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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 11 Jun 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Women Rev Up Motorbikes As End to Driving Ban Nears

















The most immediate worry for female motorists is the dress code which conflicts with the norm (AFP)

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Child Brides another Casualty of Syrian War

Saudi Arrests Women’s Rights Activist Mayya Al-Zahrani

Egypt’s Female Ramadan Drummer Breaks Taboos

Talibani Burqas: Delhi Minorities Commission Sends Notice to Zee News Over The Remarks

PTI Leaders Oppose Women’s Poll Nominations in Mansehra

Dir Woman to Contest Polls against JI Chief

Are Mothers To Blame For The Recent Spate Of Young Women Extremists?

Saudi Arabian Women Prepare To Hit the Road with Kingdom's Driving Ban Set To End On 24 June

1.8 Million Women in UAE at Risk of Developing Cervical Cancer

Iranian Women's Rowing Team Exercises in Black Water

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-women-rev-up-motorbikes-as-end-to-driving-ban-nears/d/115522

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Saudi Women Rev Up Motorbikes As End to Driving Ban Nears

JUNE 12, 2018

RIYADH: Even a year ago, it would have been hard to imagine — Saudi women clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts, revving motorbikes at a Riyadh sports circuit.

But ahead of the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on female drivers on June 24, women gather weekly at the privately owned Bikers Skills Institute, to learn how to ride bikes.

“Biking has been a passion ever since I was a kid,” said 31-year-old Noura, who declined to give her real name as she weighs public reactions in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Overturning the world’s only ban on female drivers, long a symbol of repression against women, is the most striking reform yet launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But it has been overshadowed by a wave of arrests of female activists — including veteran campaigners who long resisted the ban.

None of the women at the floodlit motoring circuit wanted to talk about the crackdown, a deeply sensitive issue, focusing instead on securing a basic freedom long denied to them.

“I grew up watching my family riding bikes,” Noura told AFP as she mounted a Yamaha Virago.

“Now I hope… to have enough skills to ride on the street.”

Next to her, revving a Suzuki, sat Leen Tinawi, a 19-year-old Saudi-born Jordanian.

For both women, biking is not just an adrenalin-fuelled passion, but also a form of empowerment.

“I can summarise the whole experience of riding a bike in one word — freedom,” Tinawi said.

‘It’s your turn to ride’

Both bikers follow their Ukrainian instructor, 39-year-old Elena Bukaryeva, who rides a Harley-Davidson.

Most days the circuit is the domain of drag racers and bike enthusiasts — all men.

But since offering courses to women in February on the basics of bike riding, four female enthusiasts have enrolled, most of them Saudis, Bukaryeva said.

“They always wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. And now they are saying ‘it’s my time’,” Bukaryeva told AFP.

She echoed a catchphrase printed on the institute´s promotional material: “It’s your turn to ride.”

Asked why more women had not enrolled for the course, which costs 1,500 riyals ($400, 340 euros), Bukaryeva said: “Maybe their families stop them.”

Tinawi echoed the sentiment, saying she faced strong reservations from her family.

“My parents said: ‘You on a bike? You are a girl. It’s dangerous’,” she told AFP.

In Saudi Arabia, taking the wheel has long been a man’s prerogative.

For decades, hardliners sought to justify the ban, with many asserting that allowing women to drive would promote promiscuity.

Many women fear they are still easy prey for conservatives in a nation where male “guardians” — their fathers, husbands or other relatives — can exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on their behalf.

“Expect more accidents” because of women is a common refrain in an avalanche of sexist comments on Twitter.

The government has preemptively addressed concerns of abuse by outlawing sexual harassment with a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300,000 riyals.

‘Climate of fear’

The most immediate practical worry for female motorists is the dress code.

Inside the private institute, the bikers wear skinny jeans, with abrasion-proof knee pads wrapped outside — but that is still unthinkable in public.

Body-shrouding abaya robes — mandatory public wear for women — are impractical while riding as their flowing hems could get caught up in the wheels.

Many women also complain that female instructors are in short supply and that classes are expensive.

But topping all concerns is the crackdown on women activists — while the kingdom trumpets women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia this month said it detained 17 people for “undermining” the kingdom’s security.

State-backed media published pictures of veteran driving activists, the word “traitor” stamped across them in red.

“It’s a complete contradiction for the government to proclaim it is in favour of new freedoms for women and then target and detain women for demanding those freedoms,” Samah Hadid, Amnesty International´s Middle East director of campaigns, told AFP.

The arrests have unleashed a torrent of global criticism — including from vocal supporters of Prince Mohammed’s reform drive, such as Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University.

Calling the crackdown “a mistake”, he has urged the government to “apply due process and the rule of law” in handling jailed activists’ cases.

Observers say the arrests seem calculated by the crown prince to placate clerics incensed by the modernisation drive and to send a clear signal that the pace of reform will be driven by him alone, not the activists.

Back at the institute, as the floodlights dimmed and the women bikers donned their abayas to leave, the crackdown was not a topic of discussion.

“A climate of fear is now evident in Saudi Arabia,” Hadid said.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/252564/saudi-women-rev-up-motorbikes-as-end-to-driving-ban-nears/

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Child Brides another Casualty of Syrian War

June 12, 2018

DAMASCUS: Layla was 15 when her parents married her off to the first suitor after her family were forced to leave their home in a Damascus suburb.

Now a mother of three, she works as a manicurist in a beauty salon in Abu Rummaneh, an upscale neighborhood of the Syrian capital.

While still only 20, the wrinkles starting to form around the young woman’s eyes are a hint of the hardship that she has faced — another person suffering from the devastating civil war.

“The money I make here is barely enough to cover our basic needs, so I clean houses on Mondays — my day off,” she said.

“I want my daughters to receive a good education and become independent women, even if I had to mop floors for the rest of my life.”

The rate of child marriage in Syria was less than 7 percent before 2011, but since the war started the figure has more than doubled to 14 percent, according to Syrian Justice Ministry figures.

However, a 2017 report by the Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies reported another increase of 30 percent since 2015.

For Layla, her trauma started when her family moved from Harasta, in northeastern Damascus, to Jaramana, where they lived with four other impoverished families in a cramped house. Her father was struggling to make ends meet when a 25-year-old microbus driver proposed to his daughter. Her family was glad to have one less mouth to feed, and she welcomed the idea of moving to a less cramped place.

In 2016, Layla’s husband died, leaving her with three daughters and his elderly mother to support.

Damascus-based lawyer and writer, Faten Derkiy, told Arab News that forced displacement and poverty drove families to rid themselves of financial burdens by marrying off their adolescent daughters. “We can, of course, stipulate that this rate doubled in Daesh-controlled territories, where young girls are taken as sex slaves and spoils of war,” he said.

Walaa Ibrahim also thought that getting married would save her from tough living conditions after her family was forced to leave their home in Hajjar Al-Aswad, a city 4 km south of the center of Damascus. After violence erupted there, they moved to rent a small house in Naher Aisha.

At age 17 in 2012, she married her cousin, but almost a year later he disappeared in a conflict area when she was eight weeks pregnant.

She and her 4-year-old son, Hatem, now live with her parents.

“My mother was against this marriage because I was very young, but my father saw no harm in giving his consent,” she said.

“I was young and did not think beyond the wedding dress and party.”

She cannot get a job nor continue her education because her son is disabled and needs her undivided attention.

Um Khaled, Walaa’s mother, said that her grandson’s condition was the result of birth asphyxia. “I shouldn’t have gotten married; it’s a huge responsibility with which no child must be burdened,” Walaa said. “I wish to see my son one day as a great achiever who leads a good life.”

Family lawyer Alia Al-Najjar, who runs her own law firm in Damascus, told Arab News that the problem has been exacerbated by many young men joining the conflict and leaving the country. “The war has resulted in an ideological imbalance that made child marriage very common,” she added.

“Parents believe that marrying off their young daughters would protect them from homelessness and would ensure their honor remains intact under these harsh circumstances.”

The ministry’s figures showed that about 10 percent of child marriages in 2013 were registered at religious courts in Damascus.

Article 16 of the Syrian Personal Status Law stipulates that “the appropriate age for marriage is 17 years old for a girl and 18 for a boy.”

But Article 45 Paragraph 1 of the same law states that if the male has reached puberty and the age of 15 and a female claimed the same and reached 13 and requested to get married, a judge could grant them them a wedding.

The consent of a legal guardian — a father or a grandfather — is required.

Attorney Al-Najjar said: “The judge will ask the two minors to provide certain medical exams as well as documents that prove they are capable of starting a family together.”

“The judge can act as a minor girl’s guardian if she didn’t have one, according to Sharia law, and can give his consent for her marriage if he believes her ready and if the suitor is competent.”

Dr. Lama H., a Damascus-based gynecologist and obstetrician, said that while a judge may rule that a woman has reached the age when she can conceive, “this does not constitute that her physical and mental health won’t be harmed in the process.”

She said: “I’ve seen many cases in which the mother-in-law complained that her son’s adolescent wife had several miscarriages, and it was not easy to explain to her that younger age does not mean stronger body.”

A women in her 40s at Dr. Lama’s office said: “War or no war — it seems the middle ages never left Syria.”

Dr. Caleb Backe, a US-based health and wellness expert, told Arab News: “Women who become pregnant under the age 15 are significantly more likely to experience eclampsia and prenatal convulsions, which can damage the mother and her baby.”

Backe said: “Similarly, adolescent mothers face higher risks of giving birth prematurely, bearing children with low birthweight and other potentially fatal neonatal conditions.

“Additionally, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the number one killer of adolescent women around the world.”

After her husband died and the war forced her and her family to leave their home in Jobar, Umm Feras, 50, saw no better option than to marry off her two daughters, who were 14 and 16 at the time, and look only after herself and her disabled son.

“I believed that by doing so I would have fewer mouths to feed, and their husbands would mold them so that no troubles will arise between them,” she said, rubbing her aching, bony knees.

Now, Umm Feras works as a cleaning lady to support her daughters and their young children after their husbands were arrested and not seen again.

“Now I have to feed them and their five little children, the eldest of whom is five years old,” she added, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

Dr. Marsha Brown of the Institute for Behavioral Sciences and the Law, told Arab News that child marriage is associated with a number of poor lifetime outcomes.

“Children who are forced to marry frequently have limited or no education, as they are often forced to discontinue school in order to focus on having children and assume full-time household duties,” she said.

“Additionally, child brides often lack the necessary ability and life experience to negotiate their roles within their marriage.

“Unfortunately, research also suggests that child brides are often subjected to increased physical and sexual violence from their spouse.”

“Child brides have a greater likelihood of experiencing suicidal thoughts or engaging in self-harm behavior.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1319956/offbeat

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Saudi Arrests Women’s Rights Activist Mayya Al-Zahrani

June 11, 2018

Saudi authorities arrested human rights activist Mayya Al-Zahrani hours after she expressed her shock at the arrest of fellow female activist, Nouf Abdulaziz Al-Jerawi on social media.

Saudi human rights group ALQST confirmed Al-Zahrani’s arrest on Twitter.

Al-Jerawi was arrested on Wednesday after posting online that she was a good citizen who helped the oppressed voluntarily by connecting them with lawyers and human rights organisations.

Human rights activist Yahya Assiri said the Saudi policy of arresting activists is similar to Israel’s policies against the Palestinians adding that Saudi is still carrying out arrests despite all the international pressures.

The policy will fail, Assiri warned, as Saudi cannot deceive the whole world “no matter how Saudi authorities try to silence people by arresting activists”.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180611-saudi-arrests-womens-rights-activist-mayya-al-zahrani/

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Egypt’s Female Ramadan Drummer Breaks Taboos

Reham Mokbel

June 11, 2018

CAIRO — For many Muslims around the world, one of the most important Ramadan traditions is waking up in the early hours of the morning to the beats of a drum for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal before fasting starts.

The Ramadan drummer, or musaharati, is one of the oldest traditions during the holy month that has survived both in rural and urban areas in the Muslim world. It is no job for the weak, as the musaharati walks through the streets for hours, carrying a heavy drum, repeating religious tawshihat (hymns) and calls such as “Isha Ya Nayem” ("Wake Up, Sleepers") to the beat of the drum.

It is also an ungrateful job with no guarantee of an income. Although the musaharati works every night for a month, he must wait for the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of fasting, to visit the houses in the neighborhoods where he worked. Most people will give money, but this is not always the case, as some will give small presents or sweets, while others give nothing at all.

None of these challenges, however, have stopped Dall Abdul Qader from becoming Egypt's first female musaharati. This is not the first time that Abdul Qader has taken on a profession mostly reserved for men. Since the age of 22, Abdul Qader has worked as an ironer, which is mostly a profession for men in Egypt. During Ramadan she continues to work this job by day and walks the streets of Cairo with her drum at night.

“I chose to be a musaharati in 2012 after the death of my brother,” Abdul Qader, 43, told Al-Monitor. “When he passed away, El Maadi [a neighborhood in southern Cairo] where we live was left without a musaharati. So I decided to take on the job.”

She said that she used to accompany her brother during Ramadan, so “when he died, my neighbors were not surprised to see me roaming the streets alone.”

Abdul Qader wanders the streets of her neighborhood, which is largely residential, from around midnight until the dawn prayers. She noted that a musaharati needs “patience, resilience, will, cleanliness, a good voice and good conduct,” in order to do a good job.

She added, “I feel sad when I see an unkempt musaharati. He harms the image of our profession.”

Abdul Qader said that it is too tiring to go out on the streets every night for a month. “I work every other night so that my voice can rest. I also drink a lot of hot beverages. It is tough, but I love my job anyway.”

Part of the reason Abdul Qader enjoys working as a musaharati is that she considers the job to be a service that benefits the community. In addition, she gives away most of her earnings to her family and other people in need.

She said that the musaharati's job is important, especially in neighborhoods with a strong sense of community and tradition and for the children who enjoy the sounds of the drum. She noted, “I cannot imagine Ramadan without lanterns, knafeh [sweet cheese dessert] or a musaharati, regardless of the changing times.”

Abdul Qader added, “When I go to upscale neighborhoods, the residents do not interact with me, especially since these areas are quiet. One resident told me not to come again under the pretext that people there do not fast and Ramadan is not celebrated.” She just ignores them.

Abdul Qader explained that she would like to see more women in this profession. “There is nothing immoral or unethical in being a female musaharati,” she said, as long as they are strong, resilient and conduct themselves well.

Egyptian women have managed to break societal stereotypes since the January 25 Revolution. Since 2011, they have excelled in jobs that in the past were reserved for men, such as butchers, carpenters and bus drivers.

Samir Abdul Fattah, a sociology and psychology professor at Ain Shams University in Cairo, told Al-Monitor that as women’s education has improved, women have been eager to take on a larger economic and social role.

“There is an increasing number of women who have become the breadwinners,” he said. “Musaharati — a seasonal job — is an opportunity for many women to make some extra money.”

Fattah said that women taking on the job of musaharatis is of social significance, because the Ramadan drummer fulfills a role that enforces the feeling of community, as they wake up those who fast for a meal that is often shared between friends, family and even neighbors. “Women [who are pioneers] are considered ambassadors in their communities and are responsible for improving the image of women. Their success shows that women have the power to take on tough jobs. If they fail, their image will be negatively affected,” he added.

Reda el-Danbouki, the director of the Women’s Center for Legal Guidance and Awareness, told Al-Monitor that women working as musaharati have a positive impact on society.

“This religious ritual implements the words of the Prophet Muhammad who said 'take the suhoor as it is a blessing.' This is a step to break taboos and traditions that Egyptians have created,” Danbouki said.

But he is also concerned about the profession being connected to religion, as extremists might use it to criticize women, interpreting Islamic teachings to ban women’s voices in public, be it as singers or musaharatis.

He argued that neither the law nor Sharia forbid women from being musaharatis. In fact, Article 53 of the Egyptian Constitution bans gender discrimination.

Danbouki noted that female musaharatis in Egypt would contribute to raising a new generation that believes in equality and in women’s rights to work in any job. “This is [one of] the first steps to empower women to take on any job, and society should accept that,” he concluded.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/female-musaharati-sounds-the-drum-in-egypt.html

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Talibani Burqas: Delhi Minorities Commission Sends Notice to Zee News Over The Remarks

June 11, 2018

New Delhi: Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) comes into action and sent notice to the Managing Director of Zee News. In the notice, Commission sought documentary proof that Kairana’s women have been Talibanised.

According to the report published in The Indian Awaz, DMC questioned, is wearing Burqa by elderly women is not a old tradition? It also questioned that is it not an attempt to influence voters in Kirana?

DMC further said that channel has to submit unconditional apology if it fails to submit proofs in this regard. Along with the written apology, channel has to explain the action taken against the staff responsible for false reporting.

It may be mentioned that during the recently held by-polls in Kairana parliamentary constituency, Zee News had telecasted a report which had claimed that Kairana’s Muslim women are wearing “Talibani burqas”. The anchor of the show was Sudhir Chaudhry.

It is also reported that during the show, Kairana’s elderly Muslim women were targeted for wearing burqa. Term “Talibani burqas” was used. It was alleged that the influence of “Ideology of Taliban” is increasing in the area. Words like “Bharat mein Talibani soch ki ghuspaith?”, “Talibani burqe ka itihasik DNA test”, “Dekhein Kairana mein Talibani burqe ka kya kaam” were also flashed.

DMC gave two weeks’ time to the channel to reply to the notice. Commission further asked the channel to submit an undertaking that no such baseless report will be telecasted in future. If it violates the undertaking, necessary action would be taken by DMC.

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman of DMC is planning to write to Election Commission of India and News Broadcasting Standards Authority in this regard.

https://www.siasat.com/news/talibani-burqas-delhi-minorities-commission-sends-notice-zee-news-over-remarks-1367719/

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PTI Leaders Oppose Women’s Poll Nominations in Mansehra

June 12, 2018

MANSEHRA: The office-bearers of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Mansehra district, have warned that they along with workers will stage a sit-in outside party chief Imran Khan’s Banigala mansion if the leadership doesn’t withdraw election tickets from women candidates in the district.

“First our traditions don’t allow the election nomination of women and second the two candidates are not electable and therefore, their tickets should be withdrawn. If the party doesn’t meet our demand, we’ll stage a sit-in outside the Banigala mansion,” PTI district vice-president Razaullah Khan told a meeting here.

The meeting was called to discuss the future line of action over the election nominations by the party in Mansehra district’s PK-30 and PK-34 constituencies.

PTI has fielded Maria Fatima in PK-30 and Zahida Sabeel in PK-34.

“Women candidates are unacceptable to workers and if their tickets aren’t withdrawn and aren’t given to winning aspirants, then the party will certainly lose those seats,” he said.

PTI leader Taimur Raza said both aspirants Shahzada Gustasab Khan and Saeed Khan should sit together to decide about election nomination but a woman contender was completely unacceptable.

Mr Gustasab later filed his nomination papers for PK-34, where the party has fielded Zahida Sabeel as candidate.

He also filed papers in NA-13, where his group is backing independent candidate and PML-N dissident Salah Mohammad Khan.

TRANSGENDER PERSON IN POLLS: President of the Shemale Association, Hazara division, Maria Khan on Monday filed her nomination papers to contest the coming elections in PK-31 promising effective resolution of the local residents’ problems after election.

“We (transgender persons) are not corrupt like politicians. If the people elect me as MPA, I’ll address water and electricity problems here on a priority basis,” she told reporters after filing nomination papers here.

Ms Maria, who is the first transgender person in Mansehra’s history to contest general elections, will face strong candidates of political and religious parties.

SAFDAR NOMINATION: PML-N candidate Mohammad Safdar Awan on Monday appeared before NA-14 returning officer for the scrutiny of his nomination papers.

He later told reporters here that he, his wife Maryam Nawaz and his father-in-law Nawaz Sharif weren’t afraid of cases being heard by courts.

“The cases are registered against us under a conspiracy to derail the process of national progress. We have never been afraid of them and will continue facing them courageously,” he told reporters at the district courts here.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1413620/pti-leaders-oppose-womens-poll-nominations-in-mansehra

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Dir Woman to Contest Polls against JI Chief

June 12, 2018

TIMERGARA: A woman, Sobia Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, filed her nomination papers for NA-7, Lower Dir, on Monday to contest election against the Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq.

A PML-N activist, Samiullah Khatir told reporters that former MPA on women reserved seat, Sobia Khan, had filed her nomination papers to contest the 2018 elections from NA-7, where JI chief Siraj ul Haq is also contesting.

Also on Monday, several candidates filed their nomination papers for two NA and five provincial assembly seats in Lower Dir. A total of 28 candidates, including 14 independents, submitted their nomination papers only for PK-14. JUI-F provincial chief Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, former federal minister Malik Azmat Khan of PPP, former district president of PTI Fakhr uz Zaman and former provincial minister Bakht Baidar Khan are among the candidates.

Meanwhile, district nazim Muhammad Rasool Khan on Monday accepted resignations of six district councillors who have decided to contest the general elections from different constituencies.

Talking to journalists, the nazim said six district councillors were taking part in the general elections. He said under section 85 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act a councillor had to resign from his/her seat if he/she was contesting elections. He said under the rules the nominees had to submit their resignations along with their nomination papers.

The nazim said the election commission would now declare their seats vacant and re-election would be held on those seats.

Meanwhile, district police officer Nowsher Khan has said special security plan has been prepared for Eid holidays. Talking to journalists he said under the plan section 144 had been imposed on firing in the air, and leaves of security officials cancelled. https://www.dawn.com/news/1413631

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Are Mothers To Blame For The Recent Spate Of Young Women Extremists?

Gavin Esler

June 11, 2018

Safaa Boular is the youngest woman in Britain ever to be convicted of a terrorist plot. Now just 18 years old, Boular, her 22-year-old sister Rizlaine and their 44-year-old mother Mina Dich together make up the first all-women ISIS terror cell in the UK.

They targeted British landmarks in a plot disrupted by a very effective counter-terrorism operation. Coincidentally, the conviction of these three women comes as I have been learning about two other young women who fell under the spell of ISIS, who feature in a book by the Norwegian journalist Asne Seierstad.

She is the author of Two Sisters, the true and extraordinary story of Ayan and Leila, teenage Somalian sisters living in Norway who decided to leave that country to become jihadi brides in Syria. What, you might well wonder, led four young women who could have pursued very different lives in London and Oslo to be radicalised?

Both stories share common elements. Boular discussed a gun and grenade attack on London’s British Museum with an ISIS recruiter called Naweed Hussain whom she had “married” online. The Norwegian sisters, who fell under the spell of a young Salafist scholar in Norway, spent a great deal of time online with other radical believers and ended up as “brides” in Raqqa.

Their father Sadiq tried to rescue them and persuaded Seierstad that the girls were desperate to return to Norway. But when Seierstad investigated, she discovered precisely the opposite. Ayan and Leila were happy with their new lives as jihadi brides, happy to be with those who killed or chose to die for what they saw as their “cause” and content that they were doing good.

To most people in Norway, Britain or across the world, this radicalisation seems incomprehensible. Why would two girls leave a loving family in Norway, one of the richest and happiest countries in the world, to join strangers in a war zone?

As Seierstad's book shows in great detail, the girls were integrated into Norwegian society. They played sport, dressed like Norwegian girls and spoke the language fluently. Their father was also happily integrated within Norwegian society. Meanwhile, the case begs the question of why Boular and her family would reject the possibility of a good life in one of the world’s most inspirational cities.

The answer in both cases appears at least in part to involve their relationships with their mothers. The British court heard that the Boulars grew up in south London. Their Moroccan-French parents split up acrimoniously when the girls were young. While they maintained a good relationship with their father, in court Safaa Boular accused her mother of being a violent and chaotic parent, who came to adopt a highly conservative interpretation of Islam, despite the fact she had no proper religious instruction beyond what she found online.

Dich angrily lectured her daughters about covering up, not wearing make-up or western clothes and not talking to men. Ayan and Leila’s father, as Seierstad told me, easily settled in Norway but their mother did not. She took 600 hours of compulsory Norwegian lessons yet did not speak the language. She remained illiterate and “her body was in Norway but her mind was still in Somalia”, as Seierstad puts it.

When their mother thought the girls were becoming too westernised, she arranged through a mosque for religious instruction. The result, over a process of time, was that the girls began to wear the niqab and eventually ran to a new life in Syria.

There are big differences in these stories. Ayan and Leila’s family life was full of love; the Boulars' family life was chaotic and abusive. Yet in both families, the mothers proved to be key figures whose actions in the name of protecting their daughters ended up doing precisely the opposite.

These two very different family stories, both with unhappy endings, brought to mind a story about IRA terrorism and radicalisation in Northern Ireland from many years ago. The Irish intellectual and editor-in-chief of The Observer newspaper in the UK, Conor Cruise O’Brien, had a very public row with one of his distinguished journalists, who had written a profile of an Irish woman who had been radicalised. Some young Irish women had enthusiastically joined the IRA’s anti-British terrorist campaign and were prepared to kill and die for their cause, just as Ayan, Leila and the others are now.

O’Brien wrote, very controversially, that the "killing strain" of Irish republicanism "has a very high propensity to run in families and the mother is most often the carrier”. Perhaps. But what we can say for certain is that children might argue with their parents but they never fail to be influenced by them. What we learn at home is lived in life forever. The stories of these sisters mean I look at my own children with a new sense of responsibility.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/are-mothers-to-blame-for-the-recent-spate-of-young-women-extremists-1.739124

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Saudi Arabian Women Prepare To Hit the Road with Kingdom's Driving Ban Set To End On 24 June

Jun 12, 2018

Riyadh: Even a year ago, it would have been hard to imagine Saudi women clad in skinny jeans and Harley-Davidson T-shirts, revving motorbikes at a Riyadh sports circuit.

But ahead of the historic lifting of a decade-long ban on female drivers on 24 June, women gather weekly at the privately owned Bikers Skills Institute, to learn how to ride bikes."Biking has been a passion ever since I was a kid," said 31-year-old Noura, who declined to give her real name as she weighs public reactions in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

Overturning the world's only ban on female drivers, long a symbol of repression against women, is the most striking reform yet launched by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But it has been overshadowed by a wave of arrests of female activists including veteran campaigners who long resisted the ban.

None of the women at the floodlit motoring circuit wanted to talk about the crackdown, a deeply sensitive issue, focusing instead on securing a basic freedom long denied to them.

"I grew up watching my family riding bikes," Noura told AFP as she mounted a Yamaha Virago. "Now I hope to have enough skills to ride on the street." Next to her, revving a Suzuki, sat Leen Tinawi, a 19-year-old Saudi-born Jordanian. For both women, biking is not just an adrenaline-fuelled passion, but also a form of empowerment. "I can summarise the whole experience of riding a bike in one word - freedom," Tinawi said.

Both bikers follow their Ukrainian instructor, 39-year-old Elena Bukaryeva, who rides a Harley-Davidson. Most days the circuit is the domain of drag racers and bike enthusiasts — all men. But since offering courses to women in February on the basics of bike riding, four female enthusiasts have enrolled, most of them Saudis, Bukaryeva said.

"They always wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. And now they are saying 'it's my time'," Bukaryeva told AFP. She echoed a catchphrase printed on the institute's promotional material: "It's your turn to ride." When asked why more women had not enrolled for the course, which costs 1,500 riyals ($400), Bukaryeva said: "Maybe their families stop them." Tinawi echoed the sentiment, saying she faced strong reservations from her family. "My parents said: 'You on a bike? You are a girl. It's dangerous'," she told AFP.

In Saudi Arabia, taking the wheel has long been a man's prerogative. For decades, hardliners cited austere interpretations of Islam as they sought to justify the ban, with many asserting that allowing them to drive would promote promiscuity. Many women fear they are still easy prey for conservatives in a nation where male "guardians" — their fathers, husbands or other relatives can exercise arbitrary authority to make decisions on their behalf. "Expect more accidents" because of women,  is a common refrain in an avalanche of sexist comments on Twitter.

The government has preemptively addressed concerns of abuse by outlawing sexual harassment with a prison term of up to five years and a maximum penalty of 300,000 riyals. The most immediate practical worry for female motorists is the dress code. Inside the private institute, the bikers wear skinny jeans, with abrasion-proof knee pads wrapped outside but that is still unthinkable in public. Body-shrouding abaya robes, mandatory public wear for women are impractical while riding as their flowing hems could get caught up in the wheels. Many women also complain that female instructors are in short supply and that classes are expensive.

But topping all concerns is the crackdown on women activists while the kingdom trumpets women's rights. Saudi Arabia this month said it detained 17 people for "undermining" the kingdom's security. State-backed media published pictures of veteran driving activists, the word "traitor" stamped across them in red. "It's a complete contradiction for the government to proclaim it is in favour of new freedoms for women and then target and detain women for demanding those freedoms," Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East director of campaigns, told AFP.

The arrests have unleashed a torrent of global criticism including from vocal supporters of Prince Mohammed's reform drive, such as Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University.

Calling the crackdown "a mistake", he has urged the government to "apply due process and the rule of law" in handling jailed activists' cases. Observers say the arrests seem calculated by the crown prince to placate clerics incensed by the modernisation drive and to send a clear signal that the pace of reform will be driven by him alone, not the activists.

Back at the institute, as the floodlights dimmed and the women bikers donned their abayas to leave, the crackdown was not a topic of discussion. "A climate of fear is now evident in Saudi Arabia," Hadid said.

https://www.firstpost.com/world/saudi-arabian-women-prepare-to-hit-the-road-with-kingdoms-driving-ban-set-to-end-on-24-june-4506689.html

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1.8 Million Women in UAE at Risk of Developing Cervical Cancer

Jasmine Al Kuttab

June 11, 2018

Doctors are urging women above the age of 15 to take preventative measures

More than 1.8 million women in the UAE may be at risk of developing cervical cancer, which has killed an estimated 28 women last year alone, warn doctors.

Doctors in the UAE are urging women above the age of 15 to take preventative measures, warning that around 93 women are diagnosed with the cancer each year, which has led the disease to become the second most frequent cancer among women in the country.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2012, it was estimated that cervical cancer accounted for 528,000 new cases around the world.

It was also estimated that there were 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer, with more than 85 per cent per cent of these deaths occurring in less-developed regions.

Dr Saad Aswad, Consultant Gynaecology Oncology and Chair of the Obstetrician/Gynaecologist Department, Tawam Hospital, told Khaleej Times that the deadly disease can be prevented, yet this type of cancer is considered the second most frequent cancer among women in the UAE, and the second largest cancer killer among women in this region.

Dr Aswad said that cases of cervical cancer are on the rise in the country, adding that in 1998 there were only four cervical cancer cases in the entire UAE, whereas today there are almost 100 cases.

He stressed that many expats travel back home for treatment, which is why the current estimation might be lower than the reality.

"The cancer has definitely risen, 20 years ago there were only four cases, and the current estimation of 93 cases is the lower estimation of what is happening exactly."

 "It is the second cancer affecting women after breast cancer, but it is a disease that can be prevented."

He said the most common age groups of the women diagnosed with the disease in the UAE are women in the ages of late 30-50.

Dr Aswad added that 40 per cent of the patients are Emiratis, whereas 60 per cent are expats diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Aswad said that without proper screening and vaccinations, it has been predicted that 52 women will die each day from cervical cancer in the MENA region by 2035.

"If we vaccinate the girls against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus, we can prevent cervical cancer by more than 90 per cent."

Women are advised to have the vaccine before they are sexually active.

To combat the disease from rising, comprehensive screening and treatment programmes are being implemented to stop women from dying from the preventable cancer.

In particular, Abu Dubai is leading the fight against cervical cancer, as since 2008, girls in schools have been administered the HCP vaccines free of charge.

"The vaccine is offered in Abu Dhabi through school vaccination programmes, so at age 16, girls are provided the vaccine for free."

Until 2017, globally 69 countries have added HPV vaccination to their national immunisation programme for girls, and 20 countries for boys.

Dr Muna Tahlak, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology and CEO of Latifa Hospital, Dubai, UAE, also urged women to have the HPV vaccine and screening programmes.

"Early detection through screening can prevent the HPV virus developing into cancer, with pap smear screening being most successful test to detect cervical cancer at an early stage."

"Yet, we are seeing that most cases of cervical cancer in the UAE are presenting for medical care in the latter stages of the disease, when chances of survival are slim and so the need for increasing education around preventative care has never been greater. 

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/uae-health/18-million-women-in-uae-at-risk-of-developing-cervical-cancer

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Iranian Women's Rowing Team Exercises in Black Water

11 June 2018

Iranian women's rowing team exercizes in black water. Yeganeh Yaghoutpour, one of the members of the Iranian women's rowing team, said this in an interview with the state-run ISNA news agency, describing the deplorable conditions of women's exercizes ahead of the rowing tournament.

Yaghoutpour also explained in this interview, that the circumstances for the Iranian women's rowing team is horrible and they do not have any place for prep exercizes. As a result, she said, "the athletes in this field have to do their exercizes in the sewage and there has been no improvement in this situation."

Yaghoutpour added, "We need a dock where we can get on our boats but this has not been provided yet. The athletes have to step into mud mixed with black water... All around the exercize area is covered with sharp shells which injure the athletes."

She further explained, "There is no trash can nor any water taps in the place for exercize in Bandar Abbas for the athletes to wash their hands and feet after the exercize. Unfortunately, the athletes do their exercizes under such circumstances and no one can sense these problems as the athletes do."

This member of the Iranian women's rowing team also explained some of the problems they face in group exercizes. She said, "For group exercizes, the athletes have to buy their own ores which have to be provided by the rowing delegation. Athletes have to endure numerous problems and we have rarely seen any changes in recent years."

She said the boat given to the Iranian women's rowing team is one that was being used ten years ago in Tehran and has been repeatedly repaired. The boat weighs around 200 kilograms and has not wheels, so members of the Iranian women's rowing team have to carry it to the exercize area on their own.

Despite such deplorable conditions and lack of any form of government support, the Iranian women's rowing team won the second place in Spain's intercontinental rowing tournament in the 200-m dragon boat competitions among 12 teams. (The state-run ISNA news agency - June 10, 2018)

https://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/5245-iranian-women-s-rowing-team-exercizes-in-black-water

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-women-rev-up-motorbikes-as-end-to-driving-ban-nears/d/115522

 

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