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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 17 Aug 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Rehab Centre in Jeddah Sees Six New Women Addicts Each Day

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 Aug 2014

Pakistani supporters of Canada-based preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri stand guard during a protest rally in Islamabad - Photo by Agencies



 Afghanistan's 'Romeo and Juliet' From Different Ethnic Groups Fear for Their Lives

 Pakistani Interfaith Couples Brave Threats for Forbidden Love

 In Iraq, Captured Yazidi Women Fear the Islamic State Will Force Them to Wed

 Saudi Company to Help Women Open Start-Ups

 Saudi Women Married To Expats Eligible for Housing Support

 Nigeria Female Traditional Rulers Protest Marginalisation

 The women of the PAT 'Revolution'

 'Soldier Girls': Complex look at women at war

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Rehab Centre in Jeddah Sees Six New Women Addicts Each Day

17 August 2014

The number of women addicts seeking treatment is on the rise with Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah, a rehab center, reporting that an average of six new women addicts are seeking treatment at the hospital each day.

Psychiatric consultant and head of the women’s section at Al-Amal Hospital, Dr. Fatimah Kaaki, said the women’s section can accommodate only nine patients at a time. She said most addicts come to the hospital voluntarily.

Kaaki said most drug addicts are married women, mostly between 15 and 21.

"The youngest addict received in the hospital was a nine-year-old girl. Most addiction cases are those of hashish and stimulants," she said.

Kaaki pointed out that a lack of religious deterrent and family problems either due to the divorce or separation of parents or the death of one of the parents are the cause of many cases of addiction.

"Causes of addiction also include curiosity, low self-esteem, sexual exploitation, the wrong belief that a one-time puff of hashish will not lead to addiction and the lack of oversight of youngsters," she said.

Kaaki explained that when addicts arrive at the hospital, they are sorted according to their condition and emergency cases are referred to the emergency department, which is staffed by women doctors and specialists.

"Non-emergency cases are received by the receptionist who records the required information about the case, after which the case is referred to the nursing section so the patient’s file can be completed," she said.

Kaaki said preventing addiction among children is the responsibility of families and schools, as they represent the second most influential force on children.

"Children should be raised based on the teachings of Islam and should be encouraged to often attend mosques, and parents should watch out for any suspicious behavior by their children," she said while adding that drug education should be taught in the Kingdom’s schools.



Afghanistan's 'Romeo and Juliet' from different ethnic groups fear for their lives

17 August 2014

A young couple dubbed 'Afghanistan's Romeo and Juliet' from different ethnic groups fear for their lives after getting married.

Zakiam, 18, and Mohammad Ali, 21, now live together following their nuptials, but they still need round-the-clock protection for fear that they might be attacked by those who oppose the marriage.

The couple, who grew up on neighbouring farms have been together for four years, but eloped because her family did not approve of their marriage.

They were so fearful of Zakia's family's reaction that they even had their honeymoon in hiding - they stayed in the homes of friends and they slept rough in caves.

Her parents were reportedly angered that Zakia, an ethnic Tajik, and a Sunni Muslim, would bring shame on the family by marrying Mohammad Ali, an ethnic Hazara, and Shia.

After their marriage Zakia's parents reportedly threatened to kill her to defend the family's honour, claiming that Zakia was already married (without her consent) to a relative.

Mohammad was arrested for 'kidnapping' Zakia and after a high-profile case he was acquitted of the charges.

The couple now live with Mohammad Ali's extended family.

His father who initially opposed the marriage now supports the union.

'I witnessed my sons' suffering. Zakia's family are still threatening us,' his father told the BBC.

But Zakia's father told the media all he wants is for his daughter to return.

The couple are not convinced and Mohammed Ali's father and brothers take turns patrolling outside their room at night to protect them from the alleged death threats. 

Human Right's Watch says that the couple's plight illustrates how abusive and pervasive the interpretation and punishment of moral crimes remains in Afghanistan.

The organisation says that some 95 percent of girls and 50 percent of women imprisoned in Afghanistan had been accused or convicted of 'moral crimes,' such as running away from home or(sex outside of marriage).

These moral crimes usually involve flight from unlawful forced marriages or domestic violence.



Pakistani Interfaith Couples Brave Threats for Forbidden Love

Aug 17, 2014

Lahore, Pakistan. Thirteen years ago among the whirring looms of a garment factory in an eastern Pakistani city, a Muslim woman fell in love with a Christian co-worker.

Now married with three children, Kalsoom Bibi and her husband Yousuf Bhatti have been shunned by their communities, endured death threats and an abduction, all in the name of religious honour in this conservative Islamic country.

Marriage out of choice remains a taboo in Pakistan, particularly when it involves a partner outside one’s own clan or faith group.

While marriages between different members of Abrahamic faiths — including Judaism, Christianity and Islam — is permitted by law, a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man.

People who chose to convert out from Islam can be charged with blasphemy and face life in prison.

Kalsoom’s first encounter with a member of another religion came at school, where the only Christian student was mercilessly bullied.

When she met Yousuf, she decided to question him about his faith to find out more. Long hours of discussion brought the two close together, and she eventually decided to convert.

It is a fact she hides to this day from her family.

“My mother died requesting me to leave my Christian husband,” Kalsoom, a short woman in her 20s with deep brown eyes said, sitting on her bed in a modest two-room house with her husband and children.

“Had she known that I myself have been converted to Christianity, she would had died with grief or asked her family to kill me.”

Such unions aren’t officially recorded but rights activists believe there are thousands of such cases every year.

The couple say they now live among a more understanding community that provides them support and respect their choices — but it wasn’t always this way.

“The life after marriage was terrible. We went into hiding because the family and community threatened to kill us.

“We lived in hiding in Islamabad for several months and my son was born during that time,” she said.

Yousuf said the most harrowing incident early on in their marriage when he was abducted by four Muslim militants and driven hours out of town to a deserted spot.

“They kept me there for several days and asked me why I married my wife.

“They wanted to kill me, but when I told them that I married my wife with her own will and because she also wanted to marry me — and that I did not force her into this marriage — they softened and released me after some days,” he added.

Naveed Walter, President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), said the case was symptomatic of a wider problem, which remains largely hidden from sight.

“In such cases [inter-faith marriages] people try to attack the whole community,” he said.

Walter added his organization had estimated 10,000 cases nationwide over the past four years.

Honor killings

Legally, there are no provisions in the criminal code against leaving Islam, though the country’s blasphemy law — which carries a life sentence — has been invoked in recent cases against apostates.

But even when members from the minority community convert to Islam, they can still face a backlash.

Sana, a Christian teacher from the same eastern city met and fell in love with cameraman Salman Khawaja who had come to record a show about Christmas festivities in 2006.

Drawn to Islamic traditions and culture since her childhood, Sana decided to embrace Islam.

The couple’s lives became “hellish” after marriage and they said they had to leave their city to avoid death.

“We were threatened from both Christian and Muslim communities. So we decided to leave the city to save our lives,” Sana told AFP holding her two-year-old son.

Despite being a journalist with connections to local government officials, Salman found himself helpless to fight back.

“We decided to get married in another city to avoid any attacks by our families and communities,” he said.

“Back at our homes, our families were planning to kill us for marrying across religion as they thought we had stolen their pride and honor.

“It was very difficult period for us, we remained in hiding for six months to avoid any attacks. I had no career over there,” he said, adding that he drove a taxi to earn a living.

“When the situation got better, we returned … but my family refused to accept us. Then we rented a house in a low category residential area and started a new life.”

Rising extremism

For some, the trauma never goes away.

Afshan, a petite, light-skinned 19-year-old former Muslim fell in love with 24-year-old Christian man Ashok Younas, an embroiderer, who used to smile at her in the street as they went to work.

They planned to marry in secret until Afshan’s parents found out about them and forced her to marry her cousin instead. When she refused to move in with him, they began beating her.

“They used to beat me whenever I told them that I won’t live with my husband and will marry Ashok,” she said.

“They still threaten me, even after I divorced my cousin and married Ashok. I am now more scared because I have converted to Christianity,” she added tearfully.

Some campaigners including lawyer Akmal Bhatti advocate the creation of a civil marriage code as is the case in India so that it is possible to keep faith out of the wedding ceremony.

Others are less hopeful, citing the rising number of attacks against the country’s beleaguered minorities as a sign of rising intolerance.



In Iraq, Captured Yazidi Women Fear the Islamic State Will Force Them to Wed

17th August 2014

DAHUK, IRAQ — Hundreds of Yazidi women who were captured by Islamic extremists during their sweep through the town of Sinjar are being incarcerated at scattered locations across northern Iraq in what increasingly looks like a deliberate attempt to co-opt them into service as the wives of fighters.

As the militants with the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State surged into the area from surrounding Arab villages two weeks ago, snaring those who had not managed to flee, they showed a marked interest in detaining women, notably the youngest and prettiest, according to witnesses, relatives and in some instances the women themselves.

Women were separated from men, then younger women were separated from older ones and most were shunted off in buses or trucks.

Once in custody, the women are presented with a bleak choice.

Those who convert to Islam can be promised a good life, with a house of their own and — implicitly — a Muslim husband, because the extreme interpretation of Islam promoted by the Islamic State does not permit women to live alone.

Otherwise, they have been told, they can expect a life of indefinite imprisonment — or, they fear, death.

The accounts of the women’s capture and detention have been assembled from multiple interviews with Yazidi refugees, witnesses, activists and women who have been able to reach out to the outside world using cellphones they were carrying when they were detained. The identities of the women, and some of the specifics of their accounts and communications, are being withheld to protect them from being discovered by their captors.

The accounts point to a chillingly deliberate effort to harness the women into the service of the Islamic State’s project to create a caliphate across the Muslim world, by persuading them to convert and then marrying them to the men of the group.

The women “are considered apostate, and it is haram [forbidden] for Muslims to marry a non-Muslim,” said Hoshyar Zebari, a senior Kurdish leader who until recently served as Iraq’s foreign minister. He puts the number of women detained at more than 1,000.

“Many fighters came from foreign places without wives, so they want the women to convert so that they can become brides of the jihadis,” he said.

Exactly how many women have been caught up in the dragnet is unclear. The Iraqi government claims that 1,500 women have been detained and 500 men executed in the brutal blitz by the extremists through the Sinjar area, where a majority of the residents are Yazidis but some are Christian, Shiite or Sunni Arab.

Women from other sects also have been detained, but the majority of the captives appear to be Yazidis, whose beliefs are considered heretical by the Islamist extremists.

The Sinjar CrISIS Group, formed by Yazidi activists in Washington, has compiled a list of 1,074 names of female captives reported by their relatives to be in the custody of the Islamic State.

On Saturday, 100 or so women joined the list, turning up crammed into two buses at a school in the town of Tal Afar, where hundreds of the women are already being held, according to an eyewitness. The new arrivals had been detained the previous day in the small village of Kocho, where Kurdish officials and Yazidis say that more than 80 men were lined up and shot before the younger women were separated from the older ones and taken away.

The oldest of the women in Kocho were not detained but are being held there by Islamic State fighters who also spared the oldest men, said Ziad Sinjari, a Kurdish pesh merga commander in Sinjar, citing the account of one of six survivors of the massacre who escaped injured to a nearby village.

Once at the school, the eyewitness said, the youngest women again were parted from older ones and driven away, along with a dozen or so boys between ages 10 and 12 who had apparently been detained with their mothers.

The reports from the massacre at Kocho and its aftermath illustrate a disturbing pattern that has emerged in the two weeks since the majority-Yazidi town of Sinjar was overrun, prompting tens of thousands of panicked adherents of the minority sect to run for their lives to the mountains.

U.S. airstrikes and an airlift of humanitarian supplies helped most of those who fled reach safety in northern Iraq last week, aided also by Kurdish Syrian fighters who battled the extremists to open a corridor for the fleeing Yazidis.

Some did not get away in time.

Among them was an aunt of Haji Kirani, 45, who managed to escape to Dahuk, the city in Iraq’s Kurdistan region where many of the refugees have found sanctuary. His aunt lived in the town of Sinjar and was snatched along with her daughter as the militants surged in — unopposed, the Yazidis say, because the Kurdish pesh merga forces responsible for defending the town fled.

As Kirani ascended the mountain, escaping with the other Yazidis, he received a phone call from his aunt, telling him she was being transported in a truck with scores of other women. Over the next few days, she called several more times, relaying her location as she was moved around — first in a prison, then a hotel in Mosul, and then some kind of “hall” in a location she did not know.

Full report at:



Saudi Company to Help Women Open Start-Ups

17th August 2014

A leading Saudi company will open a special group devoted to helping Saudi women launch their own businesses.

The Al-Manahil Company is expected to launch the Al-Manahil Group by February 2015, according to Nadia Al-Jabr, general manager.

The group will be composed of three firms — Deco, Al-Manahil Recreation and Deem Al-Manahil for Investment.

“With more companies, there will be more resources to help enterprising Saudi women,” Al-Jabr told Arab News on Saturday.

These will be in addition to the existing Al-Manahil Holding, which lends help to Saudi women through the Deem Al-Manahil Foundation.

“The founders of Al-Manahil are happy beyond words that they are able to help out without solely having to be concerned with profits. Like others who extend assistance, they feel indescribable self-fulfillment,” Al-Jabr said.

Ten young Saudi women have applied for loans through Al-Manahil this year for various business ventures. Their applications are being screened to determine their capability to start up and run a business.

Selected entrepreneurs will each be granted SR300,000 once their application is approved by a designated committee. They will also undergo training at Deem Al-Manahil before loans are granted.

“The loans are granted without interest, but they have to pay back their loans within five years,” she said.

The founders of Al-Manahil are hoping that loan beneficiaries will also help other enterprising Saudi women after they succeed.

“Saudi women who have been granted loans have so far been successful in their endeavors,” she said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs is coordinating with the foundation regarding its activities.

Founding members include Princess Madawi bint Musaad, Princess Latifa bint Musaad, Princess Reema bint Sultan and Awatis Balghonain, Munaira Al-Rashid Al-Humaid and Pansa Al-Rashid Al-Humaid.

Al-Manahil was created in 1990 as a leading local beauty, fitness and sports center inside the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh, boasting modern facilities.



Saudi women married to expats eligible for housing support

17th August 2014

While Saudi women want to be treated on par with men in getting housing support, the executive list to organize housing support published on the ministry’s website clarifies doubts in their mind.

It reveals the existence of four cases where Saudi women are eligible for housing support from the Ministry of Housing. Saudi women married to foreigners who have children can benefit from housing support.

The housing crISIS in Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest problems with more than 70 percent of citizens suffering from lack of private residence.

The executive list to support housing support clarified that Saudi women can get housing support from the ministry if they take care of a family that is made up of a Saudi citizen with a special need or a foreigner, in addition to a child or more. The children should not be more than 25 years old, and the woman should be the sole provider for the family.

The second case involves divorced Saudi women who support their children under 25 years, and unmarried girls. The third case includes widows who support children under 25 years old, and the fourth case is of single orphan girls with non-Saudi mothers, with the mother as the only provider for the girl.

The Ministry of Housing said in a press statement that it is committed to the time limit it defined before to distribute housing support for beneficiaries and provide suitable housing for those who don’t own an accommodation.

It pointed out that housing projects will be distributed according to a mechanism that guarantees justice and transparency for those who meet the rules of housing support.

Work is continuing for the implementation of 60 projects to complete 60,000 housing units. The ministry received 11 projects and work is under way on 95 projects.

The ministry made it clear that families benefiting from social insurance who receive monthly aid from the Ministry of Social Affairs will not be given residence under the Iskan program.



Nigeria Female Traditional Rulers Protest Marginalisation

17th August 2014

THE recent protest by a group of female regents, challenging their marginalisation by their communities, Obas, local and state governments has reopened the old debate of female traditional rulers in Nigeria.

Regency, a practice, whereby a princess is allowed to occupy the throne until a substantive king is installed, is presently practiced in some states in the South West, North and the South East.

Few weeks ago, the regents took their protest to the Department of Local Government Studies, Faculty of Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, to register their grievances over the attitude of their communities towards them.   

Investigations showed that there are rare cases of women wielding traditional power in communities across the country. But it is on record that Ondo, Ekiti and Oyo States, place much premium on women’s power in their traditional system. The powers are in four categories: substantive female traditional ruler as practiced in Maya, Oyo State; the institution of Regency, prominent in Ekiti; gender balance in traditional rulership and the institution of Iyalode.

The practice, according to history dates back to Ife and the Oyo Empire, where in the absence of male prince, princesses would be enthroned. This showed that the traditional constitution, social norms and system allowed that a woman could occupy the highest place in the society.

Interestingly, there are several documents that supported the idea of Regency, as an important female traditional institution, being practiced in communities in Yoruba land.

One of the several examples that supported the idea of Regency is the case of Ifewara, a community close to Ife, where a precedent was set in 1971, that a woman could be Regent, even before the death of a substantive Oba. The then Oba of the town, Adetoba, abdicated the throne on account of old age and asked his daughter, Princess Adesola Omisore to mount the throne for five years.

During the protest, the aggrieved protesters drew the attention of the Coordinator of the Research Group on Female Traditional Rulers in Nigeria (RGFTN), an arm of the Department of Local Government Studies, Mr. Fatai-Ayisa Olasupo to the callous treatment meted to them by communities, Obas, local and state governments.

Narrating their ordeal, President of the Council of Ekiti State Regents (CESR), Regent Falade Moradeke Aladesanmi, claimed that once they assumed the post and their rights are removed from them, all promises earlier made to them on their welfare and remunerations are always jettisoned.

In line with customs, it was learnt that Regents are not expected to marry, if they had not done so previously. They were not to have babies while on the throne and must not dress as they wished, but must always appear in male dresses; must not live with their husbands in the palace; they must not work to earn a living and there is limit to where they can go during and after leaving the throne.

They claimed that once they get to the throne, most of the promises regarding their welfare are abandoned, especially after leaving office.

Due to the protest, a fresh discourse has been opened for and against regency. Prominent among those calling for their upgrading is Olasupo, the Coordinator of RGFTN. He has called for an enabling law that will recognise female traditional rulers in the country.

Olasupo, who claimed that female traditional rulers are now found in the northern part of the country, noted that they can be found in Kumbada, Muyan local government area of Niger State, Armado-Debo in Ganye local government area and Nokowa in Numan local government area of Adamawa State and Ilesa-Baruba, Gwanara and Okuta in Ilesa-Baruba local government area of Kwara State.

These female rulers, according to him, are both political and religious leaders, adding that it is a taboo for male to rule in some of these communities.

The coordinator explained that in some communities, there had been cases of regents that ruled for over 10 years, while some ruled and died on the throne because no king was installed.

He said while this concept is common in the south western part of the country, further studies had shown that the practice is applicable in the south eastern part of the country, especially Anambra and Ebonyi states and the South-South, especially Edo State.

Olasupo said that contrary to the belief that women leadership in Muslim societies is an anathema, recent studies had proved that this is false, adding that women leadership, particularly in traditional societies, had been in existence in the northern part of the country from time immemorial.

He concluded that the contributions of these female rulers to traditional institution and governance at the grassroots make it imperative for the government of the day to give them the recognition they deserve.



The Women of the PAT 'Revolution'

17th August 2014 | By Agencies

While both the PTI and PAT protests have been attended by large numbers of women supporters, the women of Tahirul Qadri's 'Revolution' have stood out in terms of enthusiasm and playing key roles in administration, security - and chants.



'Soldier Girls': Complex look at women at war

17 August 2014

The struggles of three women from the Indiana National Guard, who bonded before all were deployed to Afghanistan (and later, two to Iraq), are compellingly explored in Soldier Girls. It's an important eye-opener by Helen Thorpe about the female military experience in the challenging post-9/11 climate: how life could be as traumatic on the base or in the war zone as it is on the home front.

Michelle Fischer, Desma Brooks and Debbie Helton signed up before 9/11 and obviously got more than they bargained for with the outbreak of "the war on terror." We follow the trio from 2001 through 2013, weaving in and out of basic training and separation from their families or partners, and then coping with gender bias, sexual harassment, drug use and libidinous diversions.

Then came deployment and dealing with dangers in the war zones. Everything played on their psyches but all three women overcame great obstacles, even when tragedy struck. Afterward they had to cope with post-traumatic stress, panic attacks and, in one case, a brain injury.

Fischer, who was an outstanding student, joined the Guard at 21 so she could afford to attend Indiana University. But she was forced to give up her dream after 9/11; however, she excelled at becoming a marksman and, despite her rebelliousness, wound up being a smart, adept soldier.

Brooks, a single mom, entered the Guard on a dare when she was 20 and was deployed at 28. She became a whiz at military software and was the hero of Bravo Company when she fixed the radios so they could complete their readiness exercises. The military environment proved a good fit.

Helton, 34, gave up custody of her daughter (leaving the teenager to live with her grandparents) to join the Guard, and ran "the hot dog wagon," chatting with and comforting soldiers, which was a real morale booster.

Ultimately, Soldier Girls serves as a larger discussion about the trials of all-volunteer military service, testing the limits of human endurance.

As Brooks observes, "War meant pandemonium. It meant ghost records and missing trailers and lost gear. It meant having to obey a commander you did not respect, and losing the commander you did. ... It meant acquiring a tattoo you did not really want, because that's all you could control. War meant thinking you might never see the faces of your children again and then being told to go home. It meant getting jerked around in a cosmic fashion."

Thorpe, who's adept at mixing psychology and politics, offers a compassionate look at three fascinating women we won't soon forget, whose lives underwent dramatic change in a military that continues to evolve thanks to a larger female presence.