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Two French Girls Apprehended As Would-Be Islamic State Recruits

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 Aug 2014

Yasmin Navsa, 17, left, says wearing a hijab makes her stand out. Olivia Harris / Reuters


 ISIL's Focus on Women Criticised In Turkey and the Balkans

 Muslim Women in Britain Wear Scarves with Pride, Not To Hide

 Saudi Divorced Mothers Hit Out At Low Alimony Payments

 Allegations of Sexual Harassment: Bangladesh Will Still Send Domestic Helps to Malaysia

 Working Saudi Women Seek Recognition

 G(Irls)20 Summit In Sydney Aims To Empower Young Women

 Women’s Football Struggles for Equal Rights in Uganda

 Neighbours On Duty to Protect Woman from Violent Husband in Turkey

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Two French Girls Apprehended As Would-Be Islamic State Recruits

By Associated Press

August 23, 2014

PARIS — Two French girls, aged 15 and 17, have been captured by a security net that authorities are using to ferret out citizens who are considering traveling to other countries to join jihads.

The action is one example of how France is taking judicial action against citizens suspected of seeking careers as foreign fighters, even if they have yet to leave French soil. Thousands of European citizens have made the trip to Syrian battlegrounds, but there is no unified plan of action in Europe.

France is leading the way in Europe in the battle against this problem, and its sweep could get even wider with a planned law that would allow passports to be confiscated from those suspected of planning to fight in Syria or Iraq, and would create new measures to prosecute Jihadi wannabes or returnees. France also is planning to join other European countries in blocking Internet sites that espouse the Jihadi cause.

All of Europe is worried about the return of battle-hardened citizens looking to continue their jihad in their homeland.

The concern has grown acute with the beheading of American journalist James Foley — by an executioner with an English accent. The group calling itself the Islamic State — now regarded by Western authorities as the most brutal among jihadi organizations — claimed responsibility this week by posting a video of the slaying on the Internet.

France also points to the suspected killer of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, who fought in Syria, as evidence of the need to prevent potential catastrophes.

“Must I wait for a new Mehdi Nemmouche to fire before I act?” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a recent interview with the online publication Mediapart. He was referring to the tough new measures to be debated this fall — and contending they will not compromise civil liberties.

France, with a Muslim population estimated at 5 million — the largest in Western Europe — is particularly concerned about the flight of youths to the battlefields.

French authorities say there are some 900 people from France who have been implicated in jihad — meaning they have taken part in one, plan to join one, or are returning from one. Several dozen have been killed.

Such measures would put France ahead of other countries in its effort to stop the problem, which some experts see as getting worse.

“It is impossible to quantify the risk of terrorist attacks by returning foreign fighters,” Nigel Inkster, a former counterterrorism chief for Britain’s M16 spy agency, wrote on his blog Friday for the International Institute of Strategic Studies. But he said those returning from Syria and Iraq “are likely to be better trained and motivated and more battle-hardened” than those who trained in Pakistan’s tribal areas over the past decade.

Britain has struggled to deal with home-grown Jihadi fighters since four British men inspired by al-Qaida blew themselves up on the London transit system in 2005, killing 52 people. An estimated 400-500 Britons have fought in Syria, scores of whom have returned home. Police have arrested 69 people this year regarding suspected Syria-related terrorist offenses, compared to 25 in all of 2013.

Britain emphasizes a soft approach to routing out would-be jihadi or those returning from such conflicts. Its Prevent program highlights outreach and aims to get institutions such as prisons, a known breeding ground for radicalization, and universities to watch for people at risk.

Germany also emphasizes outreach. It has about 400 citizens who have become jihadi fighters in Syria and elsewhere, a third of whom have returned. School counseling, emergency hotlines and programs to help find jobs for returning jihadi fighters are used. Returnees are kept under observation, but can only be charged if there is proof they joined a terror organization.

In Belgium, some are calling for a “homeland security office,” but the current caretaker government has been unable to tackle the terrorism issue. Belgium, with a population of 11 million, has between 76 and 298 Jihadi, according to a study by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization.

Further north, about 300 people from Sweden, Denmark and Norway have travelled to Syria — most believed to have joined the Islamic State group.

Could Foley’s grisly public murder become a deterrent to would-be Jihadi? Some think not. It is not the first time beheadings have been made available to the world via Internet.

The IS pronouncement in June of a self-styled caliphate straddling the border of Iraq and Syria has energized some wannabe Jihadi, according to Peter Neumann, a King’s College London professor and director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization.

“They are saying, ‘Maybe this is ugly, but there is a bigger cause that needs to be kept in mind, the creation of the caliphate. … This is the price you have to pay for a really historical project,’” Neumann said.

The unidentified French teenage suspects, one from Tarbes in the southwest of France, the other from Lyon, allegedly acted together. They’re neither the first adolescents nor the first females arrested in France. Some after returning from Syria or fetched by families at the Turkish border.

The girls are among some 60 people being investigated in France for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise.



ISIL's focus on women criticised in Turkey and the Balkans


Atrocities being committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) include the recruitment of women to serve as sex slaves for fighters.

The terrorist organisation, which is recruiting Muslim women in Turkey and Europe, has established centres to organise the sending of women to Iraq and Syria. A so-called "marriage bureau" is in Aleppo, urging "single women and widows to provide their names and addresses" and join ISIL.

Ali Semin, a Middle East analyst at the Wise Men Centre for Strategic Studies in Turkey, said that one of the biggest issues regarding ISIL is how it treats women and girls.

"They have a fatwa on that issue saying that it is halal to have intercourse with women during the war. They see a right for themselves to rape women. It is very obvious that ISIL is not a religious structure or an organisation committed to the religion," Semin told SETimes.

Iraqi Yazidi MP Vian Dakheel asked in an emotional appeal in the Iraqi parliament this month for immediate assistance to repel ISIL from the Yazidi towns of Sinjar and Zumar, where thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee into the mountains without food and water.

"Our women are used as the concubines and sold in the markets," Dakheel told the parliament. "We are being butchered under the banner of 'There is no God but Allah,'" she added.

Gözde Özköse, a single young Turkish woman in her 30s, told SETimes that she was very emotional while watching a video of a Yezidi woman mourning that ISIL had taken the community's daughters.

"I cannot believe what we are witnessing in this century. But the reality is very close to us. Just next to our 'indivisible integrity.' They are so-called modern enough to open an office to recruit sex slaves," she told SETimes.

Semin told SETimes that for many, the fear of being a sex slave is worse than death.

"They want to hide their daughters, their sisters, their wives from ISIL. They want to save the honour of their women. This threat should be considered very serious. ISIL has now been threatening the whole Muslim world. They have to be stopped and I am repeating ISIL has nothing to do with Islam," Semin said.

There is also an increasing online ISIL campaign trying to lure Western women to jihad and some European women have already ended up in the ranks of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The internet is being used as a powerful weapon to persuade Western women to travel to the Middle East and join the mujahidin to contribute "through matrimony" and "child- bearing."

The internet propaganda is accompanied by savage crimes, such as the beheadings of dozens of Syrian army soldiers in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.

There have been reports of several European women joining the jihadists in Syria, including 16-year-old British twins Salma and Zahra Halane, who left their home in Manchester in May and traveled to Syria to become jihadi brides.

"Such propaganda can be very dangerous because we already had cases of underage girls going to the Middle East for these purposes. The state should react decisively and not allow the Islamists in any way to jeopardise the security of the citizens," Dzevad Galijasevic, former director of the Southeast Europe Expert Team for the Fight Against Terrorism and Organised Crime, told SETimes.

In mid-July, ISIL released a video showcasing Bosnian Muslim girls chanting and waving the ISIL flag. The video has since been removed, but recent photos on the girls' Facebook pages show them brandishing Kalashnikov rifles, and in some pictures they are surrounded by armed men. They announced plans to marry so that they can become "holy warriors," as, they wrote, "Death is our goal."

Citizens in BiH believe that parents should be aware of what their children are doing on internet.

"Parents should be careful of what pages their children are visiting on internet. Islamic propaganda is brutal, like every other propaganda. Such pages and people who are dealing with recruiting should be reported to the police immediately to protect our women and young girls from that terror," Elmaja Aradinovic, a sociologist from Sarajevo, told SETimes.

Anzotika Kelmendi, who lives in Kosovo, agreed.

"The families should become aware [of the issue] and make their daughters aware. It should be more dealt with inside the society," Kelmendi told SETimes.

Abit Hoxha, a senior researcher of Kosovo Centre for Security Studies, said Kosovo is also exposed to such counter values mainly because of social, economic and other factors. "Despite the possible exposure and easiness to go to ISIL controlled territories, I hugely doubt that women from our region will willingly go for the purpose of marrying the fighters," he told SETimes.

ISIL militants have been accused of gross human rights violations and war crimes in Syria and Iraq, including rape, mass kidnappings, summary executions and massacres. Tens of Albanians from Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia are fighting in Syria and Iraq, making the governments even more cautious about the increasing trend of radicalism.

The political advisers of the outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told SETimes that the government takes the issue very seriously.

"The war in Syria has attracted a number of people from Europe, including Kosovo, who are actively participating in the fighting there. This presents a serious security threat for the region, having in mind their active campaign to recruit new members and their potential return to the region," Ramadan Ilazi, one of Thaci's political advisers, told SETimes.

Correspondents Zeynep Cermen in Istanbul and Drazen Remikovic in Sarajevo contributed to this report.

How can the Muslim community and governments in Europe and Turkey protect women from ISIL and convince teens not to follow ISIL’s teachings? Add your thoughts in the comment area below.



Muslim women in Britain wear scarves with pride, not to hide

August 23, 2014

LONDON // When youth worker Sumreen Farooq was abused in a London street, the 18-year-old decided it was time to take a stand – and she started to wear a headscarf.

Ms Farooq is one of many young Muslim women living in Britain who have, for various reasons, chosen to adopt the headscarf to declare their faith to all around them, despite figures showing rising violence against visibly identifiable Muslims.

“I’m going to stand out whatever I do, so I might as well wear the headscarf,” said Ms Farooq, a shop assistant who also volunteers at an Islamic youth centre in Leyton, east London.

While just under five per cent of Britain’s 63 million population are Muslim, there are no official numbers on how many women wear the hijab or the niqab.

But anecdotally it seems in recent years that more young women are choosing to wear a headscarf to assert a Muslim identity they feel is under attack and to publicly display their beliefs.

Shanza Ali, 25, a Masters graduate who works for a Muslim-led non-profit organisation in London, said she was born in Pakistan and her Pakistani mother had never worn a veil but both she and her sister Sundas, 20, chose to do so.

“I decided to make a commitment as a Muslim and I have never stopped since,” Shanza Ali said in her family home in Walthamstow, east London.

“Sometimes you forget that you’re covering your hair but you never forget why you’re covering. You remember, that to you, your character should be more important than your appearance.

“It makes it easier for Muslim women to keep away from things that you don’t want to do that would impact your value system. If you don’t want to go clubbing, drink, or have relations outside marriage, it can help, but it can also just be a reminder to be a good person and treat others well.”

Shaista Gohir, chairman of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, said more women had adopted headscarves since the September 11 attacks, and in London on July 7, 2005, put them under greater political and public scrutiny.

“For some young women it is a way of showing they are different and they are Muslim although it is not a Muslim obligation,” she said.

She said the full-face niqab was a minor phenomenon in Britain, worn by relatively few women, although it had become central to a wider debate in the country about integration and British values.

This was put to the test last year when a judge ruled a Muslim woman could not give evidence at a trial wearing a niqab, sparking debate about whether Britain should follow other European countries and ban full-face veils in public places. A compromise was reached and it was agreed that the woman could wear the niqab during the trial but not when she was giving evidence.

Most Islamic scholars agree that women adopting a full-face veil is more to do with culture than religion.

But women who publicly display their religion by wearing a scarf of any kind have found they can be targeted for doing so.

Figures released recently from the campaign group Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) showed the number of attacks against Muslims in Britain was one the rise.

During its first year of monitoring, Tell MAMA recorded 584 anti-Muslim incidents between April 1 2012 and April 30 2013, with about 74 per cent of these taking place online.

Of the physical incidents, six in 10, or 58 per cent, were against Muslim women and 80 per cent of women targeted were visually identifiable by wearing a hijab or niqab.

The number rose to 734 incidents over the 10 months from Mary 2013 to February 2014 with 54 per cent of these against women and a total of 599 online. There was a spike in reports in the weeks following the murder of off-duty soldier Lee Rigby in south London in May last year by two British Muslim converts.

“Attacks against visibly dressed Muslim females may not accurately explain away the trend of hate crimes being opportunistic and situational. The data suggests that the alleged perpetrators of anti-Muslim hate crimes at a street-based level, are young white males targeting Muslim women, and that is a cause for concern,” Tell MAMA said.

Matthew Feldman, co-founder of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University who analyses Tell MAMA data, said the rise in the numbers of attacks could be partly due to more awareness of the reporting process.

“But there is a slight bump in the occurrence of people wearing more visible dress and of victims being women rather than men,” Mr Feldman said.

He said it was surprising but reassuring that the rise in violence against Muslim women had been accompanied by a rise in the number of women adopting the veil.

This was also the conclusion of a study last year by the University of Birmingham that found over 15 years Muslim women had repeatedly been shown to be disproportionately targeted in relation to anti-Muslim hatred as they were identifiable.

None of the women attacked, however, had stopped wearing a veil as a result.

Yasmin Navsa, 17, a student from Hackney in east London, said wearing a hijab made her stand out and made her different.

“In Islam it doesn’t say anywhere you have to wear a veil but it’s a choice. It’s more fashionable now with different colours and styles which makes it more attractive to wear,” Yasmin said in a break from exams.

Sundas Ali, 29, said her husband, whom she married last year after an introduction between their families, made it clear to her from the outset that wearing the hijab was her decision.

She said some young Muslim women even received kickback from some men for wearing a headscarf as they were seen as “boring, unfashionable, and no fun”.

“There is a misconception that it is the men telling the women what they should wear but for me and all my friends this is just not the case,” Sundas, an Oxford university graduate with a PhD in sociology, told Reuters.

“My husband left it up to me as he doesn’t practise ritualistic religion. We both have a mixed identity, our religious, ethnic, and national identities are all important to us. His eastern side really appealed to me but also the fact that he is quite liberal, in an open-minded way. We really are the modern Muslim generation.”



Saudi Divorced Mothers Hit Out At Low Alimony Payments

August 23, 2014

BU DHABI // “Fatima”, a mother of four, says she is struggling to keep her head above water.

Since her divorce in 2010, she says her former husband, also an Emirati, has only paid her small amounts each month, between Dh200 and Dh500, as maintenance.

Fatima is only one of many women who say they cannot live comfortable, independent lives because they are not paid enough alimony.

Her family lives in a rented house for which her brothers help to pay, and the amount she has had to borrow weighs heavily on her mind.

“Even though I have a job, I don’t get a big enough salary as I only have a high school diploma,” Fatima says. “I have a bank loan that I must also pay, but I don’t have the financial ability.”

She says she has taken several loans to pay for her rent, furniture, car and children’s schooling.

Recently, she has had to consider quitting her job because of medical problems – but the loans make that impossible.

“My family help me whenever I need it but I can’t always ask them for money. I also received several alms from the Crown Prince’s Court on some occasions, but what I need is for my bank loan to be paid fully and it is a big amount,” she says.

Her eldest son, who is 17, is looking for odd jobs to help contribute towards the family’s finances.

Umm Saeed, 31, also an Emirati, receives Dh6,000 a month in maintenance from her former husband and she says she can barely support her three children with it.

“I am trying to give my children everything I can, but I cannot handle it with this kind of money,” she says.

Umm Saeed claims her ex-husband did not pay her alimony for 12 consecutive months.

Now, he irregularly pays her the amount he agreed to in their divorce settlement.

Umm Saeed says her inability to find a well-paid job, after having achieved only a high school certificate, has added to her burden.

She says she does not want to work until late in the afternoon, as she wants to focus on raising her children properly.

“My children are my priority, they are the most important thing in my life,” she says.

“If I don’t raise my children, do I just leave them to a maid?”

She has looked for freelance work but that has not helped either.

“On certain months, I have nothing left and I can’t save any money because of the small amount I receive that barely covers our finances,” Umm Saeed says.

She says she is unable to receive social benefits because her father is an investor in the country. But she cannot accept her father’s money as he is no longer her guardian.

“I have my children in my custody and the court only pays Dh500 as a fee for being a guardian. A maid gets more,” she says.

Lawyer Ali Al Abadi says alimony is specified by judges in the Personal Affairs Courts.

“It is up to the court to decide the amount depending on the husband’s social status and yearly income,” Mr Al Abadi says.

The children’s situation and ages are also taken into account.

Both the husband and wife can ask their representing lawyers for a change in the amount.

“The wife has the right to ask for an increase in the alimony and the husband has the right to ask for a decrease, depending on his financial situation,” Mr Al Abadi says.

“If the wife believes she requires a larger amount for anything in particular, her lawyer can request that at court.

“The judge will then decide whether there will be an increase or a decrease, depending on the case.”

Umm Saeed says her lawyer asked the court to increase her alimony, but it did not accept her arguments.

“We divorced mothers need more support, especially financially. The alimony given should be more than Dh10, 000, at least for three children,” she says.

“The Government is working hard at looking after our needs, but I ask the judges who handle such cases to look at both sides of the issue.

“They look at the husband’s salary and assets and neglect the mother’s need to care for her children.”



Allegations of sexual harassment: Bangladesh will still send domestic helps to Malaysia

August 23, 2014

The government has agreed to send female household staff to Malaysia at a time when Indonesia and Cambodia have already stopped doing so in the wake of reports of physical torture and sexual harassment.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, several officials of non-governmental organisations who work for the welfare of female migrants said domestic helps in Malaysia were regularly beaten and sometimes became victims of sexual harassment.

As a result of inhuman torture, many housemaids ran away and police detained them and kept them in jail. They also added that in the jails, the female migrants were sometimes assaulted.

After several incidents of torture and sexual harassment in Malaysia, many countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, stopped sending domestic help there.

“It is true that many countries stopped sending housemaids to Malaysia and we have to be cautious before sending housemaids,” Bangladesh Obhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA) Director Sumaiya Islam told the Dhaka Tribune over the phone yesterday.

Sumaiya, who visited Malaysia earlier this month, also said: “During my visit, I met two Bangladeshi female workers who were working as road cleaners and they were in good shape.”

She further suggested that if the government sends female workers as housemaids to Malaysia, there should be a mechanism to monitor whether any form of torture takes place or not.

“There must be some clauses in the agreement which would protect the female workers from being tortured,” she added.

A senior official at the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry told the Dhaka Tribune: “As most of the countries have stopped sending housemaids, Malaysia is now facing a serious domestic help crisis. Thus, finding no other alternative, Malaysia is now considering Bangladesh to meet its needs.”

“It would have been better if we could send female workers to the manufacturing sector,” Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Units (RMMRU) founding chair Tasneem Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

During the Malaysian human resource minister’s three day visit (August 18-20) to Bangladesh, the government agreed to send housemaids to Malaysia.

“We are considering the offer and a committee headed by the expatriates’ welfare secretary will finalise the decision in this regard,” said Joint Secretary Nurul Islam.

“It is too early to comment,” he added.

When contacted, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain told this correspondent: “I can’t talk now as I am about to deliver a speech at a seminar.”

A senior official at the ministry said a separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be signed to send housemaids.

Bangladesh is now sending domestic helpers to a number of countries, including Jordan.



Working Saudi women seek recognition

August 23, 2014

It is common to hear about the social contributions and positive influences made my men in Saudi society. Since men make up a majority of the labor force and have more opportunities than women, prosperity does not seem to be as elusive as it is for women.

However, as more and more Saudi women join the labor force, the calls for recognizing women’s contributions to society have grown louder. While there are still a significant number of people who believe women should stay at home and raise children, a growing-number of people are condemning regressive mentalities that exaggerate the achievements of men while completely ignoring the vital contributions made my women in shaping society and the country’s economy, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

Maryam Mousa, student counselor, said there are people in Saudi society that still think women should bear children and raise sons to become leaders and daughters to be homemakers, a view she believes hinders efforts to encourage women to become more productive members of society.

“A woman in our society starts school at the same age as her male peers, studies the same curricula and sits for the same examinations until she graduates. Women choose challenging majors of study and work hard to graduate and some are even featured in the news as inventors, researchers and role models. Despite all of this effort and perseverance, there are still men who do not appreciate who she is because she cannot cook the meal his mother used to,” she said.

Nora Daifuallah said what makes Saudi women worthy of recognition is the fact that they have excelled in many scientific and vocational fields at remarkable speed in an environment that does not support their activities.

“Perhaps the fact that women now pose competition to the male members of our society is what makes men so apprehensive about acknowledging the role of women in Saudi society,” she said.

Dr. Uhoud Al-Rihaily, a psychiatrist at Taibah University in Madinah, said not only do some men believe that the role of women should be confined to the walls of their home but they also believe that men have inherent traits such as patience, determination, and bravery that allow them to excel and be productive members of society.

“Because some men believe that women lack these traits, they also think women have a lesser chance of ever becoming their equals. Such mindsets will take time to change. What we can do is constantly set examples and encourage the women who have aspirations to be productive members of their society in a positive way. With time, people will grow accustomed to the role of women in this context and start supporting them as they will understand the positive outcome that can result from women playing a more active role,” she said.

Social worker Latifah Al-Siraan said the support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has allowed women to get involved in politics and contribute to developing the Kingdom’s economy, society and culture.

“It was only during his reign that women got their own national IDs and the right to become members of the Shoura Council. The King believes that the role of a woman is not restricted to the household anymore. Many women have aspirations and aim to leave a positive footprint on their society. Such a transformation has definitely enhanced the status of society and opened opportunities for a better life for many families,” she said.

“Rejection of women’s role in society still exists due to our traditions. Some view women working as a negative phenomenon that will cause family breakups. The opinions regarding women’s role in society are mere opinions that should not be forced upon others. Both men and woman were created for the development of this earth. The duty of a man toward a woman and vice versa is merely supportive and cooperative,” she added.



G(irls)20 Summit in Sydney aims to empower young women

August 23, 2014

Sydney Morning Herald

The idea came, like many great ones do, in the early hours of the morning. It was 2009 and Canadian social entrepreneur Farah Mohamed was working on a way to economically advance girls and women in Canada and abroad.

"I had been reading the paper about how Canada was hosting the 2010 G20 summit," Ms Mohamed said.

"I went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night and thought, 'That's it! We need to steal the G20 idea! But we need to put girls and women at the centre of those conversations.' "Ms Mohamed formed a working party and six months later the first G(irls)20 Summit was held in Toronto.

On Monday and Tuesday, the fifth G(irls)20 Summit will open in Sydney.

It will bring together female delegates aged between 18 and 20 from each G20 country, in addition to representatives from the European and African unions, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East and North Africa region. 

"We want to debate and design solutions that will economically advance girls and women around the world," said Ms Mohamed, who is now the president and CEO of G(irls)20.

She said her hopes for the summit were simple.

"I expect by the end of the summit the girls will produce a communique with some very serious and practical recommendations. I have been in great conversations with the Prime Minister's office and I am optimistic that the Prime Minister, [Treasurer Joe] Hockey or [Foreign Minister Julie] Bishop will receive the recommendations from the Australian delegate, Anna Wiseman."

Ms Wiseman, 19, a student at the University of Melbourne, said G(irls)20 appealed to her "because they discuss the same issues the G20 leaders look at, but through the lens of economically empowering women". 

Ms Wiseman hopes she can translate some of the ideas she hears at the summit into action, particularly in relation to migrant women in Australia.

Ms Mohamed says this is one of the summit's great achievements, and the thing she feels most impassioned about.

"We invest in these young women, give them access to leaders in their community and make sure they can go back home and make a difference," she said. "If you use the levers of power you can bring about change."

For 20-year-old delegate Yaroslava Eryomina, change is something she wants to see in her home country.

"Russia serves as an example where equality hasn't yet been achieved," she said. "Stereotypes still exist, particularly in traditional ideas of [what is] masculine and feminine employment."

Ms Eryomina, who is studying politics at Moscow State University, hopes to create a website for young women to share their employment problems and find solutions together.

"I want to make life in Russia better," she said.

For the delegates travelling from countries where opportunities for young women are few, the G(irls)20 Summit offers a brief respite.

"The summit helps teach young girls not to be conformists and supports them to be themselves, despite the great pressure of the modern world," Ms Eryomina said. "The most important thing for me is to develop ongoing relationships with the girls who will be the leaders of tomorrow."



Women’s Football Struggles for Equal Rights In Uganda

August 23, 2014

KAMPALA, Aug 23 2014 (IPS) - Growing up with five brothers, soccer-mad Majidah Nantanda had half a team to compete against at home in Makindye, a suburb in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. But at her school, in the 1990s, there were two sports rules: “Netball for the girls and football for the boys,” recalls the 32-year-old, as she stands on the sidelines of a boy’s game in Makindye.

“So I’d sneak out of netball to watch the boys play.”

From the age of eight, her brothers realised they had some fierce competition so they introduced her to the neighbourhood boys, who Nantanda would play with during her holidays.

“My mum never told me you’re not supposed to play football,” Nantanda tells IPS, adding her single mother, a businesswoman, bought her a kit and later gave her transport money to go to games.

Despite only getting a chance to perfect her talent in her spare time, it didn’t stop the Ugandan from captaining the first national women’s football team before becoming the first female national coach in 2007.

The country’s sports fans have been encouraged recently by Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich picking up gold in the men’s marathon in the London 2012 Olympics, and countryman Moses Kipsiro winning the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this month.

But “there is no sport that promotes Uganda more than football”, Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) spokesperson Ahmed Hussein insists.

“Even if people go and win medals at international level [in other sports], nothing beats football,” Hussein tells IPS.

Nantanda says women playing football in Uganda has become more accepted over the past 15 years.

Today in this East African country there are at least 64 girls’ schools competing in the annual national secondary girls football championships, and many other women who aspire to be the next Nantanda.

This month, in fact, a team of 18 female footballers from Uganda could have travelled to Canada to participate in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

“They would have been so happy. For most of them it would have been their first time on a plane, and for all of them, the first time in North America,” says Nantanda, who would have made the journey with them as coach.

But instead of being cheered on by their country some 5,000km away in Ghana, the ladies, aged between 16 and 20 years, are getting on with their lives after having their hopes dashed at the last minute by a governing body that hasn’t grasped the potential of Uganda’s female football players, says Nantanda.

Nantanda says just three days before the match in Ghana, FUFA announced on radio that they had withdrawn the team, citing a lack of funds.

“Women’s football is not a priority for the nation,” says the coach.

“We are not catered for like the men’s national team.”

She adds: “The Cranes [the men’s national team] are paid a lot of money but women, they don’t take us seriously.”

A total of 25 aspiring sports stars, coached by Nantanda, trained for months while also studying at school or university and while holding down part-time jobs.

Last September, the women beat neighbouring South Sudan 13-0 on home soil in Kampala.

In defence, Hussein says Uganda is the only country among FIFA’s 209 members that doesn’t have an annual designated budget from the government. He stresses that although the government is “passionate” about the game, often approaching with support, the money they give isn’t enough.

FUFA are funded by local corporations such as Airtel, NIC and Nile Breweries, ticket sales and FIFA development grants.

The United Nations have stressed the potential contribution that sport can make towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), stressing it is about participation, inclusion and citizenship, and a certain percentage of FUFA grants must be spent on women’s football along with youth soccer and refereeing.

In 2004, Uganda’s football association was warned by FIFA that if they continued to use their yearly grant for the national team they risked losing it. In the past, FUFA have also denied corruption claims.

Nantanda sympathises with the girls. After all she has had her struggles.

“Not everyone’s happy that I’m a national coach,” she says, adding most soccer coaches in Uganda are male.

“A woman doing something different will straight away be attacked by men.

She adds: “If you’re not [emotionally] strong enough you’ll just give up.”

But that’s something Nantanda has never done, even when she’s been the only female alongside 60 men at an elite coaching session.

“I interact with these men and I do everything they do,” she says.

As one of only a few female FIFA-recognised referees in Uganda, Irene Namubiru, 34, has also smashed her own goals.

“[Women] enjoy playing football,” Namubiru tells IPS. “But they fear officiating because of the abuses, the insults from the fans, so they hold back.”

Nantanda doesn’t know when the under 20s team will play next.

Many women have stopped training and forgotten about football altogether.

Hussein says their Ghana match coincided with the men’s senior team travelling to South Africa for the African Nations Championship finals. Both competitions would have cost the federation “well over” 400 million shillings (153,552 dollars).

“People believe that the national senior team should be given a lot of precedence, as opposed to the women’s team or even to junior teams,” says Hussein.

“But we’re looking at entering the women’s team in future international tournaments.”

He says there could be a pilot project in the next couple of years in Uganda to form a women’s national football league.

“We believe that if the women’s team is properly handled they can get their own funding from different companies, the corporate world could come in and support them,” he says.

Nantanda still speaks to her under 20s and encourages them to train. But the coach, who admits she does mostly “volunteer work”, says she is putting more of her effort into “grassroots development”, encouraging girls in villages across Uganda to take up football through her charity Growing the Game for Girls.

Through Tackle Africa, Nantanda she is also getting rural communities hooked on football to teach them about HIV prevention and management.

There’s one piece of advice she gives all women, regardless of whether they have an upcoming tournament.

“Continue with your studies,” she reiterates.

“You won’t get paid through football.

“It’s not only about playing for the national team. I want these girls to be better women in the future and not waste their education.”



Neighbors on duty to protect woman from violent husband in Turkey

August 23, 2014

A woman, who was stabbed 43 times by her husband, is being protected by her neighbors after a court decided they would not arrest the man.

Hasret Kara, 31, mother of four, was stabbed 43 times by her husband Yakup Kara, 37, with a screwdriver in their house in the Çekmeköy neighborhood of Istanbul on Aug. 8.

The woman survived the attack, but had to have surgery on her lungs due to the serious injuries she sustained.

Hasret Kara said her husband had physically assaulted her several times before, adding that on one occasion, he broke one of the bones in her chest while she was pregnant.

Last year, Kara applied to the court for a divorce. “He tried to convince me not to divorce [him], but I was determined. At night, I would stay at the hairdressers working because he was at home. I would stay with my kids at home if he did not come home,” said Kara adding she was attacked by her husband at home when she attempted to go work on Aug. 8.

Prosecutor Caner Ergöz demanded the arrest of her husband, but the Istanbul 4th Penal Court judge decided to later release the man.

Yahya Silyanoğlu, who lives in the same apartment building, said he keeps his specially trained dog in the garden at night in order to keep the husband away from Kara and her children.

“We stay on duty at the apartment until late at night with our friends. This man still comes here and threatens the woman,” Silyanoğlu said.

Fatma Erdem, who has a store in the same neighborhood said she will beat the man herself if he returns to the house.

“What kind of justice is this? Kara and her children cannot enter their own house. They are afraid and this man is free to go anywhere [he likes],” said Erdem.