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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 28 Apr 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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UK Schoolgirl-Turned- Jihadi Bride Tweets about Her New Luxurious Life with ISIS

 New Age Islam News Bureau

28 Apr 2015

Kyrgyz Schools Ban Hijabs


 Tears Replace Cheers in Re-enactment of Farkhunda’s Killing in Afghanistan

 Report: French Woman Recruit Escapes ISIS in Syria

 Kyrgyz Schools Ban Hijabs

 Sisters in Islam: Marital Rape Is Un-Islamic

 Egyptians Confront Cyber Sexual Harassment

 Vigilante Justice Lands Turkish Rape Victim in Jail

 Yazidi ISIS Sex Slaves Undergoing Surgery to 'Restore Virginity'

 Malala Condemns Sabeen Mahmud’s Killing

 Con Men On The Prowl In KSA, Women Prime Targets

 Lunafest Film Series Features Inspiring Movies about Women That Are Worth Watching

 Defeated Nigeria Woman Candidate Vows to Challenge Loss In Court

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





UK Schoolgirl-Turned- Jihadi Bride Tweets about Her New Luxurious Life with ISIS

28 April, 2015

A UK teenager who ran away from her home in East London in February to become a ‘Jihadi Bride’ in Syria has recently tweeted pictures of her lifestyle in the Islamic State.

The fully-veiled 15-year-old has boasted of a luxurious lifestyle by posting pictures of takeaway dinner which she had with one other female Jihadi friend of hers.

The girl, Amira Abase, ran away with two others – Shamima Begum (15) and Kadiza Sultana (16) from Bethnal Green in February with a clear motive to become Jihadi.  The trio had flown to Istanbul from Gatwick Airport crossing into Syria having told only this to their parents that they will be out only for a day.

Two months after that Abase has confirmed her stay in the Syrian city of Raqqa by posting the picture of the dinner which she had with another16-year-old who calls herself ‘Muhajirah’.

Amira (under the name Bintt Abbas) tweeted ‘dawla takeaway w/ @um-ayoub12’.

Dawla is the other name of Islamic State while ‘Um-ayoub12’ is the Twitter account of Mujahirah.

The captioned picture shows only the meal including fried chicken, chips, pizza and a kebab.

The shared tweet bears a strong contrast with respect to the news of brutality towards females frequently heard from the Syrian state. Through different news reports it was learnt that females of all age are subjected to different types of brutalities under the siege of ISIS. Very young girls as old as 8 or 9 years are made sex slaves, raped and tortured for months.

Recently, it was also learnt that some of the Yazidi girls who were made captive by ISIS and were subjected to similar brutalities are getting aborted in hospitals of Kurdistan at a very young age.

Sometime before, Abase had also tweeted a chilling message “uh wanna behead some kafirs (non-Muslims) now”.

The tweets before the trio left for radicalization in the war-raged state, shows normal life of young London teenagers with no indications of their dreadful future plans.

However, recently it was learnt that Abase and her two classmates had joined the group of British female Jihadis who run ISIS’s ultra-religious police force and were training with one of the notorious female arms of ISIS.

Shamima Begum is believed to have forged social media links with three of the British leaders of the al-Khansa brigade, an all-women militia set up by the terror group a year ago.

What is Al-Khansa brigade?

It is an all-women group of ISIS, fully-dressed in black, wielding automatic weapons while patrolling streets of Raqqa. Their job is to spy on commoners and carry out brutal assaults on whosoever does not abide by the laws of the terror group.



Tears Replace Cheers in Re-enactment of Farkhunda’s Killing in Afghanistan

28 April, 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan — They killed Farkhunda again, but this time there were tears in the crowd rather than cheers.

Men pummelled her with rocks and paving stones, knocked her down, kicked her, ripped her head scarf off, all the while shouting religious slogans and denouncing her as a blasphemer. Blood tangled her hair and made a red mask of her bruised face.

Since it was a re-enactment of the real crime, the mob of men outside a mosque in central Kabul on Monday skipped some of the specifics — the parts where the actual attackers had dragged Farkhunda behind a car, or tossed her off a bridge, among other acts. But they did douse the actress Leena Alam, who was playing Farkhunda, in a liquid meant to symbolize gasoline, and buried her in a pile of ashes.

There were even real policemen present, doing what their colleagues had done on March 19 in the same place: standing aside. Some of them, however, were seen to be teary-eyed this time.

The killing of Farkhunda, a 27-year-old Islamic law student who was falsely accused of burning a Quran, has sparked numerous protests and galvanized women’s activists more than almost anything that has happened since the days of the Taliban’s public executions of women. In addition, the attorney general’s office announced that formal charges were brought Monday against 49 participants in the killing, 19 of them police officers accused of failing to try to stop it.

The attack, as well as the re-enactment on Monday that was commissioned by a coalition of rights groups, took place at the Shah-do Shamshira Mosque, famous for its flocks of pigeons and legions of pigeon-feeders, and the adjoining shrine of the same name, which means the King of the Two Swords. Both events were documented by hundreds of bystanders with their cellphones; after the real killing, many of those videos were posted on YouTube and social media sites by attackers who were proud of their roles in the crime.

That all changed when the authorities admitted that no Quran had been burned, and that Farkhunda had actually been a devout Muslim who got into an argument with a vendor at the shrine because she viewed his sale of good-luck charms to be un-Islamic. That vendor, Zainuddin, started the accusations against her, and he was among the first to be arrested.


Since then, Farkhunda herself has been transformed — once a pariah, now a martyr — and many advocates for women’s rights say they have been energized by how many men have been drawn to their cause since her death.

“We don’t want this case to be forgotten,” said Alema, a member of the Justice for Farkhunda Committee, who like many Afghans uses only one name. “We want Farkhunda’s name to stay alive in history,” she added.

Mohammad Sajid Arghandaiwal, another activist, said: “Farkhunda has sacrificed her life for the rights of other women. It’s the start of a revolution.”

Monday’s re-enactment was conceived by the Justice for Farkhunda Committee as a way to keep up pressure on the government, as activists worried that more than a month after the episode, no formal charges had yet been filed. A few hours after the re-enactment, the authorities announced the charges against 49 suspects.

“There are rays of hope in this case,” said Ramin Anwari, one of the organizers. “But why has it taken them this long to start court proceedings?”

On the morning of the re-enactment, Ms. Alam woke up with butterflies in her stomach. Though she is an experienced film actor, she said it was proving a tough role. For one thing, Ms. Alam had been among the mourners at Farkhunda’s burial, and it was the first real dead body she had ever seen, she said.

Then, Ms. Alam prepared for the role by watching as many of the videos of the actual attack as she could, and what really struck her was how Farkhunda had never wept throughout the sustained abuse. “I kept thinking how powerful and brave she was, and she never ever cried, bearing all that pain, with so many attacks,” Ms. Alam said.

She and her fellow actors agreed then that there would be no crying during their performance, but in rehearsals, they all kept bursting into tears. “The workers, my director, everyone, we were just mental,” she said. One person would cry, then she did. “I kept saying, ‘Don’t make me weak, I don’t want to cry.’ ”

During the re-enactment, some of her fellow actors got a little too into character, she said, and though their rocks and clubs were made of sponge or foam, her face began to sting from all the blows, and she came away a bit bruised. Spectators often gasped because it seemed so real, and even some of the policemen were seen to be weeping.

“Honestly, I could not stop my tears myself,” Mr. Anwari said, even though he had already seen rehearsals. “The crowd was really emotional, people around me were crying, they were literally shaking they were so moved.”

Like many activists, Mr. Anwari expressed suspicion about the government’s intention in prosecuting Farkhunda’s abusers. “We want the police to reveal the names of those arrested, and they don’t want to,” he said.

At the news conference Monday to announce the charges, an emissary from the attorney general suddenly rushed in and was seen writing a quick note to the agency’s spokesman that read, in Dari, “Don’t give out their names.”

Asked why not, Baseer Azizi, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the Afghan Constitution prohibited the release of suspects’ names — although that has not deterred the authorities in many previous cases.

Some of the names that surface in Farkhunda’s case are likely to be controversial, like that of Sharaf Baghlani, who is said to have taken to Facebook right after the attack to boast of his role in it, and described himself as an official of the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence service. “I am proud to say I am the one who personally killed Farkhunda,” he reportedly wrote, according to those who saw the posting before it was taken down.

The directorate has disavowed Mr. Baghlani, despite pictures showing him brandishing the agency’s standard-issue handgun under his dark suit jacket. Later, he posted on Facebook that someone had previously hacked his Facebook account and that he had not posted the message.

Mr. Baghlani admitted, however, that he had been charged in Farkhunda’s murder.

“It would be unjust to give me more than two years in prison, because I only kicked her two times,” he wrote in a post made while he was supposedly in prison.

At the end of the re-enactment, Ms. Alam was buried in ashes to symbolize how Farkhunda had died, as a loudspeaker blared out an actual audio recording of the attack. She rose again to shake off the ashes, joining with a group of other women who reduced the men around them to shame.

Then Ms. Alam did what she had tried so hard not to do. “I couldn’t help it,” she said. She burst into tears, crying inconsolably as the company helped her down from the stage.



Report: French Woman Recruit Escapes ISIS in Syria

28 April, 2015

A French Muslim woman who joined the Islamic State jihadist group (ISIS) in Syria has reportedly fled to Turkey with her young son, after Kurdish fighters help smuggle her to safety from Islamist-held territory.

The as-yet unconfirmed report was revealed by an anti-ISIS Syrian activist operating inside the terror group's self-proclaimed "caliphate" state.

"Abu Ward Al-Raqqawi" posted a picture of the unnamed woman and her child on Sunday. The image is emblazoned with the logo of the Raqqa Revolutionaries' Brigade (Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa in Arabic), a rebel group currently believed to be taking part in a clandestine insurgency against ISIS.

The woman is seen holding a piece of paper thanking the Brigade "for saving me from ISIS." She was reportedly transported from ISIS territory into the Kurdish autonomous region in Syria, and from there taken across the Turkish border with the aid of the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG), which itself is fighting a bloody war against ISIS.

Al-Raqqawi is the pseudonym for one of the founders of the "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently" activist collective. The group - named after the once overwhelmingly secular de-facto capital of Islamic State, Raqqa - has taken up the perilous task of documenting and exposing ISIS crimes.

In February for example, the group revealed that ISIS had held public screenings of the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot.

They have also produced several hidden camera documentaries of life under harsh Islamic rule.

Scores of European Muslim women - some of them recent converts - have traveled to Syria to become "Jihadi brides" for ISIS fighters. They are part of the influx of thousands of Muslims from western countries who have joined the group.

But a growing number of reports suggest many ISIS recruits are looking for a way out, having realized the harsh and brutal reality of life in the Islamist terror group stands in sharp contrast to the romanticized portrayals of it on social media and in the group's own slick propaganda.

However, most of those who attempt to leave the group are not as fortunate as this French recruit. Suspected deserters are routinely executed, usually after having been branded as spies for foreign intelligence agencies or for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

That is what relatives of an Israeli Arab man executed by ISIS claim happened to him.

19-year-old Mohammed Said Ismail Musallam's videotaped execution was released in March of this year, after the group accused him of being a Mossad spy. His family say he simply got cold feet and had been caught attempting to return home



Kyrgyz Schools Ban Hijabs

28 April, 2015

Hijab or no hijab? While so far only one school in Kyrgyzstan’s Kara-Suu region has officially banned wearing hijabs during classes, the public is worried that as of September 2015 this might become a unified rule for the whole country.

“As of the new academic year 2015/2016 all schoolchildren across Kyrgyzstan will be wearing the same uniform, and we should be preparing the children for this process already,” says Aizhamal Kalenova, Head of the Education Department in Kara-Suu region.

She says that last year there over 30 parents of schoolchildren who sent their concerns to the Education department and said they didn’t like that some of the girls were wearing hijabs.

“Because the influence of the religious population in our region is quite high, until now this problem hasn’t been raised, but we were asked to not allow girls attend school in hijabs anymore,” Kulanova says.

Aibek Ashirbayev, whose daughter attends a public school in Otuz Adir village in Kara-Suu region and wears a hijab, says nobody has the right to prohibit his daughter from appearing at school the way she wants.

“This question was raised a year ago, and the authorities ruled that hijabs should be allowed. Now the schools started discussing this topic again. It worries me and many others. We live in a country where 80% of the citizens are Muslims, so why not let Muslim girls wear hijabs?”

Ashirbayev is now gathering signatures in favor of wearing hijabs at schools and plans to take them to the country’s parliament to solve the problem once and forever.

However, according to Kyrgyzstan’s Education and Science Ministry statement, the country was supposed to introduce a single uniform for all schoolchildren in 2014. This didn’t happen, because there weren’t enough uniforms to distribute to the children, but in 2015/2016 academic year the ministry plans to introduce the uniforms once and for all.

According to the ministry statement, this is being done to prevent discrimination of the underprivileged students by those from the rich families.

Osh public school math teacher Uulkan Zhanbolotova says that this way all students will be equal.

“We will not let the students wear not only hijabs, but also jewelry, expensive clothes, etc. This way, children from families with different incomes will not feel discriminated,” she adds.

But Otuz Adir village imam Abdumanap Omurzakov says that banning hijabs, on the contrary, will be a discriminatory measure.

“Nobody is against the uniform, but what does the hijab have to do with it,” he asks.

He adds that all students understand that hijab isn’t an attribute to fashion and that it is connected to one’s religious beliefs.

Saikal Karayeva, coordinator of the Bilim (Knowledge) non-profit, however, reminds that Kyrgyzstan is a secular state.

“Public schools are being financed from the country’s state budget, and therefore all schoolchildren attending public schools should abide by those rules.”

She also says that the question regarding hijabs shouldn’t be taken as a light matter and should be discussed at higher levels of government.



Sisters In Islam: Marital Rape Is Un-Islamic

28 April, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Islam forbids husbands from forcing sex on their wives, as it is a form of physical abuse and mental torture, said Sisters in Islam (SIS).

The Muslim women’s group rebuked recent statements that attempted to defend marital rape in the name of Islam, that were issued in the wake of “Without Consent”, a rape awareness campaign launched by DAP’s Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin.

“As a religion that truly respects women, the husband and wife relationship in Islam is built upon the foundations of love and mutual respect, as stated in the Al Quran’s Surah Al Ruum verse 21,” said the group in a statement.

The verse states: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”

Islam grants equal rights to husbands and wives in a marriage and sexual relations, as the Al Quran states in Al Nisaa’ verse 19 that men should “live with them in kindness”.

The group cited Imam al-Ghazali (d. 1111), who once spoke of a husband’s responsibility to his wife based on the Quran’s Al Nisaa’ verse 36.

The verse states: “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.”

According to the Imam, the term “companion at your side” Allah refers to in the verse is in reference to a man’s wife.

He added that treating one’s wife well is not only limited to refraining from causing them physical pain, but also includes the avoidance of harming them emotionally.

“Thus, statements that allow rape in a marriage are in direct opposition to the Al-Quran’s objective to maintain equality in the relationship between husband and wife, based on the spirit of love and compassion,” added the group.



Egyptians confront cyber sexual harassment

28 April, 2015

CAIRO — Thanks to the widespread use of mobile devices and social media, sexual harassment is no longer confined to a direct physical encounter between the harasser and the victim. Through a phenomenon called "cyber sexual harassment," the harasser can now reach potential victims in their homes.

Cyber sexual harassment is defined as the use of electronic means of communication to send messages or images, many times of a sexual nature, to threaten or insult the recipient. Sometimes, the harasser will threaten to use and manipulate the recipient's photos and share them online, or even use their photos without their consent.

Egyptian women facing cyber sexual harassment are now organizing against the phenomenon. One woman who was on the receiving end of such harassment told Al-Monitor, on condition of anonymity, that she had received "messages from harassers including immoral expressions. Sometimes, the harasser would share content from my Facebook page, along with humiliating and offensive comments."

She added, "I dedicated an album on my Facebook page to this cause under the name 'Expose Facebook Harassers!' The album contains screenshots of the messages that the harasser was sending me, or insulting comments on my page including offensive words." The album contains photos documenting various instances of harassment faced by this woman and her friends.

She hoped that this method of fighting back against online harassers who hide behind keyboards would spread among her friends. Meanwhile, the Egyptian public is working to counter the phenomenon of cyber harassment by making public the messages they receive from harassers, in an attempt to shame them and raise awareness among women. In their view, this form of harassment is no less dangerous than street harassment. Women are thus encouraged to tarnish the reputation of their cyber harasser — a method that has received broad support among the source's peers, both male and female.

"What is difficult about facing such harassment," said the source, "is that a large number of accounts of Facebook harassers are fake and are closed a while later. The harassers have several accounts that they use to practice cyber sexual harassment."

The Facebook page "Al-Araby al-Marid," (Sick Arab) attempts to expose sexual harassers by posting their comments and messages, as well as their Facebook friend requests that include sexual offers. Many women who have been sexually harassed online use this page as an outlet.

Writer Jihad al-Tabii's book, “Mozza Inbox” — with "mozza" meaning sexy — depicts the cyber harassment experienced by her and her friends.

“While girls refrain from taking to the streets, and hide their beauty with unattractive clothes, they are now facing harassment while at home through their phones. Cyber sexual harassment is not only targeting girls but also guys, albeit in smaller numbers. The harasser usually seeks to get a wife, relationship or paid sexual affairs,” she told Al-Monitor.

“Many people don’t consider offensive messages, words and pictures sent to girls on social media as harassment. Complaints against these messages are entertaining somehow, and some people blame girls who post their personal photos on social media and are available online until late hours for the harassment they face. It is as though the Internet has become the street, and girls surfing it are subject to the harasser’s desires, doubts and invasion of their freedom,” Tabii said.

On why she decided to write "Mozza Inbox," Tabii said, “Many books that tackle harassment discuss it from a scientific point of view and address researchers and people interested in the topic. But, in my book, I talk about cyber sexual harassment sarcastically, and I illustrate my ideas with real life stories that my friends from both genders and I have lived. The book lures young men and women who care about this issue, and that is why I chose a word ["mozza"] that they often use in their online chats as a title.”

Monica Ibrahim is the communications manager of the Harass Map initiative, which was established in December 2010 to mobilize Egyptians to reject sexual harassment. She talked to Al-Monitor about the efforts of civil society organizations to face cyber sexual harassment. The Harass Map initiative seeks to start conversations on the issue of harassment and encourage people to stop making excuses for the harassers.

“In addition to focusing on raising awareness and facing harassment that girls undergo on Egyptian streets, we have taken interest in cyber sexual harassment and dedicated a week to receive Facebook messages and photos sent to girls containing sexual demands and insinuations. We posted some on our Facebook page, while others weren’t posted as they included highly insulting photos and words,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim added that Harass Map offers women judicial support in case they decide to pursue legal action against their harasser.

Sexual harassment is no longer restricted to the streets. It now threatens women in the comfort of their homes as they browse social media sites. What’s more, the phenomenon is no longer restricted to women — it now affects men, albeit not as frequently. With the increase in cyber sexual harassment cases, society must confront these perpetrators who hide behind their screens.



Vigilante justice lands Turkish rape victim in jail

28 April, 2015

Nevin Yildirim made the headlines in 2012, both domestically and abroad. The young Turkish woman had murdered her rapist, beheaded him and tossed the head in the village square. Pregnant with the rapist's child, she was barred from having an abortion. She would later place the child in state care. Yildirim is now in jail, serving a life sentence. The case has stoked fundamental questions on the Turkish judiciary’s approach to women, the media’s sexist language, the weight of a woman’s account in cases of abuse and the say the state and fathers have on the fate of an unborn child.

Yildirim, 29, was a married mother of two in a village in the southwestern province of Isparta. A farm laborer with no social security, she led an ordinary life until she crossed paths with Nurettin Gider, who supervised workers in the fields.

According to Yildirim, Gider began making advances toward her at work. She turned him down, but he persisted. One night, when Yildirim’s husband was away, Gider arrived in her house and raped her at gunpoint.

In Turkey, the first question posed to women claiming rape is: Why didn’t you resist? Yildirim responded: “My father-in-law was living on the ground floor. The kids were asleep. [Gider] threatened to kill the kids. I couldn’t cry out [for help]. It was the first time he raped me.”

The rapes continued.

“Sometimes he would come drunk, take out his gun and have his way. Sometimes I would manage to talk him out and send him away, but resisting was not always possible. Sometimes he would beat me,” Yildirim said. She discovered that Gider had been bragging about his deeds in the village, even claiming to be taking aphrodisiac pills before his visits. “The rumors were spreading like wildfire in the village. I was ashamed to even go out, spending my days at home alone,” she said.

While Gider was busy boasting, Yildirim found out she was pregnant, and attempted to have an abortion. In Turkish hospitals, however, a woman's solo request for an abortion does not suffice. The consent of the husband is also required. Yildirim couldn't dare tell her husband. She returned home without an abortion.

On Aug. 28, 2012, Yildirim decided to break the vicious cycle of rape at gunpoint and the swirling rumors that had made her a prisoner in her home. Gider was once again at her door with a gun. She refused to take him in. The man tried to enter the house through the balcony. Yildirim grabbed the hunting rifle hanging on the wall and pulled the trigger several times. She said she has no recollection of what happened afterward. The next thing she knew, she was sitting at the gate of her house with bloody hands, with her 6-year-old daughter asking, “Mom, what happened to your hands?” She had decapitated Gider and tossed the head on the village square, shouting, “Here is the head of the one who dishonored me.”

Yildirim was arrested and requested an abortion from the prison authorities, but the hospital would not perform one since it was beyond the 10-week period allowed by Turkish law. Yildirim had no other option but to give birth, and on Nov. 17, 2012, she did. She refused to touch the baby girl, though, saying she would not be able to give up the baby if she breastfed her even once. She gave the child away to the state. The wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the baby a name, Elif Sila. In the meantime, Gider's wife volunteered to take the baby. Newspapers published surveys, asking readers whether the Gider family should be allowed to adopt the child. The baby eventually was placed with a foster family.

Yildirim remained under constant media scrutiny from the moment she killed Gider. The case came to be known as the “severed head murder.” A photo of a smiling Yildirim at the prison gate accompanied reports about the “woman murderer.” She had become the media’s symbol of “the abortion-seeking murderous female.”

Abandoned by both relatives and neighbors, Yildirim received empathy only from a handful of feminists. On March 25, the day of the verdict, feminist activists flocked to the Isparta Heavy Penal Court before police aggressively forced them from the courtroom. The court handed down the heaviest sentence possible: life in prison.

The 125-page verdict, made public recently, stated that Yildirim and Gider had a “romantic affair.” It made no mention of rumors, social environment or the psychology of a woman denied an abortion. The court decided after the lengthy trial that the relationship had been consensual, ignoring Yildirim's rape argument.

In remarks to Al-Monitor, Yildirim’s lawyer Huseyin Aksoy argued that the court's verdict was biased. The logic of the ruling, he said, "is inconsistent with the ordinary course of life. It was issued without any consideration or investigation of Nevin’s social and psychological conditions and the environment and community in which she lived. A woman having a consensual relationship would pay attention to avoid pregnancy or take contraceptive pills. A man [having an affair] would not go to see the woman with a gun.” Aksoy noted that the three-judge panel included two women.

The verdict sparked uproar, especially among women, who were exasperated by a recent string of misogynist court rulings. On April 17, a group of 40 feminist artists displayed bed sheets with Yildirim’s image on them in central Istanbul. On March 29, activists held a demonstration carrying banners that read: “Down with misogynist justice” and “Nevin’s voice is our voice.” An online petition seeking freedom for Yildirim will be submitted to the Appeals Court, which will make the final decision in the case.

Prominent lawyer and women’s rights activist Hulya Gulbahar told Al-Monitor that Turkey’s “entire judicial history is based on the notion that women are cheaters and seducers who lie in all circumstances.” According to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, a woman is deemed to have willingly engaged in intercourse when she has given a “free, informed and express” consent, Gulbahar explained. Yildirim’s case cannot be passed over as a “romantic affair,” she argued, stressing that any forced sexual act that the woman resists must be considered sexual assault.

“The court ignored both the European Court of Human Rights criteria and universal practices. We are no stranger to this justice system, which hands down merciless penalties when the offender is a woman, while showing leniency to men committing crimes against women and even awarding them with lighter sentences,” Gulbahar said. “The state’s mentality rests on the notion that men and women are not equal. Bodies that deal with women, including the judiciary, are full of people of the same mentality.”

That’s Nevin Yildirim’s story: the chronicle of how a state refused to take its hands off a woman’s body, using the abortion pretext, and forced her to give birth to an unwanted child whose name was then chosen by the president's wife. The state ignored her rape claim, social environment and psychosocial condition, and then penalized her in the heaviest way possible. A woman now silently languishes in jail for the rest of her life — alone, stigmatized and torn from her kids — with only a handful of women determined to bring about change, braving the truncheons of the police.



Yazidi ISIS Sex Slaves Undergoing Surgery to 'Restore Virginity'

28 April, 2015

Yazidi sex slaves who were kidnapped and raped by Isis militants and Iraq are undergoing surgery to “restore their virginity” because of fears they will be shunned by future husbands, it has emerged.

Many girls captured as militants swept through Sinjar last year have since managed to escape, although an unknown number remain trapped and subjected to the whims of the men holding them.

Those managing to reach safety, mostly in Iraqi Kurdistan, face being ostracised by their community and even by their family because they have been raped.

Rothna Begum, a women’s rights expert for the Middle East at Human Rights Watch, told The Independent that virginity tests are routinely being carried out, with consent, so the atrocities can be documented.

Girls who were abducted but not raped are also reportedly undergoing the invasive procedures to gain written “proof” of their virginity for marriage.

Fearing they will be ostracised or not find a husband, some former sex slaves are seeking surgery they believe will restore their virginity by repairing the hymen, Ms Begum said.

A health official in the Dohuk region of Kurdistan, where many Yazidi girls are believed to have sought sanctuary after escaping Isis, told her 12 such procedures had been performed by February.

Ms Begum said: “In the most extreme cases, women and girls were so traumatised by the fact they were no longer virgins that they were insisting on this surgery to feel whole again – they feel they have lost something.”

A London clinic offering the procedure said it was carried out under local anaesthetic to “repair” the hymen using dissolvable stitches.

It aims to reconstruct the membrane so it can be broken again on the woman’s wedding night in cultures where blood is required as proof of virginity.

Human Rights Watch has urged the Kurdish and Iraqi authorities to provide rape victims with long-term psychosocial care and realise that even where it is requested, hymenoplasty is only a temporary reprieve for their trauma.

The group also advises against the use of so-called “virginity testing”, which usually relies on the existence of the hymen, even though it can be broken without intercourse.

A Yazidi girl who was raped repeatedly while being held as a slave by a 40-year-old militant when she was just 13, told the Sunday Times she has turned down two suitors since escaping.

“I refused both of them; I don’t want to fall in love,” she said, through tears.

“I don't think I can. I don’t want to be married or have children — I am damaged goods.”

Virginity across Kurdistan in Iraq is usually only referred to for women because the idea is so tied to the physical breaking of the hymen, even though that belief in not medically sound, Ms Begum said.

“Other changes need to happen so girls don’t feel they need a hymen and so that men don’t determine their worth by virginity,” she added.

Isis, also known as the Islamic State, issued guidelines to its fighters last year attempting to justify the taking of non-Muslim women as sex slaves under Islamic law.

“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who has not yet reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse,” one passage declared.

All Yazidis have been declared heretics under Isis’ interpretation of Salafism and have been driven from their homes, enslaved and massacred in territories under the group’s control.

A Human Rights Watch report earlier this year said that the systematic rape and violence against Yazidi women and girls amounted to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

“Isis forces have committed organized rape, sexual assault, and other horrific crimes against Yazidi women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director. “Those fortunate enough to have escaped need to be treated for the unimaginable trauma they endured.”

Girls as young as nine have been raped and sold and traded between fighters as the “spoils of war”.

According to the Kurdistan Regional Government, 974 Yazidis had escaped Isis by the middle of March, including 513 women and 304 children. The UN believes around 3,000 are still in captivity.

A prominent religious leader, Baba Sheikh, decreed last year that returning women should be treated as victims and welcomed back into the community but that has not been the case for all.

Those women and girls face not only stigma over sex outside of marriage, whether it was consensual or not, but also the trauma of pregnancy.

Abortion is illegal in Iraq except in cases where the mother’s life is directly at risk, forcing victims to turn to dangerous “back-street” doctors or bear the children of their rapists, sometimes giving birth at a dangerously young age.

Human Rights Watch is among the groups campaigning to have terminations made legal for rape victims or women at risk of suicide or honour-based violence.



Malala condemns Sabeen Mahmud’s killing

28 April, 2015

LONDON - Pakistani Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousufzai has strongly condemned killing of social activist Sabeen Mahmud and demanded arrest of her assailants at the earliest.

In a statement, Malala praised Sabeen Mahmud, stating that she was a brave human rights activist, adding, that killing of Sabeen had saddened her. Malala also prayed for speedy recovery of Sabeen’s mother, who was injured in the armed attack. The Nobel peace prize winner Malala demanded early arrest of Sabeen’s assailants besides providing protection to the people, working for peace and human rights in Pakistan particularly those receiving life threats.




Con Men on the Prowl in KSA, Women Prime Targets

28 April, 2015

Experts have warned people against con men operating pyramid investment schemes in the country aimed at stealing money.

These operations are also named Ponzi schemes, after Charles Ponzi, the American businessman who used the technique in 1920 to defraud investors out of $20 million.

A typical pyramid scheme involves offering people huge returns on their investments. Each new member in the scheme has to attract other people to join and thus increase his or her profits. Such a scheme often has no business at all, or is a business such as a hedge fund that runs into trouble and has to attract more people to cover its losses. Eventually the entire scheme collapses because it is unsustainable.

Economist Norah Al-Shahri said these schemes are being used in Saudi Arabia to cheat women who are cash strapped or need jobs. They offer “tempting profits and commissions” to attract people, including new graduates, she said.

Economic expert Abdullah Al-Maghlouth said that criminals operate on the Internet or the telephone marketing certain products or offering jobs. They use the names of well-known people to win the confidence of their victims. “Their only aim is to make money by cheating others,” he said.

There is a greater prevalence of these schemes in the country because people lack market knowledge, or are desperate for money and work. The government should create more awareness about such operations, particularly among young Saudi women, and act harshly against the fraudsters involved, he said.

Economist Fadl Al-Buainain said innocent investors can become accomplices in criminal operations if they partake in such schemes because they often market prohibited financial and other products.

He said Islam and international legislation outlaws these kinds of activities. The media can play an important role by exposing such schemes, to prevent people from losing their money, he said.

“I advise women not to respond to such promotions when looking for jobs. They should accept jobs in ordinary marketing companies that adopt traditional marketing practices. They should work from home or remotely only after ensuring that the companies are following the country’s regulations.”

The Islamic Fiqh Academy has issued a fatwa declaring pyramid schemes un-Islamic based on several reasons, including that they are a form of usury because they do not involve the selling of real products, or products that do not match the size of the huge commissions.

In addition, these schemes involve “cheating, deceiving and tricking people, by showing the product as if that is the purpose of the transaction, when that is not the case, and by enticing them with the idea of large commissions which people do not usually earn. This is the kind of deceit that is forbidden in Islamic law,” the fatwa stated.

“It is a kind of gharar (ambiguous transaction) that is forbidden in Islamic law, because the participant does not know whether he will be successful in finding the number of purchasers (participants) required or not.”

“The fact of the matter is that most of the members of the pyramid lose out, except for the few at the top. So what usually happens is loss, which is the case of all ambiguous transactions,” the fatwa stated.



Lunafest film series features inspiring movies about women that are worth watching

28 April, 2015

Like many teenage girls, Nayla wants to be a cheerleader. She's been practicing with her best friend, her father has signed the permission slip, and all that's left is to do her best.

Unfortunately, her best might not be good enough. Nayla is a Muslim American who adheres to her religion's requirement that she wear a hijab, a head cover.

She secures a spot on the junior squad, but the competition judges want her to ditch the hijab.

Will she follow her desires to fit in with the American culture, or will she pass up an opportunity she has been dreaming about? It is an identity struggle that teens face all the time because of their religion, race or class status.

That is the premise behind the fictional Tryouts, one of eight films that will be shown at The Kentucky Theatre on May 7 for Lunafest. Proceeds will benefit GreenHouse17 and the Breast Cancer Fund.

Helue Shalash, owner of Bak 4 More Studio and co-chair of Lunafest locally, has not seen Tryouts, but she is certain at least one of the films will touch her, as has happened in the past.

Shalash, who calls herself a tossed salad because of her Nicaraguan, Palestinian and American heritage, is also a Muslim. She doesn't adhere to the tradition of wearing a hijab, but she has young relatives who probably have faced similar conflicts.

"There are so many different lives out there," Shalash said. "These short films can empower you to do things. I've just been so touched.

"I used to think Luna fest catered to women 50 and over," she said. "But I take my daughter and my mother."

Geni Osborn, a financial advisor at Waddell & Reed and also co-chair of Lunafest Lexington, said the festival was "unlike anything that I have participated in. I find it inspiring, touching and motivating. They target issues that women are sensitive to."

Tryout is the longest of the films at a little more than 14 minutes, with the shortest being 3½ minutes.

Osborn saw all the films in Northern Kentucky when the festival was held there in December, and she came away realizing the films have various ways to reach people and inspire them.

"One may touch you that doesn't touch me," she said. "I love it. Relationships can take many shapes and sizes, and we don't know which ones will be important in our lives."

The eight films selected by Lunafest for this year are A Good Match by Lyn Elliot, Flor de Toloache by Jenny Schweitzer, Miss Todd by Kristina Yee, Tryouts by Susana Casares, Chicas Day by Susan Béjar, Lady Parts by Emily Fraser and Katherine Gorringe, Tits by Louisa Bertman and Viva by Amanda Bluglass.

Flor de Toloache depicts the determination of female mariachi players trying to break through the outdated traditions of the male-dominated bands. Miss Todd is about the first woman to have flown and built an airplane, in 1910. Viva is about an 82-year-old grandmother who is in the English punk music scene. Lady Parts is about Mae de la Calzada, the successful owner and founder of Lady Parts Automotive Services, and her drive to educate and empower her customers, especially single mothers. She passed away last fall.

The four other short films are fictional stories focused on health and women's issues, and one is about a woman who wants to remain friends with the mother of her ex-boyfriend.

Established in 2000 by Luna, the makers of a nutrition bar for women, Lunafest has produced a coast-to-coast traveling film festival to raise money for its special cause, the Breast Cancer Fund, and to help local nonprofits raise funds as well.

All of the net proceeds from more than 150 screenings in North America are donated to charity, with 15 percent going to the Breast Cancer Fund and, locally, 85 percent going to GreenHouse17, a Lexington-based nonprofit nurturing lives harmed by intimate partner abuse in 17 Central Kentucky counties.

Last year, Lunafest Lexington raised more than $10,000 in local support for survivors of intimate partner abuse and breast cancer.

Since 2000, 110 film makers have been featured and nearly $1.9 million has been raised nationally.

This year Lunafest is sponsored by Raymond James financial advisors.

General admission for the festival is $15, $10 for students and nonprofits. Tickets for a VIP reception and screening are $30 and include appetizers and a chance to interact with the staff of GreenHouse17.

"We all need a little help once in a while," Osborn said, "and this is a way to help in an easy way and support good works."

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog:




Defeated Nigeria woman candidate vows to challenge loss in court

28 April, 2015

Kano, Nigeria - Aisha Jummai Alhassan has lost her bid to become the first woman to be elected governor in a Nigerian state, but her party on Monday vowed to challenge the results in court.

Election officials in eastern Taraba state declared Darius Dickson Ishaku of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) the winner with 369,318 votes.

A number of women currently hold extremely powerful posts in Nigeria's government, including the ministers of finance and oil, but activists remain discouraged by the absence of female leaders at the executive level.

Alhassan, the candidate for the party of Nigeria's incoming president Muhammadu Buhari, polled 275,984 in Saturday's rerun vote.

The first election on April 11 was cancelled because of widespread irregularities.

"We don't accept the results declared by INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) which is why I refused to sign the results sheet," said Abubakar Gambo Umar, the returning officer in Taraba for the All Progressives Congress party (APC).

"There were numerous cases of fraud and irregularities in many polling centres where the re-run election was conducted," he added.

"We recorded many incidents of violence and intimidation," he said, vowing to "challenge the results in court to reclaim our victory."

The APC has won historic victories in Nigeria's 2015 election, including Buhari's win over President Good luck Jonathan last month, the first time an incumbent was defeated by the opposition in Nigeria's history.

The APC also claimed a majority of governorship seats in Nigeria's 36 states, but the party had hoped that Alhassan could add to those gains by breaking the gender barrier.

A number of women currently hold extremely powerful posts in Nigeria's government, including the ministers of finance and oil, but activists remain discouraged by the absence of female leaders at the executive level.

Gender disparity rates in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north are among the highest in the world.

In a 2012 report, the British Council found that more than two-thirds of girls in the north aged 15-19 were unable to read a sentence.