New Age Islam
Thu Nov 30 2023, 04:13 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Wed and Tortured at 13, Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Aug 2012 

 Orthodox Jews Get Glasses to Blur Out Women

 Bahrain Court Jails a Shiite Muslim for Insulting Prophet’s Wife

 Entertainers Have the Right to Discuss Religion: Veena Malik

 Pak man held for forcing Hindu girl to marry him

 Wife of kidnapped US aid worker Weinstein urges return

 Murders of Women on Rise in Pakistan; 432 Killed In Six Months

 Israeli Justice: 45-Day Jail For Killing 2 Gaza Women

 Libya: The Fight for Women's Rights Goes On

 Iranian Woman Returns Home from US Prison

 Tunisia Activists Braced To Fight for Women's Rights

 Ex-Israeli Soldier Jailed Over Deaths Of Palestinian Women

 A ‘Rich’ Village Of Widows

 Women hail landmark Games breakthrough

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Wed and Tortured at 13, Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice





Wed and Tortured at 13, Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice



KABUL, Afghanistan — When she refused to prostitute herself or have sex with the man she was forced to marry when she was about 13, officials said, Sahar Gul’s in-laws tortured her and threw her into a dirty, windowless cellar for months until the police discovered her lying in hay and animal dung.

In July, an appeals court upheld prison sentences of 10 years each for three of her in-laws, a decision heralded as a legal triumph underscoring the advances for women’s rights in the past decade. She is recovering from her wounds, physical and emotional, in a women’s shelter in Kabul.

But to many rights advocates, Sahar Gul’s case, which drew attention from President Hamid Karzai and the international news media, is the exception that proves the rule: a small victory that masks a still-depressing picture of widespread instances of abuse of women that never come to light.

Further, advocacy groups fear that even the tentative progress that has been achieved in protecting some women could be undone if the West’s focus on Afghanistan now begins to shift away as NATO troops withdraw and the international money pumped into the economy diminishes.

“If you take away that funding and pressure, it is not sustainable,” said Heather Barr, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch.

As more details of Sahar Gul’s case have come to light — including the fact that the abuse continued even as, time and again, neighbors, police officers and her family members voiced suspicions that something was wrong — it has only reinforced how vulnerable women and girls still are in Afghanistan, particularly in rural areas where under-age marriages are common and forced ones are typical.

Sahar Gul, who is now about 14, grew up in Badakhshan, a poor, mountainous province in the north. As a young child she was shuffled around after her father died, ending up with her stepbrother, Mohammad, when she was about 9. She helped with the hard work — tending cows, sheep and an orchard of walnut and apricot trees, and making dung bricks for the fire — but her stepbrother’s wife resented her presence. The woman pressured Mohammad to give Sahar Gul up for marriage after he was contacted by a man, about 30, named Ghulam Sakhi — even though she had not yet reached the legal marriage age of 16, or 15 with a father’s consent.

In effect, Ghulam Sakhi bought her: he paid at least $5,000, according to government officials and prosecutors, an illegal exchange. He drove off with Sahar Gul to his parents’ home in Baghlan, another northern province hundreds of miles away.

Ghulam Sakhi’s first wife had fled after he and his mother beat her for not bearing children, according to Rahima Zarifi, the chairwoman of Baghlan’s women’s affairs department, and the mullah in the mosque in the town in Baghlan. In his search for a new wife, there may have been a reason Ghulam Sakhi’s family looked so far afield: they intended to force her into prostitution, according to Ms. Zarifi, who followed the case closely, and officials at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul.

In Baghlan, the girl was immediately put to work cooking and cleaning, but she was able to resist consummating the marriage for weeks.

She ran away to the house of a neighbor, who alerted both the police and her husband’s family. Ghulam Sakhi’s neighbors and the police forced him to sign a letter promising not to mistreat Sahar Gul, though they let him take her back.

The warning had little effect. One day, when she complained of a headache, her mother-in-law, Siyamoi, tricked her into taking a sedative that she thought was medicine, said Mushtari Daqiq, a lawyer for the aid group Women for Afghan Women and also Sahar Gul’s lawyer.

“When she woke up in the morning, she realized she had been used by her husband,” Ms. Daqiq said.

A neighbor named Ehsanullah said that one evening last summer, as his family ate dinner, they heard screaming coming from the house. The following morning his mother called at the house. He recounted what she saw: “Sahar Gul had lost a lot of weight, her hands were covered with bruises and wounds, one of her hands was broken, but her mother-in-law was forcing her to do the laundry.” He added, “She kept her head down the whole time my mother was there.”

After a group of elders confronted Ghulam Sakhi, the screaming stopped.

Frustrated that the girl could not perform the housework they expected, the family put her in the cellar, where she slept on the floor without a mattress, her hands and feet tied with rope. She was given only bread and water to eat. She was also beaten regularly. According to Sahar Gul and Ms. Daqiq, most of the beatings were at the hand of Amanullah, Ghulam Sakhi’s elderly father.

They described grotesque crimes, accusing Amanullah of hitting Sahar Gul with sticks, biting her chest, inserting hot irons in her ears and vagina, and pulling out two fingernails.

“She was helpless,” Ms. Daqiq said. “She had no hope for her life.”

Sahar Gul’s uncle Khwaja, who lived nearby in the same province, and her stepbrother, Mohammad, tried to visit her a few times, but the family told them the girl was not home. The family then threatened Mohammad, warning that he had illegally given his sister to be married. “He had to accept and run back to Badakhshan without meeting his sister,” Khwaja said.

Then, last December, about six months after the marriage, they finally got to see her when they called at the house with two police officers and heard a voice coming from the cellar.

“In the light of our flashlight, we found Sahar Gul lying on a pile of hay,” said Shirullah, one of the police officers.

Her dress was in rags, she was barely conscious and she could not stand after weeks in the dark.

“She was constantly moaning,” Shirullah said. “She was in a horrible situation. She couldn’t move her body parts, and we carried her to the hospital in our arms.”

Ms. Zarifi and three nurses washed her and gave her soup and dates. “When she saw the food, she became very excited,” Ms. Zarifi said.

The police arrested the mother-in-law, Siyamoi, her daughter Mahkhurd and finally Amanullah, the father-in-law — who was discovered hiding in a burqa and a blanket.

The family told the police that Ghulam Sakhi was in the Afghan Army in Helmand. That was later found to be untrue, according to local residents and Afghan officials, but the claim bought enough time for him to slip away from the authorities along with his brother, Darmak. They remain at large.

With her mistreatment a big story in the Afghan news media, Mr. Karzai called for swift justice. In a district court in Kabul on May 1, the judge, speaking in front of a bank of microphones on national television, declared Sahar Gul’s three in-laws guilty.

According to neighbors and to officials who heard the in-laws’ arguments in court, they acted the way they did mostly because they felt they had paid good money for a girl who they said was not pretty, who misbehaved and who would neither work as they demanded nor bear them children.

Lawyers for the family members say that they deny beating or drugging Sahar Gul, and that her wounds were self-inflicted. They deny confining her in the cellar, and say they had no plans to send her into prostitution. The prostitution accusation was not addressed in court.

The lawyers, who were provided by the legal group Da Qanoon Ghushtonky, or Demanders of Law, which is financed by international aid, argue that the political outcry caused the trial to be rushed through without due process.

Rather than showing the lack of legal protections for women, they argued, Sahar Gul’s case underscores the weakness of Afghanistan’s still-developing legal system, one that can easily be swayed by politicians like Mr. Karzai.

Siyamoi and Mahkhurd are now 2 of 171 prisoners in a women’s prison in Kabul. On a recent morning there, the two women insisted they were innocent and railed ferociously at their accusers.

“We are being cheated by the court,” Siyamoi said. “If you think I am a criminal, why don’t you pull out my fingernails?”

A few miles away across Kabul, Sahar Gul lives in a shelter provided by Women for Afghan Women, one of seven shelters the organization has established nationally for abuse victims.

Sahar Gul played in the sun in the garden in a golden dress and purple shawl and pink bracelets, a round-cheeked, gangly girl. She had made a new friend at the shelter, a 14-year-old girl whose face was scarred by acid by a sister’s thwarted suitor.

Sahar Gul still bears the scars and bruises of her ordeal, but her caregivers said she was recovering and becoming gradually more independent. She said she had ambitions.

“I want to become a politician and stop other women suffering the same,” she said.

Now, however, rights groups fear that schools and clinics for girls may close as international money dries up and the political climate in Afghanistan becomes more religiously conservative, undermining the fragile lattice of pro-women support groups, government ministries and nongovernmental organizations as well as laws specifically created in the past few years to protect women.

A new 2009 law to eliminate violence against women was cited in the sentencing of Sahar Gul’s abusers, but the law is still barely applied, according to a United Nations report published in November, and it has not been formally adopted.

Women’s shelters are under threat, with a conservative justice minister describing them as “brothels,” while a new family law that could make it easier for abused women to divorce is being held up.

In such a climate, the fear is that Sahar Gul’s successful rescue may turn out to be an aberration rather than a new norm, and that it will not help those women whose suffering is not discovered.

“We have many cases perhaps graver than this where women are murdered,” Ms. Zarifi said. “No one hears anything about them.”

Jawad Sukhanyar contributed reporting from Kabul, and an employee of The New York Times from Baghlan Province, Afghanistan.



Orthodox Jews Get Glasses to Blur Out Women

Aug 13, 2012

LONDON: A new trend of blurred glasses in streets of Israel is proving to be a strong weapon for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who want to refrain from staring at women.

The specially-designed out-of-focus glasses are now popular among so-called 'Charedi' men in the country, the Daily Mail reported.

The anti-ogle goggles on sale in religious neighbourhoods of Jerusalem such as Mea Shearim are priced for just a few pounds and feature a sticker on the lens which makes them poorly focused when looking anywhere except for the space in the immediate vicinity.

The glasses provide clear vision for a few metres, but anything further away becomes blurry. According to some reports, the glasses are just one item in a range of 'modesty' accessories on offer in these areas.

Orthodox men can also purchase blinkers or vision-impeding hoods - as famously worn by Sephardi Rabbi Elazar Abuhatzeira, an Orthodox Sefardi rabbi and kabbalist, known among his followers as the "Baba Elazar".

The committee for purity in the camp also supplies portable screens that can be erected in an airline seat to block passing women from views and prevent men from inadvertently watching in-flight movie with scantily-clad women.

Wearers may fear they look a bit of a spectacle, but according to a report in the Maariv newspaper, the products come with a message saying they should be proud rather than embarrassed when using the items in public. In an effort to maintain their strictly devout lifestyle, the ultra-Orthodox have separated the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces in their neighborhoods.



Bahrain Court Jails a Shiite Muslim for Insulting Prophet’s Wife

12 August 2012

DUBAI: A Bahraini court on Sunday sentenced a Shiite Muslim to two years in jail for insulting a wife of Prophet Mohammed (praise be upon him), Aisha, who is revered by Sunnis, on the Internet.

The criminal court found the unnamed 19-year-old man guilty of “defaming” Aisha, the general prosecution said in a statement, describing the defendant as having “deviated thoughts.”

It said the man wrote “phrases that are too dirty and degrading to mention, defaming the mother of the believers, Aisha,” and added that a police probe led to his arrest.



Entertainers have the right to discuss religion: Veena Malik

By Yousuf Saifuddin

August 13, 2012

NEW DELHI: Veena Malik, responding to criticism of her Ramazan show ‘Astaghfar’ on Hero TV, has said that entertainers have the right to talk about their religion and has rejected the perception that entertainment and religion should be kept separate. She was speaking during an exclusive interview on Express News with Munizae Jahangir in New Delhi

On being told that entertainers talking about religion was akin to a ‘maulvi’ wanting to be a hero in the entertainment industry, she lashed out at the ‘maulvis’, saying that they do portray themselves as some sort of heroes on television, wearing gaudy clothes and makeup, entertaining viewers.

She added that religion is a very beautiful thing and everyone, no matter anywhere in the world, has the right to learn about their religion.

Flirting with the camera

“No man can look at me the way the camera looks at me because the camera makes me look really pretty. The way I flirt with the camera, I can never flirt with anyone,” said Malik.

Reflecting back upon her career as a once shy girl when she joined the entertainment industry, the bold actress said that the ‘shy girl’ will always be in her and that her first love will always be the camera.

Talking about her struggle in India’s entertainment industry, particularly the film industry, Malik said that the struggle was the same as in Pakistan but she had never shied away from hard work, although she did face opposition from certain quarters here, including the Hindu extremist lobby and Muslim community as well.

“If you talk about India, a lot of people do love me, but the fact is that being a Pakistani does offend the sentiments of a particular Hindu extremist lobby,” narrating an incident that took place while she was  shooting for a Kannada film in Bangalore, adding that during the shoot of ‘The Dirty Picture’ remake, a Hindu extremist group protested against her being cast in the movie instead of an Indian.

Malik, however, said that she had also received a lot of love in India, adding that on both sides of the border, there were people who were liberal and welcomed change, while at the same time there were those who equate patriotism with anti-India or anti-Pakistan sentiments.

‘No plans to settle in India’

Answering a question on whether she would settle down like many Pakistani celebrities had in the past, including singer Adnan Sami, or whether did she intend to return back to Pakistan, Malik said that she had never ‘set boundaries’ for herself and would continue to work in Pakistan and India, as long as she was offered beautiful and interesting projects. She had no plans to permanently settle in India.

On her Kannada version of the film ‘The Dirty Picture’, she said that working in a Kannada film was a very different experience for her as she was not familiar with the language, and that she would also be singing in the film on the director’s request, for which she would start recording soon.

When asked to sing a Kannada song, she was reluctant, but instead sang a popular song of Pakistan’s legendary singer Madam Noor Jehan, ‘Mujhse pehli si mohabbat…’

‘Parents cannot be upset for long’

On her estranged ties with her father who was upset with his daughter’s exploits in India, also allegedly disowning her, the confident actress said that as of now he was upset but then parents can never be upset with their child for long.

Speaking about living alone in India despite threats from Hindu extremists and the Muslim community, who had also issued an edict (fatwa) against her in Bhopal, Malik said that she had faced the same challenges in Pakistan too, reiterating that she had critics and lovers alike all over the world.

Although, she misses her family, Malik said that she had been living out of a suitcase since she was 14 years old, and hence didn’t miss being at home, and was instead enjoying her life’s beautiful journey and looked forward to achieving a lot more. She said that everything comes at a cost in life.

On threats from Taliban member Ahmed Masood, the defiant actress said that she had received threats in past but none lately and would most probably spend Eidul Fitr in Pakistan.

‘Politicians are the biggest comedians’

Responding to a question, with reference to an interview wherein she had called TV anchors as the biggest comedians, an amused Malik said that she had never said that, instead she had called politicians the aforementioned.

According to Malik, veteran politician Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed was the biggest comedian amongst politicians.

‘Veena ka Vivah’

On talking about her show for an Indian channel, ‘Veena ka Vivah’, for which she received much flak from the local Muslim community with an edict issued against her, Malik said that everyone should be happy now since the show had been cancelled  and she was enjoying her single status for now.

She however defended the show’s concept calling it beautiful, saying that every religion encouraged the woman to choose her life partner.

The edict had accused her for making a mockery of the institution of marriage in Islam and that the Muslim community would socially boycott her and the show, so as to avoid the actress from influencing women and girls of the community.

Talking further about the show, Malik said that she had received over 75,000 entries from all over the world and was looking forward to meeting her Mr Right on the show. She quashed criticism that choosing a life partner on a television show were risky, adding that she was a public figure and wanted to share this joy of her life with everyone and that eventually when she does marry, ‘it will become national news anyways’.

On being questioned whether there was someone in her life she wanted to get married to, Malik said not as of now, however during the interview she did mention that she was in a relationship but did not want to divulge much information about it since she did not want to jinx it.

“I always need a lover,” added a shy Malik.

FHM shoot

On talking about her controversial shoot for an Indian edition of an international men’s magazine, FHM, and allegations that she insisted on a revealing shoot and posing semi-nude, Malik said that she had taken legal action against the magazine for allegedly morphing pictures over a semi-nude body and questioned why the magazine had not been able to prove to date the authenticity of the pictures.

She refuted the magazine’s claims that she had approached them, adding that in India, she only worked with people who approached her.

Questioning the magazine’s claims that there was a video of the shoot, she asked why was it not released yet. “Is it being cooked up?”

‘Shock Queen’

Addressing allegations on her being labelled as ”Shock Queen” and “Controversy Queen” , Malik said that whatever she was doing as an actress, is no different than what other Indian actresses or her peers across the border were doing, adding that had the FHM incident occurred with another actress, then she would have been considered a ‘victim’ but since this happened with Veena Malik, then it was considered that ‘she must have done it.’

Malik clarified that she had never posed topless or nude in her life. On whether she expected justice from the Indian courts here, she said that one always gets justice when one is right.

Item number

Talking about her item number ‘Channo’ in a Hindi film, she said that it was a beautiful song and concept, questioning what was wrong with the clothes.

“Who will determine whether what is vulgar and entertainment? The same thing another actress does, is entertainment, but if Veena Malik does it, it is ‘something else’?”

She said that people need to end their double standards and that they just liked talking about her.

‘Aphrodisiac endorsement’

Even Malik’s endorsement of an aphrodisiac product for men was not off limits in the interview. Defending her decision to endorse the brand ‘Power Prash’, she rejected the notion amongst people that she had done this because ‘times were tough’ for her in Bollywood.

She said, “If Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan could sell a pressure cooker, why could not I sell Power Prash?” adding that celebrities endorsed everything from ointments (balm) to utensils.

Malik said that she was not having trouble finding work in India and was on the contrary shooting for five films, adding that shes working both sides of the border and that critics should ‘just chill and relax’.

“I have a bright future ahead of me. I am an actress and I am going to give my 100% in promoting my endorsed products.”

Malik further said that she did not fear her image as a serious actor being affected by this endorsement.

Alleged relationships

Responding to a question about her alleged affair with Indian filmmaker Hemant Madhurkar and the leaked pictures pictures of them both at a party, Malik dismissed the whole affair as a rumor, saying that Madhukar was just a friend and a very talented director, with whom she had shot a 3D film, adding that one develops a personal relationship with people while working on a film and they become a part of one’s social life.

She said it wasn’t her fault if people wanted to give the wrong impression by cropping out other people in the picture, leaving out only her and Madhukar. When asked whether had she seen the pictures, she admitted she had , adding that everyone has their own way of perceiving things, “a dirty mind sees dirty things while a beautiful mind sees beautiful things.”

On her alleged affair with actor Ashmit Patel, whom she met on the Indian reality show Bigg Boss, she refuted the allegation that it was just an act, Veena said that she found it surprising that people actually believed that she would fake her affection for someone on national television.

Malik also raised questions over an interview of Patel’s friend to Mumbai Mirror, wherein he had said that it was a one-sided affair and that Patel actually used to get upset on reading stories about his alleged affair with her, asking whether Patel had said any of this.

She said that she and the Indian actor will always have mutual respect and regard for each other, however they were not together anymore.

‘Love me for who I am’

On talking about working after marriage, Malik said that she was not a piece of furniture, a sofa, which can be replaced any time just because one loses interest in her, terming marriage as a long term friendship and that one who loves her would never stop her [from achieving her dreams and goals in life]. She said that the definition of love had changed a lot over the years and that being protective did not mean that one ruins the life partner’s life and lose trust in the person.

Admitting that she was a flirt, when not in a relationship to someone, she clarified it in the same breathe that she was very loyal when committed.

She refused to stop working after marriage and would never accept such conditions from her future life partner, adding that relationships could not survive on ‘conditions’.

“Today he might object to my work, tomorrow I might lose my hair or beauty!… so the person should love me for who I am.”

On being asked about match-fixing in cricket and former boyfriend cricketer Mohammed Asif’s alleged involvement in it, Malik admitted that she had never witnessed a deal wherein a match was being fixed.

She however said that the house in Lahore where Asif and she lived had a basement, where the cricketer usually met his friends but she was never allowed to meet them.

Answering a question about whether her parents ever objected about her relationship with Asif, Malik said that being an independent adult, was a matter of concern for parents, however she narrated a conversation with her mother wherein she had strongly forbade Malik from marrying Asif.

Malik added that she had no regrets about the failed relationship and that everything happened for a reason.

Return to Pakistan?

On responding to a question asking whether Pakistani society will accept her after her exploits in India, Malik said that she has kept her roots intact and had not ended her relation with Pakistan.

“When you are a celebrity, there is propaganda and controversies related to you which are often exaggerated, but I have never crossed my boundaries. Pakistan is my country and I will go back.”

Malik said that whenever she took on a project or any step, she always remembered that she was a Pakistani [woman] and will have to return back to her country.

She said the image of the Pakistani women was misconstrued, since despite being shunned from voicing their opinion, they were politicians and professionals too, who wore both a burqa and jeans.

Paying homage to her late grandmother, Malik said that she owed her self-belief and confidence to the latter, saying that her grandmother was a liberal, who always supported her.



Pak man held for forcing Hindu girl to marry him

August 12, 2012

A Muslim man in Pakistan has been arrested after a Hindu girl rejected his claim that she had converted to Islam and married him, Dawn reported.   She accused Sarwar Solangi of abducting her and subjecting her to rape for months. The Hyderabad circuit of the Sindh

high court on Monday remanded him in police custody.

Justice Munib Akhtar passed the order after hearing an application filed by Solangi.

Solangi claimed that he was also a Hindu prior to his conversion to Islam.

Solangi's counsel Ghulam Hyder Shah said that the 19-year-old girl of Tandojam had accepted Islam May 20 in Karachi and a certificate to this effect was also issued.

He said the girl solemnised her marriage with Solangi in Malir town, Karachi, May 25.

Her conversion annoyed her parents, and on June 21 her relatives forcibly took her away from him when they were visiting a shrine in Hyderabad, the applicant said.

However on Monday, the girl rejected Solangi's claims in the court.

She said she had left her house May 18 to wash clothes when Sarwar and two other men kidnapped her and took her to Karachi, according to the newspaper.

She was kept locked up in a room where Sarwar repeatedly subjected her to rape, she said. She escaped July 30 when Sarwar and his friends left the place to buy wine.



Wife of kidnapped US aid worker Weinstein urges return

Aug 13, 2012

WASHINGTON: The wife of a US aid worker abducted in Pakistan is pleading for his safe return on the one-year anniversary of his kidnapping, saying her husband is in poor health and is missed by grandchildren who ask for him every day.

Warren Weinstein, a 71-year-old aid worker from Rockville, Maryland, was kidnapped last August after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home in Lahore.

Al Qaeda released a video in May in which Weinstein said he would be killed unless President Barack Obama agreed to the group’s demands. It was not clear when the video was recorded.

The White House has called for Weinstein’s immediate release but has said it won’t negotiate with Al Qaeda.

His wife, Elaine, observed the anniversary of his disappearance Monday with a statement urging his release. She said he suffers from a heart condition, severe asthma and high blood pressure and fears that his health ”will deteriorate if he is not allowed to see the doctors and specialists that have helped keep him alive in recent years.”

Our grandchildren are growing and changing so fast. They miss their grandfather and ask for him every day. It is so difficult to explain why he can’t be with them,” the statement says.

Full report at:



Murders of Women on Rise in Pakistan; 432 Killed In Six Months

Aug 13, 2012

Karachi: Increasing cases of murders of women and girls in Pakistan has fully exposed the gender vulnerability in Pakistan, as 432 women have been killed in the first six months of the current year, said president Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) Zia Awan.

He said the growing gender discrimination and violation of women rights has created an alarming situation in Pakistan. Referring to Madadgar National Database report he said that from January to June 2012 as many as 432 cases of murder of women were recorded in Pakistan, whereas 736 women were killed in the year 2011.

The noted human rights lawyer said from January to June 2012, the Madadgar National Helpline received 2,808 calls of victims of violence and abuse and also handled 531 walk-in-clients, extending services to them. The helpline facilitated the heirs in 36 cases of murder of women.

Full report at:\08\13\story_13-8-2012_pg7_11



Israeli justice: 45-day jail for killing 2 Gaza women

 13 August 2012

An Israeli soldier faces just a 45-day jail term for the killing of two Gaza women carrying a white flag, under a plea bargain with a military court yesterday, the army and local media said.

The sniper, identified by Israeli media as “staff sergeant S,” was charged with manslaughter in 2010 over the fatal shooting of 64-year-old Riyeh Abu Hajaj and her daughter Majda Abu Hajaj, 37, during Israel’s 22-day aggression against the Gaza Strip that started in late December 2008.

Full report at:



Libya: The Fight for Women's Rights Goes On

By Mel Frykberg*

TRIPOLI (IDN | GCC) - Following the Libyan revolution, in which women played a crucial part, and the participation of large numbers of female citizens in the July 2012 elections, Libyan women are now looking forward to a partnership and full equality with their male counterparts.

"Libyan women were instrumental in the country choosing a liberal and progressive government in the recent elections as many of them voted for the winning National Forces Alliance (NFA) of Mahmoud Jibril," said Nadine Nasrat, from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

"They also played a crucial role during the revolution but much of this was overlooked by the media. During the war women smuggled weapons and ammunition in their clothing. They provided logistical, medical and intelligence support to men," added Nasrat who is also the chairperson of the Tripoli branch of the Committee to Support Women's Participation in Decision Making.

Full report at:



Iranian Woman Returns Home From US Prison

Aug 13, 2012

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian woman who spent five years in a prison in the U.S. for her role in a scheme to smuggle military night-vision goggles to Iran has returned home.

A Monday report by Iran's state TV says Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan was met by family members, including her twin daughters Melina and Melika, at Tehran airport. Saying she feels reborn, Mir Gholikhan plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. in international courts in order to prove her claim of innocence.

An American court sentenced Gholikhan, now 36, to five years in prison after she went to the U.S. voluntarily in late 2007 to plead guilty in a deal she expected would allow her to quickly return home.



Tunisia activists braced to fight for women's rights

 August 12, 2012

TUNIS - Tunisian women are rising up against a proposed article in the new constitution seen by many as an Islamist ploy to reverse the principle of gender equality that made Tunisia a beacon of modernity in the Arab world when it was introduced six decades ago.

The National Constituent Assembly, elected after the downfall last year of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is currently drafting a new national charter.

The NCA parliamentary committee adopted last week a proposed article that activists say would compromise rights enshrined in the Personal Status Code (CSP) promulgated in 1956 under Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba.

The article must still be ratified at a plenary session of the interim parliament.

The 1956 code was the first of its kind in the Arab world.

It abolished polygamy, under which Muslim men are allowed to have as many as four wives, and the practice of repudiation, under which husbands could divorce simply by saying so three times.

Full report at:



Ex-Israeli Soldier Jailed Over Deaths Of Palestinian Women

Harriet Sherwood

12 August 2012

Unnamed former soldier to serve 45 days in connection with deaths of Palestinian mother and daughter during Gaza war

A former Israeli soldier is to serve 45 days in prison on charges in connection with the deaths of a Palestinian mother and daughter who were shot while waving white flags during the three-week war in Gaza in 2008-09.

The ex-soldier, who has not been named, agreed to a plea bargain under which he was convicted of shooting without permission, and the original manslaughter charge dropped. He was the only soldier to be indicted for manslaughter as a result of Operation Cast Lead, in which around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

According to reports and testimonies at the time, Majda Abu Hajaj, 35, and her mother, Rayah, 64, were among 30 people, including children, trying to leave a house where they had taken shelter. The group was fired on and the two women were killed.

Full report at:



A ‘Rich’ Village Of Widows

By D. P. Bhattacharya

Aug 13, 2012

A WIDE concrete road off the Bhuj- Anjar highway in Gujarat leads one to a pleasantly surprising sight — a clean, organised and almost rich village.

Welcome to Ratnal, a hamlet that has time and again fought adversity to rise from the ashes, much like the mythological phoenix, ever stronger, and strived hard to work towards its prosperity.

Located a little more than 55 km from Kutch district headquarters Bhuj, Ratnal is unofficially known as the village of truck owners and widows; a moniker that describes the tragic price the village paid for its resilience.

With a population of about 7,000 and 1,400 families, the village has around 1,100 trucks, which ply all over the state as well as the country.

There was a time Ratnal lost many of its youths, most of them newly married, to fatal accidents as they took to driving the trucks despite being untrained.

But the bitter lesson has now been learned and the villagers have begun hiring trained drivers for their fleet of trucks.

Full report at: Mail Today



Women hail landmark Games breakthrough

Aug 13, 2012

LONDON: Women made their mark on the Olympics like never before in London 2012, the first Games ever to feature women in all 204 national teams and all 26 sports.

The participation of the first women athletes from the conservative Islamic nations of Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar was widely seen as a breakthrough for the Olympic movement, while nations that have long nurtured women’s sports reaped a golden reward.

Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani, who took the mat after a flap over whether she would be able to compete in a hijab, admitted she felt overwhelmed by the attention focused on her as the first Saudi woman to compete in the Games.

She was out of her depth, losing in just 82 seconds, but said the whole experience had her looking ahead to Rio in 2016. “I think that because of my participation in this Olympic Games, other Saudi women will participate in other competitions in the future,” she said.

Full report at: