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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistani Woman Speaks Of Forced Conversion, Denial to Lodge FIR of Rape, Trafficking

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Aug 2015

Emmi, a resident of Thatta, narrates her ordeal at a press conference held at the madadgar office on Friday. ---- White Star


 ‘As A Woman, Be Quiet!’ Turkish Deputy Premier Ignites New Sexism Row

 Meet Bana Gora, the Woman Planning Britain's First Female-Managed Mosque

 Challenges Faced By Muslim Women Living In West

 Suzann Pettersen Tames Horror Conditions at Women’s British Open

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Pakistani Woman Speaks Of Forced Conversion, Denial to Lodge FIR of Rape, Trafficking


August 1st, 2015

KARACHI: How women of marginalised communities are suffering at the hands of influential people and the state has turned a blind eye towards their misery came to light at a press conference held on Friday.

Emmi, 30, and resident of Thatta city, is now looking for justice with the help of a non-governmental body providing legal aid to women and child survivors of violence and abuse.

Ironically, however, the police have not only refused to register an FIR on one pretext or another but also sexually harassed her. There is no action from the government side either that has been informed in writing about the case, according to her.

“When I took my complaint to the Thatta police, nobody took me seriously and the staff there started laughing. I was told to go to the house of DSP Makli for FIR’s registration,” said Emmi at the press conference organised by Madadgaar Helpline in its office.

She accused the police official of sexually harassing her. “I have been exploited for eight years and demand justice,” she said as tears rolled down her face.

Emmi’s troubles started when she became friendly with a man over the phone in 2008. The man that she identified as Shahbaz, a resident of Mirpur Sakro, later convinced her to meet him outside her house and kidnapped her with the help of another man, Ramzan.

“They took me to an unknown place where I was confined in a dark room for 20 days, beaten and raped. Then I was sold and taken to Nawabshah,” she said.

In Nawabshah, Emmy was forced to sign some papers to convert her from Hinduism to Islam and arrange her fake marriage with Javed Khaskheli who forced her into prostitution. She attempted twice to escape and was punished.

“I was burnt and initially admitted to a hospital in Nawabshah and later to the Combined Military Hospital in Hyderabad.

I was told that I should identify myself as the wife of Javed,” she told journalists, adding that she was also poisoned by his tormentors.

According to her, she spent about six years in Hyderabad in confinement during which she also met three girls brought for prostitution. She finally managed to escape on the second day of Eid and reached her home in Thatta. It came as a shock to her that her father, the only close relative he had, died following her kidnapping.

“With the help of a friend, I came to a court in Karachi where someone suggested that I should seek help from Madadgaar,” she explained.

She also showed a picture and the national identity card of one of his tormentors to media persons during the briefing.

Giving his remarks, Advocate Zia Awan said his organisation prepared a case for the victim and also contacted relevant police officials in this regard. But the police were not willing to register the case.

“On Thatta police’s insistence that the case didn’t fall in their jurisdiction and that the Mirpur Sakro police should be contacted, we asked the victim to go to the latter. But they also refused to register the case. Both police stations have accepted the complaint, though,” he said.

According to Mr Awan, it was after his NGO received no positive reply from the government side, including minister for culture Sharmila Faruqui, that it decided to highlight the case in the media.

“We have contacted police officials and a sitting minister to take action but all our attempts have been futile. What else an NGO could do. We are not a state,” he said in reply to a question.

“State inaction and justice denial is also a kind of terrorism. We want this case to be seriously investigated and culprits punished,” he said, adding that a number of cases had brought to his knowledge in recent months in which women were trafficked and used for prostitution.

The women, he said, were taken to Afghanistan via Balochistan.

“This case is just the tip of the iceberg. Most cases go unreported. In cases that reach us, often the victims are reluctant to talk to the media. There is a dire need to make the police and the justice system efficient,” he said.



‘As a woman, be quiet!’ Turkish deputy premier ignites new sexism row

August 01, 2015

TURKEY’S deputy prime minister this week ignited a new row over discrimination against women in Turkish politics when he told a female deputy who tried to interrupt his speech to “as a woman, be quiet!”.

Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc made the remark while speaking during an emergency debate in parliament over the government’s military intervention against Daesh militants in Syria and Kurdish militants in Iraq.

Justifying the decision to attack Kurdish militants in Iraq, his comments were loudly mocked by members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), including female lawmaker Nursel Aydogan.

“Madam be quiet! You as a woman, be quiet!” shouted Arinc in the debate broadcast on live television, growing increasingly irritable as he struggled to make his words heard.

The incident spawned immediate outrage online, with Turkish women posting angry comments under the Twitter hashtag #BirKadinOlarakSusmayacagiz (as women we are not going to be silent), which began trending nationwide.

“Woman are quiet in their politics but unquiet women will teach them democracy,” tweeted @Ozgurlugedogru.

The hashtag #KadinDusmaniArinc (Arinc is an enemy of women) also gained popularity. The HDP and also the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) demanded an apology from Arinc.

“We as the CHP strongly condemn the sexist, discriminatory and humiliating comments violating women’s rights,” said CHP deputy leader Selin Sayek Boke.

“Making such a comment under the roof of parliament is unacceptable. We invite him to apologize,” she added.

This is hardly the first time Arinc has been in hot water over comments deemed sexist. In July 2014, he sparked an outcry by declaring that women should not laugh loudly in public. This prompted viral videos and pictures of Turkish women laughing in defiance.

The HDP’s Nursel Aydogan, the target of Arinc’s outburst, said: “I don’t take it personally. It is an insult against all women including their own (ruling party) lawmakers.”

“Mr. Arinc should leave aside this sexist approach,” said Pervin Buldan, another female HDP lawmaker.

Critics have repeatedly accused the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) — which Arinc helped co-found along with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — of eroding women’s rights. — AFP



Meet Bana Gora, the woman planning Britain's first female-managed mosque

31 July 2015

In a brightly lit office in Bradford’s Carlisle business centre, on a road lined with charity shops, grocery stores and a green-domed masjid, Bana Gora and her team at the Muslim Women’s Council (MWC) are organising final preparations before a much-awaited consultation about the UK’s first women-managed mosque.

At the event on Sunday, which they expect local residents, imams and national media to attend, the community group will discuss their proposals for a mosque that will be open to all – men, women, children and worshippers of all sects, including Sunni and Shia. Prayers will be led by a male imam, yet the governance of the mosque will be run by women, in the first of its kind in Britain.

Gora co-founder and chief executive of the MWC, said: “When I was growing up across the Bradford district, there was never a practice of sisters going to the mosque. We prayed at the house. But why couldn’t we go to the mosque on a Friday with our brother and father?” Gora said. “We were told because it’s not the done thing. Women don’t go to the mosque. Well, actually, at the time of the prophet, women did, and they had the same access as men.”

Consultations for the new mosque began in June and are now at their second stage. The women’s group are seeking planning permission and looking at possible plots of land. Gora said she has been in talks with international architects, and that the building itself will not have minarets or domes. The community group, who also run weekly curry circles to distribute food to the homeless, said they will have a blueprint and funding strategy by September. They hope for the mosque to be ready within three years.

There are around 100 mosques in Bradford, where a quarter of the population identify as Muslim. However, according to a local audit of mosques carried out by Gora’s team, female worshippers often felt isolated from the space and cut off from the services offered by mosques.

Among plans for the new MWC mosque is a centre for excellence with facilities specifically tailored to Muslim women, services for divorce, bereavement, legal advice, and parenting.

Not everyone is happy about the plans. Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, disagrees with plans for the women-managed mosque in her constituency. She told the Guardian: “I think the reason it’s happening is that mosques haven’t been inclusive. But there are good practices and bad practices. While I’m all for equality, this doesn’t fix the problem.

“You need to empower the structures that are already there instead of just leaving them. That’s not fixing the issue. They say it’s going to be a safe space for women,” Shah said, “but I’m struggling to see what we’re going to achieve.”

In response, Gora said the Bradford West MP had not once visited or spoken to anyone at the MWC.

“If our local democratically elected members of parliament and local councillors are against this model of a female governance structure, then there are serious concerns as to how engaged they are with the local constituents who have elected them.”

“It’s the local constituents, the women, that are coming to us and asking for this space. We suggest that they perhaps engage more with the constituents and listen to what they are asking for before making statements,” Gora said.

“The alienation that women feel has profound consequences for younger generations who are taught that Islam treats both men and women as spiritual equals.” Gora said. “The practice within mosques contradicts the principles.”

At a coffee morning nearby, local residents gave their thoughts on the MWC initiative. Nazia Khan, 35, a community volunteer said: “I don’t usually go to the mosque unless there’s a funeral. I know the local mosque would help if I had problems, but I don’t know if the people would be trustworthy – it depends who it’s run by.” She added, however, a purpose-built space for women would be a good thing, as “some women don’t get out much. It might be a good way to meet other people.”

Uzma Kazi, a 29-year-old community artist, said a women-managed mosque was: “a really good idea … I remember me and one of my sisters talking years ago, saying wouldn’t it be great if there was something in the community just for women, and in a safe space.

“I think there’s lots of myths about women going to mosques, and what they can and can’t do there, so education is really important. I really hope it can be a safe space for ‘me time’, sharing wisdom and a space to explore challenging things in the community, as well as celebrating the good times as well,” Kazi said.

Muslim women have historically played an important role in supporting mosques in the UK; in 1889 the first purpose-built mosque in Britain, at Woking, Surrey, was commissioned by Sultan Shahjahan Begum, the female ruler of Bhopal. In postwar Britain, many women sold off their gold bangles to help raise funds for building the early mosques for the community, and still play an active role in charity drives for mosques.

Dr Khadijah Elshayyal, researcher on Muslims in Britain at the university of Edinburgh, said there is a history of women-managed mosques in the Muslim tradition, particularly in China. “Even in the UK, I know of a couple of mosques where women pretty much run the show, but in an unofficial position.

“But for various reasons they don’t actually take official positions as mosque leaders. So, partly because of their unofficial status, their role is often taken for granted and people don’t appreciate how much they actually do for mosques,” Elshayyal said.

Dr Shuruq Naguib, lecturer at University of Lancaster and co-chair of the British association of Islamic Studies, told the Guardian that “often in city mosques in Muslim-majority countries, women are part of the congregation – not in a separate room, or separate floor – and pray in the main prayer hall of the mosque.”

But the segregation of prayer space is a familiar feature of many mosques in Britain.

Masjids, particularly in Bradford, were founded traditionally of the Hanafi school of thought within Sunni Islam, by Muslims of South Asian heritage. Within this interpretation, the Deobandi viewpoint – which had been reformist but also influenced by conservative interpretations of Islam, became less flexible toward women’s inclusion in the mosque when Islamic institutions were relocated to Britain, Naguib said.

Things are changing, however, and a generation of young, open-minded scholars were coming through who “understand the challenges of modernity, including living as a minority group in a secular society and the kind of politics surrounding identity in such a context.”

Imam Qari Asim, who has written guidelines on mosques and youth engagement, said the consultation process was “fantastic”, and: “We need to make our mosque a dynamic, vibrant and inclusive institution, and that can only happen if the board running it is inclusive.”

He said that plans to set up a women-led executive board of a mosque was a reaction to “what’s been happening on the ground”.

“If you deny women and young people access to the mosque, or access to the decision-making process then eventually the reaction is going to be they’re going to start something of their own and perhaps that’s what’s happened here,” Imam Qari said. “It will only carry on unless room is made for more than 50% of the population.”



Challenges faced by Muslim women living in West

Aug 1, 2015

In the West, the common picture of a Muslim woman is the stereotype of a woman hidden behind a veil, a voiceless, silent figure, bereft of rights.

Although generally pitied as objects of oppression, visibly Muslim women also bear the brunt of anti-Islam sentiment.

As a result, Muslim women living in the West continue to face many challenges and struggles when it comes to practicing their faith in Western countries.

There is an assumption that Muslim women are oppressed and uneducated in many cases due to the hijab.

However, the reality couldn’t be more different. The world’s oldest university was founded by a Muslim woman in the 9th century, and today, Muslim women are working tirelessly to ensure women have access to education.



Suzann Pettersen tames horror conditions at Women’s British Open

August 1, 2015

Turnberry, United Kingdom: Suzann Pettersen was out early in the second round of the Women’s British Open on Friday, shot a 69 and set a halfway target that no one else could match on a day of horrendous weather at Turnberry.

With wind and rain making it miserable for players and fans, the 33-year-old Norwegian managed to carve four birdies out of her round and finished on an impressive seven under par 137.

Lydia Ko (73), the world number two, Ryu So-yeon (72), the 2011 US Women’s Open champion, Taiwan’s Teresa Lu (71) and South Korea’s Ko Jin-young were two shots back in joint second.

Pettersen, a two-time major winner, feels invigorated this season following a switch in coach from David Leadbetter to Butch Harmon, the Las Vegas guru who steered Tiger Woods through his hugely successful early years as a professional.

“It was really tough out there today but I played very solid,” said Pettersen. “I felt I was in control of everything. This ranks pretty high as a good round of golf.

“I always felt I had a different gear in my body and going to Butch was the right thing. He has made technical changes and it is just much easier. I don’t feel like the swing thoughts change from day to day.

“It’s very consistent. It’s nice to have somebody that can really push me. Butch has pushed me quite a lot and I feel that some of my best golf is still ahead of me.

“I thought it would be good to play through [next year’s] Olympics, but I now have a lot of more goals. I want to be the best that I can be.”

Last week, Pettersen finished runner-up in the Scottish Open at the nearby Dundonald Links and she is seeking to go one better on Sunday.

Pettersen’s first major was the 2007 LPGA Championship and she added the Evian Championship two years ago.

She’s got a decent record in the British Open with top five finishes in the last two years.

“I’m getting older and wiser,” she added. “You learn something every year and that is what is so great about this game.”

Ko, who opened with a 66, was mightily impressed by Pettersen’s effort.

“Today was like playing a different course,” said the teenager. “I knew it wasn’t going to be another 66 but a day for grinding it out. We were tried to hide behind the signs for shelter. Suzann must have played great.”

The first round leader, Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo followed her 65 with a 78 for one under par.

World number one Park Inbee wasn’t too delighted with a 73, but the South Korean is still well in the hunt on two under par.

Michelle Wie was heading for the exit after failing to get past the 13th hole. At ten over par for the round and 14 over for the tournament, last year’s US Open champion retired with an ankle injury.

Last year’s victor Mo Martin also missed out. After a promising opening 70, the American slumped to a second day 80.