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The Pakistan Beauty Salons Employing Acid Attack Survivors and Giving Them An Opportunity To Rebuild Their Lives

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 Jul 2020

• Saudi Court Rules That Saudi Woman Living Alone 'Should Not Be Punished'

• Move to Boost Saudi Women’s Citizenship Rights

• Saudi Arabia: ‘Historical’ New Court Ruling Boosts Gender Equality

• Afghan Women Players Call for Arrest of Ex-Afghan Football Boss

• UAE, Saudi Women Are World's Biggest Spenders on Beauty Products - Report

• Brother of Anti-Hijab Activist Sentenced To Eight Years In Iran

• Extremist Fighter's Ground-breaking Sex Slavery Trial Opens At ICC

• Arab Businesswomen Discuss Their Pandemic Experiences

• Why Women’s Shelters InTurkey No Longer Provide Safety

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



The Pakistan Beauty Salons Employing Acid Attack Survivors and Giving the Opportunity To Rebuild Their Lives

14 Jul 2020

 Saria does a customer’s makeup. Her fiancé threw acid over her when she resisted his attempts to take her away from her family home. Photograph: Sipa/REX


Margaret Heera runs her fingers through her customer’s hair. “You must manage time for yourself and your skin,” she says, as she ties the hair into an elaborate knot.

The beauty salon in Lahore is busy. Sitting between potted plants on chairs facing full-length mirrors, women are waiting to get their hair cut or styled, for manicures and pedicures.

The salon is a place of sanctuary for women in the city. But for Heera, 29, it’s much more.

One day in 2013, Heera’s husband of two years locked her in a room and poured acid over her face and body. He was unhappy about the small dowry she’d received from her parents when they had married.

Every year many women in Pakistan are attacked with acid, despite legislation aimed at preventing such attacks.

Heera is one of seven women currently working in the Depilex salon as part of a jobs scheme for acid attack survivors who are often shunned, overlooked for jobs and treated as outcasts.

“At first, most of the clients were shocked when they saw me, my scars … they wouldn’t allow me to work for them, but now it’s all good. Everyone is very supportive,” says Heera. “Now, I am independent. I am investing in my son’s education.”

Launched in 1980 by businesswoman Masarrat Misbah, the salon chain has spread across the country. In 2005, Misbah set up the DepilexSmileagain Foundation to support burn victims, particularly survivors of acid attacks, with reconstructive surgery, counselling, vocational training, and jobs in her salons.

AbdiyaShaheen, Smileagain’s programme manager, said that out of 750 women registered with the foundation, 460 are survivors of acid attacks.

Most acid attackers are men, and the majority of victims are women. The attacks often happen because women are perceived to be shunning gender traditions, by refusing a marriage proposal for example. Women have also been attacked with acid for giving birth to girls.

Legislation introduced in Pakistan in 2011 saw offenders face between 14 years and life imprisonment, as well as a fine of 1 million rupees (£4,700).

According to data collected by NGO the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), between 2007 and 2018 there were 1,485 reported cases of acid attacks in Pakistan. About a third involved children splashed with acid when family members were attacked.

Last year, 80 acid attacks were reported, a 50% drop since 2014. But while the fall in cases is seen by some as evidence that the legislation is effective, others believe many more incidents go unreported.

Conviction rates of offenders are not encouraging, and dropped by almost half between 2016 and 2018 – from 63.6% to 38.4%.

In Punjab province, where more than 80% of Pakistan’s acid attacks are reported, authorities do claim to be taking the law seriously.

One reason for the high number of cases is the difficulty in controlling the sale of acid, used for farming cotton, a key industry in Punjab. Cotton products account for 10% of the country’s GDP.

In 2012, the state authorities ruled that acid attacks would be prosecuted in courts that were originally established to try terror suspects. The state says using these special courts both speeds up the legal process and sends a strong message about the importance the government places on ending acid attacks.

The approach seems to be working. According to ASF, which also works with police and lawyers, only 2–3% of acid attacks were reported in Punjab before the law changed. Now, more than 90% of cases are reported.

Last year, Punjab’s chief minister, Usman Buzdar, committed 100 million rupees to helping survivors of acid and burn attacks undergo rehabilitation and come “back to life”. The money is expected to provide support to 1,000 survivors.

Zainab Qaiserani, project coordinator at ASF, says the authorities still need to do more.

“We are currently advocating for a bill on a provincial and federal level to ensure free provision of medical and rehabilitation services to acid attack and burn victims, along with developing a monitoring and funding mechanism,” she says.

“The process is not that fast. Especially with the advent of Covid-19, the immediate priorities of the government have shifted to respond to the pandemic and the issues arising from it.”

Sabra Sultana, manager of the Depilex salon in Jhelum, was attacked with acid in 1993 by her husband in a dowry dispute. She took the case to court, but her husband accused her of being mentally unstable, and he walked free.

Sultana, who began training as a beautician in 2006, says she now lives life on her own terms and supports other survivors.

“So many lives [have been] torn apart, but we are fighting this now,” she says. “It’s never too late.”


Saudi Court Rules That Saudi Woman Living Alone 'Should Not Be Punished'

15 July, 2020

 Saudi women are subject to a male guardianship system [Getty-file photo]


A Saudi court ruled this week that a Saudi woman living alone should not be punished, after family in the ultra-conservative kingdom filed a complaint.

It comes after public prosecutors pursued the Saudi woman in court for being absent from her family home and travelling to Riyadh without her father's permission.

The prosecutor demanded the court punish the woman for her "repeated absense" from the family home.

The judge dismissed the complaint saying that a "sane adult woman" has the right to live in a seperate home and the defendent should not be punished, according to Saudi Gazette.

"The court said in its ruling that the independence of the defendant in a separate house is not deemed a criminal offense that requires punishment," the Saudi daily wrote.

Under Saudi Arabia's guardianship laws, Saudi men have almost complete control over the lives of women relatives.

A Saudi woman needs a male guardian present to complete numerous administrative tasks and allows fathers, husbands and siblings to regulate everyday aspects of their lives.

Saudi Arabia has recently eased some of the restrictions for women aged-21 and over, allowing them to travel abroad without the permission of male relatives and to obtain a passport.

Critics say Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reforms are "too little too late" and a veneer that hides a sweeping campaign of repression against activists, including women's rights' campaigners.

A driving ban on women was also overturned last year, in a change dubbed "cosmetic" by human rights campaigners.

Detained Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has been behind bars for two years, after protesting the male guardianship system and the ban on women drivers.

Hathloul has been subjected to torture, sexual harrassment and threats of execution and rape during her detention, her family have said.

She has not been freed despite the change in law and the threat of coronavirus in Saudi prisons.

Saudi authorities have also been linked to a sexist smear campaign of women journalists deemed critical of the kingdom's ruler.


Move to Boost Saudi Women’s Citizenship Rights

July 15, 2020

Ramadan Al Sherbini

Currently children of a Saudi woman married to a non-Saudi man are placed under the sponsorship system.

Image Credit: AFP


Cairo: Several members of the Saudi advisory Shura Council has proposed giving permanent residency to children of Saudi women married to foreigners to boost human rights and women’s status , according to a media report.

The proposal, made by eight Shura members, points out that eligibility for such free-of-charge residency requires that marriage between a Saudi woman and a foreigner should have been approved by the competent agencies in the kingdom, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported, citing unidentified sources.

Currently children of a Saudi woman married to a non-Saudi man are placed under the sponsorship system.

The proposal aims at fulfilling social justice, enhancing family ties, safeguarding human rights and eliminating any form of discrimination, the sources added.

Authors of the draft seek to consolidate Saudi women’s citizenship rights and stop damage resulting from their children’s failure to obtain permanent residency, they added.

Children of a Saudi woman married to a foreigner have to find another sponsor after their mother’s death, a matter that involves psychological and social problems for them, the sources said.

The authors have backed up their proposal by citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) joined by Saudi Arabia, the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 and the status of the kingdom as a member of the Group of 20.

The proposal marks the third time for members in the Shura Council to attempt to address the situation of children of Saudi women married to foreigner


Saudi Arabia: ‘Historical’ New Court Ruling Boosts Gender Equality

July 15, 2020

Samir Salama

 Sabeeha al-Fakher, a 68-year-old Saudi widow, drives her pearl-silver Lexus in the coastal town of Qatif, about 400 kilometres east of the capital Riyadh

Image Credit: AFP


Abu Dhabi: A new Saudi court ruling has stated that “an adult, rational woman living independently is not a crime” and this could help to improve gender equality in the kingdom. Lawyer Abdul Rahman Al Lahim described the ruling as “historical” as “it ends tragic stories many women lived in the past.”

Under the old “absenteeism” law, parents were allowed to file a report with the police against a woman in the event of her disappearance or living independently, without obtaining a prior permission from the guardian.

Dr.Muflih Al Qahtani, chairman of the National Society for Human Rights, explains that the right to housing is a basic human right in general, and a woman has the right to obtain appropriate housing for herself with her family or relatives or in a safe and secure independent house, if her living with her family poses a threat to her life or is harmful to her.

“Balance must be made between ensuring the protection of women, providing adequate housing for them and the cohesion of the family and the maintenance of its stability,” Al Qahtani told Asharq Al Awsat.

Saudi Arabia has eased travel restrictions on women but observers say loopholes still allow male relatives to curtail their movements and, in the worst cases, leave them marooned in prison-like shelters.

In August last year, the kingdom allowed women over the age of 21 to obtain passports without seeking the approval of their “guardians” - fathers, husbands or other male relatives.

The move, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to revamp the national image, ended a longstanding rule that prompted some extreme attempts to flee the kingdom.

But campaigners warned it is easy to sidestep the reform.

While allowing travel documents, Saudi Arabia has not done away with “taghayyub” - a legal provision that means “absent” in Arabic and which has long been used to constrain women who leave home without permission.

Guardians can still file a police complaint that their female relatives are ‘absent’, which would lead to their arrest and possible detention in Dar Al Reaya (women’s shelter).

The system of shelters operated around the kingdom is opaque but accounts of conditions there paint a dire picture.

Saudi fathers can’t stop the girls getting passports but they can still declare them missing to local police who will then track them down for the parents.

In 2018, members of the Saudi advisory Shura Council recommended the Justice Ministry stop accepting taghayyub cases as a way to slowly dismantle the guardianship system, but the suggestion seems to have been ignored.

The move was celebrated as a historic leap for gender equality, triggering humorous online memes featuring women dashing to the airport with suitcases - alone.

But it also prompted lamentation for the perceived loss of men’s control.


Afghan women players call for arrest of ex-Afghan football boss

July 15, 2020

Karim was last year found guilty of assaulting several female Afghan footballers

Afghan women players on Wednesday called for the arrest of fugitive ex-football chief Keramuddin Karim after his life ban for "appalling" sexual abuse was upheld.

Karim was last year found guilty of assaulting several female Afghan footballers, with Fifa delivering their toughest sanction -- a life ban and a fine of 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million, 934,000 euros).

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Tuesday upheld the Fifa verdict, saying Karim had "violated basic human rights and damaged the mental and physical dignity and integrity of young female players".

"With his appalling acts, he had destroyed not only their careers, but severely damaged their lives," Lausanne-based CAS, the highest court in sport, said in a statement.

Karim, who had previously denounced the accusations as part of a "conspiracy", has been on the run since Afghan authorities issued a warrant for his arrest last year.

KhalidaPopal, the former Afghan women's captain who campaigned against Karim, said the ruling had sent out a message.

"It is a strong statement that there is no room for abuse and violation of human rights in football," Popal told AFP.

Popal had reportedly collected accounts against Karim from former teammates that included sexual violence, death threats and rapes.

"Karim should have been arrested long ago, but we are still happy that the world has not forgotten him," added a female footballer, on condition of anonymity.

"The world should put more pressure on the Afghan government to arrest him."

The scandal involving Karim rocked Afghan women's football, with many players forced to stop training and quit the sport under pressure from their families.

Several matches planned for the national women's team were cancelled as sponsors terminated contracts.

"We are getting back on our feet. It takes time to recover but I am happy at least justice is served," said another female footballer, who preferred to remain unnamed. She also called for Karim's arrest.

Afghan authorities are still searching for Karim, whose whereabouts are unknown.

The Afghan attorney general's office said it had done a "thorough investigation" but Karim never came forward for interrogations.

"He is at large, we have asked the police to arrest him," said Jamshid Rasuli, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

"Whenever he is arrested... the court will decide his fate."

The Afghan Football Federation, which was headed by Karim until the scandal broke out, declined to comment when approached by AFP.

Authorities sacked several other AFF officials along with Karim when news of the scandal broke in Britain's Guardian newspaper in November 2018.

Last year, Karim's defence lawyer Ivo Sigmond dismissed the accusations against his client as "ghost stories" fuelled by the #MeToo movement.


UAE, Saudi women are world's biggest spenders on beauty products - report

15 JULY, 2020

Women in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have topped the global charts in spending on makeup and skincare products, making the two countries the world’s cosmetics capitals, according to a new report.

The biggest spenders are Saudi women, who rack up $909 (3,350 UAE dirhams) in yearly bills, followed by Emirati women, with an annual tab of 694 dollars (2,550 dirhams), according to a study by discount site

Picodi polled more than 9,000 respondents over 40 countries worldwide to understand the cosmetics preferences of consumers in different markets.

Asian consumers outdid Europeans in the top ten list, with Hong Kong’s $568 annual spending landing in the third position, followed by the United Kingdom ($505) in the fourth spot and Romania ($479) in the fifth. Rounding up the top ten most cosmetics-obsessed markets in the world are Ireland ($444), Thailand ($441), Singapore ($427), Australia ($405) and Finland ($397).

The beauty and personal care market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) have been rising in recent years. The market’s retail value jumped by eight percent to $34.9 billion in 2019, from $32.4 billion a year earlier.

According to Euromonitor International, personal care spending in the UAE alone could reach 8.8 billion dirhams by 2022.

Nikolay Kashcheev, an analyst at Picodi, said that wearing make-up or using skincare products is a big part in the Arab culture, despite restrictions around dressing in public.

“In Arab culture, women need to hide almost their entire body in public. But regardless of the laws and customs, women want to look special and wearing make-up is the way to do so,” Kaschcheev told Zawya.

However, the current economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic could impact overall spending on beauty products this year. Buying make-up, which is a non-essential item, may take a back seat as consumers prioritize basic necessities.

“We expect people to cut their budgets, including cosmetics. Our survey shows that women regularly use 10 out of 23 owned cosmetics. This means that for some time, they would not buy new products just because they want it,” said Kascheev.

Preferences of Emirati women

In its latest study, Picodi found that Emirati women’s toiletry bags are quite spacious. On average, they contain 23 cosmetics products.

They’re also quite particular with brands when they go out shopping, with 60 percent of them saying a product’s label play a crucial part in their purchasing decisions. A smaller number, (34 percent) also said they prefer premium items, the ones that are on the pricier side.

Eco-friendly products are quite popular as well in this market, but 63 percent of the women said they take home green products only when the price is reasonable.

According to the Picodi study, while many are brand-conscious and have the tendency to go for luxury items, overall, most women prefer value for money, with 71 percent of Emiratis saying they choose price as a major factor determining the purchase.


Brother Of Anti-Hijab Activist Sentenced To Eight Years In Iran

July 16, 2020

A revolutionary court in Iran’s capital Tehran has sentenced the brother of an exiled anti-compulsory hijab activist to eight years in jail.

The Islamic Republic intelligence agents arrested Masih Alinejad's brother, Alireza, in Tehran in September last year, in what was labeled by rights groups and activists as a retaliatory measure against his sister who lives in the United States and has a following among women and anti-hijab activists in Iran.

Masih Alinejad, the founder of "White Wednesdays" anti-compulsory hijab movement, tweeted, "Despite months of pressure and keeping my brother in solitary confinement, the criminals (Islamic Republic authorities) who know nothing but execution and hostage-taking, failed to force him to disown me and atone."

In another tweet Alinejad accused the Islamic Republic of trying to use her brother to lure her to Turkey and kidnap her. Last year, Iranian intelligence kidnapped another foreign-based activist in Iraq.

Alireza Alinejad received five years jail for "assembly and collusion for action against the country's security," two years for "insulting the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader," and one year behind bars for "propaganda against the regime," his attorney, Saeed Dehqan tweeted on Wednesday, July 15.

Amnesty International had earlier sharply criticized the arrest. Alinejad’s verdict is subject to appeal, but if security organs decide to keep him in prison, an appeal will not be successful.

"Arresting the relatives of an activist in an attempt to intimidate her into silence is a despicable and cowardly move," Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said in a statement on September 25, 2019.

"Instead of harassing and detaining the family members of Masih Alinejad, Iran's authorities should release them immediately and end their campaign of repression against women," Philip Luther asserted.

Masih Alinejad-Ghomi, 43, is a self-exiled Iranian journalist-author, political activist and women's rights advocate, based in New York. She currently works as a presenter/producer at VOA Persian Service, and active in other foreign-based Persian media.


Extremist Fighter's Ground-breaking Sex Slavery Trial Opens At ICC

14 Jul 2020

The trial of a former Islamic militant who allegedly forced hundreds of women into sexual slavery has opened at the international criminal court, where he has been accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and in a first, persecution on the grounds of gender.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 42, was transferred to the court’s custody more than two years Ago from Mali, where he had been held by local authorities for more than a year.

Prosecutors in The Hague have accused him of torture, extrajudicial punishments and participation in a policy of forced marriage, which “led to repeated rapes and sexual enslavement of women and girls”.

He also been charged with persecution on the grounds of gender, which was welcomed as a “historic step” and a “milestone for justice” by campaigners.

The alleged offences were committed during a six-month period when the Malian city of Timbuktu was occupied and ruled by radical Islamist groups in 2012 and 2013.

Al Hassan remained impassive throughout the early part of the hearing, which was televised, speaking in Arabic only to return the greeting of Judge Antoine Kesia-MbeMindua and say he understood the charges against him.

Asked to enter a plea to each of the charges he refused, telling judges 13 times: “I cannot answer that question.”

His defence lawyers told the court al Hassan was suffering form post-traumatic stress disorder and was unfit to stand trial. Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic had meant a full psychological assessment had not been carried out, they argued.

Timbuktu fell to a coalition of Tuareg rebels and Islamist militant factions, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and a local group called Ansar Dine, in mid-2012. They enforced a harsh version of sharia law in areas under their control, banning music, forcing women to wear the burqa, preventing girls from attending school and demolishing saints’ graves.

Al Hassan joined Ansar Dine shortly before its occupation of the city and led a force of religious police, prosecutors say.

Born in a village north of Timbuktu, Al Hassan is also alleged to have worked closely with the religious tribunals set up by the occupiers to impose a harsh version of Islamic law, and is accused of participating in the torture of detainees.

The extremists withdrew from Timbuktu when French soldiers advanced in January 2013. Al Hassan fled Mali; according to court documents, he later rejoined his former comrades and was eventually detained by French troops after a gun battle in the north of Mali.

Al-Hassan’s defence team have previously argued that Al Hassan was too minor an actor to justify trial at the ICC, that the alleged crimes were unrepresentative and that the prosecution unfairly targeted the Islamic faith.

The trial is only the second of an Islamist militant at the ICC. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a senior militant in Timbuktu during the occupation, was sentenced to nine years in prison by the ICC in 2016 for his role in the destruction of world-famous religious shrines and monuments in Timbuktu. Mahdi pleaded guilty to the crime and apologised. He said he had been overtaken by evil spirits and urged Muslims not to follow his example.

Mali remains plagued by Islamic militancy and has been plunged into a political crisis in recent weeks, further undermining efforts to restore security by local troops, a large French force and UN peacekeepers.

A successful prosecution of Al Hassan would be a boost to the ICC, but is unlikely to end criticism from some quarters. The US has threatened an economic and legal offensive against the institution following a recent decision by judges to open an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

Melinda Reed, the executive director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, a civil organisation based at The Hague that focuses on the ICC, said the Al Hassan case was groundbreaking not just because of the use of the charge of persecution based on gender for the first time, but also because it included non-sexual violence too.

“The charging documents include cases where women were hunted down and detained in inhumane conditions for the sole reason of wearing a headscarf considered as too beautiful or not wearing gloves at the market,” Reed said.

“In addition, the case includes the crime of forced marriage as distinct from sexual slavery. This gives recognition to the gendered dimension of forced marriage, separate from sexual violence, as well as recognising the social stigma faced by victims.”

Reed said the case was a good example of prosecutors using multiple charges and could create an important legal precedent.

“In many cases, persecution is charged on ethnic or religious grounds without the recognition that persecution can be seen on both religious and gender grounds, as seen [here],” she said.


Arab Businesswomen Discuss Their Pandemic Experiences


São Paulo – Sarah Ayed is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, in Saudi Arabia, and Yomna El Sheridy is director and CEO with Special Foods and chair of Business Women of Egypt 21 organization. This Wednesday (15) saw them join Brazilian businesswomen for a webinar hosted by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC). The online event also featured the launch of the ABCC Women’s Committee and got viewed by over 800 people in Brazil and the world over. Pictured above is Sarah Ayed.

The executives related how they’ve adapted to the worldwide lockdown, what changed within businesses, the work from home and at manufacturing plants, and shopping behavior. Yomna said she couldn’t implement remote work, since she’s in olive production and needs people at the plant. People are having to step out of their comfort zones, she said. “Women will always find a way to overcome problems,” Yomna argued.

The Egyptian businesswoman said she had to find new ways to connect with clients and keep the business going. “The pandemic forced us to fast-track our digitization. Our digitization project had always been kind of brushed aside, but the crisis led us to put in place online payment methods fast, and we weren’t that used to this system. We also worked with other platforms to enable us to sell to other parts of the world,” said Yomna.

She created her own page online and is working with platforms such as Amazon, which helps her reach out to clients. Yomna managed to keep all her staff, but many other factories in Egypt couldn’t. She also had to make adaptations regarding markets.

“We used to export 100% of our output. Everything we made used to be for export. For the first time ever, we stopped and said ‘Let’s look into the local market. Let’s do something different for the local market’,” she said. She and her employees had to tackle new challenges. They had to deal with local clients, figure out their profiles, and work out the market to find ways to keep revenue streaming in and keep the business afloat amid the pandemic. “In practical terms, I’d argue that a few positive things have come from this crisis,” she said.

Yomna discussed two other aspects that had to be changed. One was the use of different media to promote her products. “Another thing is we started working online, and this meant having more women take on leadership positions,” she said. “We’re always fighting to survive and to get the best out of this crisis.”

Sarah Ayed

Saudi businesswoman Sarah Ayed said everyone in her company will keep working from home until at least mid-August or September. She recalled that early on in the lockdown was a difficult time for everyone. “In the beginning it was all very confusing. The communities, the businesses and the people didn’t know what was going on. And we all had to face a lockdown. In different time windows, we had to go home. The businesses shut down,” she said.

Sarah also mentioned the impact on workers’ mental health, and the importance of ensuring the wellbeing of families. “Many businesses were ready to go into virtual mode, but it was tough for people to get in the mood. Because it’s not just about working from home; you need to be mentally prepared for it. As the schools closed, the children went home with their parents. We had to work to make sure the families, the teams, the people were doing well. We had to focus on health aspects with a lot of responsibility in everything we’d do,” she said.

Sarah’s work involves communication in the services industry. She said she deals with people and needs to approach what’s going on from the work and family perspectives. “At home, anywhere in the world, at least when it comes to our business, we can log into the company system, check out our panel and get to work,” she said. But clients’ conditions had to be taken into consideration to make sure that deadlines were met. Flexibility enabled them to take on the pandemic’s challenges together.

Regarding the “new normal,” Sarah said that before going back into the office, a few guidelines need to be worked out. “We can’t just drag people back to work if the office isn’t ready. So we decided that people aren’t going back before at least mid-August or September, so that we can prepare the office to comply with regulations, because health is really important. Moreover, if people have to go back, where will the children stay? That’s another factor to consider to make sure everyone in the team is satisfied and ready to go back and all guidelines are observed,” she said.

Sarah Ayed also said that the Saudi administration created business stimulus packages, and that she had been working under global mentorship and entrepreneurship programs that got interrupted as the pandemic broke out. After than she started having online sessions with business personalities from all over the world, giving lectures in platforms like Instagram. “So what matters the most here is adaptation. You need to work out an efficient, adaptable way for everyone,” she said.

She congratulated the ABCC on the creation of its WAHI Women’s Committee – wahi is Arabic for ‘inspiration.’ “It’s a beautiful name for a truly admirable program. Building bridges, reacting opportunities and connecting businesswomn in Brazil and the Arab world is a great idea. This is an initiative we’d like to see more of going forward,” she said.

Speakers in the webinar also included Brazilian businesswomen Natalia Klafke, general manager with Radix Engenharia e Software; and Ana Paula Kagueyama, senior Global Customer Services director and site leader with PaypalBrasil. The event kicked off with an address from ABCC president Rubens Hannun, with moderation by ABCC commercial manager Daniella Leite.

Also featured was ABCC Women’s Committee president Alessandra Frisso, who’s director of ABCC member company H2R – a research institute. Previously filmed statements from the Committee’s board members Claudia Yazigi Haddad, Janine Bezerra de Menezes and Silvia Antibas were shown. Towards the end of the webinar, MobilisaSoluçõesTecnológicas CEO Isabella Gelencsir and Dubai’s High Class Corporate Services partner Cecilia Bicca asked questions. Both companies are ABCC members.


Why Women’s Shelters In Turkey No Longer Provide Safety

Jul 15, 2020

With his blue piercing eyes and a habit of baring his front teeth when angry, Ozan Guven might well be one of the most charismatic actors of the Turkish screen. Known for his portrayal of ambitious, hot-tempered and abusive characters in two of Turkey’s top-rated soaps — “Phi” and “Magnificent Century” — Guven became headline news in July when his girlfriend, Deniz Bulutsuz, filed a case against him for violence and physical abuse. Guven may face up to 13 years of imprisonment.

“So Guven is Can Manay after all,” said one tweet, referring to the main character in the Turkish series “Phi,” where the antagonist, a smooth-talking psychiatrist, eventually reveals himself to be a psychopath with a history of abuse, violence and even femicide.

The Turkish opinion remained divided as Bulutsuz unfolded photos of her bruises, a black eye and a testimony that said that she had been slammed against a wall by Guven. Women’s activists and a group of screenwriters called on production companies to blacklist Guven, while others, mainly male groups, accused Bulutsuz of lying and charged Guven’s critics of lynching the actor with nothing yet proven. MelisAlphan, a journalist and a longtime advocate of women’s rights, faced a steady flow of online abuse when she tweeted that members of the film sector should stop working with Guven.

“When it is a man with power, fame and with fans, they rally to his side and insult the victim or anyone who supports her,” Alphan told Al-Monitor. “I used to advocate education to combat gender-based violence, but I can no longer say that — there is so much abuse against women in academia too.”

MorCati, one of the founders of the Purple Roof Women’s Shelter Association, which has provided counseling, and psychological and legal support to violence victims since the1990s, said the case had been emblematic for domestic violence victims. “It is becoming visibly more difficult for women to speak about the violence they face. Women who talk of what they have experienced are accused of lying or of deserving what happened to them. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are men who use violence against women and then deny it — and a public opinion that believes them,” said the association’s statement published July 7.

The Purple Roof called on women to protect their rights under Turkey’s laws and the so-called Istanbul Convention, the major Council of Europe accord that protects women from violence and abuse, which the government signed in 2011 and ratified in 2012. The call came amid calls by some members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the ratification has been a mistake and the government should withdraw from the accord that they claim protects the LGBTI community and relationships outside marriage.

On the weekend of July 10-12, various women’s platforms from all around Turkey took to the streets to end femicide, stop sexual abuse of children and uphold the convention and Turkey’s law on preventing violence against women, known as Law No. 6284.

The convention — whose full name is the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence — is named after Istanbul, because it was presented to the signatories in a meeting in the city. Turkey was the first country to sign the accord, which says the state is responsible to prevent all forms of violence against women, train police and justice officials on victims’ rights, and work with nongovernmental organizations on the issue.

On July 2, NumanKurtulmus, vice chair of the AKP, said in an interview that signing the accord had been a mistake. In a televised interview, Kurtulmus indicated that the government might consider withdrawing from the convention, saying that the accord has played into “the hands of LGBT and marginal elements” — adding to the homophobic statements by the government and top officials.

Though other top brass of the AKP made similar noises on regretting the signing of the accord in the past, Kurtulmus’ words brought the issue of withdrawal at a time that women’s groups raised their voices on the increase of domestic violence in light of the coronavirus lockdowns and lack of adequate measures, such as new helplines or a quick reaction by police and shelter officials on complaints of violence.

Women’s associations and female politicians — including AKP deputies — raged against Kurtulmus. Burcu Karakas, a journalist and a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute, tweeted her outrage, saying, “Why bother with official statements such as ‘withdrawal from the convention’? Why not say, simply and plainly, say that you want to marry underage girls and beat up women?”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister when the accord was ratified, remained noncommittal, at least for the time being. According to Hurriyet daily, he simply asked his team to study it and see what the concerns are.

Ankara observers cheekily point out that the president is stuck between two strong stakeholders — the Ismailaga Congregation, a powerful and conservative group that strongly opposes the accord, and his wife and daughter who support it. According to Anka-Review, an Ankara insider, several female activists told the newsletter on condition of anonymity that they believe that Sumeyye Erdogan, the president’s daughter and co-chair of women’s association KADEM, is the “guarantee” that Turkey would not sign off the accord as she had strongly supported it in the past.

“The Istanbul declaration would not be easy to discard, as many women — including the conservative ones — were supporting it when it was signed. No one wants to see women killed in front of their children,” MelekOnder of We Will Stop Femicide Platform, told Al-Monitor. “The opposers are a vocal group, but they are a very small one.”

“We should not even be debating withdrawal from the convention,” Alphan said. “Given the situation on the ground, we should be reflecting on how we can implement it better.”

Even with the accord in place, women’s groups claim that the government is far from vigilant on protecting women from violence or death. The Ministry of Interior Affairs has claimed that the number of femicides has decreased in Turkey in the first half of 2020 compared to last year, declining from 173 to 115. But several femicides reported by the press revealed that women who have asked for protection had not been given that, including one woman who was killed by her husband after he found her at a women’s shelter.

In July, Zeynep Topal, a 27-year-old mother of two from Bingol, traveled from her small town to Istanbul to seek refuge in a women’s shelter, only to be found by her husband and taken home. A few days after her departure from the shelter, she was found dead in a backyard in Bingol, shot with her hands tied behind her back. Her husband, Osman Topal, was arrested along with two relatives who are believed to be accomplices.

A month earlier, as Turkey was in lockdown, an unnamed woman went to a police station and was sent to a shelter, again according to a statement by Purple Roof. However, the officer at the police station, who is a friend of her husband, shared the address of the shelter with him.

Onder said that the coronavirus lockdowns, when women were forced to remain at home with violent husbands or simply leave home in a hurry, had shown how inadequate the shelters have been. “Under the law, municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants should have a shelter,” she said. “Few of them do.”

The July 7 statement by Purple Roof also stated that the 144 shelters for women throughout the country are too few, and that some shelters do not provide women with “emotional, social and legal support” but seek to unite families instead. “[Some of the efforts of the shelters’ officials] to get those women to reconcile with the very people who abused them can cost these women their lives,” said the statement. “This approach, which puts family unity before the safety of women, needs to end.”




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