New Age Islam News Bureau
8 Nov 2013
Photo: The law would mean parents could marry their adopted children
• 96 Divorce Cases Daily In the Saudi Kingdom
• Ex-Hasidic Woman Marks Five Years Since She Last Shaved Her Head
• Caught On Camera Trying To Sell Her Baby: Turkish Mother Wanted £300 for Little Girl
• Without Hindu marriage law, women struggle for rights in Pakistan
• Female Genital Mutilation Cases Should Be Treated As Child Abuse: Report
• FIFA President Pushes Iranians to End Stadium Ban on Women Watching Men's Matches
• Moscow MP Urges to School Ban on Muslim Head Veils
• Workers' Party Calls for Public Dialogue on Hijab Issue
• Pro-Morsi coalition calls for Friday protests 'in defence of women'
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Iran Law Could Allow Adults to Marry Their Adopted Children
November 08, 2013
Iran's vice president for women's issues and family affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, says she is planning to take action against a newly passed law that allows adult caregivers to marry their adopted children or stepchildren.
The law passed on October 22 by Iran's parliament and was approved in early October by the Guardians Council, despite widespread criticism. The Guardians Council is in charge of vetting all of parliament’s bills before they can become law.
A footnote in one of the articles of the legislation that is supposed to protect the rights of children and adolescents has been the main cause of the controversy.
The footnote says adult caregivers can marry non-blood related children who are in their custody if it is demanded by the country’s Welfare Organization and if a court rules that it would be beneficial to the child.
Molaverdi says she and several female lawmakers are planning measures to change the controversial article.
In an interview earlier this week with the reformist daily, “Shargh,” Molaverdi said, "Some senior clerics we met were critical of the ‘Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents Without Guardians or With Bad Guardians’ and disapproved it. Therefore, with the cooperation of lawmakers, we're preparing to send a “double urgency” bill to the parliament to change that article of the law before it's too late."
Molaverdi did not provide a time frame for her action against the controversial law. But she said that a legal team is already working on the bill that could lead to the changes in the disputed article.
Successful action against the law would be an encouraging sign for human rights defenders and others who have blasted the parliament's bill as immoral and warned that it would pave the way for pedophilia and incest. Many said that instead of spelling out conditions for such marriages, the parliament should have banned them.
According to Islamic laws enforced in Iran, girls can be married as young as 13 and boys at 15 with the permission of their fathers.
Supporters of the law argue that it provides protection for children.
Amir Hossein Ghazi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s social issues committee, advocated for the law by saying it would prevent caregivers from marrying children in their custody without any condition or restriction, which they have long been able to do.
"The parliament has created some restrictions for the marriage of adopted and neglected children…. As such it prevents the possibility of abuse,” he told the semi-official Mehr news agency.
Critics say the law will endanger families and children.
Among them is Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran's Society for the Protection of Children's Rights.
"A mother who has adopted a daughter cannot be an adoptive mother if in her remotest thoughts she sees that daughter as her [potential] replacement,” she told Iranian media. “On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that a mother who views her adopted son as a potential husband can have a healthy family."
Touran Valimorad, the head of the Alliance of Islamic Women, has also warned that the law could turn adopted children and stepchildren into objects of sexual desire.
In an op-ed piece published last month by the "Etemad" daily, she wrote: "An individual who accepts being the mother or the father of a child that is without guardians should free her or his mind and actions of any lust. Leaving the possibility of marriage open in the eyes and hearts of these people makes a sexual relationship possible and this will lead to a sin."
96 Divorce Cases Daily In the Saudi Kingdom
08 November 2013
JEDDAH — In marriage, which is supposed to be a lifelong partnership, the end is a far cry from the beginning. At the outset of their relationship, the couple will usually swim in the warm waters of romance, exchange sweet words and overwhelm each other with tender feelings. Then suddenly things change. What seemed to be impossible at the beginning will become quite probable at the end. The man and the woman will fight against all odds to be together, but as soon as they are joined in sacred matrimony, familiarization starts to breed boredom and may finally end up in divorce.
Most divorce cases take place in the first year of marriage, during which the couple is supposed to be still honeymooning. According to official statistics recently issued by the Ministry of Justice, there were 34,622 divorce cases in the Kingdom last year — an average of 96 divorces a day. So what are the reasons behind divorce? Here some of the many reasons, of which some may seem ridiculous and illogical.
“He goes out too much”
A female psychological and family consultant tells the story of a young woman named Wala, who was divorced less than six months after marriage.
Wala told the consultant she had to ask for divorce because her husband used to go out too much. She said, “ I was very enthusiastic about marriage. I could not wait to wear my white wedding gown and see my family and friends surrounding me on my wedding day. I dreamt a lot of the first day and visualized a romantic picture of the event. Very soon I was surprised to see my husband going out a lot. He did not want to sit beside me and become closer to me. I was shocked. In the past, I saw marriage as a rosy life. I dreamt of a man who would reciprocate my warm feelings and would always be near me. I was convinced that the man I had tied the knot with was not the man of my dreams. I decided to leave him before I became pregnant. I asked for a divorce and he readily agreed. I became a divorcee in less than six months.”
“She is older than me”
Another woman said she loved her husband and married him though he was much younger than her. She said she had no problem in this, but her husband started to be influenced by his family and relatives, who criticized him for marrying a woman who was older than him. She said, “My husband started to blame me for being older than him. Our life turned into hell. I told my family about my wish to divorce him and they supported me. I returned him all the money he had spent on the marriage and he divorced me. I was lucky I didn’t get pregnant.”
Another woman said she divorced her husband because she could not stand his bad odor. “I couldn’t bear his awful smell. I told my family about this and they supported me in my call for divorce. I got rid of my husband after three months only.”
“His soccer team lost”
A woman got divorced because her soccer team beat her husband’s. She said they were watching a game between their two favorite teams and the match ended in his team losing. “My husband revenged the goals against his team by divorcing me,” she said.
“I do not like your looks”
A woman said her girlfriends used to mock her on the ugliness of her husband. “I did not like his face and had fears that my son might look very much like him. I asked him for a divorce out of fear that if I got pregnant, my son might have the same looks,” she said. The woman said after the divorce, her girlfriends deserted her.
“Day off? Marriage off”
A woman got divorced because she decided to take a week off from the kitchen. “My husband came home one day and asked me what I had cooked for him. I told him that I did not cook anything because this was my day off from the kitchen. He immediately divorced me,” she said.
Is Love not enough?
Dr. Salma Mahrous Sibaih, a female family consultant and educationalist, believes love alone is not enough to sustain a marriage. “Marriage is the dream of every man and woman, but when they realize their dream, and come to live together under the same roof, they will start feeling this is not the real dream they had lived for. They will finally decide to call it a day,” she said. Sibaih said the young man may prepare his home to receive his new wife, but he will not care much about preparing himself for the occasion. “The man will want his wife to be caring and loving like his own mother, while the woman will want a man who will love her for all her worth. A conflict of wills will soon develop and the married life will end in divorce,” she said. She said parents will often side with their son or daughter and will not rule on their differences objectively. “It is very rare to find wise parents who will intervene to end the rift between the married couple peacefully,” she said. Sibaih said some women will give much attention to their own looks rather than caring for their homes, children or husbands, so they may become divorcees for this very reason. She called for training and rehabilitating the husband and wife on marital life. She also asked for practical measures to reduce the rate of divorce.
Ex-Hasidic Woman Marks Five Years Since She Last Shaved Her Head
08 November 2013
I remember the first time I felt the cold, prickly air on my newly shaved head. I remember looking in the mirror. I remember staring at the pile of auburn hair in the vanity sink of the cozy basement apartment I now shared with my husband of less than a day. I remember my mother gathering the hair into a garbage bag and disposing of it, unaffectedly. I remember placing the new wig on my bare head and fussing over the few stray hairs the shaytl makher, or wig stylist, forgot to spray into place.
The morning after my wedding, three months after my 18th birthday, my mother shaved my head, and I felt absolutely nothing. Was I supposed to feel sad at this loss? Was I supposed to feel violated? I did not. Married women shave their heads because Hashem and the rebbe command them to do so. According to the Talmud, a woman’s uncovered hair is equivalent to physical nudity. Hasidic rabbis have taken this step further, requiring women to shave their heads to ensure that not a single hair is seen. For Satmar women like me, it is a grave sin not to shave. You would not be buried in the Satmar beys-hakhayim, and if that weren’t serious enough, you would also put your children, live and unborn, at imminent risk of terrible diseases.
The Satmar Rebbe, Yoel Teitelbaum, famously gave emotional, tear-jerking speeches against married women growing their own hair. “Jewish daughters, our mothers and fathers gave up their lives to our Father in Heaven for the sanctity of His name, but you, their daughters, don’t want to give up even a few hairs?” he asked in a speech on Yom Kippur eve in 1951, according to “The Rebbe,” a 2010 biography by Dovid Meisels. “What does Hashem Yisbarach (God) ask of us? A few hairs! Because of a few hairs you are making yourselves lose both worlds. Jewish daughters shave your hair and give honour to the Torah.”
The last time I buzzed off my hair — exactly five years ago — was nothing like that first time. The anniversary marks a pivotal juncture in my life, a point of momentous change that led me on a path to a new life. The day before that final shave, on an unusually warm October night, my husband and I sat at an oblong wooden table in a side room of the main Satmar synagogue, in the upstate New York village of Kiryas Joel. At the table were eight middle-aged men in black hats and suits; they sported long gray-and-white beards. I sat with my trembling hands folded on my lap and adjusted my long black skirt — part of the uber-modest ensemble I had carefully chosen hours before — for the umpteenth time, and awaited the storm.
I knew we were in trouble the moment I saw the letter on the official United Talmudical Academy stationary in the mail. The letter was curt and stated unequivocally that because of my failure to dress in accordance with the stringent tznius, modesty, rules of the holy shtetl, our 3-year-old son could no longer attend school. After the shock wore off, my husband and I scrambled to arrange a meeting with the Va’ad Hatznius — the mysterious group charged with maintaining the highest standards of modesty, especially for women. The group was known to resort to extreme measures, such as slashing car tires, when warnings and threats did not work to restore modesty.
As I sat at the table with the Va’ad Hatznius, the head of the group told my husband and me that it could no longer tolerate my modern clothing. This is a holy shtetl, and the rebbe would be horrified if he were still alive, he said in Yiddish, while swaying side to side in his folding chair. Another man chimed in to say he also heard that I have bei-hur, a derisive term used to describe hair on a married woman. They couldn’t confirm it, he said, but oy vey to my family and me. What a disgrace.
I looked down at my dark shoes and thick beige stockings. How did the Va’ad Hatznius find out? It must have been the neighbors who saw a stray hair, who noticed that I wore the same turban all the time. It was the only turban I could find that would fit on top of the large, white knit kippah I bought in the hosiery shop, the type that Hasidic men wear to sleep at night, which held my mass of hair securely in place. I would spend many hours a day with these neighbor women while my children were playing outside. They must have ratted me out. Or, perhaps, the mikveh attendant reported me because I had been absent for more than a year.
Since my hair had started to grow out, I had stopped making the monthly trip to the strict Kiryas Joel mikveh to do the ritual bathing after menstruation, as required by Jewish law. Instead, I went to a mikveh in Rockland County, N.Y., where women with hair are allowed to bathe. I knew that the Va’ad Hatznius was going to catch on to my secret at some point, and now it had.
The group would send a woman to my house to check my head, the older man across from me said — all while keeping his right hand over his eyes to shield me from view. He spoke to my husband, never directly to me.
We left the synagogue, pale and worn down. My husband had tried desperately to counter their allegations, to keep our last strings to our community intact, to get our son back into the only yeshiva he could attend. There was no debating that we would have to prove our commitment to the group. We reasoned that if we rewound the clock, if I returned to the person I was — a model of Hasidic modesty — perhaps the group would let us stay in the place we were born and bred. I needed to lengthen my skirt, buy bigger shirts, cover my wig with a wider headband and, of course, shave my head.
I arrived back home, removed the dusty shaver from the linen closet and stared at my reflection in the mirror. It felt wrong, oh so very wrong, to shave. I felt violated and intimidated. But the thought of being revealed was worse. A woman would ring my doorbell tomorrow, ask me to remove my turban, and see all of my hair. Oh, the humiliation, the shame. My mother, my friends and the community would discover my secret. My son would lose his spot in school. I had no choice.
The decision to stop shaving was not a conscious one. When I became pregnant with my second child, I stopped visiting the mikveh. Once I was out of view of the mikveh attendant, there was no one to scrutinize my head. I simply let my hair grow out, anticipating the inevitable shave after my daughter’s birth. At this point in our marriage, my husband and I had forged friendships outside the little enclave of Kiryas Joel and discovered the vast population of pious Orthodox, and even Hasidic, Jews who didn’t shave their heads. The movies we covertly watched at home with the shades drawn, the illicit vacations we took — they all influenced my decision to forgo shaving. I still felt immense guilt at the thought of condemning my family to hell, and the feeling followed me like a haunting shadow.
But then my beautiful daughter arrived one cold January evening. I continued to let my hair grow. I felt like a woman again, even if my hair went uncovered for only a few hours a day, in the safe confines of my own home. It felt too good to let it go.
Standing in front of the mirror after my meeting with the Va’ad Hatznius, I knew I had skirted the inevitable for too long. Within three minutes, my long auburn hair lay in a sad heap in the same sink as it had five years earlier. I cried onto my clipped hair, hot tears of frustration, anger and humiliation.
That night, my husband and I could barely sleep. The next morning, we decided to leave the community for good. We no longer felt capable of maintaining an extreme Hasidic lifestyle. We ached for a little freedom, for the leash around our necks to be loosened, for my hair to be left in its rightful place, to grow or show as I pleased.
It has been five years. Many lifestyle changes and adjustments later, I no longer cover my hair as many of my Orthodox peers do, and I am no longer capable of accepting, let alone understanding, the practice of forced head shaving, much less the threats and intimidation used to maintain it within the community. But I am grateful for the fact that this very last, most personal violation of mine led my husband and me to gather the strength to take control of our lives and to make decisions for ourselves, our children and for me — my own body.
Frimet Goldberger is a radio producer, documentarian, writer and full-time mother of two children. She is set to receive her Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in December.
Caught On Camera Trying To Sell Her Baby: Turkish Mother Wanted £300 for Little Girl
08 November 2013
A mother has been accused of trying to sell her four-month-baby to a German couple for £300.
The 22-year-old woman was arrested after turning up at Sabiha Gökçen Airport to make the alleged exchange in September.
Dinara A. recently gave birth to a baby out of wedlock and had arranged to sell the baby for 1,000 Turkish Liras as part of a deal, according to daily Aksam.
In video released by Turkish police she is seen turning up at the airport in a taxi with her mother holding a carrycot.
The pair are seen in the airport and the young mother is spotted walking into the airport bathroom before emerging without the baby as the German woman walks in.
But the German woman left the baby in the washroom when she discovered that police would not permit her to proceed through passport control with the baby.
She notified the police about the abandoned baby and airport officials later discovered the negotiation after watching security camera footage, which had captured the entire incident.
Police returned the infant to her mother, who was caught at the airport, and later deported, reported TodaysZaman.
The German woman reportedly denied charges of attempting to purchase a baby, claiming that he had only wanted to help the new mother by lending her some money so that she could look after her baby.
Without Hindu marriage law, women struggle for rights in Pakistan
8 Nov 2013
KARACHI: The need for a Hindu marriage law is felt the most when young women, such as Meena Janti Lal, are abused and kicked out from their homes by their husbands, ending up with no official documents of their marriages or an option to seek legal dissolution.
“For three months after the wedding, my husband kept me locked up in a room and would hit me often,” said the eight-month-old pregnant woman, as she covers bulging belly with her dupatta. “Now he claims that I am not his wife and he will marry again. What shall I do?”
With tears in her eyes and a worried face, Meena sits at the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) where her parents brought her to lodge a complaint against her husband. Meena is one of the thousand of Hindu women, especially among the poor class, whose marriages have not been registered, and they have no right to go for divorce. The Hindu marriage law has been drafted by experts but has yet to be introduced in the Sindh Assembly by lawmakers.
She is unfortunately not the first of such cases to knock the human rights commission’s door. A representative of the HRCP said that they receive such cases at least twice a month where women complain of their husbands mistreating them. “In the lower caste, women are commonly abused and left behind by their husbands. They also do not grant them any maintenance rights. Human rights organisations in the community are weak and they do not check the status of such women or work to help them.”
Meena’s father, a worker at the Burns Hospital, said that his 22-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a neighbour, Akash, who lives in her sister’s neighbourhood in Gizri. This later led to her marriage with Akash, last August, in order to save the family’s pride. “The wedding took place in a small temple with few people but there were neither any signatures taken nor any documents produced,” he said.
The Express Tribune tried contacting Meena’s husband but he refused to talk and kept hanging up. Meanwhile, the police have taken an interest in the case. SHO Ghazala of the Women Police Station in South zone has called both the families to settle the matter.
According to lawyer Rochi Ram, Hindu women are also deprived of their right to seek divorce, maintenance money, as well as, inheritance rights apart from the right to register their marriages.
Hindu parliamentarian Mukesh Kumar Chawla claimed that a committee of lawyers and experts is finalising a draft of the bill and it would be presented within a month in the Sindh Assembly. He said the bill will include clauses for divorce, right to maintenance and other issues faced by Hindu women.
Lawyer Ram, who had taken part in drafting the bill, insisted that they have already prepared the bill and it is the parliamentarians who are delaying its placement before the assembly. Ram also blamed the Sindh government for their apathetic attitude. “The parliamentarians are all about talking and are indifferent towards crucial issues,” he said.
Larkana fares better
The situation in the rural areas is much better than urban centres, pointed out Kalpana Devi who heads the Hindu Panchayat in Larkana. After every wedding that takes place in the district, they issue marriage certificates that are acceptable in court, she said. If women are mistreated, the elders of the community sit together and work to solve the matter. “For us, the main issue lies when someone wants to move abroad and there is lack of documents to certify the marriage,” she admitted.
Female Genital Mutilation Cases Should Be Treated As Child Abuse: Report
08 November 2013
A new report is calling on medical professionals in England to take more of a hard-hitting role in putting an end to female genital mutilation (FGM).
Released by professional bodies representing midwives, nurses, gynecologists and obstetricians, a groundbreaking report is urging medical professionals to treat patients who have been subjected to FGM, or female circumcision, as child abuse victims.
“Even though FGM is child abuse, it has not been our priority because most people have felt that it’s a cultural thing and an exotic thing that people from different countries practice,” Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives -- which contributed to the report -- told the Thompson Reuters Foundation. “Young girls turn up in accident and emergency at age 10 with (urinary) problems and nobody does anything, nobody asks what’s going on, and no one has been prosecuted.”
Despite the fact that FGM was banned in the UK in 1985, the practice is still prevalent there.
In 2007, an estimated 66,000 women in England and in Wales had undergone FGM and over 24,000 girls under 15 were potentially at risk, according to a study released by Forward, a charity that works to improve the quality of life of African women and girls.
Part of the reason why girls in England are at risk is because women come from countries where the practice is commonplace, and then subject their daughters to circumcision, even though their babies are born in the UK, according to the new report.
The report made a number of recommendations, including encouraging medical professionals to collaborate with police and social services workers in incidents of FGM and to develop a more uniform way of documenting such cases.
These recommendations come at a time when cases of FGM are actually declining worldwide.
According to a July report released by the United Nations' Children's Fund, more women and girls than ever before are refusing to undergo FGM. However, 30 million girls still remain at risk of getting cut.
But the taboos surrounding female circumcision are gradually subsiding, as demonstrated by the latest report and the way in which the U.N. is also tackling the issue.
In November 2012, the U.N. passed a resolution condemning female genital mutilation as harmful to women and girls and encouraged member states to take measures to ban the practice. It was the first time the General Assembly's human rights committee addressed the problem.
"FGM is an indictment of us all,” said Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's U.N. representative, according to the Associated Press, “that a girl or young woman can be held down and mutilated is a violation of her human rights.”
FIFA President Pushes Iranians to End Stadium Ban on Women Watching Men's Matches
08 November 2013
November 8 - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has urged the Iranian authorities to end the ban on women attending men's matches, a policy that has been in force since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Blatter, wrapping up a two-day visit to Tehran, said he had raised the issue with that Iran's top female government official, Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar.
"I had the opportunity this morning to speak with the lady vice president to ask that in the government they should try to change one of the cultural laws here that women cannot attend football matches," Blatter told a news conference.
"I repeated this to the (conservative) speaker of parliament (Ali Larijani) and he said he will take it up." Restrictions on women attending football matches were imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"I did not intervene to change the law but, as the president of FIFA and defender of football in Islamic countries, I had to present this plea to the political authorities." Iran argues somewhat spuriously that the ban is necessary to protect female fans from listening to any foul language from the stands yet it was even extended to live public screenings of last year's European championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Blatter, in Tehran to attend the International Football and Science conference, added: "You have developed so much women's football here, that it should say that women also can go to the stadium."
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org
Moscow MP urges to school ban on Muslim head veils
08 November 2013
Moscow - Municipal deputy of the Yakimanka District Dmitry Zakharov is going to address Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin with a request to ban wearing hijab in city. The author of the initiative answers the questions.
"I believe it is not right for any religious formation to demand special attitude. In fact, hijab is outer manifestation of such demand. It's no good, I think we need to ban wearing it in public places: in the streets, in state and educational establishments," Zakharov said in his interview published by the Metro daily.
He notes that even in such Islamic countries as Tunisia and Algeria hijab is banned in state institutions and schools.
"We'd better follow this example today or we'll have even greater problems in the future. Hijab is only commencing the cultural expansion," the MP believes.
According to him, hijab will prevent people from integration.
"For instance, if a girl wears hijab to school, it's more likely that girls in her class won't communicate with her. And even more likely, she won't be able to communicate with the boys there. So after graduation we will get an alien, rather than a child integrated in the society," Zakharov said.
Workers' Party calls for public dialogue on hijab issue
08 November 2013
THE Workers’ Party (WP) has called for public dialogue to achieve a “workable consensus” on the issue of uniformed public officers wearing the hijab or Muslim headscarf, adding that these discussions should also involve the heads of the uniformed professions.
In a statement on Wednesday, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community. among the various communities and with the elected government.
“The discussions should be carried on with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies,” said Faisal. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Pro-Morsi coalition calls for Friday protests 'in defence of women'
8 Nov 2013
A coalition led by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has called for mass protests on Friday under the rallying slogan "Egypt's women are a red line," decrying recent arrests of women protesting in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
In a statement, the National Coalition in Support of Legitimacy accused security forces of beating, torturing and detaining women in the latest security crackdown against Morsi's supporters.
Last week, 21 Muslim Brotherhood women were arrested during a demonstration in Egypt's second city Alexandria.
Video footage circulating on social media networks showed security forces manhandling some of the women arrested.
"Such practices didn't stop at killing men, women and children in massacres as had happened in Rabaa El-Adawiya and Al-Nahda Square; instead there is an unprecedented targeted attack on women," the statement read.
The sit-ins at Rabaa El-Adawiya and Al-Nahda Square in Cairo were violently dispersed by police in August, leaving hundreds of protesters dead.
The coalition said that “increasing violence” by security forces is a sign of the "failure of the coup.”
Morsi was ousted by the army in July after mass protests calling for his overthrow. He made his first public appearance at a court session on Monday. He is facing a number of charges, including inciting violence against protesters during his presidency.
The coalition, which has been staging regular protests since Morsi's ouster, said it will launch a week of protests.
The day of Morsi's trial witnessed relatively small protests by his supporters.
The Brotherhood's top members have all been detained by security forces, and many face similar charges to Morsi. The Egyptian government has accused the group of leading a terrorist plot against the state.