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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistani Bride ‘Inadvertently’ Killed 17 with Poisoned Milk Intended for Husband

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Nov 2017

 Iran: Young woman, 34, commits suicide in Tehran

 Hijab-wearing model advocates for modesty, Muslim women

 Two ‘facilitators’ in DI Khan girl’s stripping case arrested

 Women abductions go unchecked in capital

 Hijab emoji creator on TIME’s list of most influential Saudi teenagers

 Morocco debates law to address public harassment of women but passing it may prove difficult

 Iran: Yellow card for female footballer whose hair shows off

 Transport company trains 30 women for driving job

 Afghanistan’s first batch of women studies scholars graduate from Kabul University

 Iran: Retired women continue their protest

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Pakistani Bride ‘Inadvertently’ Killed 17 with Poisoned Milk Intended for Husband

5 Nov 2017

An unhappily married Pakistani woman claims the 17 people she murdered were unintended victims of a botched plan to poison her husband and end her arranged marriage so that she could be with her boyfriend.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the 21-year-old spoke to reporters when she appeared before a judge to face murder charges in the city of Muzaffargarh on Tuesday, telling them, “I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage but my parents rejected all of my pleas, and they married me to a relative.”

AP, which identified the woman as Aasia Bibi, added:

The woman said her love affair with her boyfriend continued after she got married. She said she had warned her parents that she could go to any extent to get out of her marriage, but they refused to allow her to get a divorce.

The woman expressed remorse over the deaths, saying her target was only her husband.

Currently, the unhappily married woman and her boyfriend Shahid Lashari, who told police he provided the poisonous substance, are behind bars.

“This incident took place last week, and our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us,” District police chief Sohail Habib Tajak told AP.

The news outlet explained:

The woman was not happy with her husband and wanted to return to her parents’ home.

Tajak said the woman obtained a poisonous substance from her boyfriend last week and mixed it in milk for her husband, who refused to drink it. But the woman’s mother-in-law later used the tainted milk to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 people of her extended family, who fell unconscious and were hospitalized.

BBC reported that eight people died soon after consuming the milk, but the death toll reached 17 within a week. The remaining 10 are reportedly being treated in a hospital, revealed the police chief.

The crime took place near the town of Ali Pur, about 60 miles south of Multan city in Punjab, the most populous province in Pakistan.

Tajak told AP that the woman had been married against her will back in September as part of an arranged marriage, considered the cultural norm for many Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan.

In such instances, the parents or eldest male members of the prospective groom and bride negotiate the marriage—often when the future husband and wife are only children, infants, or even before they are born.

Romantic love seldom plays a role in the partnership.

The Pakistani police chief vowed that authorities would arrest anyone who knew of the Bibi’s plot to kill her husband.



Iran: Young woman, 34, commits suicide in Tehran

05 November 2017

A young woman committed suicide by taking pills and died in Tehran’s Ekbatan township.

“The reason behind the death of the young woman whose body was found 3 days ago in Ekbatan was suicide,” Tehran’s Inspector in Criminal Affairs, Sajjad Manafi, made this announcement.

“There were a lot of pills where the body had been found. After examining the body, the Coroner’s Office concluded that the 34-year-old woman lost her life as a result of consuming those pills,” he added. (The state-run Khabar Online website – November 4, 2017)



Hijab-wearing model advocates for modesty, Muslim women

November 5, 2017

Model Mariah Idrissi asked where she could buy a hijab in Pittsburgh while speaking at the William Pitt Union Saturday night.

“Fashion is present very prominently in all of our lives, especially growing up in the [United States],” Amal Saeed, a junior molecular biology major and president of Muslim Student Association, said. “For [Idrissi], as a hijab-wearing model, she really found a way to use her identity as influence.”

During the last stop of her U.S. tour, Idrissi spoke to more than 60 people in room 548 of the William Pitt Union about the modeling industry, the Muslim community and her personal life as the first hijab-wearing Muslim model for H&M. The 90-minute event — hosted by Pitt’s Female Empowerment Movement and MSA — began at 7 p.m. and included free pizza, a Q&A session with the model and opportunities for photos afterward.

Like many overnight sensations, 25-year old Idrissi had no prior modeling experience when a casting director for H&M’s 2015 “Close the Loop” recycling campaign scouted her off the street. Even with support from her family, a publicist friend helping her manage her new lifestyle and public speaking experience from writing and reciting poetry, Idrissi knew little about the modeling world.

“If I did not watch ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ I would have had no idea what the hell I was doing,” Idrissi said.

Now, with two years’ experience modeling for H&M and speaking at events such as Istanbul’s 2016 Modest Fashion Week — an international fashion show featuring both Muslim and non-Muslim clothing that reveals little of a woman’s body — Idrissi is globally recognized as an authority on modest fashion and a humanitarian and advocate for women’s empowerment.

Idrissi also campaigns for Human Care Syria — a project providing food, schooling and hygiene packages to women affected by the war in Syria — and spoke at London’s TEDxTeen 2016 conference with her talk “Changing the Face of Fashion.”

But Idrissi didn’t always know what to use her voice for. As a Moroccan-Pakistani who grew up in London, Idrissi said she never personally experienced racism or Islamophobia, but instead faced struggles trying to find modest bookings upon entering the fashion industry.

“I didn’t think that that industry that appears to be so diverse and embracing and inclusive of different people would be where I finally encountered awkward situations and funny looks,” Idrissi said.

Idrissi shared several of these situations — including feeling too old for the modeling industry as a 25 year-old, which she says usually considers girls ages 16 to 24 — before shifting her presentation to issues of women’s empowerment and what can be done to promote it in the fashion industry.

One issue she touched on was models feeling pressured into shooting topless because they fear they might be replaced by other models who are willing to be more sexual in their work. Idrissi spoke of a personal friend who wishes she had been exposed to the more modest side of the industry before doing a topless shoot herself.

“Even the white European models also have issues in this industry, and that is why I feel like it is beyond me being a Muslim and wearing a hijab,” Idrissi said. “It’s about us being women and coming together as women and understanding that we are all going through issues in this industry.”

She also criticized charities and campaigns that leave out minorities or use tokenism — a practice in which businesses hire a small number of people from underrepresented groups to appear to increase diversity — in their advertising. Rather than sexualize or misrepresent reality, Idrissi said advertisers need to embrace the fact that everyone looks different and comes from different backgrounds.

Idrissi said she considers these issues especially important for young girls, which is why she decided to tour the United States to speak with students at schools. She directly addressed the Muslim members of the audience several times during a Q&A session at the end of her presentation, from giving them advice on how to network to asking where they buy their modest clothing in Pittsburgh.

When one of the few men in the audience — Ehab Tamimi, a bioengineering Ph.D. student and member of MSA — asked how Muslim men in particular can show their support for women, Idrissi answered with an emphasis on not projecting opinions about women onto Muslim women.

“I come from a more conservative background and I don’t have any immediate interest in fashion, but it was striking to see the connection between the fashion industry and how she connected it to life lessons and a way to move forward,” Tamimi said. “It’s not enough to just be a pretty face behind the camera, it’s also important to use your influence for something good.”

Audience member Anisa Mughal, a third-year medical student, said she felt that Idrissi’s answer to Tamimi’s question was powerful. She also enjoyed Idrissi’s five “keys” — goal-setting, work ethic, networking, organization and a trust in a God or higher power — which the model attributed to helping her get to where she is in her life and career.

“I think one of my favorite things is just seeing Muslim women be active in promoting their own identities, their own careers and their own goals,” Mughal said. “I also really liked that she’s an advocate for Muslim women not to be afraid to pursue what they want.”



Two ‘facilitators’ in DI Khan girl’s stripping case arrested

November 06, 2017

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Two facilitators of the main accused in a case involving alleged stripping and parading of a teenage girl in a village in this district late last month have been arrested.

Sources said on Sunday that police arrested on Saturday the two for giving the main accused, Sajawal, shelter as well as information. Police had earlier arrested eight accused in the case.

The sources said the police would produce the eight accused in court on Monday after expiry of their two-day remand.

Initially, the victim’s family had alleged that the accused had stripped the girl and paraded her naked in the Garahmat village in Daraban tehsil on Oct 27. Later, they claimed that she was taken to residence of one Sanaullah where her clothes were torn off and she was beaten, and was kept in illegal confinement.

The victim had claimed that she had received bruises on her arm and knee. She claimed that she was dragged by the suspects at gunpoint inside the house. According to unconfirmed reports, the victim’s family was under pressure to retract their earlier statement.

Interestingly, the Chaudwan police station registered two FIRs on Oct 27. First, the police registered an FIR on complaint of one of the female members of the family of the accused, while another FIR was later registered on the complaint of the victim (name withheld).

The arrested accused included three brothers Shahjehan, Gulestan and Ramzan, two other brothers Nasir and Aslam, and Ikram, Sanaullah and Saidu. A prime accused in the case could not be arrested.

Regional Police Officer Syed Fida Hassan Shah had claimed in a statement that he had constituted special teams for arresting the suspects and he had himself been supervising the investigation. A brother of the victim, Sajid Khan, has also sent an application to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial police officer, requesting him to conduct an inquiry and take action against the SHO concerned, who, he alleged, was supporting the accused.

He stated in the application that on the day of the incident at around 7am his sister along with three of her female cousins went to a nearby pond to fetch potable water.

He alleged that when they reached near the residence of Sajawal, the suspects caught hold of his sister and after stripping her they forced her to run in the area. He added that she took refuge in the residence of one Kaleemullah, but the suspects pulled her out of the house and left her naked in the street. Sajid alleged that when he reached the police station he saw Sajawal already present there. He added that the SHO was using delaying tactics to register the FIR, saying he had to visit the spot.



Women abductions go unchecked in capital

November 06, 2017

Islamabad-Incidents of women abductions are rampant in the federal capital as the police registered at least five cases of abduction and kidnapping in different police stations during the last week of October.

According to the data gathered by The Nation, majority incidents involved abduction of women allegedly for prostitution besides many other cases of auto-theft, robbery and burglary, murder and cheque dishonouring, posing an overall poor picture when it comes to policing in the capital city.

The abduction incidents took place in the limits of police stations as Bhara Kahu, Shalimar, Lohi Bher and Karachi Company.

On the other hand, the areas which remained vulnerable to the criminal gangs included Bhara Kahu, Sabzi Mandi and Lohi Bher. Bhara Kahu police station registered two cases of kidnapping during the said period, suggests the data.

A youngster Aqib Mushtaq was abducted from Dhok Jeelani in the limits of Bhara Kahu police station on 28 October, and the police booked three accused under section 365/34 of the PPC.

In another incident, a girl was abducted from sector F-11/4 in the limits of Shalimar police station and the case was registered under section 496-A of the PPC. Niamat Masih told Karachi Company police station that six persons, on 27 October abducted his daughter with bad intentions.

The accused booked under section 365-B/34 are yet to be arrested. Muhammad Rafique told Bhara Kahu police that six persons abducted his daughter on October 24.

The police are investigating the matter.

In majority cases of abduction of women , first the family and then police show hesitance in opting for the legal proceedings against the culprits as the abductions of women is not less than a social taboo. Islamabad police’s performance is under question again as it failed to check the crime, especially involving women , a sensitive issue to deal with.

Women are not safe in the capital city, as the number of rapes burgeoned to 160 percent during the last year. This revelation was made by the then Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who said on the floor of National Assembly that the number of rape incidents grew to 39 during 2016.

He told the house that the incidents of sexual abuse against women were 15 in 2015 and this mounted to 39 in 2016 in the federal capital .

According to another report, 119 cases of women torture and murder were logged during the last year and 26 women were murdered in Islamabad during the year 2016. Eight cases of murder attempts on women and 39 rape cases were lodged in Islamabad in the same period, according to the report.

According to the police record, other crimes as dacoity and snatching of valuable items at gunpoint are also continuing at a fast pace. In the incidents of street crime, like mugging, pick-pocketing, and snatching at gunpoint, more and more people are being deprived of their valuable possessions every day.

Meanwhile, Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of Islamabad Police on Sunday held four drug pushers involved in supplying drugs to students at educational institutions and recovered heroin and tranquillizers from them, a police spokesman said. One of the special teams constituted by SSP (Operations) headed by SP (Investigation) Zeeshan Haider raided at the hideout of drug pushers and arrested four persons later identified as Qudrat-Ullah, Amir, Abdul-Qayyum and Khurram Zahid. The police team also recovered a total of 3.09-kilogram heroin and 119 tranquillizing pills from them. Further investigation is underway.



Hijab emoji creator on TIME’s list of most influential Saudi teenagers

November 05, 2017

According to Arab News, Time magazine has placed a 16-year-old Saudi girl on its “30 Most Influential Teens” list for 2017.

Sabq news website reported that Rayouf Al-Humedhi was chosen by Time because she proposed Apple’s new emoji with a headscarf. The emoji attracted a lot of Arab and international attention because it represents an Islamic symbol — the hijab (head cover).

Time’s list also included Syrian refugee Muzoon Al-Mellehan, 19, who became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

When selecting influential teens, the American magazine takes into consideration the awards won by the teen in different fields, the international influence through social media websites, and the general ability to present news.



Morocco debates law to address public harassment of women but passing it may prove difficult


Nov. 5, 2017

RABAT, MOROCCO—Malak Nahass was walking on a busy street near a Rabat beach one afternoon about six months ago when a stranger approached and started taunting her. The situation quickly escalated.

She is always on guard in public because she is used to being harassed, Nahass said. “I try to be invisible.” But this time, she couldn’t make herself disappear. The young man grabbed at her, and when she ran, he threw rocks at her, hitting her in the head. The deep cut she suffered required five stitches.

Nahass, a 32-year-old sound engineer, went to a police station to report the attack. The officers took the information and assigned her a case number. “They almost didn’t want to write down the description,” she recalled. She went back the next day to see if they had caught the man she described. The officers said they had looked around the neighbourhood but had not found the suspect. When she followed up again a few weeks later, they accused her of harassing them.

“Can you believe it?” she said, shaking her head.

Last month, the Moroccan Parliament once again debated legislation long sought by women’s rights activists here that would make it a crime to harass a woman in public, whether physically or verbally. Under the latest proposal, a conviction could draw a month to two years in prison. But the bill remains mired in political wrangling between reformers and members of the conservative parties.

On paper, the anti-harassment law would be a big step, particularly for a country that wants to be seen as a moderate Islamic hub compared with its neighbours in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East. This year, Morocco banned the manufacture and sale of the burka, and its king, Mohammed VI, often pops up on Instagram in jeans and hip shades. The reality, however, is far more complex. Morocco is a deeply conservative, patriarchal society with a ruling Islamic party that won handily in a parliamentary election last year.

“Everything that concerns women’s rights is connected to religion,” said Khadija Ryadi, former president of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.

In September, Morocco rejected 44 of 244 recommendations made by the U.N. Human Rights Council following its latest review of the country’s rights record. All 44 pertained to either women’s rights or individual rights, including laws that prevent women and men from inheriting equally and that deny rights to children born out of wedlock.

In rejecting the recommendations, Morocco said its constitution must adhere to Islamic law — a striking illustration of the traditional and religious thinking hampering the country’s efforts to appear as a beacon of moderation in the region. Nowhere is the contrast between image and practice more evident than in Morocco’s approach to gender rights. Although its constitution guarantees equal rights for women, it does so with caveats, noting that these rights must respect “the laws and permanent characteristics of the kingdom.”

It’s a constant balancing act, said Noufal Abboud, the Morocco country director for international human rights organization Search for Common Ground. “You can bring the most progressive law to Morocco, but the society will not accept it,” he said. “It’s a man’s society.”

Human Rights Minister Mustapha Ramid, embroiled in controversy after he called gay people the Arabic word for “dirty” or “scum,” declined an interview request.

There have been some changes since Mohammed VI became king in 1999, pledging greater rights for women.

In 2004, Morocco revised its family code, called the moudawana, giving women broader rights in custody, marriage and divorce. The changes came after bombings in Casablanca killed 45 people, still the country’s deadliest terrorist attack. Although the Islamic parties were not implicated in the bombings, the government was able to use the atmosphere of anti-extremism they generated to win concessions from them on some of the king’s changes, most prominently the moudawana.

But the monarch can go only so far, said David Alvarado, a journalist and media consultant.

“The king has two faces,” he said. “The Western face is progressive, but internally he is traditional. He can’t be progressive here in Morocco.”

Human rights activists would like to broaden the family code even more — to grant women equal inheritance rights, for example. The code uses an interpretation of Islamic law to mandate that women can inherit no more than half of what men do. The president of neighbouring Tunisia has called for his country to amend its inheritance law, and in July, the country passed a law aimed at preventing “all violence against women.” Both moves sparked outrage from Tunisia’s clerics and conservative politicians. Algeria also has a domestic-violence law, passed in 2015, that protects women from abuse.

In Morocco, although Islam is used as the rationale, it’s actually culture holding back changes affecting women, said Amal Idrissi, a law professor at Moulay Ismail University in the city of Meknes. “It’s not religion,” Idrissi said. “It’s patriarchy.”

Harassment is perhaps the clearest flash point. A 2009 national survey estimated two-thirds of Moroccan women have experienced violence at one point in their lives, and younger women in particular are fighting back.

In June, a 24-year-old woman was viciously attacked on a public bus in Casablanca. The assault, which was filmed and posted online, doesn’t show passersby or the driver trying to intervene, even as the woman’s clothes are ripped off and she cries out for help.

Hundreds took part in a protest in Casablanca in August after the video went viral to demand the creation of laws protecting women from such assaults.

Zainab Fasiki, a 23-year-old comic artist from Fez, drew a cartoon after the bus attack that went viral on social media. It shows a woman, her clothes pulled off, looking out sadly from a bus. The caption reads in English: “Buses are made to transport people not to rape girls.”

Fasiki said she tried to organize a protest in Fez like the one in Casablanca, but too many women were afraid to participate. “So it didn’t happen,” she said.

She uses her art to show women naked and strong and unafraid, she said. (When a woman is attacked in Morocco, even sympathetic women often will ask what she was wearing.)

“Women in Arab countries are still seen as virgin girls sitting in their homes or wives who respect their husbands,” she said. “There is a lot of work to do to change those ideas.”

Nahass said she has learned to go into “warrior mode” when she’s out in public, even in Rabat, the capital, considered one of the country’s safest cities. She tries to ignore the taunts she hears daily. But often, men just come up and grab her, reacting to her indifference by saying she’s ugly anyway. “In a way, you get used to it,” she said.

After the attack near the beach, she wanted to leave. “I just got so depressed,” she said. “I hated this country.”

Kenza Allouchi, 21, a recent film school graduate in Rabat, said even if the expanded anti-harassment law is eventually passed, she isn’t sure it will do much good.

“Whether we go out dressed well or not — they would accost us even in pyjamas with words of harassment,” she said. “A law is good, but an education would be much better.”



Iran: Yellow card for female footballer whose hair shows off

05 November 2017

Women football players in Iran would be shown the yellow card if they do not properly cover all their hair during the game. If repeated, they would be shown the red card and sent off the game.

This was declared by an observer from the Iranian Football Federation while briefing the teams participating in the Women’s Football League last week.

This latest measure, in violation of the universal rules set by FIFA, indicates a new level of antagonism directed towards women’s sports by the Iranian regime.

Women athletes do not receive any form of support from the government. This was evident in the planning of the games for woman’s league. For one, some of the teams had not been allocated a field where they could play, while the fields where the games took place were peppered with holes and ditches such that the players could not dribble.

The restrooms and locker facilities were not adequate for players to get ready for the game.

On the other hand, the Pars Jonoubi Jam team did not participate in the games for lack of budget, and their game was cancelled.



Transport company trains 30 women for driving job

November 05, 2017

JEDDAH — A national transportation company has trained 30 women drivers and educated them about traffic regulations and safety and security precautions.

The company said it has offered 150 openings for both Saudi men and women in database service, customer service and telecommunications.

The women drivers will begin working once the Ministry of Transport and the Traffic Department put the new traffic regulations in place.

The conditions the women drivers have to meet include obtaining a driver’s license and owning a car or producing an affidavit from husband or a family member allowing them to use their car.

The company also said it had received job applications from women candidates in different age groups. From women in their 20s to those in their 50s have applied to work as drivers for the company.

Egypt and the UAE have successfully experimented women drivers in transportation services. It is widely believed that having women driving on the streets would increase the safety and security of the service, the company said.

Taxi company employee Mohammad Salah said app-based ride hailing services are now offering more than 100,000 job vacancies for women drivers, who are called “captains” in these companies.

Economic analyst Khalid Al-Shalil said Saudi society is open to the idea of women working as taxi drivers and in transportation companies.

«By working in such fields women can make a decent living. Most families will be very supportive of the idea,» Al-Shalil said.



Afghanistan’s first batch of women studies scholars graduate from Kabul University

November 06, 2017

KABUL: The first batch of women studies graduates in Afghanistan received their degrees at Kabul University on Sunday.

Kabul University is the first university of Afghanistan to offer a Masters degree in women and gender studies, teaching feminist theories, media, civil society and conflict resolution in its two-year programme. The programme is funded by South Korea and run by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Among the 22 students graduating this year were seven male students.

The programme testifies to a great change since the years of Taliban regime when female issues were taboo and women were largely confined to their homes and banned from education. Even now, after the toppling of Taliban by United States-led forces, women remain second-class citizens in the largely patriarchal country.

Mujtaba Arefi, one of the graduates, told media reporters that the occasion marked the beginning of a change. “With these programmes, we can understand the women’s place and status in our society. There is a possibility that we will reach a level of gender equality like the West,” he said.

Another graduate, Sajia Sediqqi, said she hoped her classmates would use their degrees to improve the situation of women in Afghanistan. “In a short period of time we cannot bring about any dramatic change, but with our higher education we can help change our society and serve our people, particularly our women,” she said.



Iran: Retired women continue their protest

04 November 2017

With protesters joining from other Iranian provinces, the retired government employees continued their protest for a fifth day on November 4, 2017, in front of the Budget and Planning Organization in Tehran. They had initially announced that their protest was set for four days.

Retirees converged in Tehran from Kermanshah, Yazd, Alborz, and several other provinces to protest against their poverty and abysmal living conditions.

They held placards reading, “We will not give in until our demands are met”, “38 years have passed, where is justice” and “teachers are awake and hate discrimination.”

The protesters also demanded the release of teachers detained in prison.




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