Saudi Arabia: Women Allowed To Change Names Without Guardian’s Consent
Former Miss World And Bollywood Actor Manushi Chhillar Roped In By United
Nations Women To Bat For Women Safety
Egyptian Women Give Up on the Law – and Turn to the Internet for Justice
UK Abolishes ‘Sexist’ Tax On Women’s Sanitary Products
Bangladesh Freedom Fighter Ayesha Khanam: A Fighter Till Her Last Breath
Australian Campaigner For Ex-Muslim Women Charged In Tanzania
In A Village Of Widows In Western Afghanistan, The Opium Trade Has Taken A
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Arabia: Women allowed to change names without guardian’s consent
women walk in Abha High City. (File photo: Reuters)
Saudi women can apply for an official change of their names without the
guardian’s approval, a local newspaper has reported, as the kingdom continues
to empower females and remove restrictions on them.
Interior Ministry’s Civil Affairs Agency has said a Saudi man or woman can
change their data including names of the family, children and social status by
visiting one of its branches, Okaz newspaper said.
agency also said that a woman’s name can be changed without referring to her
guardian by booking an appointment via the official website and checking for
related procedures, according to the report.
Saudi Interior Ministry has recently raised the age limit for changing a
person’s first name from 15 to 18 years. According to the ministry’s
stipulations, the name change should be applied for the first time only or for
return to a previous name.
amendments to the Saudi civil affairs system also stipulate that citizens aged
below 18 can only have their first names changed after presenting a written
consent from their parents or a power of attorney or through an application
from the legal guardian.
recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken steps to empower women in different
domains as part of dramatic socio-economic reforms in the country.
2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history,
ending a decades-old ban on female driving. Saudi authorities have also allowed
women to travel without a male guardian’s approval and to apply for a passport,
easing long-time controls on them.
Miss World And Bollywood Actor Manushi Chhillar Roped In By United Nations Women To Bat For Women Safety
FORMER Miss World and Bollywood
actor Manushi Chhillar
Delhi [India], January 2 (ANI): Former Miss World and Bollywood actor Manushi
Chhillar have been roped in by United Nations Women (The United Nations Entity
for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) for a global initiative
#OrangeTheWorld to raise awareness on gender-based violence.
who also runs her own initiative 'Project Shakti' on menstrual hygiene, aims to
encourage women to raise their voice against violence through the new
a video that she posted on Instagram, Chhillar was on Saturday seen raising her
voice against gender-based violence.
are most susceptible to violence in various forms and they face it almost
everywhere. Women across all age groups are at constant risk and it is
heart-breaking to feel this as a woman myself," the former Miss World
one point or another, we all have known someone who has been at the receiving
end of violence. But what do we do about it? It's crucial that we stand by
survivors, believe them, support them to report abuse, and make our voices
heard," she added.
23-year-old actor also threw light on the fact that the cases of domestic
violence in the country shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown
when most people stayed at home.
the COVID-19 pandemic, the shadow (emphasis) pandemic of violence against women
has grown darker. Cases of Domestic Violence have increased. But as we work
towards emerging from COVID-19 we need to also actively work towards rebuilding
a world that's safe for women," Chhilar said.
the '#OrangeTheWorld' initiative, Chhillar along with the United Nations Women
organisation will be working on ending online harassment of women among other
forms of harassment.
23-year-old actor who will soon make her Bollywood debut through YRF's
'Prithviraj' also called for ending physical, psychological, and sexual
violence against women through her Instagram stories.
Women Give Up on the Law – and Turn to the Internet for Justice
three women admired Islam el Azzazi. Each one explained that she had been so
excited and could not believe that the famous director had invited her to his
home to discuss her future in film.
woman wrote that though she hadn't studied film, she had an idea for a movie
and was seeking a grant to produce it. "People recommended that I turn to
I.A. [the initials of Egyptian film director Islam el Azzazi] because he was on
many judging panels and he knows how to present proposals for this kind of
grant," she wrote. Her story was published last month, alongside stories
of many other women, in the Egyptian, Arabic-language feminist blog "Daftar
Hekayat" (which translates to "Story Book"). The blog is
intended to serve as a forum for women who have suffered sexual harassment and
violence. The woman added that she knew Azzazi was married with a daughter, and
he knew she was married – he had even met members of her family.
abolishes ‘sexist’ tax on women’s sanitary products
TV News Desk
on Friday became the latest country to abolish the so-called “tampon tax,”
eliminating sales taxes on women’s sanitary products.
move was widely praised by women’s rights advocates as well as proponents of
the country’s departure from the European Union.
chief Rishi Sunak had committed to ending the widely unpopular tax on tampons
and sanitary pads in his budget in March but the change could only take effect
Friday after Britain had finally left the economic orbit of the European Union.
EU law, nations cannot reduce the rate of value-added tax on menstrual products
below 5% as they are deemed to be luxury items and not essentials. Ireland is
the only EU country that does not charge a levy on sanitary products as its
zero tax rate was in place before the EU set its floor.
products are essential, so it’s right that we do not charge VAT,” said Sunak.
“We have already rolled out free sanitary products in schools, colleges and
hospitals and this commitment takes us another step closer to making them
available and affordable for all women.”
officially left the bloc’s vast single market for people, goods and services at
11 p.m. London time on Thursday, giving it greater scope to set its own laws. A
new U.K.-EU trade deal will bring new restrictions and red tape, but for
British Brexit supporters, it means reclaiming national independence from the
EU and its rules. They pointed to the abolition of the tampon tax as an early
positive change from Brexit.
treasury has previously estimated the move will save the average woman nearly
40 pounds ($55) over her lifetime.
been a long road to reach this point, but at last, the sexist tax that saw
sanitary products classed as nonessential, luxury items can be consigned to the
history books,” said Felicia Willow, chief of the Fawcett Society, a women’s
other countries have also eliminated the tampon tax, including Australia,
Canada and India. In the United States, several states including New York and
Florida have also nixed the tax.
Freedom Fighter Ayesha Khanam: A Fighter Till Her Last Breath
Mahila Parishad president and freedom fighter Ayesha Khanam -- a guardian of
the women's movement in Bangladesh, who dedicated her life to the rights of
deprived, oppressed and disenfranchised women -- breathed her last early
integral part of the women's movement in Bangladesh, her message to her fellow
countrywomen was to stand their own grounds and develop an uncompromising
attitude so that they can take their own responsibilities and decisions.
has always been the way and is still the way. And this is the message given by
Pritilata, this was also said by Ila Mitra, and this was the oath taken by
Begum Rokeya," Ayesha told this correspondent in an earlier interview with
The Daily Star.
Mohila Parisha (BMP) General Secretary Maleka Banu said, "She [Ayesha] was
suffering from lung cancer and her condition deteriorated around 3:30am
yesterday. She was taken to the BRB Hospital in the capital, where the on-duty
doctor confirmed her death around 4:00am."
body was taken to BMP around 9:00am and later to Netrakona, where she was
buried next to the grave of her late husband freedom fighter and engineer
Mortuza Hasan in the family graveyard, said Maleka.
vice president of left-leaning organisation Bangladesh Chhatra Union, she was
an active organiser of all progressive movements, including the 1962 student
movement, 1969 mass upsurge and 1971 Liberation War.
an interview with The Daily Star, she said that during the end of April 1971,
she went across the border to Agartala, where she stayed at a camp for refugees
and freedom fighters. There, she provided medical assistance to wounded freedom
fighters after taking primary training on medical services.
has motivated me the most throughout the years is the heroics of women during
the anti-colonial struggle in this subcontinent and their biographies. During
my eight-month long stay at Agartala in '71, I met many women who were involved
in the anti-colonial struggle and it drove me towards the women's movement."
the Liberation War, there was scope for me to engage in national politics but
instead I got involved in the women's movement after realising that even though
many of my fellow activists were getting involved in politics, there was not
enough prioritisation in protecting the rights of women."
then, she had been attending many national and international events, delivering
speeches, organising for and with women, engaging in lobbying and advocacy,
working for the end of violence against women and much more.
1984, she became the organising secretary of the same organisation followed by
the general secretary in 1991. In 2008, she became the president of BMP.
a condolence message, Hasina said that the country's women community has lost a
genuine and brave compatriot at the death of the women's leader.
M Abdul Hamid also expressed shock and sorrow at her death and prayed for the
eternal peace of the departed. He too conveyed his sympathy to the family.
War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas
Employment Minister Imran Ahmad, Bangladesh Communist Party President Mujahidul
Islam Selim and general secretary Mohammad Shah Alam; and Advocate Salma Ali,
president of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, Forum for Secular
Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971, also prayed for the departed
soul and expressed sympathy to her family in separate statements.
Khanam left behind her only daughter and a host of relatives and well-wishers
to mourn her death.
campaigner for ex-Muslim women charged in Tanzania
Australian campaigner for ex-Muslim women has been arrested and charged in
Tanzania, with supporters calling the charges politically motivated.
to a petition page set up in her support, Zara Kay was summoned to Oyster Bay
Police Station in the East African nation's largest city Dar Es Salaam on 28
December, where she was held for 32 hours and questioned about her
organisation's campaigning and why she left Islam.
Kay is the founder of Faithless Hijabi, an organisation supporting women who
have been abused for leaving Islam.
to the supporter's page, she was bailed and has had her passport confiscated.
is said to be facing three charges, including making a satirical post critical
of the President of Tanzania's handling of coronavirus, failing to return her
Tanzanian passport when she received her Australian one, and using a SIM-card
not registered in her name.
social media posts were made in May when Ms Kay was living in London.
is due to report back to the police station with her lawyer on 5 January.
Kay has been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and supporters say
she was hospitalised with related symptoms after her arrest.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to ABC News they were
providing consular assistance to an Australian national in Tanzania but
declined to provide any further information, citing privacy.
A Village Of Widows In Western Afghanistan, The Opium Trade Has Taken A Deadly
ALI, Afghanistan — On the barren high plains of western Afghanistan, along a
roadway south of Herat city, is a collection of sturdy earthen huts known as
Qala-e-Biwaha, or “village of widows.”
of the village’s men have disappeared — killed while trying to smuggle opium
across the desolate frontier into neighboring Iran. The widows have been left
to fend for themselves and their children, some of whom have also died while
transporting drugs over the border from Herat province’s rugged Adraskan
area is so destitute that men seeking work here have two choices, said Mohammad
Ali Faqiryar, the district governor: “They can smuggle drugs or join the
who agree to smuggle opium, heroin and methamphetamines into Iran can earn $300
or more per trip, a fortune for such a poor village. But they risk arrest,
prosecution and execution in Iran’s Islamic courts — or being shot and killed
by Iranian border guards.
of 2018, Afghanistan was the world’s largest producer of opium, and poppy is
the country’s most lucrative cash crop. The profits fuel the Taliban’s
financial networks and for years have undermined sustainable reconstruction and
security efforts by the United States and its allies.
officials seem powerless to stop the trade; many have grown wealthy through
their complicity in facilitating the trafficking. What results is an enduring
cycle of opium cultivation, processing and trafficking that often leaves
Afghanistan’s most vulnerable to bear the dire consequences of the illicit
said he has tried and failed to get government money for programs to help
people raise livestock and grow wheat, rice and beans in the arid, unforgiving
widows survive on food bought with their earnings from the wool-processing
trade and on donations from relatives and international aid groups. Some
children attend a madrassa, or Islamic school, run by a mullah at a tiny mosque
in a nearby settlement. The nearest population center is Herat city, the
provincial capital, 45 miles north.
a long time, life was very good and my three sons earned a lot of money
carrying opium,” said Nek Bibi, a widow who said she was about 50 years old.
She spoke outside her dwelling, fashioned from dried packed earth, as a
grandchild clung to her robes. “Then they were all killed.”
oldest son, Ghulam Rasul, 20, was arrested several years ago and later hanged
in Iran after he was convicted of smuggling opium, she said. Three years ago,
she said, two more sons — Abdul Ghafoor, 15, and Abdel Zarif, 14 — were shot
dead by Iranian border guards as they tried to transport opium from
said Iran never returned her sons’ bodies, a complaint shared by other women in
the village. “I don’t know if they were buried in Iran or their bodies were
just thrown in the desert,” she said.
husband, Mohammad Sadeq, recently died of illness, Bibi said, leaving her to
care for her sons’ widows and her eight grandchildren. She earns a meager
living processing raw wool by hand into fibers for carpet weaving.
days, the village is whipped by frigid winds that drown out the bleating of
sheep in rough pens next to the widows’ huts, which seem to rise up from the
dun-colored soil to mimic the shape and texture of the surrounding hills. There
is no electricity or running water, and no heat except from the dry brush that
families buy or collect to burn. Some widows, like Bibi, light a single bulb at
night with power generated during the day by tiny solar panels.
were so severe this fall that many women fled the village for the homes of
relatives or for displaced-person camps run by aid organizations. Until
recently, the village was home to 80 widows and their families, said Mohammad
Zaman Shakib, the district council’s development director. Today, there are
he spoke, several widows and their children squatted beside their huts, warming
themselves in the brittle winter sunshine that emerged after a morning of snow
squalls. Most of the women wore long black robes that concealed all but their
eyes. Some spoke of leaving the village.
said her husband, Fazel Haq, had struggled to earn a living collecting and
selling brush for cooking and heating. Desperate, he accepted an offer to
smuggle opium for $200 per trip, she said.
trafficked drugs for three years until, five years ago, he was shot and killed
by Iranian border guards, Fatima said. Now she cares for the couple’s five
paucity of men in the village has not liberated the women from the harsh
confines of Afghanistan’s patriarchal culture. The area around Qala-e-Biwaha is
home to several white-bearded men, who interrupted some of the widows and
talked over others as they spoke about their hardships.
is one of three western provinces that provide a regular export conduit for
drugs, Afghan officials say, with Iran a primary destination for Afghanistan’s
the governor, said the village emerged as the area’s center of drug trafficking
after a local man started an opium smuggling operation there three decades ago.
The same man now commands a pro-government militia in Herat, he said.
smuggling in the area is so pervasive that Iran deploys vehicle patrols along
the open border with the Adraskan district, the governor said. Yet traffickers,
known as quchaqbar, are able to transport enough opium — much of it from
Helmand and Farah provinces — into Iran to absorb the loss of drug shipments
intercepted along the roughly 135-mile border the province shares with Iran.
recently as 2016, Iran executed hundreds of people a year, most of them for
drug offenses, Amnesty International reported. The pace of drug crime
executions has slowed since a 2017 amendment to Iran’s drug law raised the
threshold for the death penalty.
United States spent $8.62 billion on failed counternarcotics efforts in
Afghanistan from 2002 through 2017, the special inspector general for
Afghanistan reconstruction concluded in a 2018 report. And yet opium production
rose from 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to 9,000 metric tons in 2017.
the widows’ village and other settlements in Herat province, the war is never
far away. The Taliban regularly attack government outposts nearby. Every day,
police patrols clear the highway to Herat city of roadside bombs planted by
militants at night, Faqiryar said.
he said, a small border outpost was shut down by the government after it was
attacked and damaged — not by the Taliban, but by drug traffickers aligned with
the militants to clear the way for trafficking.
the widows endure, most of them earning a pittance in the wool-processing
trade, which leaves their hands calloused and discolored. As they struggle to
raise their children, many fear their sons will follow their dead fathers into
the drug trafficking business.
won’t let them — they’ll be killed just like their father,” Fatima said of her
five sons. “I would forbid it, even if it meant we starved to death.”
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