New Age Islam
Sat Jun 15 2024, 07:30 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 21 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

A Yezidi Woman Who Escaped ISIS Slavery Tells Her Story

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Dec 2015 

Photo: A young Yazidi woman pleaded on Wednesday (December 16) for the United Nations Security Council to wipe out Islamic State after describing the torture and rape she suffered at the hands of the militants, who abducted her as “war booty” and held her for three months.


 ‘Muslim women should be aware of their rights’

 Muslim woman files lawsuit following termination from Livonia clinic

 Hate crimes against Muslims rise in U.K.

 West Africa Seeks Islamic Veil Ban To Curb Female Suicide Bombers Amid Boko Haram Insurgency

 650 Muslim women given leadership training in Doon

 Nigeria: Economic Downturn - Aisha Buhari Calls for Women Empowerment

 Writing A New Narrative About Africa

 Afghan men march to demand reinstatement of woman governor

 Missing girl found dead

 Medical expert speaks against use of sonar to visualize the fetus

 Population of Saudi women increasing

 Ministry issues executive rules for beauty sector

 Kuwaiti women turning down jobs alongside men

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau




A Yezidi Woman Who Escaped ISIS Slavery Tells Her Story

Dec. 20, 2015

It is not easy for Nadia to tell this story, and she’s been doing it all day. She’s about my age, wearing a leather jacket just like mine, and her hair is fastened with the same drugstore hair clip that is holding up my own. But when I smile at her, she looks away. She doesn’t make eye contact very often, but when she does, her eyes are impenetrably black.

She’s steeling herself, because she knows why I’m here. I have to ask about what happened when ISIS fighters came to her village in northern Iraq, where they took her and the other young women, how many men she was sold to, what happened in those rooms in Mosul. She will answer as much as she can, because she is brave, because she escaped, and because she wants the world to know what is happening to the Yezidis in Iraq. But that doesn’t make it easy.

Twenty-one-year-old Nadia Murad Basee Taha is in New York City to testify in front of the U.N. Security Council about the plight of the Yezidi ethnic and religious minority under ISIS. “I cannot imagine how painful it must be every time you are asked to recount your experience,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said to Nadia after her testimony on Wednesday. “And your being here and speaking so bravely to all of us is a testament to your resilience and your dignity — and it’s of course the most powerful rejection of what ISIL stands for.”

ISIS has targeted the Yezidi population of approximately 230,000 people in the area, considered “kafir” or “nonbelievers” because they do not practice Islam, in what is widely considered to be a genocide. Over 5,200 Yezidis were abducted in 2014 and at least 3,400 are still in ISIS captivity, according to community leaders, and most, if not all, of the captives are women (male captives are indoctrinated and forced to fight, or risk execution). Thousands more have been slaughtered, and over 400,000 Yezidis have been forced from their homes.

Even worse, ISIS has revived the institutional practice of slavery within its so-called caliphate, condoning the systematic rape and sexual enslavement of non-Muslim women. This practice is not only allowed inside ISIS, it is actively encouraged, and some survivors have reported that ISIS fighters believe that if a woman is raped by 10 Muslims, she will become converted. There is even a market for enslaved women within the caliphate, and girls are bought, sold, and traded among the fighters as commodities or rewards.

Nadia is in New York City to ask the U.N. Security Council to rescue the enslaved Yezidis and help them liberate their land from the militants. She’s also here to tell her story, with the help of Yazda, a U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting survivors of Yezidi genocide and women who have escaped from ISIS.

Last July, Nadia was living in Kocho, a village near northern Iraq, with her mother and brothers and sisters. She was a student, and history was her favorite subject. She wanted to become a teacher. “I did not know anything,” she says of her generally peaceful childhood. “I did not know anything about what ISIS was or what it was going to do.”

But soon she began to see images on TV, “horrific images,” she says. And one day in August, she was walking with her sister and saw fighters in her village. “I recognized, I said, ‘This is the same group that we have seen committing the crimes on the TV.’” She didn’t know she would meet them so soon.

Then, on Aug. 15, 2014, the fighters told everyone to walk to the school on the outskirts of town. It was lunchtime. On their way, Nadia and her family saw ISIS fighters “everywhere,” she remembers, “on the houses, on the streets, there were a lot of them.” Some of them were masked, others were not. They all spoke different languages.

The fighters separated the men from the women, and put Nadia and some other women on the second floor of the building. Then they murdered 312 men in one hour, according to a U.N. spokesman, including six of Nadia’s brothers and stepbrothers. Nadia witnessed it all. When they retook the area from ISIS, Kurdish forces also uncovered a mass grave of about 80 elderly women who had presumably been executed because they were too old and undesirable to be sold into slavery.

Those who remained, the women like Nadia who were considered young and attractive, were taken to the occupied Iraqi city of Mosul, where they stayed for three days before they were “distributed” among the fighters to be enslaved. “They gave us to them,” Nadia says. She recalls some women mussing up their hair to look less appealing to the fighters, in hopes they would be spared. Others smeared battery acid on their faces. “It did not help because in the mornings they would ask us again to wash our face and look pretty.”

Nadia’s niece, who was also kidnapped, witnessed a woman cutting her wrists. They heard stories of women jumping from bridges. And in one house in Mosul where Nadia was kept, an upstairs room was smeared with evidence of suffering. “There was blood and there were fingerprints of hands with the blood on the walls,” she says. Two women had killed themselves there.

Nadia never considered ending her own life, but she said she wished the militants would do it for her. “I did not want to kill myself — but I wanted them to kill me.”

Every morning in Mosul, the women would be required to wash. Then, Nadia says, they would be taken to the Shari‘a court, where they would be photographed. The photographs would be posted on a wall in the court, along with the phone number of whichever militant or commander currently owned each woman, so that fighters could swap women among themselves.

One day, it was her turn. She was sitting in a room with all the other women, looking down. She was wearing a pink jacket. A fighter came in. “He told me, ‘The woman in the pink jacket, stand up for me,’” Nadia says. “When I raised my head I looked at him, this huge man, and I shouted and screamed.” He was very big, she says, with long hair and a long beard. She was sitting with her three nieces, they all held on to each other as the big man tried to drag her from the group. “They were beating us with sticks while we were holding one another,” she says. “He took me by force to the ground floor, and they were writing the names of those they were taking.”

As she was struggling with the big man, she saw a pair of small feet. It was another ISIS fighter, also there to get a Yezidi slave. Nadia, desperate, wanted to go with him because he had a smaller build than the first man. “I basically jumped on his feet, and I told him, I begged him, ‘Free me from this huge person, take me for yourself and I will do whatever you want,’” she says. “Then he took me for himself.”

Nadia’s new captor was tall and thin, with long hair but a trimmed beard. Something flickers over her face when she describes his “ugly mouth” with “teeth coming out of his lips.” I can’t tell whether it is laughter or pain.

This new man kept Nadia in a room with two doors. He prayed five times a day. He had a wife and a daughter named Sara, but Nadia never met them. One day he took her to his parents’ house in Mosul. “Then he one day forced me to dress for him and put make-up, I did, and in that black night, he did it,” she testified.

She told the hushed room that she tried to escape the rape and torture, but was captured. “That night, he beat me up, forced to undress, and put me in a room with six militants,” she told said in her testimony. “They continued to commit crimes to my body until I became unconscious.”

Nadia tells me none of her captors exhibited an ounce of regret for what they did to her. When one ISIS fighter was asked whether she was his wife, he announced, “‘This is not my wife, she is my sabia, she is my slave,’” Nadia recalls. “And then he fired shots in the sky, as a sign of happiness.”

She was finally able to escape in November 2014 after one of her captors left his house unlocked, and she sneaked away to safety. She was then transported to a refugee camp (she is purposely vague about how she got from captivity to the camp, perhaps to protect anyone who helped her) where she was selected for a program that takes refugees to Germany. Now she’s living near Stuttgart, but she does not feel at home there. “I left everyone, all the family members who are still in the camps, I left them,” she says. “But it’s better than the poverty and suffering that people endure in the camps.” She’s been brought to the U.S. to raise awareness about the plight of Yezidi girls still in captivity.

Nadia does not celebrate Christmas, but she has learned about the holiday since she’s been living in Germany. And she has a message for anyone celebrating Christmas this year: “If they’re celebrating and they want to help the poor, then they should help us.”



‘Muslim women should be aware of their rights’


December 20, 2015

West Bengal Minorities Commission Chairman Intaj Ali Shah said on Saturday that Muslim women in the State should be more aware of their rights.

Releasing a book on the status of Muslim women in the State, he said that in some district Muslims have outnumbered other communities and it was necessary that Muslim women are aware of the rights.


Speaking about a number of vulnerabilities faced by Muslim women such as denial of property, divorce, forcibly marrying of girls at an early age, Mr. Shah said that Muslims girls should use the government schemes to study and acquire knowledge about their rights.

Women should have an idea of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, he said.

The handbook, Samyer Kotha: Muslim Naarir Adhikar O Maryada by an NGO Nari-O-Sishu Kalyan Kendra refers the status of Muslim women’s education, health and other social indicators.

They should use govt. schemes to study and acquire knowledge about their rights



Muslim woman files lawsuit following termination from Livonia clinic

December 21, 2015

DETROIT - A Muslim woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a Livonia Dermatology clinic for allegedly getting fired just two days after the mass shootings at San Bernardino.

Terry Ali claims, who wears the hijab, said she had only been on the $14-an-hour job for one day at Livonia Dermatology when national news broke about the shootings carried out by a Muslim couple.

A day later she said she showed up to work and she was assigned to work in a back room putting away files, as opposed to interacting with customers in the front, which she had been hired to do.

After two days of working in a back room, Ali was fired via an email fro an office manager.

Ali followed up with a lawsuit, claiming she was let go because she was Muslim.

Livonia Dermatology adamantly denies the claim, noting the co-owner of the clinic, Meena Moossavi, is from Iran and Muslim, and that the clinic staff is very diverse, including Indian, Russian, Hispanic and Muslim individuals. The office manager said Ali was terminated because she couldn't type fast.

Office management claims they even provided Ali with a private room to pray in.

According to the lawsuit, Ali responded on Oct. 30 to an ad for a medical assistant-receptionist position with Livonia Dermatology. The next day, she interviewed for the job.

During the interview, she was asked why she wore a hijab, the lawsuit says. She explained that it was because of her faith.



Hate crimes against Muslims rise in U.K.

Dec 20, 2015

Unsafe in the city she was born and raised in. That's how radio producer Saba Zaman says she feels living in London this past year after being attacked verbally and physically on two occasions, targeted she says because of her Muslim faith.

Islamophobic hate crime in the United Kingdom rose by nearly 50 per cent this year, tripling in London in the week immediately after the recent Paris attacks, the Metropolitan Police say.

"The first Monday [after the Paris attacks] I was in the Tube reading my newspaper as I do every morning and a man spat at me," Zaman says from her Islington office.

"It is very impolite but I won't allow things like that to faze me."

It was a different matter in February when a man physically assaulted her on the Tube, hurling abuse and trying to grab her hijab.

"I came in to work and I was so shaken up that I actually burst out crying and it takes a lot to faze me but I think part of it is because I was physically touched and screamed at on the Tube."

The next day, she gathered herself back together and took the Tube again.

But she says now if she sees a young woman standing or sitting alone on public transport, she goes and stands with her, kind of a protective gesture, offering safety in numbers.

Targets usually women

The targets are usually women, either veiled or wearing headscarves. In October, a woman was filmed shouting at a woman in a headscarf travelling with a small child and another Muslim woman for more than five minutes on a London bus.

She's seen calling them "ISIS bitches" and telling them to "go back to your f--king country where they're bombing."

"The video was quite unbearable to watch," 22-year-old Seema Yasmin said outside the East London Mosque in Whitechapel not long afterwards.

"It does make you feel quite unsafe to be around. Even though I've been born and brought up here, it's actually making me a bit wary. Do I need to be careful when I'm on the buses then?"

In an interview before the Paris attacks, the British journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said she believes that racism in general is getting worse in the United Kingdom.

"There's a terrible undercurrent at the moment," she said.

"I come from Uganda. I came here in 1972 and I remember in 1972 sitting in a park, I was spat at because the feeling against our migration was just as bad as it is now. Eight months ago, sitting in a bus on a [London] high street, I was spat at again."

Alibhai-Brown, a Shia-Muslim born into the Ugandan Asian community, does not wear a headscarf. She has written articles denouncing those who would say those who do are somehow more pious.

'How much more integrated can you be?'

"It tells you something," she says of being spat at on the bus. "Because, you know, how much more integrated can you be than I am?  And nobody said anything on the bus, which is another thing."

Hate crime directed at Muslims tends to spike after attacks or coverage in the media.

Zaman was assaulted in the days after reports about three East London teenagers travelling to Syria to join ISIS.

U.K. teens allegedly recruited for ISIS deported from Turkey

The Metropolitan police force in London says that while world events can contribute to a rise in hate crime, the recent rise can also be attributed to better reporting methods and "a growing willingness of victims to report hate crime."

"We know Muslim communities in London are feeling anxious and we are providing extra patrols and are speaking regularly with local mosques and community leaders to reassure and address concerns, while closely monitoring the situation," the Met said in a statement to CBC.

Critics within the Muslim community say that the British government's efforts to counter the threat of radicalization have been clumsy and not broad enough in their consultations with local Muslim groups.

'Diverse nation'

"Sometimes I feel like as a Muslim I am being demonized in this country even though I have been born and brought up here," says Salman Farsim, a media officer at the East London Mosque.

Scrutiny of the Muslim community can seem driven "by an irrational fear of Muslims," he says.

But despite the increase in hate-crime incidents, Britain is still seen by many as one of the most tolerant European countries when it comes to multicultural and faith issues. 

That's Zaman's feeling despite what she's endured this past year simply for being herself in her own country.

"We are quite a diverse nation and London itself is a very diverse city," she says, choosing to focus on the people who, in her case, did come to her defence on the Tube.

Some British Muslim women have felt so vulnerable and exposed in recent months that they've considered not wearing their headscarves. It's not something Zaman would consider.

"I cannot allow the action of one man, whether it is a person on the Tube spitting at me or the [incident] in February force me to generalize the whole of the British people because they are my people, too, and I belong. I am very much a part of this city."



West Africa Seeks Islamic Veil Ban To Curb Female Suicide Bombers Amid Boko Haram Insurgency

Dec 21, 2015

West African leaders are seeking to “forbid” women from wearing full-face veils in public, including the burka and niqab, to curb the growing number of attacks by female suicide bombers in the region. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, president of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, said Thursday countries should enforce a ban “in line with their national realities,” Agence France-Presse reported.

"Certain dress codes, which make identification of the persons concerned difficult, may considerably hinder actions geared towards protecting people and properties," Ouedraogo told reporters at the close of a two-day summit in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, saying leaders must take “measures that would forbid this kind of dress that will not allow security personnel to be sure of their identities.”

Cameroon, Chad and Niger adopted bans on full-face veils this year where Boko Haram has used women and girls as suicide bombers, forcing them to conceal explosives under their loose-fitting clothing. The radical Sunni Muslim group has ramped up this style of attack in recent months since losing swathes of territory to the Nigerian military. Cameroon, which extended its ban in July, is also prohibiting the manufacture and sale of the burka, AFP reported. The burka is a one-piece veil that covers the face and body, leaving just a mesh screen for the eyes. It is the most concealing of all Islamic veils.

Nearly a third of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims live in Africa, predominately in the northern part of the vast continent. The Republic of Congo, which neighbors Cameroon, became the first African country to issue such a ban in May to tackle the security threat. Senegal announced in November its plans to bar women from wearing the full-face veil. It would be the fifth African nation to enforce such a ban, BBC News reported.

Since taking office in late May, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush Boko Haram, which launched its brutal insurgency in northeast Nigeria six years ago. However, since that declaration, attempted suicide bombings have become an almost daily occurrence in the region. Most recently, four female suicide bombers Wednesday attacked a military checkpoint on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, local media reported.



650 Muslim women given leadership training in Doon

Dec 20 2015

More than 650 women belonging to the minority community in Dehradun district have been given leadership training under the Nai Roshni programme initiated by the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK). These include 125 women from Teliwala in the Doiwala block and Jamanpur and Jamanpur Khera in the Sahaspur block. Another 125 women will be trained in Binovanagar, Chharba and Bullakiwala villages of the Vikasnagar block from December 21, said Chairperson of RLEK Padam Shri Avdhash Kaushal here today. During the six-day training programme, women were not only imparted leadership skills but were also made aware of their rights as a woman and member of the minority community, financial dealings, social schemes, health and hygiene and other aspects important for becoming an informed resident and a leader. The training concluded here today.

The programme also had a session on “Investor Education and Awareness” conducted by Jubin Mehta, assistant general manager (AGM) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The aim of the session was to spread basic financial awareness among people so that they could make sound financial decisions. He spoke about the illegal collective investment scheme running in society.

Vineet Tomar, Block Development Officer, interacted with women and listened to their grievances and experiences.

Ranjita, pramukh of the Sahaspur block, said, “These leadership training under the Nai Roshni scheme are helpful and as this area is big, more such training programmes are needed.”



Nigeria: Economic Downturn - Aisha Buhari Calls for Women Empowerment

19 DECEMBER 2015

The wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, has called for the empowerment of women through various skill acquisition programmes to enable them support their families to cope with the current economic downturn.

The first lady made the call on Saturday in Abuja at the 7th Al-Habibiyyah Women forum.

Represented by Hajia Salma Makama, the Managing Director, Shelter Plus, Buhari specifically called for the empowerment of widows and those displaced as a result of insurgency in some parts of the country.

In his remark, the Chief Imam of Al-Habibiyyah Mosque, Imam Fuad Adeyemi, encouraged women to be supportive of their family.

He said that the forum was designed to cater not only for the spiritual needs of the women, but other aspects of their lives.

He stressed the need for women empowerment and the diversification of the economy in view of the declining price of crude oil in the international market.

"The theme for the forum this year, "The Muslim Woman and Entrepreneurship" is of such importance and significance.

"This could not have come at a better time than this when we are witnessing economic downturn associated with over dependence on the export of crude oil," he said.

Adeyemi also called on Nigerians irrespective of religious belief to support the Buhari administration to positively change Nigeria.

"We sincerely commend the efforts of the Federal Government in repositioning Nigeria and enjoin all Nigerians irrespective of creed to support the government," he said.

Earlier, Hajia Rekiya Momoh-Abaji, Chairperson, Al-habibiyya Women Forum, stressed the need to empower women for economic stability.

Momoh-Abaji stated that families nowadays need more than one source of income to survive.

"More than ever before the women of the world require more than one stream of income to support their families.

"Entrepreneurship is really the new direction of the world and we urgently require Muslim women to key into various forms of entrepreneurship to reduce the burden on men," she said.

She said that Islam was not against women empowerment as exemplified by the Wife of Prophet Muhammad, Khadijat who was a great business woman and entrepreneur.

Momoh-Abaji said that the forum had organised vocational skills programme for women in soap making, bead making and catering services to empower them.

The event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Women Affairs, SMEDAN, Jaiz Bank, NGOs and Islamic organisations. (NAN)



Writing A New Narrative About Africa

Dec 21, 2015

TED X Euston is much more than an event – this was the message that was carried throughout the seventh edition of one of London’s most popular TED franchises.

The one-day conference held on December 5 pulled a crowd of 600 to the Mermaid Conference Centre in Blackfriars, all eagerly anticipating what this year would offer.

 True to reputation, organisers did not disappoint in curating a line-up of some of Africa’s best leaders and thinkers, delivering talks that gripped, inspired and entertained.

 With the progression of the African continent at its core, the day’s Vision to Reality theme was explored through each speaker’s distinctive experience but also challenged attendees to rethink what role the audience plays in the larger context of the continent.

As speakers took to the stage, each talk was different from the last; everything from corruption to the creative industries was covered.

First to begin was journalist Mona Eltahawy who ignited the crowd with her declaration that “my body is my own”.

Her talk on African women as sexual beings in a social revolution, often a debate subdued, set the bar high for all those to follow.

“There is nothing uniquely African about corruption,” argued Liberian academic Robtel Neajai Pailey whose children’s book Gbagba talks about honesty and equipping young children with ethical tools.

“I wanted to equip children with the power of their own consciousness and ability to disseminate the mixed messages of adults. Children are generally honest until we teach them otherwise,” shared Pailey.

While some talks illuminated the continued challenges affecting the continent, others chose to magnify the strengths.

The first winner of the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award, Ugandan journalist Nancy Kacungira said: “It’s time we start writing a new narrative that doesn’t focus on the struggle, but on progression.”

In her talk, the accomplished journalist championed the need for African journalists to deliver better coverage of the continent in order to generate a positive dialogue.

“It doesn’t make any sense to point fingers asking ‘why don’t you cover us fairly?’ when we don’t do ourselves any justice,” she added.

Closing the day was Kechi Okwuchi, a survivor of a 2005 Sosoliso plane crash in Nigeria, who went on to graduate with the highest honours from the University of St Thomas, in the US.

SPEAKING ON the 600th day since the mass kidnapping of school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, Dr Obiagelo ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili was one of the day’s most impactful speakers.

A senior economist and respected activist, it was a single tweet that would put her at the head of the #Bringbackourgirls campaign.

The grassroots movement focused the international gaze on Africa’s most populous country and begged the question: How could such a thing happen? And why was nothing being done about it?

“The most important thing for me was to escalate the demand so that it would compel our government to act,” Ezekwesili told The Voice.

“By putting my voice out there and standing for our Chibok girls I was basically amplifying the voice of their parents. The parents are poorer, weaker and so people just simply decided that if you’re poor and you’re weak then you basically don’t count. I have a problem with that philosophy which is why I was determined to start up concerning the justice that those girls deserve.”

The incident, which occurred on April 14 last year, was claimed to have been the work of Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in northeast Nigeria.

According to Amnesty International, the Nigerian military had four hours advance warning of the kidnapping, but failed to send reinforcements to protect the school.

The campaigner said: “Poor governance is really at the heart of a lot of the failings of governments to respond to issues and matters like this. I believe that the government was distracted by other things and in the past if government moved on on a topic everybody also moved on.

“But for once we said that we wouldn’t be moving on from this. We want government to act positively in order for there to be closure to the issue.”

More than 18 months later, the campaign continues in its quest to locate the whereabouts of an estimated 200 girls and the activist remains committed.

“I can’t be pessimistic, if I became pessimistic that would suggest there was some sort of closure but there is none,” she said. “The parents of our Chibok girls have not moved on. They continue to say to us ‘please don’t give up on our girls’ there’s no counterfactual evidence that would make us move on. Justice hasn’t been done and we need to see that justice is done.”

As well as marking the one-year anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping in April, early this year Nigeria recorded the most democratic election in its history since achieving independence.

“One thing that is clear is that the Nigeria of 2015 certainly wasn’t the Nigeria of 2014. Citizens have found their voice and there is no beating them down,” said the former education minister.

Activism in the country must continue with social media participation, insisted Ezekwesili. “A demand for accountability is at the heart of good governance and we’re going to see more and more of that, and governments simply need to learn how to work with it.”

NAMED SOUTH Africa’s Most Influential Woman in 2012, Lindiwe Mazibuko was the first black woman in South Africa to be elected leader of the Opposition and the youngest parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliances (DA).

On venturing into political arena the 35-year-old shared: “I wouldn’t say that it was anything distinctive it was actually an accumulation of circumstance and frustration.”

Sharing her story on being politically engaged the trailblazer declared that the only reason she would return to politics was if others would follow her.

“We must disrupt the political status quo. There is no one waiting to save us. We must save ourselves,” said Mazibuko.

Working her way up the political ranks, in 2011, at the age of 32, Mazibuko took the decision to run for election to become the DA’s Parliamentary Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition in South Africa's National Assembly. 

Hoping to shake things up, the visionary said: “They were never challenging authority or using the rules of parliament to do innovative things like making sure the opposition regularly had debates and holding the president accountable for his record, I felt like they were stuck and the only thing that would unstick them would be a new young innovative leader. I also thought it was time for the party to diversify its leadership frankly.”

Under her leadership the party grew its share of the national vote from 16 per cent in 2009 to 22 per cent in 2014, shortly after Mazibuko announced a political sabbatical.

On her decision to walk away, she told The Voice: “I asked myself, if I want to be in government, what skills and experience do I think I need and can I get them just by sitting as the opposition and the answer was no, I couldn’t. So I decided to go to Harvard.”

“I’m going to spend a couple more years outside of politics, partially to seek and engage with friends, allies and supporters of my country, political party, set of values and my vision for my organisation partly to gain the kind of experience I think I need if I want to be a part of the movement to put the DA in government at national level one day and partially because I want to have a good personal life, a hinterland and politics when you’re young makes it difficult to do those things.”

The year has seen a surge in activism amongst South Africa’s student population, including protests against a rise in student fees and a wave of anti-colonial sentiment that resulted in the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue from the University of Cape Town grounds.

While the former politician applauds the efforts, she asserted: “You can’t run a country by protesting every issue.”

A staunch advocate of the ballot box, she explained: “Not voting is one of the most dangerous things that young people can do especially in an emergent democracy where elites have become complacent. If you don’t vote you’re actually sending power to whoever happens to be in the majority at the time. That’s what the statistical outcome of that is because that’s one less vote they have try and get.

“So maybe you give the students what they want when they march and you teach them that the only way to get things done is to come and ask me, but I’m saying the way to get things done is to unseat me because I’m the wrong person for the job, and that’s what young people need to understand.”

WITH A halo of flaming red hair and two tattoos like war paint on the inside of both arms, journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy kicked off this year’s TEDxEuston with a bang.

The Egyptian-born author of the provocatively titled Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution opened her speech stating: “As an Egyptian, as an African, as a feminist, as a Muslim, as all the different hats that I wear together, I understand how difficult it is to talk about sex and vaginas.”

But the writer who gained worldwide notoriety when she was arrested and sexually assaulted in Cairo as she reported the protests in Tahrir Square is on a mission to speak out.

Referencing black feminist Audre Lord, Eltahawy said she learned the hard way that silence will not protect you.

Both her arms were fractured during her ordeal in 2011 and said it was a “real turning point. It really was a before and after.”

To reclaim her body, she tattooed Sekhmet, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of retribution and sex, on her right arm. On the left, is the name of the street where she was assaulted in Arabic calligraphy with the word ‘freedom’ underneath.

The 48-year-old said: “After I was assaulted, I was like: I could have died.

“If I had been an ordinary average Egyptian woman taken in [to custody] that night I might have been gang raped. I might have disappeared into a jail somewhere but for the simple fact that people know who I am. The hashtag campaign #freemona went global and was trending within 15 minutes. I believe when you have privilege, and I recognise I have the privilege of platform, you are obliged to fight ten times harder than those who don’t…I’m trying because I recognise I have all this protecting me.”

The experience “unleashed her”, she said. In an act of defiance she moved back to Cairo from New York so she could continue fighting for women’s rights.

Naturally, her frank approach to sexuality and promoting an “I own my body” message has upset people, including fellow Muslim women, as well as costing her friendships.

“I think it’s very important to recognise that sometimes when you are talking about things like sexuality and freedom and women being at the intersection of all the things that I talk about, when someone isn’t free and they hear someone saying, ‘look, we have got to fight for this’, it can sometimes make them uncomfortable. It makes them realise they have to do something and people don’t want to hear that, they want to be comfortable in the status quo. Sometimes it’s easier for them to say, ‘shut up, Mona” instead.”

She has spent the past months promoting her book and meeting with women’s campaigns in China, India and across Africa and thinks it’s important for women of colour to engage with other movements and the nuance that come with each of them.

“This word ‘intersectionality’ – we talk about it a lot but I don’t think people even know what it means anymore, it just becomes this catchphrase, you know?” offers Eltahawy. “But we really do lie on an intersection of so many things as women of colour… we don’t just have the privilege to just fight misogyny – we’re not white. I’m fighting misogyny and all the other isms I mentioned [in my talk].”

One of the ways women are getting their voices heard is through the Internet, explains Eltahawy, an avid Twitter user.

“Social media is helping women of colour break ground in ways that were impossible before: we don’t own the media, we don’t control the media…men run everything. I follow several black feminists on Twitter who hardly have any presence in the mainstream media, yet they’re incredibly powerful on social media. This is the future,” she said.

“In Saudi [society] women have no voice, no face, no mobility, nothing – yet on social media they have created a huge stir. Social media is an absolutely revolutionary tool when it is used by voices that have been marginalised. It’s incredible.”



Afghan men march to demand reinstatement of woman governor

KABUL: An Afghan civil society leader says hundreds of men marched through a central provincial capital to call for the reinstatement of their woman governor, who was reappointed last week.

Waqif Khudayaar, an organiser of the protest, said on Saturday men from across society and of all ages marched through Firuz Koh, capital of Ghor, calling for Seema Joyenda to be reinstated.

Joyenda was appointed governor of Ghor, one of Afghanistan's poorest provinces, in June. On Thursday she was reappointed as deputy governor of Kabul province.

Joyenda, one of two women governors in Afghanistan, came under intense pressure from religious figures and local politicians, and received death threats — not unusual for women working in Afghanistan.

Khudayaar says she effectively tackled corruption and inequality. Marchers carried banners saying “Enough With Corruption".



Missing girl found dead

December 21, 2015

Police recovered the body of a minor girl from an eggplant field at Sirijdia village under Magura Sadar upazila on Saturday night. The deceased was identified as Anamika Biswas, 8, daughter of fish trader Madhab Biswas of the village. She was a Class II student of Sirijdia Government Primary School. Milon Hossain, sub-inspector of Sadar Police Station, said Anamika had gone missing since 1:00pm on Saturday noon. After searching, locals found her body on the field at around 9:00pm. On information, police reached the spot and recovered the body.



Medical expert speaks against use of sonar to visualize the fetus

21 December 2015

JEDDAH: President of the Saudi Society for Women’s Medicine issued warnings against the use of sonar used to visualize the fetus.

He said improper use could lead to negative results that affect the unborn baby and the mother.

Dr. Hassan Abduljabbar said that the use of sonar in the initial stages of pregnancy might lead to mothers aborting their unborn. He said there are many cases of this happening. He said the number of Saudi women who have Caesarian sections rather than natural birth is continually increasing, now at 30 percent. He said this goes back to the fact that these women are afraid to have natural births, believing it may distort the body of the fetus.

He said more and more women support Caesarian sections over natural birth although the former is made through surgery and a surgical incision.

On another level he said despite decaying Arab traditions against female births in Saudi society, he accuses sonograms as a reason that threatens females inside the womb because fathers don’t like it when they see its a baby girl inside the womb in the early stages of pregnancy and may seek to end the pregnancy.

Dr. Abduljabbar said that sonar was used previously in the depths of the seas to use sound waves which were transferred into images through modern technology. Use of sonar developed into a method to examine the fetus inside the womb. He warned against its use more than once. “It should be used two times only because it may create distortions related to the heart, breathing, movement, level of liquid inside the womb among others.” He added doctors should not keep using as it “as if its the hearing aid to the obstetrician.” He said sonar maybe used to determine whether the fetus is male or female but sometimes this is the case and there has many cases when after delivery the baby turns out to be of the opposite sex. He spoke of one man who rejected the baby because the sonogram said it was a male when in fact it turned out to be a female; he had five girls already. He said he only accepted the child after much persuasion.

In another case Dr. Abduljabbar said a man was angry because the sonar showed it was a female and he never once went with his wife during check ups in the months she was pregnant.



Population of Saudi women increasing

Dec 21, 2015

Abdulrahman Bawazir

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The number of girls born in the Kingdom has increased by 2 million since 2010, according to the Central Department of Statistics and Information.

Saudi society has more men than women, more boys than girls, however during the past decade the number of newborn girls has been steadily increasing, a department source said. “Experts predict that the number of girls in the Kingdom might exceed the number of boys in the future. The difference in the number of the two genders is only 95,000. Ten years ago the difference was 147,000,” said the source.

He also said the number of non-Saudi men is much higher than the number of non-Saudi women in the Kingdom.

“There are more than 10 million non-Saudis in the Kingdom. Only 3.2 million of them are women,” said the source.

The source also said Saudi women have been moving forward since women education opened up in the 70s.

“Most women in the Kingdom have at least a high school education. In 2009, Nourah Al-Faiz was assigned by a royal decree to be the Deputy Minister of Education making her reach the highest government position for women to date. The late King Abdullah had also assigned 30 women as members of the Shoura Council in 2013,” said the source.

The source also said many Saudi women were sent on scholarships abroad to pursue higher studies. The latest achievement of Saudi women is their election to 21 municipal council seats.

A royal decree allowing women to vote was issued to encourage women to be involved in politics.



Ministry issues executive rules for beauty sector

Dec 21, 2015

RIYADH —The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has issued executive rules for the women’s beauty sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A source from the ministry said the ministry was encouraging beauty services to create employment opportunities for women.

“The executive rules will regulate the beauty sector in the Kingdom and encourage women to start their own businesses and employ other women as well. The ministry cares about the health and safety of both service providers or consumers,” said the source.

The source said the ministry also insisted that beauty centers should be run conforming to the values of Saudi society.

“The beauty services must be offered in a store licensed for the purpose. The business owner cannot offer beauty services outside the store. All employees offering the service must have a health certificate stamped by the local municipality declaring they are free from infectious diseases,” said the source.

He said all beauty and makeup products must match the standards and regulations of the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority. All beauty salons and stores must have sanitizers available for the employees and customers to use, he added.

The source also said customers should know the difference between a beauty salon and a clinic.

“Beauty salons are not permitted to offer any medical services, including plastic surgery or hair removals using laser technology. The employees at these salons are not health practitioners and may not have undergone any training to deal with the human body,” said the source.

The source said the ministry will cooperate with the Ministry of Interior and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to run frequent inspection campaigns on stores offering beauty services.



Kuwaiti women turning down jobs alongside men

December 20, 2015

Kuwait: Despite their country's reputation as a socially free society, several Kuwaiti families are continuing to exert pressure on women to avoid mixing with men in professional areas.

According to a report in Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas, Kuwaiti women holding high degrees have opted not to be promoted and preferred to remain at lower positions in order to avoid moving from sections where all the employees are women to mixed departments.

The women said they did not wish to work alongside men or to deal with men in their daily operations and routines, even if it meant lower salaries and less professional benefits.

“Many Kuwaiti families exert pressure on officials and even on lawmakers to intervene and ensure their women are kept in all women-sections and not transferred to or appointed in positions where they have to deal or work alongside men,” one employee told the daily.  

Another woman said she held a university degree in accounting, but never got a promotion as her husband insisted that she works only with other women.

“I am stuck in the archive section because all the employees there are women and they have no direct contact with men,” she said. “There is no possibility for me to get a promotion because it would mean moving to a section where I would be dealing with men either as co-employees or from the public.”

However, the woman added that she was not sorry with her status.

“What my husband has imposed does not make me sad because I know there are men who do not respect their limits. Some of them even use outrageous words and expressions when their transactions are delayed. Whenever a colleague suffers such terrible situations, I am grateful that I am in the archive section,” she said.

According to another employee, several departments have an issue with the overstaffing in sections such as the archives as a result of the high number of women there, while other sections face shortage problems.




New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Womens in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Womens In Arab, Islamphobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism