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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 3 Jul 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indonesian Province Requires Female Muslim Civil Servants to Wear Niqab

New Age Islam News Bureau

3 Jul 2020

• Headscarf Ban: Belgian Muslim Women Are Resisting in Order to Free Themselves

• 13 Women Appointed to Saudi Human Rights Commission

• Investments Sought In Sports Club For Women In Madinah

• Muslim Women Warn Against Reopening of Schools in Nigeria

• Salafis Oppose Appointment Of Women As Judges In Kuwait

• Egyptian Initiative Transforms Female Prisoners’ Lives

• Saudi Arabia: Women Driver’s Licence Scams Spotted on Social Media

• Sudan’s Bid to Ban Genital Mutilation Sparks Hope, Caution

• Saudi Arabia: Three Women on Association of Financial Analysts Board

• Over 25 Babies Born to Coronavirus Infected Women in Madinah

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Indonesian Province Requires Female Muslim Civil Servants to Wear Niqab

July 2, 2020

Illustration of a woman wearing niqab. (Shutterstock/syed mohd syazwan)


Central Lombok regency in West Nusa Tenggara is set to require female Muslim civil servants to wear the niqab, as some of them have been seen not wearing masks -- one of the health protocols imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regent MohSuhailiFadhilThohir announced the plan during a regular Friday gymnastics event in the regent's office yard on June 19, which was recorded in a video that has since become the subject of public discussion.

“I said it spontaneously because during the Friday event, some refused to wear a mask for fear of running out of oxygen. But considering the current situation, we need protection,” he said on Wednesday.

Suhaili said the requirement for Muslims to wear the niqab had nothing to do with radicalism as it was simply an effort to prevent virus transmission among civil servants, who he said should set an example to the wider community in Central Lombok.

“It’s also fashion. They could match their hijab to the colour of the veil. It has nothing to do with radicalism, or over-fanaticism,” Suhaili said as quoted by, adding that the requirement would start as soon as next Friday.

The civil servants, however, are not required to wear a head-to-toe veil that also cloaks the body, but a niqab covering only the nose and mouth.

Suhaili also said the requirement was not forceful and that there would be no regulation needed to enforce it. “There are no sanctions, only a pleasant and healthy movement.”

Lombok Tengah civil servant Yayuh had mixed feelings about the niqab requirement. Although it can be a learning process to wear proper Muslim clothing, Yayuh feared it might create a contrast with the gymnastic clothes they wore.

“We usually wear tight pants for the Friday event. If outsiders see it, it might be a bit inappropriate,” Yayuh said, adding that it might be expensive to have that kind of niqab.

As of Thursday, West Nusa Tenggara had recorded 1,260 COVID-19 cases, 63 of which have turned fatal. Lombok Tengah has recorded at least 114 cases, with four deaths. (syk)


Headscarf Ban: Belgian Muslim Women Are Resisting in Order to Free Themselves

01 July 2020


On 4 June this year, the Belgian Constitutional Court authorised the banning of the Islamic headscarf in the Haute Ecole and all other visible religious, political and philosophical signs.


On 4 June this year, the Belgian Constitutional Court authorised the banning of the Islamic headscarf in the Haute Ecole and all other visible religious, political and philosophical signs.

In the wake of this, the city of Brussels welcomes such a decision, which is both infantile and liberticidal. It would seem that for nearly twenty years now, the hair of women of the Muslim faith has become what is known as “a major political issue”, and their unveiling is now one of the most pressing priorities.

In this post-9/11 climate, Belgian women citizens of the Muslim faith are caught between two perceptions: they are either seen as the personification of the oppression of a feminine gender that needs to be saved, or they are perceived as a danger in the public sphere, especially when they are intellectually and politically active.

Over the past 20 years, the headscarf has become “a screen on which Europe’s political fears and struggles are being projected”.  From that perspective, the prevailing Islamophobia could be understood as a “psychological reflex of self-defence” against the “other”, especially when it comes to women who are redefining a new model of liberation from an Islamic paradigm at the heart of Belgian society. According to William Barylo, a sociologist and filmmaker, for whom “gendered” Islamophobia goes beyond the racial, ethnic and religious question, we are facing “a question of ego, power and selfishness” that uses race, ethnicity and religion as arguments to divide and rule better.

In order to grasp the issues at stake in the “age-old” headscarf debate, let us return to what Joan W. Scott, historian and professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, calls “the politics of the headscarf”. According to this historian, this debate has historical roots in Europe where “women’s bodies become a battleground in times of crisis”.

Indeed, during the colonial period, the headscarf was considered both a symbol of oppression and a sign of exoticism: on the one hand, the liberation of Muslim women had become a justification for colonizing, civilizing, modernizing and “saving” Muslim women. On the other hand, Muslim women’s bodies remained an object of erotic fantasy with the desire to “discover” what was covered.

In “ From Colonial Algeria to modern day Europe, the Muslim veil remains an ideological battleground”, KatarzynaFalecka reminds us that “in the 1950s, the veil played an important role during the Algerian war of independence against the French. Frantz Fanon, a Martinique-born psychiatrist and an anti-colonial intellectual said that: “If we want to destroy the structure of Algerian society, its capacity for resistance, we must first and foremost conquer women; we must find them under the veil behind which they hide themselves and, in the houses, where men keep them out of sight.”

According to him, it was impossible for the colonial power to conquer Algeria without imposing European standards on its women. Today, its visibility is seen as a threat to Western values, a threat that must be got rid of by issuing laws.

From this perspective, Muslim women are perceived as “the other” and embody the Muslim problem in Belgium as well as in the whole of Europe. Fortunately, this stereotyped vision is increasingly contradicted by numerous books and researches by historians and intellectuals, all showing that Muslim women have always been political leaders and have been highly involved in the civil society from the very beginning of the Revelation of the Message of Islam.

Thus, the headscarf is either seen as a symbol of subjugation and, therefore, Muslim women must be “saved”, but when they take clear responsibility for wearing it, they are seen as rebels who need to be controlled because they might have a hidden political agenda or even might be instrumentalized by “their men” or the organization to which they may belong.

Yet it is this profile of Muslim women that is particularly promising because they contribute positively to social justice, political and collective liberation, being influential from local to international politics by being invested in all areas of society.

Let’s illustrate our point by the now unavoidable Belgian movement #HijabisFightBack, initiated by the Collective La 5ème Vague, ImaziReine and Belgians like you, who is fighting against this legislation they consider discriminatory and for an inclusive Belgium. Through this mobilization, they appropriate a socio-political legitimacy, and break this “conventional wisdom” to which one would like to assign them. They create their “mark of liberation” by using solidarity and coalition strategies in terms of demands, while identifying the roots of oppression by tackling their causes in a sustainable and constructive way through critical thinking and constant dialogue.

These full-fledged citizens depoliticize the issue of Muslim women and “repoliticize” it in the noble sense towards a united Belgium that respects women in their diversity.

In recent years, they have made their voices heard significantly at the intellectual, academic and civil society levels, calling for an intersectional approach combined with a postcolonial reading of this phenomenon, crucial for deconstructing the orientalist vision that feeds the wave of Islamophobia across Europe.

Ultimately, the hijab improvised a debate “beyond the headscarf” on complex and taboo concepts such as colonial unconsciousness or the racism that degrades European societies. Indeed, it revealed a deep philosophical, ideological and political crisis around concepts that were once unanimously agreed upon such as democracy, secularism and women’s emancipation, and which today divide social movements and civil society.

At one time, Muslim women used the headscarf as a means of resistance. They are doing it again today: they strongly and resolutely affirm that the headscarf can be a feminist “statement”.

Today, this generation of women is contributing to the history of Belgian women’s resistance by reinforcing solidarity and spirituality at the heart of their struggles. They are revolutionising this collective perception of the image of the Muslim woman in the collective unconscious and see themselves as an “added value” that will have to be dealt with from now on.

On 5 July, the Hijabisfightback are organising a demonstration to denounce this arbitrary authorisation, which will only marginalise a section of Belgian civil society by denying a fundamental right dear to the feminist movements: that of education above all, because an educated woman is a free woman!

Franz Fanon wrote: “I am not a prisoner of my history”. In the same way, Belgian women citizens of the Muslim faith are no longer prisoners of their history and are freeing themselves from a system of domination, whether it comes from men, women themselves or institutions.


13 women appointed to Saudi Human Rights Commission

July 03, 2020

King Salman issued the order. (SPA)


RIYADH: Thirteen women have been appointed to the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) under a royal decree issued by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

The appointments mean half the positions on the commission’s council will be occupied by women — a major step in furthering women’s empowerment in the country.

“Appointing 13 women as members of the HRC council, with a total of 26 members, is in line with efforts made by the Kingdom’s leadership to enable women to occupy leading positions in various fields, and helps achieve what is best for the country,” said Dr.Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, head of the HRC.

He thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for issuing the royal decree to form the commission’s council in its fourth session for a period of 4 years.

Al-Awwad said that the Saudi leadership’s support and guidance had a great impact on the HRC mission to promote and consolidate human rights principles for the benefit of Saudis and expats.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), in cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has completed a comprehensive four-part training program for 350 participants from all 13 of the Kingdom’s regions involved in collecting and managing data on crimes involving people trafficking.

The program is the latest in a comprehensive series of training initiatives that followed the establishment in March of the Kingdom’s first National Referral Mechanism, a framework to identify and support potential victims of people trafficking.

Almost a dozen Saudi ministries and authorities, as well as other government and non-government bodies, are involved in the initiative.

Sarah Al-Tamimi, NCCHT’s vice-chair, said: “The completion of this phase of training is part of a holistic agenda that tackles people trafficking from a diversity of angles. We are committed to combating this abominable crime and protecting everyone, without exception, in the Kingdom.”

He added: “This is a crime that knows no borders and requires all of us to work together toward its eradication.”

Judge HatemFouad, UNODC representative for the Gulf region, said: “Our partnership with the Kingdom reflects the reality of the complex, international and multifaceted fight against trafficking in persons.

“I thank the committee members and vice-chair Sarah Al-Tamimi for their fruitful cooperation, and I thank the participants of the training sessions for continuing to improve the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking response,” he said.


Investments sought in sports club for women in Madinah

July 1, 2020

Madinah Municipality is inviting investors to set up and run a women's sports club


MADINAH — The Madinah Municipality is inviting investors to set up and run a women's sports club on a plot of land at the intersection of Salim Bin Obeid Road with Umaymah Bint Qais Al-Ghaffariah Road, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Tuesday.

The offer, made through the "Investment Opportunities" portal, encourages investors to set up, operate and manage the sports club on an area of 8,705 sq. meters, and a construction rate of 60% with a long-term contract. The project consists of a large gymnasium intended exclusively for women, having sports equipment and machines, especially for fitness, body-building and lightweight training, in addition to other services.

The investment opportunity presented to businessmen and investors comes within the mayoralty’s endeavor to stimulate economic activity in the city and contribute to improving the quality of life and providing multiple options to the people.


Muslim Women Warn Against Reopening of Schools in Nigeria

03 July 2020

The Criterion (Muslim Women In Business and Professions) has frowned at the decision of the Federal Government to reopen schools amidst steady rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

The group said: “Reopening schools now may lead to severe consequences as experienced in other countries. For instance, South Korea reopened schools and had to shut them again when cases spiked.

“It was a similar case in Israel that also reopened the schools and had to shut them again. No doubt, there are not enough health care facilities to cater for citizens hence, resuming schools will endanger the lives of students as well as teachers,”

The National Ameerah of Criterion, HajiaFatymahOyefeso argued that there is no basis for school reopening at a time when the curve of COVID-19 has not flattened.

“Nigeria is not sufficiently ready to handle the potential outburst that can be associated with school reopening. The country does not have sufficient bed spaces in isolation centres.

“Hence, the government should allow more time to establish coping strategies like splitting schools into morning, afternoon and evening sessions, twice a week attendance, temperature screening for all, among others. These measures should be within a time-bound period and have a taskforce to enforce it”.

The group urged government to devise more effective approaches towards a safe reopening of schools. In an attempt to open the schools the group gave recommendations must be strictly put in place: Availability of at least two infrared thermometers in each school and routine temperature check on students; provision of hand sanitizers and sufficient hand washing points with emphasis on frequent washing of hands by teachers and students; body disinfectant at main entrances of schools or major facilities like hostels, offices, gates and others.”

Others are: Enforcement of social distancing by students including sitting arrangement and transportation to and from school; fumigation/decontamination of schools and environments before resumption and consistently afterward; enforcement of the use of facemask by students and teachers according to age tolerance; provision of adequate water supply (very important); provision of adequate number of cleaners to maintain environmental hygiene; and provision of an adequately equipped sick bay and at least medical personnel in each school.

In addition, the group recommended that to cushion the effect on school owners and teachers, the government should intervene in the payment of salaries or support private school teachers with palliatives similar to Central Bank of Nigeria promises to sustain Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. On the other hand, private school owners may need to look out by diversifying into other related businesses to survive. Likewise, teachers in private schools unfortunately may have to consider other means of survival in the meantime”.


Salafis oppose appointment of women as judges in Kuwait

July 03, 2020

Samir Salama

Abu Dhabi: Days before the expected approval from the Supreme Judicial Council to appoint a number of women as judges marking a historic first step of its kind in Kuwait, the country’s Salafi hardliners are outraged and are opposing the appointment.

Kuwaiti Attorney General, Dirar Al Asousi, approved the promotion of eight female prosecutors to the rank of judge, among some 54 chiefs prosecutors, who were nominated for judicial positions.

They will become the first eight women judges in the history of Kuwait and the Kuwait’s Supreme Judicial Council is set to be held on Tuesday to approve their appointment and start work from September.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Marzouq Ali Al Ghanem, said, “the rise of Kuwaiti women to the judiciary platform, is a long-awaited entitlement, and a step forward in the march of Kuwaiti women.”

He added on his Twitter account, “A thousand greetings to Kuwaiti women, as they accumulated successes over the years in all fields.” He expressed his confidence in the ability of Kuwaiti women to prove their efficiency, as they have done in many other areas.

Move opposed

But Mohammad Haif, secretary general of the Thawabit Al UmmaSalafi bloc, denounced the move and said the judiciary is a general mandate that only men can assume.

He said on the Salafi bloc’s Twitter account that the appointment of women in the judiciary “is not commensurate with the composition or nature of women, nor is it compatible with the true Sharia.”

Haif added that “rushing to issue a decision without a legal opinion supporting it, appointing women as judges, would be against the law and contradicts the nature of women, and would open the door to appeal against the rulings issued by female judges, and litigants may demand they be disqualified, which would disrupt the judicial system and embarrass the Judicial Council”.

He went on, “We draw the attention of the brothers, members of the Judicial Council, before agreeing to the memorandum submitted by the Attorney General to transfer prosecutors to judges, that this issue is not that easy, and it has legal, social and judicial consequences that must be thoroughly studied, and Islamic law history should be consulted before embarking on this step, which carries a lot of questions.”

For his part, MP Khaled Al Otaibi said, “The judiciary is a branch of the Great Islamic Imamate, and it is not permissible for a woman to assume it.” As for MP Majid Al Mutairi, he argued, “How can (a woman) judge rule on the divorce of women while she does not have the right to divorce herself?”

Kuwait is not the first among the GCC countries to appoint women to the judiciary, as the UAE appointed Kholoud Ahmad Jaouan Al Dhaheri, to be the first Emirati and Gulf judge in March 2008.

On March 11, 2010, Qatar appointed SheikhaMaha Mansour Salman Jasim Al Thani, assistant judge in the Qatari courts, the first woman to be appointed to the judiciary in Qatar.

In July 2010, Bahrain appointed three female judges, two of them were appointed to the Lower Civil Court, namely: Mai Matar and Noura Al Midfa, while Adela Hassan was appointed as a judge of the Civil High Court.

On March 20, 2019, the UAE appointed two additional female judges in the federal judiciary, Judge Khadija Al Malas and Judge Salama Al Ketbi. Al Malas was appointed to the position of “Appeals Judge”, and Al Ketbi in the position of “Primary Judge” in the federal courts.


Egyptian initiative transforms female prisoners’ lives

July 02, 2020

CAIRO: “It was all going well until I defaulted on many due instalments, and soon after, I found myself in prison,” says Nahla (not her real name) while sewing a garment at a workshop owned and operated by New Life.

The business incubator, which aims to economically support underprivileged women, is a collaboration between the Egyptian non-profit Prisoners of Poverty and the Zurich-based Drosos Foundation.

Nahla, 32, had no clue at the time that defaulting on an instalment could land her in prison. Like many women who end up in her situation, she was going to spend a significant portion of her twenties locked away.

However, one day in the early 1990s, years before Nahla was imprisoned, an Egyptian journalist was reporting on a story from Qanater Female Prison when she noticed a group of children playing in the prison yard.

Driven by journalistic curiosity, NawalMoustafa, now president of Prisoners of Poverty, started investigating how babies and toddlers could possibly end up incarcerated.

After interviewing many of the mothers, Moustafa started noticing a clear pattern in their stories — defaulting on debt instalments. The prevailing trend was that the majority of these women had incurred debt to support their families after their husbands, the breadwinners, had abruptly abandoned them.

After publishing a series of in-depth interviews with some of these inmates, Moustafa received an outpouring of support from her readers, prompting her to look into an effective way to help.

“It was an odd thing at the time for someone to sympathize with imprisoned people,” Moustafa said.

“Even my friends found it odd, and some of them accused me of championing criminals. But what I was certain of was that not all of them were criminals, and a lot of my readers agreed.”

Helped by donations from her readers, she initially provided daily essentials to these women and their children, the latter entitled by law to stay with their mothers on a monthly basis until they turn two.

Aided by the prison’s officers, Moustafa started identifying cases of women taken advantage of by their husbands or incarcerated due to their genuine lack of resources.

“All the ‘ailments of poverty’ were evident in these women’s stories,” said Moustafa. “I felt responsible toward them. You can visit a hospital or a shelter to volunteer, but you’d never think about going to a prison. I felt that God had sent me to be their voice.”

By the early 2000s, Moustafa was working tirelessly to collect funds to pay these women’s debts so they could be free. However, she quickly discovered that many of them ended up back in prison for more or less the same reasons.

“After they are released, they become not only vulnerable due to their lack of resources, but even more unable to land jobs because of the stigma associated with being an ex-convict. Some of them are even disowned by their families because of the stigma, so they end up incurring debt again,” she said.

Seeking a more drastic solution, Moustafa launched Prisoners of Poverty in 2007. Not only did she pay the debt of women deemed deserving of a second chance, but she also established a workshop where they could learn skills — like knitting, sewing, or catering — to be able to make a living and break the vicious cycle.

Over time, Prisoners of Poverty became a destination for underprivileged women looking to make a living. Some were ex-prisoners; others were at high risk of ending up in prison.

In 2014, the Drosos Foundation joined in with more funding, enabling the launch of New Life — a sewing workshop for garments, textiles and thread paintings, among many other products.

Some of the women have gone on to launch their own businesses, and many others still rely on the workshop, making enough to support themselves and their families.

Due to her efforts in this area over the past two decades, Moustafa has won a number of awards and accolades across the region. Most notable among them is the 2018 Arab Hope Maker, a prize of AED 1 million ($272,300), awarded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE.


Saudi Arabia: Women driver’s licence scams spotted on social media

July 03, 2020

Samir Salama

Abu Dhabi: Social media platforms are filled with tales about women who rushed to obtain a driver’s licence but fell to swindlers, who claimed they were able to obtain licenses for women without the need for training or driving schools and without the need for a medical examination, within 48 hours, for sums ranging between 2200 - 2500 riyals, Saudi media reported.

Okaz spotted one of those sites and on calling them, their response was not accepting any payment of fees before registering with a driving school and sending the required documents, then the transfer phase comes.

“The site claims that there is cooperation with a university to facilitate the issuance of driving licenses for Saudi women and residents and to pass transactions to the competent authorities,” Okaz reported.

Saudi Arabia granted women the right to drive two years ago, a historic move that cracked open a window to new freedoms for women.

The fake site identified a number of difficulties some applicants are facing such as driving school did not respond, or objected to set a new date for them, with promises to facilitate the transactions of residents in getting their driver’s license replaced.

The site offered a number of temptations, including obtaining a driver’s license without a test, and its responsibility to complete the theoretical and practical examinations.

The fake site revealed the method used in that, as people apply for examination in lieu of the applicants, and enter the result of the applicant into the main system, with an emphasis on issuing the license legally and 100% guaranteed, and all rights reserved!

The fraudulent site limited its requirements to a personal photo of the applicant with a white background, a photocopy of the ID card, and the blood category.

The Instagram and Twitter platforms gathered dozens of these fraudulent sites and their allegations matched the ease of issuing driving licenses for women, while the charges ranged between 2200 and 2500 riyals.

Lawyer Nujood Al Qasim, said a number of Saudi and Arab women fell to these fraudsters, who took advantage of the women’s wish to obtain driving licenses and the lack driving schools.

Al Qasim said these scams target unsuspecting customers with links to services that don’t exist and promises, all of which are fake.

“In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (i.e., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation), a criminal law (i.e., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong,” Al Qasim said.

She added the purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver’s license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements.

“A hoax is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim,’ Al Qasim explained.

Al Qasim said the remedies for fraud may include rescission (i.e., reversal) of a fraudulently obtained agreement or transaction, the recovery of a monetary award to compensate for the harm caused, punitive damages to punish or deter the misconduct, and possibly others.


Sudan’s bid to ban genital mutilation sparks hope, caution

July 03, 2020

CAIRO: It has been more than 60 years. But the scene is seared still into Kawthar Ali’s mind. The women pinned her down on a bed. She was maybe 5 1/2 or 6 years old. Holding her knees, they spread her legs open, her genitals exposed.

At the time, she did not fully understand what followed. But that day Ali joined the many Sudanese girls who had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for nonmedical reasons.

“It’s the one incident that has affected my life the most,” said Ali. “It feels shameful for people to expose your body and do this to you, like a rape.”

The anguish unleashed that day led to an unwavering conviction: No daughter of hers should ever endure that pain. That decision pitted Ali against her own mother and a society where nearly 87 percent of women between 15 and 49 years old are estimated to have undergone a form of FGM, according to a UN-backed 2014 survey.

Soon, Ali and others like her might have the law on their side. Sudan’s transitional authorities are expected to outlaw the procedure and set punishments of up to three years in prison and fines for those who carry out FGM, according to a draft bill obtained by The Associated Press. The Cabinet has approved a set of amendments that includes criminalizing FGM. Procedures to pass the law are expected to be completed, by the sovereign council and council of ministers, in the coming few days, Minister of Justice NasrEdeenAbdulbari said in a statement sent in response to AP questions.

“I’m very excited, very proud,” said Nimco Ali, co-founder of The Five Foundation, which works to end FGM. “Those are the kind of things that we need to be celebrating because that was a part of democracy coming to Sudan.”

Although she lauds the move, Kawthar Ali is not celebrating yet. “This thing will die very slowly,” she said of FGM. “It’s an issue related to our traditions and the Sudanese culture.”

Like many in Sudan, Ali was subjected to an extreme form of FGM known as infibulation, which involves the cutting and repositioning of the labia, sometimes through stitching, to narrow the vaginal opening.

The World Health Organization says FGM constitutes an “extreme form of discrimination” against women. Nearly always carried out on minors, it can result in excessive bleeding and death or cause problems including infections, complications in childbirth and depression.

Millions of girls and women have been cut in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Reasons differ. Many believe it keeps women clean and protects their chastity by controlling sexual desire. The opinions of religious leaders run the spectrum. Some condone the practice, others work to eliminate it and others consider it irrelevant to religion.

Mohammed Hashim Al-Hakim, a Sudanese Muslim cleric who opposes FGM, said religious leaders must confront attempts to put a veneer of religion on a custom largely rooted in culture.

The practice, he said, predates Islam and crosses religious lines. “No one in their right mind can say that a harmful practice ... belongs to religion.”

Under the rule of longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir, who was ousted in April last year, some Sudanese clerics said forms of FGM were religiously allowed, arguing that the only debate was over whether it was required or not.

It was fear of what people would say, rather than religious beliefs, that led Kawthar Ali’s mother to fight her decision not to subject her own daughter to FGM. Ali even feared her mother would have someone commit it on her daughter while she was at work. She armed her child with a plan: Run to a nearby police station.

Now 35, the daughter wonders if the police would have helped. She said she is grateful for her mother’s battle. Among high school classmates, she was “the abnormal one” for not getting cut. A rights defender, she spoke on condition she not be identified by name because of the sensitivity of her work.

The practice of FGM, she argued, is interwoven with a patriarchal mentality that connects a man’s sexual pleasure to a woman’s pain and exerts control over women.

“Customs, traditions and culture are much stronger than written laws,” she said, adding that anti-FGM campaigners need to engage men more.

Neighboring Egypt shows how difficult it is to end the practice. Egypt banned FGM in 2008 and elevated it to a felony in 2016, allowing tougher penalties. Some of Egypt’s top Islamic authorities have said FGM is forbidden.

Still, a 2015 government survey found that 87% of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had undergone FGM, though the rate among teens did fall 11 percentage points from a 2008 survey.

Reda el-Danbouki, executive director of the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness, said there have been cases where judges handed down minimum sentences on doctors who broke the law, giving the impression doctors can keep doing so with impunity.

As Sudan’s law is implemented, there is the risk that FGM will go underground, said Othman Sheiba, secretary general of Sudan’s National Council for Child Welfare. But criminalization sends a strong message, he said: “The government of the revolution will not accept this harm to girls.”

Women were at the forefront of the protests against Al-Bashir. Transitional authorities have since taken steps to roll back his legacy, which activists say disenfranchised women in particular.

For FGM truly to end, women must be empowered, Nimco Ali said. “You bring in the legislation and then you start having the conversation and then real change happens.” A more “awoken” generation of young Sudanese rejects the practice and wants equality, she said.

A British activist of Somali origin, 37-year-old Ali underwent FGM in Djibouti at age 7. She remembers feeling angry. A severe kidney infection — a complication from the procedur — almost killed her at 11, she said.

“I lost the concept of innocence,” she said. “I felt so broken and so alone.”

For her own procedure, Kawthar Ali was dolled up “like a bride.” Her body was rubbed with oil and she wore a new dress and gold bracelets.

Although she had anesthesia, she remembers the cries of a relative who did not.

Physical pain lasted about a month, but the psychological pain has endured a lifetime, she said.

“It’s like something getting ripped from inside of me,” she said. “Something was forcefully taken from me.”


Saudi Arabia: Three women on Association of Financial Analysts Board

July 02, 2020

Samir Salama

Riyadh: For the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history, three Saudi women were made members of the board of directors of the Saudi Association of Financial Analysts, Saudi media reported.

RawanAljermawi, CFA, KhloodAldukheil, CFA and Mona Alnemer, CFA, were among the winners of the Saudi Association of Financial Analysts’ new board of directors in the 2020 elections, which for the first time witnessed the submission of 28 male and female candidates, with 164 members eligible to vote.

The three Saudi women are certified financial analysts and members of the CFA Institute, the premier global association for investment management professionals.

It is an international organisation that provides investment professionals with education, a code of ethics to follow, and several certification programmes. Formerly known as the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR), CFA Institute includes members who hold the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation or are otherwise bound by its rules. The CFA Institute’s primary mandate is to specify and maintain a high standard for the investment industry.

CFA Institute is guided by a board of governors that is comprised of 20 board members, most of whom are elected by the institute’s members for three-year terms. The organisation is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., and has offices in New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai, London, and Brussels. It produces industry guidelines such as the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS).


Over 25 babies born to coronavirus infected women in Madinah

July 2, 2020

MADINAH — More than 25 babies were born to women infected with coronavirus in Madinah, according to the General Directorate of Health Affairs in Madinah region.

These include some preterm births before completion of the 9-month pregnancy, the directorate said in a statement on Thursday.

The medical team at Uhud Hospital carried out a number of caesarian sections in accordance with the strict medical procedures and protocols in light of the corona pandemic crisis.

All children were placed in neonatal nurseries for medical tests, and it was confirmed that none of them were infected with coronavirus. All the babies have left the nurseries and are in good health condition showing normal growth, according to the statement.

The directorate called on all citizens and expatriates who have symptoms of coronavirus to contact ‘Tatman’ clinics at health centers in the neighborhoods of Al-Nasr, Al-Khalidiya and Al-Daeetha.

“Those who want to screen their health condition even if they do not have the symptoms, can register and get an appointment for medical examination at ‘Taakud’ expanded screening center, through ‘Sehhaty’ application.




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