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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Feb 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Survey in Pakistan Finds 77 Percent of Marriages Made In Traditional Exchanges

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Feb 2013 

 Maiden Women’s Cricket Match in Saudi Kingdom

 NGO Requests Maldives Government to Reform Child Sex Abuse Laws

 Path to Iquama, Citizenship Easier For Kids of Saudi Moms

 Worldwide Solidarity with Egyptian Women against 'Sexual Terrorism'

 Indonesia: Child Abuse Victims Have Little Support

 Harassment at Workplaces in Pakistan Continues To Hamper Women Empowerment

 Mali’s Success Depends On Its Women

 700 Girls Rescued In Makkah School Blaze

 240 Jobless Women Graduates in Dammam to Sue Ministry

 Women Find Modest Success after Training, Loans in Pakistan

 Opposition Momentary, Saudi Female Parliamentarian Says

 Eight Women Arab Scientists Picked In UNESCO Program

 Wives of Striking Activists in Muscat Appeal to End Solitary Confinement

 Women with Sleep Apnea Have Higher Degree of Brain Damage than Men

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Maiden Women’s Cricket Match in Saudi Kingdom





Survey in Pakistan Finds 77% of Marriages Made In Traditional Exchanges

By Sehrish Wasif

February 12, 2013

ISLAMABAD: In a first-of-its-kind household survey of 5,000 women, the Rutgers World Population Foundation has found that more than 77% of marriages were settled under some kind of customary practice such as vanni, swara, sang chatty or watta satta.

The survey was conducted in Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Jafferabad and Naseerabad. And three-fourths of the women interviewed said they were victims of physical violence.

“On this national women’s day there is a need to address domestic violence against women in Pakistan through robust legislation that ensures protection of the victims,” said Qadeer Baig, the country representative for Pakistan, the Rutgers foundation told The Express Tribune. He added that it was necessary to also prevent institutional violence when these women went to the police, healthcare providers and the lower courts.

The survey said that 66% of the women suffered sexual violence.

The aim was to measure the prevalence of domestic violence through a quantitative approach in a household setting and the perception of men about domestic violence through focus group discussions. Four out of five women reported having experienced some sort of psychological violence at least once, including insulting behaviour or humiliation in front of others.

The survey revealed that 64% of the women who had experienced physical abuse by their husbands suffered injuries, out of which 63% never received treatment.

“Gender role ideology needs to be changed,” said Farzana Bari, who is a women rights activist and gender expert. She feels there is a need to empower women financially, socially and legally in order to overcome domestic violence. But given that the domestic violence bill is still pending in parliament, it is clear that the government only makes claims about empowering women but does nothing practically and legally.

The study also explores the practices of marriage customs, honour killings, child sexual abuse and sex-selective abortion in the selected districts. Thirty-four per cent of women reported honour killing in their families. And 47% of women experienced physical abuse by their husbands during pregnancy. Out of a total of 95% of pregnant women 21% had a history of induced abortion. Among these women, almost 40% have had an abortion because the fetus was female, while 86% of these women confirmed the sex of their fetus before opting for an abortion.

A majority of the male respondents defined manhood in terms of authority, power and honour. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, who is a special assistant to the prime minister, admitted that Pakistani women, regardless of their socio-economic status, were subjected to domestic violence. In this patriarchal society, women consider themselves the weaker sex, whose rights are brazenly violated and their voices are suppressed, she said. The  Rutgers survey was carried out with the support of Pakistan Gender-based Violence Reproductive Health Network partner organisations in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.



Maiden Women’s Cricket Match in Saudi Kingdom

February 13, 2013

RIYADH — Cricket Samarwa Tigers and Riyadh Fairies contested the inaugural Royal Academy of Cricket (RAC) ladies cricket match in the Kingdom.

Famous and well-known artist Sharifa Bint Turki Al-Sudairy attended the event organized by RAC in collaboration with Ain-Raat.

Al-Sudairy enjoyed every moment she spent at RAC and visited traditional Pakistani food and accessory stalls during the interval. She watched the whole game with keen interest and asked details regarding cricket. The excitement of the players also lent an additional edge to the contest.

Cricket Samarwa Tigers won the toss and chose to field in the 12-over per side encounter that was watched by a goodly female crowd.

The Fairies began badly when they lost Afra in the first over. But Sara kept up the innings momentum by smacking the ball continuously to the boundaries. The Tigers were able to restrict Riyadh Fairies to 91 for 6 wickets in their allotted 12 over. Safa and Minahal took 2 wickets each while Ayaa took 1 wicket and there was 1 run out by Mahnoor.

The Tigers began their reply cautiously and managed 36 in 6 overs. But Amsal took charge at this stage and hit 6 boundaries and the only six of the match. Sarah showed her talent with the ball at this point and took 3 wickets including that of Amsal. In a nail-biting finish, Mahnoor hit the winning boundary on the third ball of the last over taking the team total to 93.

Amsal was declared “Lady of the Match” for her 35 invaluable runs. The ladies enjoyed the pulsating match, and were of the view that the contest was exciting and entertaining.

Exhibitors and decorators reached the site in the afternoon to set up their stalls. The organizers had turned out a nice sitting arrangement at a good spot of the ground. Clean, lush green grassy ground provided a breathtaking environment.

It was the first time for everyone to be part of a girls cricket match, either as organizer, player or spectator. Many returned to go to the cricket venue where a few days back Iqubal Sikandar, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Azharuddin had been felicitated.

High level of security, curtain fencing and team of volunteers made it not only safe, but also a very enjoyable event. Stalls of ladies garments, households, henna and nail polish etc. gave it a perfect festival feel from the very first look. Food corners for junk and traditional foods — French Fries and sandwiches, homemade Biryani, Haleem, fruit Chaat along with the pink Kashmiri tea offered with nuts provided a unique ambience.

The attendees also saw cheerleaders marking with jubilation every boundary or fall of wicket.

The prize distribution ceremony saw shields being distributed to winning and runner up teams. Appreciation shields were given to the organizers of the event by Al-Sudairy, who was the chief guest at the occasion. Her work is rated by connoisseurs as one of the top in Saudi Arabia, which reveals a great deal of interest in the social aspects of Saudi society, especially issues affecting Saudi women, national issues in Saudi Arabia, thus making her an artist with a soul that touches every person through her work.

She appreciated the RAC activities for females in Riyadh and congratulated the winning team.



NGO Requests Maldives Government to Reform Child Sex Abuse Laws

By Neil Merrett | February 11th, 2013

A child rights NGO has called on the Maldivian government to pass needed legislation concerning the treatment of sexual abuse victims, on the back of several high-profile court cases involving minors.

The Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) NGO told Minivan News it was concerned about a lack of legislation in the country to protect victims of abuse. The NGO has also raised concerns over the potential impact on the state’s ability to prevent sexual offences following reductions to the state budget approved by parliament in December 2012.

The comments were made as the government reiterated a pledge over the last month to review and amend laws on sexual abuse that it has claimed, in certain cases, treat sexual abuse victims as perpetrators.

A spokesperson for the President’s Office confirmed Thursday (February 7) that authorities would be holding a one day seminar with the Islamic and gender ministries over the next two weeks on legal reform over concern at cases such as a 15 year-old girl being charged for fornication.

Acting Minister of Gender, Family and Human rights Dr Mariyam Shakeela was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Civil society concern

Addressing these commitments by the state, a spokesperson for ARC said it hoped the government would not delay in fulfilling its “pledge to try and review sexual abuse laws with regard to how victims are treated.”

“In addition, we also believe that further steps need to be taken to such a review. [These include] reviewing and strengthening the current institutions and existing services,” the NGO spokesperson said.

ARC has also called for reforms of the juvenile justice system and reform of the current protection mechanisms provided to minors who are kept in state run institutions, such as homes and foster programs.

A spokesperson for the NGO claimed such reviews would be vital to help ensure the protection measures are “gender sensitive, non-intimidating and safeguard children’s access to justice.”

“We concerned that the government budget for 2013 saw a huge decrease in the area of social protection, which will strongly impact work in this field,” the spokesperson added.

Legislative support

ARC identified a lack of specific legislation protecting rights for children and adults – despite the Special Measures Act 2009.

The spokesperson for ARC said a lack of comprehensive laws on child’s rights, coupled with a general reluctance by witnesses and professional to testify in court, highlighted wider challenges affecting reforms to abuse cases.

“ARC believes that in the event that a need for testifying in a court of law is required, every person should make this a moral obligation/duty to give their full cooperation to the authorities/courts,” the spokesperson said.

According to the NGO, another important challenge urgently needing to be addressed was a perceived disparity between how child abuse cases were being investigated in the capital Male’ compared to the country’s outer atolls - particularly in regards to the use of evidence and psychological support.

In cases where the police or judiciary were dealing with minors, ARC said more training was needed to ensure children were being dealt with sensitively during investigations or trials.

“It is imperative that if the child has to be taken for questioning to a court or by police officers, it has to be ensured that the surroundings are child friendly and that all officials dealing with the child have received adequate training and experience to sensitively deal with children,” said the NGO spokesperson.

ARC said it hoped the government would provide greater room for civil society to play a role in shaping future legislation, adding that NGOs themselves needed to show greater cooperation on key issues.

“While it is encouraging that more civil society groups are being active on social issues such as this, there needs to be a stronger collaborative mechanism between them, particularly in efforts to raise awareness,” the NGO spokesperson added.

ARC said it had been conducting ongoing awareness campaigns to make the general public aware that child abuse was not just related to physical or sexual attacks, but also verbal and emotional torment that could have long terms impacts on the development of a minor.

“While child abuse cases have been increasing, it is also important to recognise the many numbers of unreported cases. We have placed billboards in Male’, and will soon air a public service awareness [advert] to emphasise that suspected child abuse must be reported and not overlooked, and also familiarise people with the reporting numbers of both the child helpline and police helpline,” stated the ARC spokesperson.

“We have also highlighted that people can maintain anonymity when reporting, which is often one of the reasons people hesitate to report such cases, particularly in a small society like the Maldives.”

High profile cases

Just last week, the Maldives high Court rejected a request to take a local man into custody over the alleged abuse of an 11-year old relative, despite the male suspect having previously been held under house arrest at the same property in which his alleged victim lived.

The Prosecutor General (PG’s) Office confirmed that following a remand hearing on Tuesday (February 5), the suspect had been released from house arrest – with no restrictions placed upon his movement ahead of his unscheduled trial.

The remand hearing took place at a time when the PG’s Office is already facing government criticism for pursuing a case against a 15 year-old minor on charges of having “consensual sexual relations”.

The 15 year-old presently facing charges of having “consensual sexual relations” has also been identified as the victim of child sex abuse in an unrelated criminal case also being pursued by authorities.

The two cases are the latest in a line of high profile sexual abuse trials concerning minors, which have been met with international condemnation.



Path to Iquama, Citizenship Easier For Kids Of Saudi Moms


13 February 2013

Its possible now for the Saudi mother married to a non-Saudi to sponsor her children, according to the Passports Department.

She can now recruit her children along with their father from outside the Kingdom and the government will take care of their Iqamat procedure expense.

The implementation of the new policy follows a Cabinet decree to reinterpret the regulations governing the marriage of non-Saudis to Saudi women.

"This would resolve many problems faced by the children and husbands of Saudi women,” Badr Al-Malik, a spokesman for the General Directorate of Passports, told Arab News.

All passport departments in the Kingdom began implementing the decree immediately.

Al-Malik invited all offspring of Saudi mothers to visit the nearest Passport Department to transfer their sponsorship to their mothers.

Al-Malik said that the transfer procedure of the non-Saudi husband would take only a few days.

The move was welcomed by Mofleh Al-Qahtani, president of National Human Rights Society.

Al-Qahtani said there is no official number of marriages between Saudi women non-Saudis.

"Solving the issues of the husbands and children of Saudi women is protecting their rights especially in education, health and transportation," he said.

He told Arab News that by regulations, children of Saudi mothers can apply for citizenship at the age of 18, but more procedures might be needed to give them citizenship earlier to unite the families.

The non-Saudi husband doesn’t have to work in a private company or so to get his sponsorship transferred, said Hazem Karam, an expert in the Saudi law.

"Children of Saudi mothers were given privileges in government universities long ago," Karam said.

He said that the daughter of a Saudi mother can obtain Saudi citizenship sooner if she marries a Saudi. But the son must apply to Ministry of Interior when marrying a Saudi woman. He also must stay long enough in Saudi Arabia.



Worldwide solidarity with Egyptian women against 'Sexual terrorism'

Activists and feminists call for demonstrations outside Egyptian embassies in various world capitals on Tuesday to denounce recent sexual attacks against women protesters in Tahrir Square

 11 Feb 2013

Protesters and several NGOs from around the globe announced they will rally in front of Egyptian embassies on Tuesday in solidarity with Egyptian women who have been protesting against “sexual terrorism.”

The protests will be held in several world capitals including Rabat, Morocco; Tunis, Tunisia; Amman, Jordan; Copenhagen, Denmark; Brussels, Belgium; Washington D.C, USA; London, England; Paris, France; and Oslo, Norway.

Full report at:



Indonesia: Child Abuse Victims Have Little Support


NWJ, a 14-year-old girl from Jehem village, Bangli, who fell pregnant to and married a 39-year-old man, has been slowly recovering after she gave birth to a premature baby girl who died eight hours later.

NWJ can now walk slowly, but she still looks dazed by the series of incidents that have happened to her. She has never said a word at any time she has been asked about her health.

Only Cidra, her husband and a suspect of statutory rape, has been talking, demanding that the case be closed.

Full report at:



Harassment at Workplaces in Pakistan Continues To Hamper Women Empowerment

12 Feb 2013

ISLAMABAD: The most debated issue of Harassment at Workplaces is persistently hampering women empowerment as the implementation of harassment laws, in true spirit, for working ladies is still a challenge. Women working in offices, private organisations, hospitals and those running their private businesses face Harassment at Workplaces. Only few raise their voice for a respectable working environment while most of the others stay silent. From Parliament to NGOs and many other platforms, the issue has been raised and discussed in detail, but most of the time, the discussion ends up with optimism about the implementation of the related laws and the victims take their case back after getting a title of bad reputation or find ways to escape from the scenes. “Protection Against Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2009” was passed to create a safe working environment for women, free of harassment, abuse and intimidation and with an aim to fulfil their right to work with dignity and honour. Full report at:\02\12\story_12-2-2013_pg11_8



Mali’s success depends on its women

The rise of Islamists in an already patriarchal society severely threatens the country’s strong and industrious women, writes Amma Bonsu.

 By Amma Bonsu

February 10, 2013

As allied forces scramble to curb the rise of terrorism in Africa, Mali has heaved a deep sigh of relief. After weeks of intense fighting, French and Malian forces finally gained control of Timbuktu and dismantled the al-Qaida machinery that nearly conquered the West African country. Despite a string of attacks on the weekend, al-Qaida’s plan to control Mali seems to have been thwarted for now. But still, little effort is being made to tackle one of the biggest problems confronting this Islamic country — the stark disparity between men and women.

Full report at:



700 Girls Rescued In Makkah School Blaze

 13 February 2013

A fire caused by an electrical short-circuits yesterday forced the evacuation of 700 girls from a Makkah middle school, Civil Defence officials said. Brig. Sarhan Al-Sarhan, spokesman for Civil Defence in Makkah, said the evacuation operations were mere preventive measures by the teachers.

“We found out that the cause of the fire was due to a short-circuit with the main cable that is providing the school with electricity.”

He said that as soon as the operation room at the Civil Defence received the report of fire, three fire fighting teams, two rescue and ambulances teams, as well as two Red Crescent ambulances moved at once to the location.

Full report at:



240 Jobless Women Graduates in Dammam to Sue Ministry

 February 13, 2013

DAMMAM — Some 240 unemployed women graduates are planning to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Civil Service for the delay in hiring them. All the women are teachers by profession.

Amr Al-Azyarbi, a lawyer, said that he has started the procedures to file the petition on behalf of some 200 women. “The graduates’ grievance is that they have been waiting for jobs for a long time even though their classmates and juniors have already been absorbed. Full report at:



Women Find Modest Success after Training, Loans in Pakistan

 February 12, 2013

ISLAMABAD: In northwest Punjab, women’s empowerment is not a battle to surpass patriarchs but a struggle to keep apace with poverty-threatening inflation and insularity.

Bright-eyed and soft-spoken Ruqia Akhtar runs a modest bakery from her home in Kalabagh, with the conviction that a single working hand is no longer sufficient, nor reliable, to sustain an entire household.

This understanding has encouraged Ruqia to seek training offered by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) and Taang Waasaib organisation and she is now able to supplement her husband’s income with her own.

Full report at:



Opposition Momentary, Saudi Female Parliamentarian Says

‘We should be prepared, having confidence and skills’

Jumana Al Tamimi Associate Editor

February 11, 2013

Dubai: When the newly appointed Saudi women enter parliament and take part in the decision-making process, they won’t only be making history but they will also enrich their own experience while working hard to meet public expectations and the leadership’s confidence, a Saudi female parliamentarian said.

Hanan Al Ahmadi told Gulf News in a recent interview that the appointed women “are prepared. We should be prepared, having confidence and skills”.

“It is true that we are happy with the assignment, but we have to realise the impact of this historic decision on women in society [with this historical decision],” Hanan said.

Full report at:



Eight women Arab scientists picked in UNESCO Program

 February 13, 2013

CAIRO — Eight exceptional Arab women scientists were announced as winners by the L’Oréal-UNESCO “For Women in Science Pan Arab” Regional Program in its third edition here. The scientists are from Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Sudan, Iraq, and Bahrain.

The ceremony was organized under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Nadia Zakhary, Egypt’s Minister of Scientific Research, and was attended by key Egyptian figures.

Geoff Skingsley, Executive Vice President of L’Oréal’s Africa-Middle East Zone, and Dr. Bechir Lamine, Director of UNESCO Cairo office, were also present, according to a press release issued here.

Full report at:



Wives of Striking Activists in Muscat Appeal to End Solitary Confinement

Al Hashemi allegedly placed in solitary confinement for leading hunger strike

By Sunil K. Vaidya

 February 12, 2013

Muscat: Wives of detained activists have taken to social media with an appeal to Omani authorities, in particular the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Khawla, wife of poet-activist Saeed Al Hashemi has posted an open letter on her Facebook account, urging the NHRC to intervene and end Al Hashemi’s alleged solitary confinement.

Full report at:



Women with Sleep Apnea Have Higher Degree of Brain Damage than Men

 February 13, 2013

ISLAMABAD: A report published on Monday in SLEEP says that women suffering from sleep apnea have a higher degree of brain damage than men with the disorder.

For this study, the researchers looked at patients who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea at the University of California.

“They compared the nerve fibers in these patients’ brains known as white matter to fibers of individuals without sleep problems and focused on unearthing the difference in brain damage between men and women with sleep apnea,” Xinhua Reported.

Full report at:\02\13\story_13-2-2013_pg11_6