New Age Islam News Bureau
23 Dec 2013
A group of girls who would like to go onto higher studies if hostel accommodation became available © Aid to the Church in Need, Pakistan
• Children Subjected To Abuses at Madinah Home
• Pakistan: A residential hostel for female Christian students
• Rights of Female Workers Must Be Protected: Indonesian Minister
• In Love and In Danger: A Muslim, Christian Mixed Couple in Bangui
• Combating Harassment: Celebrating the Working Woman
• Nigeria: End Violence against Women Now
• Jazan Women Venture into Computer Maintenance
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
White Widow Samantha Seen Fleeing On Camel into Snake-Infested Forests
Dec 23, 2013
White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite has fled on a camel to mastermind terror attacks from the deadly heart of war-torn Somalia.
Local army chiefs said the Brit suspected of co-ordinating September’s Nairobi mall outrage is being protected by up to 800 al-Qaeda allies at training sites deep in the snake-infested forests.
Two weeks ago spies saw the Muslim convert moving by camel between camps near the rebel city of Baidoa. There have also been reports of the world’s most-wanted woman travelling by donkey.
It is believed the mum-of-four from Aylesbury, Bucks, has changed her appearance by losing two stone, having plastic surgery and dyeing her hair.
Col Yasin Hiro of the Somali National Army said: “She has been moving by camel. We think she is in the camps. We hope the snakes and scorpions like her.”
The Mirror can reveal that Lewthwaite, 29 – widow of one of the 7/7 London bombers and a leader in terror group al-Shabaab – has been spotted four times in Somalia since the Nairobi massacre.
UN sources said that after the Kenya attack which left 67 dead, including five Brits, she was driven over the border in a 4x4.
Somali pirates then whisked her by boat to a remote beach before she was - smuggled to a hideout in Raas Kaambooni. She was next seen heading for the former terrorist stronghold of Kismayo.
It is thought she sheltered there before going, again by speedboat, to Barawe which is still controlled by al-Shabaab.
UN official Guled Mohamed said: “People in this very beautiful old Portuguese city are white skinned and blue eyed so she would blend well.”
From there Lewthwaite moved to Baidoa where security forces are locked in battle with 8,000 extremists.
It is feared the soldier’s daughter is now directing terror attacks from there.
Fanatics in the region have banned TV, football, music, dancing and even mobile phone ring tones. One million have fled their regime which has seen victims beheaded and stoned to death.
Children Subjected To Abuses at Madinah Home
December 23, 2013
The Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Madinah has discovered cases of violence against children living in the Social Education home.
Sharf Al-Quraafi, supervisor of the HRC in Madinah, said a team from the its office visited the Social Education Department’s home for male children aged 11 to 16 years last Tuesday, to ensure the implementation of the Kingdom’s obligations toward issues of human rights.
Some of the cases which came to light were beatings with electric cables, slapping the face and depriving children of breakfast for some days under the pretext of the absence of a cook who doubled up as a cleaner in the home.
“All the children complained of the bad service in the Al-Madinah home. The meals are of poor quality, the furniture is old and the children have to put up with unhygienic sanitary conditions. Educational standards are inferior and there is need for improving the medical care which does not meet the required standard. There is a shortage of medicines and medical instruments and a lack of medical staff,” Al-Quraafi said.
She said the Social Education’s administration is responsible for these children and it must adhere to the Convention on Childcare’s Rights.
A number of social activists told Arab News that most of the Social Education homes in the Kingdom need to be permanently monitored by local human rights societies to stop violence against children living there.
“The Social Education departments in the Kingdom do not have staff specialized in human rights awareness and we continue to hear about the violence that these children are being subjected to,” said Ali Saleh, a social activist.
“The Ministry of Social Affairs must step up efforts to instill rights culture in all its departments,” he added, pointing out that violence in the homes will continue in the absence of clear sanctions.
The president of the Human Rights Commission, Bandar bin Muhammad Al-Aiban, said early this year that his organization will embark on holding training courses for administrators and teachers at girls schools.
“These courses aim to raise awareness about the importance of detecting cases of violence against children,” said Al-Aiban.
He pointed out that violence against children represents a violation of their rights and poses a threat to future generations.
“Offenders should be punished severely as this segment of the population (the children) in particular cannot defend itself,” he said.
Pakistan: A residential hostel for female Christian students
In Pakistan education is still a major problem, with roughly 50% of the country’s nearly 190 million inhabitants still unable to read or write. In Christian families especially, most of whom belong to the poorest levels of society, the children very often have to go out to work in order to help their parents survive such extreme poverty. On top of this, Christian children are often discriminated against and disadvantaged in the state-run schools and face many obstacles in trying to gain admission to further or higher education.
Archbishop Joseph Coutts, the chairman of the Pakistani Catholic Bishops' Conference, explains: "In certain subjects, where a given average mark or score is required, Muslim students can gain extra points by attending instruction in the Koran, with the result that they can then gain admittance to university. Christians of course do not have this opportunity. Besides, a Christian name is often enough to ensure that a candidate is refused entry to a course of studies. In the state schools Christian pupils are often insulted, unfairly treated or pressured to convert to Islam by their teachers."
Moreover, illiteracy is particularly high among girls. This fact was highlighted recently in the West by the case of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for the education of girls and who was even proposed as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize as a result. In recent years, in north-west Pakistan in particular, Islamic extremists have destroyed dozens of schools, targeting girls' schools in particular.
The Catholic Church runs many schools in Pakistan. In the diocese of Faisalabad alone the Church maintains 82 schools. And Catholic women religious are in the forefront of the drive to provide education to girls. In the village of Chak 6/4-L (many villages in Pakistan are known only by numbers) the Sisters of the Holy Family already maintain a residential home for 45 girls whose families live in the remote desert regions and who would otherwise have no opportunity to attend school. For even where schools do exist, they are often so far away that the girls would have to walk for miles - which is something extremely dangerous, above all for Christian girls in Pakistan. Again and again there have been cases of rape and abduction, of Christian girls in particular.
Now the Holy Family Sisters would like to build another hostel - for those schoolgirls who wish to pursue their studies beyond Year 10 and take their higher secondary level (A Level) exams. Many of these girls are extremely gifted and the sisters would like to give them the chance to continue at school and take their higher exams. A number of these young girls are also hoping to becoming religious themselves after completing their schooling. Consequently, assisting them in their education is also an investment in the future of the Church in Pakistan, a future in which the women religious will always play a vital role. In this society, where there is such strict segregation between the roles of men and women, their work is of incalculable value, above all for women and children. Such well educated and soundly formed religious sisters can provide excellent role models for young girls and women and help them to discover a sense of their own dignity - and of the need for a good education - thereby opening up new avenues for them in the future.
Rights of Female Workers Must Be Protected: Indonesian Minister
December 23, 2013
National Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in Indonesia on Dec. 22 every year, should serve as a reminder to everyone to improve the safety of the nation’s female workers both at home and overseas, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said on Sunday.
Muhaimin said all parties concerned should pay attention to meeting the special needs of female workers and to eliminate discrimination against them.
“The commemoration of Mother’s Day should serve as impetus to improve the protection of female workers in Indonesia,” Muhaimin said during an event coinciding with National Mother’s Day in Jombang, East Java.
He said the government would continue to push for increased protection of female workers because of their role as mothers.
“Women get pregnant, give birth, breast feed and raise children — these facts should not affect their status as female workers,” the minister said.
“One of their basic rights at their workplace is to be treated equally and not to be discriminated against,” he added. “Equal treatment at the workplace is important for the development of fair and harmonious professional relationships.”
Muhaimin has therefore urged heads of manpower agencies at the provincial, district and city level to get companies in their respective areas to protect female workers.
“The efforts to provide special protection for female workers are given based on the consideration that female [workers] have special [needs],” he said.
Muhaimin acknowledged that many companies have still not fulfilled the basic rights of women in the workplace. He pointed, by way of example, to the fact that women were denied their full salaries when they took maternity leave.
Another example Muhaimin pointed out was the fact that women are often dismissed from their jobs when they get married or become pregnant.
He added that companies should treat female workers equally in terms of wages, family allowances, social security, training opportunities and promotions.
Muhaimin claimed that the government was putting special focus on Indonesian female migrant workers because many of those women working abroad were still experiencing violence in their places of work.
He added that the government was focusing on various sectors in an effort to protect migrant workers in terms of their human resources skills, education, health and law.
Muhaimin said gender-related discrimination at workplaces had to be stopped.
He added that equal treatment without any discrimination was the basic right of all workers regardless of their gender, religion, and physical health.
Muhaimin said such rights were stipulated under the International Labor Organization conventions, number 100 and number 111.
Both conventions guaranteed every worker fair and equal treatment.
The conventions also stipulate that any violations should be met with justice, without exceptions and without regard to a person’s race, skin color, gender, religion, political or faith.
In Love and In Danger: A Muslim, Christian Mixed Couple in Bangui
December 23, 2013
Ahmed and Manuela’s different religions did not stop them getting married in their native Central African Republic — and their love remains unshaken despite the deadly Christian-Muslim violence gripping the country, they say.
Ahmed Azoulou, 22, is Muslim; his wife, Manuela Sogbe, 23, was raised Christian but reverted to Islam so they could get married.
They live with their toddler daughter in Kina, a mixed neighborhood in the Central African capital Bangui, where tension is rife after weeks of sectarian bloodshed that has claimed hundreds of lives.
“I want to live with her till the end of my life,” Ahmed said, a sentiment echoed by Manuela.
Her father, who had been ill, died on Dec. 6, the second day of an orgy of bloodletting pitting Christian vigilantes against minority Muslims who backed Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who came to power in a March coup.
“He had high blood pressure; he probably was frightened to death,” Manuela said as the couple’s daughter Monsalifa, sporting braids and a red party dress, went back and forth between them.
The pair have not ventured outside Kina since the explosion of bloodletting when ex-rebels went on a two-day rampage to avenge deadly Christian militia attacks.
“I’m afraid to leave the neighborhood,” Manuela said. “I’m married to a Muslim, so I could be attacked. People are armed. So I stay home, I do the housework and we watch the news together on television during the day.”
As they spoke, the light in the room brightened and dimmed with fluctuations in the power supply to this district of small houses lining packed-earth alleys.
Ahmed could not hide his frustration.
“My days are a drag,” he said. “I get up, go out to buy food, talk to my friends in the neighborhood.”
Ahmed, who normally works as a trader and often goes to neighboring Cameroon for merchandise, now lives “thanks to other people’s help,” he said.
“When the events happened, I stayed with my wife’s family. They protect me,” Ahmed said.
Muslim and Christian houses are easily distinguished by the corrugated iron sheets on Muslim homes that prevent prying eyes from seeing women inside.
Many Christian homes have been abandoned by residents fearing reprisals from Muslims in the neighboring PK-5 district.
Both Ahmed and Manuela expressed abhorrence at the killing, by either side, and said they had the full support of their families.
But marrying a Muslim drew insults well before the violence erupted, Manuela said, adding that Christian women married to Muslims are called benga, a local fish.
“They tell me that later my husband will take a second wife because he is Muslim,” she said.
The lovebirds first set eyes on each other when they were around 11 and attending a secular school.
“I saw her. I liked her right away, so I went for it!” Ahmed said, and Manuela chimed in: “I’ve loved him since the start.”
Asked why he did not convert to Christianity — the religion of some four-fifths of the Central African Republic’s population — Ahmed assented to the ready reply given by his brother Fatih: “Because Islam is the religion of truth.”
Ahmed and Manuela both said their relationship has always been out in the open, even when they were dating.
“We never hid it,” said Manuela, adding that she hopes they will soon be able to resume going out together without fear.
Combating harassment: Celebrating the working woman
December 23, 2013
The Pakistani working woman’s accomplishments and obstacles to growth in the workplace were elaborated upon in a statement issued on the eve of National Working Women Day on Saturday.
National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz acknowledged working women’s struggle to secure a respectful working environment, pointing out that lack of awareness about Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 is the biggest hurdle in its effective implementation.
She said the day was celebrated to acknowledge economic contributions made by women to their country in increasingly diverse occupations.
In a statement, Mumtaz said the promulgation of Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 is in itself is a manifestation of the government’s resolve to address the concerns and issues of working women.
Mumtaz noted that ensuring a harassment and discrimination free workplace for women was a landmark move, lending them a sense of security. Moreover, the government has recently introduced an online facility for victims of harassment at the workplace through the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat.
She said most private and public sector organisations were not implementing the law and only fulfilling the mandatory requirement to display copies of the code of conduct in English. “The organisations may be fined up to Rs100,000 if an employee lodges a complaint of harassment.”
The participation of women in the formal sector is still low. Some 80 to 85 per cent women work in the informal sector as labourers and agricultural workers, and are often not accounted for. The NCSW chief stressed the need for acknowledging the rights of home-based workers, in order to introduce policies and laws for them.
The country now has a legal obligation to comply with international laws and is monitored by the International Labour Organisation’s Committee on Application of Standards, she added.
Nigeria: End Violence Against Women Now
22 DECEMBER 2013
The duty of governments to protect women from violence is explicitly stated in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW). Nigeria ratified this declaration in 1985. Under this convention, governments, including that of Nigeria, have an obligation to not only ensure that its agents and officials do not commit violence against women, but also to protect them from violence committed by private individuals and bodies.
Until recently, very little attention had been paid to fulfilling this obligation. In reality, women continue to face barriers in seeking redress and accessing justice for gender-based crimes committed against them.
A step towards implementing the provisions of the convention, however, was finally taken when the House of Representatives showed its commitment to representing the people by the recent passage of the Violence Against Person's Prohibition Bill (VAPP) in 2013. After years of waiting, they have demonstrated a willingness and commitment to address this problem.
What is surprising though is how long it took to pass this bill, despite the awareness of its relevance. One wonders why efforts to end violence against women are continuously sidetracked by the government's inability to prioritise this issue, despite frequent reports about women and girls being abused, beaten, raped and killed almost every day. As this continues, more and more surviving victims remain silent, because the current system is not serious about protecting them and more often than not, leaves them more vulnerable to abuse. Most of the people responsible for these crimes walk away and blot it out of their minds as if it were part of their daily "to do" list, knowing their actions will be met with little or no punishment.
In our opinion, this attitude illuminates what is the central moral challenge of the Nigerian society. Physical and emotional brutality remains the lot of a large percentage of women and girls and is steadily on the increase. The government systematically fails to protect women, who can no longer count on getting the protection they need, even in the most horrific circumstances. The credibility gap in the system is worsened by the absence of a safety net of protection and empowerment that women can fall into.
We urge all to change their mindset about the status of women and this must be accompanied by institutional reform. It has been said that the way in which any nation treats its women holds the key to its social and economic advancement or otherwise and when it is incapable of protecting the rights of a group of people who represent half of the population, it fails to function as a society. We are, therefore, calling on the Senate to aid this much-needed change by expediting action on the bill before it.
Jazan women venture into computer maintenance
December 23, 2013
JAZAN — A group of women have enrolled in computer maintenance courses to become computer technicians, a field dominated by men, Al-Watan daily reported.
Amna Abdullah used to be unemployed and had great difficulty finding a job as a saleswoman.
After doing some serious thinking, she decided to try and become a computer technician.
Amna took several courses until she mastered common computer troubleshooting. After that, she started her own business from the comfort of her home. She now makes SR500-SR700 a day.
Alya Badur said when she began taking computer maintenance courses, she was worried that she would not make enough money as a technician. However, she went ahead and distributed her business cards to all the women she knew. Surprisingly, phone calls started to pour in from customers, all asking to have their computers fixed.
“Right now most of my customers are college students. But I’m planning to have my own computer service shop in the future,” Badur said.
She encouraged jobless women to take similar courses and make use of such opportunities.
Sami Hamli, deputy director of the General Organization of Social Insurance’s Jazan branch, said the organization has offered computer maintenance courses and continues to do so after many female job applicants showed an interest.
“The main objective of these courses is to help women land lucrative job opportunities and learn new skills,” Hamli said.