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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 Dec 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Two Australian Women Flee To Syria to Become Jihadi Brides

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Dec 2014

Some women in Damascus are intent on maintaining their beauty regimes amidst the horrors of war (AFP)


 Egyptian Group Challenges Norm, Calls For Female Military Service

 Let 2015 be a start to a future of ‘lasts’ rather than ‘half’ measures for children: Malala

 Jamia Hafsa Girls’ Video Message for Isis Their Individual Act

 Salma Hayek Wants Arab women in Hollywood

 Saudi Female Teachers Depend On Illegal Drivers

 As War Rages, Syrian Women Look To Keep Up Appearances

 Saudi Women Reluctant To Claim Rights, Despite Legal Protection

 Violence Termed Main Cause of Suicide among Pak (Chitral) Women

 Over 12,000 Domestic Violence Cases In Five Years: Saudi HR

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Two Australian Women Flee To Syria to Become Jihadi Brides

December 14, 2014

A TEENAGER and a 20-year-old have become the first Australian women to flee to Syria to become jihadi brides.

Hodan, 18 and her friend Hafsa, 20, flew out of Sydney in the past fortnight after having lied to their families about where they were going, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

Up to 90 young men are believed to have travelled to Syria to fight with the Islamic State terror group, and a number of European women have fled their homes to become jihadi brides but this is the first time Australian women have made the journey.

The girls, who are believed to have links with the Somali community, risk a 10 year jail sentence if they travel to Al-Raqqa, the Islamic State’s stronghold in northern Syria.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently declared Raqqa a no-go zone for Australian citizens, making it an offence to enter or remain in the province without a legitimate purpose.

“Declared Al-Raqqa province under the Criminal Code sends a strong message to those Australians who seek to participate in the Syrian conflict,” she said.

Ms Bishop told Sky News this morning that the government needed to work closely with communities and families, who are the “first line of defence”.

“They’ll be the ones that can detect changes in behaviour or determine what their children are up to,” she said. “They are seemingly young Australians who think they are going off on an adventure - well, they’re not. They’re joining terrorist organisations that are carrying out shockingly brutal attacks.”

Many girls meet their prospective husbands via the website Ask.fn, where young jihadis tell the world about their terror actions.

A British woman who monitors the site told The Times of London: “I’d say 90 per cent of the messages to these jihadi men are marriage proposals. It’s ‘You’re so attractive. Will you marry me if I come to Syria?’

Recently a British woman was detained and threatened with execution by the Islamic State after travelling to the region to try to persuade her twin daughters Salma and Zahra Halane — nicknamed in the UK ‘the terror twins’ to leave their terrorist husbands and return home.

Attorney General George Brandis said families were now on the frontline of authorities’ hopes of stopping young Australians from travelling to the region.

“Families should tell any family members or friends over there not to engage in any fighting and to leave Syria or Iraq as soon as possible. Leaving the region is the best way to reduce the potential dangers to themselves and others,’’ he said.



Egyptian group challenges norm, calls for female military service

December 14, 2014

A group of activists in Egypt is challenging the country’s mandatory military service for men, demanding that it be amended to allow women the right to serve on a voluntary basis.

While Egyptian women have served in the military for decades, their roles have been limited to administrative and medical posts.

Jihad el-Komy, founder of the group Moganada Masreya, wants to change that.

The group launched a campaign  and has held demonstrations earlier this month calling for establishing female military academies and opening the door for voluntary military service for women.

“We are demanding that we receive military education to be prepared in case of emergencies,” the 18-year-old sociology student told Al Arabiya News in a telephone interview.

The United Arab Emirates served as an inspiration, Komy said. In June, the UAE introduced a law requiring compulsory military service for adult males while also giving female Emiratis the right to voluntary military service.

Komy said that it was inspiring to see Maj. Mariam al-Mansouri, the first female Emirati pilot, take part in air strikes against militants belonging to the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last June.

“We have girls that can follow in the steps of Mariam al-Mansouri,” she said. “We love our country and we want to do something for it.”

Komy said there was some limited support for her group’s proposal when the issue is brought up. The group’s Facebook page has more than 12,000 likes.

But the whole concept remains strange and impractical for many.

“Some people keep telling me it’s impossible but we can make the impossible possible.”

Komy suggested women could join the military on a voluntary basis and could stay in segregated accommodations and facilities.

“We voiced our request to the Defense Ministry and we’ve requested to meet President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to convince him of our idea,” she said.

“Several military officials told us that they like our spirit but the concept was impractical,” she added.

Women have fought alongside men throughout history but their participation in some nation state militaries in the Middle East remains a thorny subject.

Saeed Sadek, an Egyptian political sociology professor, said extending military service to female Egyptians was not necessary due to the high number of male soldiers.

“Do we really need more conscripts?” Sadek asked.

In Egypt, males between the ages of 18 and 30 must enroll in the military, which is thought to be largest among Arab countries.

Sadek explained that Israel had a compulsory military service for both sexes because of a low male population.

He said the proposal to extend military service to women could be viable in the event there was a shortage of males.

Speaking of a variety of roles that women could serve in the military, Sadek said women could play support roles such as in electronic warfare, intelligence roles and in interrogating female prisoners.



Let 2015 be a start to a future of ‘lasts’ rather than ‘half’ measures for children: Malala

December 14, 2014

New Delhi: After receiving the Nobel Peace prize with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, Pakistan’s young education activist Malala Yousafzai has written an open letter to the world leaders. In India, the campaigners have sent this letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Her letter is focused on the two opportunities by way of two global summits in 2015 to achieve action on poverty and climate change. The summits are the UN summit on the new global framework for sustainable development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, in September and December, respectively.

The letter also expresses Malala’s support for a new global movement - action/2015. This is a campaign backed by hundreds of organisations from around the world (from the Global Call to Action Against Poverty to the African Council of Churches, Save the Children to The ONE Campaign). It will be launched in January 2015 and will be focused on seizing the opportunities presented by the summits in 2015 to secure concrete action and ambitious agreements to tackle the root causes of inequality, injustice, poverty and climate change.

Shireen Vakil Miller from Save the Children says: “Malala’s letter should serve as a reminder to us all that 2015 is an historic opportunity to secure change that will benefit not only the young people of today but the young people of tomorrow. We have in our grasp the opportunity to achieve historic agreements which could put us on a path to ending poverty and inequality and making huge strides in the fight against climate change.”

Following is the text of Malala Yousafzai’s letter:

Dear World Leaders,

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize shows that generations and nations can stand side-by-side to demand a better world for children. But it also puts in stark relief the injustice of a world where education can be classed as a crime, a 15-year old girl is shot simply for wanting to learn, and boys and girls are forced to spend their childhoods working in a factory.

So, whilst it must be a moment for celebration, it must also serve as a rallying cry to the world to do more to ensure every child can be certain of a better future.

Tremendous progress has been made. More girls are attending school than ever before, the number of children under-5 dying of preventable diseases has halved and fewer young people are living in poverty. But it is not enough. Too many girls have their education cut short and are forced into marriages they do not want; too many children grow up without enough food to eat or water to drink and too many of them live in communities whose very existence is threatened by changes to the climate.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Year 2015 can be a pivotal point for the world. It can be the year in which the world commits to a better future for boys and girls, men and women. It can be the year in which we all commit to seeing the last child out of school, the last child forced into slavery and the last child forced to flee their home because of the danger of climate change.

In 2015, two United Nations summits give us a unique opportunity to begin a journey towards a better future for all. Both present an opportunity to think bigger and to do better – for ourselves, our children and all those that follow. The first, in September, will see the agreement of new Development Goals which have the potential to transform the lives of millions. Two months later, in December, world leaders will meet again to agree new climate change targets.

This is our chance to commit to do better. That is why I am issuing a call today to urge you to raise your ambition. If the right decisions are made and kept, we could see the beginnings of a better future in 2015 - a future of ‘lasts’ rather than ‘half’ measures.

I am not the only one raising my voice and calling for a greater ambition. A global movement – action/2015 – made up of citizens around the world and with young people at its forefront is forming. They will soon be launching their call for action demanding you commit to ambitious action in 2015 and deliver on your promises. I stand side by side with them.

2015 must be the year the world wakes up and delivers a safer, more just future for children and young people. We all must play our part in ensuring this is the case. Do not let this opportunity go to waste.

Yours sincerely,

Malala Yousafzai



Jamia Hafsa Girls’ Video Message for Isis Their Individual Act

December 14, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014 - Islamabad—Lal Masjid’s Shohada Foundation of Pakistan Trust has filed a writ petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking the court’s intervention against ‘harassment’ by law enforcement agencies.

The foundation has also sought protection against a 30-day confinement order which according to the petitioner Ihtesham Ahmed who is trustee and spokesperson of the foundation has reportedly been issued by Interior Secretary.

The interior ministry’s move and law enforcement agencies’ raids a couple of days earlier came in the wake of a video message that was prepared and issued by the girls students of Jamia Hafsa within the Jamia. In the said video tape, they have pledged support for the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Through Advocate Tariq Assad, the petitioner has adopted before the IHC that the video was never approved by the foundation and Jamia Hafsa students issued the said video as their individual act. Shohda Foundation has no contact with ISIS and none of its members has anything to do with ISIS. Shohda Foundation is a welfare agenda for the families of martyrs and victims of terrorism and drone strike and it has no connection whatsoever with the militant group ISIS, says the petition.

The petitioner has nominated secretary ministry of interior, District Magistrate Islamabad, Inspector General Islamabad and SHO, Koral police station as respondents.

It may be mentioned here that students of Jamia Hafsa issued the message in Arabic language. The message goes as: “We thank Allah Almighty for bestowing upon us the great tidings of ISIS. We praise Allah …O brothers you have protected our honour and we pray for you every night here, in the land of Pakistan. Some people speak ill of you and contribute to the power of America and its allies.

Do not be sad about this, on the contrary revel on this, because Allah has distinguished between the believers and the hypocrites. O brothers, we implore you to strike them upon their necks, and strike from them every fingertip.

So that the infidels will not be able even to look at the land of the Muslims. Cut off the hands that they extend toward our modest sisters, and tear apart the bodies of those who want to instate the law of Satan in the land of Allah. You must avenge the death of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden and the others. Do not stop now. Take avenge of the students of Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid. May Allah annihilate America and those who help. Finally, we congratulate Sheikh Abu Bakr Al- Hussain Al-Qureshi Al-Baghdadi and the Mujahideen in the Islamic State, on the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in most areas of Iraq and Syria.

We implore all our Mujahideen brothers to unite ranks. Do not heed the propaganda of the infidels and the hypocrites.



Salma Hayek Wants Arab Women in Hollywood

December 14, 2014

She thinks Hollywood is overlooking Arab women in films, and she's on a mission to remedy that.

Hollywood star Salma Hayek-Pinault told Egyptian daily newspaper this week, Al-Masry Al-Youm, that the Arab woman is absent in foreign movies because filmmakers do not approach her in "fear of causing her problems or causing unintended humiliation."

Filmmakers prefer to produce a film in which an Arab actor plays the villain rather than producing something with an Arab heroine, she said.

Salma Hayek produced an animated film adaption of the Khalil Gibran’s famous fiction book, The Prophet, and presented it in the Doha-based Ajyal Youth Film earlier this month.

Hayek produced an animated film adaption of the Khalil Gibran’s famous fiction book, The Prophet, and presented it in the Doha-based Ajyal Youth Film earlier this month.

Hayek said the cast of her film, which was partly financed by the Doha Film Institute, made the story about the human being as opposed to religious and political issues. This has required courage, she said, as the film broke away from tradition.

Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet had nine directors from around the globe and each director had the freedom to produce a chapter of the story in they pleased.

Hayek also accepted to play the role of an Egyptian woman in a new movie; but details about the movies are unavailable.



Saudi Female teachers depend on illegal drivers

December 14, 2014

Saudi female teachers are often stuck with illegal expat drivers who offer cheap transport services to and from schools and universities. Most of these drivers work independently, using small mini-buses but without having transferred their sponsorships.

At the same time, the ongoing crackdown on illegal workers in Jeddah by the Ministry of Labor which has intensified its raids and is now checking expatriates’ residency and work permits has put an end to the practice of illegal drivers on the roads. Law enforcement authorities have arrested thousands of illegal expats in recent days working without a transfer of sponsorship.

However, the raids against illegal workers has created a vacuum in the school transport sector with drivers staying away from work for fear of getting caught by the authorities, especially as most of them do not work under their schools’ sponsorship or transport companies.

“Most bus drivers have small buses to provide transport services for schoolchildren or female teachers and are earning monthly salaries as additional incomes,” Salah Khaleel, a Sudanese resident who is looking for a driver for his children, told Arab News. “Several occupations have been affected by the labor laws and there are no solutions to the insufficient number of Saudis available for these jobs. In fact, there is a gaping chasm in a number of the essential services sector,” Abdullah Al-Youssffi, an economist, told Arab News.

However, several international schools have stepped up efforts to transfer the sponsorship of some of their drivers and have already issued letters to their sponsors. But many families cannot afford the high cost of the bus transportation services demanded by international schools.

“I work in a private school in Jeddah and I don’t have money to hire a driver. Therefore, I am left with no option but to look for a driver in Jeddah who can provide me with cheap transport service,” Maha Barakat, a Syrian resident told Arab News.



As war rages, Syrian women look to keep up appearances

December 14, 2014

The echoes of government air strikes and incoming rebel mortar fire rattle buildings in the distance, but inside a beauty exhibition in Damascus the shoppers try not to notice.

Surrounded by Syria's raging civil war, some women in the bubble of regime-held Damascus are determined to keep up appearances, intent on maintaining their beauty regimes despite the ugliness of the conflict.

Syrian women look at beauty products on Dec. 7, 2014, at an exhibition in Damascus where there is determination to keep appearances despites the ugliness of the civil war. (AFP)

The war "feels as though it has been going on for 100 years," customer Lubana Murshid said as she toured the recent exhibition featuring everything from creams to Botox injections.

"Every day there is death, shelling, mortar fire... everything is ugly," she said.

"Because of that, I like to take care of myself and my makeup, to look after my skin, and this reflects on my internal well-being and makes me feel better."

The effects of the conflict, Murshid said, can be seen on many faces. "It ages us."

Much of Syria has been devastated by the war that erupted against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in March 2011, leaving more than 200,000 dead and half of the country's population forced from their homes.

But islands of seeming normality remain in regime-held areas, with some women able to indulge their love of beauty products, even items with luxury ingredients.

"The question of beauty is fundamental, and there are always those who will buy, regardless of the price," said Nabil Murtada, a vendor hawking creams containing gold and caviar at the exhibition at an upscale Damascus hotel.

Syria's economy had been badly hit by the war and much of the country's infrastructure, including factories, has been destroyed.

Psychological treatment

Dangerous roads make transporting goods more difficult and international sanctions have made imports harder to come by as well. Unemployment and poverty have spiralled, with the United Nations saying more than half of the population is now living in extreme poverty.

Mohamed Mebar, sales director for a number of global cosmetics brands, said sales stalled for a while after the conflict first erupted.

"But this year sales are up, as people get used to the increase in prices," he said.

And Iman Othman, a cosmetic specialist with a decade of experience, said business was as good as ever.

"The crisis hasn't affected our work because women will do without many things in order to keep up their looks," she said.

Johnny Bashur, sales director of a company specialising in silicone implants and Botox injections, was equally upbeat about the industry's prospects despite the war.

Many women will continue seeking such treatments, he said, "no matter the crisis or the cost".

"They want to look younger to make themselves feel better and boost their confidence," he said.

"Those who love makeup remain faithful to it," said Leila, who runs a cosmetics shop in the central Mazraa neighbourhood of the capital.

The price of her products has gone up, she said, because of the difficulties of procuring stock in wartime, "but the demand has stayed the same".

At the exhibition, marketing director Ehab al-Nowaqil displayed American-made supplements that promised better hair and skin.

"We decided to stay in the Syrian market because we felt the crisis would not be an obstacle, and the Syrian people are full of life," he said.

In the suburbs of the capital, housewife Siham said she considered beauty care a form of psychological treatment in the midst of the horrors of war.

"No matter how exhausted you are, you come out like another woman," she said at a local beauty salon.

The conflict's devastation "should not reach our souls," she said.



Saudi women reluctant to claim rights, despite legal protection

December 14, 2014

Despite growing awareness on individual rights in Saudi society and the existence of several bodies concerned with protecting human rights, especially women’s rights, many women are reluctant to claim their rights by taking their grievances to courts.

Experts believe the reluctance on the part of women to claim their rights stems from a fear of the social implications of such actions. In many cases, women begin the process only to back down later when they find that the price for taking legal action is too high in a male-dominated society that forces women to bear hardships and give concessions, often at the expense of their dignity.

Whether the accused is her father, brother, husband or boss, a woman who seeks the help of the law to gain her rights is often socially ostracized.

Several experts spoke to Al-Riyadh daily about the reasons why women do not seek legal recourse to restore their usurped rights, whether such rights are job-related or concern the family or society.

Dr. Nora Al-Suwayyan, a female academic at Majma’ah University and family consultant, said the culture of demanding one’s rights is stronger among Saudi men than it is among women.

“Our society in general lacks or is weak in rights culture. This is despite the existence of numerous rules and regulations that protect these rights and deal with their violations.

Regretfully, the culture of demanding one’s rights is more lacking among women. This is because of the discrimination that women face and a general failure to recognize their full rights as citizens,” she said.

Al-Suwayyan said many women are aware of their rights but regardless of the degree of injustice or violence they are subjected to, they are still hesitant to turn to the concerned authorities for help.

She attributed this to the social upbringing of many women that emphasizes forgiveness, patience and sacrifice. She said the social stereotype for the ideal woman is the one who sacrifices and is patient.

“Instilling this picture through culture and popular and social adages has strengthened women’s passive stances toward their most important causes.

Women themselves have contributed to the complete understanding of this picture through their concern not to digress from this stereotype.

They seek to portray the ideal image. Women do not even have the psychological readiness to complain and disclose their sufferings due to the fear of being described as being rebellious. Hence, they find nothing to stick to but patience and silence, however much they suffer and are harmed,” she added.

In recent years, the passive attitude that Al-Suwayyan described has started to change after the establishment of government and private societies and institutions concerned with human rights and the open reporting of women’s rights cases in the media.

Mashael Bint Khalid Al-Sinani, a legal consultant at the National Family Security Program, said: “Despite women’s awareness about their rights increasing greatly, there are some women who are still silent about their suffering.

Submitting to the social restrictions is still more widespread than turning to the courts for justice.”

Al-Sinani attributed women’s fear to demand their rights to the lack of legal awareness. In most cases, the reason is related to a fear of failure or from the social consequences and disapproval of her conduct by those around her.

“It’s time for women to step up because the matter is in their hands now,” she added.



Violence Termed Main Cause of Suicide among Pak (Chitral) Women

December 14, 2014

CHITRAL: Activists of various civil society organisations have blamed gender-based violence for increasing suicides among women during the last couple of decades in Chitral.

They aired concern at a roundtable named ‘Siasi Bethak’ organised by Awaaz Forum of South Asian Partnership (SAP) here.

The speakers said that women were subjected to worst type of violence and their genuine rights were denied to them which threatened the social fabric. They said women in Chitral remained backward in every walk of life as they were never provided with an opportunity to express themselves and fully utilise their potential.

They pointed out that 40-50 women committed suicide in Chitral every year and called for educating and sensitising various segments of the society to arrest this menace.

The civil society members said that girls’ marriage in premature age against their will was the worst type of violence against them, which often forced them to end their lives.

The speakers also expressed apprehension over the fact that parents gave their daughters in marriage to people of down country without the girls’ consent and without knowing the credentials of the families, which often ended up with girls committing suicides.

They cited the murder of Tahira Bibi of Chitral in Lahore last week after being married off only four weeks ago.



Over 12,000 Domestic Violence Cases In Five Years: Saudi HR

December 14, 2014

Saudi Human Rights Commission recently released statistics which show that the number of domestic violence cases recorded during the past five years stands at 12,267.

Additionally, the number of domestic violence cases against women during the past three years is 1,110, as well as 372 child abuse cases which were recorded during the same period.

“This should serve as a warning bell to all parties concerned,” Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, said, adding that such figures might constitute a platform for further studies to follow up the implementation of present regulations and to encourage research and surveys to address the issue.

Al-Aiban was speaking at a seminar regarding the “protection against abuse” system and the role of government bodies and civil society in its implementation, which was held in Riyadh recently.

He said the system included all the aspects of protection, adding: “Since it is only the first year of its implementation, it is impractical and too early to judge on any of its aspects.”

Dr. Abdullah Ayusuf, undersecretary for social development at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said many of the child abuse cases involved parents of the children.