New Age Islam News Bureau
• Hijabis In UAE Share Their Unique Challenge On Zoom, Teams Meetings
Health Ministry Launches Online Healthy Marriage Service
National Zaghari-Ratcliffe Details First Prison Interrogation, Appears In ‘White
Vows Support For Global Woman Empowerment Efforts
Women Migrant Workers Dead Abroad Since 2016, 175 In Saudi Arabia Alone
Vows To Promote Women's Role In Maintaining Peace And Security
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Sindh High Court Granted Custody Of A 13-Year-Old Christian Girl To Her 44-Year-Old Abductor In Pakistan
photo: minor girl, who has been forcibly abducted and converted to Islam in
In a shocking incident, the Sindh High Court granted custody of a 13-year-old
Christian girl to her 44-year-old abductor in Pakistan's Karachi.
girl, identified as Arzoo Raja, was kidnapped from her home in Karachi’s
Railway Colony on October 13 and forcibly converted to Islam. An FIR was
registered at Singh court by her family thereafter.
the Sindh police summoned the victim's family after two days and informed them
that the kidnapper (Azhar Ali) has produced a marriage certificate with the
girl that displayed that she is aged 18 years. As per the report, the girl was
forcibly converted to Islam and married to the man, who is already wedded with
Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) said minority girls,
particularly Christian and Hindu, are forcefully converted to Islam and married
to Muslim men.
In UAE Share Their Unique Challenge On Zoom, Teams Meetings
on the camera for a meeting for hijabis means they also have to put on a scarf.
Credit: Stock image
Dhabi: Following the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home has become common
enough. While workplace environments are hard to mirror, setting up meetings
has become fairly easy through the use of video telephony and conferencing apps
like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
no need to rush to meeting venues, workers have found they can easily log on to
meetings from the comfort of their own homes. And even when they have to make
themselves presentable for the camera, for most, it is not a big deal.
these virtual meetings have brought in their own set of challenges for working
women who don the hijab. Hijabis, as they are commonly known, follow a call to
stay covered in public, specifically in front of men who are not related to
them. So even if they are otherwise presentable, turning on the camera for a
meeting means that hijabis also have to put on a scarf and cover their
shoulders and arms.
was working from home for nearly six months, and only came back to the office
in September. And yes, all the virtual meetings meant I was often scrambling
for a hijab, especially in the beginning. Being properly dressed meant that I
had to have a scarf and pin handy, and also wear a blouse with long sleeves,”
said Nasreen Abdullah, a 33-year-old content writer from India.
narrated how a male colleague once asked to see her on camera, but she hadn’t
had a scarf around. “He said he hadn’t seen me in so long, and I had to rush
and get one before turning on my camera. It was all just funny on hindsight,”
Al Khatib, 42, an American corporate communications manager, remembered when her
meeting extended one day to include a male colleague.
the meeting had only had women on the call, so I wasn’t in hijab, even though I
was dressed for the day, with face made up. At one point, we needed to bring in
a male colleague, and I had forgotten that I wasn’t in hijab. I only realised
it when I heard the girls calling out to me. I quickly switched off the camera
and put on the hijab,” she said.
time, Arwa Al Khatib has made sure she was prepared for surprise meetings. “I
would always dress up in the morning. And before I began my work day, I ensured
that I had a black jacket next to me that went with everything, and a hijab as
well,” she said.
to Sadia Anwar, 43, an entrepreneur from India, it wasn’t that much different
from the way senior executives often keep a jacket and tie in their rooms for
meetings that are suddenly scheduled.
kept a jacket, hijab and pin on the desk next to me, and simply put them on
before turning on the camera. After a while, it wasn’t very difficult. But it
did take some getting used to, having to be dressed in a scarf at home,” she
hijab was more of a challenge when helping my children with their schoolwork. I
would be dressed for my own meetings, but not for their online classes. So if
they needed any help, I would have to ensure that I stayed off camera, or that
I just sneaked in my hand to make any adjustments,” Anwar said.
these minor hiccups, the women said they preferred the ease and flexibility of
remote meetings on Zoom and Microsoft Teams. “My company is registered in
Sharjah, and I often have to brave the traffic to drive down for meetings. With
video conferencing apps, I can save all this commute time,” Anwar said.
Khatib added that the ability to conduct entire meetings with the camera turned
off – if the need arises - also makes things easy for hijabis. “Virtual
meetings are far more flexible, and don’t require one to work around everyone’s
schedules. So I feel they are here to stay,” she said.
Health Ministry launches online healthy marriage service
The Ministry of Health has launched the first phase of the online healthy
marriage service in government health facilities, the Saudi Press Agency
reported on Sunday.
ministry said that the service aims to automate all test procedures in the
Kingdom. It starts with entering the parties’ data and organizing educational
sessions for them, then completing the tests and uploading the information on
the “Seha” (Health) platform to match test results. A text message is sent with
the approved health certificate number to the compatible parties to enable them
to see the results through the Sehhaty application or the “Seha” platform.
the two parties are incompatible they are referred to governmental advisory
clinics, and the Ministry of Justice is enabled to inquire about healthy
marriage certificates to complete the marriage contract procedures.
premarital examination service seeks to conciliate couples in a way that
ensures their harmony healthwise. The healthy marriage certificate is valid for
six months and, in the case of infectious diseases only, the test can be
repeated. This is given the importance of a healthy marriage and its active
social, health and economic role, and in avoiding marriage in the case of
National Zaghari-Ratcliffe Details First Prison Interrogation, Appears In
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian dual national imprisoned in Iran
on contested charges of espionage, has given an account of her first
interrogation in 2016.
said she was threatened with her daughter being taken away, and her interrogators
claimed her husband was a spy and gave her false information regarding her
account of her first 40 days in custody appears in “White Torture,” a recently
published book of interviews with women imprisoned in Iran on political charges
compiled by Narges Mohammadi, who is in prison for her human rights work.
told Mohammadi that she spent the first 40 days in total isolation. In her
early imprisonment, Zaghari-Ratcliffe said she endured days without sleep,
panic attacks, fainting, and regular attempts by her interrogators to force a
confession of espionage.
told the author that the ordeal was so distressing that she came to “doubt
herself” and question whether the accusations were real.
tried to induce me to say something that didn’t exist. They said they had
top-secret evidence that I worked for the (British) parliament and against
Iran,” she said.
was sure that was not the case, but they repeated it so much that I doubted
myself when I returned to the cell. I spent long hours in my cell wondering if
the projects I had worked on had anything to do with Iran. Then I told myself
that I was 100% sure that my projects had nothing to do with Iran, but after
each interrogation I would review these cases over and over again,” she added.
interrogators threatened to send Gabriella (her daughter) to London if I did
not cooperate. They kept telling me that I had lost my job and that if
interrogation took too long my husband would leave me. They asked me to tell
them about my friends and their work projects. I had not really slept for three
weeks. I had not seen my child and I was under a lot of pressure.”
her initial arrest and interrogation, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sent to the
notorious Ervin Prison.
said after she was transferred there, she was allowed to meet her family, but
she hardly recognized her daughter.
the visitations, she said she struggled when her daughter asked her to go to
her parents’ house.
time she (Gabriella) cried goodbye I would break down,” she said. “The
interrogators were present in the meeting room. When saying goodbye, I wanted
to go ahead and tie her shoes for her, but they wouldn’t let me and I had to
is set to return to court on Monday in Tehran. If she is returned to prison, as
she expects, she will once again be separated from her husband and daughter.
vows support for global woman empowerment efforts
— Bahrain affirmed its support for all international efforts for the
advancement of women, achieving gender balance in all developmental and
humanitarian fields, and enhancing their contribution as an active partner in
security, peace, and sustainable justice.
came during a speech delivered by Bahraini Permanent Representative to the
United Nations Ambassador Jamal Faris Al-Ruwaie to the Security Council during
a virtual meeting held by the council on women, peace, and security.
permanent representative said that this year marks the celebration of events
concerned with women, security and peace, the 75th anniversary of the
establishment of the United Nations, the 25th anniversary of the adoption of
the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 20th anniversary of the
adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325, which provides for equal
participation for men and women at all levels, and to involve women in the
processes of maintaining peace in light of disasters and conflicts that befall
explained that Bahrain, under the leadership of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,
supports the participation of women in decision-making posts and public
affairs, and aims to enhance women’s role as an equal partner in dealing with
current and future challenges and opportunities.
also indicated that the Supreme Council for Women, presided by Princess Sabeeka
bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of the king, launched specific initiatives to
provide the needs of Bahraini women in line with the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development while continuing to respect their international
commitments contained in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, in
addition to Security Council Resolution 1325.
pointed out that based on Bahrain's belief in the importance of education in
empowering girls and women, the Kingdom took the initiative to establish a
number of schools in the Syrian refugee camps in the countries neighboring
Syria, as well as in the Gaza Strip.
permanent representative also stressed that in light of the emerging global
crisis, there is a need to lay the foundations for peace, reiterating Bahrain's
support for the call made by the secretary-general of the United Nations in the
first months of the pandemic for an immediate global ceasefire and harnessing
international efforts to confront COVID-19. — Bahrain News Agency
women migrant workers dead abroad since 2016, 175 in Saudi Arabia alone
year after she was sent to Saudi Arabia as a domestic worker, Nodi returned to
Bangladesh last night, lifeless, crammed inside a coffin, only to be received
by her wailing relatives on the premises of Hazrat Shahjalal International
Photo: SK Enamul Haq
13-year-old girl was sent to KSA last year with a passport falsely listing her
age as 27, in the same manner another teenager Umme Kulsum was also sent to the
Gulf country as a domestic worker where she died at a hospital after being tortured
by her employer.
body arrived at the Dhaka airport at 4:00am. She was later buried at Khilgaon
graveyard in the capital after Zuhr prayers on the same day.
to the papers, Nodi had died by suicide in August this year. However, her family
claimed that she was killed or forced to die by suicide after being tortured
daughter had been in trouble since she left for Saudi Arabia. We repeatedly
told the recruiting agency about this but they did not take any steps. Now they
have killed my girl. The papers say it was suicide but I saw that my daughter
had signs of torture all over her body. Who do I ask for justice?" Nodi's
mother Beauty Akhter wailed.
scene was reminiscent of Nasima Begum crying last month when the dead body of
her daughter Kulsum landed in Dhaka.
year, due to the closure of flights amid Covid-19 pandemic, there have been
complications in transporting the bodies to the country.
procession of deaths, meanwhile, did not stop.
to the Expatriates Welfare Desk at Dhaka airport, the bodies of at least 63
women arrived between January and September this year. Among them, 22 lost
their lives in Saudi Arabia alone, while 14 died in Lebanon, 11 in Jordan,
seven in Oman, and four in the UAE.
total of 473 women's bodies have been returned to the country from the Middle
East from 2016 till September this year. Among them, at least 81 died by
OF DESPAIR FOR NODI'S FAMILY
to the family and birth certificate, Nodi was born on December 1, 2007, which
means she was yet to be 13 years of age. However, in the passport, she was said
to be 27-years-old, with the date of birth shown as September 3, 1993. Although
their home is in Cumilla, Nodi's passport was issued from Mymensingh.
mother Beauty Begum and father Dulal Sheikh alleged that the employer started
torturing Nodi ever since she reached KSA last year. No salary was even paid to
Rahman Lalon, owner of the recruiting agency Dhaka Export (RL-275), was
informed in this regard time and again but instead of solving the problem, he
threatened the family in various ways, Dulal Sheikh said.
official letter sent to Dhaka on August 26 from the Bangladesh embassy in Saudi
Arabia said that the embassy had received information that Nodi had died by
suicide in Medina on August 14. The embassy contacted Mansour al-Magamisi,
owner of the Saudi recruiting agency, and they also corroborated the same.
family's opinion was sought for the body to be buried in Saudi Arabia in that
letter. However, the family did not agree and a letter was sent from the Wage
Earners Welfare Board to Saudi Arabia on September 2 stating that the family
wanted the body to be brought back to Bangladesh.
family also filed a case with a Dhaka court over Nodi's death and Kalabagan
police has already arrested three people, including A Rahman Lalon, owner of
the recruiting agency, on October 18.
does a 13-year-old girl go abroad with falsified documents? The question
rights activists said the government needs to investigate how teenage girls are
getting their passports and going abroad and which agencies are involved in
this in order to stop such deaths from happening.
ARE DYING IN SAUDI ARABIA
the 473 women's bodies returned to the country from the Middle East between
2016 and September this year, the highest number of deaths was 175 in Saudi
Arabia, while 75 died in Jordan, 66 in Lebanon, 45 in Oman, 27 in UAE, and 20
least 81 of them died by suicide, including 51 in Saudi Arabia alone. Of them,
three died by suicide in 2016, 12 in 2017, 23 in 2018, 29 in 2019 and 14 this
the 14 cases of suicide this year, nine died in Saudi Arabia. They are: Nasima
Begum (28), Afia Begum (36), Taslima Begum (26), and Khadija (39) of Barguna;
Safia (31) of Narsingdi; Helena (29) of Moulvibazar; Mamtaz (34) of Manikganj;
Nasrin (31) of Chapainawabganj; and Rekha (40) of Narayanganj.
of these deaths is questionable, according to their families.
Begum is an example. She went to Saudi Arabia in April 2019 through a
recruiting agency. But no one knows the mystery of her death in Egypt.
to the Bangladesh embassy in Egypt, Mosammat Begum died after falling from the
rooftop of a five-storey building on May 29, 2019. Begum's husband Abdul Aziz
said he had learned through the union chairman a few days ago that someone
called Begum had died in Egypt. But he did not take the matter seriously as his
wife was in Saudi Arabia. It was after he got a call from Egypt that he
realised it was his wife who had died.
worker, Abirun Begum, who went to Saudi Arabia in July 2017, was found dead at
her employer's house. Her family got the news 51 days after the death. Abirun's
family members alleged that her employer had brutally tortured and killed
Abirun. She was not even paid her salary for two years. However, the family did
not get any justice.
similar incident happened with Nazma, who was tortured to death in Saudi
Arabia, and her body was returned to the country 53 days later. Nazma went to
Saudi Arabia through a local broker in December 2018 to be employed at a
hospital, but she was sent to a home instead where she was tortured and sexually
abused, according to the family.
to bear the torture, I stabbed myself in the neck. Many tried to die by suicide
in KSA. Actually, the circumstances forced them to do so," Sufia Begum of
Faridpur told The Daily Star
Ahmed Chowdhury, an associate professor of the Department of Clinical
Psychology at Dhaka University and director of the Nasirullah Psychotherapy
Unit, told The Daily Star, "A person never dies by suicide under normal
circumstances. What we see in Saudi Arabia, most of the women were oppressed or
were in such a bad situation that they thought suicide is the only way to
escape. In fact, people die by suicide when they have no choice. To stop this,
the obstacles they face should be removed."
who manage to survive through the ordeal also have no end to their misery. In
many cases, their families do not want to accept them, while others face mental
Begum from Khulna is one of them. She returned from Saudi Arabia on October 10
and was found walking at the airport in an unstable state. She was then sent to
a non-governmental organisation by the Airport Police.
to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), more than 800,000
women went abroad between 1991 and 2019. Of them, the largest number, more than
three lakhs, went to Saudi Arabia and the main crisis is there.
2015, Bangladesh agreed to send women as workers to Saudi Arabia. On February
2015, a 19-member delegation led by Deputy Minister Ahmed Al Fahad of the Saudi
Ministry of Labour arrived in Dhaka when Bangladesh signed an agreement to this
end. After that agreement, 21,000 women workers were sent to KSA in 2015,
68,000 in 2016, 83,000 in 2017, 83,000 in 2018, 62,578 in 2019, and 10,930 this
year before Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
there is no actual report of how many women have returned from KSA, according
to the embassy and various media reports over the last five years, the number
is more than 10,000. Many more are reportedly waiting to return at safe homes
and immigration camps in KSA with already shattered hopes.
woman from Kurigram who went to Saudi Arabia in the hope of prosperity for her
family was raped by her employer and she became pregnant. She later fled to the
Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh to save her life. She eventually came back to
Bangladesh two months later.
woman from Dhaka's North Badda who returned from KSA, said that the men of the
house where she worked used to physically abuse and sexually harass her. When
she protested, her hair was pulled out.
girl from Manikganj said she used to work in the Bani Yasar area of Saudi
Arabia. She jumped from the rooftop of a four-storey house, unable to bear the
torture by her employers. Later, she found herself in the ICU of a hospital.
woman from Cumilla was also tortured and needed 14 stitches on her head.
year, Sumi Akhter's video from Saudi Arabia went viral, where she was seen
urging and pleading everyone to save her life. She was later rescued and
brought back to the country.
of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment sent a report to the
parliamentary standing committee concerned in August last year. The report said
that they had talked to about 110 female domestic workers who returned from
Saudi Arabia and 35 percent of them returned home after being physically and
sexually abused, while 44 percent of these women were not paid regularly.
a joint committee meeting with Saudi Arabia last year, Bangladesh raised the
issue of oppression of female workers. Saudi Arabia, as always, assured of
looking into the matter. BMET Director General Mohammad Shamsul Alam said the
ministry and BMET had issued 12-point directives in December last year to
ensure the safety of women workers and they are more careful about the issues.
how much the situation has improved, Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury, secretary-general
of the Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said yesterday
that the agencies are often held responsible over the cases of harassment or
death of Bangladeshi domestic workers in KSA, but the crisis will not be
resolved unless action is taken against the Saudi employers who maltreat the
mechanism should be developed to this end, he added.
Vows To Promote Women's Role In Maintaining Peace And Security
YORK — The United Arab Emirates reaffirmed its commitment to facilitating
enabling environments for women and girls around the world to realize their
full, equal, and meaningful participation at the UN Security Council’s annual
open debate on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). The international community is
observing the twentieth anniversary of the landmark Security Council resolution
1325, which established the WPS architecture.
a written statement to the Council, the UAE said: "Over the past two
decades, the WPS has been pivotal in recognizing the disproportionate effects
of conflicts on women and girls, but it has particularly contributed to the
recognition of them as active agents and the meaningful role they play when it
comes to conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict recovery processes.
While it is our duty to protect the progress made and to ensure gains will not
be lost and inequalities further deepened, the advancement of the WPS agenda is
a key priority for the UAE and will remain as such during our recently
announced candidacy for an elected seat on the Security Council for the
2022-2023 term with our focus on the full and effective implementation of UNSC
Resolution 1325 and its subsequent 9 resolutions."
the importance of multilateral efforts in ensuring women and women’s issues are
not sidelined, the UAE noted its collaboration with the Georgetown Institute
for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) on a panel series on the role of women in
post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding. The UAE added that together
with GIWPS, it will be launching a UN Action Plan, which will outline concrete
priority actions and reforms for Member States and UN agencies to introduce and
extend measures that ensure post-conflict activities are gender-mainstreamed.
UAE emphasized the importance of the number of women uniformed personnel as
well as their influence in building sustainable peace. In this regard, the UAE
highlighted the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security
Initiative which, in cooperation with UN-Women, has enabled the successful
graduation of over 300 women from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to
facilitate their effective contribution to peacekeeping, conflict resolution,
and all aspects of building peace. The UAE further noted that it hopes to
contribute to closing some of the gaps related to gender-responsive security
sector reform and called on Member States to identify and address the barriers
facing women peacekeepers.
the UAE underlined that the international community could not dismiss the
unwaveringly high number of cases of sexual and gender-based violence. The UAE
condemned such crimes as they pose a serious threat to peace and security and
stated that holding perpetrators accountable is a critical component of
preventing and deterring the violence.
UAE also added that funding allocated to sexual and gender-based violence is
still far from covering the actual needs, and to this end reiterated the UAE’s
support through additional financial contributions to the UN’s GenCap and
ProCap programs, as well as Nadia’s Initiative. The UAE called on the member
states to ensure their foreign aid specifically targets similar programs and to
work closely with UN entities and other organizations towards ending sexual and
gender-based violence. — WAM
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