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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 15 Nov 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Arabia to Have Four Industrial Cities for Women

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Nov 2015

Arab politicians and activists protest the murder of Suha Mansour, Tira, northern Israel, November 7, 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Joint List)


 Saudi Arabia to Have Four Industrial Cities for Women

 UK: British Woman in London Islamophobic Attack Avoids Jail

 North Africa: Algeria Supports All Initiatives for Arab Women's Promotion

 #WhatObamaShouldKnow about Women in Malaysia

 Women Under-Represented In Malaysian Parliament

 Hundreds Protest Murder of Arab Woman in Central Israel

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi Arabia to Have Four Industrial Cities for Women

Published — Sunday 15 November 2015

RIYADH: The Saudi Organization for Industrial Estates and Technology Zones (Modon, in Arabic) is set to establish four new industrial cities in Jeddah, Yanbu, Qassim and Al-Jouf.

Modon is in the process of coordinating with other parties to allocate industrial land to establish the cities, which will be designed specifically for women to work in.

The Council of Ministers issued a new decision recently to allocate lands and areas inside cities to the establishment of industrial projects to employ women.

Modon’s marketing and Public Relations Director Sami Al-Husseini said that the organization is applying a strategy to establish units for employment that meet international standards and that are completely environmentally friendly, and that have special designs that take into account the Saudi woman and her specific needs.

He said that these industrial estates will be established near major population centres so as to attract investments to support women working in various fields. Such establishments will also ensure ease of access to public transport, crèches and kindergartens.

Al-Husseini emphasized that Saudi women today are being increasingly recognized as strong economic players, having full productive capacities inside the industrial cities under Modon. Many women today, he said, already work in industrial processes, along production belts and as specialists in the quality departments. He said that they also work in management positions and as officials in human resources departments and production development programs.

He further noted that at the Modon Oasis in Al-Ahsa, which is the first industrial city totally run by women, the strategy of the industrial estate organization to establish a modern, clean and environmentally-friendly working environment has had real economic benefit, creating a significant number of jobs.

The oasis operates on 500,000 square meters south of Hafouf near the airport, and has more than 80 factories. The oasis now has 20 up-and-running factories as a total cost of SR85 million, involving industrial, trade and service sectors that are have been very attractive for women thus far.



UK: British Woman in London Islamophobic Attack Avoids Jail

15th Nov 2015

LONDON (AA): A U.K. court has awarded a suspended 16-week jail term to a British woman, who was filmed abusing two Muslim women aboard a bus in north-west London in an Islamophobic attack.

The Hendon magistrates’ court said on Friday that it was suspending 36-year-old Simone Joseph’s sentence for 18 months because she showed remorse for the attack.

Joseph was arrested after footage of the Islamophobic attack spread online. In the video said to be shot on October 13, Joseph can be seen verbally assaulting two Muslim women, one of whom was pregnant.  In the video, she tells the Muslim women: “Go back to your country where they’re bombing every day. Don’t come to this country where we’re free”.

She accused them of supporting Daesh and also threatened to kick the belly of the pregnant woman so that she’s unable to have a baby.

In her court appearance, Joseph said that “she was disgusted by her behavior” after the incident when she watched herself in the video.

The court also ordered her to pay £500 ($761.6) compensation to the pregnant victim. Joseph will also pay £180 ($274) for criminal court charges, in addition to completing 60 weeks of unpaid work.

A letter from one of the victims, Hanane Yakoubi, was also read at the court in which she said that she was having trouble sleeping at night because of the incident.

“Every time I go out I am afraid that something similar will happen as something like this has happened before because I am a Muslim,” she said in the letter.



North Africa: Algeria Supports All Initiatives for Arab Women's Promotion

Sunday 15 November 2015

CHARM EL CHEIKH (EGYPT)- Minister for National Solidarity, Family and Women's Affairs Mounia Meslem Si Ameur declared Thursday in Charm El Cheikh that Algeria will spare no efforts to achieve the initiatives seeking the promotion of Arab women.

"We need so much to consolidate the achievements already made and address the shortcomings," Meslem said in her speech at the 7th meeting of the Supreme Council of the Arab Women's Organization (AWO).

The Minister also deplored "the shy exploitation" of the Arab world potentialities, calling for "investing in the human resource to preserve social values" giving a central role to women.

She has also stressed the values advocating women's involvement in the decision-making process and in the settlement of the armed conflicts in the Arab region.

In this regard, she highlighted "the experience of Algerian women in the 1990s, who has proved to be an essential element in building peace and reconciliation for the preservation of national unity."

The minister stressed the "major interest" granted by President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika to women, sparing no effort in promoting them, given their willingness, ability and determination to make the change."



#WhatObamaShouldKnow about Women In Malaysia

November 13, 2015

By Kuang Keng Kuek Ser (follow)

US President Barack Obama pauses after being introduced at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014.

“Selamat Datang, Mr. President!” As a Malaysian, I would like to welcome President Barack Obama, who is making his second visit to Malaysia in less than seven months. While there, he should notice a few key facts about how the country treats women.

In April, President Obama became the first US president to visit Malaysia in nearly 50 years. On that visit, Obama called for equal opportunities for Malaysia’s non-Muslim minority. This time, his top priority is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free trade deal with Malaysia and 11 other countries across the region.

As part of PRI's Across Women's Lives coverage, we want to help brief Obama on the status of women in Malaysia. And you can join the effort on social media by using the hashtag, #WhatObamaShouldKnow.

Malaysia was ranked 107th out of 142 countries in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2014 — one of the two worst performing countries in Southeast Asia, along with Cambodia. (East Timor and Myanmar were not ranked.)

A closer look at this annual index published by the World Economic Forum to measure gender equality shows that Malaysia was given some of the lowest scores in terms of women's political empowerment. The chart below shows the details.

The weak position of Malaysian women in the public space is confirmed by another international gender index. The Social Institutions & Gender Index 2014 published by the OECD Development Center ranked Malaysia as the country with the highest "restricted civil liberties" in Southeast Asia. The ranking includes negative attitudes toward women as public figures or as leaders.

The same index found that Malaysia has the second highest "discriminatory family code" in the region after Indonesia. "Discriminatory family code" refers to social institutions that limit women’s decision-making power and undervalue their status in the household. This is especially true for Muslim women, who are deprived of certain rights under Sharia laws. For example, Muslim men are allowed to marry up to four women and are granted an automatic right to divorce, while women need the approval of a judge if they want a divorce.

Malaysia practices a unique dual justice system that allows the Sharia laws to run in parallel with secular laws. The Islamic laws only apply to Muslims, who make up approximately 61 percent of the population. The growth of conservative Islam since the 1970s has led to a narrower interpretation of Islamic laws and teachings.

The discrimination against Muslim women was epitomized by a recent debate over the definition of marital rape following a rape awareness campaign launched in April with the tagline "Rape is rape. No excuse."

Islamic conservatives, including a state-appointed mufti, challenged the campaign, arguing that men can always have sex with their spouses even without their consent.

“Even the Prophet says even when they’re riding on the back of the camel, when the husband asks her, she must give ... So there’s no such thing as rape in marriage. This is made by European people, why should we follow?” Harussani Zakaria, mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak, told a local newspaper.

The muftis in Malaysia are given power to issue Fatwa, which are legally binding for every Muslim.

Two months later, this view on marital rape was backed by the government when the law minister Nancy Shukri, one of the three female ministers in the cabinet, told the parliament that marital rape is not a crime and there is no plan to amend the law.

Islamic laws and religious norms also hold Malaysia back from fully complying with the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The country has made several exceptions with regard to women's equality in marriage and family relations.

Criminalization of transgender

The discrimination does not stop at Muslim women. Muslim men who want to be women are also facing growing persecution by the religious authority.

In June of this year, religious officials raided a wedding party held in a private home and arrested 17 transgender women invited as guests, including a minor. One was reportedly beaten, choked and kicked by the officials during the arrest. A Sharia court later fined and jailed the 16 adults for seven days. They were put in the male prison and had their heads shaved.

The offense? Men posing as women, which is a crime under a state Sharia law.

According to Human Right Watch, while some states in Malaysia also criminalize women posing as men, all arrests to date under these laws have targeted transgender women.

In a report released last year, the international human rights watchdog pointed out that transgender people in Malaysia are fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, physically and sexually assaulted, and denied access to health care because of their gender identities.

“When public officials or private individuals commit violence against transgender people, the victims face serious obstacles — and at times further sexual abuse — from the police who are supposed to be helping them,” said the report.

Transgender rights suffered a blow last month when the Malaysian federal court, the highest court in the country, overturned the judgments of two lower courts and reinstated a state law that criminalizes cross-dressing of males as females.

Rights group Justice for Sisters found that the court's decision has triggered a wave of raids and arrests against the transgender community in several states.

Sex trafficking

Malaysia was identified by the US State Department and the United Nations as both a destination as well as a transit country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking.

In her preliminary report published in March this year after a visit to Malaysia, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, stated that trafficking of young foreign women and children, particularly from neighboring countries, for the purpose of sexual exploitation is prevalent in the country.

“These young women and children mostly end up into the commercial sex trade following deceptive recruitment practices for legal work in Malaysia.

“There is also information about women and girls from South Asia entering into brokered marriages with older men in Malaysia and subsequently being forced into domestic servitude and forced prostitution,” her report states.

Human trafficking in Malaysia attracted international attention in May when several mass graves of suspected trafficking victims were found along Malaysia’s border with Thailand, and again in July, when the US upgraded Malaysia from tier three, the worst ranking in its 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, to tier two.

The upgrade was criticized by anti-trafficking groups and activists as a political decision to facilitate Malaysia’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as US legislation bars Obama to fast-track trade negotiation with countries in tier three.

A Reuters report published in August revealed that human rights experts at the State Department concluded that Malaysia should remain in tier three as the trafficking conditions in the country hadn’t improved. However they were overruled by senior American diplomats and pressured to inflate the assessment of Malaysia.

Several US lawmakers have since called for an internal probe into the controversial ranking.

On top of all this, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who recently claimed he is the only prime minister in the world to be able to play golf with Obama, has been implicated in a financial scandal.

obama plays golf with malaysian prime minister najibi razak

US President Barack Obama and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak walk off the 18th hole while playing a round of golf at the Clipper Golf course on Marine Corps Base Hawaii during Obama's Christmas holiday vacation in Kaneohe, Hawaii, December 24, 2014.

Razak’s opponents say he’s capitalizing on his cozy relationship with Obama while his support within the country wavers. That may provide even more reason for Obama to raise questions about the status of women during his visit to Malaysia.



Women Under-Represented In Malaysian Parliament

November 14, 2015

For democracy to truly deliver, women must participate in politics and governance

By Malaysian Progressives in the UK (MPUK)

Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi, its new de facto leader, stand on the brink of history. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize laureate, is not only breaking the chains of 60 years of military leadership, but she is also making history by becoming Burma’s first female de facto leader.

Suu Kyi is poised to join a host of other female leaders who have played a vital role in shaping their country’s history. The world would have been a different place had it not been for politicians like Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Begum Khaleda Zia, Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Benazir Bhutto. These women played a defining role in shaping political environment.

Other influential women leaders who have had an impact in their respective countries and internationally include Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), President Park Geun-hye (South Korea), President Yingluck Shinawatra (Thailand), Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Australia), President Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), President Dimla Rousseff (Brazil), Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark), President Pratibha Patil (India), and Prime Minister Helen Clark (New Zealand). These leaders added new dimensions to their country’s political landscape while empowering more women to follow suit into leadership positions.

Women leaders have also emerged in Muslim nations. Leaders such as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed (Bangladesh), President Megawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesia), President Atifete Jahjaga (Kosovo), President Bibi Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (Mauritius), Prime Minister Tansu Ciller (Turkey), Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), have inspired legions of women to become active political participants.

So how does female participation in Malaysia fare in comparison?

Out of 222 Malaysian Parliament seats contested in GE13, women were elected to only 23. That positions Malaysia at the second last place in South East Asia in terms of women’s representation in parliament. Representaton of women is highest in Timor-Leste (38.5%) followed by Laos (25.0%), Vietnam( 24.4%), Singapore (24.2%), Philippines (22.9%), Cambodia (20.3%), Indonesia (18.6%), and Thailand (15.8%). Only then comes Malaysia (10.8%).

It is not an exaggeration to say that politics has always been a game of men but Madeleine K. Albright, the Chairman of the National Democratic Institute in the U.S. cautions that, “every country deserves to have the best possible leader and that means that women have to be given a chance to compete. If they’re never allowed to compete in the electoral process then the countries are really robbing themselves of a great deal of talent.”

So what is Malaysia losing out on?

According to the National Democratic Institute (NDI) women politicians are highly committed to promoting policies for marginalized groups and particularly effective in promoting honest governance which is linked to lower levels of corruption. They also argue that women are strongly linked to positive developments in education, infrastructure, and health at local levels and are strongly committed to peace building.

Isn’t it about time that Malaysia sits up and takes note of the NDI’s argument that “Democracy cannot truly deliver for all of its citizens if half of the population remains underrepresented in the political arena”?

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.



Hundreds Protest Murder of Arab Woman in Central Israel

By Yael Marom

November 14, 2015

Hundreds of Arab citizens of Israel, including members of Knesset, local leaders and activists demonstrated last Saturday in the northern Arab city of Tira following the murder of Suha Mansour, a resident of the city.

On the evening of Thursday, November 5, Mansour’s body was found in her car, after she was shot a number of times from close range. Mansour, a 39-year-old educator, social activist, and mother of four from Tira, was in the process of getting a divorce from her second husband, which went into effect the day before her murder. A week before her death, she filed a complaint with the police, in which she stated tat her life was in danger. People close to her say that this was third complaint she had filed against her former husband, who was briefly interrogated three times and released. Now, just days after her body was found, he is still walking free.

Tira Mayor, Mamoun Abed Alhi, who was among the demonstrators, condemned the murder, stating that “condemnations are not enough, we also need to act,” calling on the police to confiscate the large amount of weapons in Arab towns.

Suha Mansour

Among the protestors was member of Knesset Aida Tuma-Suleiman (Joint List), who heads the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. She wrote the following message on Facebook the day after the murder:

MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) also took part in the protest. “Only two or three of the dozens of murder cases were solved by the police,” Zoabi said. “This is the same police that arrests Arabs because of things they write on Facebook. This is the same police that harasses protesters and arrests dozens. The police do everything to maintain “security,” yet leave the Arabs to die, letting the murderers roam free.”

Zoabi directed some of her remarks at Tira’s mayor: “What has the head of the local council done? Nothing. He can give the police an ultimatum, and to force it to contend with what we have been saying for over a decade. The mayor has a responsibility for what happens in his city, as well as for the fact that he does nothing to stop the police’s violent and dangerous actions.”

“There may be those who prefer that women just shut up and accept their fate,” Zoabi added, “but Suha did not give in. Even after her death, she will serve as an example for us.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.