A billboard advertising Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne sparked debate online for appearing to feature two women wearing Hijabs.
Australia Day Billboard Featuring Two Women Wearing Hijabs Causes Outrage
In Northern Afghanistan, Bereaved Women Join Fight Against IS
Indian-American Congresswoman to Not Attend Trump's Inauguration
Muslim woman racially assaulted in London
In Afghanistan, mourning women join fight against Islamic State
Obey the Court, Release El-Zakzaky, Wife, Amnesty Tells Nigerian Govt
Empowered Women Can Create A Stronger, Healthier Pakistan
Trump Asks Why US Is Bothering To Fight B'Haram When Chibok Girls Haven't Be Rescued
Indonesian Women Domestic Workers Start Coming To UAE
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Women Can Act As Guardians Of Properties Gifted To Their Children: Madras High Court
JANUARY 16, 2017
‘Muḥammadan Law distinguished between properties gifted to a child by its father and others’
In a significant ruling, the Madras High Court has held that Muslim women can also accept properties gifted to their minor children and act as guardians of those gifts in certain special circumstances though the principles of Muhammadan Law do not explicitly confer such a right on them.
Justice RMT. Teekaa Raman passed the ruling while dismissing an appeal suit preferred in 2007 against the dismissal of a partition suit between a Muslim family by an Additional District Court in Dharmapuri in 2006. The judgement was reserved in the principal seat of the High Court and delivered at its Bench here.
“Where there was no other guardian of the property or person of the minor and the mother was the only other person who could look after the interest of the minor, acceptance of the gift by the mother is not illegal or invalid,” the judge said.
As per Muhammadan Law, Hiba (gift) is conferring of a right of property without an Ewaz (exchange). ‘Hiba’ literally means donation of a thing from which the receiver may derive benefit.
Since Muhammadan Law views the law of gifts as part of the law of contract, there must be an Ijab (tender), Qabul (an acceptance) and Qabza (delivery of possession). Muhammadan Law also makes a distinction between guardian of the person, guardian of the property and guardian for the purpose of Wilayat-ul-Nikah (marriage), in case of minor girls.
Section 359 of the Principles of Muhammadan Law saidthe father, an executor appointed by his father’s will, the paternal grandfather or the executor of the latter’s will were entitled to be guardians of properties of a minor child in the order in which they were mentioned and Section 348 defined a minor as one who had not completed 18 years of age, he said.
As per the law, “no other relation is entitled to the guardianship of the property of a minor as of right, not even the mother, brother or uncle. But, the father or the paternal grandfather of the minor may appoint the mother, brother, uncle or any other person as his executor or executrix, in which case they become legal guardians and have all the powers of a legal guardian,” the judge said.
In so far as the present case was concerned, he said the father of a minor had gifted certain properties to the child and appointed his wife as guardian. The child’s mother had also accepted the gift during the lifetime of the donor and hence the legal validity of such acceptance had been put under challenge.
The judge said Muhammadan Law clearly distinguished between properties gifted to a child by its father and others. While transfer of possession was a sine qua non with respect to properties gifted by others, it was not so with respect to properties gifted to minors by their fathers.
At Worcester mosque, local woman explains growing up Muslim
WORCESTER - Growing up a Muslim in Rutland, Asima Silva was considered by her friends as exotic and she was celebrated for her individuality.
She excelled as a student, took part in extracurricular activities and even persuaded the school principal to have a Muslim give a benediction at her high school graduation.
But for her children, much has changed, and sometimes the questions they pose come from fear, she said.
On Sunday, before a crowd of about 125 people, Ms. Silva said she watched as events including the Gulf War and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the recent presidential campaign changed everything for Muslims. As the main speaker at a program at the Worcester Islamic Center titled "Understanding the American Muslim," she told how she'd studied other religions during her time at Worcester Polytechnic Institute because she wanted to know why practitioners of each religion believed their faith was right.
"I did choose to be Muslim after all my studies," she said.
The program brought together Muslims and other members of the community, including police, local officials and curious followers of other religions, as well as a selectman, town administrator and lawyer for the town of Dudley, where a proposal for a Muslim cemetery has been a hot-button issue.
Some residents in Dudley have opposed the cemetery for a year and during public meetings have made less than tasteful comments about the religion.
Dudley town counsel Gary Brackett said he found Sunday's event interesting and informative. He said he hadn't realized the tenets of the religion are close to those in Judaism. Dudley Town Administrator Greg Balukonis and Selectman Peter Fox also attended.
Ms. Silva explained that the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith in Islam both include God. Her religion recognizes prophets, encourages prayer and believes in a day of judgment. She said wearing a headscarf, or hijab, is for modesty, and whether a woman wears one is up to her. While some see it as a symbol of the Muslim religion, Ms. Silva pointed out that it is not unlike the traditional garb worn by Catholic nuns or the Virgin Mary in the many depictions of her.
With the recent election over and President-elect Donald Trump's campaign statements about a Muslim registry or deportations for some practicing the religion, Tahir Ali said Worcester's Muslims gathered support from Sunday's event. While some Americans fear Muslims, he said, in turn, some Muslims are now fearful, too.
"We need not to be fearful of this rhetoric," said Mr. Ali, who is the spokesman for the Islamic centers of Worcester.
Ms. Silva said in recent years she became more active, getting elected to the Wachusett Regional School Committee after her daughter experienced prejudice in school.
"I wanted ... what was going to be my jihad, that I needed to do something for other children to make sure they did not get discriminated against like my daughter did," she said, adding that while the word jihad is "overloaded," what it really means is a struggle of self.
"The highest level of jihad is to struggle with yourself," she said.
The second level is to stand up for others and to fight for what is right. Her activism led to an invitation to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address a year ago, as a guest of U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.
"She literally bumped into President Obama," Mr. McGovern said Sunday as the two recounted the day.
Muhammad Ramzan, president of the Worcester Islamic Center, said he felt the event, sponsored by EnjoinGood.org, was a good opportunity for people to ask questions and learn about Muslims who are no different than others. He came to the United States from Pakistan 25 years ago and has a neurology practice in Worcester.
He said many Muslims are concerned about what the new president might have in store for them and he doesn't want to live in a place that presents the hardships he knew in Pakistan.
"You can imagine life is not easy over there," he said, adding that he and his children, who are all American-born, love this country. "This is their home, absolutely ... and I don't want this country to (become) what we've seen in our old country."
Australia Day Billboard Featuring Two Women Wearing Hijabs Causes Outrage
January 16, 2017
The sign advertised details of an RACV-sponsored event at Melbourne’s King's Domain Gardens.
The two smiling women were the only people on the advertisement, which also included an Australian flag.
It appeared alongside the Peninsula Link Freeway, in Melbourne’s south east, and sparked online outrage after a photograph of the sign was first shared by far-right Facebook groups on Friday.
The post was shared thousands of times and sparked hundreds of comments from people who claimed the women, who appeared to be Muslim, did not represent Australians.
“That billboard does not represent Australia,” one person commented.
Another added: “Where's the BBQ, beach, sun, bikinis? At a quick glance looks like a billboard for an immigration school.
“This board does not represent Australia and how we celebrate it!!”
A third person wrote: “I wonder what would happen in a Muslim country if they put up a billboard with girls in bikinis and shirtless guys having a beer around a BBQ?????”
Some supporters of the advertisement, visible between Rutherford and Dandenong/Frankston roads, argued it helped reflect Australia’s multiculturalism, which should be embraced.
“So whats the problem?!! Are the people in the poster not Australian?! Thats (sic) the whole point, INCLUSION 😨😨😨😨😨"
“It doesn't matter what is on the board. Only thing is Australia is [a] multicultural county and everyone who lives there must be proud [of] Australia. So stop that nonsense,” one supporter wrote.
Another supporter said: “I don't get why people seem to think that one race or any race owns any land more so then the other. Those views are so close minded. We share this earth together, even if you don't like it.”
Some social media users likened the campaign to Australia’s British settlers who they said “tried to erase the aboriginal people”.
The billboard came just days after a controversial television advertisement aired, featuring a celebratory barbecue with patrons from different backgrounds and cultures.
The Australia Day ad featuring indigenous Aussies welcoming visitors from other countries was intended to portray lamb as the most multicultural meat, but many viewers were offended at the absence of the words "Australia Day" and the implication that all Australians were boat people.
In northern Afghanistan, bereaved women join fight against IS
Jan 16, 2017
Zabihullah Noori - Gul Bibi, an Afghan grandmother well into her eighties, never expected to become a fighter.
But now she is one of more than a hundred women in Afghanistan's northern Jawzjan province who have taken up arms against the militants.
Nearly all of the women have lost a husband, son or brother to the Taliban or the newly active Islamic State in the province bordering Turkmenistan.
"I lost nine members of my family. The Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) killed my five sons and four nephews," Bibi said by phone from Jawzjan. "I have taken up arms to defeat the terrorists so other people's sons won't get killed."
Determined to protect their families, the women approached a local police commander, Sher Ali, in December and asked him for guns and ammunition. "They came to me and said that if I didn't provide them with weapons they would kill themselves - before Daesh or the Taliban could," Ali told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
The women are not a properly structured group, he said; they have no uniform and have not received any military training other than how to point a gun at the enemy and shoot.
The Taliban has carried out attacks in Jawzjan for the last decade, part of a country-wide insurgency to topple the Afghan government and drive out foreign troops.
Islamic State became active in the province - a gateway to Central Asia - in early 2016, when a Taliban commander and 50 of his fighters declared allegiance to the ultra-hardline group, said Mohammad Reza Ghafoori, spokesman for Jawzjan governor.
On Dec. 25, Islamic State fighters attacked Garmjar village and killed five civilians, burned down about 60 houses and forced 150 families to flee, he said by instant messenger.
A woman in her twenties, who did not want to give her name, said her husband and many other family members had been killed by the Taliban. Now she is fighting back, she said.
"I hit the Taliban with this PK (machine gun), and the Taliban fled. Most of the men died. I will stand against Daesh and will hit them too," she said by phone from Jawzjan.
'FIGHT TO THE DEATH'
The women fighters are not registered with the army or police and the government has not licensed their weapons, Abdul Hafiz Khashi, head of the security department of Jawzjan police, was reported as saying in the Afghan media last week.
Although local police have cautiously welcomed the new defence force, he said, the rag-tag women's unit has raised concerns among higher authorities. "We do not support any armed group, unless they come under one of our forces," Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said from Kabul.
"We hope they join the Afghan security forces, so we can help them as part of our troops," he said.
But the women accuse the Afghan army of failing to protect their families from the militants.
"First they killed my brother, then they killed my cousin, my uncle and my brother-in-law," said Zarmina, another woman fighter. "Now that I have taken up arms, I am going to fight to the death."
Thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in violence since the Taliban government was brought down in the US-led campaign of 2001.
Afghan armed forces control no more than two thirds of national territory, and have struggled to contain the Taliban insurgency since the bulk of NATO soldiers withdrew at the end of 2014.
The United States has announced plans to send 300 Marines to the volatile southern province of Helmand, large parts of which are under Taliban control, as part of a regular rotation of troops helping train and advise Afghan forces.
Russia, China and Pakistan warned month last that the influence of Islamic State was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.
Mariam lost three members of her family in the Islamic State attack on Garmjar village in December. She fled to Qush Tepa and joined the women fighters.
"Daesh came, hit us, abused us, killed our people and burned about a hundred houses. They didn't leave anything for us. They killed three members of my family. They wanted to burn us, but we fled and came here," she said by phone. "When you have nothing left in your life, you will take up weapons and fight to the death." –Reuters
Indian-American Congresswoman to Not Attend Trump's Inauguration
January 16, 2017
Washington: Indian-American Congresswoman from Seattle, Pramila Jayapal, has announced that she won't attend Donald Trump's inauguration this week, saying the President-elect's "language and actions" undermine America's democracy and its history.
"I did not undertake the decision lightly," Jayapal said in a statement yesterday.
So far two dozen US lawmakers have announced that they are boycotting Trump's inauguration.
"I had hoped in the days following the election that we would see a President-elect who broke from his campaign rhetoric and worked to unite the American people. Instead, we have seen this President-elect continue to use language and take actions that demean our history and our heroes, and undermine our democracy," she said.
The only lawmaker to oppose Trump's presidential victory confirmation during the joint session of the Congress early this month, Jayapal alleged that his Cabinet appointments underscore the grave threat to the country that his presidency represents.
"Appointments of people such as Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Andrew Pudzer threaten the very fabric of our country and the institutions that these men and women will lead. The continued promises to create a Muslim registry, to repeal DACA, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and punish women for abortions, fly in the face of our 7th District values," she said.
Instead of being in Washington DC attending the swearing-in ceremony of Donald Trump, Jayapal said she would be with her constituents attending a seminar on immigration.
"My decision to be here in the district with my constituents who are truly terrified that they will no longer have a home in this city and country was not, at the time, a boycott of the inauguration...I believe my first responsibility is to listen to my constituents and to be with them, through the darkest of times," she said.
"If I had any doubts about my decision, however, my resolve has only strengthened in the past few days as I watched Donald Trump's response to one of our country's great civil rights icons and a personal hero of mine, Congressman John Lewis. With Donald Trump's tweet, he himself has inflamed the situation and now two dozen of my colleagues will also not be attending the inauguration. It has become a boycott," she said.
Jayapal said she does understands that she and others are breaking from long-standing tradition of bipartisan attendance at the Presidential inauguration. However, these are not normal times and one cannot pretend it is so, she argued.
"If we are worried about breaking from long-standing tradition, let us focus on the fact that when this President is sworn in on January 20, he will be in violation of the Constitution, the very document that he will swear to protect and defend. His disregard for the conflicts of interest he brings into this office, and his refusal to address those conflicts are the break from tradition on which we should focus," Jayapal said.
Muslim woman racially assaulted in London
Jan 16, 2017
A Muslim woman who was racially assaulted and spat on by a stranger in a restaurant has urged more female Muslims who have experienced hate crime to speak out.
Nahella Ashraf, 46, was wearing a head scarf when she was attacked as she sat around a table with four friends in the restaurant in Hammersmith, London.
Ms Ashraf, from Manchester, was left “shaken” after a man sitting behind her, who was “smartly dressed and well put together”, grabbed her from the side and tried to pull her out of her seat, before launching a barrage of racist remarks and spitting in her face.
“We’d been in there for about 45 minutes and we’d all finished eating. There was a guy sat behind me. I assumed he was getting up to leave but he grabbed me and was screaming at me,” she told The Independent.
“He just grabbed me from the side, my arm. It felt like he was trying to pull me out of my seat. The first thing I remember him saying was something about him not tolerating people like me. Right in my face.
“It all happened really fast. I think the guys behind the counter came out straight away, and got between him and me.
“They asked him what his problem was. He said ‘It’s not me, how can you have her in here?’ and then he spat at me. He leaned forward past this guy and he spat in my face.
“As soon as he did that they started pushing him out. As they were pushing him out, he was just saying something like: ‘Her kind of people kill people’ and ‘They’re the problem’ kind of thing.
“It was racist. He kept saying ‘those kinds of people’. He could’ve grabbed the white woman on the side of me that would’ve been easier, but he went for the Muslim woman in the crowd.”
Police were called to the incident but the suspect had already fled the scene.
Officers were treating the incident as a racially motivated hate crime.
Ms Ashraf, who had been working in London during the week as part of her job as a researcher, said it was the first time she had been physically assaulted because of her race, adding that she was particularly shocked that it had happened in such a public setting.
“I was really shaken up. I was really shocked that it happened somewhere in public,” she said.
“I’ve had people walk past me and shout abuse, but it had never been to the extent that they’ve physically touched me.
“You think it might happen when you’re walking late at night on your own. I’d heard people make comments about me on a bus or a train before, but never when you’re in a group.”
She added the experience had made her realise that while many female Muslim victims of race hate crime choose not to talk about their experience, it was important for victims of such crimes to speak out in order to “set the record straight”.
“Initially I thought I didn’t want to talk about it. But actually it makes me think if it can happen to me in the centre of London, it’s happening everywhere. People just don’t seem able to talk about it,” said Ms Ashraf.
“I think it’s important that we do talk about it. I think it’s important for Muslim women themselves to have a voice in this narrative and actually set the record straight that we aren’t the threat.”
The researcher, who is a member of campaign organisation Stand Up To Racism, said she and her Muslim friends had noticed a marked rise in hate crime against them since the EU referendum, but that it had been steadily rising in recent years.
“I think we’ve seen more since the referendum, there’s no doubt about it. Especially in the first couple of weeks. But definitely over the last couple of years we’ve become more cautious when we’re out and about,” she said.
“A lot of Muslims I know, especially my female Muslim friends, have commented on how it’s gotten worse. We’re a bit more careful about where we go. We’re an easy target nowadays.
“It seems to happen more to Muslim women than to Muslim men, and it’s usually men who are targeting us.
“I think the fact that it’s okay for the media to talk about how we dress ... for any other women it’s not really acceptable to comment on how they dress, but when it comes to Muslim women, it’s seen as open season.
“There's this idea that we’re all submissive and we’re all forced to dress the way we do and we don’t have a voice, and that it’s okay for the rest of the world to speak about us on our behalf and make judgements about us.
“The idea that I’m somehow against British values is just rubbish.”
In response to the attack, Stand Up To Racism’s West London branch held a vigil in Hammersmith in protest against such racist incidents.
Balwinder Rana, convener of Stand Up To Racism in West London, told The Independent the organisation had seen a noticeable rise in hate crimes since the EU referendum.
Mr Rana said: “We were very shocked to hear about this incident. Just a few months ago there was a crime against a Polish centre on the same road.
“We held a vigil in the area to show solidarity, and I was very pleased with the outcome. Nearly 40 people came out in the cold, and we had a fantastic response from passers-by. Many locals signed up to aid our cause.
“The atmosphere around here has changed since the referendum. There has been a spike in these kinds of crimes. Politicians, and also the media, are mainly to blame for spreading the idea that migrants are to blame for the nation’s problems.
“Nahella was born and bred in Manchester – so this is affecting more than just migrants. There’s a toxic atmosphere of fear, and we’re doing all we can to curb this sentiment.”
There was a sharp increase in the number of racially or religiously aggravated crimes recorded by police in England and Wales following the EU referendum, with a 41 per cent rise in July 2016 compared to the same month the year before.
A survey carried out in December showed most British people believe hate crime had got worse since the referendum, with 58 per cent feeling they had increased since the referendum in June and 76 per cent believing hate crime was a problem in the UK today. http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Jan-2017/muslim-woman-racially-assaulted-in-london
In Afghanistan, mourning women join fight against Islamic State
January 15, 2017
Gul Bibi, an Afghan grandmother well into her eighties, never expected to become a fighter. But now she is one of more than a hundred women in Afghanistan’s northern Jawzjan province who have taken up arms against Islamist militants. Nearly all of the women have lost a husband, son or brother to the Taliban or the newly active Islamic State in the province bordering Turkmenistan. “I lost nine members of my family. The Taliban and Daesh (Islamic State) killed my five sons and four nephews,” Bibi said by phone from Jawzjan. “I have taken up arms to defeat the terrorists so other people’s sons won’t get killed.” Determined to protect their families, the women approached a local police commander, Sher Ali, in December and asked him for guns and ammunition.
“They came to me and said that if I didn’t provide them with weapons they would kill themselves – before Daesh or the Taliban could,” Ali told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The women are not a properly structured group, he said; they have no uniform and have not received any military training other than how to point a gun at the enemy and shoot.
The Taliban has carried out attacks in Jawzjan for the last decade, part of a country-wide insurgency to topple the Afghan government and drive out foreign troops. Islamic State became active in the province – a gateway to Central Asia – in early 2016, when a Taliban commander and 50 of his fighters declared allegiance to the ultra-hardline group, said Mohammad Reza Ghafoori, spokesman for Jawzjan governor.
On Dec. 25, Islamic State fighters attacked Garmjar village and killed five civilians, burned down about 60 houses and forced 150 families to flee, he said by instant messenger. A woman in her twenties, who did not want to give her name, said her husband and many other family members had been killed by the Taliban. Now she is fighting back, she said. “I hit the Taliban with this PK (machine gun), and the Taliban fled. Most of the their men died. I will stand against Daesh and will hit them too,” she said by phone from Jawzjan.
Taliban diktat: Medical College asks girls not to wear leggings, short tops, jeans
‘FIGHT TO THE DEATH’
The women fighters are not registered with the army or police and the government has not licensed their weapons, Abdul Hafiz Khashi, head of the security department of Jawzjan police, was reported as saying in the Afghan media last week. Although local police have cautiously welcomed the new defence force, he said, the rag-tag women’s unit has raised concerns among higher authorities.
“We do not support any armed group, unless they come under one of our forces,” Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said from Kabul. “We hope they join the Afghan security forces, so we can help them as part of our troops,” he said. But the women accuse the Afghan army of failing to protect their families from the militants.
“First they killed my brother, then they killed my cousin, my uncle and my brother-in-law,” said Zarmina, another woman fighter. “Now that I have taken up arms, I am going to fight to the death.” Thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in violence since the Taliban government was brought down in the US-led campaign of 2001.
Afghan armed forces control no more than two thirds of national territory, and have struggled to contain the Taliban insurgency since the bulk of NATO soldiers withdrew at the end of 2014. The United States has announced plans to send 300 Marines to the volatile southern province of Helmand, large parts of which are under Taliban control, as part of a regular rotation of troops helping train and advise Afghan forces.
Russia, China and Pakistan warned month last that the influence of Islamic State was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating. Mariam lost three members of her family in the Islamic State attack on Garmjar village in December. She fled to Qush Tepa and joined the women fighters. “Daesh came, hit us, abused us, killed our people and burned about a hundred houses. They didn’t leave anything for us. They killed three members of my family. They wanted to burn us, but we fled and came here,” she said by phone. “When you have nothing left in your life, you will take up weapons and fight to the death.”
Obey the Court, Release El-Zakzaky, Wife, Amnesty Tells Nigerian Govt
16 JANUARY 2017
The Nigerian authorities must immediately comply with a High Court order and release the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife from detention, said Amnesty International.
Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah Ibraheem, have been in detention without charge for more than a year following a clash between his supporters and the Nigerian military in which soldiers slaughtered hundreds of men, women and children.
The authorities claim he is being held in "protective custody".
"The 45 day deadline given for their release expires today. If the government deliberately disregards the orders of its own courts, it will demonstrate a flagrant - and dangerous - contempt for the rule of law," said Makmid Kamara, Interim Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
"El-Zakzaky is being unlawfully detained. This might be part of a wider effort to cover up the gruesome crimes committed by members of the security forces in Zaria in December 2015 that left hundreds dead."
On December 2, 2016 the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that Mr. El-Zakzaky and Zeenah Ibraheem should be released within 45 days. The court described their detention, which began in December 2015, as illegal and unconstitutional. The deadline for the court order expires on Monday, January 16.
Amnesty International is also calling on the authorities to release other IMN supporters arrested at the same time as Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife, who likewise remain in detention without charge.
According to Amnesty International's research, more than 350 IMN members were killed by security forces between 12 and 14 December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The IMN is a Shiite religious and political organisation whose leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, has been a proponent of Shi'a Islam in Nigeria since the 1980s.
Processions, demonstrations and other activities organized by the IMN, usually without obtaining the necessary permits and at times blocking public roads, have resulted in confrontation with the Nigerian authorities and strained relations with other communities.
Empowered Women can create a stronger, healthier Pakistan
JANUARY 16, 2017
According to UNDP, Pakistan ranks 146th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), at 0.537 as against the South Asia average of 0.588 and the global average of 0.702.
This fact alone should ring alarm bells for the Government.
Further expanding upon the argument that women are more likely to be “altruistic” in their family-related financial decisions, while educated women can cater better to family needs, we can thus hypothesize that empowering women will directly lead to an increase in Human Development indexes, as investment on children’s education, family health and equitable rationing of food leads to positive long-term outcomes. London School of Economics-based social economist Naila Kabeer assesses research work from several regions and writes, “Studies from a variety of different contexts suggest that women’s access to a range of valued resources, including education, employment, land, cash transfers, and credit, is associated with increased investments in family welfare, including children’s health and education.” This increased spending, under economically empowered women, could in effect lead to a higher literacy rate, lower infant mortality rate, higher female labor-force participation, increase political and social participation among women, and so on.
It is very relevant to mention here that, according to the CIA World Fact Book, Pakistan ranks among the top 30 countries of the world (from a list of 225) with the highest infant mortality rate (i.e. average no. of deaths for every 1000 live births). While high infant mortality may primarily be due unavailability of working medical facilities in rural areas, a secondary cause is the lack of knowledge among rural women regarding childbirth or the financial autonomy needed to seek better health care outside villages.
As a result, Pakistan loses nearly 54 newborn children for every 1000 who live. It has been noted that much of these deaths would be prevented if proper care is given to the mother in the form of higher investment on maternal health during pregnancy; In India, as policy measures have been put in place to provide financial help to pregnant mothers and in some cases mandatory maternal leave, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has been brought down to 30, which was until the 1960s as high as Pakistan’s.
Another rather disturbing trend to note is that though the Female IMR is 50.6 as compared to 57 for Males — which illustrates the well-known resilience among female fetuses (and women, in general) against common diseases — but ratio-wise Men still form a higher percentage of the adult population. This trend suggests the occurrence of sex-wise abortions in preference of a Male child, as well as the likelihood of a girl child not receiving adequate medical attention as compared to boys, and hence the sex ratio for Males rises as we move along the age groups until the 60+ age demographic where the no. of men falls as women outlive them (again, as a result of being more resilient to disease); this is what is termed as the “Missing Women” phenomenon, which deprives the nation of countless brilliant women, who could have contributed positively to the economy and society, due to myopic societal norms such as female infanticide. In a sense, not only do women suffer in the labor-market, but they also suffer as young girls and even before being conceived.
The Need for a more inclusive approach
Unfortunately, no quick solution is available to counter such beliefs, and Kabeer notes that in traditional societies, we may have to depend on “Paternal altruism” to eventual defeat these attitudes. She writes, “ … with economic development, men were either more willing to surrender some rights to their wives to ensure their children were better educated or else their interests as husbands (wanting all the rights) began to conflict with their interests as fathers (wanting to protect their daughters against their future husbands).” While this paper does not seek to deny the benefits of economic growth for gender equality, there is considerable evidence available which suggests that this particular correlation is weak. Economic growth is seen as the increase in the overall GDP per capita; neither does it note the Region-wise increase (/decrease) in per capita nor the Gender-wise increase (/decrease).
This is certainly one of the reasons why economic growth under the Neoliberal model often amplifies economic inequality due to inequitable rises in financial power and its concentration in a few hands. In countries like Pakistan, where feudal traditions and patriarchal norms have seeped into institutions and policy-making, in the form property rights, inheritance laws and political power, the wealth generated by “economic growth” is almost always to the benefit of men, which will likely not lead to reducing the gender disparities, but at the same time gives a perception of “national growth.” In the long-run, this could prove to be among the roadblocks in achieving a stable and sustainable economy, and in creating a workforce which would be able to compete at the global level, reducing Pakistan’s worth and weight in the international system.
(This article continues on the discussion on Women Empowerment in Pakistan. The previous article illustrated that Pakistan is losing billions of dollars due to the gender disparities in its Labor Force.)
Trump asks why US is bothering to fight B'Haram when Chibok girls haven't be rescued
Jan 16, 2017
With five days left for him to take over as the 45th president of the United States of America, the transition team of US President-elect, Donald Trump, has asked the State Department series of mind-blowing Africa-related questions.
The questions have also suggested Trump’s views of Africa, with the impression that he may retreat from development and humanitarian assistance to Africa.
In a four-page list of Africa-related questions from the transition staff and obtained by New York Times, questions relating to terrorism and corruption in Africa were raised by the transition team of Donald Trump.
First the transition team asked: “How does U.S. business compete with other nations in Africa? Are we losing out to the Chinese?”
That is quickly followed with queries about humanitarian assistance money. “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen? Why should we spend these funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?”
On terrorism, the document asks why the United States is even bothering to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, why all of the schoolgirls kidnapped by the group have not been rescued and whether Qaeda operatives from Africa are living in the United States. And it questions the effectiveness of one of the more significant counterterrorism efforts on the continent.
“We’ve been fighting al-Shabaab for a decade, why haven’t we won?” poses one question, referring to the terrorist group based in Somalia that was behind the Westgate mall attacks in Kenya in 2013.
However, Monde Muyangwa, the Director of the Africa program at the Woodrow Wilson Institute, stated that the questions were necessary for an incoming government.
“Many of the questions that they are asking are the right questions that any incoming administration should ask,” she said.
But she also noted that “the framing of some of their questions suggests a narrower definition of U.S. interests in Africa, and a more transactional and short-term approach to policy and engagement with African countries.”
In other questions, the Trump transition team challenges the benefits of a trade pact known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act. “Most of AGOA imports are petroleum products, with the benefits going to national oil companies, why do we support that massive benefit to corrupt regimes?” the questionnaire asks.
“How,” the questionnaire also asks, “do we prevent the next Ebola outbreak from hitting the U.S.?”
Many believe the questions accurately reflect what Trump has said publicly about Africa in the few times that he has mentioned the continent.
For instance, during the Ebola crisis in 2014, Trump took to Twitter to argue that Americans infected with Ebola should not be allowed back into the United States. As two American health workers became critically ill and were airlifted to Atlanta for treatment, Mr. Trump had this to say via Twitter: “Stop the EBOLA patients from entering the U.S. Treat them, at the highest level, over there. THE UNITED STATES HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMS!”
The Ebola epidemic, which killed almost 10,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia (but no Americans), comes up once in the document.
Recall that Trump also reportedly called out on Africans with a threat to send those in the United States away if he wins the upcoming election.
He made the disclosure during a rally at Wichita, Kansas where he re-emphasized the need to rid America of Muslims.
Trump laid an extra emphasis on the Nigerians who he referred to as ‘corrupt’ and further promised to send away because they have taken all the jobs meant for honest hard working Americans.
Indonesian women domestic workers start coming to UAE
January 14, 2017
Abu Dhabi: Indonesian women domestic workers have started coming to the UAE again after a brief interval. This development is expected to alleviate the shortage of women domestic help in the UAE due to restrictions introduced by labour-exporting countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Ethiopia.
Around 900 Indonesian women arrived in the UAE in 2016 under a new recruitment system called ‘outsourcing model’ introduced by Indonesia, a top Indonesian diplomat told Gulf News on Monday.
“Around 1,000 domestic workers arrived here since the Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi introduced a pilot system of ‘outsourced model’ in mid-2016. Around 90 per cent of them  are women, who came mainly through two recruitment companies,” said Husin Bagis, Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE.
The embassy has authorised a total of seven recruitment companies and the system is now open to all from early this month, he said.
The new system originally introduced by Indonesia in 2014 does not permit recruitment of ‘housemaids’ who are supposed to do all household chores, the envoy said. But, seven other categories of domestic workers — both men and women — can be recruited only through recruitment companies authorised by the Indonesian Embassy. Individual employers can no longer recruit domestic workers. The employers [families] have to approach the authorised recruitment companies for the same, Bagis said.
Janu Susilo, Labour Attache at the Indonesian Embassy said, the companies are responsible to provide visa and monthly salary to the workers. The sponsorship of the worker will be with the company that will send him/her to the workplace [family]. Flexibility to change workplace is the advantage of the outsourcing model. The worker is under the sponsorship of recruitment company that can easily move him/her to a different workplace, if he/she is not comfortable, he said.
Susilo said between 90,000 and 100,000 Indonesians are living in the UAE. “Between 40,000 and 60,000 of them are workers, of which , 80 per cent of them are female domestic workers. The rest of them are skilled workers and professionals,” he said.
The female workers under seven permitted categories are housekeepers, drivers, caregivers, gardeners, babysitters, cooks, and security guards. These workers are not supposed to do any other work. Indonesian authorities will permit their emigration based on their job profile, Susilo said.
Dh1,200 minimum salary, eight-hour daily working time (overtime will be calculated as per UAE labour laws), one day weekly-off, permission to use mobile phone, right to approach the labour court in the event of a dispute, are the other conditions under the new system, he said.
As Gulf News reported, Nepal has also lifted ban on emigration of housemaids recently. The Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi had implemented a moratorium on the recruitment of housemaids to the UAE in October 2013.The Philippines stopped sending housemaids to the UAE from June 2014 citing conflicting recruitment rules with the UAE. The Ethiopian government in 2012 banned women from coming to the UAE to work as maids following a series of complaints about abuse. The number of Indian housemaids in the UAE decreased considerably after the Indian embassy introduced stringent recruitment conditions in February 2008.
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