the capital city of South Australia, Saudi students have chosen to spread the
knowledge about their country with flowers and chocolate. (Photo: Issa
Female Students in Adelaide Celebrate National Day in Public
Partners with UN Women to Build Arab Women’s Military, Peacekeeping Potential
Personal Law in a Muslim Couple Case, HC Holds 16-Year-Old Girl’s Marriage
Branding All Islamic Issues As Anti-Women: Activist Flavia Agnes
Sentences Egypt Activist Who Slammed Sexual Harassment
Girls High Hijab Fiasco May End Up Court
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Can Marry At 14 in Special Cases’: Sabah Mufti
KINABALU: After facing public backlash for his controversial remarks, Sabah
mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz has clarified
that 14-year-old girls and 16-year-old boys would only be allowed to marry in
said he merely suggested that these were marriageable ages, and that
consideration should be given to teenagers wanting to get married under
certain cases, special cases, the law must allow them to get married,” he said.
had numerous young girls and boys who withdrew from schools, he said.
my opinion, if the minimum marriage age is raised to 18, untoward things might
happen,” he said.
said teenagers, however, should first be considered eligible by the courts for
have to go to court to determine whether they are mentally ready and prepared
to get married,” he added.
non-governmental organisations in Sabah maintained their stance that 18
should be the minimum age of marriage.
Women's Action Resource Group secretary Yasmin Ooi, for instance, said
scientific, economic and psychological evidence had proven that a child bride
could not handle the responsibility of being a wife and mother.
girls may develop secondary sexual characteristics like breasts and start their
menstruation at a young age, but their bodies are still developing.
they were to become pregnant, they would face complications during delivery,
which can be potentially fatal for them and their unborn children.
they survive that, they will most likely be deprived of education. As such,
they would be disadvantaged when it comes to economic opportunities, trapping
another generation in poverty,” she said.
said: “We feel that to start a family or get married, one should be an adult
first," she added.
for Equality, Respect And Trust for All founder Sabrina Aripen said it was
appalling that certain parties were still insisting that puberty was the sign
described such an arrangement as “legalised paedophilia and prostitution of
18 is the minimum,” Sabrina said.
Shepherd Services executive director Chin Poh Choo said when a girl reached 18
years, she would at least have completed her secondary education before getting
also dimissed the idea of child marriages as a way out of poverty.
should be no distinction between children in urban and rural areas. A child is
still a child, regardless of where they come from.”
Muslims, the minimum age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys, but
exceptions can be made for girls or boys to marry at a younger age as long as
they obtain the Islamic court’s consent.
civil law, non-Muslims can only marry from the age of 18 but non-Muslim girls
can marry as early as 16, provided they get the permission of the state’s chief
minister or mentri besar.
In the capital city of South Australia, Saudi students have chosen to spread
the knowledge about their country with flowers and chocolate.
group of female Saudi students decided to introduce their country the way they
see it. Eighty-eight balloons representing the Kingdom’s National Day were
distributed to the children in the heart of Adelaide, along with flowers,
chocolate and flyers about the history of Saudi Arabia.
Hesham Khadawardi, the Saudi cultural attaché in Australia, said: “Saudi women
are indispensable contributors to national development, They proudly announce
their role supporting and serving the success and advancement of their country.
The energy of Saudi contemporary advancement by necessity attracts the synergy
of all young ambitious Saudis, both women and men.”
the great relationship between the two countries, the UAE cultural attaché in
Canberra has contributed to support this celebration. UAE students have
participated in the celebrations and the Emirate flag was held up along with
the Saudi flag, representing the long and strong bonds between the two nations.
YORK: In the presence of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the UAE Ministry of Defence and
the General Women’s Union – under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak,
Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for
Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development
Foundation – signed a new Memorandum of
Understanding with UN Women that will build the capacity of women in the
military and peacekeeping in the Arab region.
the signatories at the ceremony, which was held at the UAE Mission to the
United Nations in New York, were Major General Abdulla Al Hashmi, Assistant
Under-Secretary for Support Services at the Ministry of Defence; Noura Al
Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Women’s Union; and Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. In
attendance at the ceremony were Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State
for International Cooperation, Dr Sultan Bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of
State, Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the
United Nations in New York; and Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN
Women-UAE Liaison Office for the GCC.
military and peacekeeping progamme for Arab women will commence in January
2019, providing civilian women with a three-month basic military training
followed by a two-week peacekeeping training.
will prepare female military officers for UN peacekeeping operations and
increase the pool of female military officers, create peer to peer networks
among women interested in joining the military and peacekeeping fields, and
drive the strategic objectives of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, with
particular attention to the importance of capacity building and training.
on the signing, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed said, “Today represents a historic
moment in the United Arab Emirates’ steadfast partnership with UN Women. The
UAE will continue to advocate for the full empowerment of women, particularly
under the leadership of Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak. We will do this
hand-in-hand with our Ministry of Defence, the General Women’s Union, and our
partners at UN Women to ensure that women in our region and around the world
are given the training they need to serve in the security sector, where their
presence and leadership adds to the operational effectiveness of missions and
increases peace and stability globally. Further, the UAE is committed to
advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda and promoting the tenets of UN
Security Council Resolution 1325 both at home and abroad, and we hope that this
training programme is just one of many initiatives to come in support of this
Gen. Al Hashmi added, “The UAE is committed to ensuring that women are equipped
with the skills necessary to contribute to peace and security globally, from
defending national interests to providing humanitarian assistance in times of
crisis. This is why the UAE’s Ministry of Defence will be leading this military
and peacekeeping training at the UAE’s Khawla Bint Al Azwar Military Academy
for Women, where women have undergone military training for the past
twenty-seven years.” The Khawla Bint Al Azwar Military Academy is the first in
the region dedicated exclusively to training women in the military, founded in
1991 on the directive of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of
Al Suwaidi remarked, “Since 1975, under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima Bint
Mubarak, the General Women’s Union has led national efforts in empowering
women. We believe that these efforts extend to empowering women in all sectors,
including the security sector, where women make real, tangible contributions
everyday to keeping families and communities safe.”
Nusseibeh reinforced this point by underlining the UAE’s commitment to
advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda. “The UAE will continue to
advance the role of women in all aspects of peace and security because we
believe that when women are represented throughout our society - especially as
leaders and decision-makers - that our societies become more tolerant, more
prosperous, and more stable.
the Nuh district’s Protection Home to release a 16-year-old Muslim girl from
custody, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has allowed her to stay with her
husband and said the Muslim couple’s marriage cannot be said to be invalid,
while referring to the Muslim law.
per the Text Book of Mohammedan Law by Aqil Ahmad, ‘Puberty and majority’ in
the Muslim law are one and the same thing…,” the judgment passed by Justice
Daya Chaudhary on September 26 reads.
judgment further reads, “A boy or girl, who has attained puberty, is at liberty
to marry anyone he or she likes and the guardian has no right to interfere.”
girl was more than 15 years of age at the time of her marriage in June 2018 and
“strongly objected” when the court had asked her whether she wants to stay with
detenue is entitled to remain with the petitioner, being his wife. In-charge,
Safe House (Protection Home) at Nuh, District Nuh, is directed to complete all
the detenue,” reads the order.
husband had filed a habeas corpus plea in the High Court in June after he was
not allowed to meet her in the Safe House.
couple had also approached the High Court in June for police protection after
the marriage. They were residing in Nuh Protection Home until the husband was
taken into custody by the police on June 12 in the case registered against him
by the girl’s family for kidnapping a minor.
was not allowed to meet her after being released on bail by the trial court and
approached the High Court regarding it.
counsel argued before the court that their marriage was governed by Muslim law
and provisions of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 are not applicable on
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is a special Act, whereas,
the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, is a general Act. The general
provisions would yield to specific provisions. This is a well-settled
proposition of law. The special Act would have predominance over the general
Act,” the judgment passed by the High Court reads.
Chaudhary, in the judgment, further said that the girl is 16 years of age and
marriage without consent of father “cannot be said to be invalid or otherwise”
as consent of father is necessary in cases where the girl is less than 15 years
Agnes, leading women’s rights lawyer and co-founder of Majlis, a legal and
cultural resource centre that campaigns for and provides legal representation
to women and children, tells Tish Sanghera that reactions to the problems of
Muslim women are knee-jerk and prompted from ignorance. Excerpts:
have been negative and often extreme reactions amongst parliamentarians to news
that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) intend to establish
sharia courts in every district of the country. Can you explain why you believe
those who are concerned about sharia courts acting as a ‘parallel legal system’
may have misunderstood how they operate?
impression seems to have been created that this move to set up darul qazas in
every district is driven by an objective to undermine the impact of the recent
constitutional bench ruling in the triple talaq (Shayara Bano vs Union of
India) case, which had declared triple talaq invalid last August. But this
premise has no basis since darul qazas have been functioning in India for a
instance, Imarat-e-Sharia in Patna, which has a well-oiled alternate dispute
resolution mechanism, was set up in 1920 and has a broad network of darul qazas
across many north Indian states. At that time, there was no controversy around
the setting up of this institution. Additionally, there are also darul qazas
run by muftis who are not affiliated to any darul qazas.
around the machinations of Islamic law have been seen before. Do you think the
AIMPLB’s plan to activate its Tafheem-e-Shariyat committee will help to improve
awareness levels and even relations between opposing groups?
I am sure such initiatives will help to clear the air and give a true picture
about Islam, and Muslim women’s rights. Right now, there is so much
Islamophobia and fear of ‘the other’, because we do not know about the
traditions, customs and practices of Muslims. Through our ignorance, we are
branding everything concerning Islam as anti-women.
many as 95 of 100 cases studied in a darulqaza in Kanpur were filed by women
who wanted the dissolution of a marriage or maintenance support, in a 2017
study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. What does this tell us
about the role these organisations play amongst women in this community?
same is true of all the darul qazas that I have visited in Mumbai, not just
this one in Kanpur. I have visited around eight that are functioning and each
one said more women approach them than men. A few of these stated that around
95 per cent are women.
is because when a Muslim woman faces domestic violence she often prefers to go
to a darul qaza to dissolve her marriage rather than the family court. In a
darul qaza, women feel more comfortable since they are familiar with the
culture, understand the language. Also darul qazas offer expeditious and
cheaper options to resolve family disputes, than the civil courts.
approach the darul qazas if their wife has deserted them or the wife has filed
a criminal case under Section 498A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code). Men do not
approach a darul qaza for pronouncing talaq.
speaking, if darulqazas were abolished and personal law matters brought more
into the purview of the secular judiciary, what in your opinion would be the
impact on communities that had traditionally looked towards alternative dispute
our judiciary is clogged and cases drag on for a very long time. So actually
solving disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like Lok
Adalats (People’s Courts), mediation centres etc are encouraged. Therefore, I
do not think the government will abolish the darul qazas.
if they are abolished people can still choose various alternative fora such as
the local panchayats (village councils), mediation by family elders, religious
heads and local political parties etc to resolve civil disputes. For instance,
even among Christians and Hindus such alternatives are available. Christians
have their own church tribunals and many lower caste Hindus approach their
caste panchayats or village panchayats to resolve family disputes.
Hindu Marriage Act validates the divorces granted as per custom of the caste.
So if Muslims opt for obtaining khula (divorce initiated by the wife) in a
darul qaza, the husband also accepts this fora for resolving the dispute and
both parties abide by the decision of the darul qazas, how can this be stopped?
have previously said the media too often portrays the plight of Muslim women in
India inaccurately (as lacking rights) and manipulates the story to fit
politically charged discourse. The recent public interest litigation is a good
example of this you say. Could you explain what you mean by this?
on a study conducted by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (the findings and methodology
of which were challenged by legal scholars) several articles appeared in the
media. A bench of the Supreme Court while denying a Hindu woman right to
ancestral property, totally out of context, then made a reference that a
Constitution Bench be set up to examine the lack of rights of Muslim women
though this was not an issue before the court.
Bano is a victim of domestic violence just like 50 per cent of all Indian women
are. She had left her matrimonial home and was residing with her parents.
Remedies to her concerns (maintenance, access to her children and protection
against domestic violence) were available to her under the Protection of Women
from Domestic Violence Act, but perhaps no one advised her about this.
her husband filed for Restitution of Conjugal Rights, she contacted a Supreme
Court lawyer to transfer this case from Lucknow to Kashipur. As a counter
blast, the husband’s lawyer sent her a talaqnama. Since a Constitution Bench
was constituted, her lawyer advised her to file a writ petition and challenge
the talaqnama though she herself consistently maintained that she does not wish
to return to her husband due to the domestic violence. So according to me this
case does not strictly fit the formula of ‘instant and arbitrary triple talaq’.
But the writ petition gave her instant fame and she became known as a crusader
for Muslim women. Recently I read reports that she has joined the BJP.
the same article you also said, the media often ignores the large number of
positive court judgements in favour of Muslim women in India. Can you give us
an example from your own experience working with Majlis or interactions with
the Muslim community? I could mention so many since we are constantly using
these cases to defend the rights of Muslim women. For instance, in the Shamim
Ara case in 2002, the Supreme Court laid down the correct procedure for
pronouncing talaq. Even earlier there were judgments of Justice Barul Islam of
the Guwahati High Court in 1981 where the procedure for pronouncing talaq was
laid down. Since 1981 to 2002, various High Courts had followed the Guwahati
judgement. So the issue that arbitrary triple talaq is invalid was already
settled. But these judgments were not highlighted in the media.
every time we have approached the magistrate’s court to protect a Muslim woman
under this Act, the other side have argued that a Muslim woman is not entitled
to claim relief under this Act and this is simply because media had not
highlighted this issue enough.
An Egyptian court Saturday handed a two-year suspended jail sentence to a woman
human rights activist arrested in May after posting a video criticising sexual
harassment in Egypt, her lawyer said.
Fathi, 33, was convicted of spreading fake news and fined 10,000 Egyptian
pounds ($560 dollars), her lawyer Doaa Mustafa told AFP.
will challenge the ruling," Mustafa said, adding that Fathi could pay
20,000 pounds to have her sentence suspended.
Fathi is still in detention awaiting trial in another case in which she is
accused of "membership in a terrorist group", her lawyer added.
International denounced Saturday's "disgraceful" verdict against
Fathi who, it said, was sentenced "simply for her courage to speak out
against sexual harassment".
is an outrageous case of injustice, where the survivor is sentenced while the
abuser remains at large," the rights group's Najia Bounaim said in a
"is a human rights defender and sexual harassment survivor, who told her
truth to the world and highlighted the vital issue of women’s safety in
Egypt," Bounaim said.
is not a criminal and should not be punished for her bravery."
was arrested in May after posting a Facebook video in which she accused
authorities of failing to protect women and charging that guards at a bank had
sexually harassed her.
60 percent of women in Egypt said they had been victims of some form of sexual
harassment during their life, in a 2017 report from UN Women and Promundo.
debate over harassment intensified in the aftermath of the January 2011
uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.
protests demanding Mubarak's ouster centred around Cairo's Tahrir Square, where
constant media coverage also highlighted sexual attacks and helped show public
denial of the phenomenon.
the uprising, anti-harassment graffiti spread around downtown Cairo, volunteers
organised to rescue women from mob attacks, and more women shared their own
Muslim families are prepared to take Jeppe Girls’ High School and the education
department to court over alleged discrimination, claiming their daughters have
been prevented from expressing their freedom of religion alongside their school
school’s policy on hijab (headscarves) has been debated - particularly on
social media - for several months, with Jeppe Girls’ allegedly banning learners
from wearing them with the official school blazer or school colours.
the young women are given the option to wear their headscarves with a black
cloak, which would cover up their uniforms. But in the past week and a half,
seven learners at the school were told they would have to attend a disciplinary
hearing at the school today for “repeated dress code infringements” and
“disregard for educator’s instruction”.
Saturday Star has learnt that since the issuing of the disciplinary notices,
the pro bono department at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hoffmeyr has now become
involved, representing each of the seven learners in a bid to declare the
disciplinary hearings unlawful.
a series of urgent letters written on Thursday to, among others, Gauteng
Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, the school’s principal and the Jeppe school
governing body (SGB), the firm has said that the disciplinary proceedings were
discriminatory and the school’s code of conduct is unconstitutional.
of the firm’s pro bono department Jacquie Cassette and senior associate Tricia
Erasmus argue in their letters that even the notice of the hearings is
suggest the notice failed to detail the alleged offences, what punishment the
learners face and that they failed to give the learners sufficient time to
prepare for the hearings.
more importantly, they allege the hearings are unlawful as they “flow from a
code of conduct which is unconstitutional and unlawful in so far as it fails to
accommodate affected learners who wish to follow the dictates of their religion
without, at the same time, being denied their rights to equality, dignity,
equal respect and to be identified with the school”.
letter implies that in recent months, the Gauteng Department of Education
expressly instructed the school’s SGB to allow the affected learners to wear a
hijab with their uniform until the issue - namely the school’s code of conduct
and whether it should be changed - was resolved.
reasonable conclusion is that there are certain individuals at the school who
seek to harass the learners knowing full well that a dispute exists as to the
code of conduct itself,” the letter reads.
to the Saturday Star yesterday, Cassette said the school’s code of conduct
contributed to “othering” the Muslim learners at the school, and that her
clients were trying to find a way to allow learners to express their religion
and their love of the school.
clients are still willing to co-operate to find an amicable way forward with
the school to revise the code of conduct,” she said.
added that this morning she would be attending the hearing to have them stopped
or postponed, but that if the school did decide to continue with them, she and
her clients would have no choice but to approach the courts for assistance.
just before 5pm, the firm was informed that the disciplinary hearing had been
Steve Mabona said the department was investigating.
social activist Yusuf Abramjee tweeted copies of the disciplinary notice,
asking why the young women were being punished for “covering their hair”.
responded, calling on his team to investigate.
June, Abramjee was calling for the school’s code of conduct to be altered as he
believed it was “unconstitutional”.
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