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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 28 Apr 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim Women Entitled To Maintenance Even After Divorce: Supreme Court of India

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 Apr 2014

An Arab-Israeli player of Hapoel Petah Tikva, Hanin Gamal Nasser, kicks the ball during a practice session in Petah Tikva, Israel, on Tuesday. (The Japan News)


 Sindh Assembly Passes Bill Prohibiting Child Marriages

 UAE Tops the Middle East Table In Treating Women With Respect

 In Iraq, Female Candidates Still Held Back By Old Paradigms

 Jirga gives minor girl in vani to settle dispute

 Arab TV Portrays Working Women as ‘Superficial’

 Military Surrounds Location, Intensifies Negotiations to Free Abducted Nigerian Girls

 Known Pak Politician Abida Asks Media to Be Rational On National Interest

 UN Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission

 Not All Syria-Bound Teens Are a Threat

 Arab-Israeli Women Break Ground On Pro Soccer

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Muslim Women Entitled To Maintenance Even After Divorce: Supreme Court of India

April 28, 2014

Husband’s Liability Is Not Limited to Iddat Period: Supreme Court of India

In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court has held that a Muslim woman will be entitled to maintenance from her husband even after divorce and she can file an application before a magistrate court.

Quoting an earlier Constitution Bench verdict, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Vikramajit Sen said: “A Muslim husband is liable to make a reasonable and fair provision for the future of the divorced wife which obviously includes her maintenance as well.” Such a reasonable and fair provision extending beyond the iddat period must be made by the husband within the iddat period. His liability, arising from Section 3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act to pay maintenance, “is not confined to the iddat period.”

(Iddat is the waiting period after a declaration of divorce.)

Writing the judgment, Justice Misra said: “A divorced Muslim woman who has not remarried and who is not able to maintain herself after the iddat period can proceed as provided under Section 4 of the Act against his relatives, who are liable to maintain her.”

The Bench said: “An aspect which has to be kept uppermost in mind is that when the marriage breaks up, a woman suffers emotional fractures, fragmentation of sentiments, loss of economic and social security and, in certain cases, inadequate requisites for survival. A marriage is fundamentally a unique bond between two parties. When it perishes like a mushroom, the dignity of the female fame gets corroded. It is the law’s duty to recompense, and the primary obligation is that of the husband. Needless to emphasise, the entitlement and the necessitous provisions have to be made in accordance with the parameters of law.”

In the instant case, Shamim Bano and Asraf Khan were married on November 17, 1993 in accordance with the Sharia law. But Shamim left his house alleging cruelty by him. Even as her application for grant of maintenance was pending, divorce took place on May 5, 1997. A magistrate, while rejecting her plea for maintenance taking into consideration that during the pendency of the case, the couple were granted divorce, directed Khan and others to pay her Rs.11,786 towards Mehr (a form of dowry), to return goods and ornaments and Rs.1,750 towards maintenance only for the iddat period. This was upheld by the Chhattisgarh High Court.

Allowing her appeal against this order, the Supreme Court Bench held that Shamim was entitled to maintenance even after divorce. It remitted the matter back to the trial court for fresh disposal in the light of this judgment.



Sindh Assembly passes bill prohibiting child marriages

April 28, 2014

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Monday passed the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2013 prohibiting marriage of children below 18 years.

The assembly is the first provincial legislature in the country to approve a bill to curb child marriages.

Under the bill, the minimum for marriage is 18 years. Those found violating the law would be punished in line with the penalty suggested in the legislation.

According to the law, in cases of underage marriages, those involved can be sentenced to three years in prison and they can also be fined.

The bill was first presented in the assembly in 2013 by Sharmila Farooqi and Rubina Qaimkhani.



UAE tops the Middle East table in treating women with respect

Apr 28, 2014

The UAE ranks first in the Middle East for treating women with respect, according to the Social Progress Index, the state news agency Wam reported.

“We have the deepest respect for women. We respect their sacrifices and their dedication as partners in the building of our nation,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

The report, launched by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council, ranked the UAE 37th out of 132 countries.

New Zealand took the top spot, followed by Switzerland and Iceland.



In Iraq, female candidates still held back by old paradigms

Apr 28, 2014

A female Iraqi parliament candidate decided to publish her campaign photos across the country. However in Muslim areas, she published her photos wearing a hijab while in Christian areas, she published them without a hijab.

Though it's funny, it's one of the many trickery dynamics on Iraqi reality. This is not a first time this has happened. A female Iraqi candidate did the same during the 2010 elections.

Days leading up to the elections, Iraq is one big propaganda carnival. This carnival resembles a pattern we've witnessed at many Arab elections: talking about candidates is almost limited to photos and slogans scattered heavily across the country's streets and roads.

It's a pattern of communication that only further confuses the voters, especially when candidates go as far as publishing their photos on potato chips' bags.

Projected personas of female candidates

Iraqi female candidates, who have displayed more enthusiasm in this election than before, are clearly judged on how they present themselves on their posters.

One thing that varies among women candidates is the phenomenon of women's "awrah,” or nakedness. Some female candidates use photos of male relatives instead their own. Many photos of the women showed them veiled and some not. Some candidates' photos were bold compared with conservative Iraqi standards.

However, reactions to these signs were blown out of proportion on social media.

For example, there were photos of young men standing in the street and kissing the female candidates' photos or tearing them apart. Even an Iraqi policeman dressed in his official uniform did not hesitate to take a photo of himself leaning over the photo of a female candidate to kiss her.

Marginal progress

What's frustrating about this election is that there will be no substantial changes from the previous elections in which only four females won and the 25% of quota for women was filled by assigning women from the winning parties.

Such a scenario is expected during these elections as well. Unless Iraqi voters take a significant turn, the female winning parliamentarians will only be an extension of the authority of conservative, religious and sectarian parties in the country.

Experience from recent years have shown this as female parliamentarians did not display any sort of independence and did not succeed at passing a single law in favor of Iraqi women's interests.

On the contrary, they were false witnesses over laws unjust to women. The latest of these laws was the Jaafari personal status law that passed a law allowing the marriage of young female children.

On the surface, the electoral process appears to have a democratic touch and a desire to perhaps exit religious and sectarian parties' control. Despite optimism, fears that Iraqi parliamentarian females will remain an echo of sectarian religious parties are serious fears.

But who knows, maybe Iraqi women will surprise us with bigger civil choices.



Jirga gives minor girl in vani to settle dispute

April 28, 2014

MANSEHRA: A local jirga in Shamali area of Battagram has decided to marry off an eight-year-old girl to a 26-year-old man to settle a dispute between two families.

Local sources said that the jirga was held last week to settle a dispute, which was result of the second marriage of the father of the minor girl. They said that father of the minor girl eloped with a married woman few years ago.

The custom of handing over women to rival party for settling a dispute is called vani in the area. The practice is still common in remote parts of upper Hazara.

“We have registered an FIR against a cleric, who solemnised the marriage of Farnaz Bibi with Sadiq Shah, and 12 other people including family members of both the bride and bridegroom,” said Jehanzeb Khan,” the district police officer of Battagram, on Sunday.

He said that Meherban Shah, the father of victim girl, contracted second marriage with the wife of Sadiq Shah some three years ago and fled the area.

The official said that local elders convened a jirga to settle the feud in accordance with the local tradition last week. The jirga issued a decree to hand over the minor daughter of Meherban Shah to the former husband of his second wife, he said, adding the knot was tied in the same jirga.

The official said that Syed Mehboob Shah, the maternal uncle of the victim girl, approached police to register an FIR on Saturday.

He said that FIR was registered against 13 people including Maulvi Ghufran Shah, Sadiq Shah, Nanga Shah, Mudasser Shah, Syed Ali Shah, Mehtab Shah, Akbar Shah, Zubair Khan, Younas Shah, Yousaf Shah, Bashir Shah and Meherban Shah.

Mohammad Rafique, the SHO of Shamlai police station, told journalists that raids were being conducted to arrest the people, nominated in the FIR.

Mr Rafique said that though nikah of the minor girl was performed in the jirga yet the wedding ceremony was scheduled to be held after some time.



Arab TV portrays working women as ‘superficial’

Apr 28, 2014

TAIF – Arab satellite channels depict working women as superficial individuals who use feminine wiles to secure promotion, according to a study by a King Faisal University media professor in Al-Ahsa.

Dr. Hanan Al-Yusuf told Al-Watan on Saturday that the first-of-its-kind study, which focused on these channels’ portrayal of Arab women’s work issues, covered 16 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE, Algeria and Yemen.

The results of the study showed that the media contribute to perpetuating negative stereotypes of working women.

The study said 76.6 percent of the satellite channels portray working women as people who exploit their femininity to achieve progress.

The study said 67.3 percent portray them as selfish and eager to prove themselves at the expense of their families.

Sixty-two percent portray women who work as helpless and submissive in the face of injustice, while 59.3 percent represent them as having low productivity and unable to multitask.

Finally, 30 percent portray them as being corrupt and lacking intelligence.

The women who appear on these channels’ programming tend to be working in administrative and secretarial jobs, another common stereotype according to the study.

Al-Yusuf pointed out that the study attempted to understand how television dealt with issues concerning working Arab women and compare its findings to their actual situations.

The more a state showed political concern for working women’s issues, the more these women appeared in advanced positions in that country’s media.

She said she recommended in her study highlighting positive examples of working women, to train journalists on such issues and that all of Arab society should take the issue more seriously.



Military Surrounds Location, Intensifies Negotiations to Free Abducted Nigerian Girls

Apr 28, 2014

The military has tracked down and surrounded the location, where over 200 schoolgirls who were abducted two weeks ago from Government Secondary School, Chibok, are being held captive, while exploring various options, including intense negotiations by locals and the Borno State Government to secure their release.

Disclosing this yesterday, security sources said the military has already identified the various camps in which the girls are being held, but is being cautious about executing a full onslaught against their captors, in order to avoid collateral damage.

Giving THISDAY a status report on efforts to rescue the girls, he said: "The operation is being strategically carried in a very covert manner because the terrorists will not hesitate to use any of the girls as human shields or even kill them in the event of an attack.

"Another thing you must consider is that apart from being a large expanse of land area, the Sambisa forest also has many clusters of villages and settlements that can suffer from the collateral damage, should an all-out bombardment be carried out.

"Assuming the military attacks them and some of the girls get killed in the process, can you imagine the outrage that will come from the members of the public? So they (military) are being careful.

"All this while, the military has known and has tracked the locations where they are and has even concluded plans to invade the place, but later shelved it to avoid collateral damage."

Owing to the change of tactics, it was revealed that the military is relying more on intelligence gathering and negotiations by some local indigenes and the state government with the terrorists to secure the release of the girls. It has also emerged that in the course of searching for the girls, the military has arrested some of the arrowheads behind their abduction and are currently undergoing interrogation.

The source further explained that the security forces do not want to get involved in negotiations since they consider the kidnapping a "highly coordinated local issue" with the full backing of the state government. "The state government and the Commissioner (of Education) are seriously negotiating (for the girls' freedom) because they know these boys. And what you see playing out is the politics of the state of emergency," he said. Also, sources within defence circles further revealed that after being embarrassed by the conflicting accounts on the number of girls that were abducted or released, the military is taking a more cautious approach in dealing with the situation.

Most of the military top brass, the sources also revealed, are still aggrieved with the way they were misled into giving a false statement about the missing students, which forced the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja to retract its statement.

One top security officer expressed doubts that 234 schoolgirls were kidnapped, stating that the number of the abducted girls was grossly exaggerated and may not be more than 70 in total.

According to him, since the total number of the students in the school from junior to senior secondary level is about 1,200, this would explain the high number of parents claiming that their children are missing. "This is aside from the calculated effort aimed at getting some kind of financial compensation from the state government, which was alleged to have doled out the sum of N1 million to each family of the missing girls. "Now if you divide that figure by six, you would have a maximum of 200 students in a class. And when you consider the fact that the SS3 (Senior Secondary 3) students are normally fewer in number than other classes, it stands to reason that less than 200 schoolgirls were abducted," the source explained.

Expressing frustration with the entire incident, the security official added: "Another thing you should note is that schools were closed within this period and this is both a day and boarding school, and not all the students were living in the school.

"So who gave them the directive to come to school and what were they doing in school at that time? Who are the students that make up these figures, because most of them were going to school from home since they are all members of Chibok community.

"The fact is that the figure is less than 100, or even less than 70 from our estimates, which was admitted by the school security men there and even the principal of the school before she started changing figures and statement. Today, she will say the figure is 129, then later she said 234 and again changed the figure."

He alleged that the whole situation playing out with the abduction saga was beginning to appear like a hatchet job meant to ridicule the military in order to gain the upper hand in their quest to lift the state of emergency imposed on Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

"Owing to what has happened, the military has decided to operate in the background since our men cannot trust the people (community members) who are also being brainwashed to see us as enemies. "The way this whole situation has played out has made the military wary of those it is working with, that is, the locals and their hunters, as you can see how the principal has been made the star of this whole misfortune. "She has been granting interviews to the media in a euphoric manner, ridiculing the military and saying the hunters are the ones doing the job," the source added.

Meanwhile, THISDAY findings have further revealed that the two men arrested Friday night, which resulted in the fierce fighting that left 40 terrorists and four soldiers dead, were the leaders of the group that kidnapped the girls. Intelligence sources said the kidnappers were tracked down when they came to buy food for the girls, leading to the arrest of their gang leaders who are currently undergoing interrogation and providing vital information. In addition, the intelligence efforts of the Nigerian military to find the girls is being aided by the deployment of sophisticated and advanced satellite imagery and surveillance technologies provided by the United States, United Kingdom and a few other countries to track and map out the terrorists' movements.

"They are being watched, monitored and tracked and the whole escape routes are guarded," the source said. However, as the military continues in its efforts to secure the release of the schoolgirls, women all over the country will on Wednesday converge on the nation's capital, Abuja, in red attire to stage a million women protest march aimed at pressurising the federal government into taking the necessary action to free the girls.

The one-million-women march was disclosed by Prof. Hauwa Abdu Biu yesterday after an emergency meeting convened by the Borno State First Lady, Hajia Nana Kashi Shettima, on the way forward for the release of the schoolgirls.

Biu, who only last week led a coalition of Borno women to a press conference, where they offered to go into the Sambisa forest, the stronghold of the Boko Haram insurgents, where the girls are believed to be held hostage, said yesterday that there was a change in plan.

Biu informed the meeting that the one-million women march, which is tagged "Free Our Girls" would involve women from all over the country and called for the mobilisation of Borno women to Abuja for the rally. "The last time we were in black but this time around, the colour for the Abuja rally is red, so we should all be prepared and mobilise ourselves for the rally," she said.

Earlier, the Borno State first lady, while addressing the meeting, called on the wives of service chiefs both in the state and the federal levels to assist in mounting pressure on their husbands to intensify efforts towards rescuing the abducted schoolgirls.

"I want to seek this opportunity to appeal to the wives of security chiefs at the national and state levels to run and mount pressure on your spouses to intensify efforts to rescue our dear children. "However, I feel it is necessary to call on all women in Borno to come up with their resolutions and harmonise them. Let us all put our differences aside, irrespective of our faith and ethnicity; let us all join hands together to rescue these girls. I know that we can do it, Almighty Allah is with us, he knows our intention," Hajia Nana said amidst sobs.

"I am sure for now we are not on our own. I am happy to inform you that the wife of the president called me two days ago. I believe that she is also with us, so let us all join hands together irrespective of political affiliations," she added. Most of the women who spoke at the meeting called on the federal government and the security agencies to intensify efforts towards rescuing the kidnapped schoolgirls.

They also called for prayers and fasting in mosques and churches so that God can touch the hearts of the insurgents to release the girls and they agreed to mobilise to Abuja for the rally. Also, Mrs. Aisha Wakil, who has been in the forefront of calling on the insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue, cautioned against the use of force in rescuing the girls.

The meeting had in attendance wives of service chiefs in the state, non-governmental organisations, women professional bodies, representatives of Federation of Muslims Women Associations (FOMWAN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), among others.



Known Pak Politician Abida Asks Media to Be Rational On National Interest

April 28, 2014

LAHORE - Known politician Syeda Abida Hussain stressed upon media to be responsible in highlighting issues of national interest.

Addressing a ceremony as the chief guest at Tech Club here on Sunday, Abida indirectly criticised the crisis between a private TV channel and ISI. Talking in background of murder attempt on senior journalist and anchorperson Hamid Mir, she said media should avoid angling facts and report incidents keeping in view the national interests.   “Indian media cannot opine on issues of foreign affairs and national interests without taking on board RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and Indian foreign office,” she said, adding the freedom of information comes under homeland security act if any news channel or newspaper radically differed the state policy in the United States. Under the present circumstance, she said the country is facing another crisis, and asked the government, civil society and intellectuals to make united efforts in getting rid of it.

Another crisis was approaching in the shape of horrible loadshedding in coming days, she predicted, emphasising the government to chalk-out a plan to decrease the duration of power cuts in summer.

The former federal minister said that the ongoing extremism was plaguing the country and was a major bar on the way to development. To get rid of it, she suggested, education was the best tool. She appreciated the role of Tech Society for establishment of a welfare educational institution in shape of Tech Welfare School for the needy students.

“Pakistani students are among the most intelligent students of the world and if they are provided opportunities, they have the capabilities to transform Pakistan into a great exemplary state of the world in every sphere of life,” opined the other speakers including former state minister Qayyum Nizami, Tech Educational Club BoD chairman Mian Ashraf, Tech Society president Zubair Sheikh and others.



UN Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission

Apr 28, 2014

The United Nations elected Iran this week to seats on five subcommittees of the Economic and Social Council, including one on the Commission on the Status of Women. That’s right, Iran—“a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged ‘immodest,” writes—will now hold a four-year seat on a commission that is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.”

Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame forearthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.

As you can imagine, once word got out Iranian women’s rights activists petitioned the U.N. to ask that member states oppose the election.

“In recent years, the Iranian government has not only refused to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but has actively opposed it,” the letter states. “The Iranian government has earned international condemnation as a gross violator of women’s rights. Discrimination against women is codified in its laws, as well as in executive and cultural institutions, and Iran has consistently sought to preserve gender inequality in all places, from the family unit to the highest governmental bodies.

“Iran’s discriminatory laws demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality: women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women’s admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws.”

According to its website, the Commission plays a vital role in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives in countries around the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Iranian gender-equality activists cautioned that, through membership in the CSW, the Iranian government will use the opportunity to do just the opposite.



Not All Syria-Bound Teens Are A Threat

Apr 28, 2014

On a December evening in 1938, a large crowd gathered at London's Victoria station. They were joined by the future Labour prime minister, Clement Attlee, as they waited to welcome home 305 British volunteers from the Spanish Civil War. More than 500 of their comrades had been killed, fighting for the democratically elected government. Its defeat left the country in the hands of General Franco, a brutal dictator who stayed in power for decades.

The British Battalion of the International Brigades has been celebrated in books and poetry but the exodus of 2,500 men and women to fight in a foreign civil war alarmed the British government. Recently released files show MI5 kept a close eye on the volunteers. Ministers even considered using the 1870 Foreign Enlistment Act to stop the flow, but no one was prosecuted.

The parallel with modern-day Syria is not exact, especially now that groups linked to al-Qa'ida are taking a prominent role in the battle against Bashar al-Assad. But I can understand why idealistic young people are once again being drawn into a foreign conflict. A handful of British citizens has already been killed in Syria, including Brighton student Abdullah Deghayes, 18, who died fighting in Homs. Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41, from West Sussex, appears to have become the conflict's first British suicide bomber; he blew himself up outside Aleppo prison in February.

It is easy to see why our government is alarmed by Majeed's "martyrdom". But I'm uneasy about the Home Office's underlying assumption, which seems to be that anyone who wants to fight against Assad is a threat to the UK.

Last year, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, used her powers to strip British passports from 20 individuals who had dual Syrian-British nationality. Presumably she had reason to believe they posed a danger, but now the authorities' rhetoric has changed.

In a new campaign spearheaded by the police, Muslim women are being asked to take a bigger role in preventing young men from going to Syria to fight. Inevitably, this has been denounced in some quarters as tantamount to spying for the government, but the initiative has the support of some prominent Muslims. The brilliant Sara Khan, director and co-founder of the Muslim women's organisation, Inspire, points out that work to explain the sectarian nature of the war, and to counter the influence of extremist videos, has been going on behind the scenes for ages.

Every generation throws up a conflict which horrifies decent people. The rest of Europe left Franco to murder his way to power, supported by Hitler and Mussolini. Assad is just as ruthless, and he's supported by Russia, China and Iran. Of course I don't want to see more British teenagers dying in Syria. But we need to think about how to keep them safe, instead of treating them all as potential terrorists.



Arab-Israeli women break ground on pro soccer

The Associated Press

Apr 28, 2014

PETAH TIKVA, Israel (AP)—When the Israeli women’s soccer team Hapoel Petah Tikva lost a number of its players to Israel’s national team ahead of World Cup qualifiers, founder Rafi Subra made a decision that sets the team apart from many of its rivals—he recruited from the Arab villages of northern Israel.

Arab-Israelis, who complain of decades of discrimination in day-to-day life, are rare in the Israeli Women’s Premier League. Though one other team has a full Arab-Israeli roster, other men and women’s teams hardly field Arab-Israelis onto their squads.

For Hapoel Petah Tikva, the addition of five Arab-Israeli women has made waves in the league despite not being in the top rankings.

“The fact is, they integrated well,” Subra said. “They’re happy. We’re happy. The mix has been very successful.”

The Arab minority make up about 20 percent of Israel’s 8 million citizens. Many have relatives among the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, empathizing with Palestinians as they negotiate with Israel over making a future state.

The strains especially become hard during times of violence between the two sides.

Though having full rights under Israeli law, Arab Israelis experience discrimination in the country. The soccer field is no exception.

Noura Abu-Shanab, one of the Arab-Israeli players on Hapoel Petah Tikva, said she faced taunts like “dirty Arab” and “go back to where you came from” during games. However, she and other Arab-Israelis continued to play.

“The atmosphere of the team is positive,” she said.

Abu-Shanab said her Muslim family was supportive of her playing in a mostly-Jewish women’s league after she turned pro at 16.

Shiran Schlechter, an Israeli player on the team and its team manager, said both the Jewish and Arab players got along well during the season, which saw Hapoel Petah Tikva have a 5-2-7 record.

“It’s funny because within the team we don’t have” that hate, Schlechter said. “I think to our credit we all fought together against that. None of us liked it. It bothered us all.”

Abu-Shanab, who is now the team captain, agreed that despite the racism she had faced from other teams, there was no conflict within the team itself.

“There is no difference between Arab or Israeli players. We are united; like one hand,” she said.