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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 30 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Qatar ‘Dress Code’ Gets Wide Welcome

 New Age Islam News Bureau

30 May 2014

The UAE’s Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi was ranked 55th and was the highest ranking Gulf Arab on the list. (File photo: Reuters)


 Saudi Arabia Should Recruit Expat Female House Drivers

 Arab Women Make the Cut on Forbes Power List

 Saudi Businesswoman Olayan among 100 Most Powerful Women

 Sabahi Daughter Says Father Fought ‘Unequal’ Election Battle

 In Pakistan, 1,000 Women Die In ‘Honor Killings’ Annually. Why Is This Happening?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Qatar ‘dress code’ gets wide welcome

May 30, 2014

A Qatari campaign urging tourists and foreign residents to respect the country’s strict dress code has been welcomed by many but also has sent jitters among the country’s majority expatriate population.

The campaign says a visitor or a resident in Qatar is required to wear “decent clothes.”

“Women should avoid wearing any garments that are too tight, too short or translucent such as mini-skirts or sleeveless dresses,” the according to a campaign poster posted on the campaign’s Twitter account @reflect_respect.

The banned attire were shown in a picture tweeted by the campaign. The pictures also appear to show a list of garments including short dresses, leggings and shorts. “Both men and women should also avoid walking around in their swimming suits away from beaches or swimming pools,” according to the campaign.

The campaign says visitors and residents of Qatar “should know that courtesy and hospitality are of the virtues that are highly appreciated and respected in the Arab world. They will surely feel how friendly and gentle the Qatari people are.”

While some expats seem unperturbed by the campaign, others expressed discontent.

One American man living in Qatar, who preferred not to be identified, said the dress code should only apply to “religious and official places.”

“It is completely understandable to ask expats to dress appropriately in religious and official locations but not in malls, beaches or souqs, commonly known for being the first attractions of expats,” he said.

Egyptian expat Nada Ramadan told Al Arabiya News: “We should not forget the golden rule: when in Rome, do what the Romans do. We must respect the country’s local customs and beliefs.”

The dress code in Qatar is a sensitive topic among locals and expatriates alike.

Hammoud Brahim, an Arab expatriate who grew up in Doha, said: “Qatar is becoming a multi-cultural country and needs to accommodate the ‘cultures’ of other people.”

Show of support

“Restricting what people wear is absurd. If there is an imposed dress code, it will only encourage oppression and intolerance in Doha … people must be able to wear what they want,” he added.

Some Qatari nationals took to social media to show their support for the campaign.

“This is something we needed a lot earlier @reflect_respect glad it’s starting now at least. ppl need to be aware of the country’s customs,” remarked Twitter user @justaasim.

“This is how, we can preserve our religion and nation … Till the government adopts the idea of the campaign and issues a similar official law,” another user wrote.

@Asmaalkhatib wrote: “I totally support this and express my respect to everyone who respect our culture and heritage.”

Qatar’s Islamic Culture Center previously launched an initiative to educate foreigners on Qatar’s dress code.

“The amount of immodest clothing is growing in public places, especially shopping malls. Such foreigner behavior conflicts with our traditions,” Nasser Al-Maliki, the center’s public relations’ chief told the UAE based daily news website Gulf News. “We do not want our kids to be exposed to it or learn from it, and that’s why we will start this campaign,” he said.

Ever-growing majority

Article 57 of the country’s constitution stipulates that “abiding by public order and morality, observing national traditions and established customs is a duty of all who reside in the State of Qatar or enter its territory.”

Qatar’s ever-growing majority expatriate population and its increasing visibility on the world stage — especially with its winning bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup — have turned the spotlight on the small Gulf country.

The campaign has raised questions about what conditions international fans can expect when they visit Qatar to watch the games, particularly in summer where temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius.

In 2013, more than 208,000 expats arrived in the country, making nearly 85 percent of the population foreigners.



Saudi Arabia should recruit expat female house drivers

May 30, 2014

With the ban on Saudi women driving cars still in place and with little hope of a change in the situation anytime soon, why don’t we consider an alternative solution?

There are countless problems involved with expatriate male house drivers living with Saudi families. Just imagine a male expat spending most of his time with the wife and her children. He might sexually harass the woman and her children turning their lives into hell.

The dangers of expat male drivers might also extend to housemaids. We have heard many stories of housemaids made pregnant by drivers. To put an end to this problem, we could follow the example of neighboring GCC countries which have recruited expatriate female house drivers thereby protecting families from the perils of expat male house drivers.

I have a number of GCC women friends who are very happy with their expat female drivers. The women feel safe and they also feel safe when their children go out alone with a woman driver. This feeling of security can never exist with an expat male driver. As a result, cases of sexual harassment have dwindled in those countries which recruit women as house drivers.

The expatriate male house driver understands all the requirements of the housewife. He knows where she wants to go and what songs she prefers to listen to in the car. This is not surprising because the house driver stays with the wife and her children from early morning to late at night. He, therefore, understands the wife much better than her own husband who is busy in his work or with his friends.

Having a male house driver is not an acceptable idea which is why many of us would rather have a woman as our house driver.

I am not the first to suggest recruiting expat female house drivers. However, I am repeating this suggestion in the hope that people will begin to consider it as a possible solution to the current problem which women face with their male house drivers. Recruiting expat female house drivers can serve many purposes. It will relieve decision makers of the embarrassment of not allowing Saudi women to drive their own cars. At the same time it will make the family safe.

We are obliged to accept expat male house drivers because we have no other option. We do not know much about the ethics or conduct of expat male drivers before they start working for us.

If they are good and well-mannered, our families will be safe, otherwise they will suffer.

In the current system, a woman sits in the backseat of the car which is driven by an expat male driver which is nothing more than “khalwa” (illegal seclusion) which Islam has warned us against.

The same system prevents the woman from sitting in the front seat to take the wheel of the car. What a paradox. So, please, let’s recruit expat female house drivers.



Arab women make the cut on Forbes power list

30 May 2014

Four women from the Gulf have made the Forbes 100 most powerful women list for 2014, which was released this week.

The UAE’s Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi was ranked 55th and was the first woman to assume a Cabinet position in the UAE, having joined as Minister of Economy in 2004.

Al-Qasimi rose from last year’s rank of 67. The high-flyer earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from California State University of Chico in 1981 and has an executive MBA from the American University in Sharjah in the UAE.

Emirati business woman Fatima al-Jabbir, chairperson of the Emirates Business Women Council, was ranked 94th, the first time she has made the list.

Meanwhile, Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan was ranked in the 86th spot and Maysa al-Thani of Qatar was placed 91st for her charity work.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel retained her top ranking for the second year in a row. Rounding out the top five were Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.



Saudi businesswoman Olayan among 100 most powerful women

May 30, 2014

RIYADH — Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan was among Forbes magazine’s list of 100 most powerful women in the world published on Wednesday. Three other Arab women were on the list, two of them from the United Arab Emirates and the third a Qatari. The prestigious US magazine listed Olayan as the second most powerful woman in the Arab world and 86th worldwide. She was picked for her distinguished achievements in the world of business. Emirati political figure Lubna Al-Qassmi, who was placed 55th worldwide, was the first Arab woman on the list. Her compatriot Fatima Al-Jabbir, a businesswoman, was 94th worldwide while Maysa Al-Thani of Qatar was placed 91st for her charitable accomplishments. The annual list includes women in business, media, politics, technology, entertainment, philanthropy and non-profits, billionaires and finance.



Sabahi daughter says father fought ‘unequal’ election battle

May 30, 2014

Salma Sabahi, the daughter of Egypt's presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahi, said her father fought an "unequal battle with utmost honor” as results of the vote count were announced Wednesday night.

“Thank you Sabahi: you led an unequal battle with utmost honor,” Salma Sabahi wrote on Facebook shortly after partial results showed former army commander Abdel Fattah el-Sisi clearly leading in the crucial election.

“You [Sabahi] gathered us around a dream we had almost forgot … Thank you to all the members of your campaign,” she wrote, vowing to continue “their dream.”

She also congratulated Sisi, who partial results at 7 pm GMT showed to be leading his rival with more than 95 percent of the vote.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sabbahi’s team said it had filed a complaint to the Presidential Elections Commission about “irregularities” it said threatened the credibility of the vote.



In Pakistan, 1,000 women die in ‘honor killings’ annually. Why is this happening?

May 30, 2014

On Tuesday, a pregnant 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family for marrying a man she loved.

The stoning took place in the middle of the day, outside a courthouse, beside a busy thoroughfare. The woman and her husband had been “in love,” her husband said, and they’d gone to a courthouse to sign the paperwork. Outside, the woman’s father, brothers and extended family waited. When the couple emerged, the family reportedly tried to snatch her, then murdered her.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” her father told police, adding that it had been an “honor killing.”

The anecdote is horrifying. But even more horrifying is the regularity with which honor killings and stonings occur in Pakistan. Despite creeping modernity, secular condemnation and the fact there’s no reference to stoning in the Koran, honor killings claim the lives of more than 1,000 Pakistani women every year, according to a Pakistani rights group.

They have widespread appeal. Eighty-three percent of Pakistanis support stonings for adultery according to a Pew survey, and only 8 percent oppose it. Even those who chose modernity over Islamic fundamentalism overwhelmingly favor stonings, according to Pew research.

It’s the year 2014. Why is this still happening?

Some Islamic fundamentalists think that only through the murder of an offending family member can honor be restored to the rest of the family. Honor killings predominantly affect women — 943 women were killed under such circumstances in 2011 and another 869 in 2013, though not all of them were stoned. Some were just gunned down in cold blood.

One man in Punjab province suspected his teenage nieces of having “inappropriate relations” with two boys. So on Jan. 11, he killed both girls, confessed and said he did it for “honor.”

Another teenage girl, living in Sukkur, was allegedly shot dead by her brother while she was doing homework because her brother thought she was sleeping with a man.

One mom and dad allegedly killed their 15-year-old daughter with acid because they said she looked at a boy and they ”feared dishonor.”

“There was a boy who came by on a motorcycle,” her father told BBC. My daughter “turned to look at him twice. I told her before not to do that; it’s wrong. People talk about us.”

The mother added: “She said ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again.’ By then I had already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way.”

Those who are stoned in an honor killing are oftentimes accused of committing adultery. Both genders face stonings in Pakistan and across 14 Muslim countries, but women are more frequently the targets.

The reason is rooted in sexual inequality in such countries, where the punishment has survived through some interpretations of sharia, or Islamic law, that say adultery is punishable by stoning. In countries such as Iran, where stonings are legal and widespread, men often have significantly more agency than women. If accused of adultery, they may have the means to either hire lawyers or flee. But those options are frequently closed to women.

One 13-year-old girl named Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow faced such a fate. The Somali child claimed she had been raped by three men and told the authorities what had happened. But her report did not spur an investigation into her allegations. Instead, the girl was accused of adultery, buried up to her neck inside a stadium and stoned to death before 1,000 people.

Can anything stop the stonings?

It’s unclear. A petition circulated last year that netted 12,000 signatures called on the United Nations to enact international laws against stonings. But regardless of international pressure, rights activists say the number of stonings and honor killings have continued to climb in Pakistan.

“Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment,” a spokesman for Women Living Under Muslim Laws told the Independent. “It is a form of torturing someone to death. It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms.”