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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 20 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Three Pakistani Sisters Kill ‘Blasphemer’ After 13 Years

 New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Apr 2017

Muslim girl was allegedly prohibited from attending classes in a Lucknow school while wearing a scarf to cover her head.



 14-Year-Old Muslim Girl’s Hijab ripped Off, Called “Terrorist” In United States

 Over Half a Million Women in Balochistan Not Registered As Voters

 Pak ‘Govt Plans Day-care Centres for Working Women’

 Invest In Early Childhood Education –First Lady of Ghana to African Countries

 The Number of Women Running For President in Iran Is the Highest-Ever In Modern History

 Death of First Female US Muslim Judge Being Treated As ‘Suspicious’ By Police

 Outlawing Muslim Women’s Veil in Europe Deserves Special Attention

 Organic Farming Class at Women’s Fest in Dubai

 One Woman’s Resolve to Eradicate Polio in Pakistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Three Pakistani Sisters Kill ‘Blasphemer’ After 13 Years

April 20, 2017

SIALKOT -  In yet another case of vigilante justice, three Burqa-clad sisters yesterday shot dead an alleged blasphemer at his home in Tehsil Pasrur.

Amna, Afshan and Razia went to the house of Mazhar Hussain Syed in Nangal Mirza village and asked him to pray for their good future, senior police officials said.

The women also inquired about his son Fazal Abbas, 45, who had returned from abroad, and wanted to see him. As Fazal appeared before the women, they opened fire, killing him on the spot.

Later, the Burqa-clad sisters raised slogans that they had finally killed the alleged “blasphemer”. They alleged that he had committed blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) 13 years ago in 2004.

SHO Pasrur City police station Khalid Dar said that a case Under Section 295-C was registered against Fazal Abbas at Pasrur City police station 13 years ago. The SHO added that accused had fled abroad after registration of the case.

He said that the accused had recently returned and he formally joined police investigation after getting pre-arrest bail by a local court. Police shifted the body of the victim to Pasrur THQ Civil Hospital for autopsy.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Asif Tidal said that the police have arrested the alleged murderers. The accused women told the police that Fazal had committed blasphemy long ago when they were too young to kill him, but they had committed to killing him whenever they will get a chance in their life. “Finally, we have shot dead the blasphemer after the long wait of 13 years,” they added.

This incident wherein citizens have taken the law in their hands over the blasphemy issue comes just days after barbarous murder of a Mardan university student over blasphemy accusations.

The investigation of the case shows that Mashal Khan was wrongly accused of blasphemy under a plot hatchet by some university officials, only days after he took to exposing wrongdoings at the campus.

Pasrur Police said they were also investigating Wednesday’s murder from angles to see if there was any other motive behind this shooting by the three sisters.



Over Half a Million Women in Balochistan Not Registered As Voters


April 20, 2017

QUETTA: Over half a million eligible women have not registered themselves as voters with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Balochistan as they do not possess their Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs).

Provincial Election Com­missioner Muhammad Nae­em Jaffar said on Wednes­day the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had no record of women belonging to far-flung areas of Balochistan. However, he added, the com­mission was taking measures to ensure maximum participation of wom­en in the electoral process.

“The Election Commission selected various areas for registration of women voters,” said Mr Jaffar.

“We have been receiving encouraging reports for the past six months in this regard and will make all efforts to fill the gender gap in Balochistan before the next elections,” he said.

Nadra has held out an assurance that it will send mobile teams to remote areas of the province for issuing CNICs and other legal documents to women, said Mr Jaffar.

In Balochistan, presently over 3.7 million voters are registered with the Election Commission and 1.5m of them are women.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017



Pak ‘Govt Plans Day-care Centres For Working Women’

April 20, 2017

SUKKUR - Special Assistant to Sindh Chief Minister for Women Development Irum Khalid has said that the Sindh Government plans to establish daycare centers so that working women do not face any problem while attending their office duties.

She said this during her visit to Women Complaint Centre and Women Crisis Centre of the Women Development Department here on Wednesday.

She said that her ministry has prepared a comprehensive plan for the welfare of working women with the provision of protection, legal and financial assistance, etc.



Invest In Early Childhood Education –First Lady of Ghana to African Countries

20th April, 2017

The First Lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has advised countries in Africa to pay critical attention to early childhood education and as a matter of urgency, provide enough investment in the sector, to ensure children get a formidable foundation.

The First Lady made this call whiles addressing OMEP Africa regional Conference currently taking place in Accra.

The First lady noted that “the first five years are important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most important in shaping the child’s brain. Early experiences have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.”

For this reason, the First lady indicated that as a continent, Africa should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“This implies access to quality early childhood care and pre-primary education so that boys and girls are ready for primary education. If we can do this, then we will see dramatic changes in education and development of our continent” she added.

The First Lady further advised that provision of early childhood education should not be left to the public sector alone saying “the public sector cannot provide all these alone. Technical expertise, knowledge, resources and support is needed from the private sector and global development partners as we work towards new goals and solutions.”

The First Lady also noted that Africa governments cannot afford to postpone investing in education, since it may be too late when they reach school-going age.

OMEP as an international, non-governmental and non-profit organisation with Consultative Status at the United Nations and UNESCO, defends and promotes the rights of the child to education and care worldwide and support activities which improve accessibility to higher quality education and care.



The number of women running for president in Iran is the highest-ever in modern history


By Rayana Khalaf

The upcoming presidential elections in Iran have seen the highest number of female candidates since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

After the deadline for submitting candidacy applications was met last Saturday, the official authority announced that 137 females have registered their entry, out of a total of 1,636 applicants.

According to Al-Modon, this marks the highest-ever number of female presidential candidates in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The all-male Guardian Council of the Constitution is set to vet the 1,636 applications and choose six applicants eligible for the presidential race.

On May 19, Iranians will elect their next president, and it will most probably be a man. But, national customs are not holding Iranian women back.

Despite knowing that the odds are stacked against them, and that the council will most likely disqualify their nomination, 137 Iranian women have decided to take a stand against the deep-rooted patriarchy in their country and make their voices heard by running in the elections.

According to The New Arab, Sha'la Tabrizi, who has a PhD in Political Science, was the first woman to register for this year's presidential race.

"Women constitute 60 percent of Iranian society, so they should strive for one of them to become a powerful president some day," she told local media, adding that she is aware of how bleak her chances are.

Similarly, A'zam Taleghani, daughter of prominent Islamic Revolution leader Mahmoud Taleghani and Iran's first-ever female presidential candidate, registered her candidacy for the third time this year. Taleghani is a women's rights activist and former MP who heads the Society of Islamic Revolution Women of Iran.

Does Iranian law permit female presidential candidates?

In principle, women are permitted to run for president, as the Iranian constitution does not explicitly prohibit them from that. But, the constitution remains ambiguous on the matter.

Article 115 of the constitution mandates that presidential candidates be from "redjal-el siasi". 

"In the constitution. It has not been clarified whether or not a woman can assume the office of president. The constitution does not provide a clear answer to this. Article 115 of the constitution says the president must come from the ranks of the political redjal. The Persian word redjal means 'men,' but it can also signify 'persons,'" Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, a women's rights activist told DW.

But, not everyone agrees.

“Based on interpretations of the law so far, women are not considered ‘political personalities,’” said Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on April 11, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Meanwhile, according to TRT World, a female member of the Iranian parliament, Tayyebeh Siavoshi, has said that "redjal"  is used in the Islamic Quran to address all human beings.

The Guardian Council has disqualified every female presidential candidate since 1979.

"The religious politicians did not admit their real reason for excluding women," former Iranian MP Jamileh Kadivar has said. "It was clear that these women were excluded because of their gender and the conservative male-centered interpretation of the laws that state women are not considered to be statesmen – redjal," she added.

In 2013, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesperson of the Guardian Council, said that the council has not settled on an official interpretation of Article 115 concerning female candidates.

Last December, he announced that women would be allowed to run in the upcoming presidential elections. Still, whether or not the council will follow through with that promise remains to be seen. 

Earlier this month, Kadkhodaei announced that the council will issue an official interpretation before the upcoming elections, which is also a promise that has not yet been fulfilled.

Iran has seen a rise in women's involvement in leadership

Last year's parliamentary elections saw the highest number of female members of parliament ever elected since the Islamic Revolution, with females now composing 6% of the Iranian parliament. 

This year, the republic saw a 0.9% increase in the number of female candidates running for local and rural elections, which are scheduled to take place next month, compared to the 2013 elections.

Still, Iranian Journalist Fateme Karimkhan told TRT World that the problem lies in the shortage of prominent female political figures in the country. "Right now our problem is not about the Guardian Council. It is about the person," she said.

"All those who were nominated for presidency in the last 37 years were famous political figures, we do not have such things among women."



Death of first female US Muslim judge being treated as ‘suspicious’ by police

April 20, 2017

New York police are now treating the death of America’s first female Muslim judge as “suspicious,” six days after her body was found in the Hudson River.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s Court of Appeals and the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge.

Her body was found floating in three feet of water near Manhattan’s west side on Wednesday afternoon last week. She had last spoken to her husband at 7pm on Monday and spoken to her assistant on Tuesday.

Police said at the time that Ms Abdus-Salaam’s body was found fully clothed and showed no obvious signs of trauma. Her death was initially treated as a suicide, with one law enforcement official stating that both the judge’s mother and brother had died in recent years around Easter. Her brother had taken his own life.

Investigators are now treating her death as suspicious, adding that there is no “clear indication” of criminality or suicide.

“We’re looking at it as a suspicious death at this point. We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can’t say for sure. We’re hoping if anyone could shed any light into the hours before her disappearance, it would help us establish what happened,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told ABC7NY.

The New York Police Department tweeted a public aqppeal notice asking anyone with information to contact the 26th Precinct Detective Squad.

Investigators are studying surveillance video footage from shops and residential buildings to try and piece together Ms Abdus-Salaam’s last movements, the New York Post reported.

The newspaper cited sources as saying there had been no signs of forced entry or a struggle at the judge’s Harlem apartment. They also said the autopsy found water in her lungs and slight bruising around her neck, but her eyes did not show the type of bleeding associated with strangulation. Official autopsy results have not yet been released.

Ms Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School.

She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and later served as a judge on the Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years. She was appointed to New York state’s Court of Appeals in 2013.



Outlawing Muslim women’s veil in Europe deserves special attention

April 20, 2017

A new assessment released by the Islamophobia Observatory of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) stressed that he trend of outlawing veil, headscarf, hijab, niqab, and burqa in Europe deserves particular attention, especially after the decision taken on March 14 by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which ruled that employers/companies could ban staff from wearing these particular clothes.

In its latest report, the Islamophobia Observatory based at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi noted that at the time this assessment was made, at least 12 European countries have partially or fully banned veil, headscarf, hijab, niqab, and burqa i.e. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, and Albania.

More are likely on the way with intensive debates ongoing in some countries. On this new development, the Observatory sees a pattern towards a complete ban of Muslim headscarf in Europe in the future in a manner that is somehow, beyond ‘security’ consideration. A country followed by another, made the ban part of their national law, despite the clear manifestation of social discrimination behind such policy.

The ECJ’ recent decision is therefore seen by the Observatory as just another step towards those ends, which was concluded based on observation across the time over the countries in the continent.—Email



Organic farming class at women’s fest in Dubai

April 19, 2017

Dubai: Women in the UAE can get tips about organic farming practices at a women’s festival to be held in Dubai this Friday.

The fest is being organised by a Facebook group of expats named Vayalum Veedum (Farm and Home) which began in 2008.

The event will be inaugurated by Jehaina Hassan Al Ali, principal food studies and surveys officer in the Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality. Female experts will provide advice on organic farming to promote this method among the women here. They will also supply plants and seeds free of charge.

The event will discuss toxic foods, wrong dietary practices and lifestyles that cause diseases and will encourage women to practise better lifestyle and have healthy food.

The fest will be held from 3pm at Gulf Model School. The programme is open to only women and no prior registration is needed for participation.

The activities of the fest include an exhibition of organic agricultural products, a quiz contest and cultural programmes.

The event is being held after the successful annual farming and harvest festival of the group and the ‘plant a seed’ event for students of selected Dubai schools.

Mini Alias, a senior farming coordinator in the group and an agriculture specialist at Dubai Habitat School, will lecture on best agricultural practices. The festival will also be addressed by Malayalam film actress Aswathy Menon and writer and social activist Honey Bhaskaran.



One woman’s resolve to eradicate polio in Pakistan

April 19, 2017

Having prepared an afternoon meal for her family, Fiaz Bibi, a woman in her late 20s, covers herself in a black burqa and leaves for local dispensary. Crossing muddy, uneven path that connects her one bedroom house to the main village road, she waits for 5-6 minutes scanning both sides of road for any rickshaw sign that will take her to dispensary. But there is none, and she decides to walk up to dispensary. Covering 4-5kms on thorny road, braving the weather and judging eyes of neighborhood men, she reaches dispensary.

It’s second day of door-to-door Polio vaccination campaign in her area and Fiaz Bibi is a Polio Vaccination Team Lead in this remote village near Wah Cantonment. Her decision to work for polio eradication finds strength in her love for humanity, and for her community.

Women in Pakistan have been a centripetal force in the country’s drive against Polio, zeroing in on their target with an unfaltering resolve, despite several sociocultural and economic constraints.

“My village has a high-risk population. When I see healthy and fit children running around the streets of my village, I fear for them that they may fall victim to this nefarious disease (Polio). So, I made up my mind to fight Polio till my last.”

Fiaz Bibi is a pioneer champion against Polio in her vicinity and has almost no facilitators. She is a brave female warrior in a locality where prejudice and patriarchy mar vaccination campaigns. She speaks of the barriers she has to overcome and the indiscrimination she suffers while working.

“I am a woman…but unlike other women of my village, I am determined towards a noble cause. I know there are men, and of course women, that do not like me for what I am doing, but if not me, who else? I can sense the mixed looks that see through me every time I walk around the streets to vaccinate the angels on earth. I know how it feels, how scorn and malice can bring you to your knees but, these children, they are my strength. They keep me moving forward with my head high. I will continue to vaccinate, and convince families, for the sake of these children. I know, I will.”

Fiaz Bibi volunteered as a vaccinator for some 106 families with about 556 children in a high risk populated area no one would like to go. But she does and that too with a smile on her face. She follows a 5 days per week schedule and gets paid only $20 for a week long campaign. Her task is arduous and requires a lot of traveling, on foot, with temperatures crossing 45 on most of summer days.

Each day, she walks to a local dispensary, some 4-5 kilometers from her home. It is from here that she embarks on her campaign. Her first task is to reach such homes that have had zero vaccination and find children that have been missed. Convincing families is an onerous job, often involving harsh words being hurled at her, but she braves this onslaught and comes out victorious more than often.

“Most people here work in bhathas (brick kilns) with a high turnover. The workers relocate to kilns from their native places during the season and then return. Every few months with new people coming in to work at the kilns, increasing the risk of more children being affected by polio. Due to illiteracy and lack of understanding, many people are averse to polio vaccination drives and try to avoid all efforts towards the eradication of this disease.”

In a country where Polio workers fear for their lives, women lead from the front. Despite the fact that Polio vaccinators are soft target, more and more women are volunteering to be a part of the drive against this disease. The number of women working in the field is higher because male vaccinators are not allowed to enter all premises owing to certain cultural barriers.

Fiaz Bibi says that female workers act as the backbone in Pakistan’s Anti-Polio campaign. “Women are able to understand each other better. Where men are more rigid and firm in their decisions, it is easier for me as a female to talk to the women of the house, and better explain how vaccination is going to help our future generations. Since children are the concern, mothers give in much easily.” She goes on to say that in the high-risk population that she lives in, the number of young children is increasing at an alarming rate as there is little or no family planning, risking the outbreak of an endemic. This is why Fiaz Bibi is determined to eradicate Polio from her region, and hopes that Pakistan will be free from the disease soon.

Her campaigns are well planned. She knows where to begin from, and where to end. After checking on families that have been missed, she moves on to recheck the families that have been vaccinated. “I need to make sure that no child here goes unvaccinated. I think some families are tired of the rounds I make (letting out a laugh) but it is my moral duty to ask them if they have some visitors that have unvaccinated children, or if any of their children is left.” It is a part of her routine to check upon schools as well and ask teachers to inform her of any unvaccinated child.

She is familiar with every nook and cranny of her vicinity well enough to have an accurate figure of the families and children that live there. Having accurate data of the target population helps provide ample amount of vaccination and manpower to the area.

At the day end, Fiaz Bibi, just like most housewives, returns to her house and winds up all the work she is entitled to do at her home, from washing dishes to doing laundry, from cooking to cleaning. She is no different than the rest of the ladies on any evening, except that she wears a smile of satisfaction on her face, knowing that she has further pushed Polio towards the edge of the cliff.

Even though Fiaz Bibi’s village is a high-risk vicinity, no new polio case has been discovered over the past few years, only because of her nerves of steel, and continuous efforts to vaccinate as many children as possible.

“I have been here long enough to know these people well,” says Fiaz Bibi, “I know how to tackle them, and how to convince them to vaccinate their children. This is a really difficult task, vaccinating every child, because families here are moving every now and then, but I am glad that I am able to reach as much children as possible, and every child in my area is vaccinated.

Thousands of women like Fiaz Bibi are sacrificing a lot in their efforts to eliminate Polio from Pakistan, and are hopeful of a healthier future for the children of Pakistan. These strong and hardworking women of immense courage are a silver lining for the generations to come. They are role models in the final push to end polio from country and a source of hope for polio free dream of Pakistan.




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