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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 31 Oct 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Women-Hating In the US Is Not Limited to the Republican Party Alone

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 Oct 2012 

 Five-Member Indian Family Embraces Islam on Their Own Free Will

 Polish Teenage Rape Victim 'Should Have Had Abortion Access'

 Ailing Pakistani Woman Sells Only Child for Rs 1.2 Lakh

 Veiled Muslim Mayor A First for Bosnia, Possibly Europe

 Female Lawyers, Others Urge Quick Passage of Anti-Violence Bill In Nigeria

 Girls' Attitudes Survey: Three Out Of Five Feel Pressured

 Over Rs 380m to Boost Female Literacy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

 Indian Woman Fined Dh1, 000 for Attempting Suicide

 In Karachi, High Number Of Nurses Report Beatings

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Five-Member Indian Family Embraces Islam on Their Own Free Will





Women-Hating In the US Is "Not Limited to the Republican Party" Alone

Lessons from the Al-Qaeda Chronicles: Romney and the Attack on Women

Women-hating in the US is "not limited to the Republican Party", but can also be found in the "citadels of liberalism".

31 Oct 2012

Seemingly out of the blue, in both East and West, the bodies and rights of women are under assault.

Settled gains in rights, education and culture suddenly appear fragile. Right-wing fanatics have frontally challenged the status of women in public, at home, in workplaces and universities.

Amid a clash of civilisations, a Republican-Jihadi alliance has been struck against women's progress. Despite the fears of party leaders over the loss of public support, this alliance moves from strength to strength. One of its leading members is poised to capture the White House. The Republican Party platform aims to force women to give birth to babies conceived by rape.

Curiously, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current head of al-Qaeda, helps us to begin thinking through what has happened.

In the fall of 2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - head of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia - was massacring Iraq's Shias in the hopes of fomenting a sectarian war. His suicide bombers hit Shia crowds and mosques. His videos showing the beheadings of captives earned him the title of "Sheik of Slaughters".

Al-Zarqawi's excesses were alienating Muslims, distracting jihadis from the main fight against the Americans, and costing al-Qaeda public support. Al-Zawahiri, then’s number two, composed a lengthy letter to al-Zarqawi in the hopes of getting him to change his tactics.

Republican hostility towards women

Al-Zawahiri questioned the attacks on "ordinary Shia", who may be apostates but were to be forgiven due to their ignorance. He emphasised the need to maintain "popular support from the Muslim masses" in and around Iraq. "We are in a battle," al-Zawahiri told al-Zarqawi, "and more than half of this battle is taking place in the media." The Shia could be dealt with after the Americans were expelled and an Islamic caliphate established.

While al-Zawahiri agreed essentially with al-Zarqawi's politics, he was concerned that to act too openly would harm their cause.

The letter warned al-Zarqawi that the Muslims who loved and supported him would "never find palatable" the videos showing hostages being slaughtered. "Do not be deceived by the praise of some of the zealous young men… They do not express the general view."

Al-Zawahiri's letter might usefully be studied by the Taliban. Most recently, they have accomplished the difficult feat of uniting Westerners and Pakistanis in shared outrage at the shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy of girls' education.

At a time when the West is preparing to abandon Afghanistan and everything it has tried to build there, the shooting of Malala serves as a reminder of what the West should be fighting for. Among the few concrete benefits the West has managed to achieve in Afghanistan are gains in rights, education and health for women and girls. Women there now face the prospect of a resurgent Taliban and a renewed civil war.

Yet gains for women are also under threat in the West's leading power, the US.

Governor Romney might compose his own version of al-Zawahiri's letter for "zealous" Republican congressional candidates. These include Richard Mourdock, who beat the distinguished and respected Richard Lugar to become the Republican candidate for senator in Indiana. Mourdock believes that women should not be allowed to have abortions after rape because "God intended" them to give birth in such situations.

Then there is the infamous Todd Akin, running for senate in Missouri. He believes that in cases of something he calls "legitimate rape", women's bodies have some magical mechanism that prevents them from getting pregnant. Therefore, the US should pass a constitutional amendment that prevents abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

Representative Joe Walsh, running for re-election in Illinois, believes that "health of the mother" is just an excuse to have an abortion for any reason at any time.

The depth of Republican hostility towards women was perhaps most in evidence in the Sandra Fluke affair. This Georgetown University law student testified in Congress in favour of mandating that churches, Catholic hospitals and universities and other religious non-profit organisations be required to provide health insurance that includes birth control. Among other things she pointed to the expense for employees and students of buying contraception when it was not included in their insurance.

'Change the culture' among students

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded to Fluke's testimony with an extraordinary outburst that combined prurience with women-hating. He interpreted Fluke's concerns about the cost of contraception to mean that Fluke wanted to be paid to have sex. That "makes her a prostitute". He went on to say that Fluke was "having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills" and that "it's amazing she can still walk".

Limbaugh then made this offer: "If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus for you to have sex, we want something for it… We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."

What began as an apparently ethically and religiously motivated tirade against publically supported birth control turned into a demand for publically provided pornography. One suspects that Limbaugh's combination of high-mindedness, misogyny and lasciviousness can be found among many jihadis as well. Such attitudes are the motive forces of the assault on women around the world.

Worryingly, the new women-hating in the US is not limited to the Republican Party but can be found in those citadels of liberalism: the universities. This year, student athletes have been charged with sex crimes at Boston and Temple Universities. Wesleyan University may have tolerated a fraternity where abuse of women was common. A gang rape has been reported at the University of Massachusetts.

In one recent incident a women who was raped at Amherst College dropped out while her alleged rapist graduated with honours. When the woman finally went to seek help from the sexual assault counsellor she was told: "No you can't change dorms, there are too many students right now. Pressing charges would be useless, he's about to graduate, there's not much we can do. Are you SURE it was rape?"

The US Department of Justice estimates that for every 2,000 undergraduates, there are approximately 100 "forcible sex offences" a year, including about 18 rapes. In the Republican Mecca that Limbaugh and others want to create, these victims would receive neither contraception nor be allowed to have abortions.

University administrators have responded not with vigorous prosecution of rapists but with calls to "change the culture" among students. University rapists benefit from the fact that campus security and other procedures take precedence over local law enforcement in investigating and handling incidents. Women who report being raped on campus often find themselves in mediation sessions with their alleged rapist and campus counsellors, rather than having their allegations properly investigated by actual police.

Such is the state of affairs for women and their rights in the leading Western power. The culture has indeed changed, much to the lament of feminists everywhere. Al-Zawahiri and Governor Romney need no longer be so concerned about expressing their extremist views.

The rest of us should be very afraid, for our wives and daughters, and for the quality of our civilisation.

Tarak Barkawi is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics, New School for Social Research.



Five-Member Indian Family Embraces Islam on Their Own Free Will

Ahmed Shaaban / 31 October 2012

Though a number of people convert to Islam at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai on a daily basis, it was a one-family show on Tuesday morning.

A five-member Indian family embraced Islam.

Huda Al Kaabi, Head of New Muslims Section at the Department, said the whole family — the father, mother, daughter, son and his wife — approached the department on their own free will.

“None has even talked to them about Islam; amazingly they have been touched by the tolerant and reasonable principles of Islam, and how it addresses body and soul, life and Hereafter alike.”

Al Kaabi told Khaleej Times that all family members wanted to know more about the teachings of Islam and how to get closer to Almighty Allah, and to begin with, they changed their names into Arabic without being asked to.

“The father named himself Mohammed, the mother Mariam, the daughter Aisha, the son Essa, and his wife Sara.

“We have provided the whole family members with briefcases full of books, booklets and CDs on whatever they need to know about Islam as new Muslims,” she added.

Aisha Al Kash, Head of Religious Counselling and Guidance, said the department spares no effort in showing people the right path to Islam based on authentic sources. “We address all enquires and doubts about Islam in the most tolerant, reasonable and persuasive way.

“This is apart from the distribution of thousands of copies of the Holy Quran translated into several languages, as well as thousands of books, booklets, brochures, CDs and cassettes about Islam,” she added.



Polish Teenage Rape Victim 'Should Have Had Abortion Access'

31 Oct 2012

A Polish teenager who became pregnant after rape should have had unhindered access to an abortion, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The girl, who was then 14, was forced to have a clandestine abortion after harassment from pro-life groups led to her being turned away from hospitals.

The court ordered the Polish state to pay the teenager and her mother 61,000 euros (£49,000) in compensation.

Poland's abortion law is among the strictest in Europe.

Terminations are only permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother or foetus is in danger.

'Manipulated and helpless'

The unnamed teenager at the centre of this court case became pregnant in 2008 after she was raped at the age of 14.

In accordance with the law, she got a certificate from the public prosecutor confirming that her pregnancy was as a result of unlawful sexual intercourse.

The girl, named only as "P" went to two different hospitals with her mother in her hometown of Lublin in south-east Poland to try and obtain an abortion.

At one, a Roman Catholic priest attempted to convince her to have the child. Hospital management then issued a press release saying they would not perform the procedure, leading to her case becoming caught up in Poland's ongoing debate about abortion.

The girl then travelled to a hospital in Warsaw, but doctors there said they were under pressure not to go ahead with the procedure.

The court documents say the pair left the hospital "feeling manipulated and helpless", after which they were harassed by pro-life groups and eventually taken in for several hours of police questioning.

The authorities then accused the mother of trying to force her daughter into having an abortion and had "P" placed in a juvenile shelter.

She eventually managed to go ahead with the termination in Gdansk, 500km from her home, after the Ministry of Health intervened in the case.

In their ruling, which is subject to appeal, a panel of judges at the European Court of Human Rights found that there had been numerous breaches of the girl's rights.

The court found that she should have had unhindered access to lawful abortion and that the details of her case should not have been made public by hospital authorities.

The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says that Poland's abortion law is unlikely to become more liberal soon.

Poland's Catholic Church is fiercely opposed to any attempts to ease the restrictions and a majority of mainstream politicians support the status quo.



Ailing Pakistani Woman Sells Only Child for Rs 1.2 Lakh

Oct 31, 2012

LAHORE: A poor woman from Punjab province has sold her seven-month-old son to an expatriate Pakistani family for Rs 1.2 lakh to meet the cost of her medical treatment, prompting police to act against both parties. The incident occurred in Gujranwala district, 80 km from Lahore.

Khalida Bibi, who is suffering from cardiac and liver ailments, sold her son Faizan yesterday for Rs 1.2 lakh to Mohammad Shaukat, who works in UAE.

"I had no money for my treatment and so I decided to sell my only child," Khalida told reporters.

As the news broke on TV channels, police rushed to stop the illegal deal between Khalida and Shaukat and took them both into custody.



Veiled Muslim mayor a first for Bosnia, possibly Europe

30 October 2012

Bosnia’s first veiled mayor began her duties this week, after an election which saw her becoming the first hijab-clad mayor in the country, and possibly in Europe.

Amra Babic, who served as a regional finance minister before running for mayor, will now run the Bosnian town of Visoko, in an electoral win she describes as a “victory of tolerance” amid government debates elsewhere in Europe over laws to ban the Muslim veil.

“It’s a victory of tolerance,” Babic, a wartime widow told the Associated Press last week. “We have sent a message out from Visoko. A message of tolerance, democracy and equality.”

“I am the East and I am the West,” she declared. “I am proud to be a Muslim and to be a European. I come from a country where religions and cultures live next to each other. All that together is my identity.”

Full report at:



Female Lawyers, Others Urge Quick Passage of Anti-Violence Bill In Nigeria

30 OCTOBER 2012

WORRIED about the alarming rise in the incidence of rape, violence and extra-judicial killings in the country, IPAS and the International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) yesterday demanded the speedy passage of the Violence against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill, which has been pending at the National Assembly since 2011.

IPAS and FIDA also called for the immediate review of all obsolete laws in the country in order to bring them to terms with modern day realities.

They commended the Imo State House of Assembly for being the first state assembly to pass the VAPP bill into law.

Full report at:



Girls' Attitudes Survey: Three Out Of Five Feel Pressured

Three Out Of Five Girls Say They Feel Pressured - It's Not Surprising They Feel So Harshly Judged


Heather Goult Young Leader with Girlguiding UK

A figure from this year's Girls' Attitudes Survey that I found devastating was that seven out of 10 girls (68 per cent) believe women are judged more on their appearance than ability. This rises to 75 per cent among those who are working. With three out of five secondary school-age girls saying they feel pressure to look like celebrities, it is unsurprising girls feel they are so harshly judged on their looks.

Full report at:



Over Rs 380m to Boost Female Literacy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

October 31, 2012

ISLAMABAD - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government allocated Rs 388.66 million for the promotion of female education in the comparatively underdeveloped districts of Torghar and Kohistan.

An official of the education department announced that funds had been allocated to ensure an increased enrolment of girls in schools and to lower the drop-out ratio.

The grant aimed at lifting female literacy rate and encouraging education for girls in underdeveloped districts of Torghar and Kohistan.

He said that 1,250 merit scholarships of Rs 1500 each would be provided from classes one to five for the next five years.

Another 1,250 scholarships of Rs 2000 each had been chalked out for classes 6th to 10th for the next five years, he added.



Indian Woman Fined Dh1, 000 for Attempting Suicide

Woman admits swallowing 25 Panadol pills after her mother and brother didn't allow her to marry

By Bassam Za’za’,

October 30, 2012

Dubai: A woman has been fined Dh1, 000 for swallowing 25 Panadol pills in a suicide attempt after her parents prohibited her from marrying a man because of social differences.

The Dubai Misdemeanour Court convicted the 30-year-old Indian woman, D.B, of attempted suicide after she confessed that she tried to kill herself.

Prosecutors accused the woman, who works as a computer operator, of swallowing the Panadol pills with the intent to end her life.

Records said the incident happened when D.B.’s parents rushed her to Rashid Hospital after she tried to kill herself on September 7.

Full report at:



In Karachi, High Number Of Nurses Report Beatings

 October 31, 2012

An alarmingly high number of nurses, 76% of 50 in a survey, have reported being beaten in emergency departments in four hospitals across Karachi.

About 44% of them reported some form of bodily injury. The culprits were relatives of patients 78.4% of the time. The nurses were mostly men.

These statistics emerged from the two private and two public sector hospitals in Karachi. The study took 20 nurses from Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, 10 each from Civil hospital, Liaquat National Hospital and Patel Hospital.

Full report at: