New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 07:28 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 March 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim women fight for rights

All-woman farm grows grit, hope & self-reliance

Kiss & yell! Bollywood girls change the rules

Horse rider on a higher mission

'Educated middle class women are selfish'

Hyderabad Muslim women on the march

In US, Muslim women challenge mosque separation

Iranian women still fighting for equality

Niqab debate is not about rights

Niqab Ban Breaches Privacy: EU Rights Chief

Women still earn less than men: study

'Triple talaq misread'

SP, RJD want Muslim quota; stall women's bill

Let the woman choose what to wear

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/muslim-women-fight-for-rights/d/2546

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Muslim women fight for rights

By Nandita Sengupta

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

In a tiny shanty in Sultan Shahi in Hyderabad's old city, a group of 10 and 15-year-old girls is drawing. One drawing makes artist and and Deccani-Urdu poet Jameela Nishat stop in her tracks.

"Isn't something missing?" she asks the 14-year-old, about the bird drawn without wings. The teenager promptly draws a cage over the bird. In the next day's class, Jameela asks them to answer "Main kaun hoon". "Nothing" was the only, and seemingly, most natural response. Jameela says she made her beginning on that note. With young girls who believed they were 'nothing'.

Across India, from Hyderabad to Pune, Lucknow to Kolkata, educated Muslim women like Jameela — artists, activists, teachers and doctors — are conducting awareness drives among poor women in Muslim slums in cities fashioning change in the subtlest of ways. Heels firmly dug in, they have their task cut out, fighting both illiteracy and political agendas to keep women illiterate. They teach hygiene, physiology, reproductive cycles on the one hand, constitutional rights on the other. They talk identity and training, doing what it takes to help impoverished Muslim women think for themselves.

"Hunar, hisab, himmat is the development agenda," says Pune-based Razia Abdur Rahim Patel who works with Muslim women across Maharashtra, having started in the early 1990s in a single slum cluster in Pune.

Now with a team of 20, Patel says skill-training, understanding basic money transactions and creating self-esteem among slum dwellers is focus. "Political leadership failed us. There's a huge gap between leaders' agenda and people's agenda. We are creating social leadership at the community level," says the 48-year-old on phone.

Politicians only engage in identity politics, she says, with no practical agenda. Her attempts are to create "the thinking required for community leadership". "I've seen Muslim women thirst for knowledge. The woman thinks for her family, men think only identity."

But it was identity that got Jameela into social work. "1992 (Babri masjid demolition) labelled me a Muslim," she says. Just an artist in a family of artists till then, Jameela says an attitude change even among friends jolted her into thinking of herself as a Muslim. "Friends treated me as the 'other'. When that happened, I had to get out, see for myself and do something for the community," she says, in Delhi to be felicitated, along with scholar-activists Gabriele Dietrich and Uma Chakravarty and Tibetan monk Rinchen Khando Choegyal by four civil society groups ahead of the International Women's Day.

Jameela spent time in Hyderabad's old city, just meeting and talking. In 2002, she started Shaheen Women's Resource and Welfare Association in a rented room armed with her only skill, art. She went house to house to gather young teenagers, mostly girls and through drawing, talked to them about everything under the sun, including the ills of marrying daughters off to old Arabs. Her team now has a doctor and a lawyer. Humera, a pediatrician, talks women's health weekly: when she started a year ago, the first task was to dispel myths. "They believed leafy veggies were bad, so they ate only tomatoes and potatoes," says Humera, finding their severe anaemia entirely a function of nutrition.

Information about female anatomy and reproductive cycles were next. After months of relentless thankless work, the women started responding, eager to improve their lot. "It's a very slow process. But the local muezzin is on our side, so that helps bring the men around," says Jameela. Giving Jameela a sense of perspective is Syed Tanvir Nasrin, from West Bengal's Burdwan. Nasrin, a women's studies scholar helps Jameela formulate the agenda and communication.

Their work may have started small, but momentum's growing. A nationwide forum is on the cards, says Patel. The funding too has a story. Jameela says the most meaningful contributions come in from working Muslim women. A young woman in a communications company sends Rs 600 per month. "There are others. It's reassuring to see educated young girls sending whatever they can afford to help their own," she says. With every small step, these women are making change for the better happen.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muslim-women-fight-for-rights/articleshow/5656061.cms

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All-woman farm grows grit, hope & self-reliance

Vaibhava Ganjapure & Ranjit Deshmukh

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

Independent woman' is a description that doesn't sit easy on Sunanda Salwatkar. She hardly had a choice: it was either self-reliance or death for her and her family. But once she earned her independence, this 31-year-old farmer from Sonegaon village, some 30km from Nagpur, guarded it fiercely. She lives and works with her all-woman family — mother and three younger sisters — growing veggies, soyabean and wheat on her father's six-acre farm and earns up to Rs 2 lakh a year.

It's hard work. But it's a life Sunanda had to fight with extraordinary courage to win for herself and her dear ones. When she was just 17, her father was murdered and her mother wrongly arrested for the crime. Then her sister was raped. Ostracized by villagers and relatives, she and her sisters — Sandhya, Kunda and Meera — went without food for two days, just crying on each other's shoulders and cursing their fate.

It was then that Sunanda decided to take fate into her hands. It came in the shape of a plough. Like Nargis in Mother India, the 17-year-old started tilling her father's land. The villagers laughed at her. They taunted her. She faced harassment at every step. But she didn't give up. "Due to these atrocities, we developed a sense of hatred against all men during those times," she says.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/All-woman-farm-grows-grit-hope-self-reliance/articleshow/5656063.cms

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Kiss & yell! Bollywood girls change the rules

Meenakshi Sinha

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

In bold new Bollywood, clichés are falling by the wayside. Gone are the days when heroines were just eye candy running around trees and pleading for mercy from tormentors. Powerful celluloid characterisations of women protagonists are increasingly the norm.

The in-your-face brazen beauties are comfortable in their skin and attire. The Shonali (Deepika Padukone) of Karthik Calling Karthik (2010) not only looks gorgeous and discusses how many boyfriends she's had, but also makes the first move in asking her beau to kiss her in a stark role-reversal. Karthik aka Farhan Akhtar refuses, saying he doesn't want to take 'advantage' of her when she's drunk!

According to debutant director Vijay Lalwani, Deepika's character is straight out of real life where women today are very aware of their sexuality. "It's a reflection of our society's openness. New wave filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Ayaan Mukherjee or I know such characters that exist in flesh and blood. Shonali's character is etched out from my personal experience," says Lalwani.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kiss-yell-Bollywood-girls-change-the-rules/articleshow/5656058.cms

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Horse rider on a higher mission

Nandita Sengupta

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

NEW DELHI: Beyond shelter, she wanted to give them purpose. Beyond survival, meaning. The kind her parents gave her when they fled from Tibet to India along with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in 1959 when Rinchen Khando Choegyal was months old.

Today, the teacher-on-horseback powers an all-India training set-up for 700 Tibetan nuns, in the main escapees from Tibet, about 15% from India, preparing them to achieve the highest Buddhist monastic honour: the geshe degree. Her first batch of about 40 will appear for the final tests in three years time.

After schooling in Darjeeling, Rinchen completed her graduation in child psychology, and went on to found the Tibetan Youth Congress. "I'm so grateful to India for giving me such an education that helped me work for Tibet," says the former education minister of Tibet's 'government-in-exile'. Her Nuns Project is her big initiative.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Horse-rider-on-a-higher-mission/articleshow/5656054.cms

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'Educated middle class women are selfish'

Rema Nagarajan

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

Vina Mazumdar refers to herself as "grandmother" of women's studies in India. She was secretary of the Committee on Status of Women in India that brought out the first report on condition of women in the country, Towards Equality. She was co-founder of Centre for Women's Development Studies, an institution that has influenced the course of women's studies in India. Quite the firebrand even today at 80, she is disarmingly frank about the path of women's movement in India in a conversation with Rema Nagarajan

What problems were identified by the report, Towards Equality, that you submitted in 1975?

What really stood out was primarily economic — the acute poverty. And the overwhelming majority was illiterate and so they never knew the constitution promised them equality. In the transition from an agrarian society to an industrialized one, it was women who lost out. They were fantastic in agriculture but you have to become qualified and have additional knowledge to participate in industry. With no one to give them that knowledge they lost out.

What was the outcome of touring the country for the report?

We met women from all classes. Listening to them, all of us ended up with a burden of guilt. We had enjoyed the best of education the country could provide, backed by our families, but we had never bothered to look at what happened to the other women in the country. This burden of guilt lay at the root of the resurgence of the women's movement in India.

What was the government's response to the report?

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Educated-middle-class-women-are-selfish/articleshow/5656059.cms

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Hyderabad Muslim women on the march

TNN, Mar 8, 2010

My father is from an orthodox background; mother even more conservative. I’m the eldest among four daughters. My father wanted to stop my education after Intermediate. With reluctance, he yielded to my pleas to continue studies. After graduation and MBA, I have been working for a multi-national company for about two years. Sounds okay, but let me tell you some more.

I am 25 years old and my father wants me to work only in the morning shift and be back home by 8 pm latest, no matter what. When there is no company cab to take me home, my father picks me up. I cannot go shopping or visit friends alone. I sometimes feel suffocated. But what can I do? This is the best I could extract from life.”

Thus runs the story of Sarah Sultana. The path she is treading on appears replete with hurdles, but there are many other Muslim girls who are fighting heavier odds to study or work. Yet, the craving for education looks unstoppable. And luckily, mothers seem to be supporting their daughters.

Hyderabad has a large population of Muslims, comprising around 35 per cent of its over 80 lakh population. While the literacy rate among boys in the community is higher, girls are catching up fast. Some experts even believe that educated girls outnumber boys among Muslims.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5655948.cms

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In US, Muslim women challenge mosque separation

Mar 8, 2010

WASHINGTON — A group of Muslim women risked arrest as they sought to pray in the main area of the Islamic Center of Washington -- an area ordinarily reserved exclusively for men.

"Wooden barriers have to be taken down and women have to be allowed to join, to pray behind the men in the main praying area. That's our request," said Fatima Thompson on Sunday, an American Muslim who converted to the faith 18 years ago.

"We are against gender segregation, against the fact that women are put aside or in a totally different room at the mosque," added Thompson, who led the group of female protestors, all self-identified progressive Muslims.

The Sunday protest was the second time women have sought to share the main prayer area at the mosque in Washington DC, after a group of twenty women first tried in February.

"The general issue we are pushing is gender segregation and the ramifications it fosters. It's not healthy, and not reflective of our society here. It's very reflective of very restrictive, ultra orthodox societies," Thompson added.

Full report at: www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gFNQU6VVgX6asqiYbrFKc7m6IWSA

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Iranian women still fighting for equality

By Sahar Sepehri

March 8, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Iranian women's groups and other rights organizations are fighting a controversial proposed law they say would encourage polygamy by allowing a man to take a second wife without the permission of the first in certain circumstances.

The proposal comes at a time when the country has been rocked by protests, in which women have played a major part, following the disputed re-election last June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Although Sharia law permits a man to take up to four wives, polygamy is not widely practised in Iran, where women have enjoyed greater rights and freedoms than in other Muslim countries. An Iranian man needs his first wife's permission to take a second.

In 1970, female activists demanded that the secular government of Mohammad Reza Shah outlaw polygamy. The government was amenable, but clerics blocked the attempt. In 1975, the laws on polygamy changed, requiring the first wife's permission.

Much has changed in Iran since the mid-'70s, when only 36 per cent of women were literate. Now, 80 per cent of women are educated; almost 1.6 million are university students.

Education has affected demographic behaviour. A woman's average age on marriage is 24; in 1976 it was 18. During the period, the birth rate dropped by a third. And, despite government restrictions on women, the number of female professionals has increased six per cent a year.

Full report at: www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/iranian-women-still-fighting-for-equality-86812022.html

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Niqab debate is not about rights

Sarah Mansour

March 8, 2010

The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa

The ongoing debate about women wearing a niqab and being refused certain services has nothing to do with their rights. It is not a right to conceal yourself from society and from those around you in order to follow your faith.

The Muslim religion preaches no such thing. The school, colleges and Canada have been more than accommodating and generous to this woman. Unfortunately, she has let her faith and extremist views get to her head.

I, a Muslim student studying at the University of Ottawa, do not wear a hijab or a niqab. I do not need to wear a veil in order to express my religion.

The niqab has been a hot topic in the past few years, but those who study the Quran, just like the Bible and the Torah, know that no where in our holy book does it state that wearing a niqab is required.

I believe this young woman has abused the accommodations and generosity offered to her. I think it is time for politicians to set some ground rules about the niqab.

It should be mandatory and required for woman wearing the niqab to remove it in order to vote. Not doing so poses a threat to our society and our safety as citizens.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Niqab+debate+about+rights/2653437/story.html

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Niqab Ban Breaches Privacy: EU Rights Chief

Mar. 8, 2010

STRASBOURG — A ban on face-veil would violate individual privacy rights and alienate Muslim women, the European rights chief has warned, urging politicians to promote understanding of different cultures.

"A general ban on such attires would constitute an ill-advised invasion of individual privacy," Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

Last January, a French parliamentary panel recommended slapping a partial ban on face-veils in public institutions.

Similar debates are also heating up in Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and Germany.

Hammarberg said a ban might breach the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows limitations on human rights only on the grounds of public health, safety or morals.

"Those who have argued for a general ban of the burqa and the niqab have not managed to show that these garments in any way undermine democracy, public safety, order or morals," he insisted.

Full report at: http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2010-03/08/01.shtml

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Women still earn less than men: study

Mar 8 2010

Women with children earn almost a third less than men and still face too many career obstacles, a global trade union says.

The persistent imbalance in household chores can hurt women's careers, the study of the International Trade Union Confederation concluded. Women with kids earn on average 68 per cent of what men make, and overall, women make 74 per cent of what men bring in, according to the report.

The report is "a call to action at all levels," Diana Holland, chair of the ITUC's Women's Committee, said in a statement. The publication of the report coincided with the United Nations Day for Women's Rights, on Monday.

The study said that women with kids more often work part-time than men or women without children, indicating it is hard to combine careers with the demands of a family.

Employers often break laws by paying women less than men and by not giving them enough maternity leave, the report said. Women with kids can also be denied promotions or be illegally asked to take pregnancy tests before being hired, the study found.

Full report at: news.ninemsn.com.au/world/1024847/women-still-earn-less-than-men-study

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SP, RJD want Muslim quota; stall women's bill

Mar 08, 2010

New Delhi:  The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the second time on Monday following a ruckus by the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MPs who demanded that the house discuss the Ranganath Mishra Commission which recommends 10 per cent reservation for Dalit Muslims and Christians in government jobs.

As soon as the Rajya Sabha convened on Monday at 1100 hrs Kamal Akhtar and Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party demanded that Question Hour be suspended to discuss the Ranganath Mishra Commission.

However, when Rajya Sabha Chairperson Hamid Ansari did not heed to Yadav’s demand, Samajwadi party MPs started shouting slogans and moved towards the podium.

Ansari then adjourned the house till 12 noon. When the House reconvened the uproar by Samajwadi Party and RJD over the implementation of Ranganath Misra Commission report continued. The Chairperson adjourned the house till 1400 hrs IST.

The move to discuss Ranganath Mishra Commission report is seen as another chance by the Samajwadi Party and the RJD to stall the Women's Reservation Bill, which is scheduled to come up for voting in the Rajya Sabha.

Full report at: ibnlive.in.com/news/sp-rjd-want-muslim-quota-stall-womens-bill/111214-37.html

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'Triple talaq misread'

Shahina Mulk

TNN, Mar 8, 2010,

The practice of triple talaq in one sitting, which is largely considered antithetical to the spirit of the Quran, is said to be responsible for the plight of many Indian Muslim women. Those with in-depth knowledge of the holy book are, therefore, gradually rising to guard their rights.

Fatima Khan, a retired professor, said, 'Islam cannot be blamed for entailing a law that brings miseries to the weaker sex... Rather, it was the first religion in the world to empower women and give them equal legal status...Sadly, the Muslim society is still under the influence of feudal ethos.' She added that for a divorce to be considered final, the word talaq must be delivered at three sessions, each separated by a month.

Sajada Siddiqui, who works as a professor in UAE, remarked, 'The Quran is replete with passages for proper and egalitarian treatment of women. The common practice of impulsively uttering talaq thrice at a go is totally anti-Islamic. Muslim nations like Syria, Lebanon and even Pakistan do not term this pronouncement legal unless the matter is brought to the notice of court or arbitration council.'

Stating that the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had failed in firmly banning the practice, Sania, a student, said, 'The Deobandi Ulema, who dominate the board, are groomed in a tradition of extreme patriarchy, expecting reform from them is a mirage. Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Triple-talaq-misread/articleshow/5655680.cms

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Let the woman choose what to wear

Abubakar N. Kasim,

March 8, 2010

In a country that is supposed to value and safeguard freedom of religion, I find it hard to believe a woman would be given an ultimatum by the Quebec government to either remove the religious attire or drop out from school.

This case reveals the systematic racism that exists against Islam and Muslims.

It is an ugly form of bigotry that is surfacing where the believing community has been held under siege.

Today is about the niqab; tomorrow might be about something else.

I find it ironic to hear some feminists and so-called moderate Muslims acting against the woman's right to wear her religious cover as she sees fit while at the same time feminists claim to advocate women's rights to choose.

Are they implying that a Muslim woman is deficient and cannot choose by herself what to wear?

What we are witnessing is a double standard at a shameful level.

Bullies need to stop their harassment, back off, leave the Muslim woman alone and show some respect and treat her as a human being who is of the same dignity as everyone else.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/woman+choose+what+wear/2653430/story.html

URL:http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/muslim-women-fight-for-rights/d/2546


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