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Afghan Woman, Khatera, Shot and Blinded, For Getting A Job

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 November 2020

 • Waiting for Kamala Harris to be President of US - Residents of Harris’ Ancestral Village Have Only One Wish

• Christian Girl, Arzoo. Refuses To Go Home After Sindh High Court Finds Her Marriage ‘Not Legally Valid’

• Shaik Hazeera, A Muslim Woman, Waging A Spirited Battle Against The Police And Her Harassers in Andhra Pradesh

• Saudi Court Facilitates Young Woman’s Marriage After Stripping Father’s Guardianship

• Saudi Arabia Considers Clemency For Female Activists Ahead Of G20

• Saudi Arabia Wins ITU Award For Women Empowerment

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Afghan Woman, Khatera, Shot and Blinded, For Getting A Job

November 10, 2020


Khatera, 33, an Afghan police woman who was blinded after a gunmen attack in Ghazni province, reacts after an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan October 12, 2020. Picture taken October 12, 2020. (Reuters)


A 33-year-old policewoman was left blind after gunmen attacked her in Ghazni for ‘working’ out side the home

The last thing 33-year-old Khatera saw were the three men on a motorcycle who attacked her just after she left her job at a police station in Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province, shooting at her and stabbing her with a knife in the eyes.

Waking up in hospital, everything was dark.

“I asked the doctors, why I can’t see anything? They told me that my eyes are still bandaged because of the wounds. But at that moment, I knew my eyes had been taken from me,” she said.

She and local authorities blame the attack on Taleban militants — who deny involvement — and say the assailants acted on a tip-off from her father who vehemently opposed her working outside the home.

For Khatera, the attack caused not just the loss of her sight but the loss of a dream she had battled to achieve — to have an independent career. She joined the Ghazni police as an officer in its crime branch a few months ago.

“I wish I had served in police at least a year. If this had happened to me after that, it would have been less painful. It happened too soon ... I only got to work and live my dream for three months,” she said.

The attack on Khatera, who only uses one name, is indicative of a growing trend, human rights activists say, of an intense and often violent backlash against women taking jobs, especially in public roles. In Khatera’s case, being a police officer could have also angered the Taleban.

The rights activists believe a mix of Afghanistan’s conservative social norms and an emboldened Taleban gaining influence while the United States withdraws its troops from the country is driving the escalation.

The Taleban are currently negotiating in Doha, Qatar, with the Afghan government to broker a peace deal in which many expect them to formally return to power, but progress is slow and there has been an uptick in fighting and attacks on officials and prominent women around the country.

In recent months, the Taleban have said they will respect women’s rights under Sharia law but many educated women say they have doubts. The insurgent group has opposed a reform to add mother’s names to identity cards, one of the first concrete stances they have revealed on women’s rights as they engage in the peace process.

“Though the situation for Afghan women in public roles has always been perilous, the recent spike in violence across the country has made matters even worse,” said Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan campaigner. “The great strides made on women’s rights in Afghanistan over more than a decade must not become a casualty of any peace deal with the Taliban.”

Khatera’s dream as a child was to work outside the home and after years of trying to convince her father, to no avail, she was able to find support from her husband.

But her father, she said, did not give up on his opposition.

“Many times, as I went to duty, I saw my father following me ... he started contacting the Taleban in the nearby area and asked them to prevent me from going to my job,” she said.

She said that he provided the Taleban with a copy of her ID card to prove she worked for police and that he had called her throughout the day she was attacked, asking for her location.

Ghazni’s police spokesman confirmed they believed the Taleban were behind the attack and that Khatera’s father had been taken into custody. Reuters was unable to reach him directly for comment.

A Taleban spokesman said the group was aware of the case, but that it was a family matter and they were not involved.

Khatera and her family, including five children, are now hiding out in Kabul, where she is recovering and mourning the career she lost.

She struggles to sleep, jumps when she hears a motorbike and has had to cut off contact with her extended family, including her mother, who blame her for her father’s arrest. She hopes desperately that a doctor overseas might somehow be able to partially restore her sight.

“If it is possible, I get back my eyesight, I will resume my job and serve in the police again,” she said, adding in part she needed an income to avoid destitution. “But the main reason is my passion to do a job outside the home.”


Waiting for Kamala Harris to be President of US - Residents of Harris’ Ancestral Village Have Only One Wish

Sanjay Kumar

November 10, 2020


Posters and placards of Kamala Harris dot the Thulasenthirapuram village and surrounding areas. Residents also offered special prayer and ceremonies. (Supplied)


NEW DELHI: For three days in a row Arulamozli Sudhakar has been busy making colorful rangoli designs on the floor outside her house, interspersed with words of congratulations to US vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

“We want Harris to visit the village when she becomes the president of the US,” Sudhakar, 31, a local councilor, told Arab News.

Her friend, S. Vijyarani, agreed. “I am sure Kamala Harris is going to be the president of America, and then we would like her to come to the village and meet us,” Vijayarani told Arab News.

The village of Thulasenthirapuram in the Nagapattinam district of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu has become the center of attention since Saturday.

“Kamala Harris is one who belongs to us, and her achievement fills us with immense pride and a sense of fulfilment,” Sudhakar said.

Half-Jamaican Harris traces her Indian roots to the village, located nearly 350 km from the state capital, Chennai.

It’s the place where her grandfather, P. V. Gopalan, was born and raised before he moved to New Delhi to work with the Indian government in the 1950s.

“It’s celebration time for us. The festival of Deepawali is still a week away, but for us, the celebrations have started early. This is quite a special time for us,” Sudhakar said, talking about the Hindu festival where people decorate their houses with lanterns or diyas to ward off evil.

Thulasenthirapuram, with just 3,000 people, had never taken much interest in American politics before this year.

“We were keenly watching the counting in the US. The first day of the counting disappointed us. However, when the postal ballots began to be counted, our hopes went up,” Jayaram Sudhakar, a local civil society activist said.

He told Arab News “the villagers are planning a big celebration when Kamala Harris takes the oath. It will  be a grand celebration.”

Despite Harris’ Indian family leaving for opportunities elsewhere, her Chennai-based maternal aunt, Dr. Sarala Gopalan, visits the local temple regularly.

“A few years ago, Kamala Harris also donated 5,000 rupees ($70) to the local temple through her aunt. Her name is prominently inscribed on the temple wall,” Jayaram said.

Local priest S. Ramanan said it did not matter “whether Kamala Harris lives in the village or not. The villagers feel connected and inspired by her roots in the area.”

Outside of Thulasenthirapuram, Indians in other parts of the country reacted to Harris’ win as well.

Women’s rights and political activist Kavita Krishnan said she saw “immense political significance” in President Donald Trump’s defeat.

“It gives us hope that through the proper mobilization of working class and young people we can defeat the majoritarian forces which have taken over the nation,” Krishnan told Arab News.

Yashi Raj, from the University of Delhi, said: “I don’t want to see Harris from the prism of a woman and an Indian; for me she stands out because she stood up against wrong, she spoke against the marginalization of minorities and the suppressed.”

One debate dominating a section of the media and intelligentsia, however, is how the victory result in the US might affect the Hindu right-wing ecosystem in India.

“For India’s right-wing ecosystem, and especially for Hindu fundamentalists, the defeat of Trump is no less than a shock,” Gowhar Geelani, a Kashmiri author and analyst, told Arab News.

“It won’t be easy for them to get away with Islamophobia, demonization and caricaturing of Muslims in India and Kashmir,” the Srinagar-based political commentator added.

Before being elected, both the incoming president, Joe Biden, and his running mate Harris had voiced concerns over the political marginalization of Kashmiris and violence against Indian Muslims elsewhere in the country.

“While the political class, civil society and human rights actors in Jammu and Kashmir are happy that Biden and Harris are now at the helm of affairs in the US, expectations about the immediate relief and conflict resolution is premature,” Geelani said.

He added that the victory of the Democrats would “offer some hope” for Kashmiris.

“It has meant some joy for the people in Kashmir after 15 months of mental and digital siege,” he said.

Delhi-based political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay agreed, and added that there was “a sense of dismay” among the ruling right-wing forces.

“I am sensing a certain amount of dismay at the result among the right-wing forces,” Mukhopadhyay, who has written a biography on India’s premier, Narendra Modi, told Arab News.

“They fear a strong anti-polarizing discourse in the US would eventually lead to an eclipse of the large number of populist leaders, including Modi. There are worries that it may influence Indian politics,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Dr. Hilal Ahmed of New Delhi-based think-tank, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said that the “electoral victory of the Democrats is significant in a way that it would force the ultra-nationalists all over the world to refashion their political rhetoric.”

However, a ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader called the comparison far-fetched.

“Narendra Modi came to Delhi driven by the power of hope. He represents the aspirations of the people. His continued popularity shows that people don’t see him from the prism of ideology or religion, but the prism of hope,” BJP youth leader Pappu Nirala told Arab News.


Christian Girl, Arzoo. Refuses To Go Home After Sindh High Court Finds Her Marriage ‘Not Legally Valid’

Ishaq Tanoli

10 Nov 2020


Arzoo Raja flanked by police in Karachi, Pakistan, with Ali Azhar on far right. | Sindh government


KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed police to take action against those responsible for an underage marriage after a medical board confirmed that young Arzoo was around 14 years of age.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha sent Arzoo Fatima back to a shelter home after she refused to go with her parents reiterating that she contracted marriage and changed religion of her own free will.

The bench observed that prima facie it was not possible for her to enter into a legally valid marriage with Ali Azhar under the Sindh Marriages Restraint Act 2013 since she was under 18.

The lawyer for the petitioner girl insisted that the marriage was in accordance with federal law.

Medical board says girl is 14; her lawyer’s argument is that the marriage was in accordance with federal law

However, the bench said that it might consider the issue at another time and appropriate forum whether the federal law can prevail over the provincial law after the 18th Amendment.

At the outset of the hearing, the girl was produced again before the bench from the shelter home and the judges asked her whether she was forced in any way to convert from Christianity to Islam.

The petitioner categorically stated that she converted to Islam of her own free will.

The bench said that since on the last hearing, the girl also stated that she had not been kidnapped by any party, but entered into marriage of her own free will, the investigating officer of the case was directed to record the statement of the girl under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code within three days.

A five-member special medical board, constituted on a court order to determine the age of the petitioner, informed the bench in its report that “as per [bone] ossification and physical appearance, the age of Mst. Arzoo D/O Raja Lal is to be between fourteen to fifteen years nearer to (14) years”.

The bench said it also noted that according to the birth certificate, ‘B’ form issued by National Database and Registration Authority and the school certificate as well as the affidavit of her father the petitioner was born on July 31, 2007.

“It is apparent that the petitioner is under the age of 18. This being the case, prima-facie it was not possible for her to enter into a legally valid marriage with Ali Azhar under the Sindh Marriages Restraint Act 2013 and as such cannot return to him,” the bench in its order said.

When the girl was asked whether she wanted to go with her parents or to shelter home, she replied that she was not willing to go to either of them.

Under these circumstances, the bench observed that it was left with no option but to send her back to the Panah shelter home and directed it to ensure her schooling, welfare and safety.

“Prima-facie it would appear that an offence has been committed under the Sindh Marriages Restraint Act and thus, the IO is directed to add such relevant sections to the challans and carry out full investigation into this matter,” it said and added that all those persons concerned in this underage marriage were also proceeded with in accordance with law and the girl’s father had already named those involved in the juvenile’s marriage in his comments filed before the bench.

The bench also ruled that the petitioner would not be allowed to meet her alleged husband at the shelter home and adjourned the matter till Nov 23 when the Anti-Violent Crime Cell SSP and the IO of the case would appraise it about further investigations.

The bench made it clear that no person involved in the underage marriage should be protected in any way and after proper investigation such persons may be proceeded in accordance with law if found in breach thereof.

The court order said, “In the meantime, while investigating this case, the police shall act strictly in accordance with law and shall not cause any harassment to any party.”

Initially, Arzoo petitioned the SHC seeking a restraining order against the registration of a kidnapping case against her spouse, in-laws and others by her family at the Frere police station. On Oct 27, the bench had restrained the Frere police from making any arrest and directed the Preedy SHO to provide protection to the couple.

However, the parents of the girl submitted that she was 13 and forcibly converted to Islam after being abducted. Thereafter, the incident of alleged abduction, conversion and underage marriage had sparked protests from human rights bodies.

Subsequently, the provincial law officer filed an application in the SHC seeking placement of the girl in the care of a shelter home to ensure her safety and protection.


Shaik Hazeera, A Muslim Woman, Waging A Spirited Battle Against The Police And Her Harassers in Andhra Pradesh

Gali Nagaraja

8th November 2020

Amaravati: Shaik Hazeera, a 30-year-old Muslim woman of Rayachoti in Andhra Pradesh’ YSR Kadapa district, is waging a spirited battle against the police and her harassers allegedly backed by the local YSRC lawmaker.

The police framed Hazeera, an anganwadi worker, in a case by the local police, charging her with criminal conspiracy—punishable with death under section-120 (B) —along with the several other sections of the IPC.

A video she posted on facebook , narrating how she was being harassed by the followers of the MLA with an appeal to Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy to come to her rescue apparently incurred the wrath of the police. The video showed her asking whether it is fair and appropriate on the part of the police to invoke conspiracy charges against her for posting a video on the facebook. She said she had to take to the social media to explain her version on the social media posts of the lawmaker’s followers assassinating her character.

“The son of the local market yard chairman has been harassing me with sexual advances. When I resisted, the harasser  and his men indulged in character assassination against me.

Arbitrary action

The police failed to act on my complaint, but arbitrarily slapped a conspiracy case against me”, Hazeera, a divorcee, told this writer.

Subsequently, the anganwadi centre where Hazeera works was set on fire a few days later. And, her house was raided and her family members were manhandled by unknown persons. Hazeera suspects the hand of the market yard chairman, a key follower of the lawmaker and his son behind the arson. The police failed to respond on the excess of the market yard chairman, she alleges.

Hazeera moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court and got a stay, restraining the police from proceeding against her in the case. “In the meantime, there shall be interim stay of all further proceedings as the offences punishable under the 500, 501, 120 (B) & 506 are all non-cognizable offences and police cannot register the crime for the said offences—), high court judge Justice M. Satyanarayana observed in his ruling on October 1. As the stay was in force for two weeks since the date of its granting by the court, Hazeera fears the police may arrest her at any time.

Fearing loss of job

In the meantime, Hazeera received a show-cause notice from the district Collector through the Project Director, Women and Child Welfare department asking why she should not be removed from job on grounds of “dereliction of duties”.

The charges framed against her in the show-cause notice  include diversion of food material from her Anganwadi centre, absconding from duties, failure to produce 90 percent attendance of children in 3-6 years age group at the centre, among others.

Hazeera is feeding her aged mother and supporting education for her two sons with a monthly allowance of Rs 10,000 which she earns as an Anganwadi teacher. She suspects that the MLA at the instance of her harassers is behind the Collector’s show-cause notice to remove her from the job.

“I will find it very difficult to feed my family without the job”, Hazeera lamented


Saudi Court Facilitates Young Woman’s Marriage After Stripping Father’s Guardianship

November 8, 2020

RIYADH — A court in Saudi Arabia facilitated the marriage of a young woman after stripping off the guardianship of her father who rejected many of the marriage proposals that came her way.

The judge transferred the woman’s guardianship to get her married with a young man, who had proposed marriage to her. The ruling came following a complaint lodged by the woman claiming that her father had rejected several proposals made by young men to marry her.

The Ministry of Justice stated that the court completed the legal procedures within five days that resulted in her marriage after filing of the adl lawsuit by the woman.

Adl is a lawsuit by a woman against her guardian for obstructing her marriage. This was in line with the regulations issued earlier by the Supreme Judiciary Council to expedite adjudication of adl lawsuits.

In the lawsuit, the young woman alleged that her father refused to get her married with a number of young men, who had on various occasions, had proposed marriage.

In the petition, the woman urged the court to transfer her guardianship to the judge, paving the way for her marriage with the current suitor.

The woman’s father, the defendant, failed to attend the court session, while the young suitor was present who testified in the court that he was willing to marry her.

Accordingly, the court transferred the guardianship to the Shariah authority, represented by the judge, and upheld the validity of their marriage.

In the Kingdom, there have been several cases where young women have approached the courts for help in getting married. The woman may go to the local court and file an adl lawsuit against her guardian.

The judge would first try to reconcile between the woman and her guardian. If the judge fails to reconcile the two, then the judge will suggest to the guardian that he transfers the guardianship of the woman to another blood relative.

If the guardian rejects the suggestion, then the judge himself assumes the guardianship of the woman. This is in line with article 33 of the Legal Procedures Law that allows civil courts to look into cases of women who do not have a guardian to marry them or cases of guardians who prevent them from getting married.


Saudi Arabia considers clemency for female activists ahead of G20

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

10 Nov 2020

Saudi Arabia is considering clemency for jailed female activists ahead of its hosting of the G20 summit this month, the Saudi ambassador to the UK has said.

The kingdom has been under growing pressure on its human rights record ahead of the summit, which is to be held virtually on 21 and 22 November. This includes the fate of a group of women who were prominent in the campaign for the right to drive. One of the themes of the G20 is women’s empowerment.

Speaking to the Guardian, Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said the Saudi courts had found the women guilty of more than advocating the right to drive, but that a debate was under way in the foreign ministry about whether their continued detention was causing Saudi Arabia so much political damage that it was not worthwhile.

It is rare for senior diplomats to give an insight into internal debates within the often secretive court.

“The G20, does it offer an opportunity for clemency? Possibly. That is a judgment for someone other than me,” he said. “People ask: is it worth the damage it is causing you, whatever they did? That is a fair argument to make and it is a discussion we have back at home within our political system and within our ministry.

“There is a variety of views. Some people say it doesn’t matter what other people think of us, what is important is to do what is right for our country, and if people knowingly break our laws they should be punished according to those laws. Other people say it isn’t worth it, let them out, let them live their lives and ignore them.”

One of the jailed women, Loujain al-Hathloul has been on hunger strike in Al-Hayer high security prison since 26 October in protest at her conditions there. A UN women’s rights committee expressed alarm last week at her deteriorating health.

Hathloul was arrested with nine other women’s rights advocates in May 2018, months before women were finally granted the right to drive. Her family, including her sister, claim she has been tortured. At least five of those arrested remain in jail.

The ambassador said there was merit in the arguments both for and against clemency.“We are definitely moving in a different direction, but we are not a western nation and people need to understand that some of our beliefs are different,” he said.

Hathloul’s sister Lina dismissed the ambassador’s remarks, saying: “This is simply a PR stunt, again. Loujain and most of the jailed Saudi activists have not been convicted. Its been nearly three years and they are still arbitrarily and illegally detained.”

The ambassador also said he hoped the G20 meeting would adopt a long-term programme of post-Covid debt relief for the world’s poorest countries.

Saudi Arabia has also been hit by Covid’s impact on economic activity and the fall in the oil price and private sector investment. The government’s budget deficit is predicted to widen to 12.8% of GDP this year from 4.5% in 2019, and Saudi officials acknowledge privately that the government’s image has been a factor in the drop in investment.

The death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, led to international outrage over what the CIA and other western intelligence agencies concluded was an assassination ordered by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh said Saudi agents had killed him in a botched extradition operation.

The G20 meeting had been intended as a showcase for a modernising and open Saudi Arabia as world leaders arrived in Riyadh, but will now be a virtual summit and may not last the two days allocated. It will also be one of the last international set-pieces for Donald Trump, a close ally of Prince Mohammed.

The Saudi government sent a message of congratulations to Joe Biden on Sunday. The US president-elect has promised to review US-Saudi relations, including Washington’s support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen.

US dependence on Saudi oil has fallen markedly as a result of domestic shale gas production, but the kingdom’s political stability is still a key US concern.

“Our GDP is linked to the price of oil,” the ambassador said. “If oil prices were high we would be less inclined to embrace reform of our economy, [but] oil is on its way out either because it is finite, or due to climate change

“We are trying to develop economies that are not so reliant on oil. We have got to try because if Saudi Arabia collapses economically it collapses politically, and that is a bigger disaster than most people are aware of.”

Saudi ambitions for a debt package for low-income countries may be dashed by the virtual format and disagreements between G20 members, primarily China and the EU, over the length of the commitment.

The ambassador said: “We will sadly miss that opportunity for two leaders to pull each other aside and have a quick chat. It may make the communique a bit less specific than we would like. It may have to be more pre-agreed than normal.”


Saudi Arabia wins ITU award for women empowerment

November 7, 2020

RIYADH — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia won a global award for empowering women, in the sector of communications and information technology for the Year 2020.

The award was accorded to the Kingdom by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Such achievement highlighted the ongoing support for the women’s role, in all domains, reflecting the wise leadership keenness on promoting the new women generation contribution.

Their contribution would bolster the drive of the national development, in the context of the National Shift Program as well as the ambitious anticipations of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. — SPA




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