New Age Islam
Sun Aug 09 2020, 07:37 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 2 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Samida Khatoon, 57, Of Kolkata Dies at Park Circus Protesting Against NRC, CAA and NPR














The first female flogger preparing to whip a woman in public (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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• 1st Women Administer Floggings in Indonesia

• Saudi Female Bikers Get Ready To Hit the Road

• 18-Year-Old Girl among Youths Appointed To UAE Federal Boards

• WHD is About Wearing a Hijab for One Day. Want to give it a Try!

• Sheikha Jawaher Witnesses Opening Of Fifth Arab Women Sports Tournament

• Morocco’s Long-Burdened ‘Mule Women’ Face New Struggle

• ‘Real Women’s Empowerment Requires Action on Recommendations’

• 46% Women among 17,000 Saudis Registered To Become Conciliators

• Sabarimala Case: Supreme Court Says It Will Frame Questions Relating To Discrimination of Women in Religious Places

• There Is More to Muslim Women than Headscarves and World Hijab Day Should Show That

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/samida-khatoon,-57,-of-kolkata-dies-at-park-circus-protesting-against-nrc,-caa-and-npr/d/120965

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Samida Khatoon, 57, Of Kolkata Dies at Park Circus Protesting Against NRC, CAA and NPR

New Age Islam News Bureau

February 03, 2020

Kolkata: An aged woman named Samida Khatoon, 57, died while protesting against NRC at the Park Circus Shahin Bagh. She had been sitting in protest for the last 26 days. She suddenly fell ill after midnight on Saturday and was taken to hospital where she breathed her last. Her death has sent shock waves through Kolkata. But women protesters have said that though they were grieved at her demise, they were not demoralised and they would continue their fight with a greater resolve. The women of Kolkata have been staging sit- in protest against CAA/NCR/ NPR at Park Circus since the first week of January and have named the protest site Shahin Bagh.

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1st Women Administer Floggings in Indonesia

February 02, 2020

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP-Jiji) — The masked woman nervously approaches her target, shuffles into position and then unleashes a flurry of lashes — proving herself as the newest member of the first female flogging squad in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

The new recruit initially needed some coaxing to punish the offender — an unmarried woman caught in a hotel room with a man.

Such behavior constitutes a morality crime in Aceh, the only region in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation that imposes Islamic law — known as Sharia. Those found guilty of breaches are often publicly whipped with a rattan cane.

But despite her reticence, she persevered and delivered her first flogging.

“I think she did a good job. Her technique was nice,” Banda Aceh Sharia police chief investigator Zakwan, who uses one name, told AFP.

The controversial punishment enrages rights activists and generates heated media debate, as well as among politicians.

Indonesia’s president has issued a call for the public floggings to stop but he has little say over what happens in Aceh, a deeply conservative region on Sumatra island.

Unlike the rest of the nation, Aceh follows religious law as part of a 2005 autonomy deal agreed with the central government that ended a decades-long separatist insurgency.

Here, public whipping remains a common punishment for scores of offenders for a range of charges including gambling, adultery, drinking alcohol and having gay or pre-marital sex.

But the job has always been done by men. Until now.

‘No mercy’ for violators

More and more women are being charged for morality crimes such as public affection or premarital sex, experts say, as greater internet access and globalization bring clashes with local cultural and religious norms.

Enforcement too has increased and now Aceh says it’s trying to follow Islamic law, which calls for women to whip female perpetrators. This is already what happens in neighboring Malaysia.

But convincing women to participate has been no easy task, and it’s taken years to assemble the first female squad, according to Safriadi, who heads provincial capital Banda Aceh’s Sharia Implementation Unit.

Eight women — all Sharia officers — agreed to be floggers and were trained in the appropriate technique and advised how to limit injury.

Previously, a dozen men performed all the whippings in the city for an unspecified fee.

For security reasons, Aceh officials declined to let AFP speak with the floggers, who are outfitted in cloth masks and loose fitting brown uniforms to hide their identities.

“We train them to make sure they’re physically fit and teach them how to do a proper whipping,” Zakwan said.

But the secret for any whipping is getting past the mental hurdle of lashing fellow citizens.

For that, you need to look to God, Zakwan said.

“It’s kind of an indoctrination that we give to them so they have a better understanding of their role — have no mercy for those who violate God’s law,” he added.

Sharia in Aceh is ‘still lenient’

Aceh officials insist caning deters crime, with patrols often scouring public places and establishments — or acting on tip-offs — to monitor behavior.

Sharia police in Banda Aceh, a city of some 220,000 people, are on the streets round-the-clock in three shifts.

On a recent patrol, a couple sitting close to each other on the beach escaped with a reprimand.

But a group of men and women spotted at a coffee shop around 3 a.m. weren’t so lucky and were arrested on suspicion of breaking strict codes about unmarried men and women interacting.

“This shows that we never sleep, looking for violations of Sharia [Islamic law],” Safriadi said.

From behind bars, one of the men said that there was nothing romantic happening at the coffee shop.

“We don’t even know the women and were sitting at different tables,” he told AFP.

The women were later released with a reprimand as were the men, but police said the trio may be charged for a new offence, after it was determined they were gay.

Same-sex relations can earn residents a whipping in front of jeering crowds, which can number in the hundreds.

“Sharia in Aceh is still lenient,” said resident Saiful Tengkuh.

“Aceh needs harsher punishments like stoning, not just whipping. Someone committing adultery should be stoned 100 times,” he added.

Punishment serves as deterrent

Aceh, home to about 5 million people, once mulled beheading for serious crimes, but the central government ruled it out.

This summer, it made headlines over a fatwa, or religious edict, against online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and opposing a national women’s soccer league because it didn’t have a stadium where only female players, match officials and spectators would be present.

But whipping is often what gets Aceh in the news — unwanted attention local officials say is Islamophobic.

Advocates say many people caught breaking religious law choose whipping as an efficient, if painful, way to avoid a stiff jail term.

But this rough justice can take a toll.

Floggings can be so severe that people pass out or are hospitalized, with the most serious crimes — including gay sex and having a relations with a minor — earning as many as 150 lashes.

Many offenders have fled the area out of shame or because customers deserted their businesses. Few are keen to discuss their experience.

For women, arrest for even a minor violation can lead to victimization, including sexual harassment and rape during arrest, according to research by the Network for Civil Society Concerned with Sharia.

Reporting these assaults without proof can even open up victims to flogging for making a false accusation, it added.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned such punishments as “barbaric,” “inhumane,” and tantamount to torture.

But Aceh officials insist they’re “far more lenient” than ultraconservative Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim nations.

“We’re not aiming to hurt people by whipping them,” Safriadi said.

“The most important thing is the shaming effect on violators and spectators so they don’t do it again.”Speech

https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006325681?fp=81939e76d1ca7f82ef33b3d3db3dc855

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Saudi Female Bikers Get Ready To Hit the Road

February 02, 2020

RIYADH: Although women drivers have become a common sight on the Kingdom’s streets, women bikers are rarely seen.

Contrary to common belief, riding a motorcycle is not that different to driving a car — regardless of gender — except that motorcycles give a sense of empowerment, freedom and an adrenaline rush. Some people believe that women motorcyclists are better equipped to ride motorbikes than their male counterparts because they drive more cautiously and strictly follow traffic rules.

Elena Bukaryeva, the experienced Ukrainian instructor based at the Riyadh-based Bikers Skill Institute, is the only trainer for women bikers in the Kingdom.

The institute is the first school in Saudi Arabia to offer motorbike training, not only to men but for women who have a passion for motorcycles.

Their specially designed courses for both beginners and advanced riders focus on safety, such as the Basic Motorcycle Riding, Smart Riding, Top Gun, Motogymkhana, Off-Road Trainings and Kids Motorcycle Schools courses, with fees ranging from SR750 ($200) to SR1,500.

“So far, 43 women bikers belonging to different nationalities — almost 20 of them Saudis, the rest Egyptians, Lebanese etc and even Europeans living in the Kingdom — have enrolled in our training courses after the ban on women driving was lifted,” Bukaryeva said.

The courses comply with international standards and consist of theoretical lessons to learn the basics of safety, teaching bikers to anticipate and manage risks, and include introductory information about motorbikes.

Bukaryeva said that the field training consisted of everything from gear shifts to emergency stops, U-turns and cornering.

The school generally trains on small motorcycles so that learners will be able to ride any type of bike. The duration of the course “depends on the time it takes each trainee to learn and master all the skills needed,” Bukaryeva said.

“The challenges and obstacles faced are only educational, based on the trainee’s commitment and understanding of the trainer’s instructions. However, there are no challenges related to harassment or honking of cars or bullying,” Bukaryeva said. “In fact, Saudi society has proved its ability to adapt and accept what’s new and useful. Ladies actually get full support and assistance, especially from male bikers.”

While Saudi women are building their skills at the Bikers Skills Institute, women bikers on the Kingdom’s roads are still a rare sight. “We don’t expect any increase in number, especially because women form only 3 percent of bikers in the world,” Bukaryeva said.

Bukaryeva said that the traffic department office had not yet issued licences for women bikers. “Our motorcycle training courses do not include obtaining the riding licence. Some eager trainees go to neighboring countries such as Bahrain to get their licence,” she said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1621931/saudi-arabia

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18-Year-Old Girl among Youths Appointed To UAE Federal Boards

February 2, 2020

The Cabinet had last year adopted a decision to appoint Emiratis aged below 30 years to the boards of government entities.

More than 30 youths have been appointed as directors to the boards of various federal entities in the UAE "to prepare them for different positions in the national work".

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the appointments of 33 young men and women while chairing a UAE cabinet meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The youngest board member is an 18-year-old girl and the oldest is aged 30. The term for each member will be two to three years. They will receive the same privileges as other board members. They will receive extensive training about government work.

Congratulating the youths, Sheikh Mohammed said: "You have our full support and your responsibilities start today. Youths are the pillars of the present and the creators of the future. I trust our youth to develop services, share their ideas to improve the country's position globally.

"We want to accelerate the journey of the youth to reach higher levels of excellence. They shall lead the UAE's journey of goodness in the next phase."

The Cabinet had last year adopted a decision to appoint Emiratis aged below 30 years to the boards of government entities and companies to ensure that their voice and views are part of the government work.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/government/18-year-old-girl-among-youths-appointed-to-uae-federal-boards

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WHD is About Wearing a Hijab for One Day. Want to give it a Try!

February 3rd, 2020

Founded by American Muslim woman Nazma Khan in 2013, WHD aims to "foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women, including non-hijabi Muslims as well as non-Muslims, to experience wearing the hijab for one day." For some, it gives them the chance to experience what it's like to be a Muslim woman for one single day. 

"I'm excited that there's a day for women to wear a hijab with pure pride because I am wearing mine for my first time," one Twitter user, who recently started wearing the hijab, said.

Thought out, well-intentioned and with a deep focus on attempting to dismantle prejudice around the Muslim female identity, the simplicity and easiness with which WHD bends to treat the hijab – as only a prop worn by Muslim women – encourages a sense of uneasiness among many.

WHD advocates the idea that someone should have to step into an identity, as if it's a costume, for just a single day to understand racism, Islamophobia, prejudice, and the micro-aggressions Muslim women face.   

This process leads us to believe that Muslim women are too much of 'the other' and can't be believed, empathised with or acknowledged without non-Muslims playing dress up for a day with their clothes.

The day acts as a feel-good exercise for all those who participate as if their singular day of allyship somehow now gives them immunity or an excuse to be blind to the daily struggles of Muslim women.

The main controversy is that the gaze is removed from Muslims once again, and instead allows others to centre their understanding of who Muslim women are, and how they perceive the way Muslim women dress and practice.

WHD intended to visibly showcase Muslim sisters around the world by centring the non-Muslim and non-hijabi voices. Bur Muslim women's identity and choices are yet again being vetted and approved by those who don't necessarily understand their hijab or faith.

"I think the day, while obviously well-intentioned, might cause more harm than good to Muslim women... The idea of understanding the experiences of a Muslim woman through wearing the headscarf erases the identity of Muslim women," says Fatima, who wears the hijab.

"Wearing the headscarf for the day would not allow any person to experience the complexity of being a Muslim person, rather it reinforces harmful ideas of Muslim women [only being viewed through] what they wear."

The World Hijab Day website says: "World Hijab Day [is] in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty." Growing up, the definition of what it meant to be a Muslim woman for many was limited to women who only wear the hijab – but this understanding has since evolved.

The words hijab and headscarf are conflated. Hijab in Arabic means barrier, it can be practiced in many ways outside of wearing a headscarf and is part of the wider context of modesty in Islam. Hijab in Islam considers the wider concept of the way you walk, talk, think and conduct yourself with integrity and dignity in this world.

The words hijab and headscarf have become intertwined in the West in the modern-day commercial and monolithic understanding of who Muslim women are because by defining Muslim women in a set way, they can be controlled and stereotyped.

These hollow narratives have become so prominent and impressed upon society that they have arguably affected the way Muslim women talk about their identity. 

"There's so much that the hijab represents in our communities that isn't necessarily properly explored," one passionate Muslim female tells The New Arab.

"The binary of forced hijab vs chosen hijab is so reductive. The discussion we should be having (certainly ones driven and led by Muslim women) are so much more complex than this."

Those who don't wear a hijab often feel rejected by the Muslim female identity, because this identity has been created in the reflection and dominated mostly by women who wear a headscarf, and this is important to acknowledge on such a day.   

Hijab for many is an important aspect of faith, but it is not the sixth pillar of Islam even if the patriarchy would like to believe it is.

Many visibly Muslim women in the West face gendered Islamophobia because of their choice to wear the hijab. The WHD website mentions examples of discrimination against hijabi women including; the hijabi pregnant woman attacked in Australia, the Muslim teenager disqualified from a race in Ohio, USA and a woman who had her ribs broken in an attack in the UK. But this all brings us back to the purpose of World Hijab Day.

How can someone know the plight of being a visibly Muslim woman by adopting an identity for a day and then walking away from it? Why can't empathy and understanding be built without co-opting an identity or by simply listening to Muslim women who have faced this abuse? Where were all the women who wore headscarves in support of World Hijab Day when the pregnant woman was being attacked or the teenage Muslim girl was being removed from her race? Did they speak up then, because their allyship would have meant more in those moments than on a day like WHD?

In the fight against racism, Islamophobia and abuse against Muslim women, instead of demanding we be accepted as we are, we are yet again asking for approval and acceptance through non-Muslims and non-hijabis, making this entire notion flawed. 

Within the celebration of the hijab, we should not overlook the women who are told they have no choice in wearing the hijab, like those women in Iran who fight for their rights and protest for the choice to dress how they want to. Or the women around the world in countries like France, Belgium, the UK and others who face discrimination for the choice they make to cover up.

Both wearing the hijab and not wearing the hijab should be the singular choice of women, and understanding this without being reductive of the Muslim female identity or centring those outside of this identity to seek acceptance is degrading.

The intention of the WHD movement, in it's generosity towards non-Muslims and non-hijabs, has oversimplified the Muslim female identity and reduced it to a gimmick and a garment – something the mainstream media constantly already does.

World Hijab Day is a wonderful concept but it needs to adopt more nuanced intentions and goals for WHD 2021.

https://www.albawaba.com/editors-choice/whd-about-wearing-hijab-one-day-want-give-it-try-1336676

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Sheikha Jawaher Witnesses Opening Of Fifth Arab Women Sports Tournament

February 2, 2020

AWST 2020 has recorded the largest-ever GCC participation in the tournament's history

Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of Sharjah Women's Sports (SWS), witnessed the opening ceremony of the fifth edition of Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST) on Sunday.

A record number of 78 clubs from 18 Arab countries will participate in AWST 2020. The tournament is organised by SWS and runs until February 12 across various sporting venues in Sharjah.

Media sports personality, Mustafa Al Agha, was the official host of the opening ceremony, which took place at the Sharjah Sports Club. The inaugural proceedings began with the UAE National Anthem, followed by the official flag raising ceremony of participating countries and the official athletes and referees pledge. The ceremony also entertained audience and attendees with an attractive light shows and performances that highlighted the various offerings of AWST 2020 to the audience.

This was followed by AWST 2020 anthem 'Arab Women', performed by Extraordinaire Goodwill Ambassador and well-known Emirati singer, Hussain Al Jassmi. The anthem is an ode to the growing status of Arab women's sports, and lauds Sharjah's role as an incubator for female athletes.

Welcoming all participating Arab nations to Sharjah, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi highlighted the regional importance of the tournament, and the key role it plays in supporting sportswomen's dreams and ambitions.

Sheikha Jawaher thanked His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for continuously supporting women through directives to provide all that is necessary to empower them in all fields.

Wishing all participants the best for AWST 2020, Her Highness noted: "Through your determination and intensive efforts, you and your peers in the Arab world have achieved many feats that make us proud. Arab sportswomen are successfully changing the realities of the region by following their dreams with resolve; rewriting traditional narratives of duty and achievement attributed to Arab women. This tournament furthers Sharjah's commitment to making sports more inclusive and accessible to women, a pillar of the region's development journey and a bridge between cultures."

AWST 2020 has recorded the largest-ever GCC participation in the tournament's history. The UAE tops this list with 15 clubs who will be competing across AWST's nine sporting categories: shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, fencing, archery and karate.

The next biggest participation is by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with 12 clubs who are represented in all sports except shooting. A total of eight clubs from Bahrain will partake in all games excluding show jumping. Six Kuwaiti clubs are participating in shooting, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics and karate, while three clubs from Oman will compete in shooting and athletics.

Sportswomen from six Jordanian clubs will be aiming for top spots in basketball, volleyball, table tennis, athletics, show jumping, and karate. Seven Algerian clubs will be represented in volleyball, table tennis, archery, karate, shooting and basketball categories, while Libya will participate in table tennis, athletics, and karate. Four clubs from Egypt will compete in shooting, basketball, table tennis, fencing and karate.

Three Syrian clubs will take part in volleyball, basketball and karate, while Sudanese athletes will compete in athletics, show jumping and archery. Palestinian sportswomen will test their might in athletics and karate. Iraq and Morocco too will participate in only one sport each, archery and table tennis, respectively. Lebanese and Union of the Comoros sportswomen will compete in showjumping.

The ceremony was attended by Dr Ashraf Sobhi, Minister of Youth and Sports in Egypt; Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Head of SOC; Prince Talal bin Badr bin Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President of the Arabian Sports Council (ASC) and Chairman of the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees (UANOC); Sheikha Hayat bint Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, Chairperson of AWST's Preparatory Committee; Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Sports Council; Eng. Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Arab and UAE Fencing Federation; Nada Askar Al Naqbi, Deputy Head of the SOC of AWST, Head of the Executive Committee and Director General of SWS; and a host of high-profile officials and media representatives.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/sport/local/sheikha-jawaher-witnesses-opening-of-fifth-arab-women-sports-tournament

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Morocco’s Long-Burdened ‘Mule Women’ Face New Struggle

February 03, 2020

MOROCCO: After years of back-breaking toil, Fatima El-Hanani now fears being reduced to begging in the street because of Morocco’s closure of its border with a Spanish enclave to thousands of “mule women.”

The impact has been felt on both sides of the frontier, with the Moroccan porters who lugged duty-free Spanish goods left out of work and shops closing as livelihoods dry up for traders.

“They want to turn us into beggars,” says Hanani, who had spent all her working life transporting heavy loads from Ceuta to the town of Fnideq in the North African kingdom.

Like thousands of other Moroccan women — and also men — she would cross every day into the Spanish enclave and come back laden with merchandise for traders.

Goods brought on foot through the crossing on a hill looking over the Mediterranean are not subjected to import duties, unlike those brought by vehicles.

But four months ago, Morocco suddenly stopped porters from crossing, in a move aimed at curbing the entry of contraband.

“Business was good before,” says Hanani, who is in her 50s, but now “there is no more work.”

Nicknamed “mule women,” the Moroccan porters would often be seen bent double, overburdened by goods approaching or exceeding their own bodyweight.

Rights groups repeatedly denounced the work as “humiliating,” saying it was tantamount to trafficking tolerated by the authorities. At least four women porters were trampled to death in 2017, in stampedes at the border post — the only land frontier between the EU and Africa.

But it was vital work for Hanani, who says she has raised five children on her own thanks to the long-tolerated practice. Now she sells trinkets in a souk in Fnideq.

The delivery of bundles of clothes, food products and household goods created business that benefited the economy on both sides of the border.

Porters and shopkeepers say they are now waiting for alternative employment.

“I don’t make any money anymore,” Hanani laments, her wares spread out on the ground.

Meanwhile, a metal gate blocks the passage for porters at the border crossing, under the watchful eye of the Moroccan guards.

The Moroccan authorities have talked a lot about the need to regulate the informal sector, but have largely kept mum about the change.

Nabyl Lakhdar, the country’s director-general of customs, told local daily L’Economiste in January that the contraband hurt Morocco’s economy by destroying its productive sector.

Lakhdar called the porters “the first victims” of the smuggling, saying “certain mafias” profitted from their “precariousness and sometimes from their suffering.”

In 2018, Ceuta authorities and traders launched an initiative encouraging the women to use trolleys instead of carrying the heavy weights on their backs.

But without the porters, the economy in Fnideq and Ceuta is just barely ticking over.

“The impact is enormous,” says Abdellah Haudour, a shopkeeper who sells Spanish blankets on the Moroccan side.

“Prices have gone up, purchasing power has gone down. There are no more customers,” he says, showing his empty till. “Many have left the town.”

The normally packed bus station, used by those picking up goods from across the border, is deserted.

“I now earn a third of what I used to,” says Mimoun El-Mourabit, a 67-year-old driver sitting on the bonnet of his vehicle.

At the beginning of January, a Moroccan parliamentary report recommended creating an industrial area to provide new jobs for the porters.

But “who will employ 50-year-old, illiterate ‘mule women’?” asks Haudour, the shopkeeper.

The Moroccan move has also caused a “serious trade crisis” in the Spanish port city, the Confederation of Ceuta Entrepreneurs (CECE) said in mid-December.

At the entrance to the border crossing, corrugated iron hangars house all types of goods, sent by boat from continental Europe to Ceuta.

The crux of the trade took place here.

Jamal, a grocer, says the crisis is unprecedented and that his turnover has collapsed.

“Our products are expiring,” he says as he displays his unsold goods.

Rachid, 48, says from his shoe shop: “Stores have shut. Business is at a standstill. We are wasting our time.”

Both men decline to provide their surnames.

“If this continues, I will have to close,” Rachid says.

“We depend on the Spanish authorities. We’re protected by the social security system. But what about the Moroccans?“

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1621981/offbeat

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‘Real Women’s Empowerment Requires Action on Recommendations’

By Rana Husseini

Feb 03,2020

AMMAN — Women activists on Sunday called for the implementation of recommendations “to achieve real women’s empowerment” in Jordan.

“I believe it is time we list serious and applicable solutions for any recommendations voiced by women and civil society entities if we want to achieve real change in the status of women in Jordan,” said Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) Jordan Executive Director Asma Khader.

Khader, a former minister, stressed that Jordanians should also learn from “past mistakes” and avoid solutions adopted in the past that failed.

“We need to draw up a carefully studied strategy that includes a practical mechanism for implementing recommendations,” Khader told The Jordan Times.

Khader comments came in response to findings and recommendations of the Economic and Social Council’s (ESC) annual “State of the Country” report, which was released earlier last month.

The ESC’s 1,590-page report aims to monitor the performance of ministries and state institutions based on their strategies and goals.

The report is divided into eight sections, each of which focuses on certain sectors, tracking changes and achievements throughout the year, including a section that highlights women’s affairs.

Among the challenges for women, according to the report, are the gender pay gap, restrictions on accessing resources, weak political representation and limited social and economic access.

The recommendations listed in the report include reexamining school textbooks that still reinforce the “traditional and stereotypical role of women in society by depicting them as weak housewives in need of male guardians’ guidance and unproductive on a community level”.

“These recommendations and others have been coming up for years in various lists of demand by the women’s movement and civil society organisations working in the field. The ESC report echoes those demands,” said Sahar Aloul, executive team member of Sadaqa, an NGO that aims to increase women's economic participation in Jordan.

Aloul stressed the strong need for the government to adopt such recommendations and implement them, so that they will not “remain ink on paper”.

“There are many efforts being exerted on the ground by the women’s movement and all that is left is for the government to jump on board,” Aloul told The Jordan Times.

Arab Women Organisation member Laila Naffa highlighted major issues for women in Jordan such as the Citizenship Law that deprives Jordanian women who are married to non-Jordanians of passing on citizenship to their husbands and children, as well as the issue of early marriage.

“We also have a large form of violence that needs to be addressed seriously by the government — early marriage of girls — which sees over 10,000 marriages yearly that mostly end in divorce or the subjecting of young women to all forms of violence,” Naffa told The Jordan Times.

“These are two of several issues that must be addressed seriously by the government,” Naffa said.

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/%E2%80%98real-womens-empowerment-requires-action-recommendations%E2%80%99?__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=b9d67b65096357e84315445bd7775a3961354b79-1580719616-0-AdXWMsNhgySjxJ8KWW6Ktk9Txj8BYPm5JBU66FN0C_oX1Rrw2x-USpkG0d_UURUekO8O3GrhYe31FoUDcs1GfqvJ4trFOk66neXyjQO70XhDqapOGh3Q8LBtIF3ORPRNpLmEQaRm1-NAYp3EIl-s0Xkawm-j09WBnSZxKcuXw4iKf_ApgpKgnr8QIyNlsUY6veLuwcmAC5_U1PhKfBsroOdLonhv3Y8erfa-hdTq1cfU5ENfrc8LQfqxnWrv--aa1DP4OvqyL610p2WVqvdJ_wQ1ZNmV80T8VuywO4lKyI9I-iMksCRCY5TOTXPdifUBxQ6eCeYGD6MqOBO3NYbKN4iWy_i_yCR1-5Kdg8JXgiIvQdSyj_lPcBpBo7cCu7OicO_NR994xDZfyu5Cae1_FiowT0D7ORxlfLs2UokKPVKNnUcyELbTZ79nNZcjeuwG1d2miFRGFIaek0dWdCHKJIU

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46% Women among 17,000 Saudis Registered To Become Conciliators

February 2, 2020

RIYADH — The Ministry of Justice on Sunday announced that as many as 17,000 people have applied to register as conciliators at the Reconciliation Center under the ministry. Around 7,800 of those registered within the last 20 days are women, accounting for 46 percent of the total applicants.

This comes after the Ministry of Justice, represented by the Conciliation Center, has allowed men and women to register as conciliators. It allowed individuals of both genders or from the profit and nonprofit sectors to register as conciliators. They can practice conciliation out of courts or within the courtrooms. The conciliation minutes they issue will become executive documents once electronic approval was accorded by the Conciliation Center at the ministry. The ministry stated that the list of applicants included 278 university professors, 29 doctors, 344 accountants, 1,155 lawyers, 2,380 teachers, 211 engineers, and more than 14,600 applicants with a bachelor’s degree, while 1,785 applicants hold a master’s degree, and 417 applicants hold a doctorate. The ministry confirmed that the applicants have pledged their commitment to more than 220,000 voluntary reconciliation sessions, as applicants are required to submit a minimum of 10 sessions within a year. The ministry indicated that the application phase will be followed by the completion of registration through a capacity test and passing courses and personal interviews. “The registered conciliator can involve in conciliation in several existing disputes between the two parties to one conflict, even if the conciliator’s area of specialization differs, and the resolution procedures will be fully digitized. They begin with submitting an application for beginning a conciliation process, then to submit a report whether it has been a success or failure, so that the minutes for the reconciliation sessions can be adopted in the court’s minutes via a remote digital system.”

The Ministry of Justice has given the registered conciliator the option to work as independent conciliator or in an office or both. He has the choice to charge a fee for providing his mediation services or provide his services for free. He can specify the number of free conciliation sessions per year, in return for registration at the center. The specialization fields include family, financial, criminal, traffic, real estate, commercial and intellectual property rights. Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council Sheikh Walid Al-Samaani approved the new work rules that govern the procedures at the reconciliation offices as part of the initiative to activate the reconciliation system.

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/588133

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Sabarimala Case: Supreme Court Says It Will Frame Questions Relating To Discrimination of Women in Religious Places

FEBRUARY 03, 2020

The nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that it will inform the parties about the time frame and the questions framed in the matter on February 6.

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will frame legal questions to be adjudicated by a nine-judge bench on religious discrimination against women at various religious places, the larger concerns which have arisen during the Sabarimala temple case.

The nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that it will inform the parties about the time frame and the questions framed in the matter on February 6.

The bench, also comprising justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L. Nageswara Rao, M.M. Shantanagoudar, S.A. Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, said it will also deal with the issue whether a reference order can be made in review jurisdiction for a hearing by a larger bench.

During the hearing, senior advocates Fali S. Nariman, Kapil Sibal, Shyam Divan and Rakesh Dwivedi said in review jurisdiction, there cannot be any reference order on issues to be heard by a larger bench.

The senior lawyers contended that in review jurisdiction, the scope is very limited and the court can only see whether the judgement under review has any error apparent or not.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior advocates K. Parasaran and Ranjit Kumar, however, opposed the arguments and said the top court while exercising the review jurisdiction can refer a larger issue, which had arisen during the adjudication of the dispute, to a larger bench.

The bench said it will deal with all the issues and frame the questions which needs to be adjudicated by the nine-judge bench.

'Not deciding Sabarimala'

The bench made clear that it was not discussing the issue of entry of women of all age groups into Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

It has been hearing several senior lawyers on the issue of framing of larger legal questions to be deliberated upon by it relating to discrimination against women in various religions.

“The Sabarimala review case is not before us. We are not deciding Sabarimala. We are deciding the larger questions,” the bench said when senior advocates Nariman, Sibal, Divan and Dwivedi opposed the hearing on the so-called larger issue relating to discrimination against women in various religions.

A five-judge bench, by a majority of 3:2 on November 14 last year, had referred to a larger bench the issue of discrimination against women in religions such as denial of entry of Muslim women into mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community and denial of right to Parsi women who have married outside their religion.

At the outset, Nariman said the question whether women of all age groups can be allowed entry into the Sabarimala temple has been already decided by the Supreme Court in 2018 and the subsequent review has also been dealt with and hence, this cannot be adjudicated afresh.

The bench said it will also consider the objection of Mr. Nariman as one of the issues.

Mr. Nariman said the apex court cannot club other issues with Sabarimala and it cannot frame questions in a review and bring in new issues.

“Scope of review is very restricted. This will set a new precedent. How can you think about other issues in a review?” he said.

To this, the CJI said, “No. We will not be deciding these issues. We will only interpret articles involved in these cases.”

Mr. Sibal, appearing for the All India Muslim Personal Board, said though Muslim women are allowed entry into the mosque, the issue of essential religious practice is broad enough to be decided by this court.

The Article 25 and 26 (fundamental rights to religion) of the Constitution are part of the fundamental rights which are enforceable against state action, he said.

“A lot of petitions have been filed saying Nikah Halala is bad. Somebody is saying polygamy is bad. How the bench will decide the issue,” Mr. Sibal said.

To this, the bench said, “That is why we have set up a nine-judge bench. That is why we are hearing you.”

The bench said it was only going to decide the interpretation of those articles which have been invoked in Sabarimala.

The five-judge bench on November 14 last year had set out seven questions of law to be examined by the larger bench. They include the interplay between freedom of religion under articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, need to delineate the expression “constitutional morality”, the extent to which courts can enquire into particular religious practices, meaning of sections of Hindus under Article 25 and whether “essential religious practices” of a denomination or section thereof are protected under Article 26.

While the five-judge bench unanimously agreed to refer religious issues to a larger bench, it gave a 3:2 split verdict on petitions seeking review of the September 2018 decision, allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala shrine.

A majority verdict by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra decided to keep the pleas seeking a review of its decision regarding entry of women into the shrine pending and said restrictions on women at religious places were not limited to Sabarimala alone and were prevalent in other religions also.

The minority verdict by justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud gave a dissenting view by dismissing all the review pleas and directing compliance of its September 28, 2018 decision.

By a 4:1 majority verdict, the apex court had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 years from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala and held that the centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sabarimala-case-sc-to-frame-questions-relating-to-discrimination-against-women-in-religions/article30724662.ece

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There Is More to Muslim Women than Headscarves and World Hijab Day Should Show That

2 February, 2020

The start of February marked World Hijab Day, (WHD) but it was met with an array of mixed feelings from many. Founded by American Muslim woman Nazma Khan in 2013, WHD aims to "foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women, including non-hijabi Muslims as well as non-Muslims, to experience wearing the hijab for one day." For some, it gives them the chance to experience what it's like to be a Muslim woman for one single day. 

"I'm excited that there's a day for women to wear a hijab with pure pride because I am wearing mine for my first time," one Twitter user, who recently started wearing the hijab, said.

Thought out, well-intentioned and with a deep focus on attempting to dismantle prejudice around the Muslim female identity, the simplicity and easiness with which WHD bends to treat the hijab – as only a prop worn by Muslim women – encourages a sense of uneasiness among many.

WHD advocates the idea that someone should have to step into an identity, as if it's a costume, for just a single day to understand racism, Islamophobia, prejudice, and the micro-aggressions Muslim women face.   

This process leads us to believe that Muslim women are too much of 'the other' and can't be believed, empathised with or acknowledged without non-Muslims playing dress up for a day with their clothes.

The day acts as a feel-good exercise for all those who participate as if their singular day of allyship somehow now gives them immunity or an excuse to be blind to the daily struggles of Muslim women.

The main controversy is that the gaze is removed from Muslims once again, and instead allows others to centre their understanding of who Muslim women are, and how they perceive the way Muslim women dress and practice.

WHD intended to visibly showcase Muslim sisters around the world by centring the non-Muslim and non-hijabi voices. Bur Muslim women's identity and choices are yet again being vetted and approved by those who don't necessarily understand their hijab or faith.

"I think the day, while obviously well-intentioned, might cause more harm than good to Muslim women... The idea of understanding the experiences of a Muslim woman through wearing the headscarf erases the identity of Muslim women," says Fatima, who wears the hijab.

"Wearing the headscarf for the day would not allow any person to experience the complexity of being a Muslim person, rather it reinforces harmful ideas of Muslim women [only being viewed through] what they wear." 

The World Hijab Day website says: "World Hijab Day [is] in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty." Growing up, the definition of what it meant to be a Muslim woman for many was limited to women who only wear the hijab – but this understanding has since evolved.

The words hijab and headscarf are conflated. Hijab in Arabic means barrier, it can be practiced in many ways outside of wearing a headscarf and is part of the wider context of modesty in Islam. Hijab in Islam considers the wider concept of the way you walk, talk, think and conduct yourself with integrity and dignity in this world.

The words hijab and headscarf have become intertwined in the West in the modern-day commercial and monolithic understanding of who Muslim women are because by defining Muslim women in a set way, they can be controlled and stereotyped.

These hollow narratives have become so prominent and impressed upon society that they have arguably affected the way Muslim women talk about their identity. 

"There's so much that the hijab represents in our communities that isn't necessarily properly explored," one passionate Muslim female tells The New Arab.

"The binary of forced hijab vs chosen hijab is so reductive. The discussion we should be having (certainly ones driven and led by Muslim women) are so much more complex than this."

Those who don't wear a hijab often feel rejected by the Muslim female identity, because this identity has been created in the reflection and dominated mostly by women who wear a headscarf, and this is important to acknowledge on such a day.   

Hijab for many is an important aspect of faith, but it is not the sixth pillar of Islam even if the patriarchy would like to believe it is.

Many visibly Muslim women in the West face gendered Islamophobia because of their choice to wear the hijab. The WHD website mentions examples of discrimination against hijabi women including; the hijabi pregnant woman attacked in Australia, the Muslim teenager disqualified from a race in Ohio, USA and a woman who had her ribs broken in an attack in the UK. But this all brings us back to the purpose of World Hijab Day.

How can someone know the plight of being a visibly Muslim woman by adopting an identity for a day and then walking away from it? Why can't empathy and understanding be built without co-opting an identity or by simply listening to Muslim women who have faced this abuse? Where were all the women who wore headscarves in support of World Hijab Day when the pregnant woman was being attacked or the teenage Muslim girl was being removed from her race? Did they speak up then, because their allyship would have meant more in those moments than on a day like WHD?

In the fight against racism, Islamophobia and abuse against Muslim women, instead of demanding we be accepted as we are, we are yet again asking for approval and acceptance through non-Muslims and non-hijabis, making this entire notion flawed. 

Within the celebration of the hijab, we should not overlook the women who are told they have no choice in wearing the hijab, like those women in Iran who fight for their rights and protest for the choice to dress how they want to. Or the women around the world in countries like France, Belgium, the UK and others who face discrimination for the choice they make to cover up.

Both wearing the hijab and not wearing the hijab should be the singular choice of women, and understanding this without being reductive of the Muslim female identity or centring those outside of this identity to seek acceptance is degrading.

The intention of the WHD movement, in it's generosity towards non-Muslims and non-hijabs, has oversimplified the Muslim female identity and reduced it to a gimmick and a garment – something the mainstream media constantly already does.

World Hijab Day is a wonderful concept but it needs to adopt more nuanced intentions and goals for WHD 2021.

Mariam Khan is a British writer and activist. She is the editor of It's Not About the Burqa, an anthology of essays by Muslim women.

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2020/2/2/worldhijabday-must-show-more-to-muslim-women-than-headscarves

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URL: https://newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/samida-khatoon,-57,-of-kolkata-dies-at-park-circus-protesting-against-nrc,-caa-and-npr/d/120965

 

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