she is Dr Hadiya Asokan, says proud husband Shafin Jahan
Islamic Preachers Call For Women’s Rights, Contraception In Niger
Before Shamima Begum, Muslim Women Were Targets
of women termed vital to promotion of peace
Morocco’s Touria Chaoui, First Arab Woman Pilot
Launches Petition For Release Of Syrian Women
Leaders Call For Help Finding Thousands Of Missing Women And Children Kidnapped
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Conversion Row: Hadiya Finally Becomes a Doctor
Nearly a year after Supreme Court ‘freed’ her from confinement in her own home
and restored her marriage which was annulled by the Kerala high court in 2017,
Hadiya Asokan has successfully completed her homeopathic medicine course.
was at the centre of a major controversy following her conversion to Islam and
marriage to a Muslim man, which was finally resolved with the path-breaking
order of the Supreme Court last year.
success was announced by her husband Shafin Jahan through his Facebook and
twitter accounts on Tuesday.
shining victory is an outstanding achievement because it comes at the end of
countless prayers, relentless struggles of separation and imprisonment, love, patience
and so on. Alhamdulillah!
you reached an important destination against all odds. Very proud to address
you as ‘Doctor’,” Jahan wrote, with a picture of a smiling Hadiya with a
had to face a lot of trouble after she joined a homeopathy college in Salem
from where she became attracted to Islam through her roommates. It was during
the course that she converted to Islam and later married Jahan.
a case filed by her father K M Asokan, the high court had annulled her marriage
to Jahan and left her with her parents. This had created a major debate in the
months later, the Supreme Court restored Hadiya’s marriage and allowed her to
continue her course. Hadiya case was quoted in other major judgments in Supreme
Court such as striking down of section 377.
several attempts by TOI, Shafin Jahan refused to comment.
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
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]
progress, if any, have we made in the last decade when it comes to our
understanding of Muslim women? I found myself asking this question when the
BBC’s Bodyguard won Best New Drama last month at the National Television
Awards, having amassed 11 million viewers including 48% of audience share for
alert: the Muslim woman at the heart of the story starts out as the groomed
victim of a brutal jihadi husband, but by the end the season her character is
unmasked as the violent terrorist.
no spoiler alert is needed because these are exactly the stereotypes constantly
perpetuated about Muslim women in daily life.
probably one of the reasons the Shamima Begum case is having such a profound
impact; one dimensional stereotypes about Muslim women already run so deep.
Begum embodies this exact victim-terrorist paradox. While the former Bethnal
Green schoolgirl did join Isis, we don’t know whether she committed crimes
while in Syria, and none of us will unless she is brought to face justice.
the binary way in which her story has been framed – she is either a dangerous
public enemy and security risk covered from head to toe in her long black
clothing, audaciously demanding to be taken back to Britain, or she is a
helpless victim, tricked into marriage to a man twice her age, rape, three
pregnancies, the loss of two babies, post-natal depression and war trauma – is
unhelpful. It ignores the fact that sometimes the truth is complex and lies
somewhere between the extremes, and that is having an impact on other Muslim
women in Britain .
are already reports of abuse and hatred against Muslim women as a result of her
case. It emerged this week that a shooting range in Merseyside has been using
images of Begum as target practice. Children as young as six are welcomed at
this range and presumably even they will be allowed to fire bullets at a target
of Begum’s face. It’s as though there is an unspoken glee in suddenly being
able to revel in openly demonising a Muslim woman with impunity. A
reinterpretation of the Salem witch trials for a modern era might look like
this. I should repeat at this point - for those who will double down on their
stereotypes of Muslim women by accusing me of being a terrorist apologist -
that she should face justice, but she needs to be investigated rather than
tried in advance by assumptions as those witches once were.
our streets, on our front pages and across much of our media, in the mouths of
our politicians, at the dinner table and in even the most genteel of
establishments the stereotypes of Muslim women over the last decade persist, in
fact I’d say have become often more entrenched. They include being at once both
victim and terrorist, oppressed, ‘traditionally submissive’, unable to speak
English, brainwashed, waiting to be saved by feminists among others, lacking in
agency (but also at the same time blamed for bringing up young jihadis) .
well-meaning people feed the stereotypes with platitudes: (don’t worry, I see past
your headscarf). Others take away our agency (did your father make you marry
him?) while some simply see us as walking bombs and demand we obey their
patriarchal demands (answer my questions, and if you don’t then you must be a
jihadi). These stereotypes are incredibly resistant to change.
years ago I wrote a book Love in a Headscarf which set out to challenge
stereotypes by telling my own story. It was described in the Guardian as
hovering “somewhere between chick-lit and memoir”. As I explained in these
pages in 2009 it was an expression of how I was “fed up with reading stories in
the papers about how all Muslim women are oppressed”.
was one of the first books that explored theidea of a Muslim woman confident
but questioning of her faith, trying to find a place in a world . But ten years
on it feels like the book could be written today and would still run up against
the same stereotypical thinking.
a new cohort of Muslim women have grown up in that time. Some have entered and
started to make an impact on politics such as the eight female Muslim MPs
currently serving in the House of Commons, and more senior leaders in the House
of Lords such as Sayeeda Warsi, Meral Ece-Hussain and Nosheena Mobarik.
public figures have changed too, with Mishal Husain as one of the voices we now
wake up to on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and Fatima Manji on Channel 4 news.
Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain brings joy (and great food) to
homes around the country, and is confident and proud in describing herself as
British, Bangladeshi and Muslim.
month has seen publication of It’s Not About the Burqa, an anthology of stories
edited by Mariam Khan and written by Muslim women. It follows in the footsteps
of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write published in 2017.
These would have been unthinkable when my book came out, and I hope I helped to
lay the foundation for such writing.
media has also given a platform to young Muslim women some of whom reach
millions of people, proving the point that their stories are of interest and
while there is much to be glad about but even if it is easier in relative terms
for Muslim women to have their voices heard now, the responses are more likely
to be aggressive and even violent.
conversation about women has moved forward dramatically with movements like
#MeToo and #TimesUp. Yet the conversation about Muslim women continues to be
stuck in a groundhog day of veils, burkinis and jihadi brides. Suspicion and
dehumanisation are rarely far from the surface.
is real, and gendered Islamophobia even more so, layering anti-Muslim hatred
and misogyny together often with an unhealthy dollop of racism.
matter how hard and how constantly we challenge the hostility, discrimination,
misrepresentation and abuse we face day in and day out, being fed those
stereotypes from all sides means they have a huge impact. It’s harder for
Muslim women to get jobs. Verbal abuse and physical assault are on the rise.
All of us should be deeply alarmed.
brings joy to my heart is that Muslim women are increasingly vocal about their
rights, that their place in this society is theirs by right and they are no
longer willing to accept a meek head-down toleration.
we need to keep destroying the stereotypes and recognise that there is a
systemic problem, which roots sink deep. And until we weed the whole thing out
– instead of watering it as some of our public figures keep doing – we will not
create the kind of definitive transformation that we are trying to achieve.
means that politicians and policy makers must face up to the open and also
subtle hatreds but they must also institute structural changes which will have
means that across the media, arts and culturethose who have power over what we
view and read, from journalists to tastemakers need to take a long hard look at
who is producing their content and ensuring Muslim voices are represented. But
it requires that everyone recognises how negative stereotypes of Muslim women
have become entrenched and normalised and how prevalent verbal and physical
hostility is and to intervene against it.
by taking such difficult steps will we all be able to look back in 10 years’
time and think: this time we really did make the change.
Zahra Janmohamed is a commentator on British Islam, and is the author of Love
in a Headscarf
Speakers at a workshop here on Thursday stressed the need to empower women with
the hope that it will change the dynamics of their homes and communities and
eventually lead to promotion of peace and tolerance in the society.
event tiled ‘Dukhtaran-e-Pakistan: Role of Women in Peace-Building’ was
organised by the University of Karachi. The basic objective of the activity was
to highlight the role women can play in establishment of a peaceful and stable
society by helping counter the prevalent challenges including hatred,
extremism, violence and terrorism.
of Karachi Director Dr Balqees Gill, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Dean Dr
Iqbal Afridi, Sindh Commission on Status of Women Chairperson Dr Nuzhat Shireen,
Dr Rubina Kidwai of Agha Khan University, Islamic Research Institute Director
General Dr Ziaul Haq and University of Karachi Vice Chancellor Dr Ajmal Khan
were prominent among those who spoke on the occasion. The speakers said the
women have been awarded with great respect in Islam, as paradise is associated
with the feet of a mother, daughters are the symbol of blessing and wife is the
better half. They said women can best teach their children to work together,
live peacefully and deny all kinds of extremism.
Ahlam Ben Saga
– Today, March 1, is the 63rd anniversary of the death of a Moroccan teenager
who, despite her short life, broke all gender stereotypes and proved to the
world and herself that hard work and passion eventually pay off.
Chaoui was born in Fez in 1936 to a forward-thinking father, Abdelwahed Chaoui,
and mother named Zina.
1947, when Chaoui was 13, French film director Andre Zwoboda hired her for a
role in his film “The Seventh Gate,” at the request of her father, a
French-speaking journalist. The director was delighted at Chaoui’s performance.
moment in the movie inspired Chaoui to pursue a dream of becoming an aviator.
1950, Chaoui’s ever-supportive father enrolled her into an aviation academy in
Tit Mellil near Casablanca, the only aviation school in the country at the
time—reserved for the French forces occupying Morocco.
school provided little opportunity for native Moroccans and even less for
women. But the school accepted Chaoui’s application in hopes that she would one
day give up.
the school itself was expecting her to fail and made attempts to deter her from
participating in the aviation program, Chaoui had all the more reason to work
age 15 Chaoui became a licensed pilot, fulfilling her dream of flying a plane
while also becoming the first woman pilot in the Arab world.
her success, then Sultan Mohammed V of Morocco gave Chaoui an award at the
royal palace. Ever since, Chaoui made headlines in international newspapers and
captured the attention of high-ranking personalities.
a successful Moroccan woman and at a very young age in the 1950s had a price.
Some wanted to make Chaoui fail, and some wanted her dead.
belief is that the French colonizers tried to murder her several times.
to Moroccan historian Abdul Haq Almareni, a French colonizer put a bomb near
the door of her villa, but his plan somehow failed. In 1955, two French
policemen also shot at Chaoui but their aim was off, said Almareni.
March 1, 1956, Chaoui was preparing to fly her private plane to Saudi Arabia
when she was assassinated.
of Chaoui’s death shocked Moroccans and many in the Arab world who loved and
had great aspirations for her.
not many know Touria Chaoui’s name, her remarkable confidence and persistence
to succeed, or her inspiring yet tragic story.
the world prepares to celebrate Women’s Day on March 8 and the achievements of
women, it is fitting to remember Touria Chaoui’s accomplishments as inspiration
for all women who aspire to fly higher than any obstacle.
international non-governmental organization launched a petition Thursday
demanding the immediate release of women and children imprisoned by the Syrian
the signatures reach a sufficient number, the petition will be presented to the
United Nations as well as the Turkish, Russian and Iranian governments for
their endeavors within the Astana process to achieve peace in Syria, said Murat
Yilmaz, spokesman for the Conscience Movement, in an exclusive interview with
that the signatures would help raise awareness of the plight of these Syrian
women and children, he said there has been no other state or body that has
seriously highlighted or worked on the issue.
the leaders of the countries carrying out the Astana process are determined on
this issue, we hope that all women and children will be unconditionally
released from these prisons," Yilmaz said, referring to Turkish President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President
campaign can be supported on the Conscience Movement’s official website at
vicdanhareketi.org, which is available in six languages.
Conscience Movement is an alliance of individuals, rights groups and
organizations aiming to secure urgent action for the release of women and
children in the prisons of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.
Astana process, spearheaded by Turkey, Russia and Iran, has been successful in
establishing a cease-fire in Syria and led to the creation of de-escalation
zones throughout the war-torn country.
to the initiative’s statement, more than 13,500 women have been jailed since
the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, while more than 7,000 women remain in
detention, where they are subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence.
noted that the initiative had several activities planned before International
Women’s Day on March 8 in Turkey as well as other countries, including the
Philippines and Venezuela, to support those women and children who are
languishing in Syrian prisons.
releases will be issued, dialogue with decision makers will be established,
various activities with human rights organizations will be carried out,"
he said, underlining that Syrian women who had previously suffered in such
prisons and have now been released would also lend their support.
March 8, simultaneous actions will take place across the world," he said,
adding multiple social media campaigns were set to continue.
said the initiative's main event in Turkey will be a press release at
Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square at 2:30 local time (11:30GMT).
goal is to carry out this work [of the initiative] until the last woman and
child detained in Assad's prisons are free," he added.
Conscience Movement is an international initiative founded last year after an
all-woman international convoy made global headlines by raising awareness of
the abuses suffered by women jailed by the Assad regime.
Feb. 20, the international initiative held a conference in Istanbul that drew
participants from 45 countries, including Syria, Britain, South Africa,
Ecuador, Qatar, Kenya, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Greece,
Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia.
the conference, the participants called on the global community to take urgent
action to secure the release of women and children held in Syrian prisons.
has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early
2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected
to UN figures, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced
in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes in opposition-held areas.
tribal leaders and organisations have called on the international community to
do more to investigate the fate of thousands of women and children still
missing after being kidnapped by Isis.
from the small religious minority have been rescued over the last few months as
the Isis caliphate has been reduced to a small patch of land in the eastern
Syrian village of Baghouz. But more than 3,000 are still unaccounted for, and
with the battle nearly over, time is running out to find answers.
discovery of a mass grave on the edge of the village this week, in an area
recently recaptured from Isis, has raised fears that many of the missing may
not have not survived their captivity. An investigation is currently under way
into who the victims were.
call on the coalition forces, namely the US and all other troops that fight
Isis under the leadership of the coalition, to discover the destiny of victims
and help to return the prisoners soon,” said a statement from the Yazidi leaders,
according to the news website Kurdistan 24.
also call on the Foreign Ministry of Iraq to shoulder the responsibility it has
on its citizens to search for the Yazidi girls and return the bodies of the
martyrs or their remains through their relations with the concerned
governments,” it added.
mass grave found a few days ago contains the remains of men and women, but the
total number of victims is unclear.
is still underway to determine their nationality and the manner of
killing," said Adnan Afrin, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces.
He added that they were looking into reports that they may be Yazidis or Isis
years now, Yazidi groups have called for more efforts to be made to rescue
is outrageous that thousands of our women and girls have been missing since
2014 and it has not been a priority or main area of discussion with the Global
Coalition and the international community," said Pari Ibrahim, founder of
the Free Yazidi Foundation.
can understand that this is a war zone situation, and because of that, maybe
locating and rescuing the women is very difficult. So we understand and
appreciate that," she told The Independent. "But we still feel that
this should have been considered important and necessary. Instead, our women
and girls were being tortured in excruciating agony, month after month, year
the summer of 2014, shortly after Isis declared its caliphate, the group
carried out a murderous rampage against the Yazidi people in their traditional
homeland in northern Iraq.
attackers killed thousands, and took more than 6,000 women and children as
slaves. The UN would later declare the attack on Sinar, and the ongoing
enslavement of Yazidi women, a genocide.
of thousands fleeing to the top of Mount Sinjar prompted the US to launch its
first airstrikes against Isis, paving the way for the creation of an
international coalition to destroy the group’s caliphate.
five years later, that battle is almost over. The caliphate is now little more
than a field of tents, where only the most hardened fighters remain.
the past two months, tens of thousands of civilians have fled the shrinking
territory. Yazidi captives, who had been unable to flee for years, have been
leaving with civilians.
this week, Reuters reported two young Yazidi girls leaving Baghouz on a truck
with phone numbers written on their arms. And a group of 11 Yazidi boys left
the territory and taken back to Iraq after years in captivity.
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