New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 09:02 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Oct 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Sudanese Woman Flogged Under Islamic Law for Riding in Car











The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen







Plight of the Child Brides: Fears There Could Be 140million By 2020

'My Husband Treated Me as a Sex Object: Yemeni Child Bride Who Was Married at Eleven

Iranian Women Turn To the 'Maison' For Shopping and Sanctuary

Malaysian Girl Makes Top 10 in 2013 World Muslimah Contest In Indonesia

Pak Female Swimmers Shine at Islamic Games

Promoting Homemade Products Provides Fillip to Saudi Women, Says Governor

Saudi Female Engineers Enter Labour Market

Council of Europe ‘worried’ about circumcision

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Sudanese Woman Flogged Under Islamic Law for Riding in Car

 October 01, 2013 

A video has surfaced online showing Sudanese police repeatedly hitting a woman with a whip. For years, local women's rights groups have called for the repeal of a law that allows police to publicly whip women they say are breaking public decency laws.

The video was posted on September 15 by a Sudanese opposition media organisation. The journalist who uploaded the video says someone sent the video to him via email, but does not know who the email address belongs to nor when the incident took place. Judging by the accent of those speaking in the video, it was shot in the region of the capital Khartoum.

The incident takes place in a courtyard -- possibly at a courthouse -- with a crowd of bystanders watching on. A police officer whips a woman seated cross-legged and facing a wall, all while the person filming and another person next to them giggle. At 39 seconds, an officer tells the woman, called Halima: "This is so you don't get into cars anymore". An Observer in Sudan who has watched the video says it is not unusual for a woman to be punished with lashes if she is found in a car with a man who isn't from her immediate family (such as a husband, a father, or a brother).

Punishing women with lashes was written into law following the 1989 coup d'état and the arrival of Omar al-Bashir to power. However, this common practice only started attracting the international media's attention in 2009, when journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was sentenced to flogging for wearing trousers. Since then, women's rights groups have campaigned for the abolition of article 152 of Sudan's law of 1991, commonly known as the law on public order, which allows for this type of punishment.

Nahid Jabr Allah is an activist for the Organisation for the Defence of Women's and Children's Rights in Sudan. She is taking part in a campaign calling for the law on public order to be repealed. She says:

It is unacceptable to subject a woman or a man to corporal punishment, regardless of the crime the person may have committed. It's a flagrant attack on human rights. In this video, the tormentors wanted to humiliate this woman, because in addition to being whipped, she is exposed to curious onlookers. The treatment is really degrading.

Authorities have set up a special police force, called the public order police, and special courts to deal with these sorts of offences. The legal process is unfair and rushed because in most cases, the accused is judged and sentenced on the spot without the presence of a lawyer, nor any sort of legal assistance.

This is why we have been working for months on repealing this law, which is outdated and insulting to the Sudanese people. Currently, we are working on a campaign supporting a journalist, Amira Osmane, who was arrested for refusing to wear a headscarf. We will fight until these charges are dropped.

© 2013, Assyrian International News Agency.  All Rights Reserved



Plight of the Child Brides: Fears There Could Be 140million By 2020

October 02, 2013

Following reports of the Rawan case, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, called on the Yemeni government to investigate and make arrests.

Days later, Yemen's human rights minister has asked parliament to pass a law setting a minimum age for marriage.

The minimum age was 15 years old until the 1990s when the government overturned the law.

There are currently 57.5 million child brides across the world, 40 per cent of which married in India.

At this rate, the figure is expected to rise to 140 million by 2020.

It is a common custom among poorer families who rely on their daughter to help herself and the rest of the family to build their income.

In Yemen, more than a quarter of females marry before age 15, according to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry.

In Africa, 42 per cent; Latin America and the Caribbean, 29 per cent.

In India, almost half the population (46 per cent) of girls are married by the time they reach 18, according to the National Family Health Survey-3.



'My Husband Treated Me as A Sex Object: Yemeni Child Bride Who Was Married at Eleven

October 02, 2013

A Yemeni child bride who was forced to marry a violent husband three times her age when she was just 11 has spoken of the shocking sexual abuse she suffered at his hands for more than a decade.

Noora Al Shami was given away to a distant cousin in his 30s because her parents did not want her live in poverty.

As young girl, she was excited to be the centre of attention at a lavish three-day wedding party in the port city of Al Hudaydah where she was allowed to wear 'three really beautiful dresses' for each day.

But almost as soon as the celebrations had ended she was quickly thrust into a world of physical and psychological abuse from which she could not escape.

She told The Guardian: 'It was at the end of the wedding that the fear and horror set in.

'He was three times my age and saw marriage as a means to act like a depraved animal.'

She told how she 'immediately began to quiver and cry' when she was driven to the house her husband shared with his father.

When the clerical worker first took off his clothes, she ran away in terror and desperately avoided sex for 10 days.

And when she was eventually pressured into consummating the marriage, she said her body went into shock and she was rushed to hospital.

She described being 'treated like a sex object' but said no one was interested in helping her because she was 'legally his wife'.

Noora, who is now 35, went on to have two miscarriages within a year before giving birth to a son, Ihab, when she was 13, a daughter, Ahlam, a year later and then another boy, Shibab, at the age of 15.

She said her husband 'thought nothing of hitting me' when she was pregnant and even attacked the children.

On one occasion, he banged two-year-old Ahlam on the floor by her feet forcing her to need hospital treatment for bleeding.

Eventually, a decade after her wedding in 1989, she sought refuge with a project run by Oxfam and the Yemei's Women's Union which helps victims of domestic violence.

She said: 'I managed to get a lawyer and then filed for divorce. But after getting divorced, I faced a new reality.

'Who would feed my three children and take care of my elderly parents? I had to find a job and worked as a maid while I was studying for my high school diploma. My neighbours used to harass me and say I was a bad woman for getting divorced.

'As a Yemeni woman, I faced many challenges, but I had to stay strong and fight to improve my situation.

'I started to tell people about the psychological and physical impact child marriage had upon me. I miscarried twice due to the abuse, and I was lucky to survive.'

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and has attracted the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to raise the minimum age to 18.

Yemen's poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice of child marriage, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to 'bride-prices' for their daughters that can be worth hundreds of dollars.

More than a quarter of Yemen's females marry before age 15, according to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

In September 2010, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labour to give birth, a local human rights organisation said.

Yemen once set 15 as the minimum age for marriage, but parliament annulled that law in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.

Noora's story also comes weeks after unconfirmed reports emerged that an eight-year-old child bride died of internal injuries on her wedding night.

The Yemeni girl called Rawan allegedly died after being forced into marrying a man five times her age, however recent reports have suggested she is still alive.

Noora, whose mother married at nine and was divorced a year later, is now lobbying the Sana'a parliament to bring in legislation to end the plight of child marriages.

She said: 'During the dialogue, I had the opportunity to visit parliament to push for a law setting eighteen as a safe minimum age of marriage.

'This law has been raised many times in Yemen, but has never been approved by the government. I’m currently lobbying to ensure the rights of women and children are included in the new constitution.

'Many Yemeni women still lack understanding about their rights and entitlements, and even educated women are afraid to speak out. We need civil society organisations to carry out awareness campaigns about the impact of child marriage in rural and urban areas to empower women.

'I want to make my voice heard and change the lives of women in Yemen. Women shouldn’t have to be victims. I suffered domestic violence but now I’m speaking out.

'I refuse to live under the ruins of my past.'



Iranian Women Turn To the 'Maison' For Shopping and Sanctuary

October 02, 2013

Over cups of black cardamom tea, a group of young women try on glamorous high-fashion dresses and discuss which ensemble would be best for Friday's mehmouni, or party.

The women are in an Iranian Maison – "house" in French – a private retail space of a type often located in the proprietor's home, making way for headscarves to come undone, revealing blonde highlights and carefully crafted hairdos. Manicured nails, groomed eyebrows, and faces full of thick make-up all go to show the extent to which Iranian women will go to look good everyday.

Tucked away behind closed doors, maisons cater to a middle- and upper-class clientele, providing a more comfortable shopping experience than do publicly accessible boutiques. They also afford Iranian women a prime opportunity to generate income in a patriarchal society where they are discouraged from working or have to struggle to secure a decent job. Many women involved in the retail business start out selling from home to avoid the expense of renting a store. With its relatively low startup costs, the maison scene facilitates the emergence of new fashion talent, as well.

"All over the place, every week you hear new names and especially young ladies who don't even have that much money," says Dorsai, who ran Moonlight, a custom clothing design business, from 2004 to 2009. "They start with a few garments. They sell them to their friends and family from home and gradually their business grows. It's a new revelation for Iranian women – making an income and being a bit more independent."

Dorsai ran Moonlight from her home in northern Tehran. Now living abroad, she frequently travels back to Iran and stays connected with the maison scene. Comfort, in her view, is the number one benefit that derives from selling and shopping for clothes in a domestic setting. "Iran is an Islamic country, so women have to kind of suffer in heat to have hejab all the while when they are out," she says. "The best part of working at home is you and your costumers are free."

Moonlight specialised in everyday clothing for women looking for fashionable styles of Islamic dress. After studying at the London College of Fashion, Dorsai came back to Iran with ideas about how to spruce up the traditional dowdy manteau – a long, form-concealing coat, customarily black. She used bright, rich colours and embellished garments with characteristically Persian patterns inspired by the fabled architecture of Isfahan and clothing styles from the Safavid and Qajar periods.

Dorsai promoted her designs by advertising in local magazines and making calls to existing customers. Much of the time, maisons grow by word of mouth. "My customers themselves, they were my best advertisers. Around town they looked good, different, and people asked them where they got their manteaus," she says.

Doing her own sewing at first, Dorsai eventually hired a staff of five male tailors to quickly produce her in-demand manteaus, which sold for 40,000 to 120,000 tomans (roughly $50 to $150 at the time). Due to sanctions' effect on fabric imports, the prices varied over the years. Overall, maison prices at the high end are similar to those at boutiques, especially for custom-made designs like those at Moonlight.

Since last year, Parinaz has owned the maison Günes, which means "sun" in Turkish. As an Iranian of Turkish decent, she decided to make her brand stand out by selling clothes only from Turkey. The items in her line, mostly fancy party dresses and youthful urban wear, used to come to Iran through a qhachaqhchi, or smuggler, who brought them illegally across the Turkish border – a well-trafficked smuggling route. The last such transaction fell through, however, when the qhuachaqhchi failed to deliver. "Half of our clothes did not arrive," says Parinaz. "It is a hard thing to do. These are the risks." Now, she will travel to Turkey to bring the clothing back herself and run the possibility of paying a fine at the airport.

Due to the failed deal and the rising rent of the office space in northern Tehran where her maison was originally located, Parinaz recently moved Günes into her home. She and her husband remodeled their house to keep store operations separate from their personal space. Anyway, she says, she is serving fewer customers as women cut back on luxury purchases – another issue that can be traced back to the effect of sanctions.

"Most of the famous maison holders that I know are either single or widowed ladies who are doing this business to support themselves," says Neda, who sings and plays the tambour in a traditional music ensemble. She is a client of the Ferdows Collection, whose proprietor, Narciss Akbary, makes clothing in a style that melds modern bohemian and traditional eastern, in vogue among Tehran's monied intellectuals and artists. Her collection, which she both designs and produces in India, features bright tunics, long dresses, harem pants, and scarves adorned with Indian prints.

For the last five months, Akbary has sold her Ferdows line out of a branded boutique located in northern Tehran's Alborz Mall. The mall is currently being remodeled, and Akbary's store is one of just a few that remains open on its upper level. She plans to temporarily move her sales operation back home, and rent a new storefront once the mall starts filling up again. Having previously sold out of her home for about eight years, she still appreciates the advantages of operating in a private residence.

"The house has no problems," she says. "In Iran, people really like to socialise. When you go to a store, you have to buy something and leave and you can't socialise. When you go to a home, you can drink tea, eat your pastry, and talk to your friend. It's cooler in temperature. They can take off their headscarf, look at the clothes, buy some clothes, and it's very fun."



Malaysian girl makes Top 10 in 2013 World Muslimah contest in Indonesia

October 02, 2013

PETALING JAYA: At 21 years old, Nurul Husna Zainal Abidin from Kuala Kangsar became Malaysia’s first representative to the World Muslimah Competition 2013 in Jakarta.

Previously, the World Muslimah was only open to Indonesians but this year it included contestants from across the world, drawing in hopefuls from Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh, Iran and Nigeria.

The ‘Islam-themed’ event, among the first of its kind, gives a different perspective to conventional pageants. For one thing, physical beauty is not a selection criterion.

“It is not a ‘beauty’ pageant because the focus is on inner beauty, not physical attraction,” said Husna.

“The emphasis is on shaping role models for Muslim women around the world. In the ten days of activities, we woke up early in the morning for congregational Tahajud (voluntary night prayers) followed by Quran recitation and memorisation along with religious talks.”

The talks, Husna said, highlighted women’s special position in Islam.

“When I joined the event, I acquired knowledge not only about Islam but also about how Muslim women live in other parts of the world. I consider the opportunity a valuable gift,” added Husna, who first heard about the event from an Indonesian friend via Twitter.

Although the girls were given intensive religious lessons, they also had some time allocated to learn about fashion and beauty.

“We were taught to be smart, solehah (pious) and stylish. Stylish in this context meant presenting yourself in a good manner with suitable clothing” she said.

During the event, Husna emerged as one of the top 10 finalists and bagged the prize for World Muslim Woman Netizen 2013, one of the 6 awards given out during the grand final ceremony.

The World Muslim Woman Netizen award is evaluated based on the contestant’s popularity on internet sites such as Twitter, Facebook and through their following on hashtags.

“The event was something very new for me as I had never taken part in an international competition before,” said Husna who added that she learned a lot about life in Indonesia. 

In Indonesia, discrimination against women who use the headscarf is more common than in Malaysia, said Husna.

Eka Shanti, the founder of World Muslimah, lost her job as a news presenter because of her refusal to take off her headscarf.

“We want to try and spread news and change. We would like to show that wearing the headscarf is empowering,” said Husna

“We often hear of cases where women are oppressed and abused. Even in Malaysia, sexist remarks are common. The programme hopes to spread the message that women have a special position in Islam,” said Husna of the competition which strongly advocates women’s rights.

Despite the organisers’ noble intentions, Husna’s involvement has not come without its share of criticism.

Husna said that although she received many positive and encouraging comments from fans via social media, there were also those who did not approve of the competition.

World Muslimah’s Islamic approach treads on a thin grey area. While some laud the idea of promoting headscarves and covered clothing, other say that the showcasing of women is not something that should be encouraged in the religion.

Critics point out that the make up, display and pageantry of the event does not run in tandem with Islam’s idea of humility, even though Islamic elements such as Quranic recital and prayer are present.

When asked on how the event hopes to ‘assess’ a contestant’s piety, something immeasurable, Jameyah Sheriff, a Malaysian judge at the competition said that the adjudication process looked at how a Muslim woman should ideally present herself.

“Judges observe their attitude, personalities, behaviour and understanding of Islam,” she said of the contestants who were asked questions regarding Islamic fundamentals, finance and IT during the grand finals.

Jameyah, a social activist for women and children, said that the competition grooms and teaches Muslims girls to contribute and involve themselves in community projects.

“We want all the girls to help out in their respective communities,’ she said, adding that Husna is planning to involve herself in children’s welfare programmes which Jameyah also organises.

“Our goal is to build respected and intelligent Muslimahs who can be leaders.”

“At first, I was sceptical but when I went there, I realised that it was not about physical beauty. Instead, importance was placed on the Q&A sessions, contestants’ personalities and public awareness.

“What is most important is their concern for humanity, peace and dedication in being a role model,” she said of the competition, which was conducted with advice from the Majlis Ulama Indonesia.

The overall winner of the event, Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola of Nigeria, was chosen by the votes of 100 orphan guests and received a cash prize of 25 million rupiah (RM7000) and trips to Mecca and India.



Pak Female Swimmers Shine at Islamic Games

 October 01, 2013 

KARACHI: Pakistani swimmers Lianna Swan and Anum Bandey put up impressive shows in the 3rd Islamic Solidarity Games underway in Indonesia.

 The top two female swimmers of Pakistan made the finals in four of the five events they competed in. Swan bettered the national record in women’s 200m breaststroke with a new time of 02:54.86 and swam in the final eight of 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke.

 Anum stood fifth in the finals of women’s 400m individual medley and made the final eight of 200m individual medley. Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) Secretary Veena Masud said the swimmers were able to represent the world’s second largest Islamic state with respect and dignity despite the hurdles placed in their way.

 The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) stopped many Pakistani athletes from leaving for Indonesia to prevent them from competing in the event. The PSB is at loggerheads with Arif Hasan-led Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and has banned it in its own capacity and has also established a parallel POA.

 Arif’s POA is recognised at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which allows only it to send contingent from Pakistan, while not giving accreditation to the parallel PSB-backed POA. “It was tragic for our athletes that their own government stopped them from competing in Islamic Games,” said Veena, who supports Arif-led POA.



Promoting homemade products provides fillip to Saudi women, says governor

October 02, 2013

The “Home and Investment Expo,” inaugurated by Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar at the Riyadh Exhibition Center this week witnessed a huge turnout from among families and business community members on Tuesday.

Prince Khaled has said that encouraging the purchase of homemade products will enable Saudi women to work in a conducive environment from their homes.

The event, organized by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) in association with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, also saw Prince Turki bin Abdullah, deputy governor of Riyadh, participate in the opening ceremony, along with other dignitaries.

The five-day exhibition is showcasing the home products and services of more than 500 Saudi women.

The governor said that the participation of women will not only help them find suitable employment according to their aptitudes, but will also enable them to contribute to the development of the national economy. “There is strong purchasing power among consumers in the Kingdom, and these home products can easily find marketing outlets,” he said, thanking the RCCI for taking up this bold initiative to empower women in the Kingdom.

RCCI Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil said the event was being organized in cooperation with government and nongovernmental bodies to provide an opportunity for women to earn their living from home. RCCI has received an unprecedented response from women participants, who have evinced keen interest to market their home-produced products to earn their income.

“We will also help these women businessmen to find their capital through various financial houses in the city of Riyadh,” Al-Zamil said.

Mansour Al-Shathry, chairman of RCCI’s board of trustees, said the novel event has gained popularity since women are playing a major role in their businesses to earn income through making home products. “The program comes in line with the national policies of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah who is keen on empowering women for a better role in life,” Al-Shathry said.

The official said that the idea behind the program is to encourage Saudi women to take on self-employment from their own homes. Women from all parts of the Kingdom are taking part, he said.

Huda Al-Jeraisy, head of the women’s department at the RCCI, told Arab News that a website was launched by the Riyadh governor, which would help participants, as well as buyers, to buy and sell home-made products.

The website,, is a free service offered by the Saudi Post to encourage home-based Saudi businesswomen, Al-Jeraisy said. “We also have an arrangement with Saudi Post to deliver the goods to customers at nominal charges,” she said.

She said that participation at the expo is open to Saudi women living in any part of the Kingdom. “We are coordinating with a number of organizations and ministries to help these producers market their home-made products profitably,” Al-Jeraisy said, pointing out that the RCCI was coordinating with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to issue licenses for these projects so that producers could market them without difficulty. 

Items on display include fashion accessories, handicraft, perfumes, incense, food items, pots, garments, women’s jewelries, decoration items and services such as photography.

Jeraisy categorically said the organizers only allow participation of Saudi women with home-made products. “We will also conduct training programs for prospective home product producers to update their skills in manufacturing their items.”



Saudi female engineers enter labour market

October 02, 2013

The private sector is beginning to attract the first generation of Saudi female engineers who have graduated from various engineering faculties within the Program of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Scholarship and Private Universities.

The entry of female engineers coincides with the launch of engineering specialties for girls at Saudi government universities, an initiative which was first launched at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

Fahad Moeminah, a member of the Youth Committee in the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry, said engineering and décor companies are hiring female Saudi engineers with prior experience, as well as fresh graduates, to work on vital projects.

Moeminah said four Saudi women engineers are working on designs for a number of major projects, which will soon be launched by the Jeddah Governorate.

He said these women were able to implement 420 projects in the past 30 months.

Weam Zaki Moeminah said that she got the job she had always dreamed of following graduation. Indeed, Saudi female engineers are working alongside their Saudi male counterparts on giant projects.

Moeminah said women have an important role in adding the final touches to projects. Saudi women engineers have proved their expertise in design and implementation and are attracting several projects.

This significant demand for female workers gives women a sense of pride, satisfaction and distinction in the local market.



Council of Europe ‘worried’ about circumcision


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has released a resolution focused on the “violations of the physical integrity of children,” including the circumcision of young boys for religious causes, which remains a controversial issue in European societies.

The resolution calls for the European states to “promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures,” which the assembly lists as the circumcision of boys, early childhood interventions in the case of intersexual children and the coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

The assembly said that though such practices are projected as beneficial to children, they often fail to be so.

The resolution further states that member states should “clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys” and adopt legal provision that would prevent the carrying out of certain operations before a child is old enough to consent.

Report provocative, says Turkish deputy

Nursuna Memecan of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the current head of the PACE Turkish delegation described the report as “irresponsible, dangerous and provocative.”

Memecan said the dangers that could be brought about by circumcision were not proven by any scientific report or study, Anadolu Agency reported.

The debate around circumcision in European countries entered a new phase last year when a Cologne court ruled that the removal of the foreskin for religious reasons amounted to grievous bodily harm and was therefore illegal. After heavy criticism, German lawmakers passed a cross-party motion to protect religious circumcision.