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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 3 Dec 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Tales from 20th Century 'Path-Breaking' Muslim Women on View

New Age Islam News Bureau

3 Dec 2018

Saudi women started to work as baristas and waitresses in the coffee shop and restaurants. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)



 Man Booked For Giving Triple Talaq Asks HC for Pre-Arrest Bail

 Saudi Passport Directorate Now Accepting Female Applicants

 Welcome To Jinwar, A Women-Only Village In Syria That Wants To Smash The Patriarchy

 Argentinean Woman Leaves Syria after Two Year ‘Kidnap’ Ordeal

 Bahrain Opposition Warns About Abuse of Female Activists

 Societal Changes Encouraging Women to Flourish

 Saudi Women Shine as Branch Managers of Car Rental Firms

 Disabled Women Disregarded Under Inhumane Policies in Iran

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Tales From 20th Century 'Path-Breaking' Muslim Women On View

December 2, 2018

Stories of conviction and contribution of Indian Muslim women, who "gave up the Purdah" and were at "the forefront of the nationalist and feminist discourse" in the past century are on display here.

The exhibition on 21 "Pathbreakers" opened for public view on Saturday.

Organised by Muslim Women's Forum at the India International Centre (IIC), the show "Pathbreakers: The Twentieth Century Muslim Women of India" features women who remain largely unheard of and unsung in the mainstream narrative.

During and after the freedom movement, a note on the exhibition said, many Muslim women shed the 'Purdah' and became partners in the project to build a new India.

They went on to become writers, teachers, artists, scientists, lawyers, educators, political workers, trade unions, MPs, and MLAs.

"With a few exceptions, most of them have been forgotten in time."

The show, inaugurated by author-filmmaker Syeda Imam (granddaughter of early 20th century writer-educator Tyaba Khedive Jung), embodies the spirit of the active contribution of these women, and as Imam said, “was not in the recesses of home and kitchen". Far from the commonly-held impression of silenced, cloistered and acquiescent women, 'Pathbreakers' narrates the stories of strong, determined and engaged women, the note said.

Some of these women include Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, the only Muslim woman member of the Constituent Assembly and author of "From Purdah to Parliament: A Muslim Woman in Indian Politics"; Assam's first woman MP Mofida Ahmed, elected from Jorhat in 1957; and Aziza Fatima Imam, who served in the Rajya Sabha for 13 years starting 1973.

Why Muslim women?

The exhibition of photographs, text and video installations, points to their significant contribution towards the building of the nation, along with their sisters of other communities, through its freedom struggle, independence and beyond.

"A multiplicity of stereotypes are constructed by diverse actors regarding Muslim women. But the fact is there is no undifferentiated amass' of Muslim women. Like women of all socio-cultural groups, they too are a divergent, shifting composition of individuals, often dumped in popular parlance into one single heap. This homogenisation has to be rejected," the note read.

The show also projects video recordings of readings from writings of some of the featuring women.

The organisers, however, said while the participating women might seem elite, it is only the first step in identifying and recognising pathbreakers from all sections.

Featured are Anis Kidwai, Atiya Fyzee, Atia Hossain, Aziza Imam, Fatima Ishmael, Hamida Habibullah, Hajira Begum, Mofida Ahmed, Masuma Begum, Mumtaz Jahan Haider, Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, Qudsia Zaidi, Razia Sajjad Zaheer, Saleha Abid Hussain, Sharifa Hamid Ali, Saeeda Khurshid, Safia Jan Nisar Akhtar, Siddiqa Kidwai, Surayya Tyabji, Zehra Ali Yavar Jung and Tyaba Khedive Jung.

This exhibition was first held here in May, and was supported by the UN Women. The current show is open till December 8.



Man Booked For Giving Triple Talaq Asks HC for Pre-Arrest Bail

Dec 3, 2018

MUMBAI: In perhaps the first application seeking anticipatory bail under the new triple Talaq ordinance, a Vasai resident has approached the Bombay high court after his wife lodged a case against him for trying to divorce her by resorting to the now-banned "instant talaq" method. Justice Prakash Naik will decide on Intekhab Alam Munshi's anticipatory bail application on Monday.

The Centre on September 19 approved the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 that makes "triple Talaq" a criminal offence punishable with a jail term of up to three years and a fine.

According to the FIR lodged by Munshi's wife, he pronounced instant divorce or "Talaq-e-Biddat" just days later on September 22, by sending her a notice through his lawyer.

Munshi and his wife got married in December 1998 and have three children. This May, he dropped her off at her parents' place and in July, filed a civil suit in Vasai court seeking divorce. But on September 22, the woman received a notice claiming that her husband had divorced her through 'talaq-e-ahsan,' the legal marriage annulment option for Muslims which leaves room for reconciliation.

She then lodged a dowry harassment case against her husband and in-laws and on October 23, lodged a second FIR under the new law. She claimed her husband had not divorced her as per 'talaq-e-ahsan' and he had, actually, pronounced the nowbanned 'talaq-e-biddat'.

The notice sent to her said that she was earlier served two notices, however, she denied having received any. Munshi claimed that two prior notices had returned with the remark "left" or "not found".

The wife further said that the divorce notice had not specified a reasonable cause and nor was she given an opportunity for compromise and reconciliation with her husband-two crucial ingredients of 'talaq-e-ahsan'. She also questioned the propriety of the divorce notice as Munshi had already filed a civil suit.

Last month, a sessions court in Palghar refused Munshi pre-arrest bail, following which he approached the high court through his lawyer Vincent Dsilva. Advocate Amin Solkar, counsel for the wife, opposed grant of anticipatory bail.

The sessions court said that Munshi had failed to justify that he was entitled to protection from arrest. "(Munshi) prima facie failed to demonstrate that the talaq given by him is 'talaq-e-ahsan'. On the contrary, it appears that it is a talaq prohibited under the 2018 ordinance," said the sessions court. "It is pertinent to note that even after return of the two unserved notices, (Munshi) has not informed his wife on social media or her mobile about notice of talaq," the sessions court added.

The sessions judge had pointed out that Munshi had also breached the conditions of the anticipatory bail given to him in the dowry harassment case, where he was asked to present himself before the Manor police for investigation purposes. The court had concluded that the investigation officer would have to investigate the type of talaq given by Munshi as well as the issue of the returned notices.



Saudi Passport Directorate Now Accepting Female Applicants

December 03, 2018

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced the opening of registration for female jobs at the Passports Directorate. The new recruits will be given soldier ranks and will be assigned to serve at airports and land ports.

The ministry said interested candidates can apply through the website starting 10 a.m. on Sunday until 10 a.m. on Thursday. 

It stressed that application fields are to be filled with precision, noting that it would not consider an application that does not comply to requirements. It also reaffirmed that registration does not imply the acceptance of the application.  

According to the ministry, female applicants must be Saudi nationals who have grown up in the kingdom, except for those who lived were raised outside the Kingdom while their parents served overseas.

Applicants will need to be physically fit, aged between 25 and 35.



Welcome To Jinwar, A Women-Only Village In Syria That Wants To Smash The Patriarchy

Dec 3, 2018

At the end of a long dusty road in the plains of northern Syria, a young woman with a rifle over her shoulder guards the entrance to the isolated village of Jinwar.

Thirty brick houses lie beyond the gate, decorated with splashes of purple and blue. They surround a large plot of agricultural land where rows of vegetables are growing.

A war zone perhaps isn’t the most obvious setting for a feminist utopia. But here, in a far corner of a country that has been devastated by ongoing conflict, a group of women have created an escape from the chaos around them. Built over the past two years, this small hamlet is a self-sustaining, ecological idyll where women rule and men cannot stay.

“There’s no need for men here, our lives are good,” says Zainab Gavary, a 28-year-old resident. “This place is just for women who want to stand on their feet.”

Jinwar is a women-only commune a few miles from Qamishli, a city in the mainly Kurdish region of northeast Syria. It was set up by local women’s groups and international volunteers to create a space for women to live “free of the constraints of the oppressive power structures of patriarchy and capitalism”.

The homes here were built by the women who are now living in them. Murals and statues of women at work are scattered around the site, in the centre of which is a garden of meadow flowers. It’s a jarring contrast to the villages that surround it.

That it was built in northern Syria is no coincidence. Just a few years ago, the entire area lived under the shadow of the Isis caliphate. The jihadist group captured large swathes of territory when it made lightning advances to the south and to the east of the Kurdish region, and across the border into Iraq.

It made its capital in Raqqa, just a few hours away by car, and carried out one of its most heinous atrocities in the town of Sinjar, less than a hundred miles east. Thousands of Yazidis were massacred, and still thousands more women were kidnapped by the group to be used as sex slaves.

In response to this wave of brutality, many Kurdish women took up arms to fight the extremist group. The story of these women facing off against a murderous cult that aimed to enslave them captured the attention of the world. 

The founders of Jinwar see their project as a continuation of the “women’s revolution” that led those women to leave their families and go to war. But while the world may know the Kurds through images of women fighting on the frontline, Kurdish society is still deeply conservative. Jinwar was built as a place for women to escape the family-orientated roles that a patriarchal society has assigned to them. Gavary is one of them. She married when she was young, but her husband died not long after.

“My mother begged me not to come, but I still came,” she says. “I brought up my son alone for 10 years, I suffered a lot.”

“Without women there is no freedom,” she says, repeating a mantra that is written on the walls in Jinwar. “Until women educate and empower themselves, there won’t be freedom.”

The message here is deeply political. In addition to arguing for a greater role for women in society, Jinwar also promotes ecological and communal living as an alternative to modern life.

But Jinwar is also something much simpler: it is a refuge for women in need of support – particularly those who have lost loved ones in war.

Amira Muhammad, 33, is one of a number of widows who have made Jinwar home. Her husband was killed fighting Isis more than a year ago. She was forced to move back in with her parents and became entirely dependent on them.

“I came here because I have five kids and I didn’t have an income or a house to live in,” she says. “Here they provide a lot of benefits like education for the kids, their living expenses. It is a nice village, most importantly, my kids like it.”

“We do our own farming, we plant trees. Every woman farms her own lot for her kids. We sell the harvest, and use the revenue to support our expenses,” she adds.

The residents of Jinwar are kept busy by the work required to be self-sustainable. The group take turns cooking and eat all their meals together in a large communal kitchen. There are animals to tend to and a school for the children. The village regularly receives visitors from the local area, who come to learn about the ideas behind the project.

Besides the widows, there are divorcees, and others who have simply chosen to live a life away from men. Seventeen-year-old Nisreen Qadir came with her sister. She says there are downsides to living an isolated life. 

“Our life alone is sometimes boring,” she says. “But it’s a life of self-reliance, it is the life of free women.”



Argentinean Woman Leaves Syria after Two Year ‘Kidnap’ Ordeal

December 02, 2018

BAB AL-HAWA: A 54-year-old Argentinian woman who was lured into war-wracked Syria two years ago on a marriage promise was finally on her way home on Saturday, a Syrian rebel official said.

History teacher Nancy Roxana Papa had accepted the invitation of a Syrian man she had met online three years earlier and traveled to Turkey in 2016, before entering Syria.

“She returned to Turkey on Saturday after the required legal documents... were completed” for her entry into Turkish territory, said Bassam Sahiouni, an official from the local rebel authority in Idlib province.

On October 30, the “Salvation Government” — set up in rebel-held Idlib by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group — handed Papa over to the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish non-governmental organization, at the Bab Al-Hawa border post.

She then had to remain in Syria for over a month to await completion of administrative and legal procedures for her repatriation.

The Argentinian teacher had appeared on October 30 at a news conference organized by HTS at the border, where she thanked her country’s diplomatic services, the Turkish authorities and the “Salvation Government.”

“You saved my life,” she said that day, drying her tears after Sahiouni explained the circumstances of her misadventure.

Sahiouni had given an account of the teacher’s apparent ordeal at the news conference.

She met the man posing as her future husband in a hotel in Turkey and “he told her they would go to Syria to greet his parents,” the rebel official said.

She entered Syria illegally in 2016 and was immediately kidnapped by a gang that was waiting for her on the other side of the border and contacted her daughter to demand a ransom, Sahiouni said.

He added that she managed to escape from her captors after a year and survived in the war-torn area by staying with residents and moving from home to home.

The “Salvation Government” sought to address the case earlier this year and tried without success to contact Argentina’s foreign ministry, before the Humanitarian Relief Foundation eventually dealt with her situation, Sahiouni said.

Last year, HTS reunited a Belgian girl with her mother, after the death of the four-year-old’s father, a radicalized criminal who had entered Syria with the child in May 2017.

In February 2018, the same authorities handed over to Turkish officials two Canadian nationals who were held for several weeks after entering Syria for obscure family reasons.



Bahrain Opposition Warns About Abuse of Female Activists

Dec 2, 2018

Bahrain’s largest opposition group has warned about the ruling regime’s sweeping arrest and abuse campaign against female activists throughout the course of a campaign of suppression that has already taken the lives of scores of dissidents.

Manama has rounded up as many as 994 women for demanding “freedom and democracy” since the start of anti-regime rallies on the island in 2011, al-Wefaq tweeted on Sunday.

The al-Wefaq said in its tweet message that Bahrain's ruling regime was subjecting women to all types of inhumane treatment, such as imprisonment, torture, and intimidation. The females were becoming “increasingly vulnerable” to the draconian methods, the movement added.

It cited the security forces’ arrest earlier in the week of three sisters, named Fatimah, Iman, and Amal, from the Diraz Village in northern Bahrain, which is under a siege imposed by the government.

Al-Wefaq described the arrests as “violation of all of the Bahraini women’s values.”

It also said the regime had separately detained a mother of two, leaving her children unsupervised.

“The Bahraini woman is a very amazing and advanced model of high understanding and an active and a great person who has sacrificed herself for her homeland,” the society insisted.

One of the most high-profile arrested female activists was Zainab Al-Khawaja who was detained in December 2014 and sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a picture of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She was freed during a visit by then US secretary of state John Kerry in April 2016, but her case has not been shuttered.

In mid-October, three female prisoners started a hunger strike against their insufferable incarceration conditions.

The high-profile activists, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, 49, 41-year-old Najah Ahmed Yusef, and Medina Ali, asked for the glass barriers between them to be removed and they be allowed visits by family members as well as more access to the prison’s courtyard and three phone calls per week.

The ruling Al Khalifah family has been cracking down on peaceful protests which activists say are meant to promote the people’s legitimate right to equality and freedom of expression.

It has banned all opposition groupings, including al-Wefaq, and handed down a life sentence to its leader Sheikh Ali Salman.

The regime has been leveling charges of “terrorism” and subversion against political dissidents, and has been stripping key opposition figures of their citizenship.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s Parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.



Societal Changes Encouraging Women to Flourish


December 02, 2018

I would like to sum up some of the reforms that have changed Saudi society with regards to women. These changes have been positive — although some would say slow to take place — and should be, if not celebrated, at least acknowledged.

The backbone of any country is education. In 1962, King Faisal opened  public education to girls, which was optional at the time. In 1970, the first higher education institution for girls — the Riyadh College of Education — was established. In the space of a decade, education for women across the country leapt to achieve international standards. The King Abdullah Scholarship Program has also sent thousands of men and women across the globe and women have proven they do better than men in higher education.

Slowly, other reforms were implemented to help women gain more independence and, in 2001, personal ID cards for women were introduced, although it wasn’t until 2006 that they could obtain one without permission.

In an unprecedented move in 2009, King Abdullah appointed the first female minister, Dr. Noura Al-Fayez, who became Deputy Minister of Education for Women’s Affairs. This was followed in 2012 by female athletes competing in the Olympics for the first time, with Sarah Attar proudly running the women’s 800-meter race in London while wearing a hijab.

In February 2013, 30 women were appointed and sworn in to the Shoura Council by King Abdullah, placing women in decision-making positions with exactly the same rights as their male counterparts. This was followed in 2015 by the municipal elections, where women won 22 seats.

February 2017 saw the appointment of the first female chairperson at the Saudi Stock Exchange, Sarah Al-Suhaimi. And, in September of the same year, a royal order was passed allowing women to drive, which became a reality in June 2018. Additionally, sports were introduced in girls’ schools, women were allowed in stadiums, Raha Moharrak climbed Mount Everest, and Princess Reema bint Bandar took up a key role at the General Sports Authority. Ministries have been told to facilitate women’s queries and resolve their requests, as well as create more jobs for women.

Examples of successful milestones and women are too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that, as a result of a forward-thinking leadership and through Vision 2030, the participation of women in society through a clear strategic policy can only bring economic growth to the country both in the public and private sectors. The developmental changes of the last few years will lead Saudi women to greater leadership positions in public domains.

Gender parity is still far off, but this is the case worldwide. Women are not better than men, they are their partners and have rights. We must promote our achievements and emphasize the fact that they are part of the natural process of social evolutionary change.

Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013 and is also a member of its foreign affairs committee.



Saudi Women Shine as Branch Managers of Car Rental Firms


JEDDAH — Two young Saudi women have crossed the barriers and entered into fields that were long dominated by men. They became branch managers of two car rental companies.

According to the Arabic daily Al-Madina on Sunday, the two women have opened the way for Saudi women to enter a new field of work.

In their new jobs, the two women decide the brand and model of the car to be rented, prepare the rent contract, decide the duration of the rental and negotiate prices with a view to providing the customer with easy payment options.

Maram Al-Harbe, 25, said her colleagues were keen to teach her the nitty-gritty of the job until she became the manager of the branch where she worked.

“The customers also encouraged me and supported my work,” she said adding that she was dreaming of having her own private local and international car rental companies.

Al-Harbe is a secondary school graduate but she did a number of courses in designing and secretariat work. She has also worked in marketing.

She advised working Saudi women to be modest in dressing, highly ethical, understand their limits with the customers and talk eloquently.

“The Saudi woman should be equipped with the skills necessary for selling and marketing so as to attract the largest possible number of customers,” she said.

Hadeel Al-Huwaiti, branch manager of another car rental company, said she began her job as an assistant until she became a manager.

“Due to my excellence in work, I was promoted to become a manager. I will not continue for long in this job so as not to feel bored,” she said.

Al-Huwaiti, 25, is a graduate of the media college at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

Speaking about the most difficult moments in her job, she said once a customer came to her office to rent a car.

She said she explained all the features of the car to him when he suddenly said it was good for drifting.

“I refused to rent the car to him, canceled the contract and asked him to go away because she is against joy riding,” she said.

“Renting of cars is a big responsibility and the choice of the customer is equally important,” she said.

Al-Huwaiti asked Saudi women to be brave and not to shy away from jobs that are dominated by men.

“The Saudi woman should have self-confidence and should dedicate all her efforts to doing her job properly,” she said.



Disabled Women Disregarded Under Inhumane Policies in Iran

Dec 3, 2018

Overlooking women’s rights is institutionalized under the clerical regime in Iran. Likewise, disabled women in Iran face additional indifference when it comes to administrative promotion of their rights and well-being.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed on December 3, 1992, by the United Nations. The purpose of this day is to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

In 2004, the Iranian regime passed a law entitled 'Disabled Persons’ Rights' that remained unimplemented. In 2017, a general bill on this issue was again passed by the mullahs’ parliament, the implementation of which was conditional on the adequacy of the government budget and, therefore, was not executed.

According to statistics released by the mullahs’ parliament in 2017, more than 11 million disabled people live in Iran, with women accounting for 35% of the figure. The number of disabled women who have to earn their living was 39,372 and almost twice as much as disabled men in the same situation. Annually, 100,000 people are added to the number of disabled persons in Iran.

In the field of employment, disabled people make  up about 3-5% of the unemployment in each region. The number of unemployed disabled women is twice the number of men. That is, only one-sixth of women with disabilities might have an opportunity in the job market. While others cannot even afford to pay for their own transportation. This situation also makes them incapacitated for their medical and healthcare expenses which is an immediate basic necessity for any person with disabilities.

In addition to the economic problems, women with disabilities are 1.5 times more likely to suffer violence, harassment, abuse and discrimination than men with disabilities. Disabled women are forced to accept and tolerate cruel behavior and relationships because of their physical and social limits.

Family poverty, lack of decent homes, lack of urban services and appropriate transportation services for the disabled, and the neglect of educational facilities required for the disabled are all the more causes of disregarding people with disabilities and excluding them from the society.

What remains is the release of videos and images of the disabled women and girls who have been forced to sell goods on the streets and rummage through waste. This is just another aching agony added to all the other plights of the plundered nation of Iran. As with other deprived sectors of the society in Iran, people with disabilities have raised their voices in protest to their conditions. Between October 6 to 10, 2018, during a series of protests by employees of the Edalat Stocks Cooperative, women with disabilities and head of households gathered in protest to the cooperative’s failure to pay 43 months of their salaries. On November 2, 2017, a number of people with disabilities gathered at the Iranian Press Exhibition in Tehran to protest against the Iranian parliament for not passing the bill on the rights of disabled people, the rights that will not be achieved except through the establishment of a democratic government.




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