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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 Sept 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Aceh Teen’s Suicide Linked to Sharia Practice

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Sept 2012 

 Islamic Dressed Sex Workers Worry Malawi Muslim Community

 Sharia Marriages for Girls of 12 and the Religious Courts Subverting British Law

 Secret Marriages Rising In Iraq: Women and Children Are the Losers

 Pregnant Woman Escapes Syria on Foot

 Friends Mourn Four Young Skateboarders Killed In Afghan Suicide Blast

 Complainant’s Counsel Objects to Rimsha’s Absence

 Respect's Only MP Failed To Speak To the Muslim Women Who Voted Him In

 As Christian Girl’s Case Fades, Likelihood of Change of Pakistan Blasphemy Laws Dims

 Maldives Police Shut Down Beauty Salon over Suspected Prostitution

 Maldives H C Rules Circumstantial Evidence Sufficient Proof for Child Sexual Offences

 Sister Gives Bone Marrow, Provides Lifeline to Thalassaemic Twins

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Islamic Dressed Sex Workers Worry Malawi Muslim Community





Aceh Teen’s Suicide Linked to Sharia Practice

September 14 2012

The apparent suicide of a teenage girl in Aceh should prompt officials to rethink harsh penalties imposed by Sharia, a member of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) says.

The dead girl, identified as 16-year-old PE, was at a concert in Langsa, Aceh, on Sept. 3 when Sharia police apprehended her during a raid and harangued her in public for allegedly engaging in prostitution.

PE’s story was picked up the next day by local media outlets, some of whom identified the girl by her full name and repeated the allegations of the Sharia police.

The body of PE was discovered in her room on Sept. 6. She apparently committed suicide by hanging herself.

“This incident has created a good opportunity for the leaders of Aceh and the rest of Indonesia to rethink the use of moralistic laws,” Komnas Perempuan commissioner Andy Yentriyani said on Thursday.

Sharia, which was introduced in Aceh in 2002, imposes strict limits on what people are allowed to do in public.

One statute, for example, prohibits Khilwat, or public displays of affection between unmarried men and women. Other laws forbid maisir (gambling) and khamar (the consumption of alcoholic beverages).

People allegedly violating Aceh’s Sharia laws are tried at Sharia courts, which are authorized to impose judgements and administer sentences, which are typically executed after Friday prayers outside of mosques.

Most of the punishments levied by the Sharia courts involve public whippings.

According to Feri Kusuma, who heads a watchdog desk at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the application of Sharia in Aceh was prone to abuse.

For example, Feri said, Sharia in Aceh has never applied equally to all residents.

Feri told The Jakarta Post that Aceh Police officers and Indonesian Military troops often tagged along with Sharia police on raids to ensure that their peers were not arrested.

“As a result, not a single police officer or TNI member has ever been whipped,” Feri said.

Aceh’s Sharia police also allegedly enforced laws arbitrarily, Feri said. For instance, hundreds of women were censured by Sharia police in 2010 for wearing tight pants or jeans in Banda Aceh.

The Sharia police told the women to be “ashamed”, ordering them to change into more modest clothing, Feri said.

Andy took exception to such intervention. “Clothes are part of a person’s right to expression. It’s dangerous when a government declares that a dress code reflects a person’s character.”

The Sharia police have also allegedly abused their authority, as in January 2010, when Sharia police detained and raped a 20-year-old college student in East Aceh who was on her way to pick up her younger sister from school.

In another example, Sharia police detained 60 people after a punk rock concert on Dec. 10, shaving the Mohawks of the men arrested, claiming that their hairstyle insulted Islamic tradition.

The women who were arrested were given bob haircuts by the Sharia police.

The punks were then required to bathe in a nearby lake and perform communal prayers.

All of these incidents should serve as a wake-up call for the government to reform Sharia in Aceh, Feri said.

“The laws in Aceh should be revised so that they don’t end up violating human rights, which is very often what they do,” Feri said.



Islamic dressed sex workers worry Malawi Muslim community

By Nyasa Times Reporter

September 14, 2012   

Sex workers in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre have now resorted to putting on Islamic headscarf in a bid to attract new clients a development that has attracted concerns among Muslims community.

Nyasa Times has established that most of them are doing this to attract levellers mostly Asian Muslims and other libidous prominent Malawian Muslim clerics who feel ashamed in dating bareheaded ladies.

The Islamic dressed sex workers are also becoming a hit among non Muslims levellers as they find it as an opportunity to test ‘the hard-nut-to crack’ Muslim chicks.

A bar tender at one of the drinking joints at Kamba in Blantyre confirmed  to Nyasa Times that such ladies are mostly targeting ‘amwenye’ or Asians who only patrol the drinking joints to look for prostitutes.

“It’s true we have been seeing some well known prostitutes putting on Islamic dress sometimes just to attract their Asian clients and most of these girls comes from as a far as Chigumula and Mbayani.”

The bar tender says interestingly such Hijab dressed women rarely don’t take alcohol and pretend that they are just escorting friends to the drinking joints when a new client approaches them.

However, this is not a new development to the Moslem community in the country. Radio Islam has been airing panel discussion program condemning such behaviours among ‘women who frequent public places’.

During the program it was discovered the practice is also rife in Mzuzu and Lilongwe cities however not restricted to ladies alone.

It was revealed that even some men putting on skull-cap and nkanjo (long veil) are seen eating pork at drinking joints boozing.

But during the program, the panellists threatened to deal with any prostitute and men patronizing drinking joints in an Islamic gear.

A prominent Muslim clerk has confided in Nyasa Times that they have now launched an underground team to investigate the issue and deal with those who are putting to shame the reputation of Islam religion.



Sharia Marriages for Girls of 12 and the Religious Courts Subverting British Law


13 September 2012

The protection of children is one of the essential principles of civilised society. Yet the duty to safeguard the vulnerable seems in danger of being undermined out of sensitivity towards some minorities.

This disturbing trend has been highlighted this week by revelations that, during an undercover investigation, two imams from Islamic centres, one based in Peterborough, the other in East London, expressed their willingness to marry an under-age Muslim girl — aged just 12 — to a man in his 20s under the aegis of Sharia law.

It is right, of course, that we respect freedom of religion, but surely not when basic laws and morality are being flouted in this way. It is reported that one of the imams, in trying to justify his actions, said that he would not have married the girl unless she had given her consent.

But a 12-year-old cannot consent to a marriage. It is precisely because children lack the experience, judgment and maturity to make such decisions that we have laws against marriage and sex under the age of 16.

Any failure of the authorities to uphold these laws, because of an apparent clash with another culture, is an example of the politically correct establishment failing vulnerable children.

Unfortunately, police and local authorities sometimes appear to allow excessive deference to cultural considerations to prevent them from acting to stop abuses.

There is sometimes a tendency to defer to the most traditional practices within a culture, rather than trying to assist the modernisers. The result is that those who need most help are often neglected.

This most recent case demonstrates once again how women's and girls' rights are subverted under Sharia.

This applies in areas including child custody after a couple split up — when the father is often given the right to keep the children without adequate consideration of the child's welfare — and, even worse, domestic violence.

Imagine you are woman living in London, when your husband comes home after a bad day at work and decides to take out his frustrations on you, battering you so savagely that you end up in hospital.

Ordinarily, you would call the police, report the attack and he would be charged with assault and possibly jailed, and you would be afforded some protection.

But if you and your husband are Muslim, it's possible that you will be pressured by family and friends or community leaders into allowing this violence to be dealt with in a local Islamic Sharia court where an imam will adjudicate.

There, the result may well be that the aggressor is given no more than a mild reprimand, or just told to go to an anger management class, while his bruised wife is often required to go back and give her husband 'another chance'.

She will remain trapped in an abusive home without any of the protection, help or support available to other women. The misery that can be caused by Sharia law is illustrated by tragic cases such as this, which I have come across countless times during my work campaigning on this issue.

The women insist on remaining anonymous for fear of reprisals — another indicator of the climate of intimidation that sometimes exists. 

It's a disturbing picture in a country in which equality for all is meant to be a guiding principle of the justice system.

That great ideal stretches back centuries to the Magna Carta, requiring that everyone should be treated equally under the law, regardless of their wealth or status.

More recently we have enshrined our commitment to the ideals of gender equality and the eradication of gender discrimination.

In recent years, however, the concept of judicial equality has come under severe pressure, due to the increasing official acceptance of Islamic Sharia law.

No longer do we have a single legal code in our society.

Instead, alongside our own law, there is now effectively a parallel quasi-legal system operating within some Muslim communities.

Sharia law, imported from theocracies like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, first began to be used here in a strictly limited form, dealing mainly with narrow issues like Islamic financial contracts. But as the Muslim population has grown and the pervasive creed of multiculturalism has become ever more powerful, so Sharia law has rapidly grown in influence within some communities.

There are now estimated to be no fewer than 85 Sharia courts across the country — from London and Manchester to Bradford and Nuneaton. They operate mainly from mosques, settling financial and family disputes according to religious principles.

Recently, their remit has widened considerably, with reports from London that Sharia law has been used even to decide a case of serious criminal assault.

The courts, which also claim to cover matters such as marriage, divorce, domestic violence and child custody, take place in private and do not publish their judgments.

No society can function effectively with a parallel quasi-legal system, with some people having, in practice, drastically diminished legal rights because of their religion and their gender.

This situation also leads to open discrimination against women.

In so many ways, Sharia law treats women as second-class citizens, whether it be in inheritance rights or divorce.

According to Sharia law, for instance, a woman's word counts for only half the value of that of a man. Polygamy is also tolerated, with men allowed to take multiple wives. This attitude to women has devastating consequences for many women appearing before the Islamic courts.

One particularly disturbing case I witnessed involved a woman who had been repeatedly hospitalised by her abusive husband who was told by the Sharia courts to return to the family home, resulting in her suffering more violence.

The unfairness was compounded when her husband divorced her under civil law and married another wife from overseas, while at the same time refusing her permission to divorce him in the Sharia courts.

So she has been left in a tragic state of limbo, still 'married' to her abusive husband under Islamic law, even though he is living openly with his second wife in England. 

The British people have proved very welcoming towards immigrants and tolerant towards the changes in our society brought about by immigration.

But what people rightly cannot understand is how the state is allowing the spread of a form of law that is so inimical to all our liberal traditions.

To begin to address these problems I am introducing a Bill into Parliament which would cover all arbitration tribunals and mediated settlements, and any pseudo-courts, regardless of religion.

It would make it a criminal offence for any individual or group to pose as a proper legal court, with the full sanction of prison sentences for those who contravene this law.

The Bill would also make it easier to challenge in a civil court any settlement made in a Sharia court based on gender discrimination.

There will also be a statutory duty on police and local authorities to inform women of their rights under British law.

Such steps are vital because under Islamic law, divorce is easy for men but often a brutal obstacle course for women.

In theory, abused Muslim women can resort to the British courts.

But such a course requires a knowledge of their rights and of the English language, both of which they often lack.

Moreover, even if they are aware of their rights, they may still face intimidation from their family and their community.

In one well-documented case, outlined in a book called The Imam's Daughter — by a young writer living in Britain called Hannah Shah — a woman tried to escape abuse in her household, only to be returned to her family by a 'culturally sensitive' social worker, resulting in even worse abuse.

The woman eventually managed to escape and is now in hiding in fear for her life.

It is outrageous that this should be tolerated in Britain. Such injustice and intimidation should have no place in our society.

The cruel irony is that many Muslim women came here to escape the heavy rule of the Mullahs in their own societies, yet they now find the same oppressive conditions recreated here in what, as far as they are concerned, are courts of law.

As one Muslim woman poignantly said to me: 'I feel betrayed by Britain. I came to get away from all this and the situation is worse than in my home country.'



Secret marriages rising in Iraq: and women and children are the losers


Anecdotal evidence suggests certain types of informal marriage are on the rise in sexually conservative Iraq. Unwilling to enter more formal marriages, young Iraqi couples are entering secret relationships that some critics describe as no better than prostitution.

Informal marriages – some call them “secret marriages” - have been becoming more popular in Iraq ever since 2003, when US-led forces toppled the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In Iraq marriage comes in three basic forms. Firstly the regular, or official, kind of marriage which happens in a more standard way – the husband and wife are seen as a couple in the eyes of the law. The man is also seen as being responsible for his wife and any children they may have and the relationship is ongoing.

Up until 1959, Iraqi family law was governed by religion and tradition. After this, a new, more secular law – albeit based upon religious law and legal precedents – was established in Iraq.  

As the US State Department describes it, as part of information on how to spot a forced marriage (as opposed to an arranged one): “Iraqi law provides two legitimate bases for marriage – mutual life and procreation. There are several necessary conditions that must be fulfilled in order to validate a marriage: offer and acceptance; mutual understanding of the marriage intention; verification of two witnesses; and draft of a condition-free contract.”

And then there are the more controversial, informal forms of marriage. One is called the “mutah” marriage and another is the “misyar” marriage.

Full report at:



Pregnant woman escapes Syria on foot

By Sunita Menon

September 13, 2012

Mafraq Refugee Camp, Jordan: Cradling her two-month old baby girl, tightly wrapped in a blanket, Wafa, a 28 year-old Syrian mother looks at the aid packages handed out by the UAE Red Crescent Society at her doorstep, a faint smile dances on her lips but her eyes hold a look of despair.

She along with her two sisters and in-laws crossed over from the Syrian border to Jordan after their home in Homs was destroyed by a missile attack. The family now lives in a small house located at Al Mafraq in Jordan. “I named her Atar Al Nada,” she said, looking tenderly at her little bundle of joy that was sleeping blissfully in the arms of her mother. Wafa was seven months pregnant at the time she and her family decided to flee their home and country. “My baby was born here in Jordan. From Homs we travelled to Damascus, from there to Deraa and then to Jordan. We walked, walked and walked, there were times during our journey when we had to run. We were so scared that we would be captured and killed”.

Full report at:



Friends Mourn Four Young Skateboarders Killed In Afghan Suicide Blast

By Richard Leiby

 September 14, 2012

KABUL — It could be any skateboarding park in the United States: Kids whiz off ramps into midair, shoot up and down half-pipes and spill frequently onto the floor after failed manoeuvres.

What makes this one unique — and tragically Afghan — is the pall that hangs over some of the young skaters, who lost four of their friends Saturday to a suicide bomber their same age. The four skaters were among the seven children and two adults killed in the blast near NATO headquarters, an incident that demonstrated the Taliban’s continued ability to penetrate the well-guarded enclaves of Afghanistan’s capital.

The victims’ names were listed on a chalkboard inside the cavernous hangar where an unlikely nonprofits organization called Skateistan, established here five years ago, melds skateboarding, the arts and education for some of Afghanistan’s poorest children.

No coalition troops or foreigners were killed in Saturday’s attack, but the loss of the children has resonated among Americans and other Westerners. These, after all, were the very sort of children that the 11-year war has been waged to protect and uplift.

Full report at:



Complainant’s counsel objects to girl’s absence

 September 14, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A court in Islamabad on Friday heard the case pertaining to Rimsha Masih, a girl who had been accused of blasphemy, DawnNews reported.

During the hearing, Rao Abdul Rahim, the counsel for complainant Hammad Malik, said that the girl was on bail and asked why she did not appear for the hearing.

Rahim said “a prime minister appears before the court upon being summoned but a girl who had been accused of committing blasphemy did not”.

Upon which, the judge, addressing the complainant’s counsel, said that the accused was not as significant as the accusation that had been levelled against her.

Rahim moreover said that the Station House Office (SHO) should have taken action over the non-submission of the challan in the case.

The judge directed authorities to take action against the SHO and the investigation officer over non-submission of the challan.

Full report at:



Respect's Only MP Failed To Speak To the Muslim Women Who Voted Him In

September 13th, 2012

Respect's only MP faced women constituents last night after his controversial rape remarks and the resignation of party leader Salma Yacoob. Irna Qureshi was not impressed

George Galloway's honeymoon in Bradford appeared to be nearing its end last night, after his unsatisfactory address to members of the Bradford Muslim Women's Circle; just hours after Salma Yaqoob announced her decision to stand down as leader of the Respect Party.

Hearing him in person for the first time, I was taken by surprise when Galloway's Islamic greeting was even longer than the Muslim chairperson, Bana Gora's. Galloway had even preceded this with an impressively enunciated 'bismillah' (literally 'In the name of Allah') which traditional Muslims believe to be auspicious when recited at the start of any task. This was a taste of things to come. However, if the political maverick meant to impress with his awareness of Islam, then I remained indifferent. Actually, I felt ill at ease with Galloway's inclination to invoke the Islamic cause time and again.

Full report at:



As Christian girl’s case fades, likelihood of change of Pakistan blasphemy laws dims

September 14, 2012

Islamabad. The apparent collapse of a case against a Christian girl accused of burning pages of a Quran has given a dim ray of hope to critics of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, some of the harshest in the Muslim world.

The girl was believed to be mentally impaired, and a Muslim cleric from her neighborhood was eventually arrested for planting evidence to incriminate her. As the tables turned on her accusers, the girl was recently released on bail and whisked away in a military helicopter with her family to safety.

It was a remarkable turn of events in a country where people accused in even the flimsiest of cases of defiling Islam’s holy book or the Prophet Muhammad have few defenders. Those accused of blasphemy can be sentenced to death if convicted — assuming they are not killed first by vigilantes.

Human rights activists and others hope the girl’s case will, at the very least, help prevent further abuses of laws designed to punish people for maligning Islam. Some Islamic religious figures came to her defense, bail was granted and an accuser arrested. All steps are extremely rare, but the question is whether that will translate into deeper change.

“We need to build on that,” said Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistan researcher with Amnesty International.

Full report at:



Maldives Police Shut Down Beauty Salon over Suspected Prostitution

By Ahmed Nazeer | September 13th, 2012

Police on Wednesday night raided a beauty salon located on the third floor of the ‘Kolkatha’ building near the ‘Campus’ store in Male’ as part of an ongoing operation to target businesses and individuals with alleged links to prostitution.

The Maldives Police Service’s Intelligence Department and Serious and Organised Crime Department announced they had conducted the joint special operation after receiving information that prostitution was taking place at the salon.

According to police, two female Bangladesh nationals and a Thai woman were arrested during the raid.  Two male Bangladesh nationals and a Maldivian man were also found inside the salon at the time.

Full report at:



Maldives H C Rules Circumstantial Evidence Sufficient Proof for Child Sexual Offences

By Mariyath Mohamed | September 13th, 2012

The High Court has ruled that in cases concerning sexual offences against children where there is not sufficient evidence as specified in the law, the offence can be proven in court based on circumstantial evidence.

The unanimous ruling was passed by a panel of three judges who presiding over an appeal lodged by a defendant, who had been sentenced to 10 years in jail by the Baa Atoll Fehendhoo Magistrate Court on charges of sexual abuse involving a child.

Act number 12/2009, detailing special actions to be taken in cases of sexual offenses against children, states that a minimum of 5 out of 12 types of evidence specified in Article 47 must be presented for the crime to be proven in court.

Full report at:



Sister gives bone marrow, provides lifeline to thalassaemic twins

Anuradha Mascarenhas

Sep 14 2012

Pune: When they were barely a year old, twins Shubh and Shlokh Mhatre were diagnosed with thalassaemia major. For over two years, they had to undergo painful blood transfusions every month. Till their 11-year-old sister Shruti stepped in, donating 400 ml of her bone marrow.

On Monday, Shubh, now three-and-a-half years old, was discharged after a successful bone marrow transplant on August 19. His twin, Shlokh, received the bone marrow on May 28.

Shruti, a Class VII student at Kendriya Vidyalaya, says she was initially scared of the “injection”. “I don’t know what happened after that,” she says.

Her father Shashikant Mhatre works at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, Chakan. “We were overjoyed when we had twins after a long gap. Little did we realise what was in store,” recalls her mother Jyoti.

Full report at: