Shamsie, British-Pakistani Author, Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
• Pakistan Women Work Hard To Overcome
Country's Taboos about Menstruation
• Woman Collapses In Agony as she’s
Savagely Caned for ‘Having Sex Outside Marriage’ In Front Of Indonesian Crowd
• FIFA Tells Iran It Is Time to
Allow Women into Stadiums
• SC Summons UP Home Secretary in
a Case by A 16-Year-Old Muslim Girl Seeking Validation Of her marriage under
• The Toronto Raptors Now Sell
Hijabs. What Does This Mean For Muslim Women?
• Pakistan Women’s Rights
Activist Who Highlighted Atrocities by Military Escapes to US
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Author Stripped Of German Literary Award Over Her Anti-Israel Stance
A British-Pakistani woman author has been stripped of a prestigious German
literary award over her anti-Israel stance, a media report said here on
this month, the German city of Dortmund announced acclaimed novelist Kamila
Shamsie as this year's winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize -- named after a Jewish
poet -- in honour of her literary work.
the eight-member jury decided to cancel its original vote from September 6. It
also decided not to nominate another winner for 2019, the Geo News reported.
a statement on Wednesday, the jury said: "Despite prior research, the
members of the jury were not aware that the author has been participating in
the boycott measures against the Israeli
for its Palestinian policies since 2014."
Shamsie's political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott
as part of the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) campaign against the
Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of
the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize," it said.
the move, Shamsie said it was "a matter of outrage" to view the BDS
movement "as something shameful and unjust".
is a matter of great sadness to me that a jury should bow to pressure and
withdraw a prize from a writer who is exercising her freedom of conscience and
freedom of expression," she said.
BDS movement was launched in 2005 by Palestinians to generate international
pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights.
who was born and grew up in Karachi before moving to London, has written
multiple fiction novels, including 'Broken Verses', 'Burnt Shadows' and 'House
won the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2018 and was longlisted for the 2017
Booker Prize. The Nelly Sachs Prize is awarded every two years, with the winner
receiving a cash prize of USD 16,500.
Women Work Hard To Overcome Country's Taboos about Menstruation
PAKISTAN – Bent over her hand-cranked sewing machine, Hajra Bibi carefully
stitches sanitary pads for the women of her mountainous village in northwestern
Pakistan, one of many rural areas in the deeply conservative country where
periods are still taboo.
am responding to a crisis,” said the 35-year-old mother, sitting in front of
her small, doily-covered work table in the village of Booni, close to the
Booni’s women had no idea what sanitary towels were,” she explained. Less than
a fifth of women use sanitary pads in Pakistan, local charities estimate.
women have used rags and cloth to soak up their menstrual blood, but the stigma
around periods and a lack of reproductive education means hygiene standards are
poor, and many contracted infections.
with other areas of rural Pakistan, menstruating women were viewed as unclean
and limited in what they were able to do.
was given training to make the disposable sanitary pads, made of cotton,
plastic and cloth, by the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) — an NGO
working with UNICEF — in a program that aims to change attitudes to women’s
took up the work to support her family because her husband is disabled and they
have little income. Each pad takes around 20 minutes to make and is sold for 20
rupees (13 cents).
her work disturbed the local community.
first, people were asking me why I was doing this, some were insulting me,”
now, “Girls in the village can talk about their periods,” she said proudly,
adding that she is fighting “for the basic needs of women.”
Pakistan, UNICEF has warned that in some cases information about menstruation
has deliberately been withheld from women as a “means of protecting their
in turn negatively impacts their physical and emotional health,” it said in a
the women of Booni have used cloth, but according to Bushra Ansari of AKRSP the
taboo surrounding periods meant many were ashamed to dry them outside, unaware
that damp cloths are a breeding ground for bacteria.
addition, female family members often shared the same menstrual rags,
increasing the risk of contracting urinary and reproductive tract infections,
explained Wassaf Sayed Kakakhail, a doctor in the region.
there are three girls in the same family, they all use the same pieces of
fabric,” she said, adding many women are told not to wash during their period.
is no sex education in schools, and the topic is rarely discussed — even
between women — at homes in northern Pakistan, a particularly conservative part
of the country.
to a 2017 UNICEF survey, half of young Pakistani women had no knowledge of
menstruation before their periods started.
girls told us that they thought they had cancer, or a very serious illness that
made them bleed,” said Kakakhail.
Mohammad Haidar Ulmulk, the public health director for the district of Chitral,
in which Booni is located, insisted the problem is under control. “There may be
gaps, but we try to cover them,” he said, adding that the area has hundreds of
health workers trying to help young women.
situation is different in cities, especially among the richest. But in the
patriarchal Muslim country — ranked 148th out of 149 by the World Economic
Forum for gender equality — and where sexist stereotypes persist, access to
basic feminine hygiene products remains difficult.
Karachi, a metropolis of 20 million people seen as the most liberal city in
Pakistan, sanitary pads are easily accessible, though expensive.
women are still made to feel uneasy by leering shopkeepers and ask their
husbands to buy them instead.
people buy them late at night, others prefer to buy them in a different
neighborhood,” said Sajjad Ali, 32, a store owner.
shops like his, sanitary pads are wrapped in opaque paper, instead of in
transparent bags like other products.
are treated as taboo and surrounded by mystery,” said Seema Shiekh, a women’s
she asked, “Doesn’t every man have a sister, wife or a mother?”
20 years of battling to introduce sex education classes in Pakistan, the first
lessons are finally being given in public schools in Sindh province, of which
Karachi is the capital.
their aims will be to put an end to the fear surrounding periods in a country
where the onset of menstruation is one of the main reasons girls drop out of
28 percent of women surveyed in 2017 by UNICEF indicated that they had missed
school or work because of stomach pain or worry over staining their clothes.
— who is working alongside 80 other women trained to make sanitary pads — is
confident things will change in Booni, too.
mused, “With this project, I have made people aware.”
Collapses In Agony as she’s Savagely Caned for ‘Having Sex Outside Marriage’ In
Front Of Indonesian Crowd
“canoodling” couples were cruelly whipped in a humiliating public punishment in
Indonesia for violating local Sharia law.
the backs of the six men and women had been flogged more than 20 times each,
some collapsed, bleeding, crying with severe pain and had to be carried off
stage, say reports.
couples were punished in Banda Aceh for showing affection in public and their
whipping – using a rattan cane – came after they’d already been jailed for
several months, according to Gulf News.
were beaten by a masked officer for behaving “amorously”.
reports that the “Islamic Sharia violators” were whipped at Bustanus Salatin
Park “in the middle of the city”, near the town hall.
publication said that not many residents attended the punishment, but students
from Malaysia, studying at the Ar-Raniry State Islamic University, witnessed
the distressing beating.
with pain, some collapsed after the caning, while one man was so badly injured
that paramedics tried to stretcher him off the stage, but he refused, and was
instead carried down by cops.
Mayor of Banda Aceh, Animulla Usman, said the aim of flogging the couples in
public was to “make them repent”.
said carrying out the whipping in the middle of a park, on a stage, was not to
encourage people “to laugh at the perpetrators, but to serve as a lesson to us
said that none of the couples were local residents, but had violated strict
Shariah laws while in the city of Banda Aceh.
Indonesian province routinely flogs gamblers, adulterers and homosexuals.
told children they were banned from watching the punishment, as it could affect
their “psychological development”.
International says that caning is an “inhman and degrading form of punishment
that may amount to torture which should never be used in any circumstances.
Aceh authorities’ decision to cane unmarried couples and sex workers, in front
of hundreds of spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty.”
charity said that between January and April last year, a total of 47 people
were flogged in public, “and the list is only getting longer.
provincial administration of Aceh must immediately remove this abhorrent form
of punishment from its law books.
is also high time for the international community to press Indonesia to provide
a safer environment for everyone in Aceh.
situation risks deteriorating rapidly unless the local administration is pushed
to take its obligations to respect human rights seriously.”
Times says that about 90 per cent of Indonesia's 250 million people are
Muslims, making it the largest Islamic population in the world.
it has long taken an inclusive and tolerant line.
the past two decades, though, more conservative rules have been established,
and in ultra-conservative Aceh, Sharia is enforced by dedicated police, and
offences are punishable by public flogging and prison sentences.
Tells Iran It Is Time to Allow Women into Stadiums
president Gianni Infantino has told Iran it is time to allow women into
football stadiums and the global soccer body expects “positive developments”
starting with their next home match in October.
foreign women have been allowed limited access to matches, Iranian women have
been banned from stadiums when men’s teams have been playing, since just after
the 1979 Islamic revolution.
said in a FIFA statement he was hopeful that the Iranian football federation
and government authorities had been receptive to “our repeated calls to address
this unacceptable situation.”
added, “Our position is clear and firm. Women have to be allowed into football
stadiums in Iran. Now is the moment to change things and FIFA is expecting
positive developments starting in the next Iran home match in October.”
comments come after the death of Sahar Khodayari, an Iranian woman who set
herself on fire after being given a prison sentence for attending a football
game. Known as ‘Blue Girl’ for her support of FC Esteghlal, who wear blue
jerseys, her death prompted Iranians to call for FIFA to act on social media.
FIFA spokesman said last week that FIFA officials will visit Iran. Meetings
with Iranian soccer officials, expected inside the next two weeks, were part of
preparations for Iran’s World Cup qualifying games - they face Cambodia at home
on October 10 - and were not a specific response to Khodayari’s death, said
FIFA officials, however, will check the preparations made by the Iranian FA to
provide access to that October 10 match for women.
Friday, Iranian media reported that a judge is issuing an arrest warrant for an
Iranian actress for showing support for Khodayari on social media.
is also under pressure in other sports. On Wednesday, the country was suspended
from international judo competitions because it boycotts bouts with Israeli
Summons UP Home Secretary in a Case by A 16-Year-Old Muslim Girl Seeking
Validation Of her marriage under Muhammadan law
over the Uttar Pradesh government’s failure to respond to its notice on a plea
by a 16-year-old Muslim girl seeking validation of her marriage under
Muhammadan law, and release from a women’s home where she is currently lodged,
the Supreme Court summoned the state’s home secretary, asking him to be present
on September 23 before it.
bench led by Justice NV Ramana retorted when the UP government counsel asked
for 15 days to file a written response and said: “You are taking it so lightly.
The girl is kept inside in Nari Home. Let your secretary home be present in
person on Monday.”
girl approached the top court on September 10 against the Allahabad high
court’s decision to send her to a woman’s shelter home, terming her marriage as
void. Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child
Marriage Act, 2006 the legal marriageable age for a girl is 18 while for a boy
its 21 years. But in its 2018 verdict in the Shafin Jahan case, the top court
recognized the Muhammadan law and held that a marriage under the same is valid
if both – the boy and girl -- profess Islam and had attained the age of
this the girl has asked the top court to test her case on the touchstone of the
Shafin Jahan verdict. Filed by advocate Dushyant Parashar the petition said his
client’s marriage was valid because both the girl (16) and her husband (24) had
attained puberty, there was an offer and acceptance, giving and taking of Meher
and a Nikahnama was drawn with the consent of both.
matter reached the high court after the girl’s father lodged a kidnapping case
against the husband. In a statement recorded by the magistrate the girl stated
she had married of her own volition without any pressure and that she wanted to
live with her husband. She refused to go back to her parents after which she
was sent to a women’s home.
Toronto Raptors Now Sell Hijabs. What Does This Mean For Muslim Women?
becoming the first Canadian team to win a championship in the National
Basketball Association in June, the Toronto Raptors have made history once
Raptors now say they are the first team in the league to market and sell athletic
hijabs, which are head coverings worn by some Muslim women.
team formed a partnership with Nike to design the hijabs, which bear the
Raptors logo and the iconic swoosh, and unveiled them on Twitter last week.
Bucar, a professor of religion at Northeastern who teaches a course on the
politics of the veil, says that the new hijabs could help to increase the
participation of Muslim women in sports.
not an innovation on design, but it is significant that a major sports apparel
company now has a swoosh on the side of a hijab,” says Bucar, who recently
published a book that examines how clerics, designers, politicians, and
bloggers try to influence what Muslim women wear. “Representation matters,
especially when you think about Muslim girls seeing themselves represented as
athletes. It seems like a good sign for the Muslim community.”
says the new hijabs mark the latest effort by apparel companies to create
clothing for people of different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles.
For example, Zappos, the online retailer, now sells clothes and footwear for
people who may have difficulty dressing themselves.
you think of the bigger picture, a lot of apparel companies are starting to pay
attention to consumers who want to buy these things,” she says. “Consumers are
putting value in brands that seem to care about diversity and inclusivity.”
placed extra importance on the release of the new hijabs because they are being
sold by a team in Canada. In June, the goverment of the province of Quebec
banned newly hired public servants from wearing Muslim head scarves and other
religious symbols, including Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans, and Christian
crosses. The government argued that the legislation was necessary to keep
church and state separate.
an important time for a major Canadian sports team to come out and support
Muslim women,” Bucar says. “I want to celebrate that.”
Women’s Rights Activist Who Highlighted Atrocities by Military Escapes to US
Ismail's campaigns to empower Pakistani girls have won her international awards
and recognition as one of her country's foremost activists.
when she spoke out against sexual violence and disappearances allegedly carried
out by the army in northwestern Pakistan, her fortunes quickly changed.
32-year-old said she feared for her life. After four months on the run, she
succeeded in eluding a vast hunt and has turned up in the United States, where
she is seeking asylum.
said she never sought to become an overseas dissident but sees a closing of the
political space in Pakistan, where the army has remained the dominant
power-broker for most of the country's history.
never wanted to leave Pakistan," she told AFP in an interview in
Washington. "I believe that I can better work towards democracy and civil
supremacy and peace in Pakistan."
she concluded she would be more effective abroad, saying: "If I had ended
up in prison and tortured for many years, my voice would have been
who speaks with poise and passion though she remains afraid, believed she posed
a special threat as a vocal woman.
a man stands up, he is mostly against the state oppression," she said.
"But when a woman stands up, she is fighting oppression on many levels --
fighting cultural norms, fighting the patriarchy and the state
up an unpopular cause
was still a teenager when she co-founded Aware Girls in 2002, which promotes
gender equality in the deeply conservative northwestern district of Khyber
2017, she won the prestigious Anna Politkovskaya Award for human rights advocacy.
The year before, she was honoured for conflict prevention by France's Chirac
Foundation and has been welcomed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
she came under greater scrutiny last year when she started speaking in support
of the Pashtun Protection Movement, which defends the rights of the Pashtun
tribal population in the northwest.
witnesses, Ismail said the army crackdown on Pashtun militants near the border
with Afghanistan had led to frequent disappearances as well as sexual assaults.
women stay silent due to stigma, she said, but when a boy came forward about
how security forces were barging into their home and harassing his mother, she
went to investigate.
of women had come to tell us that the incident of sexual harassment was not
unique. It is systematic. It had been happening for years."
was detained briefly in 2018 but her fears mounted in February when she was
taken into custody for two days after attempting to hold a news conference.
said that she was held in a cold, dirty room with a urine-soaked sheet on the
ground. She said she was denied food and water, with other female inmates
warned against talking to the "high-profile terrorist."
May, police filed a complaint against Ismail under an anti-terrorism law after
she spoke out about the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.
declined to discuss how she escaped Pakistan, saying she did not want to put
others at risk.
widely circulated her name to seek her arrest, with airport authorities told
not to let her leave.
were videos created online by military trolls which were clearly saying that
the moment I'm in custody they will teach me a lesson. I spoke about the issue
of rape -- now they will 'teach me' what rape is," she said.
said security forces roughed up both her driver and a friend who she said was
handcuffed, beaten and administered electric shocks for 14 hours in a bid to
extract information on her whereabouts.
is living for now with her sister in New York. She said her initial fears of
being sent back to Pakistan, a historic ally of the United States, were eased
after she held meetings in Washington at the State Department and with staff of
lawmakers including Chuck Schumer, who represents New York and is the top
Democrat in the Senate.
was told that there was no chance that the US will ever take such action as
extraditing me or handing me over because they know that it is a case of
political revenge," she said.
she remains worried for her parents in Pakistan. She said that they have become
socially isolated, with security forces interrogating anyone who does so much
as text them.
wanted to speak freely and that's why I'm here," she said.
when it comes to the future of Pakistan, I do not see a prosperous Pakistan
until the military establishment decides it needs to go back to its
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