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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 18 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Upper Limit for Girls’ Admission to KP Colleges Abolished

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 May 2014

 A supporter of Iranian religious hardliners takes part in a demonstration after the weekly Friday prayer in Tehran against online campaign by Iranian women for greater social freedoms. (AFP)


 Abducted Girls Still In Nigeria's Sambisa Forest

 Three Women of a Family in Pakistan Killed Over ‘Honour’

 Shahrizat an Example of How Umno Has Failed Women, Says Dyana Sofya

 ‘Verdict Not Final’ For Sudanese Woman Sentenced To Death

 Draft Law Combating Sexual Harassment Is An Insufficient Step: Women’s Rights

 Fingerprinting ‘A Step Forward’ For Women’s Rights in Saudi Kingdom

 Language Barrier Spoils Opportunities for Bangladesh Nurses In Oman

 Empowering Girls Is Key to Stopping Terrorism

 Iranians Demand Hijab Rules Enforced

 UN Organization Concerned By Rise in Honour Killings in West Bank

 Women among 228 Elected To Jeddah CCI Bodies

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Upper Limit for Girls’ Admission to KP Colleges Abolished

18 May 2014

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has done away with the upper age limit for the girls’ admission to public sector universities and colleges in the province.

It has also decided to provide free education and boarding facilities to the physically-challenged students enrolled in the local government educational institutions.

“From today, girls in the province will not be denied higher education for being overage,” higher education minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told Dawn on Friday during the inaugural session of the Forum of Zoologists at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa colleges here on Friday.

The session was attended by higher education secretary Farah Hamid Khan, additional secretary Khalid Khan, College Teachers Association president Nasrullah Yusufzai, and professors, doctors and principals of colleges.

“If a girl failed to pursue higher education either for poverty or other reason, she can now get admission in any university and college after passing entry test,” the minister said.

An official of the higher education department told Dawn that government universities and colleges in the province had separate age limit for the girls’ and boys’ admission to classes of graduation and above.

He said the age limit varied from 25 years to 27 years.

The minister said the government had also decided that education of physically-challenged students would be free in government universities and colleges.

He said ramps, special restrooms and other facilities would be provided to physically-challenged students in the buildings of universities and colleges.

He said 10 years relaxation in age would be given to the physically-challenged students while getting admission to colleges and universities.

The minister said it was necessary to promote higher education and modern research for development.

He said unfortunately, the higher education sector had been totally neglected by the successive governments but the current one led by PTI was committed to developing it.

Mr Mushtaq said Rs500 million under the Chief Minister Education Endowment Fund and Rs300 million under the Higher Education Endowment Fund had been allocated for two foreign scholarships for PHD programme and 1,456 scholarships for four years BS programme and that the scholarships would be provided to students on merit.

Earlier speaking during the function, the minister declared the establishment of the Forum of Zoologists a ‘golden step’ for the promotion of education and research in the province.

He said promotion of education was the government’s top priority.

“The youths must come forward to bring about a real change. We’ll facilitate them appropriately,” he said.

Mr Mushtaq said an office of the research innovation and commercialisation was being established at all public and private universities of the province to ensure socioeconomic development.

He said his government was resolving the lecturers’ problems on priority and that 241 adhoc lecturers had been regularised during the last one year.

Higher education secretary Farah Hamid and additional secretary Khalid Khan appreciated the establishment of the Forum of Zoologists at local educational institutions and said it would prove a milestone in the promotion of modern research.



Abducted girls still in Nigeria's Sambisa Forest

18 May 2014

"Upon interrogation, the millitants revealed that 234 girls abducted from Chibok were still in Sambisa forest and that they had been divided into three groups," Peregrino Brimah, head of the non-profit group Every Nigeria Do Something (ENDS), told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

Brimah said local vigilante arrested eight Boko Haram militants Friday evening in Goym village in Dikwa local government area of the Borno state when the militants "came to get food and items" from the village close to Sambisa.

"They said they were sent to get items including cloths for the girls," he said.

Last month, Boko Haram militants stormed a school in Chibok, located on the fringes of Sambisa Forest, loading scores of schoolgirls onto trucks before driving away unchallenged.

In a 17-minute video last week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau offered to exchange the kidnapped girls for Boko Haram militants held by Nigerian authorities.

At least four countries, including the U.S. and Britain, are currently assisting in search and rescue efforts.

ENDS maintains a vast network with local vigilantes on whose behalf the group has requested for weapons from the Nigerian authorities to battle the insurgents.

Brimah called for a "military support" in Dikwa to ward off militant attacks on civilians following Friday's arrests.

"The civilians also hope 'the Americans' will act on this intelligence to rescue the abducted girls," he added.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.

The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader in 2009 while in police custody.

In the five years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for numerous attacks – on places of worship and government institutions – and thousands of deaths.



Three Women of a Family in Pakistan Killed Over ‘Honour’

18 May 2014

RAJANPUR: Three women of a family were killed by their family members allegedly in the name of honour in the Peshkotla Andaroon area.

The police said that three women, including two sisters, were shot dead by their three relatives, who managed to flee after the incident. The police sent the bodies to a morgue in Fazilpur for medico-legal formalities. No arrest had been made until the filing of this report.



Shahrizat an example of how Umno has failed women, says Dyana Sofya

18 May 2014

DAP's Teluk Intan candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud today hit back at Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, saying that the latter's belittling remarks against her were testament to Wanita Umno's failure to promote women in politics.

"The statement by Wanita Umno head Shahrizat Jalil that my candidacy is simply a show by the DAP is indicative of the failure of Wanita Umno in promoting its own members into positions of leadership in the party and in government.

"Instead of lauding DAP for the courage and the political will to field me, a young Malay woman in a seat traditionally contested by a Chinese representative from Barsian Nasional, Shahrizat Jalil has instead belittled me and DAP," Dyana said in a statement today.

"It is precisely this sort of negative attitude that originates from BN woman leaders that has constantly robbed women of opportunities to lead in this nation."

Yesterday, Shahrizat expressed pity towards Dyana for allegedly being unaware that she was a puppet being used by the DAP to grab power.

But Dyana said today DAP honoured all women and recognised that women had to take on a bigger role in the government to balance out male-female representation.

"(And DAP) does this by being bold enough to nominate more and more female candidates in every election.  Women’s role in politics should not be confined to playing second fiddle, serving food and drinks to party workers and visiting voters in their houses, dishing out goodies."

She said DAP had promoted youthful candidates regardless of race and gender in previous elections, pointing to Teo Nie Ching and Liew Chin Tong in 2008, Zairil Khir Johari, Kasthuri Patto and Alice Lau in 2013.

Dyana also refuted Shahrizat's claim that Umno had brought her to where she was today, and said that the credit instead laid with her mother and family.

"I ask that she learns from my mother, who is an Umno member, but has realised that my candidacy by DAP heralds a breakthrough for young women in politics, especially for young Malay women, who have long been held back by an inflexible, patriarchal structure in Umno.

“I owe who I am today to my family and to my mother, to hard work and to the personal decisions which I have made along my life," said Dyana.

She said if she had chosen a path similar to Shahrizat's instead of joining DAP in 2011, it would be impossible for her to aim to enter Parliament as the representative for the people of Teluk Intan and if elected, to be the youngest MP in Parliament.

"Datuk Shahrizat Jalil and Puteri Umno should not belittle my intelligence and my ability to tell the difference between BN, which protects the interests of the rich and powerful, and DAP, which protects the rights of ordinary Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or creed.

"The party has nominated me precisely because I strongly believe in the ideals of justice, equal opportunity and good governance," said Dyana.

Dyana, who is the political aide to DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, is taking on veteran leader Datuk Mah Siew Kong of BN, whose candidacy was announced yesterday.

Mah, who is Gerakan president, won the seat in the 1999 and 2004 general elections but lost to DAP's M. Manogaran and Seah Leong Peng in 2008 and 2013 by 1,470 and 7,313 votes respectively.

The seat fell vacant after Seah died from cancer on May 1, triggering a by-election in a constituency that includes 23,301 Malay voters (38.6%), 25,310 Chinese voters (41.9%) and 11,468 Indian voters (19%).

DAP, which makes up one-third of the opposition pact, had been trying hard to prove its detractors wrong by fielding more Malay candidates in the last general election to broaden its appeal.

But its decision to field Dyana has sparked criticism from Umno, including party mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia, which claimed her candidacy would only leave her dejected and worthless to the party.

Dyana also became the victim of a smear campaign that includes pictures of her in skimpy underwear, in a move that analysts say is an attempt to show she was not a "real" or "good" Malay.



‘Verdict not final’ for Sudanese woman sentenced to death

18 May 2014

The fate of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese women who was sentenced to death by authorities for refusing to renounce her Christianity, may not be final, despite a court ruling this week in the capital Khartoum, an official said.

Sudanese Parliament Speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen said on Um Derman radio station that the verdict - which was not yet final – would go through all the judicial stages to reach the constitutional court, CNN news website reported.

Ibrahim, who is eight months pregnant, describes herself as Christian, according to her husband.

However, the court considers her a Muslim.

The death ruling for Ibrahim drew condemnation from Western embassies in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and international rights groups, including Amnesty International.

“The Embassies of the United States of American, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands in Khartoum express their deep concern over the apostasy ruling handed down on Sunday in the trial of Meriam Yahia Ibhrahim Ishag,” said a statement posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.

“We call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution,” the statement added.

Void actions

“We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people. We are also concerned over the brutal sentence that could be faced with respect to the finding of adultery,” it said.

The court in Khartoum also ordered Ibrahim be given 100 lashes for committing "zena" - an Arabic word for illegitimate sex - for having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man.

The couple married in 2011 and have a child, born 18 months ago. Under Sudanese law, Ibrahim's marriage to a non-Muslim is regarded as void, the Associated Press reported.

Ibrahim can appeal her death sentence as well as the 100 lashes.

As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father's religion.



Draft Law Combating Sexual Harassment Is An Insufficient Step: Women’s Rights

18 May 2014

The new amendments to the Penal Code regarding sexual harassment are an “important yet insufficient step in fighting harassment”, said Fatma Khafagy, Director Ombudswoman for Gender Equality at the National Council for Women (NCW).

Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s cabinet passed on Wednesday a draft law amending articles in the Penal Code in a manner which creates harsher punishment for sexual harassment.

The legislation was initially drafted in April before being sent to the Ministry of Justice for revision, reported state-run Al-Ahram.

Khafagy applauded the draft legislation for tackling sexual harassment of both genders. She said the NCW was consulted regarding the draft, adding that the cabinet took some of the council’s comments into consideration, including the aforementioned point.

Fathi Farid, coordinator of the anti-sexual harassment I Saw Harassment (Shoft Tahrosh) initiative, nevertheless criticised this clause, saying that men in Egypt do not suffer from sexual harassment. He added that it might be used against female victims reporting harassment they have been subjected to, as the harasser could claim he was harassed by the victim to escape punishment.

Khafagi described the punishments listed in the draft as “reasonable”, especially the fines. The draft deals with harassment as a crime punishable by a minimum of six months in prison which could expand to five years, depending on its type. It also fines the harasser from EGP 3,000 to EGP 50,000.

“Maximising the punishments might cause the judge to sympathise with the harasser,” Khafagy said. “It could therefore lead to impunity.”

Farid meanwhile said the penalties are not “deterrent”, describing the most severe punishment cited in the draft as “farcical”.

“This draft [was created] to adapt to the phenomenon of sexual harassment rather than eradicate it,” he said.

Both Khafagy and Farid criticised the draft legislation for “burdening” the victim, who must take the harasser to the police and provide at least two witnesses of the harassment incident in order for the law to be enforced.

Khafagy stressed that security forces must be present in areas where sexual harassment has been reported to be prevalent and during peak times. Both added that harassers must be rehabilitated to prevent them from repeating the crime.

“The cabinet must also work on a more comprehensive law to tackle violence against women in general, including sexual harassment,” Khafagy said.

The NCW had already drafted a law addressing violence against women. The law had initially been submitted to ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s administration last year. It was submitted again to interim President Adly Mansour, but it is yet to be issued.

The amended legislation expands the definition of sexual harassment, stretching it to include the use of sexual hints through “signs”, whether verbally or physically. The crime is punishable by at least six months in prison and/or a fine ranging from EGP 3,000 to EGP 5,000.

The legislation also punishes harassers who chase the victim by at least one year in prison and/or an EGP 5,000 to 10,000 fine. The punishments are doubled in the case of recurrence.

The amendments define sexual harassment as hassling the victim for sexual gain, the punishment for it being at least a year in prison and/or a fine between EGP 10,000 and EGP 20,000.

The draft legislation maximises the punishment in the case that the harasser is in a position allowing him to exercise pressure on the victim, for example: being the victim’s guardian, professor, boss or paid-servant. In such cases, harassment is punishable by three to five years in prison and an EGP 20,000 to EGP 50,000 fine.

Egypt’s women’s rights organisations have long been calling for laws to address the proliferating phenomenon of sexual harassment.

A report issued by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in April 2013 revealed that an overwhelming majority of Egyptian women (99.3%) have experienced some sort of sexual harassment, and 96.5% of women had been sexually assaulted.



Fingerprinting ‘A Step Forward’ For Women’s Rights in Saudi Kingdom

18 May 2014

RIYADH — The recently-introduced fingerprinting system to identify women who come to court has put an end to the exploitation of women at the hands of Mahrams (male relatives a woman cannot legally marry) or criminals seeking to impersonate them.

The decision by the Ministry of Justice to introduce a fingerprinting system in the Kingdom’s courts has been met with wide acceptance by women as well as judges and lawyers. Previously, judges had to summon guardians or witnesses to ascertain the identity of any woman who had to appear before the court.

Hayat, a 32-year-old Saudi, applauded the new system and recalled how her husband got another woman to appear in court, steal her identity and relinquish her custody rights. His plan fell through, however, when the judge grew suspicious of the woman.

Faten Al-Montashri believes the implementation of a fingerprinting system will not only prevent abuse of the system but make it easier for women to appear in courts.

"I was always at the mercy of my relatives and their willingness to accompany me to courts. However, it has now possible to expedite court cases and clear many pending cases,” she said.

Since judges could not ask women to uncover their faces, any woman who had to appear in court had to bring witnesses who could identify her, leaving the system open to abuse. In one case, the brothers of a divorced woman manipulated the system to deprive her of her inheritance.

Saadaa Abdullah said the implementation of the fingerprinting system is not only a step forward for women’s rights, but it also prevents exploitation by male guardians and ensures that they are protected against forgery and fraud.

Echoing the same view, legal consultant Mohammad Al-Wehaibi said the new system will combat all forms of errors, fraud and forgery. He called for a backup system to be made available in case the fingerprinting system is out of order.



Language barrier spoils opportunities for Bangladesh nurses in Oman

18 May 2014

Although Oman had placed a demand for 50 nurses from Bangladesh, only 12 out of 250 aspiring migrants were considered eligible for the job as most of them failed to communicate in English.

“The required number of nurses could not be selected as the applicants could not communicate in English,” Zahirul Islam, general manager of Boesl, the state-sponsored recruiting agency which had been handling the recruitment process, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

Oman placed a demand of 35 doctors and 50 nurses for a health centre located at an industrial area near the capital, Muscat. Following a Boesl advertisement, 250 nurses appeared for the examination.

He also added that an Omani delegation recently interviewed the candidates and noted that most of them cannot speak in English.

“However, the required number of doctors has been selected,” he added.

The skilled healthcare workers will be employed by the Rusayl Health Centre, a hospital at Rusayl Industrial Estate, 45km from Muscat.

“Each of the selected candidate would only have to pay Tk60,000 as a service charge and no other fees will be applicable,” Zahirul said.

A total 25 male nurses and 25 female nurses would also be recruited for monthly salaries of US$760 and US$730 respectively.

Oman is one of the destinations for migrant workers from Bangladesh. In the first four months of this year, the Gulf nation recruited 35,798 Bangladeshi workers, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.

“The institutes that provide nursing education do not have English language courses, which is necessary,” Refugee Migratory Movements and Research Unit (RMMRU) of Dhaka University founding chair Tasneem Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

She suggested introduction of English language course in all nursing training institutions.



Empowering Girls Is Key to Stopping Terrorism

18 May 2014

Educating girls is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to change a nation. The further girls go through school, the healthier they'll be, the more they'll earn, the fewer children they'll have and the more they'll invest in the children they do have.

This, in turn, will make those children healthier and more productive. It's a virtuous cycle that can make a nation happier and richer.

Sadly, though, in parts of the world, this is seen not as progress but as a problem. Educated girls become more independent and less subservient, less willing to abide by cultural norms that repress them and treat them as unequal to men.

That's particularly threatening to violent, ultraconservative religious groups — most commonly Islamic fundamentalists — that regard women's second-class status as divinely decreed.

The horrific brutality those groups use to terrify girls and their families into submission have become all too familiar: In Afghanistan, Taliban militants have thrown acid on girls for daring to go to school. In Pakistan, they shot 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head for advocating that girls be educated; she survived and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And, most recently in Nigeria, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden") kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in northern Nigeria and threatened to sell them into slavery. It's the latest atrocity committed by these murderous thugs in their attempt to force north-eastern Nigeria into a medieval vision of Sharia law and religious purity.

Boko Haram's crime has been abetted by the pathetic ineptitude of the Nigerian government in failing to save these teenagers, who were on track to become lawyers, teachers and doctors.

Nigerian authorities first ignored the incident, then claimed activists invented it and finally — under pressure from parents and a worldwide Internet campaign — accepted help from the United States and other nations to track the criminals they failed to stop and now cannot seem to find.

Whether those efforts will be successful is open to question, but the situation on the ground is changing dramatically. Thousands of Nigerian troops — previously unwilling to confront Boko Haram — have entered the province where the girls were kidnapped, backed by U.S. surveillance and teams of advisers from several countries.

The world's outrage, it seems, has at least given the girls a chance — and, not insignificantly, opened an opportunity to strike Boko Haram, an al-Qaida-affiliated group that has been killing and kidnapping in Nigeria since 2009.

For all the attention to drones and bombs, the war on terrorism ultimately will have to be won one schoolgirl's mind at a time.

To that end, a viral Twitter campaign such as #BringBackOurGirls holds more power than a band of heavily armed religious fanatics. They might be able to terrorize a village, but only by alienating a world that holds no sympathy for cowards who victimize little girls.

USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its



Iranians Demand Hijab Rules Enforced

18 May 2014

TEHRAN: Around 1,000 Iranians staged a rally to demand that the government fully enforce obligatory rules that women be veiled in public.

The demonstrators, both men and women, protested in central Tehran, carrying placards and chanting that the authorities “must stop the spread of vice” and enforce the Hijab.

A dedicated “morality police” has long handed out fines, verbal notices or even arrested women it considers are not observing the rules properly.

“In some parts of the city, the veils are coming off right now and the full violation of Hijab can be witnessed,” Hojjatoleslam Kazem Sediqi said in a Friday prayers speech at Tehran University, shortly before the rally.



UN Organization Concerned By Rise in Honour Killings in West Bank

18 May 2014

'UN Women' calls attention to violence against Palestinian women despite PA's commitment to eliminate discrimination.

UN Women, the United Nations’ organization for women’s rights, is “seriously concerned” by rising rates of violence against women, including “honour” killings in the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

A UN statement highlighted the Palestinian Authority’s recent endorsement of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

“The Palestinian government has demonstrated a political will to end violence against women through the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy on violence against women,” the statement said.

However, the UN group said that “political will must be translated into urgent concrete action.”

Some activists said the rise in “honor” killings indicates social and economic problems are mounting in the West Bank.

Palestinian female participation in the labour force stands at 17 percent, a figure the World Bank called “abysmally low,” noting that employers appeared to favour men, among whom joblessness was almost a third lower in 2013.

Palestinian media occasionally reports the discoveries of women’s bodies in what are called “hazy circumstances” – a euphemism for “honor” killings. Names are concealed and the news is rarely followed up.

A 2013 study estimated an average of 15 to 20 “honor” killings occur every year in Jordan, a country with a population of around 6.3 million, compared to around 4 million in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.



Women among 228 Elected To Jeddah CCI Bodies

18 May 2014

The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) announced on Tuesday night the results of the committee elections. At least 228 businessmen and women were elected to 19 committees. While some committees were dominated by men, other committees witnessed remarkable competition among female candidates, such as the private schools committee in which there were 12 women candidates out of a total of 24 candidates.

According to Mohiuddin Hakami, the JCCI assistant secretary-general, the election process was done electronically for the first time in the history of the elections of the Saudi Chambers.

He explained that the announcement of the results of the elections put an end to the longest election period in the history of the Saudi Chambers, as it extended for nearly six months. He said there will be a one-week period for submitting appeals, followed immediately by the formation of committees and the determination of the dates for these committees to start their work.

The election produced 12 winning members for each committee, while another 6 experts will be appointed by the Chamber Board of Director. The period of work for these committees, as well as the Board of Directors, is four years.

Hakami said that for the first time in the history of chamber elections in the Kingdom and in the Gulf, the number of candidates in the election exceeded 650 candidates, the number of voters exceeded 1,500 voters, and more than 3,000 votes were cast in total.

He said competition continued until the final moments in the young entrepreneurs, contractors, lawyers, private schools, real estate, transportation, and fabrics and garments committees.

Forty-two young candidates competed for 12 seats in the Young Businessmen Committee, while the Private Schools Committee experienced a great competition due to the merging of the girls and boys private schools’ committees. Twenty-six candidates competed for seats in the committee, of which 14 were male candidates and 12 were female candidates. During the election period, the Chamber allowed the use of all means of advertising by the candidates until the time of voting.

Nineteen committees held elections, but those with an insufficient number of candidates were exempted. “Members of these committees will be appointed by the Chamber or will be merged with other committees with similar sector activity,” said Hakami. It is worth mentioning that the elections for this session of the Jeddah Chamber had a different atmosphere, as a result of a number of various judicial rulings indicating nullity of the previous Chamber’s committees’ elections.