Samia Abdul-Qadir, a junior at Naperville North,
recently talked about being harassed at school during a discussion hosted by Congressman
Bill Foster at the Islamic Centre of Naperville. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Child Migrants Raped, Beaten and Detained In Libya
Documents Nearly 1,500 Child Soldiers in Yemen
Attending Trump Speech Sees Herself as Reminder That Muslims Are Americans
conversation with Emirati women who have been making the country proud
by New Age Islam News Bureau
child marriage law sparks criticism
Rights groups on Tuesday criticised a controversial new child marriage law in
Bangladesh which allows children as young as 14 to be married off by their
passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act on Monday night, replacing a law dating
back to the British colonial period.
new law keeps the minimum marriageable age for males at 21 and for females at
18 but relaxes the age bar for "special circumstances" including for
girls who elope, are raped or bear children out of wedlock.
groups have criticised the law, saying it would jeopardise the gains Bangladesh
has made in cutting the levels of child marriage and improving the health of
women and children.
biggest concern is the law has not set any minimum marriage age for special
circumstances, meaning children can be married off at the age of 14-15,"
said Nur Khan Liton who represents the Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in
coalition, which includes international charities such as Save the Children, Action
Aid, national charities and rights groups, said the law could be abused and
poses a "risk" to children.
a ruling party lawmaker who heads parliament's committee on women's and child
affairs, said it reflects the reality in villages where 70 percent of
Bangladesh's 160 million people live.
have taken into account the opinion of the UNICEF and other experts," said
Rebeca Momin, adding the law also toughens penalties for people violating the
minimum marriage age.
said the special circumstances in the law are aimed at protecting the rights
and giving dignity to children born out of wedlock.
making impressive gains in many social indicators in recent decades, child
marriage remains rampant in the conservative Muslim-majority country. The
previous child marriage law was widely ignored as parents in many poor
districts were found to have married off their daughters at the age of 14.
has one of the world's highest rates of child marriage and the highest rate in
Asia, with 52 percent of girls marrying before 18 years of age and 18 percent
married before they turn 15, according to one set of statistics.
the law is a setback for the fight against child marriage, and sends a message
to parents ... that the government thinks child marriage is acceptable in at
least some situations," Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch wrote after the
cabinet approved the law last December.
- Women and children making the dangerous journey to Europe to flee poverty and
conflicts in Africa are being beaten, raped and starved in "living
hellholes" in Libya, the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) said on
Mediterranean Sea between Libya and Italy has become the main crossing point
for asylum seekers and economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe, after
a clampdown on sea crossings from Turkey. There were a quarter of a million
migrants in Libya as of last September, most of whom languish in unsanitary,
disease-ridden detention centres which UNICEF described in its report as
"no more than forced labour camps ... and makeshift prisons".
groups have taken effective control of official detention centres for migrants
amid the political chaos that now reigns in Libya and they also run their own
centres, competing and cooperating with criminal gangs and smugglers, according
to the UN.
the thousands of migrant women and children incarcerated, (the centres) were
living hellholes where people were held for months," the UNICEF report
said on Tuesday. In interviews with more than 100 women and children, nearly
half said they had been raped or abused several times during their journey, it
said. Most of the children said they were beaten by adults along the way, with
girls suffering more abuse than boys.
(in the detention centre) they treat us like chickens. They beat us, they do
not give us good water and good food," said Jon, a 14-year-old boy who
travelled alone from Nigeria to escape the militant group Boko Haram. "So
many people are dying here, dying from disease, freezing to death," he was
quoted as saying in the report.
said women and unaccompanied child migrants rely on people smugglers to get to
Europe, often under a "pay as you go system", leaving them vulnerable
to exploitation, trafficking and violence, including prostitution and rape.
Smugglers typically demand thousands of dollars from migrants for a risky
journey across the desert before cramming them onto ill-equipped boats for a
perilous crossing of the Mediterranean.
route is mostly controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking
to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a
better life," said Afshan Khan, head of UNICEF's refugee operations in
Europe. Having largely closed off sea crossings between Turkey and Greece last
year, the European Union is searching for ways to stem the flow of migrants
from Libya. This month European leaders offered Libya money and other
assistance to try to reduce the numbers departing across the Mediterranean. Aid
groups criticised the move, saying such plans exposed migrants to further risks
and abuses within Libya.
year, a record 181,000 migrants crossed between Libya and Italy, the UN's
migration agency reports. More than 4,500 people drowned, and at least 700 were
children, UNICEF said.
should not be forced to put their lives in the hands of smugglers because there
are simply no alternatives," said Khan in a statement.
need to address globally the drivers of migration and work together toward a
robust system of safe and legal passage for children on the move, whether refugees
1,500 children have been recruited by Yemen's warring parties, mostly the
Shiite Huthi rebels, since March 2015, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
UN has verified the recruitment of 1,476 children, all boys, between March 26,
2015 and January 31, 2017, said a statement by the spokesperson for the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani.
numbers are likely to be much higher as most families are not willing to talk
about the recruitment of their children, for fear of reprisals," she said.
last week, we received new reports of children who were recruited without the
knowledge of their families," she said, adding that children under 18 are
either being "misled or attracted by promises of financial rewards or
Iran-backed Huthis and their allies overran the capital Sanaa in 2014 before
sweeping south, forcing the internationally recognised government to flee.
war escalated in March 2015 when a Saudi-led Arab coalition began a military
campaign against the rebels in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
remind all parties to the conflict that the recruitment and use of children in
armed conflict is strictly forbidden by international human rights law and
international humanitarian law," said Shamdasani.
recruitment of children under 15 "may amount to a war crime," she
urge them to immediately release such children."
rights group Amnesty International accused the Huthis of "actively
recruiting boys as young as 15".
cited witnesses speaking of financial incentives to families, including monthly
salaries ranging between $80 and $120 for every family of a child
is appalling that Huthi forces are taking children away from their parents and
their homes, stripping them of their childhood to put them in the line of fire
where they could die," said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director at Amnesty's
Beirut regional office. Amnesty documented the cases of four boys taken in
mid-February, saying that their families later received news that their sons
were at an unnamed location on the border with Saudi Arabia.
said 4,667 civilians had been killed in the conflict since March 2015, with
total, the UN says that more than 7,500 people have been killed in the war and
attending Trump speech sees herself as reminder that Muslims are Americans
Abdul-Qadir, speaking hours before she would watch President Donald Trump give
his first address to the joint houses of Congress Tuesday night, said she hoped
the new president would speak about the value of religious freedom.
Naperville teenager will be seated in the gallery above the president during
his speech, attending at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville.
definitely an honor," said the junior at Naperville North High School of
her trip to Washington, D.C., this week.
she's been to the nation's capital on school trips, the opportunity to be part
of the process will be a far different experience.
is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I'll always remember," Samia said.
said he chose Samia because of her eloquence in speaking at his recent
community discussion at the Islamic Center of Naperville on the local effects
of the president's attempts to ban travel from several Muslim-majority
countries. He said he also was impressed by her courage and conviction.
spoke of the challenges she has experienced as teen who is Muslim, including
being told she looks like a terrorist because she wears a hijab.
Democrats have invited immigrants and foreigners in an effort to put a face on
those who could be hurt by the administration's policies.
said when the president looks to the seats above the House floor, he will see
is part of the message. America, in truth, is a diverse nation," he said.
Democratic Party welcomes people of all colors and religious backgrounds, he
proud to be a part of that group. I think it contributes to our strength,"
doesn't necessarily see herself as a political statement.
don't represent the entire Muslim community," she said.
teenager said her presence is more of a reminder.
are here, and we're real Americans, and we have a voice," she said.
said she'd like assurances from the president in his speech that her religious
freedoms are valued.
after taking office, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning all
entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations, which paused the entire
U.S. refugee program. The order sparked worldwide confusion about who was
covered by the edict, with thousands gathering at airports and in other
settings to protest. An appeals court blocked the order.
has said he will issue another order along similar lines. He also has expanded
the range of immigrants living in the country illegally who have become a
priority for removal. The president has argued the steps are necessary to
protect the nation.
said that while he will give Trump the correct respect that should be awarded
to any president making an address before Congress, "I will never respect
said it's important for all high school students to become knowledgeable of the
issues even if they aren't old enough to participate in the election process.
lays a good foundation for when you are able to vote," she said.
noted that Samia, who will be 17 next year, will be eligible to vote in
not too early for people like Samia to get involved," he said.
Naperville North student is very active in her school community.
serving as a member of the junior class executive board, Samia is an academic
tutor and works on the student board that plans the curriculum for Naperville
North's first class, the monthly discussions aimed at providing life skills and
fostering respect among students.
also a member of the school's Science Olympiad team, something close to the
congressman's heart. Foster is the only scientist who is a member of Congress.
is also ranked nationally in the U.S. Fencing Association. She dreams of one
day competing in world competitions like her hero Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first
Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in
UAE provides a safe and nurturing environment for women to empower and excel
the world debates about gender equality, the UAE already has a pro-women
environment that extends across various spectrums from politics and science to
business and economy.
to the recent World Economic Forum, the UAE tops the list for treating women
with respect. Here's a look at some Emirati women who have been making the
Saleh, CEO, Dubai Women Establishment
a bid to improve the lives of women across the country, Shamsa Saleh climbed
the ranks to lead the Dubai Women Establishment as the CEO. She had given rise
to a number of projects such as the Women Leadership Exchange Programme, The
National Child Care Centre Project, and the Arab Women Leadership Forum, to
name a few, which encourage women to take part in decision-making roles and
actively contribute towards society.
"I think government bodies such as Dubai Women Establishment and the UAE
Gender Balance Council are playing a big role in creating an environment where
women have the opportunities and support their need to pursue building their
careers in the business world." - Shamsa Saleh.
Al Rostamani, Licensed racer
interest in Formula One dates back to childhood. While other girls frolicked
with dolls, she set her sight on conquering the tracks. Despite the negativity
and isolation she faced in a male-dominated sport, she successfully earned her
racing licence as the first Emirati woman to do so and was one of the best
drivers on the field. Her stints in Dubai Autodrome and Yas Circuit later
earned her another first, the timekeeper's licence, and a chief timekeeper and
deputy circuit manager, respectively, that allows her to time races officially.
"At every event I am the only female among who knows how many males. I am
very strict and professional. Everyone thinks that it's a man's world and no
female should be in such an environment. But if somebody says something to me I
just say, 'Well, that's your opinion.' I do get upset, but I take it as a
challenge. I think: 'I will prove you wrong'." - Nahla Al Rostamani
Hamad Al Zaabi, Paralympics athlete
is possible with the right dose of determination, and that's what Thuraya did
to overcome her disabilities. She was left paralysed after a stroke at the age
of 29 but retained hopes of leading a normal life, as she actively followed her
passion for sports to become the first Emirati Paralympics athlete. She has
competed in a number of national and international competitions, including the
recent IPC Athletics World Championships in Qatar.
"Sport is the soul; that is how I call it. My disability never stopped me
from being a sportswoman. I found that javelin throwing and shot put are
suitable for my case, although they are not easy sports. My wish is to be the
ambassador of my country to international events, to present the good image of
the Emirati girl: smiling, successful, and loving." - Thuraya Hamad Al
Habiba Al Safar, Director of Khalifa, Medical University and Assistant
Professor at Biomed Engineering
an education background in biochemistry and medical engineering, Dr Habiba found
her passion for research while doing her PhD, which led her to realise a
pressing concern plaguing residents in the country, Type 2 diabetes. In 2011,
she set up the first diabetes registry in Khalifa University and embarked on a
journey to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors associated with
the lifestyle disease. She received the L'Oreal-UNESCO Fellowship Award for
Women in Science in 2014 and was included in the Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing
the World exhibit in 2015 conducting the first genome-wide association study of
the UAE Bedouin population.
"It is not difficult at all to be a woman scientist in the UAE. Women here
are succeeding as doctors, pilots or in the Government. This is because of the
Government's support that women can accomplish so many things and overcome the
obstacles. A woman can be a mother, a wife and a sister, and achieve many
things. The scientific community is supportive." - Dr Habiba Al Safar
Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance
first woman to hold position as a government minister in the UAE, Sheikha Lubna
continues to lead as the World's Most Powerful Arab Woman for six consecutive
years, according to an annual list compiled by Arabian Business.
was elected the Minister of Economy in 2004, and took on roles as the Minister
of Foreign Trade in 2008, and Minister of International Cooperation and
Development between 2013 and 2016. Her endeavours extend beyond promoting the
role of women in society, as she is also a board member of the Emirates
Foundation for Youth Development and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation in the
UAE, Governing Board of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National
University of Singapore, to name a few.
"The UAE has established itself as a role model for the region in this
field, opening the door for women to invest in business and establish their own
enterprises. Today, we have thousands of businesswomen running investments
worth billions of dirhams. We look forward to sharing our experience and
insights with participants at this important global event," - Sheikha
Lubna Al Qasimi, at the High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment held
in Dubai, a first of its kind in the MENA region.
Al Haddad, Weightlifter
started out as a solution to get fit transformed into a lifestyle for Amna. Her
journey began at a tender age of 19 when she decided to put an end to an
unhealthy way of life and stepped up well-being with jogging and CrossFit. Few
sessions later she competed in the CrossFit Games Asia Regionals in South Korea
to become the first Emirati to represent the country in the sport. Her love for
weightlifting shone through and earned her a spot in the recent Rio Olympics
2016 after four years of training. Currently part of Nike's latest campaign,
Inner Strength, she is signed to the Nike Women's Team and aims to inspire
young women to take up sport and excel in their goals.
"When I first started my fitness journey, I was an unhappy person. I
wanted to make a change. I was like, Amna you can do much more than this, you
can be better than this, and that's when things changed for me."
Amna Al Haddad
will always have an opinion about what you do. don't let that bother you.
is your life, you can do whatever you want."
mention to Hanifa Taher Al Blooshi, (UAE), Assistant Professor at the Chemical
and Environmental Engineering Department at Masdar Institute for her research
to design a novel system for enzymatic biodiesel production.
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