New Age Islam News Bureau
12 January 2021
• Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue Cover Has Sparked Controversy Online
• 'Barring Muslim Women as Marriage Registrars Unconstitutional'
• Pandemic Restrictions A Business Boon for Some Iraqi Women
• Somali PM Reserves 30% of Parliament Seats For Women In Upcoming Poll
• Virginity Tests for Female Rape Survivors Outlawed By Pakistani Court
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
UK Muslim Girl Refuses To Wear a Shorter Skirt As It Is 'Against Her Religious Beliefs'
11 January 2021
Siham Hamud’s father Idris Hamud, 55, (pictured with his three children) said they follow a traditional branch of Islam which believes women should only wear long skirts
A Muslim schoolgirl's parents have been threatened with legal action for refusing to send her to school in a shorter skirt because it is 'against her religious beliefs'.
Siham Hamud has been wearing an ankle-length skirt to school for years, but was shocked when teachers allegedly said the attire was incorrect school uniform last month.
The 12-year-old said she felt 'bullied' by the school because of her religious beliefs.
Her father Idris Hamud, 55, said Siham was sent home from school to change every day in December, and told to come back wearing the correct uniform - but she refused.
Uxbridge High School says girls should wear black trousers or a black pleated skirt from official uniform suppliers - which the family claims falls above the knee.
But dad-of-eight Idris claims both uniform choices contravene the family's strict religious beliefs as the traditional branch of Islam they follow believes women should only wear long skirts.
The school in Hillingdon, Middlesex, has now threatened to action steps to take Idris and wife Salma Yusuf, 44, to court over Siham's alleged unauthorised absences.
Siham, who is currently studying from home due to Covid lockdown restrictions, said: 'It feels like bullying because of what I believe.
'I think they should just let me wear my school uniform to school.
'I like school normally, and English, drama and RE are my favourite lessons but I couldn't attend.
'I find it annoying because I've missed a month of school, so I have to catch up a lot. I wish I could just have gone to school as normal.
'It makes me feel left out, because I can't see my friends either. They aren't accepting me for my religion and that's wrong.
'I feel confused and annoyed that I can't wear what I want for my religion. I hope they'll change their rules so that girls like me wear skirts to school.'
Idris, an athletics coach, added: 'My daughter is being denied an education because of her religious beliefs.
'All Siham wants to do is to wear a skirt which is a few centimetres longer than her classmates - and I don't know why the school has such a problem with this.
'She is sent home to change into a shorter skirt then return to school later that day - but she isn't going to change her beliefs in an hour.
'The school is threatening to take legal action against me, but I'm not forcing her to wear a longer skirt - it's her faith and her decision to make.
'She used to love school, but now she goes to school crying because of this - it's heartbreaking.'
The family said they have recently discovered a new school uniform rule about skirts was introduced two years ago, stating shorter school-branded skirts had to be worn.
But the family claim they didn't know - and Siham continued wearing her longer skirt, unaware she was breaking any rules, until she was pulled up on December 1.
She was sent home to change - but didn't return to school - and the same thing happened each day for the three weeks of term in December, her family said.
It comes despite older sisters Sumayyah, 19, and Ilham, 17, having both worn the longer skirts to school without issue.
Dad Idris said they follow a traditional branch of Islam, which means they 'want to believe in their religion in a pure way'.
He says this means women should only wear long skirts.
The school sent her parents a letter threatening legal action against them for their daughters alleged unauthorised absences on December 9.
It said: 'Siham's absence is being recorded as unauthorised. Unauthorised absence may result in a fine being issued, or legal action being taken against the adults who have parental responsibility or day-to-day care of your child.
'Legal action can be in the form of a penalty notice or a summons to the magistrates' court.
'I must ask that you support the school and your daughter by ensuring that she attends school in full school uniform with immediate effect.'
Idris added: 'I don't know why her skirt has suddenly become such an issue.
'She's always been a bright girl, one of the top in her class, and she loved school - and now they just keep sending her home.
'Siham makes her own decisions about her religion, and I can't make her wear clothes she doesn't want to wear, so neither should the school.
'She is being denied an education because of her religious beliefs, and I don't know how anyone can get away with that.'
While Siham has been learning from home since the new term began, Idris expects the issue to return once face-to-face teaching resumes.
He said the issue is due to be discussed on a complaints panel with the school governors later this month.
The school states on their website: 'Every lesson is important and school should not be missed unless it is completely unavoidable.
'The school will report any unauthorised or continued absences to the participation team, who will then contact the parent to discuss the reasons for the absences.
'Legal action and Fixed Penalty Notices (fines) are issued for students who do not attend school regularly.'
The school's principal, Nigel Clemens, added: 'This matter is currently subject to examination through the formal school complaints policy.
'It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further at this time.'
Why Kamala Harris’s Vogue Cover Has Sparked Controversy Online
January 11, 2021
Kamala Harris is the star of US Vogue’s February 2021 issue
DUBAI: Kamala Harris, who made history as the first black woman to be elected vice president in America, is the star of US Vogue’s February 2021 issue, however, many online aren’t pleased with the cover photos.
Users took to social media platforms, including Twitter and Clubhouse, to express their discontent with the lighting of the two photographs, in which Harris is seen posing against the backdrop of a draped, pink satin fabric.
Online critics accused the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and the magazine for supposedly “white-washing” the vice president-elect.
One user called it a “washed-out mess of a cover.”
“Kamala Harris is about as light skinned as women of color come and Vogue still (redacted) up her lighting,” the commenter wrote.
Other users criticized Wintour, suggesting that she “must not have many Black friends and colleagues.”
“I’ll shoot shots of VP Kamala Harris for free using my Samsung and I’m 100% confident it’ll turn out better than this Vogue cover,” wrote New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali.
Vogue denied to the New York Post it had lightened Harris’s skin after the shoot.
The choice of cover image also came under fire over its casual style, with some social media users claiming it didn’t respect the gravity of Harris’s election as the US’s first female vice-president.
The photographs were shot by Tyler Mitchell, who made history as the first African-American photographer to lens a Vogue US cover when he shot Beyonce in 2018.
But according to the New York Post, Harris and her team had full control over the styling, hair and makeup.
She wore a casual black jacket and trousers paired with Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers for one photo and a powder blue Michael Kors pantsuit for the other.
According to a source familiar with the publication plans, the vice president-elect’s team were blindsided by the magazine's choice of cover as it was reportedly not what they were expecting.
The same source said the Harris team has asked for a new cover, though it should be noted that the print version of the magazine went to press last month.
A spokesperson for Vogue said in an emailed statement that Vogue “loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris’s authentic, approachable nature — which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration.
“To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward, we're celebrating both images of her as covers digitally.”
'Barring Muslim Women as Marriage Registrars Unconstitutional'
January 12th, 2021
Jasad President Hasanul Haq Inu and General Secretary Shirin Akhter expressed their shock over the High Court verdict
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasad) has said the High Court’s decision to bar Muslim women from becoming marriage registrar on the grounds of certain physical conditions is against the constitution of the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Jasad President Hasanul Haq Inu and General Secretary Shirin Akhter expressed their shock over the verdict.
They said the state cannot discriminate between men and women based on their gender.
They called on the chief justice of the Supreme Court to review the unconstitutional judgment of the High Court by forming a full court of the Appellate Division.
The High Court bench delivered a verdict on February 26 last year rejecting a writ petition filed by Ayesha Siddiqua, a marriage registrar candidate from Dinajpur.
Also Read- High Court bars women from being appointed as Muslim marriage registrars
The petition was filed challenging a decision of the Law Ministry not to recruit her as a marriage registrar.
In its full judgment released recently, the High Court bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Kazi Zinat Hoque observed: "It has to be borne in mind that due to certain physical conditions a woman cannot enter the mosque during a certain time of the month. She is even excused from performing the mandatory daily prayers during this particular time.”
"This physical disqualification does not allow her to conduct religious task. We are mindful of the fact that Muslim marriage is a religious ceremony and has to be guided by the terms and dictates of Islam," it added.
In its verdict, the High Court also upheld the decision of the ministry that in 2014 said that women cannot be marriage registrar due to the social and practical conditions in Bangladesh.
Pandemic Restrictions A Business Boon for Some Iraqi Women
January 12, 2021
BAGHDAD: Fatima Ali was in her final year studying to become a medical analysis specialist when Iraq imposed a full lockdown in March. Forced by a raging pandemic to stay home, she spent her days on social media, looking for something to do with her time.
Then an idea came to her: Six years ago, visiting America on a young leaders exchange program, she and other students toured a Vermont cheese factory where aged cheese platters were displayed on wooden boards so inviting they looked like paintings.
“I liked it … I said to myself, why not be the first to do it in Baghdad?” She took a free online business course and researched cheeses and wooden plates available in the Iraqi capital.
Months later, 22-year-old Ali is successfully marketing her cheese boards, making a small but steady income and garnering over 2,000 Instagram followers.
A growing number of Iraqi women are using pandemic restrictions to establish home-based businesses. It’s a way to bypass discrimination and harassment that often come with working in Iraq’s male-dominated, conservative society — and bring in extra income as the economy worsens.
On a recent day in her kitchen, Ali cut up and arranged cheeses, dried fruit and nuts as she talked about her further dreams. She wants to go to culinary school abroad and one day open a school in Iraq for those “who have passion for cooking, like me.”
“This is just the beginning. I’m still developing myself,” she said. The slogan on her purple T-shirt declared, “You Have to Love Yourself.”
Rawan Al-Zubaidi, a business partner at an Iraqi NGO that supports start-ups and young entrepreneurs, said there’s been a noticeable increase in home-based businesses since the pandemic’s start, including women making food deliveries, sweets, accessories, crocheting and embroidering.
“It represents a solution to obstacles that Iraqi women face when trying to find a job,” she said, citing women whose husbands or fathers won’t let them work, unsupportive male colleagues, discrimination and lack of career growth opportunities.
“Some Iraqi women can’t find a job because conservative families or husbands consider that women talking directly with other men on the job will bring shame on them,” Rawan said.
Women’s labor force participation in Iraq is particularly low. As of 2018, only 12.3% of women of working age were employed or looking for work, according to the United Nations.
Tamara Amir, who manages a Facebook page to educate Iraqi women about their rights, said she receives dozens of calls each day from women facing sexual harassment at work. Often, they report feeling they have to give their male boss “something in return” to get a job or advancement.
Ali’s parents have been supportive of her home-based business, which she says is more secure and means she does not have to go outside and mix with people. Her mother helps her prepare her products, and Ali teamed up with a popular delivery app.
At first, she received two orders a week maximum. Now she can barely keep up with the multiple orders she gets every day.
Mariam Khzarjian, a 31-year-old Iraqi-Armenian, worked as an executive assistant in an engineering company for seven years. She quit in late 2018, feeling her career was going nowhere, and started her own home business selling handmade accessories inspired by her ancestors, who used to work as carpenters.
She called her business Khzar — Armenian for the art of cutting metals and woods — with the slogan “wear a story,” since Khzar designs are based on telling stories and building emotional communication with the clients.
She got off to a slow start. Distractions got in the way. But the pandemic forced her to focus, working on new designs and techniques during curfews. The move toward online shopping helped her business take off in a way she could not have imagined.
“Online became the only way to reach clients, and they in turn became more loyal and more confident about my art, because they are buying something without trying it,” Khzarjian said.
“Corona is terrible, but for those able to take advantage of the Internet and build connections with customers, it had its positive side,” she said.
Sara Al-Nedawi, 23, studied business administration and has tried to find a job for months.
“One day I sent my CV to a company, and they texted me to ask if I was pretty and whether I wear the hijab or not,” she said, referring to the headscarf worn by some Muslim women. Someone from another company she applied to called her to get more information, then told her she has a lovely voice and asked for a photo.
Now she is trying to start a home-based food-catering business but lacks the capital.
“I need to work first to collect enough money,” she said.
Somali PM Reserves 30% of Parliament Seats For Women In Upcoming Poll
January 12, 2021
GAROWE, Somalia: Nearly a third of Somalia’s parliamentary seats will be reserved for female lawmakers in an election next month, the prime minister said, a measure long demanded by women’s rights campaigners in the Horn of Africa nation.
While welcoming Saturday’s announcement by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, some women’s groups cautioned that implementing the measure in time for the Feb. 8 poll would be challenging and depended on the commitment of clan leaders.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, and due to the fragile security situation, elections consist of clan delegates choosing members of parliament as opposed to a one-person, one-vote electoral system.
Roble made the quota pledge after talks with female lawmakers — who currently hold 24 percent of the 329 seats in Somalia’s lower and upper houses of parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Ensuring that clan leaders nominate enough women representatives will be vital to securing the full 30 percent quota, women’s activists said.
Virginity Tests for Female Rape Survivors Outlawed By Pakistani Court
6 Jan 2021
A Pakistani court has outlawed the practice of subjecting female rape survivors to a virginity test in an unprecedented ruling.
Lahore’s high court ruled on Monday that the virginity test has no legal basis and “offends the personal dignity of the female victim”.
Making the judgment, Justice Ayesha Malik said: “Virginity testing is highly invasive, having no scientific or medical requirement, yet carried out in the name of medical protocols in sexual violence cases.
“It is a humiliating practice, which is used to cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence.”
In a 2018 report, the UN said that virginity tests, a medically dubious internal examination of a woman’s hymen, still take place in 20 countries, and can be conducted with or without consent in rape cases or when a woman is accused of a “moral” crime such as premarital sex or running away.
Premarital sex remains a crime in Pakistan for men and women and carries a five-year prison sentence.
“The verdict is the culmination of a history of activism and built on the hard work that the feminist movement has been engaging in for decades. The test is part of a larger structure of patriarchy that hinges victimhood on women’s characters and perpetuates the myth of the ‘perfect victim’,” Nighat Dad, a lawyer and rights activist told the Guardian.
“The barriers in place for women to report cases of rape are insurmountable, but this historic verdict will go a long way in dismantling those barriers,” she said.
In October Human Rights Watch said virginity examinations had long been a routine part of criminal proceedings in Pakistan, based on a misogynistic assumption that a woman “habituated to sexual intercourse” is less likely to have been raped. Police and prosecutors have used the results to accuse rape victims of illegal sexual intercourse and to treat them as criminals.
Pakistan’s minister for human rights, Shireen Mazari, lauded the judgment, which will apply only in the state of Punjab, on Twitter.
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