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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 31 Jan 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Senate Body Unanimously Passes Amendment to Raise Marriageable Age

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 Jan 2019

Riyadh’s Bounce Rawdah, the world’s first female-only trampoline park, opened its door in December.



 Female-Only Trampoline Park Is A Hit With Riyadh’s Women

 Iranian Dervish Woman’s Health Declines in Prison

 Muslim Woman Out To Prove Arranged Marriages Are A Legitimate American Love Story

 Arab Women Sports Tournament Announces New Organisational Structure

 Father Of Late Saudi Sisters Rejects Suicide Conclusion: Report

 Belgium’s Muslim Executive Condemns Attack on Veiled Moroccan Woman

 Palestinian Woman Tries to Stab Israeli Guards, Shot Dead

 Presence Of Women In Protests Held By Various Social Strata

 Carbon Monoxide Leak Poisons 25 Girl Students At Primary School

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Pakistan Senate Body Unanimously Passes Amendment to Raise Marriageable Age

Ikram Junaidi

January 31, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act and raise the marriageable age to 18.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2018 was introduced by Senator Sherry Rehman last month to address the differences in marriageable age among provinces.

She said the high child mortality rate and stunting in Pakistan is due to early marriages, adding: “Here CNICs are issued at the age of 18 and people cast their votes at the age of 18, so why are they allowed to start married life, which is very important, before 18? There should be uniformity in all the laws.”

Senator Rehman’s bill was supported by Senator Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, who added that maternal and neonatal mortality is higher due to early marriages.

“I moved a similar bill in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but religious segments became a hurdle as they believed that the age of puberty is lower,” she said.

Senator Mohammad Ali Saif said Pakistan has signed international conventions which suggest that the age of adulthood is 18, which have been ratified and implemented by a number of Muslim countries.

“Adulthood includes mental, physical and emotional stages. Here people do not mature even at the age of 45, so I suggest that the cut-off should be 18 years and the bill should be passed,” he said.

In less developed areas, girls are married at the age of five years, said Senator Usman Khan Kakar, and children are even married when they are 40 days old.

Senator Sana Jamali, while expressing the bill, recounted that in her hometown, a 67-year-old man married a 14-year-old grl and died the next day.

Senator Keshoo Bai told committee members she was married early and knew the difficulties of becoming a mother at a young age.

Senator Hidayatullah also expressed the hope that the bill would be implemented in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A statement issued by the Senate said: “It was debated that as per Islamic law, puberty is the only condition for marriage, however, a consensus was reached that as long as such liaisons are not allowed prior to it, Islamic law was not breached.”

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the government was in support of the bill.

Committee chair Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar said it was unfortunate that such bills were pending because religious circles had become hurdles to them. He announced that the amendment had been passed unanimously.

This is not the first time parliamentarians have sought to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act and raise the marriageable age to 18. In 2017, Senator Sehar Kamran’s bill was rejected by the Senate Standing Committee for Interior for being ‘un-Islamic’, while then-MNA Marvi Memon withdrew a bill she tabled in this regard in 2016.

Bill to criminalise enforced disappearance

Ms Mazari told the Senate committee that a bill to amend the Pakistan Penal Code and criminalise enforced disappearance has been sent to the Cabinet Committee for the Disposal of Legislative Cases.

The bill was drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights.



Female-Only Trampoline Park Is A Hit With Riyadh’s Women


RIYADH — The female community of Riyadh is swarming into the world’s first ladies-only trampoline park and have embraced a new fun and fitness trend.

Bounce Rawdah opened its doors to the public in December, following a special launch night, and has witnessed over 30 million jumps and 10 million carbs being burned in its first month.

The trampoline park and entertainment group, which was endorsed by the GEA shortly before it opened, offers a fabulous new entertainment option to the female population in Riyadh, while also providing a fun way to stay fit and healthy.

An indoor adrenaline pumping venue, packed with activities, Bounce Rawdah for Ladies and Children (boys under the age of 10), is the perfect place to have fun, get active, or just hang out.

Mashael Attieh, managing partner of Bounce Saudi Arabia, said: “We’ve been absolutely delighted by the response since we opened in Riyadh. We have thousands of new customers, who are now part of the ‘Bounce tribe’, and we have had some great feedback from the ladies who have visited us.”

“They are loving Bounce and are excited about learning new tricks and flips, run the wall and take on the X-Park obstacles. We have recorded over 1.5 million flips on the trampolines so far and look forward to many more.”

The Bounce Rawdah all female tribe is made up largely of young adults with 75 percent of the team being Saudi nationals.

Mashael added: “Our primary focus is entertainment, but we also aim to incorporate a sense of community and hope to see more families spending time in Bounce and enjoying the various facilities we have on site. We’re confident that when our guests walk in, they will immediately feel the good energy and fun vibe.”

The venue, which features several private rooms and a café to cater for special occasions like birthday parties, has become an instant hit in the city with thousands of kids celebrating their birthdays at Bounce in the first month alone.

The 3,500 square meter venue is packed with 80 interconnected trampolines, a dodgeball arena, slam dunk, super tramp, cliff jump and huge inflatable airbags. It also houses the high-energy X-Park Freestyle Playground (think Ninja Warrior with Zip Lines, Bouldering Walls and the Spider Climb). — SG



Iranian Dervish Woman’s Health Declines in Prison

January 30, 2019

A news outlet covering Iran’s Dervish religious minority says a female Dervish prisoner beaten during her arrest 11 months ago has suffered a further health decline from exposure to secondhand smoke in jail.

In a report published Monday, the news site, Majzooban Noor, quoted cellmates of detainee Shokoufeh Yadollahi as saying she has suffered severe headaches and weakness because of the fumes from opioid and cigarette use by other prisoners in her ward.

Majzooban Noor did not explain how it obtained the information from Yadollahi’s cellmates at Qarchak women’s prison, also known as Shahr-e-Ray prison, east of Tehran. Its report cited Dervish inmates at Qarchak as complaining that other prisoners in their ward, convicted of drug trafficking, robbery and murder, have been smoking opioids and cigarettes in shared spaces such as bathrooms and showers.

A reliable source in Iran’s Dervish community confirmed Majzooban Noor’s account of Yadollahi’s declining health in a message to VOA Persian.

There has been no official comment in Iranian state media on the treatment of Yadollahi or other Dervish women at Qarchak prison.

Amnesty International

London-based rights group Amnesty International has reported that eyewitnesses saw Iranian security forces severely beat Yadollahi at the time of her February 2018 arrest, resulting in head injuries. Iranian security forces detained her and several hundred other Dervishes for involvement in antigovernment protests that turned violent in Tehran.

Amnesty has said Yadollahi and other Dervish women arrested in those protests have been treated badly and arbitrarily detained at Qarchak since.

Human Rights Watch

In an email to VOA Persian on Wednesday, Tara Sepehri Far, an Iran researcher at New York-based group Human Rights Watch, said HRW has learned from its own source that Yadollahi’s lack of adequate access to medical treatment in prison has led to complications in her vision and sense of smell.

“The transfer (into Qarchak) of new prisoners who allegedly smoke cigarettes and drugs does really affect her negatively,” Sepehri Far said.

A 2011 report by New York-based health news site Everyday Health says cigarette smoke inhaled directly or secondhand is one of the 11 biggest triggers of headaches. “Nicotine … changes the size of blood vessels in your brain, and that can cause headache,” the report says.

Sepehri Far also said the use of drugs is not uncommon in Iranian prisons.

“I do not have updated information about Qarchak prison, but we have testimonies from several political prisoners who served their time in other prisons, and they speak about drug trafficking and usage in (those) prisons,” she said.

Iran’s government views Dervishes, also called Sufis, as heretics and subjects them to continued scrutiny and harassment.



Muslim Woman Out To Prove Arranged Marriages Are A Legitimate American Love Story

Jan. 30, 2019

Romantic comedies can be dangerous things.

Huda Al-Marashi grew up the daughter of Iraqi Muslim immigrants who had moved to California, where mainstream American books and movies fed her a steady diet of meet-cutes and romantic dinners, wisecracking friends, forgiving parents, surprise proposals and hints of happily ever after.

First Comes Marriage by Huda Al-Marashi.

But because her family follows the tradition of arranged marriage, none of those things happened. Instead, on the day of her high-school graduation, she became engaged to a family friend named Hadi. She recalls having affection for her chosen bridegroom, but remembered him as a pudgy boy. Their betrothal gave them permission to talk, but not to date, one-on-one.

Their courtship posed a conundrum that she covers in her new book, First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story.

“I thought, ‘How can I have my American story if nothing romantic is happening?’” she asked recently from her home in San Diego. That led to “several moments of fallout” before Al-Marashi realized that she wasn’t struggling with the man she married, but with her own expectations of romance and love.

Her book chronicles her struggle to honour her upbringing, while still holding onto the wide-open possibility that Western love represents.

But Al-Marashi did more than just tell the story of her traditional courtship and marriage to her now-husband and father of their three children.

Her book also seeks to dismantle Muslim stereotypes that swarmed around her after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“In that climate, the word ‘Muslim’ started getting thrown around,” Al-Marashi said. “‘Muslim’ this. ‘Muslim’ that. And in the comment sections, that hate and the trolls, and people asking, ‘Who is the Muslim community?’

“There is this great misunderstanding of how diverse Muslims are,” she continued. “The countries we come from, the languages we speak. We are all different people, different groups. We don’t have some central command.”

And yet, the Islamic “ideal,” Al-Marashi said, is that young Muslim men and women don’t date or have physical relationships before they get married.

The idea of an arranged marriage is sometimes seen by non-Muslims as a forced marriage, as a young woman entering matrimony against her will. In truth, “it’s more of an introduction,” Al-Marashi said.

“People can’t get past the idea that our parents would arrange our marriage,” she said. “Even to us, that sounds ludicrous. We grew up together, we knew each other, and when my husband became interested in me, his family asked that he be allowed to get to know me.

“At any time, if I had said ‘no,’ that would have been OK.”

Another common misconception: That Muslim fathers are overbearing and domineering, and that their wives are meek and passive.

“It’s more egalitarian than people could imagine,” she said. “(Muslim) women are encouraged to go to school and to study. No one is a living, walking stereotype, and that’s why we need a book. To be immersed in a family dynamic, so you see the subtleties and the nuances there.”

To frame those nuances in a love story made sense, she said, because those stories have universal appeal. And yet, hers differs from most Hollywood versions in that she didn’t abandon tradition, which is common in many stories of fish-out-of-water, immigrant children aspiring to fit into a new culture, and “shuck it all off,” she said.

“The people I knew were struggling to uphold tradition in the most respectful way possible,” she said. “We had a respect and sense of value for our parents, and I didn’t see that represented. I thought that maybe we didn’t have stories worth telling.

“It’s not that, it’s just that they’re not being told.”

It was difficult for her to find representation, or a publisher, until she met an agent who was a Greek American and understood immigrant stories; the push-pull between the traditions brought from far away, and the land where they were unpacked and sometimes seen as foreign and old.

“We grew up reading books about people who are not like us,” she said. “And that’s changing. Part of why representation matters is because we’re training another generation of readers to extend themselves in literary work.”

In that sense, First Comes Marriage is a story that anyone, from anywhere can relate to. How to reconcile what you dreamed of and what you got.

“And that’s one we all struggle with,” she said. “Everyone winds up in that place.”

Al-Marashi is 41 now; a woman who got engaged at 18 and has been married nearly half her life. That seems traditional, too. From another time and place.

And yet, it is a story she thinks belongs among the books and movies that fuelled her dreams, for it is rich, and true.

“It’s OK to stay with your spouse for a really long time,” she said. “I wish the trope of the boring old married couple would die.

“The fascinating married couples, and the ups and downs are nothing to fear. They can be fascinating, too.”



Arab Women Sports Tournament Announces New Organisational Structure

31st January 2019

SHARJAH, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 31st Jan, 2019) Preparations for the 5th edition of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST) – scheduled for the first quarter of 2020, were officially launched Tuesday with a round of preliminary meetings at the Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF) headquarters in Sharjah.

Attended by several heads and members of the tournament’s organising committees, the meeting has explored initial requirements and put into place preparatory plans of the upcoming edition.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of AWST's Supreme Organising Committee; Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of AWST’s Supreme Organising Committee, Head of AWST’s Executive Committee and Director General of Sharjah Women Sports Foundation (SWSF), were among the important attendees, who joined organising committee members to affirm AWST’s new organisational structure, and discuss other key topics in detail.

During the meeting, Nada Askar Al Naqbi shed light on the significant achievements of the past edition, and highlighted that the tournament’s commitment to the highest standards of inclusivity and participation led to the number of competition disciplines rise to nine in 2018, including one debut.

The 2018 edition of AWST was its biggest ever, hosting 68 teams from 16 countries, represented by more than 1,000 athletes and administrative personnel.

New recommendations and solutions for the forthcoming edition were also presented at this meeting, to overcome certain logistical and technical challenges that were faced in the last edition, which resulted from widening the scale and scope of the event.

Supreme Organising Committee members of AWST 2020 were announced by Nada Askar Al Naqbi. They are: Mariam Yousef Al Hosani, Deputy Head of the Executive Committee; Maitha bin Dawi, Manager of AWST; Khawla Waleed, Head of the Secretariat Committee; Ali Hassan Al Amiri, Head of the Technical Committee; Yousef Al Taweel, Head of the Media Committee; Nour Hashem, Head of the Marketing, Events and Technical Support Committee; Lamiya Al Suwaidi, Head of the Award Ceremony Committee; Ali Al Hammadi, Head of Internal Relations Committee; Tharia Jalal, Head of the Financial Committee; Mariam Al Hashimi, Head of the Performance and Development Committee; Naser Ashour, Head of Safety and Security Committee; and Reham Mahmoud, Head of the Logistics Committee.

During the meeting, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, said, "The tournament is considered a benchmark for women’s sport in the region today, which clearly reflects Sharjah’s and the UAE’s efforts to consolidate and advance the women's sports sector in the Arab world. AWST follows the vision of HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, HH Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson, SWSF to offer Arab female athletes a world-class platform to come together to compete professionally and advance their international careers."

Nada Askar Al Naqbi added: "In its past four editions, AWST has certainly become a must-attend event in the Arab sporting Calendar, which brings together world-class sportswomen and athletes to compete in a unique environment. We hope the 2020 edition of the tournament will break the previous edition’s participation record to ensure more value is added to the competitions it hosts. Building on the great success of the 4th edition, next year to allow for an even more vibrant gathering of talented Arab female athletes to represent the progress of women’s sports industry locally and around the Arab World."



Father Of Late Saudi Sisters Rejects Suicide Conclusion: Report

Jan 31, 2019

The father of two young Saudi women whose bodies were found bound together in New York last October has dismissed a police assessment that they committed suicide and said marks he saw on their faces indicate they were beaten before their deaths.

Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 23, who had previously lived in Virginia, were found along the rocky Manhattan shore of the Hudson River with duct tape around their waists and ankles.

A New York Police Department official has said they likely entered the water alive and were said to have preferred suicide over returning to Saudi Arabia.

Their mother told detectives the day before the bodies were discovered that the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, had ordered the family to leave the United States because the daughters had applied for political asylum, the Associated Press reported in October, citing police.

An embassy spokeswoman denied that at the time.

New York City Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson said in a statement last week that her office "determined that the death of the Farea sisters was the result of suicide, in which the young women bound themselves together before descending into the Hudson River".

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has come under intense scrutiny after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate last year and the flight to Thailand of an 18-year-old woman who alleged abuse by her family, which they denied.

Among the Saudi restrictions on women is the requirement that they have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

Father denies claims

The Saudi news site Sabq published an interview on Monday with the women's father, who was not named, denying police claims that they had been subjected to physical abuse, and accusing a Virginia investigator of abducting the women and blocking him from retrieving them.

"He told us that he had withdrawn the report and placed the girls in a safe place," Sabq quoted the father as saying.

"We tried to communicate later with this investigator, but he refused to respond. He asked us to go to the court on the grounds that the case had been transferred there, but when we went, we did not find any trace of the case," the father added.

He said when he viewed his daughters' bodies at the morgue before taking them back to Saudi Arabia, "we found bruises filling both their faces... especially the younger one, which confirms they were heavily beaten before they died".

The New York City medical examiner's office, Fairfax, Virginia police, and the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



Belgium’s Muslim Executive Condemns Attack on Veiled Moroccan Woman

Jan 30, 2019

By Ahlam Ben Saga -

Rabat – In a press statement which EMB shared with Morocco World News, the institution expressed immense solidarity with the victim and “strongly” condemned the assault.

“The EMB salutes the lady’s calling on youths to not succumb to the emotions” of helplessness if treated similarly and “to not respond to violence with violence,” EMB wrote.

EMB said that it has faith in the Belgian authorities to bring the assailant to justice and condemns his act of violence.

On December 30, 2018, the Moroccan hijabi woman was walking down a street in Anderlecht with her daughter when a hooded man passed by and punched her in the face.

The incident was caught in the street’s CCTV camera, and the footage went viral on the internet.

The Belgian news outlet La Capitale reported that the victim is a 47-year-old woman named Fatiha, who is calling on Belgian authorities to find her attacker.

While it was not yet confirmed whether the assault was rooted in Islamophobic malice, commenters deemed it “a shameful act of Islamophobia.”

EMB represents the Muslim community in Belgium. It conducts trainings for imams (preachers), supervises local mosques, and takes care of Muslim public cemeteries.



Palestinian Woman Tries to Stab Israeli Guards, Shot Dead

30 January 2019

A Palestinian woman tried to stab Israeli guards at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Wednesday, Israeli police said, with Palestinian officials reporting she was shot dead.

“At the security checkpoint at Zaim a female suspect attempted to stab security guards that were on patrol in the area” and “units responded”, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement, without giving further details.

The Palestinian health ministry said the woman was killed by Israeli fire east of Jerusalem.



Presence Of Women In Protests Held By Various Social Strata

Jan 30, 2019

Several protests took place by various social strata on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, which included the significant presence of women.

The defrauded investors of the Caspian Credit Institute in Mashhad and Rasht held protest rallies on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, demanding the return of their invested assets. The gathering in Mashhad was held in front of the Hashemiye branch. In continuance to the past days and months, the protest by the defrauded investors of the Caspian Credit Institute in Rasht was held with the main presence of women at the Institute’s main branch.

At the same time, a number of law graduates held a protest rally once again in front of the Bar Association building in protest to the unemployment of jurists. They held up banners and chanted slogans. The law graduates have been protesting for three consecutive days.

The plundered customers of Bahman Motor gathered once again in Tehran on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. Not only did the defrauded vehicle buyers not receive a response from the company’s authorities, but the guards and government agents attempted to beat and attack the protesters.

A group of pre-school teachers in Bagh-e Malek protested in front of the governorate of Khuzestan against the lack of recruiting tuition teachers by the Ministry of Education.

Regarding the reason for the protest gathering, one of the teachers said, “We are teachers who started working in 2016 and have been teaching for free in public schools in Bagh-e Malek and the suburb villages for 3 years. Each month, we have been paying 405 thousand tomans for insurance rights and 150 thousand tomans for space rights in the hope of being recruited as a tuition teacher by the Ministry of Education. Two years ago, 140 preschool teachers from Bagh-e Malek were recruited by the Ministry of Education, while some of them did not even have one year of insurance payments or class attendance.”

In another event, a protest rally was held by the residents of Jalalabad village in Zarand, on Tuesday, January 29, 2019. They protested against the lack of recruiting in the city’s factories. The presence of women was significant in the protest rally as they carried a large banner declaring their protest and demands.



Carbon Monoxide Leak Poisons 25 Girl Students At Primary School

Jan 30, 2019

25 girl students were poisoned after a carbon monoxide leak at the Payame Hedayat Girls’ Primary School in Bam.

Mojtaba Khaledi, the spokesman for the Emergency Department in Bam said that 25 girls were poisoned after being exposed to carbon monoxide that leaked on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 10 am (local time) in the girls’ elementary school in Bam, Kerman Province. Out of the 25 girl students, 16 were treated as outpatients, but nine girl students were transferred to the hospital for treatment.

According to reports, the girls were poisoned due to the carbon monoxide leak of the classroom’s heating system. (The state-run ISNA News Agency – January 29, 2019)

Last December, four girl students, Yekta Mirshekar, Mona Khosroparast, Maryam Nokandi, and Saba Arabi, lost their lives in a fire at a non-governmental girls’ school in Osveh Hassaneh in Zahedan. The accident leading to the deaths of the four girl students was due to the use of oil and non-standard heaters in the school. (The state-run ISNA news agency – December 19, 2018)

Mohammad Ali Bathaei, the Minister of Education made shocking confessions to reporters at a government meeting on December 12, 2018, saying, “Given the credit the government and the Education Ministry have, it is not possible to remove (the non-standard) heaters from schools in seven or eight years.” (The state-run Rouydad 24 news agency – December 19, 2018)

The clerical regime’s Minister of Education announced in 2017 that 42 percent of Iranian schools do not have a safe heating system. (The state-run Mehr news agency – September 23, 2018)

Such accidents are due to the use of oil and non-standard heaters, as well as inadequate standards and safety precautions in schools of Iran. As a result, girls who go to school to study and learn are exposed to such incidents every day due to an inefficient educational system. This time, 25 girl students in Bam suffered the same fate.




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