New Age Islam
Wed May 29 2024, 08:11 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 27 March 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

No Medical Care for Woman with No Mahram in Saudi Arabia

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 March 2014

Romina Barakzai, younger sister of Afghan women's cricket team captain Diana Barakzai, practices in Kabul in February. The country's women want to play a vital role in the cricket world, Diana Barakzai said. [Sayed Zaland]


 ‘I Had To Terminate My Pregnancies Because I Was Carrying Girls’

 Eight Pregnant Women Arrested In Nigerian 'Baby Factory'

 A Call for Universal Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

 Companies in Saudi Arabia Still Want Guardian’s Permission to Employ Women

 Shoura Urges More Benefits for Female Breadwinners

 Marriages down, divorce rates up last year in Turkey

 Pak Legislator Demands Stricter Punishment for Child Marriage Because Of Health Risks

 Pak Women MPAs Design Gender Responsive Plans

 Google Sued By Anti-Muslim Film's Actress Again

 Jimmy Carter Calls Sex-Selective Abortion the ‘Worst Human Rights Abuse

 Afghan Women Compete In Cricket World

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





No Medical Care for Woman with No Mahram in Saudi Arabia

27 March 2014

QASIM — The Red Crescent has refused to respond to a woman's request for medical care, because she did not have a Mahram (a male relative she cannot marry) with her.

Dr. Salma Al-Sheahab said she had a severe headache during the night. When it became unbearable she called the Red Crescent for assistance.

"The employee, who answered the phone call, asked me a few questions about my condition, age and other medical conditions. When I told him that I was alone in the house, he simply said that they could not send an ambulance because I did not have a Mahram with me," she said.

Exasperated, Al-Sheahab said she asked the man: "Is it then better that we die because of this requirement?"

He said she had no alternative but to bear her pain and look for a taxi in the late hours of the night and go to the hospital.

Riyadh Red Crescent spokesman, Ahmad Al-Enezi, said his organization provides medical care according to international standards regardless of colour, gender or nationality of the patients.

He said the incident will be investigated, and if the Red Crescent employee was found culpable, he will be punished.

“If the employee was not at fault, the Red Crescent will contact the patient and explain the reasons why her call was not attended to," he said.



‘I Had To Terminate My Pregnancies Because I Was Carrying Girls’

27 March 2014

The voice on the other end of the telephone was nervous and excited. A young mother had taken an enormous risk by contacting The Independent herself to thank us for our coverage earlier this year of the scandal of Britain’s lost girls – the female foetuses aborted because they were the “wrong” sex.

After three or four more telephone conversations, she agreed that we could write about her own harrowing experience of being pressed into having abortions by her husband after pregnancy ultrasound scans had shown that she was carrying girls.

The British-born woman of Pakistani parentage wanted her story to be told so that the wider world can know of the physical and emotional torment she and others in her position have had to endure as a result of terminating a pregnancy because it would have led to an unwanted daughter.

Samira (not her real name) agreed to speak to us only on condition of complete anonymity, and some of her identifying details have been deliberately changed to protect her privacy.

She said that she fears for her safety – and that her family might be split up – if her husband finds out she has spoken to the press about the two abortions she has had under his influence.

Samira is pregnant again and about to have an ultrasound scan, but is terrified that it will show she is once more carrying a girl, which will inevitably lead to yet another abortion.

“Since falling pregnant, I think about it all the time. What’s going to happen? I’m really, really scared. I’m stressed out and I’m having nightmares about bleeding and being beaten up,” Samira said. “I think about running away with her and having the baby somewhere, but the thing is I can’t leave my children with him… I have my duty to my other children. I can’t leave them for someone who is not born. I don’t want it to happen.”

Samira first approached The Independent after reading our coverage earlier this year on “The Lost Girls”, which highlighted the statistical evidence from the 2011 national census suggesting that sex-selective abortions among certain ethnic minorities were skewing the gender ratio of some families in favour of boys.

Although many community organisations welcomed The Independent’s investigation, the findings were denounced by some abortion groups. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, for instance, dismissed the findings as “nonsense” and doubted whether any woman living in Britain had undertaken an abortion purely on grounds of gender alone – which is illegal in the UK.

However, Samira’s harrowing testament is further anecdotal evidence that it is relatively easy to organise an abortion – either privately or within the NHS – after receiving the results of an ultrasound scan, which can determine the sex of a baby after about 14 weeks of pregnancy.

She spoke about the need to change the rules on ultrasound scans to make it mandatory to delay giving out gender information to the parents until after 24 weeks of pregnancy, when an abortion becomes practically impossible. “I think there should be a campaign, definitely, to ban gender scans altogether or get them delayed until some time when the abortion cannot happen,” she said.

Samira said her first termination happened some years ago in an NHS hospital after she and her husband had driven to another city for a private ultrasound scan, which showed that she was about 14 weeks pregnant with a girl.

At the time, she said, she went along with her husband’s demands for a gender test because she said that she was not sure herself about whether she wanted another baby. “Basically it was an unplanned pregnancy for me, and for him it was because it was a girl. But looking back on it, I wouldn’t have had an abortion because it was a girl,” Samira said. “At the time I felt so pressurised by him. I wouldn’t have had the abortion at the time, it was hard for me. That’s why I went in for it because I was pressured by him because it was a girl.”

When the ultrasound sonographer told them the foetus was female, her husband asked how sure he was and then went quiet. His body language showed how unhappy he was with the news, Samira said.

“They gave us photographs. But he just put them away and when we came home he said ‘tear those photographs up and don’t look at them because you’ll be thinking about it’,” she said.

She then arranged to have the abortion at her local NHS clinic but made sure that she did not reveal the real reason, which was because it was a girl. “Yes, because if it was a boy I would have had a pregnancy. I would have gone ahead with it. I wouldn’t have had an abortion,” she said.

Her second abortion was even more traumatic than the first, partly because she was much clearer in her own mind that she wanted the child, even though a routine ultrasound scan had shown it to be a girl.

“We didn’t want to go back to the first clinic where they do ultrasounds at 14 weeks because we didn’t want them to think why we were coming back for a gender scan again. We went to another place,” Samira said.

She was able to have an NHS scan slightly earlier than usual because she told them she did not know how long she had been pregnant, but thought it was for longer than 16 weeks. “The sonographer said I was 15 weeks and my husband asked her what the sex of it was. She said ‘it’s a girl’ and he said ‘are you sure?’ and she showed him and he just went quiet, but I was really, really happy,” she said.

“It wasn’t planned or anything but I was just happy because it was female and I was happy it was inside me, but then the look of him when I saw him, I couldn’t explain my happiness to him. So I kept it to myself.”

This time, Samira and her husband organised the termination at a private clinic. She thought he would eventually relent when he realised how unhappy she was about going through with it a second time. “On the day of the termination I went into the clinic crying. I was crying and crying and could not stop. I was just hoping he was going to ring me and say you’ve got to get out of there,” Samira said.

“The nurse saw I was upset but she said ‘just put these tablets inside you’. They weren’t concerned that this person looked upset. I was crying but I was trying to be careful because what if they didn’t go ahead with the abortion and then my husband would blame me,” she said.

“I just wanted them to stop. I just wanted to run away from there, but the thing was, where would I run away to? What would I do? The last day before I had the abortion I said to him very clearly that what he was doing was wrong .... I felt I couldn’t make the choice on my own because if I’d made that choice and gone ahead with the baby then he would actually end the pregnancy himself. He would probably beat me up to such a state that there would probably be no pregnancy inside me. I was scared of that.

“The worse thing was, when I went in, I had a bump, and when I came out there was no bump. I kept touching it and I just wanted to scream but the noise wouldn’t come out. I felt as if I was screaming but no noise was coming out. I wanted my baby back.”

We asked Samira why her husband is so opposed to having daughters, given that he already has sons. She said that he is worried about having to look after girls when they get older and start to get interested in boys.

“Basically his reasons were that he thinks girls will run off with boys when they are older. He said that he can’t support them when they are older. He said he won’t be able to keep an eye on her, when she’s dating guys,” she said. “At one point he said that if a girl falls pregnant, that’s wrong. But boys can do anything. The main thing, I think, is that he’s scared.”

Samira’s case is obviously unique in some respects, but it exemplifies the difficulties faced by many women within certain ethnic minorities that put a premium on sons and downgrade daughters as second-rate offspring.

Her case is also important because she would not have been included in our statistical analysis for two reasons: she was born in the UK, and her eldest child is a boy. (The Independent used 2011 census data to see whether second-born children are more likely to be boys than girls for women born abroad who already had a daughter).

Samira’s two abortions would not, therefore, have been included in our estimation that between about 1,400 and 4,700 girls are “missing” from the 2011 national census. Her two abortions, and those of other second-or third-generation women in the same position, were deliberately not included in our findings.

This indicates that the problem may be far more widespread, and, if anything, we could have underestimated the true extent of Britain’s missing girls.



Eight pregnant women arrested in Nigerian 'baby factory'

27 March 2014

Police in Nigeria have discovered an alleged "baby factory", and made a number of arrests which included eight pregnant women; it is claimed that they were planning to sell their newborns for around £1,000.

Some of the arrested women are reported to be teenagers. Police also arrested a woman who they claim oversaw the operation, and her brother-in-law. Investigations are still ongoing. "Following an intelligence report, we discovered and stormed on Friday a baby factory in Akute district of Ogun state," Abimbola Oyeyemi, a police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

According to reports in The Guardian newspaper of Lagos yesterday, police raided the house, a three-room bungalow, on Friday and discovered the women, saying that the babies would allegedly be sold for 300,000 Nigerian naira (£1,100). Police were continuing to piece together information on any other collaborators to the alleged syndicate.

The state Commissioner of Police, Ikemefuna Okoye, told the paper that, after an initial search which found nothing, new intelligence brought about a second operation in which they "discovered that the pregnant girls were hidden in the wardrobe".

Nigeria, particularly the south-east regions, has seen a number of raids on supposed "baby factories" since 2011, with more than 100 women having been found in such operations. The case in Ogun state is believed to be the first in a region in the south-west.

Some of these cases have involved black market maternity homes, where some women go to avoid the stigma attached to pregnancies that occur outside marriage. The women are said in many instances to take a cut of the money when their babies are sold, with male children reportedly sold at a premium compared with baby girls.

In a case reported in January from Ondo state, 24 suspects were arrested, including five pregnant women; and in December last year, a home was raided which contained 19 pregnant women apparently staying in order to sell their babies. They were said to be aged between 15 and 23, according to local reports.



A Call for Universal Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

27 March 2014

WASHINGTON, Mar 26 (IPS) - Lawmakers and civil society leaders from over 30 countries are calling for universal access to safe, legal abortion.

The declaration, released in Washington on Wednesday, comes in the context of a 20-year review by the United Nations of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. That landmark conference called for safe access to abortions in countries where the procedure was legal, while Wednesday's declaration calls for the decriminalisation of abortion in all countries.3

The declaration also anticipates the post-2015 development agenda. Advocates are calling to expand the discussion on women's health to include abortion rights when determining the next round of global development goals, following the expiration of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

"True gender equality cannot be achieved without access to safe, legal abortion," it says. "In the last two decades, roughly 1 million women and girls have died and more than 100 million have suffered injuries – many of them lifelong – due to complications from unsafe abortion."

One of the MDGs, number five, does aim to reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio and to achieve universal access to reproductive health. However, it does not include access to safe abortions in its definition of access to reproductive health.

Advocates are now planning to formally offer these recommendations at a 20-year anniversary summit of the original ICPD. That event will take place in Addis Ababa next month.

"Looking ahead to ICPD+20 and the review of the Millennium Development Goals, the one goal they would not take was reproductive and sexual health for all," Nafis Sadik, the special advisor to the executive director of UNAIDS and the former executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, told IPS.

The new declaration targets not just the international development agenda but also U.S. policymakers.

Four-decade-old legislation here has restricted foreign assistance programmes from funding abortion-related procedures. Critics say the result is a disconnect between the work done by USAID, the country's main foreign assistance arm, and the women's health services offered.

"Regarding the problem of U.S. policy – it's not just the financial support, but the moral leadership," Sadik says. "It makes a big difference if the U.S. becomes restrictive in areas of support, if they restrict funding for any NGO that provides abortion."

Cost-effective and feasible

The Airlie Declaration was composed following a two-day conference near Washington. It was written by representatives from over 30 countries, including health ministers, members of parliament, and medical leaders as well as advocates from the United Nations lawmakers and civil society.

"Our goal is to bring this message forward and build a broader coalition," Elizabeth Maguire, the president of Ipas, an international NGO dedicated to ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortions, told IPS. "Every participant is committed to pursuing action."

Maguire led the recent conference as convenor.

One such participant is John Paul Bagala, president of the Federation of African Medical Students' Associations. Bagala works in a hospital in northern Uganda that treated 480 women from cases of unsafe abortions in 2011-12 and another 500 in 2012-13.

According to Bagala, providing access to safe abortion is cost-effective. Treating injuries resulting from an illegal abortion in Uganda can cost more than 100 dollars, he says, while the cost of a safe abortion would be less than 10 dollars.

"As a medical student in Africa, we are taking a stand to disseminate the declaration in our respective institutions," Bagala told IPS.

"To drive stigma from our health workers when they are still in the training system, to ensure that the women, when they come for service, get the best service they need in terms of safety and quality. We are driving towards integrating the aspects of this declaration in terms of reproductive health rights into the curriculum of training health workers in Africa."

Ipas's Maguire likewise emphasises that providing universal access to reproductive health care is not just critical but "feasible." In the case of Nepal, for instance, decriminalising abortion greatly increased women's health and maternal mortality ratio.

"Nepal is one of the few countries that will be meeting MDG 5, and what the experts say is that it's increased access to family planning, emergency obstetric care, and increased access to emergency abortion care," Arzu Rana Deuba, a member of the Nepali Parliament, told IPS.

Deuba recounted the story of a young girl in Nepal who was jailed for 12 years after she was raped and unsuccessfully attempted an illegal abortion. The girl's story gained international attention, and Nepal eventually decriminalised abortion in 2002.

"It's a story of hope," said Deuba. "After 2004, we had 1,500 skilled providers and 75 hospitals doing medical abortion services. As of 2014, 500,000 women have access to safe abortions, and that's quite a lot for we are not a big country."

She says Nepal's success comes not just in the growth of medical services but in the country's changing cultural attitudes toward abortion.

"What we know now is that law changes social attitudes," Deuba said.

"I work at the community level and workers tell me there is no more stigma, that abortion is seen as part of women's rights, that women are more vocal about abortion … it's seen as part of the continuum of care. Now women don't have to die anymore and there is a feeling of confidence and security among women."

© Inter Press Service (2014) — All Rights Reserved



Companies in Saudi Arabia Still Want Guardian’s Permission to Employ Women

27 March 2014

DAMMAM — Private companies are still asking women they wish to employ that they need approval from their male guardians, Al-Hayat daily reported.

The head of the field supervisory team at the Ministry of Labour, however, said the government department does not require such permission and that new regulations would soon be issued to improve the employment process for women.

He said some companies and private schools have faced problems with the male guardians of female employees and because of this they are asking for the prior approval from them before they will employ a woman.

Transportation is still a main obstacle for working women because some companies only pay them transport allowance, he said.

He said: “The ministry does not require the approval of a guardian for the employment of women.

“Such requirements were previously needed, but have been waived.” He explained the ministry would soon issue new regulations for the employment of women, including criteria for allowing female workers to work from home.

The ministry has so far allowed three companies to employ women to work from home, he said.

"More information can be found on the ministry's e-gate, which makes information on labour decisions available to the public with complete transparency," he said.



Shoura urges more benefits for female breadwinners

27 March 2014

The Shoura Council has urged the Ministry of Social Affairs to increase benefits for women who are the sole breadwinners of their families.

The council’s committee for social affairs, family and youth made the proposal recently during a discussion on a ministry report.

The committee also called for the ministry to introduce strict regulations to protect residents of foster homes from ill-treatment and violence.

The ministry report said that there was insufficient provision for programs for families, women, youth and childhood development. It said that too much time and money was being spent on begging and runaway maids. The committee urged the ministry to focus on its core responsibilities, and let other government bodies deal with these two issues.

The ministry said the Ministries of Health, Interior and Education should take up some of its functions. It also wants salary increases for its social workers to prevent them from leaving and seeking employment elsewhere.

In its report, the ministry said that it does not have suitable land to build foster centers, especially in major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The ministry also stated that many of its workers were performing poorly at shelters and foster homes, particularly those dealing with the elderly and people with disabilities.

The Shoura Council will vote on the recommendations of the committee related to the annual performance of the ministry after debate by members.



Marriages down, divorce rates up last year in Turkey

27 March 2014

The total number of marriages decreased while divorce cases increased in Turkey in 2013, according to the country’s statistical institute’s data.

In Turkey, 600,138 couples were married in 2013, which is 0.6 percent less than the previous year.

In 2013, some 125,305 couples divorced, an increase of 1.6 percent compared to 2012.

The southeastern region of Turkey has the highest rate of fast marriages. The southeastern province of Adıyaman had the highest rate of fast marriages in 2013, followed by Kilis and Ağrı.

The southern province of Antalya had the quickest average divorce rates after marriage in 2013.



Pak Legislator Demands Stricter Punishment for Child Marriage Because Of Health Risks

27 March 2014

A bill introduced in Pakistan's National Assembly to increase the punishment for guardians, clerics and spouses involved in child marriages should be supported by religious leaders, the legislator behind the move said today.

"I've seen this injustice in my constituency and around the country in every single province," legislator Marvi Memon told Reuters. "It's time that we stand up for our women."

Pakistan's conservative religious parties strongly opposed the bill tabled by Memon on Tuesday, and some Muslim clerics want the penalties scrapped altogether.

Currently, women can legally marry at 16 in Pakistan and men at 18. But many marry much younger, and the current penalty for anyone involved in a child marriage is a $10 fine, possibly accompanied by up to a month's imprisonment. Memon has proposed that the fine should be increased to $1,000 and the possible jail sentence to two years. The bill is currently being reviewed.

Earlier this month Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology issued a statement criticizing current laws forbidding child marriage. The Council said that children should be allowed to get married once they reach puberty under Islamic law. Memon argues that child marriages cause women to become pregnant before their bodies are ready, leading to permanent damage and possible death. She plans to enlist Islamic scholars to refute the guidance of the religious council.

"Early marriages lead to early conception, which causes many health issues and sometimes death," Memon said.

Even if Memon's bill is passed, it will be hard to enforce. Pakistani police are notoriously reluctant to interfere with what many see as culturally acceptable traditions. Even if police do arrest a suspect, the overworked lower courts can take years to hear a case, and bribes can often make charges disappear. But the high courts have become more activist in recent years. Judges are increasingly intervening in egregious cases of human rights violations, although their rulings are not always effective and there is little follow-up.

One third of women around the world are married before they turn 18, according to the Washington D.C.-based International Centre for Research on Women. The tradition of child marriage is most prevalent in South Asia. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for girls between 15 and 19, the group said.

There are no reliable statistics on the number of child marriages in Pakistan. Few cases are reported to the police. The government does not track the issue.

Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, who chairs the Council of Islamic Ideology, opposed Memon's introduction of the bill in the parliament. He argued in the National Assembly that current laws forbidding marriage to children contradict the Koran. He did not return calls seeking comment.



Pak Women MPAs Design Gender Responsive Plans

27 March 2014

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly women lawmakers have developed programmes for political and economic empowerment of their gender for inclusion in the 2014-15 Annual Development Programme.

They developed the uplift plans at a three-day workshop jointly organised by Pak Women, a non-government organisation, and UN Women Fund for Gender Equality (FGE).

The workshop was meant to give an opportunity to the women lawmakers to discuss and prepare women-specific development plans to be included in the coming budget, according to a press release issued here on Tuesday.

Speakers on the occasion said that it was a matter of concern that only 3.7 per cent of the entire annual budget of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the year 2013-14 had been allocated for women’s welfare.

The women lawmakers who attended the function were: Dr Maher Taj Roghani, Khatoon Bibi, Dina Naz, Maleha Khan, Ayesha Naeem, Nagina Khan, Amna Sardar, Nadia Sher, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Zarin Zia, Uzma Khan, Nasim Hayat, Miraj Hamyun, Nargis Ali, Rashida Riffat, Bibi Fozia, Najma Shaheen, Romana Jalil, Ruqqya Hina, Yasmin Pir Mohammad and Shagufta.

Amanullah Khan, secretary provincial assembly, Saif Usmani, director finance department, Ali Asghar Khan of the Asghar Khan Foundation and Arshad Mehmood from Save the Children NGO were also in attendance.

The women lawmakers vowed to make all out efforts to get gender responsive programmes included in the coming ADP.

Azra Hussain, the executive director of Pak Women, stressed the need for women’s economic and political stability and protection of their rights. While describing the objectives of her NGO, she said it had been working for last 15 years for the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.

Saif Usmani, director finance department, and other officials assured the women MPs that their proposed projects would be given full attention in the developmental programmes of the coming year.

Certificates were also distributed among the participants at the end of the function, according to the press release.



Google sued by anti-Muslim film's actress again

27 March 2014

NEW DELHI: Google has been slapped with a lawsuit by the actress who has faced death threats for her role in the controversial anti-Muslim film 'Innocence of Muslims'.

The actress, Cindy Lee Garcia, has filed an appeal alleging contempt of court's order against the internet company, and that the video with her performance is still available on YouTube. This is despite a court order saying that no copies of the video with her performance should be available on the video-sharing platform.

She had sued Google last year to get the film removed from YouTube, but court denied her appeal.

In an appeal filed on Tuesday, Garcia's lawyer said that copies of the movie's trailer with her performance were still on YouTube until the time of filing. They could also be accessed in Egypt by altering the settings from global to country-specific.

The filing said that the video being available from any computer in the world is in violation of the earlier court order. It also said that Google continues to profit illegally via traffic from the channels that have uploaded the video.

Garcia's legal counsel said the maximum penalty of $150,000 for each video is the "only fair measure of the contempt." He called for Google to submit bonds for the same amount for all 852 channels that have the video uploaded on YouTube, amounting to a total of $127.8 million.

The actress has also complained that Google has only disabled videos with her performance rather than taking them down altogether. She has also raised an issue against the "snide message" that the company has put up on such web pages.

"This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by an actress over her 5-second appearance in the video. A US court has ordered Google to remove the video. We strongly disagree with this copyright ruling and will fight it," reads the message.

In a ruling earlier this month, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, San Francisco had said Google must take down all copies of the video and not allow any future uploads. However, it later amended the order and said the video may be published on YouTube, provided Garcia's part was cut. Videos featuring Garcia need to be edited or removed from YouTube.

According to Garcia, she never acted in 'Innocence of Muslims' and the portions featuring her were taken from another movie she acted in. In the controversial film, she appears to be asking, "Is your Mohammed a child molester?" She has received several death threats for her performance.

While Garcia says she has copyrights for the part she appears to be playing in the video, Google claims that the Copyright Act distinguishes between a performance and a copyrightable performance. The company has also said in the past that such copyright claims would encourage those who have appeared in amateur videos to get them removed from YouTube.



Jimmy Carter Calls Sex-Selective Abortion the ‘Worst Human Rights Abuse

27 March 2014

NEW YORK, March 26, 2014 ( – The issue of sex-selective abortion is often raised by pro-life speakers, at pro-life rallies, and on pro-life news sites. It is seldom discussed on national late-night television by pro-abortion presidents.

But Tuesday night, former president Jimmy Carter called the issue “the worst human rights abuse on earth” on the Late Show with David Letterman.

The man from Plains told Letterman that “160 million girls are now missing from the face of the earth, because they were murdered at birth by their parents or either selectively aborted when their parents find out that the foetus is a girl. So, that many people are missing, and they're all girls who are missing.”

Carter called the toll sex-selective abortion has taken “the worst statistic that I know.”

Indeed, the number may be an underestimate. The United Nations has indicated the number of girls selectively aborted due to their sex may number as many as 200 million.

When asked for country-by-country numbers, Carter noted 50 million girls were already missing in China by 1997, because of China's repressive one-child policy. “The Chinese government had mandated one-is-best, two-is-most,” he said.

His remarks stand in contrast to First Lady Michelle Obama, who is concluding her tour of China without having condemned the nation's coercive population control regime.

“India has had the same problem with [gendercide], and in many other countries as well,” Carter continued. One Indian family, for instance, killed 11 newborn girls hoping for a boy.

The UK Independent newspaper has concluded that even Great Britain is missing between 1,400 and 4,700 girls due to sex-selective abortions.

Carter noted the effects of the often-pronounced gender imbalances in Asia. “In China and India and South Korea and some other countries, young men can't find brides to marry, so they buy brides and that increases the amount of slavery that exists on earth.”

That, too, is not merely a problem overseas. Some 100,000 girls in the United States are sold into sexual slavery every year, Carter said.

Letterman called the issue “unfathomable.”

The 39th president appeared on the CBS entertainment program to promote his new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. The book repeats his longstanding contention that the Catholic and conservative evangelical ban on female clergy leads to wife battery and the purported gender pay gap. In his 2005 book Our Endangered Values Carter revealed that he confronted the late Pope John Paul II about the fact that the Catholic Church does not allow women to serve as priests. He also implied that the Southern Baptist Convention's belief in traditional sexual roles is in some way responsible for Islamic female genital mutilation in Africa.

“I was hoping you'd be a little funnier,” Letterman joked at the end of their segment.

In other parts of the interview, Carter, whose presidency is remembered for its economic malaise and foreign policy setbacks, suggested implementing a carbon tax and moving toward alternative energy.

As president, Carter formally recognized the People's Republic of China “as the sole legal government of China” on January 1, 1979.


Letterman: Things are contained in this book that I was completely ignorant about and am stunned by what I know of what is covered here. What, what is the source of this, the abuse of women, essential slavery, human trafficking, on and on?

Carter: Well, it's the worst human rights abuse on earth and it's basically unaddressed. I'll start with the worst statistic that I know and that is that 160 million girls are now missing from the face of the earth because they were murdered at birth by their parents or either selectively aborted when their parents find out that the fetus is a girl. So, that many people are missing and they're all girls who are missing.

Letterman: And how many countries are represented in this?

Carter: A good many countries are. I don't know how many parents in America would rather have a boy than a girl, that they're very poor and feel they can't support children. But in about 15 years ago there was an accurate assessment in China and 50 million were already missing there because the Chinese government had mandated one-is-best, two-is-most, and then India has had the same problem with them, and in many other countries as well. So now, for instance in China and India and South Korea and some other countries, young men can't find brides to marry, so they buy brides and that increases the amount of slavery that exists on earth.

The slave trade now is much greater than it ever was in the 19th century. It amounts to about $32 billion a year and the United States State Department is required by law now to assess the slavery market and they estimate that 800,000 slaves are sold across international borders every year. And 80 percent of those slaves sold are young girls who are going, who are being sold into the sex slave, slavery. And this occurs, about 100,000 of them are in the United States, not sold across international borders. Atlanta is a key of the human trafficking or slavery trade.



Afghan women compete in cricket world

27 March 2014

KABUL – Diana Barakzai is starting to see the fruits of her struggle to boost women's cricket's popularity in Afghanistan.

Barakzai, the national women's cricket team captain, and her family returned to Kabul in 2009 after spending several years in Pakistan as refugees as they avoided the Taliban's oppression. One of the things she and her three sisters brought back and wanted to share was a love for cricket.

Since her return to Afghanistan, cricket's popularity has increased, and the country now has 18 provincial teams and 370 participants, according to Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) statistics. Cricket fans credit Barakzai, 25, as a force behind the growth in popularity.

Humble beginnings

When she was growing up, many people looked down at the prospect of girls playing cricket, but her family encouraged her to do what she enjoyed, Barakzai told Central Asia Online in an exclusive interview.

"We didn't have a ground, so I made a pitch at my home for girls to play," she said.

Her father provided land for the pitch and the girls prepared the fields themselves, making their wicket from bricks instead of wood.

When the national women's team was formed in 2010, everyone was an amateur with modest dreams.

Its members got a taste of success in 2012 when they won three matches and tied a fourth in a tournament in Tajikistan.

Now, more opportunities are opening up. The team plans to travel soon to the UAE to practice with Saudi Arabia and improve its skills.

The team would also like to play in the Asia Challenge Cup, but they will have to earn a slot in that tournament.

Changing societal views and uniting the country

"I want to change the ideas the Afghan people have regarding women's sports," Barakzai said, adding that she hopes to see the women's team represent its country in larger contests abroad.

Cricket is more than a sport in Afghanistan, ACB CEO Dr. Noor Muhammad Murad told Central Asia Online, adding that women want to be able to do the same things as men.

"The sport can unlock the gates to progress in society," ACB Domestic Manager Nazeem Jaar Abdulrahimzai said. "It is a model for change in society that can help eliminate a negative mindset."

Not only can cricket change societal norms, but it can help unify the country, observers contend.

Nothing exhilarates the country and brings it together like a celebration of national heroes, Barakzai said.

Watching both our men's and women's teams makes us proud, journalist Hezbullah Atal said.

Hurdles ahead

Men's and women's cricket still have a very small following in Afghanistan, where football is the biggest draw for spectators.

But Barakzai and others who love the game hope the sport will grow in popularity, especially as the national teams gain acclaim in international tournaments.