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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Jun 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Taliban Poisoning Girl Pupils Is New Dilemma For Afghan Parents

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Jun 2012


 Anti-sexual harassment rally Attacked in Egypt

 Muslim Woman claims bias at US religious freedom panel

 Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla promises to get domestic violence bill approved 

 Pakistan working for Women’s empowerment: Pak Ambassador to US

 A Blackburn victim of forced marriage welcomes new legislation

 Activists shocked at Delhi HC ruling that reduces marriageable age for Muslim girls to 15

 Women in Special Forces in U S: the Debate on Combat Exclusion  

 Welsh golfer Sahra Hassan honoured by Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation

 Is there a fatwa for daring to compare burqa-wearing Muslims women to garbage bags?

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Egypt anti-sexual violence protest in Tahrir attacked




After security reasons, traditional restrictions and poverty, Taliban poisoning girl pupils is new dilemma for Afghan parents

June 08, 2012

In Afghanistan, some 5 million school-aged children cannot go to school because of security reasons, traditional restrictions and poverty

“It really disappointed me to see my girl laid down unconscious on a bed in hospital to receive medical treatment. It is a matter of concern for me and other parents sending their kids to school,” Abdul Qayum, father of an affected girl, said in a hospital in the northern Takhar province.

The relatively peaceful Takhar, 245 km north of Afghan capital Kabul , has experienced a few cases of poisoning girl at schools over the past one month causing panic among the residents especially the parents.

“It is a new evil phenomenon added to our suffering. My daughter left home healthily for school in the morning but now is unconscious,” the upset Qayum told Xinhua.

He also called on the government to bring to justice those behind the attack to ensure security in schools.

For at least six times, according to local officials, the girl schools have been mysteriously attacked with toxic substance, leaving hundreds of innocent pupils affected.

The latest such attack was on Sunday and according to Hafizullah Safi, director of the public health department in Takhar’s provincial capital Taluqan city, 40 students from Nahid Shahid Girl School had been taken to hospital for medical treatment.

Earlier, 97 students were sent to hospital after similar attack on the Bashir Abad Girl School. However, the authorities have not identified the substance used in poisoning the girl pupils and no one has claimed responsibility for it.

Local officials blamed the enemies of peace, a term used against Taliban militants, for attacking the girl schools.

But Taliban militants have rejected their involvement in targeting girl students. In a statement over the weekend the outfit said attacking schools is not the work of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of ousted Taliban regime).

Local media reported Tuesday that five people had been arrested on charges of involving in poisoning girl school students in Takhar province.

Several schools have already been closed down in Andar district of Ghazni province due to security threats posed by Taliban outfit, according to officials.

Afghan minister for education Farooq Wardak admitted last month that 530 schools have remained closed due to security reasons, mostly in the southern region where Taliban are active. As a result, 300,000 students have been deprived of their right for education.

In Afghanistan , some 5 million school-aged children cannot go to school because of  security reasons, traditional restrictions and poverty.

In relatively more conservative region in Afghanistan , especially in tribal areas where the old tradition is deeply rooted, the parents often do not like young girls to go out of home.

“My dream was to become a gynecologist but unfortunately my father stopped me from going to school when I was in grade 7,” a girl from northern Baghlan province said.



Anti-sexual harassment rally Attacked in Egypt

June 9, 2012

CAIRO, Egypt -- A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment Friday, with the attackers overwhelming male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

From the ferocity of the assault, some of the victims said it appeared to have been an organized attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample on the pro-democracy protest movement.

The attack follows smaller scale assaults on women this week in Tahrir, the epicentre of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year. Thousands have been gathering in the square this week in protests over a variety of issues -- mainly over worries that presidential elections this month will secure the continued rule by elements of Mubarak's regime backed by the ruling military.

Friday's march was called to demand an end to sexual assaults. Around 50 women participated, surrounded by a larger group of male supporters who joined to hands to form a protective ring around them. The protesters carried posters saying, "The people want to cut the hand of the sexual harasser," and chanted, "The Egyptian girl says it loudly, harassment is barbaric."

After the marchers entered a crowded corner of the square, a group of men waded into the women, heckling them and groping them. The male supporters tried to fend them off, and it turned into a melee involving a mob of hundreds.

The marchers tried to flee while the attackers chased them and male supporters tried to protect them. But the attackers persisted, cornering several women against a metal sidewalk railing, including an Associated Press reporter, shoving their hands down their clothes and trying to grab their bags. The male supporters fought back, swinging belts and fists and throwing water.

Eventually, the women took refuge in a nearby building with the mob still outside until they finally got out to safety.

"After what I saw and heard today. I am furious at so many things. Why beat a girl and strip her off? Why?" wrote Sally Zohney, one of the organizers of the event on Twitter.

The persistence of the attack raised the belief of many that it was intentional, though who orchestrated it was unclear.

Mariam Abdel-Shahid, a 25-year-old cinema student who took part in the march, said, "This is pressure on the woman to return home," she said.

Assaults on women in Tahrir have been a demoralizing turn for Egypt's protest movement.

During the 18-day uprising against Mubarak last year, women say they briefly experienced a new Egypt, with none of the harassment that is common in Cairo's streets taking place in Tahrir. Women participated in the anti-Mubarak uprising as leading activists, protesters, medics and even fighters to ward off attacks by security agents or affiliated thugs. They have continued the role during the frequent protests in the past 15 months against the military, which took power after Mubarak's fall on Feb. 11, 2011.

But women also have been targeted, both by mobs and by military and security forces in crackdowns.

The small size of Friday's march could reflect the vulnerability many feel in the square. Sexual harassment of women, including against those who wear the Islamic headscarf or even cover their faces, is common in the streets of Cairo. A 2008 report by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights says two-thirds of women in Egypt experienced sexual harassment on a daily basis.



Muslim Woman claims bias at US religious freedom panel

June 9, 2012

WASHINGTON: A Muslim woman filed a lawsuit against a US government body in charge of advocating religious freedom, alleging that she lost a job because of her religion, court documents showed Friday.

Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, who studies South Asia, said the US Commission on International Religious Freedom rescinded a job offer after learning that she was Muslim and worked for a group promoting Muslims’ civil rights in the United States.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in federal court, Ghori-Ahmad said she was hired to work as an analyst and immediately was asked to produce a report on religious freedom in Pakistan to test if she could write “objectively.”

Ghori-Ahmad said a commissioner detected no sign of bias in her report but still objected to hiring her, arguing that it would have been “really stupid” for the new employee to reveal her views, according to the lawsuit.

“Passing these tests (which she did) made no difference to the commissioners who opposed working with a Muslim,” said the lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial.

Ghori-Ahmad is seeking damages for distress as well as back pay, saying she was unemployed after the job offer was rescinded. She was later hired by the State Department.

The commission referred questions on the lawsuit to the Justice Department.

The incident took place in 2009. Three commissioners whose actions were questioned in the lawsuit have since left after a shakeup last year led by Senator Dick Durbin, the second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Speaking in December, Durbin said he “strongly” supported the group’s work but added: “I have been deeply troubled by allegations of misconduct, misuse of funds and discrimination at the Commission.”

Durbin spearheaded an amendment that limited terms of commissioners and subjected them to federal regulations on discrimination and expenses, amid charges that some had flown first class and stayed in expensive hotels.

The commission was set up under a 1998 law to advise the US government on religious freedom. It has strongly advocated for the rights of minorities around the world.

Its statements on the Islamic world have sometimes been controversial. In its latest annual report, it called for the State Department to put Turkey, a secular state and US ally, on a blacklist over religious freedom that includes countries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.



Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla promises to get domestic violence bill approved 

June 9, 2012

KARACHI: The amendments proposed in the laws relating to honour killing include, making it a non-compoundable offence, using the word qatl instead of offence and describing the injury caused to the victim in the name of honour.

Some of the Karachi-based members of the lawyers group which formulated the amendments to the laws shared the changes with the civil society in an interactive session on Friday. It was called Aurat Foundation’s Legislative Watch Programme for Women’s Empowerment.

Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza took this opportunity to announce that the domestic violence bill, which has been pending for quite some time, will be introduced in the next session of the Sindh Assembly. “I will ensure that it is passed,” she promised to hall packed with people. Besides, Raza, other speakers included Justice (retd) Shaiq Usmani, Supreme Court Advocate Iqbal Haider, Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, Advocate Maliha Zia Lari and Haq Nawaz who were part of the effort.

Justice Usmani said that aim of the consultation was to share the proposed amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), with human rights activists. The amendments will be passed on to the National Assembly in the form of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2012 later in the year.

Lari pointed out that since the PPC and CrPC were federal subjects the amendments will be forwarded to the national assembly. “We want to start a movement for pressuring the government to pass the law to help stop the horrendous number of killings.”

While reading the amendments out loud to the audience, Justice Usmani said that he was disgusted by the word honour. “How can it be called ‘honour killing’?” he asked.

Justice Rizvi said that compensation was acceptable for ordinary crimes but not for honour killing. Her argument was that in these cases, usually it was families of the victim who hold them kari and are responsible for the murders.

Rizvi also pointed out that in the Islamic laws of Qisas and Diyat, were only applicable after the murderer was convicted. The problem was that the law was being used to let the perpetrator off the hook. The existing law does not indict jirgas or illegal parallel justice systems which handed out punishments. The amendments proposed took this into account by declaring the offense non-compoundable.

A discussion also broke out amongst the participants on whether the perpetrators of honour killings should be given death penalty. The human-rights activists have lately been calling for abolishing the death sentence. While some participants called for a ‘double death sentence’ for honour crimes, the speakers chose to evade to topic.

However, minister for women development, Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto, believed that the criminals should be made to die painfully for the murders of women. “Honour killing is neither a part of our religion or culture,” she said. “The murderers should be killed in the same manner in which they kill women.”

At the end of the session, Advocate Iqbal Haider highlighted what he said were ‘painful omissions’. “Neither the National Assembly nor the Senate passed a single resolution condemning honour killings,” he said.



Pakistan working for Women’s empowerment: Pak Ambassador to US

June 09, 2012

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has said the country is witnessing a great deal of good things like political and societal efforts towards protection of women’s rights.

She made it clear it is not just a place about conflict as often wrongly refracted through the lens of ongoing war in the region.

Ambassador Sherry Rehman was speaking at a reception she hosted in honor of prominent Pakistani women’s rights advocate and documentary filmmaker Samar Minallah, whose distinguished efforts were recognized by Vital Voices Organisation this week.

US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman, Coordinator for US non-military assistance for Pakistan Ambassador Robin Raphel, Chairperson Vital Voices Board Susan Davis, American journalists, writers and Pakistani-American women leaders were among those who attended the event.

“Conflict indeed brings oppression to people but Pakistan is not all about conflict – it is a place where a great deal is happening at the governmental and civil society levels,” she said at a time of lopsided coverage in parts of the Western media through the lens of Afghan war.

The Pakistani envoy referred to the democratic government’s efforts to give women their rightful place in the society, citing several legislative achievements and the fact today the speaker of the National Assembly and foreign minister of Pakistan are both women.

But women getting elected as parliamentarians or serving at elite government positions is just one aspect of the change taking place in Pakistan, noted the Ambassador, who has been a longtime champion both as a writer and a parliamentarian – for rights of women, minorities and vulnerable segments of the society.

Full report at:



A Blackburn victim of forced marriage welcomes new legislation

8th June 2012

A VICTIM of forced marriage has said new legislation to prosecute parents who force their children into marriage does not go far enough.

The Government announced yesterday that forced marriage would now be met with a jail sentence, and that £500,000 of extra funding was also being made available to help identify and support those affected.

But Saima Afzal, who was forced into a marriage by her family, before being kidnapped and held under house arrest in Pakistan, said that although she welcomed the criminalisation, she did not believe it would stop forced marriages.

Miss Afzal, from the Audley area of Blackburn, said: “Just criminalising something alone does not stop it happening.

“We are calling for protection orders to be brought in. We are trying to change cultural mindsets and at the same time we need a different approach.”

Miss Afzal, 40, now works as the executive member for equality, diversity and human rights at the Association of Police Authorities Board and has been awarded an MBE for her work.

She said that that in her case, prosecuting her father would not have helped, as he helped her escape the marriage when he realised it was not what she wanted.

Miss Afzal added some victims may also be reluctant to come forward if they think it will get their parents into trouble.

Full report at:



Activists shocked at Delhi HC ruling that reduces marriageable age for Muslim girls to 15

 Jun 09 2012

City-based activists are shocked over the Delhi High Court ruling that a Muslim girl can marry at 15 if she has attained puberty. The bench gave its ruling on a Delhi Muslim girl's contention that she had married on her own free will when she was 15 years old and that her mother's charge that she was abducted be dropped. She won the case.

City-based social activist and head of minority cell of Indian Institute of Education Razia Patel said it was a "shocking" ruling. "If the official minimum age to wed in India is 18 years, how can it be different in this case?''questioned Patel. Questioning the interpretation of law by the judiciary, she said it did not seem to be on the lines of social justice and conscience in the present democratic set up. "There are people asking for implementation of Manusmriti and Shariat law, and this is where the role of judiciary attains significance. It is essential for a girl to be educationally and economically independent and this would give her empowerment. We seem to be heading backwards instead of having a progressive outlook,'' said Patel.

While stating All India Democratic Women's Association statement, state president Kiran Moghe said the ruling "in effect condones child marriage.

Full report at:



Women in Special Forces: the Debate on Combat Exclusion  


08 JUNE 2012

The Combat Exclusion Policy is a U.S. congressional policy based on a 1988 Department of Defense restriction on women’s military service that created the “Risk Rule” for assignment of women in the military, preventing women from being assigned to units that had the risk of exposure to direct combat, hostile fire, or capture. The policy has been revised over the past 24 years but still precludes women from being assigned to direct ground combat units such as serving at the battalion level, as infantry, and in the Special Forces.

Women’s roles supporting military missions have significantly evolved during the past ten years of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. The realities of modern day warfare and currently fighting in an asymmetric environment have women fighting on the front lines in specialty positions such as medics, mechanics, and military police. Additionally, to avoid the Combat Exclusion Policy as written, women are being “attached to” and not “assigned to” battalions as intelligence officers and communications officers and yet are not getting any credit for being in combat arms. Not allowing women the opportunity to receive acknowledgement for their combat experience and contributions to front-line battalions ultimately denies them from choice assignments and hinders their career advancement opportunities.

Full report at:



Welsh golfer Sahra Hassan honoured by Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation

Cathy Owen

Jun 9 2012

Her parents wanted her to do a ‘proper’ job, but Sahra Hassan had just one thing on her mind – golf. Cathy Owen tees off with the woman leading the way for other female Muslims in sport

When she was two, Sahra Hassan and her sisters would go along with their dad Ash to watch him play squash.

They would normally watch from the sidelines, but it wasn’t long before his daughter was picking up the racket herself and hitting balls, amazing his friends with her ability at such a young age.

And it was the same with just about any sport Sahra turned her hand to – she was potting snooker balls as soon as she was big enough to reach the table, she loved cricket and by the tender age of four she was playing softball tennis.

“Ever since I can remember I was either hitting squash balls, cricket balls, tennis balls or golf balls,” admits the 24-year-old from Newport.

“So I always knew I was going to do sport.”

But as a teenager it was the call of the fairway and the golfing green that won through in the end.

Full report at:



Is there a fatwa for daring to compare burqa-wearing Muslims women to garbage bags?

 Jun 09 2012

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Tea Party candidate for state representative Cindy Pugh uses her Facebook profile to defend Scott Walker, criticize Barack Obama, and boast about her ongoing campaign to defeat incumbent state Rep. Steve Smith, a Republican from Mound.

But she also used it recently to compare Muslim women and children clad in traditional Islamic garb to garbage bags.

Pugh shared following commentary on Facebook commentary: "Disturbing ... that women & little girls are OK with dressing like this!!! What will it take for these women to stand up and say, 'NO'!? Wondering if they will ever do that?!"

The photo was originally uploaded by "Proud to be an Infidel," a Muslim-bashing page with the following slogan: "It's not Islamophobia when they are really trying to kill you."

Pugh launched a right-wing campaign to unseat 22-year state Rep. Smith, a moderate Republican, earlier this year. Although Pugh defeated Smith for the Republican endorsement at the party convention May 23, he has announced that he'll challenge her in the August primary.

Full report at: