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Women Are Entitled To A Choice : Muslim Women Divided As Duelling Hijab And No Hijab Days Approach

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 January 2022

• Women Are Entitled To A Choice : Muslim Women Divided As Duelling Hijab And No Hijab Days Approach

• Kansas Woman, Allison Fluke-Ekren, Charged With Joining And Leading Islamic State Battalion

• Probe Launched Over Missing Female Activists: Islamic Emirate

• Civil Society Joins Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Women-Only Protest Against Police Action

• Kenya Denies Pulling Women’s Team From AWCON, Alleges Fraud

• Pregnant New Zealand Journalist Forced To Move To Afghanistan

• Pakistan Enforces New Law To Protect Women From Workplace Harassment

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islam-women-feminism/muslim-women-duelling-no-hijab/d/126266

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Women Are Entitled To A Choice : Muslim Women Divided As Duelling Hijab And No Hijab Days Approach

 

Pakistani women gather to mark the World Hijab Day in Karachi Feb. 1, 2020. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images)

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Debbie Mohnblatt

01/30/2022

The first time Niloufar Momeni took her hijab off she was in France, on a trip with her family. She describes how amazing the wind going through her hair was, how for the first time she could style her hair, and how free and happy she felt.

Far Avaz did it for the first time while visiting Turkey. She, however, felt fear instead of happiness. She remembers looking around for policemen who might imprison her for removing the head covering; she felt persecuted as if she was still in her homeland.

Both women come from Iran, which forces women to wear hijab whenever they’re outside of their homes. Other countries such as Afghanistan do the same. Still, most Muslim countries’ governments do not oblige women to don the hijab, but in many of these places, conservative families impose it on their post-puberty females.

“Hijab” in Arabic means “barrier” or “partition.” It is used to refer to the apparel that many Muslim women use to cover their heads in public aiming to maintain modesty under Sharia, Islamic religious law.

There are, however, many variations of such apparel. “Hijab” is used to refer to the concept of covering in general, and to a scarf that covers a woman’s head and hair.

There are also the Niqab and the burqa, for example, which additionally cover the woman’s face, with a narrow difference: A Niqab has a slit for the eyes, while a burqa has a screen over that opening. These are popular in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, respectively. There are many other styles of such apparel, which can vary based on culture.

On February 1, the ninth annual World Hijab Day will be marked. On this day, women across the globe, Muslim and non-Muslim, are encouraged to wear a hijab. The day started as an initiative to fight Islamophobia. Regardless, many Muslim women expressed discontent with the campaign, saying the custom is imposed on many of them, and should not be celebrated.

In Afghanistan, for example, women are protesting in the streets against the Taliban government’s regulations restricting their rights, including the obligatory wearing of the hijab. There have been mass protests in which some women take off their burqas and burn them in public places as a sign of resistance.

In recent weeks a wave of women’s rights demonstrations has been taking place in Afghanistan. Attendance is estimated at between 100 and 200 people, mostly women, a source tells The Media Line.

Asra Stanikzai, a defence lawyer living in Kabul, is one of them. She has been an active participant in these protests even though it could be dangerous for her, and for her loved ones.

Stanikzai explained to The Media Line that most of the women taking part in these demonstrations are just like her. Educated women who lost their jobs, and their positions in society, when the Taliban took over the country last summer. “Most of these women are furious,” she added.

The hijab is part of Afghan culture, important for both the religion and the culture, she said. That is why, she added, “I feel comfortable wearing a hijab in Afghanistan. If I were in Europe or America, the story would be different.”

The problem, Stanikzai said, is that the Taliban wants women to wear the burqa. “We don’t want to cover our faces. The Taliban wants to remove women from society, and this is the first step.”

The Taliban has indeed shown the intention to make the burqa mandatory for all women in the country. The last time the radical Sunni Islamists were in power, in the 1990s, the all-covering burqa was made mandatory in the provinces but not in Kabul. This was possible due to the conservative, tribal way of life of most people in those places. The practice has endured there until now.

In Kabul, on the other hand, women only cover their hair with a headscarf. Nevertheless, the Taliban has lately placed posters at cafés and other public places with the slogan “According to Sharia, Muslim women must wear hijab,” accompanied by the image of a woman with her face covered by a burqa.

A spokesman for the Taliban government’s Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the state agency in charge of implementing Islamic law, said it is just an encouragement for women to follow Sharia. Despite this, plenty of women in Kabul have expressed discontent and participated in the demonstrations.

Stanikzai said that since the Taliban took over, most of the new laws are “against women” and imposed drastic changes on them. “For now, all educated women like me are sitting at home. They can’t go to work; they can’t be educated.”

A lot of these women feel that the Taliban is using the burqa as a mechanism to isolate them from the social order, and that is why some of them took off their burqas and burned them during the demonstrations, she said.

Zaryab Paryani and Tamana Ibrahimi, two women who did just that, were taken away from their homes in the middle of the night by the Taliban, and their location is unknown, Stanikzai said.

She added that Taliban members followed many women to their homes after the demonstrations, including her, and they are expecting severe consequences. That is why many are in hiding.

“Many of our friends disappeared; we do not have any contact with them,” she said. “Women are not taking part in demonstrations anymore, because they fear for their loved ones. So the demonstrations are over for now.”

The Islamists didn’t do anything big against the participants during the actual protests, because there were a lot of women with smartphones filming the scene, Stanikzai said. “The Taliban presents many things to the international media that are not true in order to get accepted by other countries. That is why they are so afraid of our cameras.

“We have many other matters that we should solve, such as poverty and educated people leaving Afghanistan. We don’t have a secure society, but they won’t pay attention to it. They just want to make everything about women. Our hijab is not the important thing that they should worry about,” she said. “Afghan women are careful about what they wear; we don’t need them to guide us regarding Islamic law.

The Taliban tell women who complain: “If you don’t like our laws, you can leave,” she said. But Stanikzai is not ready to give up. “I don’t want to leave Afghanistan so fast; I want to try to stay and fight for my and all Afghan women’s rights.”

Social media plays a vital role in this controversy. It has seen activism for and against the use of the hijab, including extensive debate about World Hijab Day and No Hijab Day, and the #LetUsTalk and the #DressedNotOppressed campaigns.

Mohammed was raised in a Muslim family in British Columbia and her parents divorced when she was young. Her mother remarried, becoming the second wife to a very religious man who forced Mohammed to wear a hijab from the age of 9. “Everything in my life changed when she let him into our lives.”

“When I was 19, I was forced to marry a terrorist who is now jailed in Egypt because he was a member of al-Qaida,” she said. Her mother and stepfather described him as a “strong man” who would be able to control her because she was “not submissive enough.”

Mohammed eventually married; she said her husband was much more severe. “I went from wearing the hijab to wearing the niqab. He even wanted me to cover my hands and ordered gloves from Saudi Arabia.”

Having a daughter changed Mohammed’s way of thinking. “It gave me the courage to escape from that world. … I didn’t want her to grow up in, or even remember, the world that I grew up in.”

She added that she wanted to change herself and become a role model before her daughter was old enough to remember “what it looked like to have a mother who was being beaten and then wearing niqab to cover her bruises.”

In 2019, Mohammed decided to create “No Hijab Day,” also on February 1 each year. On that day, she asks women to share pictures of them with, and without, hijab together with their personal stories, the reasons for their decisions and the price that they had to pay to put what they want on their own bodies.

This, Mohammed explained, came after she saw the hijab was being presented by what she calls Islamist propaganda as a symbol of freedom. “They don’t even want to acknowledge the fact that women are thrown in prison, getting their faces disfigured, losing their families, friends and communities, and being threatened with death or actually being killed over hijab.”

Far Avaz is a singer from Iran, a country where her profession is illegal for women. Four years ago, while on a trip to Germany, she learned that an Iranian court had sentenced her to a year in jail for an underground singing performance. Feeling she had no choice, she remained in Germany with only the 22 pounds of belongings she had brought with her, and applied for asylum, knowing she could never return to her homeland.

Avaz told The Media Line she took off the hijab as soon as she could. It feels imprisoning, she explained. “It feels really bad; it feels as if you don’t have control over your own body.”

In Iran, not wearing a hijab is a crime. “We are just forced to wear it; there are police officers standing in the streets checking women’s outfits.” Avaz added that for her, wearing a hijab means being a slave.

Iran was a secular country until 1979 when the Islamic Revolution ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Since then, the Islamic Republic has been ruled by a fundamentalist Shiite cleric, the “supreme leader.”

That changed everything for Iranians, especially for Iranian women, whose lives were heavily affected by the Islamist regime’s new laws and restrictions.

Niloufar Momeni lived in Iran for 16 years and now resides in Canada where she works as a sports journalist, also told The Media Line about being forced to wear a hijab during her childhood.

No woman in Iran is given a choice regarding the hijab, she explained. “They’re forcing their ideology on you.” She added, “It’s not right to force someone to do something for the rest of their life, not by your father, not by your family, and certainly not by the government.”

While the Palestinian Authority government is secular and does have a law mandating the hijab, many families take matters into their own hands.

This Palestinian woman said she is compelled by family members to wear a hijab. However, every time she leaves home and feels she is far away enough, she takes it off, regardless of her parents’ wishes.

She said she doesn’t feel religious and enjoys going without the head covering. “I don’t feel comfortable, nor confident [wearing it], because I don’t feel as pretty.”

In addition, wearing it gives people the wrong perception. “When I’m wearing a hijab, people see me as a religious person and expect me to be more religiously observant,” she said.

Many of these women who took off the hijab have things in common. All of them mentioned that the hijab is not comfortable, and it makes them feel hot, or not pretty, or trapped.

“It is a sensory deprivation chamber; all of your senses are blocked. You cannot see, smell, hear or eat properly.… You feel like a ghost walking among people,” Mohammed added.

But it does not end there. Most of them think there is something else behind the enforcement of the hijab in certain countries or families. Momeni said the obligatory garment, along with other regulations such as those restricting females’ family and travel rights, are tools of the Iranian regime to demean women. “Having to wear hijab is a perfect rule to demean women on a regular basis.”

Avaz thinks it is all about having domination over women. “They want to have control over your mind and body, but they will never manage to control our minds,” she said.

Likewise, these women characterized most of the arguments made to them for wearing the hijab as absurd. They all mentioned the “temptation” that seeing a woman’s hair can cause men.

Mohammed said, “When half of the population is forced to cover themselves in order to not lead the other half into sin, you have a real toxic ideology.”

As for women who wear the hijab by choice, Avaz suggested they are “brainwashed” when they are children. “They are told: ‘It is dangerous, you will go to hell, you’re a better woman by hiding yourself.’”

Mohammed agrees, saying “choice” is a tricky word. “When you’re given the choice between wearing the hijab or burning in hell for eternity, or your family will disown you.… This is not a free choice.” Nonetheless, she said, “They are entitled to wear the hijab as much as I’m entitled to tell my story.”

Several women who do wear the hijab shared their positions. Sefat E. Kaniz, from Bangladesh, told The Media Line she wears her hijab by choice and that it doesn’t keep women from doing what they like. “I’m a cycler and a designer. Wearing my hijab and burqa can’t stop it.”

Mursal Farotan Khashy, founder and president of For Afghan Women (FAW), fled Afghanistan because of family issues and lives in Melbourne, Australia. She told The Media Line, “Hijab is not just a piece of cloth for me.”

Albayaa told The Media Line she does so because it is part of her people’s tradition and religion. “We need to cover the parts of our body that may cause temptation.”

She added that the hijab helps to prevent many issues that happen in her society. “In Egypt harassment [of women] is very common, so hijab usually helps us to save our body from any look that we don’t want to see in someone’s eyes or an expression that we don’t want to hear.”

Mariam Bint Salman Sayed is an entrepreneur and weightlifter from Mumbai, India. Sayed explained to The Media Line why she wears a hijab: “We rationally believe that the creator exists and by default, we as his creation have to follow the creator’s instructions to the best of our ability.” This includes wearing modest clothing, she added.

Khashy added, “If I choose not to wear my scarf, I don’t want to be celebrated, and if I chose to wear it, I don’t want to be judged for it.”

“We must stop imposing [rules] on women’s clothing,” Khashy said. “Politicizing women’s clothing should not be a part of our religion. That should be women’s choice.”

Albayaa said, “Hijab is something that you decide on your own. In our religion, we are not supposed to force anyone to do something.”

Sayed said governments and institutions that do not allow women to wear the hijab are violating freedom of expression and “it is a strong indicator of Islamophobia.” Forbidding women to wear clothing of their choice constitutes “disregard of their intellect and ability to think,” she said.

She added, “We should stop labelling women. Every woman is perfect regardless of her age, skin colour, weight and choice of clothing.”

For some, the hijab represents a living hell, oppression, lack of freedom, and a tool used to degrade women. For others, it is a way to express themselves, to serve the creator, and to be an ambassador of their religion and culture. For some, it is suffocating, while for others, it is liberating.

But all the women we spoke with agreed that every woman is entitled to have a choice. For both sides, the power to choose whether to wear the hijab is a symbol of women’s empowerment. “We are intelligent, so let the women do whatever they want,” Stanikzai said.

Source: The Medialine

https://themedialine.org/top-stories/muslim-women-divided-as-dueling-hijab-and-no-hijab-days-approach/

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Kansas Woman, Allison Fluke-Ekren, Charged With Joining And Leading Islamic State Battalion

 

Allison Fluke-Ekren

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29 Jan 2022

A woman who once lived in Kansas before moving to Egypt and Syria has been charged with joining the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and leading an all-female battalion of AK-47 wielding militants.

The US attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, announced on Saturday that Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, had been arrested and charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization.

The complaint was filed under seal in 2019 and made public after Fluke-Ekren was brought back to the US. Her alleged participation in IS was not publicly known before the Saturday announcement.

Prosecutors say Fluke-Ekren wanted to recruit operatives to attack a college campus in the US and discussed a terrorist attack on a shopping mall.

An affidavit from an FBI special agent also alleges that Fluke-Ekren became leader of an IS unit called “Khatiba Nusaybah” in Raqqa, a Syrian city, in late 2016. The all-female unit was trained in the use of AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts, the affidavit says.

A detention memo states that Fluke-Ekren trained children how to use assault rifles, and that at least one witness saw one of Fluke-Ekren’s children, approximately five or six years old, holding a machine gun in the family’s home in Syria.

“Fluke-Ekren has been a fervent believer in the radical terrorist ideology of Isis for many years, having traveled to Syria to commit or support violent jihad,” the filing said.

“Fluke-Ekren translated her extremist beliefs into action by serving as the appointed leader and organizer of an Isis military battalion, directly training women and children in the use of AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts to support the Islamic State’s murderous aims.”

According to court papers, Fluke-Ekren moved to Egypt in 2008 and traveled between Egypt and the US over the next three years. She has not been in the US since 2011.

Prosecutors believe she moved to Syria around 2012. In early 2016, her husband was killed in the Syrian city of Tell Abyad while trying to carry out a terrorist attack, prosecutors said. Later that year, prosecutors say, she married a Bangladeshi Isis member who specialized in drones, but he died in late 2016 or early 2017. Four months after that man’s death, she married a prominent IS leader responsible for the defense of Raqqa.

Photos from a family blog called 4KansasKids show Fluke-Ekren and her children in the years they traveled between Kansas and Egypt, posing at the pyramids in Egypt and playing in snow in the US.

A 2004 article about homeschooling in the Lawrence Journal-World featured Fluke-Ekren and her children. She told the paper she pulled her children from public school because she was dissatisfied with how they were performing. Homeschooling allowed her to teach them Arabic.

Court papers do not indicate how Fluke-Ekren was captured, or how long she was in custody before being turned over to the FBI. She is scheduled to appear in US district court in Alexandria on Monday.

Source: The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/29/kansas-woman-all-female-isis-battalion

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Probe Launched Over Missing Female Activists: Islamic Emirate

By Banafsha Binesh

29-01-2022

The Islamic Emirate denied the arrest of Paryani and Ibrahimkhel, saying that the issues are being investigated.

An investigation has begun into the case of two female activists who went missing nearly two weeks ago, the Islamic Emirate said on Saturday.

Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parawana Ibrahimkhel are two women’s rights activists who went missing.

Spokesman for the Islamic Emirate said there is no information about the status of these two female activists at the moment.

The Junbish-e-Zanan Adalatkhwah, a women's rights group, said that Paryani and Ibrahimkhel have been arrested by the Islamic Emirate forces after they staged protests in support of women’s rights.

Khamosh in her speech (in Oslo) called on the government to release all women detainees but there is no information about the release of those women,” said Wida Omari, a member of the Junbesh-e-Zanan Adalatkhah.

The Islamic Emirate denied the arrest of Paryani and Ibrahimkhel, saying that the issues are being investigated.

“It is not clear whether they have gone somewhere themselves or they have faced another problem. The security departments of the Islamic Emirate are trying to inquire into the case,” said Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

This comes as the women’s rights activists said they would prolong their protests to ensure justice for women.

“The women protesters are facing various threats that also forced them to stage protests in their residences not on the streets,” Monisa Mubariz, a women’s rights activist.

Monisa Mubariz is the founder of a women’s rights organization called the Junbish-e-Zanan Muqtadir.

Earlier, the UN’s Secretary-General special envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the UN Security Council designated for Afghanistan that “we are extremely concerned” about the disappearance of two female activists.

Source: Tolonews

https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-176508

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Civil Society Joins Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Women-Only Protest Against Police Action

Imran Ayub

January 30, 2022

KARACHI: A large number of women, including human rights campaigners and members of civil society, participated in a demonstration organised by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) at Teen Talwar traffic intersection in Clifton on Saturday in protest over the recent police action against women and children.

They condemned what they called the police brutality on participants of Wednesday’s rally of the MQM-P against the controversial local government law and the silence of Pakistan Peoples Party’s leadership at the ongoing exploitation of urban Sindh.

MQM-P leaders and rights activists while addressing the women-only demonstration questioned the “criminal silence” of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who despite being the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights did not bother to utter a single word on the recent attack of Karachi police on women and children.

They called it the “double standards” of the ruling PPP, which on the one hand described itself as the “champion of human rights” and on the other used “every tactic” to silence the voice of its opponents.

Apart from party leaders, the demonstration was also attended by Mahnaz Rahman of Aurat Foundation, women’s rights activist Sheema Kermani and other members of civil society.

Addressing the demonstration, MQM-P Senator Faisal Subzwari said that the PPP chairman never took a second to issue a statement if a violation of human rights was reported from any part of the country. “But when it comes to Sindh and police brutality against our sisters and mothers, he chooses to maintain silence.”

“This silence proves whatever police did against our women and children, it was not their own decision. It proves that whatever happened [the police action] got the blessings of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the Sindh government,” he said.

The demonstration also adopted a resolution rejecting the Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Bill 2021 and demanded action against police officers involved in manhandling and attacking MQM-P workers.

Source: Dawn

https://www.dawn.com/news/1672164/civil-society-joins-mqm-ps-women-only-protest-against-police-action

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Kenya denies pulling women’s team from AWCON, alleges fraud

AFP

January 29, 2022

NAIROBI: Kenya’s sports minister said Saturday that “suspected fraud” was behind the national women’s football team being suddenly withdrawn from the Africa Women Cup of Nations, and vowed to punish those responsible.

The Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) said it pulled the Harambee Starlets from the continent-wide competition at the request of the sport’s governing body in Kenya, the FKF.

“We have learnt that there is a suspected fraudulent letter that was purportedly written to CAF to withdraw our heroines, Harambee Starlets, from the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier against Uganda,” she said in a statement.

The minister said the Starlets were determined to reach the finals in Morocco later this year and were training ahead of the qualifier slated for February 17.

“The double-header between Kenya and Uganda initially scheduled in February 2022 as part of the last qualifying round is therefore canceled,” it said.

In November, Mohamed disbanded the FKF over corruption allegations and appointed a caretaker committee to oversee the sport in Kenya for a period of six months.

On Saturday the committee chairman, Justice Aaron Ringera, told CAF that Kenya had not withdrawn and it was trying to resolve the confusion “as a matter of urgency.”

“We would like to assure Kenyans, Ugandans and CAF that all measures will be put in place to ensure the match goes on as planned,” Ringera wrote.

Kenyan football has long been beset by financial woes often stemming from poor management and corruption, while Kenya’s men’s national team have failed to shine on the pitch.

Source: Arab News

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2014351/offbeat

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Pregnant New Zealand journalist forced to move to Afghanistan

29.01.2022

Seerat Chabba

New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis has said she is stuck in Afghanistan after the New Zealand government rejected her emergency application for return over coronavirus restrictions. Left without an option, she was forced to seek refuge in Taliban-led Afghanistan as a "pregnant, unmarried woman," Bellis said in an open letter published by The New Zealand Herald on Friday.

Bellis formerly worked for Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar. She had been covering  the fallout of last summer's Taliban takeover from Afghanistan before she returned to Qatar in September. She said this was the time when she learned she was pregnant. As extramarital sex is illegal in Qatar, Bellis attempted to get back to New Zealand using a lottery-style system for returning citizens.

Unable to secure her return in that manner, she left Qatar for Belgium, the home country of her partner, freelance photographer Jim Huylebroek. With her New Zealand passport, however, she was only allowed to spend a limited time in Belgium. The couple was eventually forced to relocate to Afghanistan as they both had valid visas to stay there. 

Bellis said she set up a meeting with her senior Taliban contacts and asked if her pregnancy would be a problem. She was told it would not.

Bellis, known for asking the Taliban about their treatment of women, said she has now been forced to ask the New Zealand government the same questions.

"I am writing this because I believe in transparency and I believe that we as a country are better than this. [Prime Minister]  Jacinda Ardern is better than this," Bellis wrote, explaining that she sent 59 documents to New Zealand authorities before her application for an emergency return was rejected.

Bellis said she responded by contacting her lawyer, a friend who deals in public relations and a New Zealand politician, with the information about her case eventually reaching New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Two days after her rejection, she received another email stating that her application status has been changed from "deactivated" to "reviewing application."

Bellis is due to give birth to a girl in May. She said that giving birth in Afghanistan could be a death sentence, as the country struggles with a poor state of maternity care and lack of surgical capabilities.

"I wasn't triggered by the disappointment and uncertainty, but by the breach of trust," Bellis wrote. "That in my time of need, the New Zealand Government said you're not welcome here."

The government of New Zealand has been increasingly questioned over its COVID policies that force even returning citizens to spend 10 days in quarantine hotels run by the military. The requirement has created a backlog of thousands of people who want to return home.

In response to Bellis' letter in the Herald, COVID response minister Hipkins said he had asked officials to check whether proper procedures were followed in her case.

The joint head of New Zealand's Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) system, Chris Bunny, said Bellis' application did not meet the "travel within 14 days" requirement currently in play for emergency entry. He said the MIQ team had reached out to Bellis to make another application that fit the requirements.

But Bellis, on Twitter, said the "MIQ has and does allow travel outside 14 days" and that the couple had outlined their reason for doing so, primarily the lack of regular flights out of the Kabul airport, in the cover letter of their application.

While Bellis' case appears to be moving forward, she said she was compelled to write the column as her story was "unique in context, but not in desperation."

Source: Dw.com

https://www.dw.com/en/pregnant-new-zealand-journalist-forced-to-move-to-afghanistan/a-60598541

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Pakistan enforces new law to protect women from workplace harassment

29 Jan, 2022

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan's Ministry of Human Rights announced on Friday the amended Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act has officially become a law. 

Pakistan's Human Rights Ministry had drafted the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Act, 2022 to facilitate increased participation of women in the country's workforce.

The National Assembly had passed it after Senate approved amendments to the legislation. The amendments increased the scope of the law to include certain professions that were left out by the previous legislation, and provided protection from harassment to those employed in the informal sector as well. 

“Our Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Act, 2022 was notified today & has officially become law,” the ministry said on its official Twitter handle.

Critics of the previous law had raised concerns that the earlier version of the act had not properly defined terms such as "complainant," "employee" and "employer" due to which many victims of harassment were denied relief under the law. 

One of the act's significant amendments is the definition of "complainant" as "any person," which means that transgender people can also seek relief.

Another amendment makes it possible for employees who left a workplace due to a hostile environment and harassment, to seek action against the persons responsible for it. The definition of an employee has been expanded to include former employees who were “removed or dismissed from service or had resigned.”

The act also clearly defines who fits into the description of an employee. These are now people who are “regular, contractual, piece-rate, gig, temporary, part-time, freelance employees including students, performers, artists, sports persons, interns, trainees, domestic workers, home-based workers or apprentices.”

Source: Daily Pakistan

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/29-Jan-2022/pakistan-enforces-new-law-to-protect-women-from-workplace-harassment

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