New Age Islam News Bureau
25 May 2013
Photo: It took Roya Mahboob, 25, less than three years to turn her software start-up… (Alex Rodriguez / Los Angeles…)
• Women Work against Women in Afghanistan
• Five Arrested In Luxor's 'Honour Killing' Of Three Women
• Haia Move to Hire Female Field Staff Gets Strong Backing
• Illegal Detention of Women H R Defenders in the Midst of the Border Conflict of Sudan
• Female Climber Inspires Young Women in UAE
• Sixty Bangladeshi Girls and Five Children Return From Indian Jail
• Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Wants Safety for RMG Workers
• Pakistan Institute to Confer Peace Award on Women Rights Activist, Sunila Abeysekera
• Pak Woman Crosses Over To Indian Side, Held
• Education for girls: Muslim Education Conference in Mumbai from May 29
• In Afghanistan, businesswomen must seek a delicate balance
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Tracing the Ban on Skirt and Its Length in India
TNN | May 25, 2013
The skirt and its length has been an issue more often than not in our country. From celebs like Sania Mirza and Katrina Kaif to schoolgirls across states, many have gotten into trouble over this piece of clothing. And it isn't only the Desi moral police tying itself up in knots over the issue - it seems to unite people across countries.
Bans in schools across India
In Rohtak in March, a right wing educational institution's management prohibited girls from Classes VIII to XII from wearing skirts, citing "security reasons." At least five Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, run by the Kurukshetra-based Hindu Shiksha Samiti (HSS), would implement the dress code from the current academic session, they said. One of the schools' principals said that the decision had been taken in consultation with parents who endorsed those reasons, and that they'd received complaints about some girls wearing short skirts.
The DAV group of schools called for a ban on skirts this year as part of the uniform, as they think tunics or short skirts 'invite unwanted attention'. The director of the DAV group has said that they have taken the step to make children aware of our culture and tradition. Female students from Class VIII onwards would be required to wear only salwar-kameez with a bandi (jacket). "We've done this to ensure girls dress decently to school and follow a discipline," said LR Saini, director of the DAV group.
In December 2012, BJP legislator Banwari Lal Singhal suggested a ban on skirts as the school uniform for girls. Singhal wrote a letter to Rajasthan chief secretary CK Mathew, demanding that skirts be replaced by trousers to keep female students away from "men's lustful gazes."
In Manipur last year, six student bodies, which included the All Manipur Students Union, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur and Manipur Students Federation, issued a diktat to prohibit school and college students from wearing clothes above the knee. In 2007, the outlawed People's United Liberation Front (PULF), an Islamic outfit active in the state, banned Muslim schoolgirls and college students from wearing frocks and skirts. The Manipuri rebel group Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup, (KYKL), in 2001, asked girls to wear the ankle-length traditional phaneks instead of western wear. The reason for enforcing the wearing of the phanek was to ban "indecent dresses" and also for moral and traditional reasons. KYKL even warned that women of the state who do not wear the traditional phaneks could even 'face death penalty'!
After being pressurised by a student body in the state, all schools banned short skirts and tight pants in 2011. The ban was imposed to 'promote decency and discipline' among the students. If caught violating the ban for the first time, a fine of `300 was to be charged. If the rule was violated again, the fine would increase to `500. And if the students were found repeating it, then they would be expelled from the school.
In 2012 in Ghaziabad district, the panchayat in a Jat-dominated region demanded that girls should wear Shalwar-Kurta from the sixth standard. The president of Jat Mahasabha was reported as saying, "The girls will wear Shalwar-Kurta from sixth standard onwards. We will speak to the managements of the schools and will make sure the order is implemented strictly." They didn't mention the reason for it but we assume it, again, has something to do with 'decency'. The panchayat even warned that 'severe punishment' would be handed out if the diktat wasn't followed.
Celebs in trouble
Sania Mirza - In 2005, a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa demanding that the tennis player should cover herself more on the field. They said that her outfits were a negative influence on young girls. Their grouse was that her skirts and T-shirts had slogans like 'Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History' and 'I'm Cute, No Shit', which were 'un-Islamic'. Even though Sania had to give in to the clerics' demands at that time, later, she appeared at the 2007 French Open in a skirt. "How I dress is a very personal thing, so give me a break. I'm just trying to have some fun. If I have something to say I can speak, can't I? I don't have to speak through what I wear," she had said.
Katrina Kaif - Her visit to the Ajmer Dargah in a skirt in 2006, to shoot a scene from Namastey London, caused quite a furore, with the committee managing the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti threatening legal action against the filmmakers for showing disrespect to Islamic traditions. The shrine committee demanded the removal of all the scenes shot in the shrine premises before the movie was released. Katrina was slapped with a notice by the Dargah Committee for exposing her legs inside the shrine.
The actress' skirt created trouble again, two years later, while shooting for Singh Is Kinng in front of a pyramid in Egypt. Cops arrived on the sets and told the cast and crew that it was forbidden to shoot in a skirt at that place.
On the field
1. In 2011, the Badminton World Federation had announced its decision to make skirts mandatory for female players in order to attract more fans to the game. However, the decision was termed sexist and criticized by several countries like China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan on various grounds. Prior to the London Olympics in 2012, the plan was abandoned.
2. IPL cheerleaders' outfits have been under the scanner ever since they were introduced in 2008. There have been talks of covering up the shorts or miniskirt-clad dancers and 'Indianising' their outfits. Some teams already have cheerleaders wearing traditional dresses. In 2008, members of the Mahila Congress created a furore over skimpily-clad cheerleaders, protesting outside a Jaipur stadium. There was even a call for a ban on the cheerleaders in Maharashtra, calling them 'vulgar' and 'degrading Indian culture'.
Bans in other countries get fined for 'embarrassing others' in South Korea
Under the Overexposure Law which came into force this March, women showing their bare skin in public or exposing body parts which should otherwise remain covered, in the process 'making others feel discomfort or embarrassment', will be guilty of indecent exposure. Those deemed to be overexposed in public would be fined $43.
Get arrested in Uganda for clothes above knee
To prevent men from assaulting women, an anti-pornography bill was introduced last month. Simon Lokodo, Uganda's ethics and integrity minister, has said that any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, are outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed and if a woman wears a miniskirt, she would be arrested.
Skirt could be 'pornographic' in Indonesia
The country's religious affairs minister called for a ban on miniskirts in March this year, under its tough anti-pornography laws, 'because they make men do things'. The government has put in action a task force to find out what aspects of life can be considered pornographic. They say that recent rapes and other assaults happened because women aren't wearing appropriate clothes.
Britain makes the women wear the pants
Several British schools in 2011 banned skirts as a part of the school uniform for teenage girls because they felt that the hemlines were rising too high. Almost a dozen schools imposed a 'trousers only' rule. It was felt that the rising hemlines were proving to be distracting for boys and even male teachers.
A study in January this year found that around one-third of men in Britain want hot-pants, miniskirts and low-cut tops banned from offices because they are "too distracting."
U.S. worried about giving 'easy access' to rapist
In 2011, women in the liberal neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York, were asked by police not to wear short skirts in case they 'cause rape'. Those living in the Park Slope neighbourhood were warned about granting a sex attacker 'easy access' with their provocative clothing and that they should change that. Short skirts and shorts that show too much leg were deemed inappropriate by male cops who patrol the streets.
Protest in skirts
Many politicos and religious groups might consider the skirt an indecent piece of clothing, but it became a symbol of protest for a group of men in Bengaluru, who donned skirts to protest against molestation of women in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape in December. Twenty five men in skirts joined hundreds of activists in that city to show that a particular style of clothing does not invite sexual assault.
Samarpita Samaddar, a communications professional who organised the protest, reasoned that "it takes a lot for a man to dress like a woman. There has been talk about banning skirts for women in order to prevent rape, and honestly, I have been angry for a long time but I wanted to do something different from the usual candlelight vigils. This is not a protest of any kind."
(Compiled by Bohni Bandyopadhyay, Nitisha Kashyap and Saloni Bhatia)
Women Work against Women in Afghanistan
25 May 2013
Just this week, news broke that Afghan lawmakers blocked legislation that aimed to strengthen women’s freedoms in the country. The worst part is that women were among those who voted against the move.
The Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was instated by presidential decree in 2009, has not actually been passed by parliament yet. It looks to criminalize child marriage, forced marriage, the selling and buying of women to settle disputes, domestic violence, and also stipulates that rape victims will not have to face charges for adultery.
When looking at the potential outcome of this decree, if it were to be passed in parliament, we can infer that women’s rights in Afghanistan would take a leap forward. A women’s rights activist and lawmaker, Fawzia Kofi confirmed that women were among those who opposed its upgrade.
Another disappointing aspect of this situation is the fact that Afghanistan was taken out of Taliban hands in 2001, this should have given women in the country the chance to gain their rights and solidify their place in Afghan politics and society.
Opposition towards the presidential decree regarding equality just highlights how shaky women’s rights in the country remain.
Lawmakers told the media, on May 22, that child marriage and protecting female rape victims were the main issues causing a rut in the parliament’s decision making process.
Why? Because some believe banning the custom of prosecuting raped women could lead to certain chaos, assuming that women would take this opportunity to engage in extramarital sex as a new hobby, given the fact they could claim rape if caught.
Women’s rights after 2014
According to Human Rights Watch, the Afghan interior ministry revealed statistics, this month, showing there had been a 50 percent increase in women and girls being imprisoned for “moral crimes” over the last 2 years.
The campaign group stated that most females in Afghan jails are victims of sexually motivated violence and had run away from “their attackers,” which in some cases are members of their own family.
“Four years after the adoption of a law on violence against women and 12 years after Taliban rule, women are still imprisoned for being victims of forced marriage, domestic violence and rape,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, in a released report.
Another HRW director claims the latest figures depict flagging allegiance, by Afghan authorities, to the cause of women’s rights.
Additionally, since NATO and U.S. troops will be pulling out by the end of 2014, there is the prevailing notion that no one will be keeping tabs on the situation, he claims.
“International donors have made scrupulous plans for the military and security future of Afghanistan, but have completely neglected the need for protection and defence of women and girls’ rights after 2014,” Philem Kine stated, according to AFP.
Afghanistan’s new constitution states that men and women “have equal rights and duties before the law,” and since the fall of the Taliban regime some restrictions on women have been lifted. But, Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative and traditional culture, where women are considered second-class citizens.
Most Afghans still live in rural areas, where poverty, conflict and conservative attitudes are more likely to keep girls and women at home.
“It is imperative for the development of Afghanistan that women are able to exercise their rights and be free from violence in their homes and workplaces,” U.N. Special Representative Jan Kubis said in a statement, Monday.
Despite such calls, the situation on the ground remains stark.
On Wednesday, 200 male students protested in front of Kabul University claiming the presidential decree in question was “imposed by foreigners” and violates Islamic Shariah law.
Mawladad Jalali, the mullah of the university mosque and one of the organizers of the protest, led chants decrying democracy in general and the women’s law specifically, according to a Washington Post report.
This just goes to show that the path of equality for women in the country may have advanced slightly, and I say slightly, since the Taliban ouster in 2001, but this yellow brick road has no colorful rainbow, as of yet, on the horizon.
Five Arrested In Luxor's 'Honour Killing' Of Three Women
Egyptian security forces detain five out of 10 male relatives accused of killing three female family members in Egypt's Upper Egyptian city of Luxor
24 May 2013
Security forces in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor have reportedly arrested five out of 10 male relatives accused of killing three female family members after suspecting them of having affairs.
An Egyptian security official said 10 male relatives have killed a mother and her two daughters on suspicion of moral offences — so-called "honour killings."
Head of Luxor security directorate Khaled Mamdouh told Al-Ahram Arabic-language news website that a 45-year-old company employee called Khaled had called the police to report that his mother and his two sisters had been missing, but he later withdrew the complaint, claiming the former had returned home.
The official said Friday the men suspected the three women of having affairs, and killed them to protect the family's honour. The three bodies were found in the Nile River near the ancient city of Luxor. They were wrapped in blankets and weighted with stones.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters.
Security forces were able to extract the body of the elder sister Friday afternoon as the search continues for the remaining two bodies.
"Honour killings" are common in Egypt, especially in the conservative southern region where women are often killed if caught in extramarital relations for bringing shame on their families.
The practice is against Egyptian law, and perpetrators are prosecuted if they are arrested.
Haia move to hire female field staff gets strong backing
May 25, 2013
DAMMAM — A number of religious scholars and former Shoura Council members supported the Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’s (Haia) move to hire female members.
They agreed that there was a dire need to employ female Haia members following the Ministry of Labor’s decision that stipulates that all women’s clothes and accessory businesses should hire women workers, Alsharq daily reported.
They said those Haia members will be in charge of paying inspection visits to businesses run by female workers.
While some women do not back the Haia’s move to hire female members, others supported the decision, saying the female members are more capable of preventing any negative practices at women-only businesses, girls' schools and women's colleges where male Haia members cannot enter or provide help when needed.
Nadia Saeed, a citizen, believes that one of the difficulties female members will face is controlling women working for businesses or shopping in malls.
“Some women have a defiant attitude and don’t like others to tell them not to do something.”
Saeed said the only effective way to control women should be through advice and guidance, not force and obstinacy.
Ashwaq Al-Zahrani supports hiring female members for the Haia because only women know how other women think and act.
Besides, the female members will be able to give advice to women and convince them that something is wrong or inappropriate.
“Male Haia members can’t do that because most women refuse to take advice from them.”
Unlike Al-Zahrani, Dhabha Saeed is against the Haia decision to employ female members, saying that men are more effective than women in handling situations that take place at a business store or a mall.
Sheikh Issa Al-Gheith is a judge and member of the Shoura Council. He strongly supports the decision to use women to prevent any inappropriate practices some women might engage in at malls. “For many years, I’ve been calling for upholding such decisions. It’s a women’s right. Women should be served by women only and situations involving women should be handled by women.”
There are women who work for the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques and there is nothing wrong with that from an Islamic point of view, Al-Gheith noted.
The ones who should enter businesses run by women and malls for women should be Haia female members, not male members.
Dr. Azib Al-Masbal, member of the Islamic affairs committee at the Shoura Council, hailed the decision.
He said the female members would be responsible for giving advice only, and if the situation calls for intervention, the Haia should send male members.
Female members should be quite knowledgeable about the Shariah rules for promoting virtue and preventing vice and how to approach women gently and kindly to give them advice.
Dr. Talal Al-Bakri, former member of the Shoura Council, said there are advocates and opponents for the Haia decision to hire women in its staff.
In his opinion, that decision is not effective and it is difficult to enforce on the ground.
Women here cannot drive cars; this means that the Haia needs to provide every woman with a driver.
In this case, women need mahrams (male guardians) so that they do not travel alone in the car with a strange driver.
If the Haia does not do that, it will be breaking the very rule it has been supporting, which is to prevent intermingling between men and women.
Al-Bakri is worried that allowing women to work in the Haia will exacerbate an already volatile situation between the Haia members and some parts of society.
“Women tend to be more domineering than men when they deal with other women.”
Dr. Muhammad Al-Saeedi, professor of Shariah at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, said women should not be engaged in raids the Haia make on some businesses or places because this is not suitable for women.
It is important the Cabinet issue regulations regarding women’s work in the Haia, he said.
The regulations should be reviewed by the Board of Senior Ulema before being approved.
Dr. Lubna Al-Ansari, member of the Shoura Council, supported the decision and called upon the Haia to select qualified women and train them well on the skills of communication before sending them to malls and other public places.
“Female members should have necessary skills to handle all types of situations involving women from different nationalities and religions.”
Mona Al-Masheet, member of the Shoura Council, agreed with Al-Ansari that training courses should be provided to female Haia members.
The Haia’s Asir branch spokesman Awad Al-Asmari could not comment on the decision because it is still being considered by the commission. “We haven’t received any information yet about the implementation of the decision.”
Illegal Detention of Women H R Defenders in the Midst of the Border Conflict of Sudan
24 May 2013
Sudanese people inspired by the Arab spring, and led by women and youth, took the streets of Sudan demanding regime change in 2011. Authorities violently cracked down on these demonstrations, detaining more than 150 women, who were sexually abused or tortured, injured and beaten in the protests. Since June 2012, new protests against the Sudanese regime have intensified violence against women human rights defenders (WHRDs).
By Katherine Ronderos
In January 2011, the people from South Sudan voted in favour of secession from Sudan in a referendum process granted by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement, signed in Kenya in 2005, was the result of a long process of negotiation between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) following 22 years of war. Full Report at:
Female climber inspires young women in UAE
Female AUS community members express their pride
By Noor Nazzal
May 24, 2013
The female members of the American University of Sharjah community expressed their pride in one of their student body making history high atop Mount Everest.
They stressed that the fact that she was a woman made her achievement twice as inspirational to them.
AUS alumni Mariam Fahmi, Egyptian, 27, who knew Moharrak personally was inspired by her achievement to follow her dreams
“I don’t think a few brief sentences can quite describe the pride behind Raha’s achievement. She has always had an energetic vibe, always pushed her friends and team players to excel. A very motivating and ambitious spirit. She is now a further inspiration to Arabs and women in specific, story-telling that nothing is impossible once you have a dream. I am now further encouraged to dream big. Thank you Raha.”
Full Report at:
Sixty Bangladeshi Girls and Five Children Return From Indian Jail
May 25, 2013
Sixty Bangladeshi girls and five children returned home on Thursday night after serving 2 years in Indian jail.
Kamruzzaman, officer-in-charge of Benapole check post police immigration, said the girls were trafficked to India through the Jessore border.
They hail from Khulna, Barisal and Narail districts, he added.
Indian police had arrested them from Mumbai and Delhi on charge of living there illegally.
Later, the Indian government decided to repatriate them after exchange of letters between the two governments.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Wants Safety for RMG Workers
May 25, 2013
Leaders of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad yesterday expressed concern over the ongoing instabilities in the garment industry following some unexpected incidents and demanded safety for the garment workers.
Mentioning female workers’ contributions to the country’s economy, they also criticised the communal and fundamentalist groups for opposing the rights of women, said a press release.
They were addressing the inauguration of a two-day long meeting of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad in the Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh in the capital.
Full Report at:
Pakistan Institute to Confer Peace Award on Women Rights Activist, Sunila Abeysekera
May 25, 2013
KARACHI: Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) will confer Didi Nirmala Deshpande South Asian Peace and Justice Award for 2013 on Sunila Abeysekera, it has been announced.
The jury appointed by PILER made the decision in favour of Abeysekera, a leading women rights defender in Sri Lanka and South Asia, and a key player in the global women’s movement.
The award will be conferred as a token of respect for Didi Nirmala Deshpande, and a permanent tribute to her service to humanity. Pakistan Labour Trust (PLT), an associate of PILER, has instituted the award, which carries an amount of Rs 1 million.
Full Report at:
Pak Woman Crosses Over To Indian Side, Held
May 25, 2013
JAMMU: A middle aged Pakistani woman was detained after she inadvertently crossed over to India from Pakistan at Samba near Jammu on Friday.
Officials said Irshad Begum would be handed back to Pakistani authorities. "Preliminary questioning is on. It seems that she had ventured into the Indian side inadvertently and thus the handing over process is on,'' a source said.
Education for girls: Muslim Education Conference in Mumbai from May 29
May 23, 2013
A two-day Muslim Education Conference to discuss issues relating to vocational and technical education for community students, education for girls, will be organised in Mumbai from May 29.
The conference will be inaugurated by Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Union Minister for Minority Affairs K Rahman Khan will deliver a key note address at the event to be held at the Mumbai University complex at Kalina in Santa Cruz, conference organiser Maulana Azad Vichar Manch president Hussain Dalwai told reporters.
Full Report at:
In Afghanistan, businesswomen must seek a delicate balance
May 23, 2013|By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — Roya Mahboob navigates the potholes of doing business in Afghanistan like any other entrepreneur. Corruption is rife. Kidnappings are common. Bomb blasts remain an overarching reality.
But as the female chief executive of a thriving software firm in Afghanistan's male-dominated society, Mahboob finds that her potholes sometimes feel like sinkholes.
Banks have balked at lending her money simply because she is a woman. Anonymous emails and text messages have warned her to abandon her work. One ominous missive came on crumpled paper wrapped around a rock and thrown into her front yard. It said: "You're a bad girl. When you head outside, you'd better be careful."
"It's been very difficult for us," says Mahboob, a diminutive 25-year-old with a soft voice that nonetheless comes across as firm and unhesitant. "When we first went to talk to businessmen, they treated us very badly. They couldn't believe that women could be technical-minded. They'd make jokes about us. When they smiled, their smile told us that they didn't think we could do the job."
Full Report at: