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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 March 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Underage Marriage In Indonesia May Worsen

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 March 2019

After months in detention, some of the activists jailed for their human rights campaigns granted temporary release


 Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Granted Release, but Their Trial Continues

 Indian Muslim Women Demand Codification of Muslim Family Law In Keeping With the Quran and the Indian Constitution

 Women’s Political Participation in Iran, A Cosmetic Measure

 No Political Agenda behind Distribution of Money among Women in Nangarhar: First Lady

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Underage Marriage In Indonesia May Worsen

March 29 2019

The age of menarche, when girls first start menstruating, is falling in Indonesia. My recently published paper shows this is a result of improved living conditions. The average age of menarche used to be around 15 years, but it has now decreased to about 12.5 in rural areas and 11.7 years in urban areas. As Indonesia continues to prosper, all indications point to menarche starting even earlier. This has implications for the health of Indonesia’s female children given the customary linking in some parts of the country of the age of menarche to when a girl can marry. Indonesia’s marriage law specifies the legal minimum age of marriage as 16 for girls and 19 for boys. However, increasing piety leads more Muslim parents to turn to religious courts seeking permission for their underage daughters to marry.According to a recent report on child marriage from Plan International Australia, 90 ...



Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Granted Release, but Their Trial Continues

March 28, 2019

A Saudi court on Thursday temporarily freed three of the women’s rights activists standing trial in a case that has drawn international criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record.

Their release, reported by the Saudi state news agency, was interpreted as a positive signal by rights advocates. But they cautioned that the charges against the defendants still stood.

The Saudi agency said the criminal court in Riyadh, the capital, had granted a reprieve from prison to the three women, without specifying their names or when they must return.

A human rights group that has worked on behalf of the women, ALQST, identified the released women in a Twitter post as Rokaya Mohareb, Aziza al-Youssef and Eman al-Nafjan.

The group also said there were indications that other defendants could be released in the next few days, even as their trial proceeds.

The defendants, mostly female activists who had campaigned for the kingdom to expand freedoms for Saudi women, were arrested last spring and accused of acting as foreign agents and working to undermine the security of Saudi Arabia.

Branded as traitors, they were charged with making illegitimate contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats. But rights groups say the women are effectively on trial for their activism, and dozens of countries have called for their release. A panel of British members of Parliament and a group of nine United States senators have also asked Riyadh to let the women go.

Some of the women’s supporters said on Thursday that they hoped the temporary releases were a sign that international pressure had worked, pushing the Saudi authorities toward granting them full freedom, perhaps by sentencing them to time already served.

But they cautioned that the handling of the cases had been unpredictable from the start.

“While they’ve been released, their sham trial is still going,” said Rothna Begum, a Human Rights Watch researcher who has been tracking the cases. “We really don’t know what the authorities are going to do next. But we hope that the ordeal will be over soon.”

Rights groups have reported that some of the women were subjected to torture and other physical and psychological abuse in jail. During a court hearing on Wednesday, several of the women told a three-judge panel that they had been tortured and sexually harassed by their captors, said Yahya Assiri, the director of ALQST. One, Shadan al-Anezi, told the court that her interrogators had used drugs such as hash while abusing her, Mr. Assiri said.

Though 11 women are on trial, at least two more have been detained without charges, activists said. The government has denied that any defendants have been mistreated.

Mr. Assiri said he believed that the authorities had allowed the women to be released because they were “under international pressure,” and that the charges would eventually be dropped. “But we can’t trust that, so the pressure must continue to make sure they’re completely free,” he said.

The women’s arrests preceded the much-publicized lifting of a ban on driving by women in Saudi Arabia, just one of many restrictions opposed by the activists. They were also advocates for the rights of domestic violence victims, and urged the kingdom’s leaders to dismantle Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, which requires women to obtain permission from a male guardian, such as a husband, father, brother or son, to study, work and travel.

The women’s activism came amid a harsh crackdown on dissent orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was consolidating power by moving against critics and potential rivals. Though the crown prince has moved to expand some freedoms for women, some have interpreted the arrest of the activists as a message from the prince: Change comes from above, not below.

The crown prince’s human rights record drew global attention in October with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and critic of the government who lived in the United States and wrote columns for The Washington Post. Saudi agents killed Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and the intelligence agencies of the United States and some of its allies have concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered his death.

Ben Hubbard and Karam Shoumali contributed reporting.



Indian Muslim Women Demand Codification of Muslim Family Law In Keeping With the Quran and the Indian Constitution

Ambika Pandit

Mar 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: Not just a law to replace the ordinance to deter and punish husbands who pronounce instant triple talaq, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in its charter of demands in the run-up to the 2019 polls wants political parties to commit to making way for a "Muslim Family Law" in keeping with the Quran and the Indian Constitution.

“The parliament should pass a muslim family law to enable legal protection for women just as they have passed Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and other such laws under Hindu code, the charter of demands shtated. Led by BMMA, women from the minority community have been holding meetings in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, MP, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu to demand accountability from all political parties in the 2019 elections. The demand charter is the outcome of these meetings.

“All political parties must promise action against hate speeches and religious polarisation,” the women have sought.

“Along with education and livelihood measures, a Muslim Family Law would enable women to live a life of empowerment and dignity and halt vested politics over gender justice. The conservative, patriarchal and misogynist voices within the community have been singularly responsible for the miserable state of the Muslim women and for the image of the Muslim community in the eyes of the larger society,” the statement issued by BMMA reads.

“We have expanded the ambit of our demands beyond the law to deter and punish those who pronounce instant triple talaq fforts. We also want immediate steps towards codification of the Muslim Family Law,” Zakia Soman, co-founder of BMMA added.

On Wednesday, another set of women’s organisations from 10 states, led by Bebaak collective, came together to launch a manifesto of demands from political parties in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

While registering their support for ending the practice of triple talaq, the women’s groups led by Bebaak Collective opposed the criminalisation provisions prescribing a three year jail term for the husband under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019. They want the ordinance scrapped. The feel sending Muslim men to jail for a civil offence will not help them as the man will not be able to provide maitenance to the woman if he is beind bars.



Women’s Political Participation in Iran, A Cosmetic Measure

Mar 28, 2019

In the beginning of the Persian New Year, one of the official websites of the mullahs’ regime published an article on the reasons for the failure of women’s political participation in Iran.

In the article titled, “The government of hope and disappointment of women in 1397 (March 2018- March 2019)”, the state-run Didarnews website made illuminating admissions on women’s political participation in Iran, facts that had so far been pointed out only by the Iranian Resistance and specifically the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran for many years. wrote, “The presence of women in political positions is not necessarily synonymous with the improvement of the discriminatory social and political status of women in society. The limited participation of women as parliamentarians or ministerial deputies in the political structure has little impact on changing the legal procedures in favor of women or on improving their social status.” (The state-run – March 21, 2019)

Not a single legislation passed for women

Didarnews points out that one of the promises made by Hassan Rouhani during his election campaign was “to draft bills specially to protect women’s rights.”

It adds, “During the first term of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency, a bill on the elimination of violence against women that had been drafted under the Ahmadinejad government was revised as a bill to protect women’s lives. The bill was reviewed and sent to the judiciary before being submitted to the parliament because of the criticisms raised against it. The judiciary promised that the bill would go to parliament before the end of Persian year 1396 (March 2017- March 2018), but after removing 41 articles from the bill, the promise has not yet been fulfilled.

“The bill on child marriages also faced a similar fate. Strong opposition from various groups in the parliament on the one hand, and the intolerance of women in the government against these oppositions on the other, led to the failure to pass the bill.

“These repeated failures coincide with Massoumeh Ebtekar’s announcement of proposing new bills on women’s rights, including one on equality of the blood money of men and women,[1] a bill proposing restrictions on men’s unilateral right to divorce,[2] and a bill to support firms that employ female heads of households.

“There remains a fundamental question. Whereas after years of efforts and consultations by intellectuals and advocates of women and children’s rights in different sectors, none of the previous bills had any positive outcome, and according to Shahindokht Molaverdi, ‘they could not even take one bill in favor of women to the parliament and succeed,’ could there be any chance for the new bills to be successful and get approved?”

Women do not impact the political arena in Iran

The didarnews article asks, “Why do women in the political arena have no impact despite their efforts?”

It quotes Shahindokht Molaverdi, former presidential deputy for women and family affairs and other female officials as saying, “Women’s issues in Iran are political, thus, acting as a fundamental obstacle for the adoption of amendments to the bills involving issues of women. Looking at the process of drafting and examining the bills for women and children, we find that statesmen, and particularly the male MPs, are not only unaware of these bills, but also strongly oppose once they hear about them. On the other hand, as is the case with the fate of women’s bills, the presence of women in political positions is not necessarily synonymous with the improvement of the discriminatory social and political status of women in society.”

According to Didarnews, “There are many reasons why women’s political participation and presence as members of parliament or ministerial deputies have little impact on changing the legal procedures in favor of women or on improving their social status. One major reason is that women in the political arena have been picked according to the needs of the power structure and its selectivity. They do not represent the masses of women. Neither have they emerged from an independent movement of women’s associations. Therefore, many women who have a political or managerial position, are not acting as a woman, but as a representative or a manager who is more committed to her party interests than the interests of women in general.

“Obviously, the political parties in power are inevitably bound to enforce government legislations and act according to the government’s objectives and ideological rule. Therefore, the women they choose from their ranks to manage political and managerial positions are the ones who are most compatible with the existing structure.”

Another obstacle to women’s political participation in Iran is that “women are often not taken serious in power relations; they have little political experience, and they do not enjoy strong political lobbies like male politicians….

“In Iran, women active in the political arena do not have any bonds with women in the society, and at best they attend a few ceremonial speeches every year. They go to gatherings where the speakers speak in the most general terms and often feature women speakers from among the upper-class and elite women… Most women active in the political arena have no information on the status of women in the ethnic groups or in various regions of the country, nor are they aware of the problems of the masses of women.”

A regime relying on gender discrimination

The Iranian Resistance has always stated that the mullahs’ regime, due to its misogynistic nature, can never be an advocate of women’s rights, let alone empower women’s political participation, because they advances their goals under the name of religion by restricting and suppressing women’s rights.

The regime’s foundations are based on gender discrimination and male domination over women, and if one day they give up their patriarchy and provide opportunities for women’s political participation, they will not be able to maintain their political system.

Under the regime’s Constitution, women are deprived of the right to leadership, presidency and judgment; their permission to study, work, marry and even leave their homes depends on the decision of the father and husband. Their clothing is determined by the government and their wages are not only unequal to men, but is one tenth of the official minimum wage.

Today, women in Iran are being exploited as cheap labor, and they are forced to work under conditions that even the regime’s officials describe as “new slavery.”

As for women’s political participation in Iran, the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has repeatedly stressed that the recruitment of a handful of women in the ruling regime is only a hollow show to present a modern image of the regime in the West to secure commercial deals. Otherwise, the three female deputies at the president’s office, whose titles are deceptively translated as vice-presidents, do not enjoy the least executive powers and authority.

The directorate formed at the presidential office called the directorate for women and family affairs, not only does not have the power to advance its goals, but its budget is reduced every year under various pretexts.

The regime’s dependence on elimination of women is so serious that Rouhani could not include even a single woman in his cabinet after being re-elected despite his campaign promises.

The limited measures the regime takes on women’s political participation or social and economic participation are due to the prevailing international conditions, otherwise they consider the main task of women as housekeeping and raising children, and the value of their testimony as half of men’s.

The fact that one of the regime’s state-run media is reflecting some facts about women’s political participation in Iran indicates the regime’s efforts to calm down the turbulent situation in the country and contain the protests. And, of course, it proves the validity of the Iranian Resistance’s stances over the years.

[1] – According to the laws of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, the blood money of a woman is half of the blood money of a man. If a man murders a woman, the female victim’s family must pay the family of the murderer an amount of money equal to the blood money of their daughter to have the regime’s judiciary punish the male murderer.

[2] According to the laws of the mullahs’ regime in Iran, men have the right to divorce their wives unilaterally without having to inform her.



No Political Agenda behind Distribution of Money among Women in Nangarhar: First Lady

28 Mar 2019

The First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani has rejected political agenda behind the distribution of money among women in eastern Nangarhar province, insisting that the funds were distributed among poor women and has nothing to do with election campaigns.

She also added that the ministries of finance and public health were encouraged to distribute money among women from the budget of government after the settlement of 1397 fiscal year budget.

According to Mrs. Ghani, the program of distributing 500 Afghanis for women was implemented in cooperation with the ministries of finance and public health in a bid to contribute with transportation expenses of the women.

Provincial public health direct of Nangarhar has confirmed that 91 million Afghanis were distributed to women during 1397 fiscal year.

However, some members of provincial council have raised questions regarding distribution of money among women by First Lady Rula Ghani.

A member of the provincial council Nasir Kamawal said the money or gifts were supposed to be distributed through local institutions but if the funds were distributed for elections campaigns then the national funds have been betrayed.Another member of the provincial council has also branded the move an act of betrayal with the people of Afghanistan, emphasizing that proper channels existed for the distribution of money.




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