiation in 2005, we’ve been in close contact with international agencies, whether it be UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women or the World Health Organization. Recently, there has been a major collaboration between the UNDP and NFSP in terms of building capacities and training professions on how to empower women, support them and deal with cases of violence against women,” said Dr. Almuneef.
“We could see a continuous rise in abuse cases in the next five to 10 years. In Saudi Arabia, the expected rise will not be attributed to the worsening of the situation, on the contrary, it will be due to women raising the issue with relevant authorities, better documentation, quicker responses and interventions,” said Dr. Almuneef, adding that women now have a better understanding of their rights due to the laws that empower and support them.
With the continued collaborative effort between relevant authorities, any complaint on the NSFP’s hotline receives an immediate response from law enforcement, the Health Ministry, and others to ensure the case is dealt with according to its severity.
According to the WHO, COVID-19-induced lockdowns increased the risk of violence against women. In a report, it said: “Stress, the disruption of social and protective networks, loss of income and decreased access to services all can exacerbate the risk of violence for women.”
Last year, official statistics found that cases of abuse in adults constituted the vast majority of recorded cases, where 2,318 instances of abuse against women were recorded in Saudi Arabia.
Of them, 77 percent were physical abuse, 12.7 percent were psychological abuse, 7.8 percent of the cases involved neglect, and 2.4 percent were sexual assault. For more on the updated rules and regulations, visit the official website for the Ministry of Justice.
Source: Arab News
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