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Afghan Women Illegally Forced Into 'Virginity Tests': Independent Human Rights Commission

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 October 2020

   Dr. Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi, Appointed Assistant Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council

•  Participation of Women in World’s Floral Shows Highlights Pakistan’s Soft Image, Says Farah Hamid Khan

•  Conversions of Hindu Girls in Sindh:  In Some Cases, It Has a Degree of Willingness On The Part Of the Girl: Senator

•  Malaysian Court sets Dec 16 For Hearing on Woman’s Religious Status, Who Was Born to a Muslim Father and a Buddhist Mother

•  Muslim Man Denied German Citizenship for Refusing to Shake Woman’s Hand

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Afghan Women Illegally Forced Into 'Virginity Tests': Independent Human Rights Commission

OCTOBER 19, 2020

By Stefanie Glinski


A girl looks on among Afghan women lining up to receive relief assistance in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, June 11, 2017. Photo: Reuters


KABUL (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women in Afghanistan are being forced to undergo so-called virginity tests, more than two years after a law requiring consent was introduced, researchers said on Thursday.

The test involves a doctor performing an examination to identify whether the hymen - the thin tissue that may partially cover the vagina - is intact, and has been condemned by the United Nations as “painful, humiliating and traumatic”.

A study by Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission found forced gynecological examinations were still being conducted without the consent of the patient or a court order, as required by a 2018 law.

The Commission interviewed 129 women across Afghanistan and found 92% of tests were performed without consent or a court order.

Most of the victims were prisoners, while nine were under police surveillance. Just nine said they had agreed to the examination and one said she had received a court order, said the Commission, which wants the tests to be banned completely.

“Afghan women have always been victims of violence, with women often mistreated due to crimes committed by men,” said chairwoman Shaharzad Akbar.

“Compulsory gynaecological examinations are one of the types of violence that have been perpetrated against Afghan women and violate their human dignity by humiliating and insulting them.”

Global health and women’s rights organisations have called for the practice to be banned, with the World Health Organization calling it a “violation of the victim’s human rights.

Medical experts say the test does not prove whether a girl or woman has had sex as the hymen can be torn during physical activity or use of a tampon. Some girls are born without a hymen.

Yet it remains widespread in some countries, including Indonesia, where women applying to the police are often required to undergo tests for “mental health and morality reasons”.

In Iraq, Yazidi women who had been kidnaped by the Islamic State were routinely tested by Kurdish officials until 2016.

Lyla Schwartz, a psychologist who set up a mental health initiative after working with young Afghan women forced to undergo testing, said they were often used to prove intercourse outside of marriage.

“Girls and women feel assaulted and violated – and girls who may have endured traumatic experiences and undergo testing feel assaulted yet again,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is degrading and serves to retraumatise the assault survivor.”

Fatimeh, a woman living in detention who underwent a forced test, said she was “shocked” to discover she had been referred.

“I felt humiliated and insulted. I will never forget the experience,” Fatimeh, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told the researchers.


Dr. Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi, Appointed Assistant Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council

October 20, 2020


Dr. Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi


Dr. Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi, an academic who specializes in economics and health management, has been appointed the assistant speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council.

She is the first woman to assume a leadership position in the consultative body. Al-Ahmadi was also part of the first batch of women to be elected to the Shoura Council seven years ago.

Al-Ahmadi obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics at King Saud University in 1986. She did a master’s in health administration from Tulane University in the US in 1989.

Al-Ahmadi did a Ph.D. in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh in the US in 1995. She is the director general of the women’s branch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA).

Al-Ahmadi is also a professor of health services administration at IPA.

She is a member of the board of trustees of the Riyadh Economic Forum, the editorial board of the Journal of Public Administration and the Scientific Council of IPA, and a board member of the Saudi Management Association.

Al-Ahmadi also serves as an evaluator at the Sheikh Khalifa Government Excellence Program. She is a visiting fellow at the National Primary Care Research and Development Center of the University of Manchester, UK.

During her tenure at the Shoura Council as a member, she served in several committees such as the economic and energy committee, health and environmental affairs, and the Fifth Parliamentary Friendship Committee.

Al-Ahmadi is also a member of the advisory board of the Center for Promising Research for Social Research and Women’s Studies at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.

She has represented Saudi Arabia at several regional and international conferences and seminars.

Al-Ahmadi has authored many research papers published in several scientific journals.

Commenting on her appointed as assistant speaker of the Shoura Council, she said the decision showed the Saudi leadership’s keenness to boost women’s role in the decision-making process.


Participation of Women in World’s Floral Shows Highlights Pakistan’s Soft Image, Says Farah Hamid Khan

October 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD -: Pakistani women had highlighted the soft image of the country among world’s states through participating in various international floral exhibitions and competitions, said Secretary Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Farah Hamid Khan.

She said that Pakistani women had also proved their metal with demonstrating their abilities in creative work at international floral shows and exhibits. Such events were very healthy, social, creative and admirable activities for women of the society, she further said.

Farah Hamid was addressing as chief guest to an annual general body meeting (AGM) titled ‘Madre Nature’ organised by Floral Art Society of Pakistan Orchid Club Islamabad at Marriott Hotel.

The society held a competition of floral art in which designers from all over the country contributed and presented their creative work. The competition was held in three classes titled ‘Foliage Artistry,’ ‘Waxed Beauty’ and ‘Carved by Nature.’ The participants made innovative exhibits in all classes.

The president of the club Shandana Bangash on the occasion also gave a demonstration in which she made five creative, artistic and innovative exhibits.

Later, the chief guest distributed prizes and trophies between the winners of the competition.

The AGM was attended by women FASP members and others belonging to the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad.


Conversions of Hindu Girls in Sindh:  In Some Cases, It Has a Degree of Willingness On The Part Of the Girl: Senator

Kalbe Ali

20 Oct 2020

ISLAMABAD: The head of the parliamentary committee on forced religious conversions said on Monday that most cases of forced conversion “have some degree of willingness on the part of the girl.”

Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar was speaking to the press alongside committee member MNA Lal Chand Malhi and civil society activist from Tharparkar Krishan Sharma, following a recent visit by the committee to parts of Sindh where forced conversions of young Hindu girls have been reported.

The committee has said that the state has not fulfilled its responsibility to protect religious minorities from forced conversions.

When asked about the definition of forced conversions, Senator Kakar told Dawn there are several definitions of forced conversion, and the subject was debated by the committee at length.

“Although conversion to seek a better lifestyle is also considered forced conversion, economic reasons can be considered exploitation and not force, as eventually it is after consent,” he said.

Head of Senate body says most cases ‘have some degree of willingness’

He added that there was a thin line between consent and exploitation, and went on to say that the conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh could not be considered forced.

“The committee, which included members from other religious as well, did not find any trace of kidnapping and illegal confinement of Hindu girls who later came to give statements in court,” he said.

During the committee’s visit, members held public meetings in Sukkur and Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, as well as a meeting with senior officials in the Sindh government in Karachi. Meetings were held with the families of victims of forced conversions, officials and accused groups.

Mr Malhi said that around 200 members of the Hindu community participated in a public meeting in Sukkur while around 800 people attended the meeting in Mirpur Mathelo.

Senator Kakar also said that people who “encourage girls from the Hindu community to move out and marry according to their own wishes are not as liberal about their own daughters.” He said people facilitate the elopement of girls and boys and then present the girls as converts in court.

He said the worst part of the situation was that the family’s “pain and shame” were not taken into consideration.

“If we all start taking the families into confidence and devise a mechanism to console them, the cases of forced conversions will decline,” he said.

Senator Kakar claimed there were no forced conversions, saying that most incidents began with willingness in the form of chats or some other form of communication.

”What we observed is that the majority of girls and boys had secretly decided to elope and marry,” he said, adding: “But that was because the family of the two would not accept them as life partners.”

Mr Malhi said the problem was the established role of some powers that facilitated such couples to run away and presented them in court under their custody.

He said: “Those who run away from their homes should be provided state protection for some time so that the girl may finalise her decision.”

Senator Kakar suggested introducing a new marriage rule that includes the mandatory presence of a vali at the time of marriage and the establishment of shelters managed by the district administration to house underage girls who wanted to get married, in order to clear the confusion between force and consent.

The most vulnerable districts for forced conversions are Sanghar, Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur and Mirpurkhas. There have been negligible reported cases from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while a few cases involving Christians have been reported in Punjab.

Mr Malhi said that people such as Mian Mithu and Pir Sarhandi house girls and manage the system to keep the girl away from her family. He said there was no evidence that they were backed by an authority, political power or state organ.

Mr Sharma, an activist, said there are two kinds of forced conversions, the first involving kidnapping and illegal confinement, and a second kind.

“The second kind is rampant in Sindh and that has to be taken care of by the state – this is procedural forced conversions, [in which] the whole system of the country, from the police, the courts, etc, are violating the laws and facilitating such conversions,” he said.

“When the parents present a certificate that the age of the girl is below 18 years, the police usually do not attach this document in the FIR, but we have women protection laws in the country and we need to implement them. Besides that, Pakistan is signatory to several international obligations,” he said.

Mr Sharma said there has to be a law stating that the minimum age for religious conversion is 18, which is also the marriageable age in Sindh.

“The courts too should take note of marriages of girls below the age of 18 years,” he said.

He said that, as a civil rights activist, he believes there should be no role of religion in a marriage between two people.

“Marriage is a civil contract and it should be looked at separately from a religious issue, and people from two different religions can live together following their own faith,” he said.

Asked if there have been any cases of Hindu men converting to Islam, Senator Kakar said there have been several cases of young men converting for various reasons.

“We believe that converting due to any reason, including economic hardship, social pressure, etc, are all incorrect. But conversion with free will after proper understanding is justified,” he said.

He said there had been a case of a Hindu boy who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim girl he had known for some time. “This case was reported while we were holding a public hearing in Mirpur Mathelo,” he said.

Mr Sharma said that boys also face social pressure from their families and such conversion ceremonies are usually held in a local mosque or seminary, where they receive financial support.

The parliamentary committee will also meet with the Council of Islamic Ideology to discuss cases where a Hindu girl wishes to return to her family after expressing consent to a marriage with a Muslim in court.


Malaysian Court sets Dec 16 For Hearing on Woman’s Religious Status, Who Was Born to a Muslim Father and a Buddhist Mother

October 20, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The nine-member Federal Court bench will convene on Dec 16 to hear an appeal by a woman for a declaration that she is a not a Muslim.

Selangor state assistant legal adviser Siti Fatimah Talib said the new date was fixed today following case management before deputy registrar Azniza Mohd Ali.

The state government and the Selangor Religious Council are respondents in the suit brought by Rosliza Ibrahim, while the Federal government is brought in as a friend of the court to assist the judges in the case.

The hearing was vacated on Oct 6 after a lawyer appearing for the council came in close contact with a minister who tested positive for Covid-19.

Rosliza, who was born to a Muslim father but raised as a Buddhist by her Buddhist mother, has taken the position that the Islamic laws of Selangor do not apply to her and that the shariah court has no jurisdiction over her.

She said it had been presumed that she had been born a Muslim, based on an assumption of a valid marriage between her parents and an assumption that her late mother had converted to Islam.

Rosliza said she had gone to the religious authorities in 10 other states and obtained confirmation that her parents did not have any records of her mother converting to Islam or that a Muslim marriage had taken place.

The High Court in Shah Alam dismissed her suit in April 2017 on grounds that the evidence she produced was insufficient and her remedy was the shariah court .

The Court of Appeal in 2018 upheld the High Court ruling.

Early this year, the Federal Court allowed Rosliza’s application for leave to appeal based on two legal questions.

They were whether the civil court had the exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether a person is or is not a Muslim under the law, and whether any information contained in the identity card is conclusive proof that one is a Muslim.

The legal and religious fraternities are closely following Rozliza’s case as it is an opportunity to revisit a 2007 case involving Lina Joy, a Muslim woman who sought, but failed, to be allowed to change her religion from Islam to Christianity.

The Federal Court had ruled that Lina must first obtain a certificate from the shariah court to leave the religion before presenting it to the National Registration Department for the word “Islam” to be removed from her identity card.


Muslim Man Denied German Citizenship for Refusing to Shake Woman’s Hand

October 20, 2020

A Muslim man who passed the German naturalisation test but refused to shake hands with a female official has been denied citizenship.

The Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg (VGH) ruled on Friday that someone who rejects a handshake due to a “fundamentalist conception of culture and values” because they see women as “a danger of sexual temptation” was thereby rejecting “integration into German living conditions.”

The 40-year-old Lebanese doctor, who came to Germany in 2002, said he refused to shake women’s hands for religious reasons.

He studied medicine in Germany and now works as a senior physician in a clinic. He applied for citizenship through naturalisation in 2012, for which he signed a declaration of loyalty to the German constitution and against extremism. He passed the naturalisation test with the best possible score.

Nevertheless, he was not granted citizenship because he refused to shake hands with the responsible official when the naturalisation certificate was handed over in 2015. The woman therefore withheld the certificate and rejected the application.

The VGH described a handshake as a common nonverbal greeting and farewell ritual, which is independent of the sex of the involved parties, adding that the practice goes back centuries.

The judge found that the handshake also has a legal meaning, in that it symbolises the conclusion of a contract.

The handshake is therefore “deeply rooted in social, cultural and legal life, which shapes the way we live together,” the judge said.

The court found that anyone who refuses to shake hands on gender-specific grounds is in breach of the equality enshrined in the German constitution.

In addition, the man’s refusal in this case had the effect of lending validity to a “Salafist perspective” on the social ramifications of relations between men and women.

The handshake ruling was also handed down despite health officials cautioning against handshaking right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. The judge said he was convinced that the practice would survive the pandemic.




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