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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Dec 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Silence over Sexual Violence: Arab Women Take Stand on 'Absurd Honour'

Age Islam News Bureau

9 Dec 2012 

 Tragic Death of the Afghan Girl Who Helped In Fight against Polio

 Girl Students of the UAE to Usher In a Change and Let the Voices of Women ‘Be Heard’

 Unable To Give Him Babies, Saudi Woman Offers Husband New Bride, Luxury Car

 Polygamy and the Muslim Woman: The Trend Has Been Discriminatory

 Angelina Jolie Greets Syrian Refugees in Jordan

 Seattle Woman Fights to Help Afghan Orphans over the Past Eight Years

 Egypt’s Women Need to Reclaim Missing Rights

 Pro-Women Legislation in Pak: ‘Awareness Essential for Laws to Be Effective'

 Reproductive health rights necessary to end violence against women and girls

 Germany’s Next Top Model Struts Dubai Show Casing New Collection “Un-Holy”

 From Abuse to a Chat Room, a ‘Martyr’ Is Made – Jane’s Jihad

 Palestinian Woman Mountaineer’s Journey To The Top Of The World

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Seattle Woman Fights to Help Afghan Orphans over the Past Eight Years





Silence over Sexual Violence: Arab Women Take Stand on 'Absurd Honour'

By Tim Hume

December 8, 2012

(CNN) -- Women stood at the forefront of the Arab Spring, taking to the streets shoulder to shoulder with men in an effort to overturn oppressive old orders.

But while their efforts have seen dictators ousted and reforms introduced, the greater rights for women many hoped would emerge from the upheaval have not materialized.

Indeed, says Lebanese activist Diala Haidar, the rise of political Islam throughout the region in the wake of the uprising has raised the spectre of hard-won gains for women being lost.

Haidar and four other women's rights activists across the region started a campaign, The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on Facebook in October 2011, to highlight injustices against women throughout the region.

"The Arab Spring took place under the banner of freedom, dignity and equality, and the three can't be established if women are left behind," said Haidar, 28, a laboratory supervisor.

"At every stage of history we have been given the excuse, 'It's not the time to discuss women's issues -- we are at war, it's a revolution,' or whatever. It's our time to say 'We need our rights,'" she added.

Read more: Going under the knife for a manly moustache

The Facebook page has attracted more than 78,000 "likes" and there is now a website. Two campaigns are currently running: One asks people to submit photos with a message of solidarity with women in the region written in Arabic.

The other, launched on United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, encourages women to share their stories of violence, abuse and harassment, in an effort to shine a spotlight on such incidents.

Dozens of women have given their accounts, with a recurring theme that they have felt unable to speak out or hold the perpetrators to account.

"The revolution won't take place in secrecy, it will take place in the light," said Haidar. "We have to start sharing our stories and concerns and aspirations publicly. It can prove that these incidents ... are not exceptional cases but part of a whole society that we should work to cure from this violence."

One account of abuse on the website is given by Rahma, a 22-year-old Tunisian woman, who writes of being sexually molested aged nine by a man who she says has never been held accountable.

"In our culture, these issues are taboos and it is better to suppress them for the sake of the family's 'honour,'" she writes. "What an absurd honour."

Haidar says the campaign is trying to challenge patriarchal cultural attitudes surrounding "honour," often enshrined in discriminatory legal systems that punish the victims of sexual crimes.

"We have to get rid of the blame that society inflicts upon us when it comes to issues of sexual harassment, rape and domestic violence," she added.

In a recent case highlighting the extent of the problem, a 27-year-old Tunisian woman who was allegedly raped by two policemen after they approached her and her fiance in a car was subsequently charged with indecency, which carries a potential six-month sentence, when she filed a complaint against the officers.

The charges were eventually dropped (although the prosecutor has appealed the ruling), and the woman was offered a state apology, but not before the case attracted large protests and criticism that the woman's treatment reflected the attitudes of the country's new Islamist leaders.

Earlier this year, international outrage erupted over the plight of a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who committed suicide after a court ordered her to marry her rapist.

A rise in sexual violence in the form of mob attacks on women on the streets was a pressing issue in post-revolutionary Egypt, said Haidar, as was the concern that women's equality would not be enshrined in the Sharia-influenced draft constitution.

Haidar added that the campaign was targeting other issues across the region including the persistence of patriarchal personal status laws, honour killings, female genital mutilation and forced marriages.

Fatima Nabil, 16, from Aden, Yemen, submitted a painting to the campaign.

"I have a friend my age who was forced out of school into marriage," she told CNN. Her paintings were an attempt to "express the injustice suffered by women, because they live in darkness and constraint," she said.

But Haidar said it is still "too early" to say that the Arab Spring has failed women and that could only happen if women allowed it.

"They can't betray women as long as we stand up for our rights and take advantage of this moment in history," she said.

"If we consent to this it will happen, but if we don't it will never happen."



Tragic Death of the Afghan Girl Who Helped In Fight against Polio


6 December 2012

Girl, known only as Anisa, was shot six times by gunmen outside her home in Kapisa province

Local MP suspects Taliban behind attack

Women who work outside the home and go to school often the victim of violent attacks

A student and polio volunteer has been shot dead by armed men in a rural Afghan village.

The brutal killing has raised questions about women's safety in the region, with reports suggesting that females are too scared to attend school or work following the murder.

The girl, known only as Anisa, was shot outside her home in Afghanistan's Kapisa province, having survived an attack only a day before.

After the gunmen opened fire, Anisa was carried to hospital by her brother but she later died with six bullets found her stomach.

It is still unsure who is responsible for the murder, but some reports suggest insurgents may have been behind the attack.

Anisa was an orphan in her early twenties who worked locally as a volunteer on a polio vaccination programme.

A local council member said that Anisa was being followed by a group and suggested that she may have been targeted for working outside the home.

She told the Guardian: 'She hadn't realised a group was following her and was very afraid.'

Speaking of her own experiences she said: 'Two times these groups called me and told me to stop my job.

'They told me my address and described my home to me. They said "We know everything about you and you have to stop your job".'

Anisa's involvement with the polio programme is thought to be one reason why she was targeted.

It is understood Anisa received a phone call from her killers on the morning of the attack before she went to work at the polio eradication centre.

The disease is still endemic in Afghanistan and very few children are vaccinated in the Kapisa region.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the murder and said that it was not opposed to polio vaccination.

Taliban members in Pakistan, however, banned the treatment of polio in South Warziristan earlier this year.

Sexism is an endemic social problem in Afghanistan, where violent murders and attacks against women are often unreported.

Statements were issued by senior clerics in the country earlier this year saying that women are subordinate to men and warning that females should not mix with men outside of the home.

Local MP Tahera Mojaddidi, who knew Anisa, blamed the Taliban and said she had discussed the murder with intelligence officials in the province.

She said: ‘In the village, families are saying that from the time when Anisa was killed up until now, their girls cannot go to schools, women who are working for organisations, they do not dare go out, because they think if they do their destiny would be the same as Anisa's.’

She said that officials would not investigate the story, instead proffering false stories, as they wanted to cover-up violent crimes against women in the region.

Officials in the region, however, have denied suggestions that the Taliban was involved.

Saifoorah Kohistani, the province’s director of women's affairs said the Taliban had no presence in the area, while police suggested Anisa had merely been caught in the crossfire of an argument.

Mohammad Makhfous Walizada, deputy provincial police chief, said a man had been arrested and that he had also received testimony from Anisa’s brother.

Another MP, Haji Agha Jan, said the that bullets had ‘mistakenly’ hit Anisa after she was caught up in a family argument.



Girl Students of the UAE to Usher In a Change and Let the Voices of Women ‘Be Heard’

Breaking their silence

Dhanusha Gokulan / 9 December 2012

Many societies across the world continue to remain male dominated with the voices of women remaining unheard. Girl students of the UAE think that it is time to usher in a change and let the voices of women ‘be heard’.

Several young girl students voiced their opinions about the ‘oppressed state of women’ and the need to end the discrimination, at the first Young Women’s Leadership Summit held at GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai (Al Warqaa’ branch) on Saturday. Fourteen schools from across the UAE participated in the summit, which is a first of its kind in the UAE.

The summit aims to connect participants with a panel of prominent women leaders to share their stories of personal and professional success.

It is also a competition among the participating schools and is organised in the same format as the Mock United Nations Conference.  Draft resolutions on ideas to empower women were also raised.

Panelists at the Summit were Dr Zulekha Daud, Founder and Managing Director of Zulekha Healthcare Group; Dr Jani Viswanath, Business Head, Candelite (Landmark Group); Laila Mohebi, Instuctor- English as Second Language at Hamdan bin Mohhamed e-University; and Nayla Al Khaja, Emirati film maker.

The panelists gave interesting anecdotes and shared their personal success stories to the students.

Chair of the summit, Riya Susan, a Grade 12 student of Our Own English High School, Dubai, said though there have been several discussions and concerns raised by students on online platforms, this is the first time that a conscious decision has been made to address these issues.

“It all started with discussions being posted on the GEMS learning gateway. Later, we approached our teachers and the decision to launch the YWLS was made,” said Susan.   “As compared to our counterparts in the rest of the world, we lead very privileged lives,” she added. “But that does not mean we do not address issues of women in need elsewhere. This is a platform to sensitise people on the problems faced by women and eventually empower them.” The topics that were discussed were: ‘Too many women in too many countries speak the same language of silence’ and ‘My World, My Problems and my solutions’. The students quoted examples and spoke about the state of oppression of many women in several other parts of the world 

Deputy-chair Shivani Ramachandran (16), a Grade 11 student of GEMS Our Own Dubai, said: “We are the largest girls’ school in Dubai.

Though we started the summit at an all UAE level, we want to eventually make the summit a global one.” Simran Khanna (16), another Grade 11 student of the same school said: “This is just the first year and we are very happy about the turn out and success of the event. Next year we plan on addressing more important topics.”

The overall trophy was bagged by the Dubai Modern High School; Abu Dhabi Indian School and The Millennium School, Dubai.



Unable To Give Him Babies, Saudi Woman Offers Husband New Bride, Luxury Car

04 December 2012

A Saudi woman who could not produce babies for her husband decided to offer him a bride and a luxury car instead, local media reported on Monday.

The 40-year-old woman took the "unusual step and proceeded to choose a bride for her husband after she felt unable to reproduce," the daily al-Bilad newspaper reported, adding the woman organized the wedding ceremony for her husband.

The woman also donated to her husband a luxury car to the astonishment of the people in their village, their acquaintances and friends, the paper added.

A Saudi female teacher was also previously reported to have arranged the marriage of her husband to one of her high school female students. The teacher even paid all the wedding expenses after he told her that he wanted to have a second wife.

Recently as well, a Saudi man married a schoolgirl, teacher and principal.

The man, 50, was not named by the Saudi-based Okaz newspaper which reported the marital muddle.

But his attraction to all things academic does not end there. The man was also married to a fourth wife, who works as an educational supervisor, mostly supervising the school that her husband’s other wives attend and work at.

Meanwhile, the schoolteacher told the newspaper that the way she interacts with her husband’s wives at work is “no different” to how she treats other students and superiors.



Polygamy and the Muslim Woman: The Trend Has Been Discriminatory

Alyaa Azhar

December 8, 2012

Amendments to the Islamic family law, once considered among the most progressive in the world, has whittled away Muslim women's rights.

PETALING JAYA: For a polygamous marriage to be justified, it has to be ‘just and necessary’, not ‘just or necessary’, a forum was told recently.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) executive director Ratna Osman, said that Malaysia’s Islamic Family Law Act 1984 was one the most progressive in the Muslim world.

However, later amendments diluted the rights of Muslim women, said Ratna at a forum entitled, ‘Equality in the Muslim Marriage: Challenges and Possibilities’ recently’.

“The trend has been discriminatory against Muslim women where it has made it easier for a husband in a polygamous marriage to simply divorce his wife,” she said.

Full report at:



Angelina Jolie greets Syrian refugees in Jordan

07 December 2012

Angelina Jolie meets with Syrian refugees in Jordan who had fled from conflict in their home country.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to the Jordan-Syria border overnight Wednesday-Thursday to meet frightened and exhausted Syrian refugees who had just completed the perilous crossing to safety in Jordan.

She met a family who moved from Damascus to their home town of Daraa four months ago. They hoped that the situation would improve, but finally it was too much. The mother says they had no choice but to flee. There was no electricity, no water, no food and most of all no safety. Tears filled the youngest daughter's eyes as her mother talks of their ordeals.

This family is joining tens of thousands of others who have already fled to Jordan and surrounding country. Jolie returned to the camp on Dec. 6 to meet more refugees and the family she talked to before.

Full report at:



Seattle woman fights to help Afghan orphans over the past eight years

Marnie Gustavson, a woman from Seattle who lived in Afghanistan as a girl and never lost her love for that nation, has worked there over the past eight years helping women and children and fighting to root out corruption in long-neglected government orphanages.

December 8 2012

KABUL — Marnie Gustavson called Abdullah the "youngest Taliban," an 11-year-old orphan caught trying to detonate an explosive-filled vest.

Once he was released from custody, no one knew quite what to do with the unpredictable youth. He was tossed out of a group home and ended up sleeping at a security-guard shack.

That's when Gustavson recruited him to help at PARSA, the Kabul-based organization she leads that advocates for orphans.

Full report at:



Egypt’s women need to reclaim missing rights


08 December 2012

When Egyptian women, activists and passersby were assaulted and manhandled by Muslim Brotherhood supporters last Tuesday, the country was faced with a new game: no more rules.

Elderly women were pushed, shoved and a man was seen in a picture widely shared on social networks, with his hands pressing on leading activist and doctor Mona Mina's mouth to silence her from chanting against their leader, Mohammed Mursi.

Full report at:



Pro-Women Legislation in Pak: ‘Awareness Essential for Laws to Be Effective'

December 9, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Most women are unaware of laws promulgated for their protection and it is impossible to effectively implement these laws without creating awareness, said speakers at a seminar held at the South Asian Free Media Association’s media centre on Friday.

Speakers at the seminar, titled “Anti-women practices, impact of recent legislations for women protection and role of media”, said that such events should be organised in rural areas and the media should be used as a tool to educate women about their rights.

Full report at:



Reproductive health rights necessary to end violence against women and girls

December 9, 2012

Speakers at an interactive session have stressed the need for safeguarding reproductive health rights for elimination of violence against women.

The event was organised by the Islamabad chapter of the Pakistan Reproductive Health Network (PRHN) in collaboration with SACHET and the National Trust for Population Welfare Organizations (NATPOW), with undergraduate students of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) in connection with the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls, said a press release issued by the organisers.

Full report at:



Germany’s Next Top Model Struts Dubai Show Casing New Collection “Un-Holy”

 07 December 2012

Super model Heidi Klum is strutting down Dubai, UAE this weekend to film the latest series of “Germany’s Next top Model” with a group of aspiring model contestants.

Klum producer of U.S. “Project runway” as well as “Germany’s Next Top Model” will be meeting with Dubai based designer, Furnes Oneo show casing his new collection “UnHoly” by Amato.

Full report at:



From Abuse to a Chat Room, a ‘Martyr’ Is Made – Jane’s Jihad

Friday, 07 December 2012

“Kill him.”

The American who called herself Jihad Jane read the words on her computer screen. Colleen La Rose was fiddling on the Internet, passing time in her duplex near Philadelphia, when the call to martyrdom arrived from halfway around the world.

The order came from an al-Qaeda operative. The date: March 22, 2009.

This was it, she thought. Her chance. At 45, La Rose was ready to become somebody.

A compact woman with a seventh-grade education, La Rose was a recent convert to Islam. She found a place for herself quickly, raising money and awareness online for the plight of her Muslim brothers and sisters. They were underdogs, just like her.

Full report at:



Palestinian woman mountaineer’s journey to the top of the world

05 December 2012


For some it may just be a huge, free standing mountain in Africa, but as Suzanne Al Houby locked her gaze on the gigantic Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters) during a holiday trip, she knew it was a well defining moment. She vowed to come back in a year’s time to embark on the expedition to climb Kilimanjaro and all the highest mountains in the world.

With 16 climbing expeditions, her recent trekking in Papua New Guinea led the mountaineer to the peak of Carstensz(4,884 meters) – the highest mountain in the continent of Oceania, making her the first Arab woman to do so.

Full report at: