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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 26 Sept 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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UN Ban Resolution to Stop Global Female Genital Mutilation Builds Steam

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 Sept 2012 

 Educating Girls like Chrissie Can Save a Nation: President of Malawi

 Pakistan: In Most Honour Killing Cases, SHOs ‘Favour’ the Guilty Party

 Saudi Bride’s Father Asks for a SR2 Dowry

 How Far Will Egypt's New Constitution Change The Position Of Women?

 An Emirati Man Sues Russian Ex-Wife for 'Stealing His Frozen Sperm'

 Girl Allegedly Kidnapped By ‘Facebook’ Friend: Indonesia

 Kenya: Why Court Declined To Grant Girls' Wish to Wear Hijab in School

 Muslim Girl’s Death Breaks Canadian Hearts

 Madonna Says She Was Being ‘Ironic’ In Calling Obama A Muslim

 Millions to Promote Women in Peacemaking

 Challenges Faced By Western Muslim Women Converts

 Africa: Giving Women Farmers the Tools to Prevent Food Insecurity

 California Museum Displays a Heuristic Female Iranian Painter’s Paintings

 Pregnancy: The Gold Medal-Winning Beach-Volleyball Bump

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Challenges Faced By Western Muslim Women Converts





UN Ban Resolution to Stop Global Female Genital Mutilation Builds Steam

Emma Batha


LONDON, U.K.: At seven years old, Khady Koita’s childhood was torn apart when she was pinned down and attacked by two women wielding a razor blade. The violence inflicted on her that day would change her life forever.

On Monday, Koita, a leading figure in the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), will join other high-profile activists at the United Nations to drum up support for a global ban on a practice forced on millions of children every year.

“FGM is horrific, brutal, degrading and indefensible,” said Koita, who was born in Senegal and now lives in Brussels. “My big hope is that one day no girl will have to go through what I have been through.”

The move to stamp out FGM – which is widely practised in Africa and pockets of the Middle East and Asia – is being driven by African member states of the United Nations, led by Burkina Faso.

They are now applying the finishing touches to a draft resolution banning FGM to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly in early October. It is expected to be adopted in December.

An estimated 140 million girls and women have undergone FGM, which can cause serious physical and emotional damage. Campaigners liken the psychological effects of FGM to those of rape.

“It is important that women like me who have suffered so much from this humiliation … and who have the privilege to be able to shout our rage, that we do so for those who can’t,” said Koita, founder of campaign group La Palabre.

In Africa, FGM is practised in 28 countries from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east. Other places it is found include Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia.

Many believe it preserves a girl’s virginity and see it is an important rite of passage and prerequisite for marriage. Parents say it is done out of love because it purifies the girl and brings her status.

FGM ranges from the partial or total removal of the clitoris to the most extreme form called infibulation, in which all external genitalia are cut off and the vaginal opening is stitched closed.

It is usually arranged by the women in the family and performed by traditional cutters who use anything from scissors to broken glass and tin can lids.

FGM can cause haemorrhaging, shock, chronic pain, recurrent urinary tract infections, cysts, menstrual problems and infertility. It increases the risk of labour complications and newborn deaths.

The procedure itself can prove fatal. “About 6,000 to 8,000 girls are mutilated every day,” Koita said. “No one knows how many die.”

Recent research in northern Iraq also suggests girls who undergo FGM are more prone to mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.


Although 17 of the African countries where FGM is found have made it illegal, the laws are often poorly enforced. Others like Mali, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan have no law.

Koita believes a resolution will help activists “put governments up against the wall”.

“It will be an extraordinary tool for people to get the laws that exist implemented, and it will also help people who don’t yet have laws in their country,” she said.

The resolution will not be enforceable but the fact it has been initiated by African countries will add a lot of weight, according to veteran rights campaigner Emma Bonino, who will address a high level meeting at the United Nations on Monday attended by activists and government ministers.

“I’m not saying it’s the miracle solution. I’m simply saying that at the end we will have a legal tool clearly saying what is right and what is wrong,” said Bonino, vice president of the Italian Senate and founder of rights group No Peace Without Justice.

“It will be particularly important in countries like Mali, which still don’t have a law because (activists) will be in some way protected in saying that this is not one individual’s bizarre idea; it’s the international community which is saying, ‘Stop cutting your children’.”

FGM is found among Islamic and Christian communities, although it predates both faiths. It is also practised by followers of indigenous beliefs. Although FGM is often believed to be a religious requirement, it is not mentioned in the Koran or any other religious text.

Efua Dorkenoo, head of the FGM campaign at rights group Equality Now, said a major barrier to tackling the scourge was the enormous influence of conservative religious leaders in countries like Mali, Gambia and Egypt, who advocate the practice.

Dorkenoo said another problem on the west coast of Africa were the powerful women’s secret societies in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, which support FGM.


Campaigners singled out Burkino Faso for showing real commitment to eradicating FGM. The country has some of the strongest laws, has carried out hundreds of prosecutions and set up a hotline where people can inform the authorities when they hear FGM is about to happen. Burkino Faso has also got traditional chiefs on board.

Another country that has made significant efforts is Senegal, where grassroots organisation Tostan has persuaded thousands of villages to renounce FGM over the past 15 years. Building on this work, the government has launched a National Action Plan to eradicate FGM by 2015. However, surveys suggest this is unlikely.

Campaigners also celebrated this year when Somalia – where almost all girls undergo FGM – banned the practice under its new constitution. But in a country where brides risk instant divorce if they have not been cut, no one is under any illusion that it will take a lot more to stop the practice.

Dorkenoo says the reasons for carrying out FGM vary between countries and between communities, which means you need different approaches for tackling it.

In Somalia, for example, people believe it keeps a girl chaste, prevents promiscuity after marriage and increases male pleasure. It is also cited as a religious requirement.

But in neighbouring Kenya where FGM is practised by the Maasai, it is tied up with the “bride price” system whereby daughters are married off very young – usually in exchange for cattle.

“We don’t believe you can transfer one model for tackling FGM across Africa,” Dorkenoo added. “Each area is specific. We don’t believe that one size fits all.”

Campaigners say the global campaign is slowly bearing fruit, but there have been setbacks.

One concern is the medicalisation of FGM in some countries. Two years ago Indonesia issued a regulation authorising doctors, nurses and midwives to perform FGM.

Indonesia says it wants to stop injuries and deaths caused by traditional cutters, but campaigners say the government is legitimising a major human rights abuse.

Activists are also keeping a close eye on Egypt. FGM was outlawed in 2008 but some Islamist politicians who won power this year have defended it.

Campaigners say that even with a U.N. resolution banning FGM, it could take decades to eradicate the practice.

However, Bonino is an optimist. She says change can come fast if the political will is there.

“Of course it is a very old tradition so it will not end tomorrow, but I think that we can really hope to get rid of it in one generation, which is quite something,” she said.



Educating Girls like Chrissie Can Save a Nation: President of Malawi

By Joyce Banda, Special to CNN

September 25, 2012

(CNN) -- When I was young, one of my best friends lived in my grandmother's village. I saw Chrissie every weekend as we made our way through childhood -- she in the village school and I in the town school. We finally came together as students in secondary school.

Sadly, Chrissie studied with me for only one term, as her parents could not afford the school fee of $6. She returned to her village, married early and had more than a half-dozen children. She lives there still, locked in poverty. My parents, on the other hand, could afford the school fees, and I was lucky enough to finish my schooling and eventually to run a successful business. Now, I am president of Malawi.

On Wednesday, I take the floor of the U.N. General Assembly as the second female president of an African country, and one of about 14 in the world, I am honoured to bring my message of hope for Malawi and for Africa to the world.

When I travel through my country and talk to the people, I see myself and Chrissie in the children I meet, who are bursting with intelligence and creativity and joy. But when I take the stage at the United Nations to represent my country, I also represent the parents of Malawi's children, the women who fear the dangers of giving birth and the men who search desperately to find work to pay for their families' basic needs.

The bad news about Malawi is not news to anyone. About 85% of Malawians live in rural villages in extreme poverty; AIDS and malaria are rampant. A single crop failure can ruin so many. These development challenges are intertwined in the lives of Malawians, and we must fight for progress on many fronts if we are to lift my country from poverty.

The journeys of women in my country -- and in countries all over the developing world -- are never easy. The health of our women in particular is central to many of our development challenges, and is an issue to which I have been devoted since I almost lost my life delivering my fourth child. It was only because I was fortunate enough to have access to a specialist in a hospital that I am alive today.

Last year, I visited a hospital where a baby had just died. Born in the dark of night with no electricity, that child had the cord wrapped around her neck and no one had seen it. In clinics I see women waiting to give birth on the floors of the corridors because there is no other place.

When I took office, I launched the Presidential Initiative for Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood, a project that I hope will reverse the poor access to reproductive health services for women in my country. Our girls, 15- and 16-year-olds, are having children themselves; they should be going to school, and we must support them and provide them with family planning education.

When we empower women with education and access to reproductive health services, we can lift an entire nation. Women who can choose when to have children and how many they will have are more likely to complete their education, start small businesses and participate actively in society. And as I witnessed with my friend Chrissie, education itself is vital to give women that choice in the first place. This is why efforts to improve the lives of women and children reinforce efforts to strengthen our economy and reduce poverty.

After the speeches of the world leaders are over, the U.N. General Assembly will come together to determine how it will tackle poverty and set benchmarks to measure progress in economic development. I will do everything I can to make sure that women's reproductive health remains a central focus.

We cannot afford to squander the potential of girls such as Chrissie any longer.



Pakistan:  In most honour killing cases, SHOs ‘favour’ the guilty party

 September 26, 2012

SUKKUR: In most crimes against women, the SHOs register soft cases against the offenders. The FIRs are also written in such a way that nobody can even read them properly. The handwriting in the FIRs should be very clear and everybody should be able to read it.

These views were shared by speakers at a workshop titled “Prevention of Violence against Women” held on Tuesday to train and sensitise police officials, especially the SHOs, who practically own their respective areas.

The SHOs register cases under lenient legal sections for the “karo kari” murders (honour killings) and thus the culprits go scot-free after one or two court hearings, either on benefit of the doubt or due to insufficient evidence.

The Sukkur SSP, Peer Mohammad Shah, Khairpur SSP Irfan Baloch and the Ghotki SSP, Mazhar Nawaz Shaikh believed that in most cases, not even the details of the murder are noted properly and the officers don’t bother to seize the murder weapon.

Especially in the karo-kari cases, it has been observed that the SHOs favour the culprits by saying they murdered due to “ghairat” (honour). This is wrong, a murder is a murder, karo-kari or otherwise, they said, urging that the SHOs should stop taking women as a commodity and change their mindset.

The SHOs rule like kings of the police station and their jurisdiction and because of their attitude people are afraid to visit the police stations, the police officials added.

Although the Prevention of Violence against Women project was launched in October 2010 to control crimes against women, it has failed to achieve results, Sukkur ADIG Shaukat Ali Abbasi said. “Since 2010, the SHOs are being trained on how to deal with women-related crimes but it seems that either they do not understand its importance or they don’t want to understand it.”

In urban areas, women are allowed to go out and work with men but the situation in rural areas is quite different. Women are mostly kept away from schools and from their childhood are told that they have to take care of the household. “In our male chauvinist society, we are not ready to give equal rights to the women and this is where the fault lies,” said Abbasi.

Life of a woman living in rural areas revolves around the same things. She has to wake up early in the morning, feed and milk the cattle and then prepare the family’s breakfast. She then goes to the fields and works there till noon. Then she returns home to prepare lunch and then return to the farm to work till dusk.  “And in the process, if she is seen talking to someone from the neighbourhood, she is labelled a kari [adulteress],” the Sukkur ADIG explained.

Criticising the police, the president of the Sukkur bar association, Hadi Bux Bhatt, women rights activist and PML-F leader Safia Baloch among others were of the view that the rate of conviction in women-related cases is negligible, which encourages the criminals. The police take active part in jirgas held for karo-kari and other related matters, which is condemnable.

The project officer, Sobia Agha, thanked the police officers for cooperating with the civil society representatives on highlighting violence against women. She claimed that since the launch of the project, women-related crimes have reduced in the province.



Saudi Bride’s Father Asks for a SR2 Dowry

Father says his main concern is daughter’s well-being

By Habib Toumi

September 26, 2012

Manama: A Saudi father of a bride has challenged local ostentatious dowry practices by asking the groom to give only two riyals (Dh1.95). “I do not look at the dowry as significant,” Abdul Hakeem Ahmad Haddad said. “We want our son-in-law to protect and care for our daughter. This is what Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has preached and we should follow this. In fact, if all Saudi families took a more compliant view with dowries, the issue of spinsterhood would be settled in our society,” the aviation forces retiree told local Arabic daily Al Yowm.

The father’s decision is a rare exception in the demanding communities of Saudi Arabia as well as the Gulf and Arab countries that have been hard hit by inflated dowries that grooms have to offer to brides.

Islam requires the payment of a small dowry as a token of care and compassion between the bride and groom and their families. In Tunisia, considered to be one of the liberal countries in women’s rights, the dowry is symbolic and is usually less than one US dollar.

However, in many other Arab countries, increasingly ostentatious practices have caused the dowries to shoot up steadily.

The average dowry in Saudi Arabia amounts to SR30,000 ($8,000) for middle class families and in the hundreds of thousands of riyals for the wealthier. The wedding bills are inflated by ornate clothes, lavish receptions and dinner banquets.

The situation is similar in neighbouring Bahrain while the costs are higher in other Gulf countries.

Several Gulf nationals, faced with the onerous costs, have opted to take wives from other countries, mainly Egypt, Syria and Jordan among Arabs, India, Pakistan, Thailand and The Philippines.



How far will Egypt's new constitution change the position of women?

Some women fear that even if their rights are protected by the new constitution, an Islamist-dominated state would find ways to reduce them in practice

Mary Mourad, Tuesday 25 Sep 2012

As Egypt's Constituent Assembly moves closer to completing the long-awaited draft constitution, concerns have been raised regarding articles dealing with the status and rights of women. Some commentators have predicted a reduction in woman's rights from those guaranteed in the 1971 constitution, whilst others have suggested there will be little change.

Article 11 of the 1971 constitution states:

"The State shall guarantee harmonisation between the duties of woman towards the family and her work in the society, ensuring her equal status with man in fields of political, social, cultural and economic life without violation of the rules of Islamic jurisprudence."

This is to be compared with article 36 of the proposed draft constitution:

"The state is committed to taking all constitutional and executive measures to ensure equality of women with men in all walks of political, cultural, economic and social life, without violation of the rules of Islamic jurisprudence."

Full report at:



An Emirati Man Sues Russian Ex-Wife for 'Stealing His Frozen Sperm'

 Sep 24 2012

London: An Emirati man is suing his Russian ex-wife for stealing his frozen sperm to get pregnant without his knowledge.

The man from Abu Dhabi said that shortly before their divorce, his Russian wife was secretly inseminated with his sperm at a clinic where they had earlier sought fertility treatment.

The couple split less than three weeks later, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

"I am angry it was done without my knowledge. I want justice. This is not acceptable," he said.

Full report at:



Girl Allegedly Kidnapped By ‘Facebook’ Friend: Indonesia

Yuli Tri Suwarni

September 26 2012

A father reported his missing daughter to the Depok Police precinct on Wednesday. The father said his that his14-year-old daughter had been missing since Sunday, and might have been kidnapped by her "Facebook" friend.

The missing girl’s father, Viktor Daniel Sihite, 41, said that his daughter, Angelina Sumiarni Sihite, asked permission to go to a church in Depok on Sunday. That was the last time he made contact with Angelina, the third-year student at SMP Budi Utomo Depok junior high school.

Full report at:



Kenya: Why Court Declined to Grant Girls' Wish to Wear Hijab in School


".....................the most important role played by a standardized school uniform is that it creates uniformity and visual equality that obscures the economic disparities and religious backgrounds of students who hail from all walks of life.

If the court were to allow the applicant's quest to wear hijab in school, the 48 Muslim girls in the school would look different from the others and this might give the impression that the applicants were being accorded special or preferential treatment............ This would infact amount to discrimination of the other students who would be required to continue wearing the prescribed school uniform."

Full report at:



Muslim Girl’s Death Breaks Canadian Hearts

 23 September 2012 00:00

EDMONTON – Hundreds of Canadian Muslims have paid farewell to a young Muslim girl, who was allegedly beaten and starved to death by her parents, an incident that has hit hard the sizable minority.

"It's very sad. It's very sad to see a child go through this and the parents go through this," Khama Assaf, who attended the funeral service, told CBC News on Saturday, September 22.

"It's very, very sad for the whole community.

“Everybody knows. The whole community knows. And [anyone] who has time today, they came for the funeral,” she added.

Full report at:



Madonna says she was being ‘ironic’ in calling Obama a Muslim

The point I was making is that a good man is a good man, she says

September 26, 2012

Pop star Madonna said on Tuesday she was being deliberately ‘ironic on stage’ when she erroneously referred to President Barack Obama during her concert in the nation’s capital as a ‘black Muslim.’

A video clip posted on YouTube by audience members at the Verizon Centre in downtown Washington captured the 54-year-old singer delivering a rousing, profanity-laced political speech about freedom during her show on Monday.

“Now, it’s so amazing and incredible to think that we have an African-American in the White House ... we have a black Muslim in the White House ... it means there is hope in this country, and Obama is fighting for gay rights, so support the man,” Madonna said.

Obama, campaigning to be re-elected on November 6, is widely known to be a practicing Christian.

Full report at:



Millions to Promote Women In Peacemaking

The Associated Press

September 26 2012

A former US ambassador has announced a multimillion dollar pledge to support a landmark UN resolution calling for women to be included in decision-making positions at every level of peacemaking and peace building.

Swanee Hunt, a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, said Tuesday that the Institute for Inclusive Security which she chairs will provide $2 million per year for the foreseeable future to advance women's participation in peace efforts, as called for in the 2000 U.N. resolution.

Full report at:



Challenges Faced by Western Muslim Women Converts

By Amal Stapley

 25 September 2012

Once the celebrations around the conversion have died down, a new sister starts to learn how to live as a Muslim and become part of the Muslim community.

This adjustment period can take a couple of years until they have worked out the path they feel most comfortable following in their new faith.

During this time they experience emotional highs and lows, variances in their faith, and often face many tests.

Full report at:



Africa: Giving Women Farmers the Tools to Prevent Food Insecurity


 25 SEPTEMBER 2012

Bulawayo — If women had equal access to productive farming resources, they could increase their yields by 20 to 30 percent and potentially raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to four percent.

This is according to a draft concept note yet to be released by the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), an advocacy organisation. The information is based on the organisation's work through its Working Group on Gender Equality in Rural Advisory Services, which aims to ensure that more women are able to work effectively as extension agents to better serve women farmers.

Full report at:



California Museum Displays a Heuristic Female Iranian Painter’s Paintings

Sep 25, 2012

A collection of Mokarrameh Qanbari, a heuristic and self-made female Iranian painter, has been showcased in the Bowser Museum in California.

A number of paintings selected from among the painter’s private collection were presented at the exhibition titled “The Paintings and Life of Mokarrameh Qanbari” on September 22, 2012.

Born in 1928, Qanbari began painting at the age of 63 when she came across some artist's paintings which her son had left at her home.

Full report at:



Pregnancy: The gold medal-winning beach-volleyball bump



Kerri Walsh Jennings was unduly moody on her way to winning the women's beach volleyball competition last month, leading teammates to joke she was pregnant.

She was; a test on her return to the US confirmed the mother-of-two's suspicion that she had been with child (for five weeks).

The revelation comes after the more dramatic baby news from Afghanistan of Lynette Pearce's shock delivery after six months of un-noticed pregnancy, while fighting.

How much physical activity can one do with a bump? The NHS encourages exercise during pregnancy but advises against sport that involves breathlessness or falling (volleyball appears to be a bad idea) as well as, helpfully, kickboxing.

Full report at: