Decathlon Morocco Website/Screenshot via REUTERS
Urges Pakistan, India to Engage In Peace Dialogue
Court Upholds Jail Term against Female Activist
Sisters Hiding In Hong Kong Face Imminent Deportation
Woman Setting Up Fitness Class for Muslims Threatened To Death
Pakistani Girl Accuses Father, Uncle of Forcing Her into Marriage
Sports Brand 'Decathlon' Drops Plans for Selling Runners' Hijab after Backlash
‘caliphate’ debacle, wives of militants cling to their children
Nurses In Iran Entangled In A Web Of Damaging Problems
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Islamic Preachers Call For Women’s Rights, Contraception In Niger
Niger – The preacher Malama Ouani may seem like an unlikely advocate of sexual
and reproductive health and rights. She teaches women about Islam and family
welfare during study groups, known as “madrassas,” in her conservative
community in southern Niger.
her lessons explore aspects of family that are seldom discussed in religious
circles – including domestic violence, family planning and visits to the
one recent session, dozens of women gathered in a dusty courtyard, many
bouncing babies or carrying toddlers, eager to hear Ms. Ouani’s lessons for the
Ms. Ouani had something urgent to discuss: a girl in Niger had been married off
to an abusive man. She suffered serious injuries, and her case had made
man’s actions, Ms. Ouani asserted, are forbidden. Islam requires that husbands
uphold the health, dignity and rights of their wives, she said.
women, too, must seek to uphold their own health, dignity and rights – as a
matter of religious obligation. Too often, society neglects women’s welfare.
do you want to be consistent in your religious practice and your adorations if
you are sick all the time?” she asked.
about family planning
can be a dangerous place for women and girls.
to a 2012 survey, 76 per cent of women were married before age 18, one of the
highest known child marriage rates in the world. And the average woman has 7
children, the world's highest fertility.
early and frequent pregnancies can take a serious toll on women’s bodies. So,
too, does the lack of health care – fewer than half of births are attended by
skilled health personnel. Today, women in Niger face one of the worst maternal
death rates in the world.
could help save lives, enabling women to avoid or delay pregnancy and allowing
their bodies to recover between births. Yet fewer than one in five married
women use contraception.
Ouani says this is because of widespread misperceptions about religion.
"Most women thought that Islam was not in favour of spacing births,
whereas it is quite the opposite," she said of her students.
teaches them that planning one's family and spacing births is part of maintaining
their health, which is essential for the health of their families.
gateway to human rights
Ouani’s lessons about health often veer into broader discussions about women’s
and girls’ rights.
asked women to take care of their health because the Muslim religion banned
everything that could harm the faithful,” she recounted after a recent lesson.
“It is therefore a duty for women to get closer to health facilities and to
ensure that they receive medical advice and follow-up. Especially when they are
when women expressed embarrassment about visiting health facilities because
most health staff are male, Ms. Ouani turned the lesson to girls’ education.
you want your daughters to avoid this fate, then keep them in school. They will
be more likely to become gynaecologists, midwives or nurses,” she said.
is no reason knowledge should be the preserve of men, she insisted. “The quest
for knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim.”
2018, UNFPA launched a campaign with female preachers like Ms. Ouani, dedicated
to raising awareness of reproductive health and rights issues.
were 50 schools affected during this campaign in Maradi, each numbering between
50 to 100 people,” said Dr. Zalha Assoumana of UNFPA. “During this campaign, we
saw in some places more than 200 participants attending the courses.”
and UNFPA staff have seen women’s views and behaviour change since the
campaign’s launch – in some cases right away. In Ms. Ouani’s class, women announced
their intention to visit health centres and to enrol their daughters in school.
other classes, women showed a keen interest in using contraception. “At the end
of some sessions, we show them the different methods of family planning,” Dr.
Assoumana said, “and even preachers showed their sisters their [contraceptive]
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai voiced concerns over the recent escalation of
tensions between India and Pakistan, urging leaders of both countries to settle
the long-standing Kashmir issue through dialogue.
a statement sent out to her 1.4 million followers on Twitter using the hashtag
#SayNoToWar, Malala appealed to both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “sit down, shake hands and settle the
a Nobel Laureate, UN Messenger of Peace, a citizen of Pakistan and a student, I
am alarmed by the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan – and
concerned for people living on both sides of the border,” she said.
said that all those aware of the horrors of war “agree that retaliation and
revenge is never the right response – once started, it rarely ends.”
of people are suffering today because of existing wars – we don’t need another.
Our world cannot even care for all the people currently in peril,” she said.
ask the Prime Minister of Pakistan lmran Khan and the Prime Minister of India
Narendra Modi to show true leadership in this difficult time: to sit down,
shake hands and settle the current conflict and long-standing issue of Kashmir
through dialogue,” she added.
further asked the international community to support talks between the two
nations in order to “help prevent loss of lives and homes”.
of both countries know that the true enemies are terrorism, poverty, illiteracy
and health crises – not each other,” she concluded.
court has upheld a one-year jail sentence against a female anti-regime activist
and confirmed revocation of her citizenship.
Bahrain Supreme Criminal Court issued the ruling against Zainab Makki on
Tuesday, Arabic-language Manama Post online newspaper reported.
Fourth High Criminal Court sentenced Makki to one year in jail on November 29,
and stripped her of Bahraini citizenship.
husband was also sentenced to seven years behind bars in the same case and his
citizenship was revoked as well.
is the second female Bahraini political dissident to be stripped of her
regime officials revoked Maryam Sayyed Ibrahim Hussein Reza’s citizenship in
of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost
daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February
are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just
system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14,
2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to
assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or
got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
and Reem are watching the clock. At the end of the day on Thursday the sisters,
who escaped from Saudi Arabia almost six months ago, could be deported home
where they face prison, beatings, and possibly death.
women, who are using aliases out of fear of retribution by members of their
family, have been in legal limbo since landing in Hong Kong in September after
an aborted attempt to reach Australia where they hoped to get asylum. Their
“tolerated overstay” in the city as visitors ends on Thursday, according to their
lawyer. They risk arrest, prosecution and possibly removal.
options are limited. They are hoping to be granted emergency visas to travel to
a third country where they have a chance of being given asylum – Hong Kong
resettles very few refugees. In the meantime, they have applied for an
extension of their stay in Hong Kong.
that is not granted they are not sure what will happen. The sisters, who have
renounced Islam, fear the worst if returned to their family in Saudi Arabia.
We fear from honour killings,” said Rawan. The sisters, wearing T-shirts and
torn jeans, with their hair and faces uncovered, are in a hotel room where they
believe it is safer to meet.
consequences are severe for Saudi women who attempt to run away. They can go to
prison, be beaten and in some cases killed by their family members.
just really bad stories, daily, every week,” said Rawan. “We can’t even count
them,” Reem added. She says such cases are kept quiet, barely covered up. “They
will say she had a heart attack, even though she was only 20.”
of violence, verbal abuse, and being controlled in everything from what they
wore to their tone of voice and who they would marry pushed the sisters to
escape from their home last year.
rooms were the prison cell and our fathers and brothers were the prison
keepers. Saudi Arabia is one big prison,” Reem said.
6 September, after two years of planning and squirrelling away money earned
from memorising verses of the Qu’ran, Rawan and Reem fled while on a family
holiday in Sri Lanka. They had visitor visas for Australia, a destination they
chose because of its electronic visa application and because they believed it
was committed to human rights.
the middle of the night, they stole their passports from their parents’ room,
took a cab to the airport in Colombo and boarded the first leg of their journey
to Melbourne, with a two-hour layover in Hong Kong.
the time they arrived in Hong Kong about five hours later, Saudi officials were
already waiting. According to the sisters, a Saudi consular official tried to
pressure them into taking a flight to Dubai, first telling them they had an
issue with their passports and then that their mother was ill.
the sisters refused. They knew what had happened to Dina Ali Lasloom, a Saudi
woman who in 2017 also attempted to get to Australia to seek asylum. She was
caught in Manila and forced onto a plane to Riyadh, reportedly bound and
thought we are idiots, “ said Rawan. “They think I am just teenager and I will
believe him. They didn’t know I’ve been planning for two years. They didn’t
know I know what they did to Dina Ali... but I knew what I was doing.”
women grabbed their passports from the official and ran to the gate of their
Cathay Pacific flight for Melbourne only to discover their tickets had been
cancelled. They tried to book another flight, this time on Qantas, but a Saudi
official appeared again, telling airline staff and an immigration official the
girls’ mother was ill and that they had stolen money.
again, the sisters decided to enter Hong Kong and make a new plan. A few days
later they received a notice that their Australian visas had been revoked. It
has now been almost six months of hiding and waiting.
feel that all this time has been wasted, just like I wasted my life in Saudi
Arabia. I feel like I haven’t started my life yet, like it’s zero. My entire
age is zero,” said Reem.
were disappointed their visas to Australia were cancelled but not surprised. “I
take a tourist visa, but I am going to seek asylum … so I was disappointed but
I understand that,” said Rawan.
Australian government has been approached for comment.
pattern of desperation
case is the latest example of women attempting to escape from Saudi Arabia,
emboldened by examples of others before them and aided by social media and
access to resources online.
January, Rahaf Mohammed, 18, barricaded herself in a hotel room in Bangkok to
prevent being deported back to Saudi Arabia. She pled online for help and was
eventually granted asylum in Canada. Rawan and Reem, hopeful Mohammed’s case
will prove a positive precedent for theirs, have been posting on Twitter.
say hundreds of women try to escape the kingdom each year.
have received an increasing number of accounts of Saudi women attempting to
flee Saudi Arabia for various reasons, which include escaping systematic
discrimination in Saudi Arabia under the male guardianship system as well as
fleeing domestic violence or threats of violence,” said Adam Coogle, a Middle
East researcher for Human Rights Watch.
said the organisation has worked with seven or eight similar cases. “The real
number who attempt to escape is likely much higher,” he said.
Hong Kong, the sisters still do not feel free. They move from safe house to
safe house and go outside only when accompanied by people they trust. In some
ways it is similar to their old life in Saudi Arabia where they were stuck at
home, watching movies and television shows about life elsewhere.
thing that is different is the opportunity to express themselves. “One of the
freedoms we have is that we can speak loudly,” said Rawan. “We can speak freely
about what we think, what we love, without fearing we could be punished by what
we say,” Rawan said. Sometimes it feels strange, she admits.
does not feel strange, Reem says, is no longer wearing an abaya. “The moment I
took off the abaya, I didn’t feel strange. I felt normal,” she said.
first time I stepped into Hong Kong with my sister, I was amazed. I felt the
air touch my face and hair and I breathed without the niqab. I walked without
someone watching my steps and I talked to my sister without someone watching
how loud my voice is,” she said.
female sport trainer in Britain has received death threats and other racist and
abusive messages after she initiating a fitness class for Muslim women.
state-funded BBC reported Wednesday that Bianca Jade, a non-Muslim fitness
coach, had been threatened to death after she put up posters for her Muslim
women fitness class showing a woman in a hijab holding a pair of weights.
30-year-old Jade, from Nottingham in central England, said she had notified the
police about racist slurs and messages she received telling her to “watch her
had messages calling me racist names... telling me to go back to my own
country, telling me to watch my back... saying they're going to kill me,” she
said, adding, “It makes me feel paranoid... I'm always looking behind me.”
has said non-Muslim women were welcome to join the fitness class, which she
said is meant to allow Muslim women to “get fit in a comfortable environment”.
Police said they were investigating the threats which they branded “utterly
disgraceful” and “shocking”.
Inspector Suk Verma said the “unacceptable” abuse portrayed a “sad element of
society where hate is prevalent”.
providing a service to a specific part of the community, but she said anyone is
welcome,” said the police commander.
behavior against Muslims have significantly increased in the UK, a country home
to close to three million members of the religious community. Experts believe
segments of the British media and some politicians have spurred hate crimes
against Muslims by trying to pander to the far-right and extremist groups.
An underage girl and her brother have gone into hiding after the girl accused
her father and uncle of forcing her into a marriage.
said the girl registered a case with the police against her father, her uncle
and the man they tried to force her to marry for threatening her.
case was registered with Koral police under PPC sections 506(ii) and 498(b).
girl, 15, is a 10th grade student who was living with her family in Koral. She
alleged that her father forced her to marry a 45-year-old man who was already
married and has four children.
told police the man drives a taxi and peddles drugs, and owns a number of
quoted her as saying her parents were forcing her to marry the man, and called
a maulvi to the house to arrange a nikkah on Jan 13.
said she refused to sign the marriage certificate, after which her elder
brother took her to his home in Sara-i-Kharbooza the same day.
next day the man, his sibling and his mother came to her brother’s house and
told him to hand over his ‘wife’.
her brother refused, the man’s family threatened them.
girl was then brought to the women’s police station by her brother, and the
police took her to Darul Aman.
father visited her at the Darul Aman a few days later and assured her he would
not force her to marry the man. She returned home with her father on Jan 23.
said four days later, her father tried to forcefully send her to the man,
telling her that he married her to the man “as Wali”.
girl again sought her brother’s help, and they went into hiding as their relatives
and the man were searching for them.
quoted the girl as saying they had threatened the siblings and tried to kidnap
her and take her out of the city.
contacted, Koral Station House Officer Saifullah said the girl was safe and
sound with her brother. He said she had alleged that her father sold her to the
man for a significant sum of money.
SHO said both the girl’s father and the man he forced her to marry were from
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said they had left their homes as, when the police
approached them as part of the investigation, their houses were locked from the
sports goods chain Decathlon won't sell a runner's hijab in France after plans
to commercialize the veil caused controversy in the deeply secular country.
head of communications Xavier Rivoire told RTL radio on Tuesday that the chain
won't be selling the runner's veil in France until further notice after the
announcement of its marketing sparked a social media backlash.
French politicians called for a boycott of Decathlon products and Health
Minister Agnes Buzyn said she would have preferred that a French company
refrained from promoting the veil.
initially said the runner's hijab responded to the needs of some runners.
years ago, an all-encompassing swimsuit known as the burkini and worn by a
small minority of Muslim women caused controversy in France after some French
mayors banned it.
news was met with disappointment and outrage on social media who slammed
Decathlon for balking under pressure.
the agressively secular country, has had an uneasy relationship with the hijab
over the years which deepened in 2010 after it banned the wearing of
face-covering headgear including helmets, balaclavas, masks, hijabs, niqabs or
other kinds of veils in public places.
2016, the French had been in the news for banning the 'burkini' a piece of
clothing made by amalgamating a burqa and a bikini to essentially create a
swimsuit that agrees with the Islamic religious sensibility of clothing. Many
reports of officers publicly harassing Muslim women wearing burkinis on beaches
motley crew of foreign militant wives held at the Al-Hol camp in northeastern
Syria are united by at least one thing: the fear of being separated from their
in a special section of the camp and huddled in rudimentary tents, most of them
are tight-lipped about the lives they led in the Daesh (the so-called IS)
from Morocco, is one of the few who agreed to talk, as a swarm of children of
various origins ran around her tent to collect water for their mothers.
slipped out of Baghouz two weeks earlier, as Kurdish-led forces closed in on
the riverside hamlet where holdout Daesh fighters are making their very last
38-year-old, fully veiled in black like nearly all other women in the camp,
sums up her four years under Daesh rule in a few laconic words.
husband brought her to Syria, he never worked for Daesh “because he brought his
own money” and then he died in a bombardment.
asked why she and her three children followed him all the way to the hell of
Baghouz, she says: “The jihadists prevented us from fleeing.”
is now sheltered in a large UN tent which she shares with dozens of other
who would not give her full name, says she hopes Morocco will take her and her
children back and sees no reason why she should be detained.
the camp’s dusty alleys, a black child who says he is American stops every
adult he sees and asks them in a soft, plaintive voice: “Hey, my father is
dead. Do you know how much longer we’re going to stay here?”
answers him because nobody knows.
of the foreign suspects held at Al-Hol have been there, in the custody of the
Kurdish forces administering the area, for two years.
countries of origin are not in a hurry to repatriate radicalized citizens and
claim the legal framework for any returns is too weak.
few yards away, two young French women are wondering if France will allow them
to return with their children.
which has one of the largest Western contingents among jihadist ranks in Syria,
has hinted it may take back children but without their parents.
separated from our children is not an option. They are all we have left,” says
one of them, who would not give her name.
women in the camp have the same reaction but relations between the dozens of
nationalities represented in the foreign women’s section are not always easy.
in the camp
those who hail from Syria and Iraq, the two countries the “caliphate” once
straddled, the largest groups are from Russia, the former Soviet republics,
Turkey and Tunisia.
British woman says she would rather not talk to reporters for fear of
retaliation from her more radical “sisters” from central Asia.
situation is bad here. There are quarrels between sisters,” says one woman from
Trinidad and Tobago.
is also rife between the foreigners and the Syrian and Iraqi families who were
displaced by the conflict and resent the jihadists.
have been attacks against foreign women” at the camp’s main market, camp
manager Nabil Hassan said. — AFP
nurses in Iran are entangled in a web of damaging problems.
quality of nursing services and the working conditions of nurses are
categorized under social protection systems and access to public services, both
significant themes taken up by the 63rd session of the UN Commission on the
Status of Women (CSW).
nurses in Iran are stuck in an entangled web of social and economic problems
created by 40 destructive years of the mullahs’ theocratic rule.
of Iranian nurses are women and they face a plethora of problems: shortage of
work force, alternating shifts and particularly night shifts, difficulties in
attending to their families like the lack of kindergartens in a number of
medical centers especially during the night shifts, low salaries compared to
the services they provide, difficulties for pregnant nurses, restrictions on
retirement, skeletal-muscular illnesses, past due arrears, not implemented
tariffs on nursing services, the miserable state of hospitals caused by
privatization,… And the list goes on.
September 22, 2017, the total number of nursing personnel employed by the
medical sciences universities, including the personnel for operation rooms,
anesthesia, and medical emergencies, amounted to 117,639 persons which included
92,442 female nurses. The average income of female nurses is presently around
2.4 million tomans (approx. $178) but many work for 500,000 tomans ($37)
without having any insurance.
Dalvandi, the president of the National Nursing Organization, says
discrimination and injustice against the nursing community in Iran has
aggravated in the past five years. He acknowledges that the situation of nurses
in Iran is worse than the situation in Kenya and Iraq. “We need at least
another 150,000 nurses. The world standard of the ratio of nurses to hospital
beds is 1 to 8 (12.5%), while in our country this ratio is 0.7% (less than one
nurse for every 100 beds). This shows we are way below the standards.” (The
state-run Mehr news agency – January 12, 2019)
January 12, 2019, the state-run ILNA news agency reported, “The Secretary
General of the Iranian House of Nurses, said last month that due to financial
restrictions and the policy of not granting new licenses, there are 30,000
unemployed nurses in Iran. He added, “To provide adequate nursing services, we
must have four nurses for (every 1000 persons in) the population. Of course,
the world’s average is six nurses for every 1000 persons in the population. So,
if we want to have the minimum number of nurses for the 80 million population
(of Iran), we must have at least 240,000 nurses working across the country,
whereas right now, there are only 160,000 nurses who provide medical and health
shortages have led to an increase in the number of patient companies. It has
also led to overtime work and mandatory work shifts for the existing nurses.
This is a problem that the regime’s officials have essentially not paid
latest example is the new fiscal year budget allocation for recruitment of new
nurses which has been turned down. The responsibility of recruiting new nurses
is constantly being passed from one government agency to the other. This while
half of the nursing graduates remain without jobs. In some provinces, 2500
persons have graduated in recent years but only 450 of them have been
Eskandari, head of the Nursing Organization of Isfahan, has also complained of
the shortage of nurses in this province. He said, “Shortage of nurses creates
additional pressure at work, causing professional distress, increasing the
possibility of nurses making mistakes, and consequently increasing the
possibility of deaths in hospitals.” (The state-run ILNA news agency – January
nurses in Iran are not only missing their monthly salaries but are enduring
great pressure at work. Since in the end, they cannot respond to everyone’s
needs, they become directly face to face with the patients and their companies,
and are often insulted and even brutalized. Twenty-eight nurses were brutalized
in 2017, and 20 nurses have lost their lives in the past three years.
years after the mullahs’ parliament, Majlis, announced in 2007 that they have
passed an Act for Implementing Tariffs on Nursing Services and Balancing
Nurses’ Commission Fees, there has been no news of its enforcement. This is one
of the reasons for nurses’ low wages, forcing them to work consecutive shifts
of a difficult job. In this way, those who provide more than 80 percent of
medical services at a hospital do not receive their fees, when no tariffs are
defined by government officials.
chaotic situation has caused increased immigration, growing discontent, and
repeated protests by nurses without receiving any response from relevant
Sharifi Moghaddam, the General Secretary of the House of Nurses says, “Iran is
badly in need of nursing services. The government must invest in this field and
recruit its graduates in both public and private sectors. When their salaries
and commission as well as their working hours comply with international
standards, our nurses will not have to leave the country for Germany,
Australia, Canada, the U.S., and even the Persian Gulf countries.” (The
state-run ILNA news agency – January 12, 2019)
salaries in the said countries used to be three times greater than their
salaries in Iran even before the value of Rial plunging so much.
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