New Age Islam News Bureau
17 March 2015
GROWING TREND: More and more Saudis are growing comfortable with the trend of posting pictures of themselves online and they are ensuring they look their best at every photo opportunity. (AN photo)
• Selfie Frenzy Sends Saudis Rushing To Beauty Clinics
• Mother Abducts Dutch Children to ISIL-Held Syrian City
• Maid Abusers in Saudi Arabia to Be Named and Shamed
• PM’s Wife Urges Turkish Men to Remain Faithful to Help Fight against Cervical Cancer
• Christian and Muslim Work Together For Lives of Pakistani Women
• Daughter of Malaysia’s Opposition Leader Arrested on Sedition Charge
• Child Marriage Bid Foiled In Jamalpur, Bangladesh
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi Moms Visiting Clinics Seeking Male Children
17 March 2015
Many Saudi women are obsessed with having male children in the belief that they are more likely to become breadwinners and continue the family line, Arab News has found.
These women, including those who have only had female children, are increasingly heading to clinics in the hope that doctors can help them determine the sex of their offspring.
Fawzia Al-Shamakh, director of the self-development consultation center and psychology and sociology consultant at Dar Al-Hekma College, said that women doing so are driven by the mainstream view in the country that male children stand a better chance of succeeding and supporting their families.
“You will find that a woman carrying a male foetus is energized with feelings of satisfaction and dignity.”
There is a prevailing belief among Saudis that a girl should grow up to take care of the household and produce babies, while a man has the responsibility of continuing the family line, she said.
Al-Shamakh said that Saudi women have the power to change this perception by working and proving that they are also capable of taking up top positions in all industries.
Fahd Salman, a consultant in obstetrics, gynaecology, infertility and in vitro fertilization, said that the sex of a baby is determined by the chromosomes of its parents. There is no method that can guarantee success, he said.
The previous genetic implantation method appears to be the most effective, but it also has a low success rate. This procedure is available at many hospitals and fertility clinics in the Kingdom, he said.
Mazen Bishara, an obstetrics, gynecology and infertility consultant in Jeddah, said there is great demand in the Kingdom for these procedures, in comparison with other countries. Many people believe that a skilled doctor is capable of determining the sex of a baby, he said.
Selfie frenzy sends Saudis rushing to beauty clinics
17 March 2015
Saudis are the top users of social networking sites worldwide, with subscriptions consistently increasing, according to experts.
For many Saudis, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have revolutionized their social lives. The impact, however, has not always been beneficial, as these sites have contributed to lower privacy and greater exposure. Between “selfies” and tweets, society has become more open, and users are freely able to view such posts.
Until recently, the majority of young Saudis were very conscious of posting pictures of themselves online, but now, more and more Saudis are growing comfortable with the trend and ensuring they are always prepared for a photo opportunity.
Taking the perfect selfie requires significant preparation. Barbers and beauty salons have benefited greatly from the trend due to the increase in visitors wishing to get their hair styled, skin cleaned, and even their nails manicured.
Experts say many women have turned to cosmetic surgery as evidenced by the increase in the demand for Botox injections, skin peeling, bleaching and laser surgeries. The cost for such procedures varies from SR500 to SR1,500 per session.
Cosmetic surgery for hands and feet is increasingly common, says beauty consultant Oroba Al-Nasser, as many women post pictures of their hands and feet since they are unable or unwilling to show their faces due to social norms.
“Saudi Arabia has become, according to 2010 statistics, the leader in the Arab world regarding the percentage of fat reduction surgeries,” says Al-Nasser, noting that social networking has encouraged this growing desire among users to look good.
Fouad Al-Mishkhas, a social affairs specialist, said images of women on social networking sites typically portray hands, feet, and clothing brands, while young males post pictures of their private lives, including their clothing and muscles.
“We are in an age where such networking not only affects the individual, but society as a whole. We do not have available studies on the repercussions of this phenomenon,” he added, noting that the impact may be substantially negative.
Mother abducts Dutch children to ISIL-held Syrian city
16 Mar 2015
Two Dutch children have been abducted by their mother and taken to the ISIL-held city of Raqqa in Syria, the Dutch prosecution's office has confirmed.
The children's 32-year-old mother took the boy and girl, aged 7 and 8, from their hometown of Maastricht in southern Netherlands in October, after which Dutch police rang a major alert, public broadcaster NOS reported on Monday.
Despite an international arrest warrant, the woman, who is a Chechen national, managed to reach Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL).
Her other two children were placed with a relative in the Netherlands, Dutch media reported.
After their arrival in Syria, the woman announced via Facebook that she and her children were in Raqqa. Nothing has been heard from them since, prosecutors told Dutch media.
According to the prosecutor's office, the woman had arranged for false passports for her and her children.
The prosecutor's office said it was the first time that Dutch children were abducted to ISIL-held territory.
The Dutch father of the children, Luca and Aysha, told newspaper De Limburger (Dutch) that they were taken by his ex-wife without his consent.
The man had previously gone to the police because he suspected that his ex was about to travel to Syria.
Police interrogated her several times, but she denied the alleged travel plans and no concrete steps were taken.
Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh told NOS that it would be impossible to recover the children, partly because the Netherlands has no legal relationship with Syria and that the woman and children were in a war zone.
Maid Abusers in Saudi Arabia to Be Named and Shamed
17 March 2015
The Labour Ministry will publish a blacklist of employers and recruitment offices accused of abuses in dealing with domestic workers. The blacklisted names will be published on Musaned, the government website about licensed recruitment offices.
The move is aimed at protecting domestics’ rights and eliminating the malpractice by recruitment agencies and citizens alike, according to a media report.
Majed bin Anzan, director of business development and sales at Alam Company, said this step would prevent recruitment agencies and citizens from abusing household workers. The Labor Ministry will introduce the blacklist to the new version of Musaned, currently under development.
“The blacklist will feature the names of citizens who delayed maids’ pay, withheld their passports or violated their rights,” he said during a workshop on domestic labor visas.
“It is unacceptable to allow some citizens who abuse domestics to recruit new ones without punishment,” he said. “This practice against workers harms the Kingdom’s reputation in labor-exporting countries and affects the future of the whole recruitment process.”
Yahya Al-Maqbool, head of the recruitment committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Musaned would streamline the recruitment market and resolve all obstacles in the recruitment process. “Domestics must be protected from mistreatment by some employers.”
PM’s Wife Urges Turkish Men to Remain Faithful to Help Fight against Cervical Cancer
March 17, 2015
Sare Davutoğlu, the wife of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and a gynaecologist, has urged Turkish men to remain monogamous, saying the HPV virus, which is one of the main causes of cervical cancer, is initially transmitted to women by their husbands after they have had an affair with an infected person.
The 15 types of 200 different HVP viruses have the ability to cause cancer, she said at a symposium against cervical cancer in Istanbul on March 16, calling on men to fight against the disease as well as women.
“I believe it is wrong to put responsibility only on women. Men have also very important responsibilities on this subject. Because this virus is passed to women from their husbands 95 percent of the time,” she added.
Davutoğlu reminded men of their responsibilities regarding monogamy in order to protect the health of themselves, their wives and their families.
She also stressed that early diagnoses of this virus can often prevent it from developing into cancer.
“This virus does not cause cancer rapidly in most cases. It is possible to prevent most cases theoretically if we detect HPV earlier, recognize the lesions that can turn into cancer, and treat them. That’s why women should regularly have check-ups,” she said.
Engaging in sexual intercourse at early ages, genital warts, smoking, taking birth control pills for a long time, and low educational and socioeconomic conditions all increase the possibility of being diagnosed with cervical cancer, Davutoğlu also claimed.
Cervical cancer is the fifth most common type seen in women aged between 25 and 49, she added, underlining that preventing it was hugely important not only for women’s health but also for society as a whole.
Christian and Muslim Work Together For Lives of Pakistani Women
March 17, 2015
The Rev. Emanuel Nasir is a Christian living in Washington Township, Gloucester County. Shakila Rani, who is Muslim, lives in Gujranwala, Pakistan.
Together, they are trying to improve the lives of Pakistani women who are being abused inside the home, are being denied educational and other opportunities, or have become the victims of violent attacks.
Rani directs the Rehab Project, a provider of counseling and educational services, as well as legal and medical information, to about 50 women - most of whom are Muslim - annually.
The 10-year-old project, which also provides micro-loans for women to start sewing businesses and similar home enterprises, is supported by Presbyterian churches in South Jersey and elsewhere.
"If the life of women is better, the life of the entire nation is better," says the Pakistan-born Nasir, 69, a Presbyterian clergyman who immigrated to the United States from Gujranwala in 1969.
He founded Asian Christian Ministries, the Rehab Project's parent organization, in 1988. The project is one of ACM's "peacemaking" missions.
"Why would a Christian pastor help Muslim women?" Nasir says. "Because I see them as human beings."
Rani, a Gujranwala resident currently on her third visit to the United States, says she wishes she could import American freedoms to Pakistan.
"Here, there is happiness all around," says Rani, 46, a married mother of three. "If my daughter were here, she could do whatever she wants."
In Pakistan, interfaith efforts between Muslims (97 percent of the population) and Christians (2 percent) are unusual, and tolerance of the country's religious minorities is often tenuous at best.
On Sunday, at least 15 people were killed and 70 injured in suicide bombings at two Christian churches in Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city.
Rani plans to speak about the Taliban attacks Tuesday at a Pitman meeting of the West Jersey Presbytery, which oversees 60 Presbyterian churches in the state's six southern counties.
Rehab "is one of a variety of mission projects [we] support locally and internationally," notes the Rev. Deborah Brincivalli, chief executive of the presbytery.
"People often throw up their hands and say, 'What can I do?' In this instance we can do something by continuing to support Shakila," Brincivalli adds. "She has a powerful and moving story."
I meet Rani at Nasir's home in the Turnersville section of the township.
Her manner is gracious, her praise for her reception in America ("so caring, so loving") heartfelt. She credits her mother, Khurshid Begum, with inspiring her to go to school and work, despite the secondary status customarily accorded women in Pakistani society.
"If someone comes to the door, and no men are in the house, the woman will say, 'There's no one home,' as if she is not a person," Rani says. "Women don't have any education. They don't have any information."
Rani's husband, a carpenter working in Saudi Arabia, had to be persuaded to allow his wife to visit the United States the first time. Her sisters are caring for the couple's children while she is here, trying to raise money for a proposed Rehab Project service center.
Although the program keeps a low profile - and its clients must obtain family permission to use its services - the very notion of empowering women can inflame extremists.
The Taliban "kills indiscriminately," Nasir says. "People going to work or the store can't be sure they'll make it home alive."
After Sunday's church bombings, Rani prepared a statement to be read at the presbytery meeting Tuesday.
"Christians were killed as they worshipped, and many more were wounded," she writes. "It saddens my heart. . . . I pray that God may have mercy on Pakistan, and that in the very near future we'll become free from terrorism and religious bigotry."
Daughter of Malaysia’s Opposition Leader Arrested on Sedition Charge
March 17, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: The eldest daughter of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday she had been arrested for sedition after reading out in parliament parts of a speech by her father criticising his recent jailing.
Nurul Izzah, 34, a Member of Parliament and popular public figure, confirmed her arrest by phone while in custody.
Nurul became the latest nabbed in a sedition crackdown by Malaysia’s government that has seen dozens investigated, charged, or convicted over the past year, including several top opposition politicians.
“I am extremely angry, and we all should be, because as parliament members we should be free to criticise the government of the day without reprisal,” said Nurul, who also has led recent street rallies against Anwar’s conviction.
Anwar was convicted on February 10 of sodomising a former male aide in 2008 and sentenced to five years in jail.
Anwar, who denies the charge, calls it a “political conspiracy” by the coalition in power since 1957, designed to thwart steady opposition gains in recent elections.
Nurul last week read out in parliament portions of a statement by Anwar, now in prison, in which he questioned the independence of Malaysia’s judiciary.
A police official said that Nurul was likely to be held at least overnight.
Authorities have warned that criticising Anwar’s jailing could bring sedition charges, and a handful of critics have already been investigated or charged.
Child Marriage Bid Foiled In Jamalpur, Bangladesh
March 17, 2015
A bid for child marriage was foiled in Jamalpur district yesterday while two teenage boys were fined for stalking a schoolgirl in Habiganj the day before.
In Jamalpur, a student of Class VI was saved from underage marriage following timely intervention of Madarganj upazila administration in the district yesterday, reports our correspondent.
Locals said the 12-year-old student of Koylakandi Adarsha High School in Charpakerdah union under Madarganj upazila was set to be married with one Babu, 27, son of late Abdus Samad of Teghoria village in the afternoon.
On information, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Kamruzzaman rushed to the spot and stopped the marriage.
Away in Habiganj, a mobile court fined two teenage boys Tk 10,000 for stalking a schoolgirl in Madhabpur upazila of the district on Sunday, reports our Moulvibazar correspondent.
In default, they are to suffer two months in jail, said court sources.
The stalkers are Rubel Miah, 17, son of Safiqur Rahman, and Sagor Chandra Das, 16, son of Ranjon Das of Fatepur village.
The two often teased the Class VII student on her way to school, said the victim's family.
On information, police arrested Rubel and Sagor in Manikpur area of the upazila on Sunday afternoon.
The arrestees were later produced before the court that punished them.