women from Parkour Egypt "PKE" practice their parkour skills around
buildings on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah
Is Islamic Veil,’ Turkish Televangelist Oktar Tells Police
Women Challenge Social Norms by Practicing Parkour
against Women at Centre of Debate on Landmark Bill In Iran
Women Actively Participated In Protests in Tehran and Borazjan
Elections: 10 Million Women Over 18 to Miss Chance to Vote
Support Triple Talaq Bill If Alimony Provision Added, Says Congress Women’s
in Khyber Fail To Reach Out To Women Voters
Activists Call For Stringent Laws to Stop Premature Marriages
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Assigns Women Marriage Notaries for First Time
The Moroccan Ministry of Justice announced that it is recruiting 299 women as
legal marriage notaries for the first time in the country, a profession that
has hereto been reserved for men.
also typically handle inheritance issues, divorce and guardianship cases in
addition to marriage contracts. This was because under Shariah, a woman's
testimony is equal to half that of a man.
King, Mohammad VI, pronounced a decree this year that allows women across the
country to carry out several duties under Shariah such as documenting witness
testimony in courts, handling family cases and real estate transactions.
royal decree, which also opened the position of marriage notaries to women, was
a step towards the fight against all laws that discriminate against the gender
in February criminalised female harassment, and a presidential commission put
forward a draft of liberal reforms, which includes equal inheritance rights for
2004, Morocco removed the legal obligation that called for a male guardian for
every woman, and established the minimum age for marriage at eighteen. It also
made it easier for women to get a divorce and gain child custody.
2007, a royal decree allowed a child to inherit the Moroccan nationality and
register them under her name if there was no father in the picture.
Morocco was among the first Arab countries to cancel a rape-marriage law that
allowed rapists to escape prosecution if they married their victims.
controversial Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar, who was arrested by an
Istanbul court on July 19, told the police that a “bikini is an Islamic veil.”
Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi published a number of quotes from Oktar’s
defence in an article on July 23 in which the televangelist denied dozens of
criminal charges against him, and instead preaching on his group’s peculiar
interpretation of Islam.
where a bikini covers is enough for Islamic veiling. Because this is how it was
described in the Quran,” Oktar reportedly told the police.
also claimed that Islam only forbids wine as an alcoholic drink, while
permitting others including vodka and whiskey.
televangelist and his followers reportedly decreased the number of Islamic
daily prayers from five to two, while significantly shortening each session as
hosts talk show programs on his television channel, A9, on which he has
discussed Islamic values and sometimes danced with young women he calls
“kittens” and sang with young men, who he calls his “lions.”
Coup plotters will hang Erdoğan
his police interrogation, Oktar stressed he has been supporting the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to Selvi.
told police he instructed his kittens to hit the streets with Turkish flags in
the aftermath of the 2016 coup attempt [to show their support for President
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan],” the Hürriyet columnist wrote.
a police officer reminded him of his words on the night of the coup attempt,
predicting that ‘they would hang Tayyip,’” Selvi added.
police launched an operation on July 11 to detain Oktar and 234 of his
followers for over 30 charges, including forming a criminal gang, sexual abuse
of children, and fraud.
televangelist denied all charges, claiming his arrest was “a conspiracy by the
British deep state.”
2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation under his pen-name Harun Yahya, arguing
that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism.
He has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, his channel
says on its website.
A group of Egyptian women gather at an abandoned park in a Cairo suburb once a
week, climbing walls and jumping around in the strenuous physical discipline
known as Parkour, while also challenging the country’s conservative social
in France in the 1980s as the Art du Deplacement and later taking its name from
the French word ‘parcours’ (course or route), Parkour involves running,
climbing and jumping acrobatically around buildings and over terrain.
women have trained every week for the past six months with the eventual aim of
forming the first professional Parkour team in Egypt.
women took part in last Friday’s training, which focused on building upper body
strength and different methods of dealing with surroundings.
crowds, accustomed to women taking a low profile in Egypt, often congregate to
watch the training, sometimes taking pictures and filming. But the women keep
up the training unhindered, insisting that no sport is exclusive for men.
is natural that people did not accept it because they were not used to it,”
said Zayneb Helal, one of the players.
did not accept the idea that girls could play sports, let alone on the street,”
is uncommon for women to play such sports on the streets in Egypt. A 2017
Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of experts on how women fared in mega cities
rated Cairo as the world’s most dangerous megacity for women, while London came
out as best.
by coach Mohamed Omran, women train hard on climbing obstacles, landing
correctly after jumps and seeing opportunities in buildings around them.
are now training and more women are starting to come,” Omran said. “As the
sport spreads the acceptance of women training increases and it is not unusual
for women to have a team and train,” he added.
is played by men in Egypt but the sport is neglected and has no regulatory
body. Parkour Egypt, a group that comprises men and women, has grown
exponentially after starting off with a handful of players.
year Britain became the first country officially to recognize Parkour as a
needs more time to evolve and the sport needs to spread more so that people
would learn about it,” Helal said.
since we started our term, we have been waiting for this bill," said
Iranian parliamentarian Tayyebeh Siavoshi of the Provision of Security for
Women Bill, which expands the legal definition of violence against women.
"Both we and the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs have
repeatedly asked the judiciary to send this bill to the parliament. It has been
almost three years and we have yet to receive this bill.”
parliamentarians originally discussed the importance of drafting this bill back
in December 2012, during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s last year in office.
After President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, following up on this
bill became a priority of the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs.
Rouhani administration eventually approved the bill in May 2017. Then, due to
its judicial nature, the bill was sent to the judiciary for approval. Since
then, the bill has been awaiting the signature of judiciary head Sadeq Amoli
Siavoshi says the judiciary has omitted 41 of the 92 articles of the bill.
According to her, the judiciary finished reviewing the bill four months ago.
Iranian women’s rights activist, going by the alias Leili, told Al-Monitor,
“The bill contains extensive definitions of violence: physical violence, mental
violence, economic violence, gender violence and social violence. For example,
if a man restricts his wife’s or daughter’s freedom of movement, he will face
imprisonment. Even verbal violence, such as insults, are deemed punishable
added, “Such articles in the bill have been criticized and are being omitted since
they question the validity of Islamic law regarding women obeying their
husbands. The judiciary has reservations regarding this bill.”
same activist believes that omitting these articles will make the bill
ineffective, even if it is approved. “It appears that the text of the bill
awaiting approval differs from the one that was suggested by the Vice
Presidency for Women and Family Affairs," said Leili. "The text of
this bill now only talks about physical violence against women, an offense
which is already punishable due to the scattered nature of criminal law in
judiciary’s deputy for legal affairs, Zabihollah Khodaian, said in an April 18
interview with the Tasnim News Agency that “vast criminalization” is the reason
why certain articles were omitted from this bill. He then explained, “Some
articles in this bill have come up, on average, with 20 new crimes, and since
the terminology and wording are ambiguous and can be interpreted in many
different ways, they cover a wide range of cases.”
judiciary’s cultural deputy, Hadi Sadeghi, said June 27 that there is extensive
usage of imprisonment as punishment in the bill. He said that while the bill
claims to support women, “in reality it deals a big blow to women and family
life. When a woman sends her husband to jail, the husband will no longer think
of himself as her husband and will no doubt divorce her.”
Jafari, a legal expert working for the Iranian judiciary, said four groups of
experts have worked for four years to prepare the bill.
has come under criticism from other women. Zahra Ayatollahi, head of the
Women’s Cultural and Social Council — a branch of the Supreme Council of the
Cultural Revolution — said the bill “defends prostitutes.” Ayatollahi said in a
December 2017 editorial in the hard-line Kayhan daily that “this bill is
clearly gender-biased and unconditionally defends women. It does not at all
address the existence of violence by women against men. … Imagine where our
society is headed: Islamic Iran is headed for the same gutter that the West has
found itself in.”
of parliament Parvaneh Salahshouri said the bill might be sent to Iran’s
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even though the women’s faction in
parliament and the vice president for legal affairs are waiting for the
judiciary to make a decision on the proposal. “We have heard [of such a
possibility] … but we cannot be sure," she told Etemad Online on July 3.
"This would be an unprecedented action."
week before Salahshouri’s interview, Khamenei's website published the text of a
conversation between the head of the judiciary, other judiciary officials and
the supreme leader, during which the latter said that following the 1979
Islamic Revolution, "One of the students asked me about women’s issues and
asked me how we would defend our position regarding women. I answered that we
are not defending anything! We are not defenders, we are attackers! What is
there to defend? When it comes to women’s issues, we are the plaintiff!”
President for Women’s and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar spoke with the Etemad
daily July 7 regarding the possibility that the bill will not advance due to
opposition from Islamic jurists. “One of the issues that we talked about during
the session we had with the supreme leader was the issue of domestic violence,
the importance of paying attention to it, and the importance of drafting law
that would prevent domestic violence from taking place," she said.
"The supreme leader also emphasized the importance of this issue.”
said she has only “heard” that the bill might be sent to Khamenei. “We,
nonetheless, expect answers from the head of the judiciary," she said.
"The administration is also waiting and is following up on this issue. All
I hope is that we are not wasting time.”
is next for the bill? Leili said fellow activists believe that, considering the
current trajectory, “this bill might not make it under this term of the
the other hand, we are hoping that the [parliamentary] women’s faction will strongly
and seriously react to all the changes that are made to this bill. The
judiciary should not be the only influential voice regarding this bill; civil
society and those whose lives are going to be affected must have a say as
year, on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against
Women, a group of activists in Iran launched a campaign titled
"Prohibiting Domestic Violence Against Women." This campaign is
currently preparing a legal draft to combat domestic violence against women,
with the collaboration of civil society activists and lawyers. Leili, who is a
member of this campaign, told Al-Monitor, “We want to raise awareness in
society so that people will learn how important it is to pass laws that will
protect women. According to one survey that was conducted back in the 1980s,
66% of Iranian women have been, at least once, subjected to domestic violence.
This is while there are no [current] laws that protect women against such
women actively participated in protests taking place in Tehran, Mashhad, and
Sunday, July 22, 2018, a large number of Iranian women actively participated in
the protest of the retirees outside the mullahs’ parliament while another group
of retired women and men held their protest outside the Planning and Budget
Organization in Tehran.
another part of the capital, the retired workers of the Steel Industry gathered
outside the Steel Industry’s Retirement Fund building to demand their non-paid
pensions. Retired Steel Industry employees joined the protest in Tehran from
Kerman in the south, Mobarake and Isfahan in central Iran, Mashhad and Tabas in
the northeast, Semnan and Shahrood in central north of Iran, and Sangrood in
northern Iran. Iranian women actively participated in this protest, too.
the same day, a group of retired personnel of the Education Department,
gathered in protest outside the Governor’s Office in Mashhad for their unpaid
protest to their employment status, a group of teaching assistants of the
Literacy Movement held a protest outside the parliament and burned their
mission slips. Both women and men participated in the act and then marched
towards the Planning and Budget Organization. Again, Iranian women actively
participated in this protest.
the water crisis in various cities across the country, residents of the
southern districts of Borazjan in Bushehr Province, blocked Borazjan-Ahrom
road, on Sunday, July 22, 2018. The crisis has made them desperate. A woman
showed her empty bottle and said, “It has been 10 days that we have no water in
the Valfajr region.”
many villages in southern Iran receive their water by tankers. In the past
weeks, the residents of Borazjan have repeatedly taken to the streets to
protest against lack of potable water.
March, April, May and June, Iranian women actively participated in at least 238
protests in various cities across the country.
Pakistan is going to the polls on July 25, 2018 and the impending vote has
stirred not only political workers and candidates into a great frenzy but the
general public too appears highly polarised.
conviction of former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim
League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law
Mohammad Safdar has politicised the masses “for” and “against” the Sharifs. According
to independent analysts, the surcharged political scene seems to have pulled
the masses into its orbit as never before.
Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, too, is no
exception and is being criticised for capitalising on Nawaz Sharif’s conviction
and failing to project development works in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where his party
remained in power from 2013 to 2018.
this backdrop, the upcoming elections are being dubbed as the mother of all
elections and a game changer for the future of the country. But at the same
time, these elections are no different from 2013 with regard to the
participation of women voters. According to one estimate, over 10 million women
above 18 years of age are going to miss out on their right to vote in these
polls thus leaving a big question mark on the authenticity and veracity of the
entire process of electioneering.
to 2017 census, women make up half of the country’s 200 million population but
the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) statistics show that
out of 97 million registered voters, only 43 million are women, while 55.6
million are male voters. Thus the gender electoral gap stands at 12.5 million,
which speaks volumes for the government’s incompetence in helping bring women
into the mainstream. In the 2013 elections, the gender electoral gap was 10.97
CEO of the Free And Fair Election Network (Fafen), Mudassir Rizvi, says Article
25 of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all citizens
without discrimination between men and women. He was of the view that
increasing women’s participation in every aspect of Pakistan’s elections — as
candidates, voters, election officials, polling agents, security officials and
in every other role — is essential for meaningful and credible elections that
represent the will of the people.
are a number of factors involved in keeping women out of the election process.
One limiting factor is that they often don’t possess valid Computerised National
Identity Cards (CNIC), a must for casting one’s vote. For a woman living in a
tribal area or in Balochistan, getting a CNIC can be quite an ordeal.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in the Dir and Swat regions, there are
complaints that women are not being encouraged to register their vote and this
decision is often taken by male folk acting by consensus.
Balochistan, interior Sindh and southern Punjab’s tribal belt also don’t
provide a conducive environment to women to exercise their right to vote. The
feudal system existing in Punjab’s southern parts is yet another hindrance to
women’s participation in the election process.
to Gulf News, Additional Director General (Gender Affairs) of the Election
Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Nighat Siddique, admitted that, as per rough
estimates, more than 12.70 million women across the country were not on the
ECP, with its limited resources and less than 2,000 staff members all over the
country is in no position to do a door-to-door survey.
she said that the ECP has, in the last four months, with the help of Nadra and
organisations like Pattan, Fafen and civil society groups, launched a campaign
in all the 103 districts of the country and sent data of 1.6 to 1.7 million
women to Nadra and helped them register as voters. She called upon the public
representatives, particularly the suspended lady councillors, to “now convince
those voters to exercise their right of vote.”
was pointed out by the lady representatives of Islamabad that awareness was a
serious issue even in the federal capital and, in all the 50 Union Councils of
Islamabad, a large number of women were not registered as voters despite the
fact that they possessed valid CNICs.
chief of the Congress women’s wing has said the party would support the instant
triple talaq bill if the Centre includes a provision of alimony. All India
Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party
government was trying to strike a quid pro quo with the passing of the Muslim
Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill and the women’s reservation bill.
were never against the instant triple talaq bill. But the bill, in its present
form, would be harmful to the interests of the Muslim women. It should have a
provision of alimony for the victim,” Dev said. “I tabled an amendment in the
Lok Sabha for the provision of alimony in the bill, but it did not get passed.
If the amendment is accepted, then we would definitely support the bill,” she
said the aim of the bill was to ensure justice for the Muslim women and end the
practice of instant triple talaq. “But what will happen to the livelihood of
the women if their husbands go to jail?” she asked, adding that this aspect
should be kept in mind. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage)
Bill, 2017, was passed in the Lok Sabha, but is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Monday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, asking him to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the
Monsoon Session of Parliament.
day later, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responded to the letter with
a “new deal” of equality and adequate representation by joining hands to pass
the bills on women’s reservation, instant triple talaq and nikah halala. “The
government is indulging in dealings. Did they say in their manifesto that they
would pass both the bills together? We didn’t have the majority. But they have
a clear majority. If the Congress and BJP both support the women’s reservation
bill, then it can be passed,” Dev added.
KOTAL: With the election campaign coming to a close throughout the country,
candidates for the two National Assembly seats in Khyber tribal district have
failed to a great extent to convey their message to women voters.
for a lone corner meeting within the four walls of a private house in Jamrud
organised by women workers of PPP, none of the other candidate in any of the
two constituencies -- NA-43 and NA-44 -- could arrange a gathering of female
voters in any part of Khyber region during the last few weeks of their election
the candidates and their supporters exhausted their energies while organising
‘all-male’ gatherings and rallies with very little mention of resolving issues
confronted by the womenfolk of the region.
having political affiliations and independents confessed in their conversation
with Dawn that they failed in reaching out to the women electorates in both
constituencies due to social and cultural taboos.
of them said that they urged their male supporters to carry along their
campaign messages and election manifestos with them when they went home after
attending campaign rallies and gatherings and share the same with their female
members of family.
had engaged female members of their families to conduct a door-to-door campaign
in their respective areas but that too in a restricted manner. Election
Commission of Pakistan has made it mandatory to get a minimum of 10 per cent
female vote for the successful candidate in any constituency.
rule of ECP is discrimination against the people of tribal regions as women
participation in election campaigns and polling their votes is considered
against the tribal norms and traditions,” MMA candidate for NA-43 Mufti Ejaz
told this scribe when he was asked about lack of female participation in
however, quickly added that his party or MMA was not against women
participation in such affairs but women in those areas were not politically
unlike the past, none of the candidates, tribal elders or political
organisations in Khyber region has openly or clandestinely reached an agreement
to bar women voters from exercising their right to vote on July 25.
Khan, an independent candidate for NA-44, acknowledged the importance of women
participation in electoral process but insisted that making direct contacts
with the female voters was ‘an uphill task’ for him and his team.
said that their only source to convey their message to female voters was their
men relatives. “We try our best to educate male voters about conveying our
manifesto to the female voters of their families,” he said, adding that a
two-year long ban on mobile internet was another hurdle to them to reach to
Faisal of JI and Hazrat Wali of PPP, however, argued that women activists of
their parties were engaged in limited capacity to make contacts with female
voters by conducting door-to-door campaign.
Shinwari, a medical student, said that she along with her two sisters and other
women relatives would cast vote on July 25 despite an ‘all-male’ election
Afridi and Mamanrra Afridi, two activists of a political party, were also not
happy with ignoring thousands of female voters by the candidates during their
campaign. They said that not only they were deprived of active participation in
electioneering, but none of the candidate made the resolution of their problems
a part of the election manifesto.
Akbar, a resident of Tirah, told Dawn by telephone that although no
restrictions were imposed on women to poll their votes, yet most of their
womenfolk would stay away from voting on July 25 due to their complete
ignorance about the election process.
RIGHTS defenders are calling for legal actions and a legal amendment to tackle
the increasing number of “premature” marriages throughout the country. Such marriages
harm the children involved, say the activists.
Thais were shocked to hear of a marriage ceremony held in Thailand in mid-June
between a 41-year-old Malaysian imam and an 11-year-old Thai girl. “This isn’t
just a marriage, but may be child abuse,” Angkhana Neelapaijit, Commissioner of
the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, said yesterday. An unofficial medical examination report from
Malaysia suggested signs of sexual intercourse had taken place “several years”
before the marriage, she said.
abuse is a criminal offence. Authorities, along with religious leaders, must
come forward to protect the child,” she said, and added that Narathiwat’s
governor as well as police investigators must also intervene. “Thailand has promised the world it will stop
child brides,” Angkhana said. Thailand is bound by Article 16 of the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women to outlaw child
marriage. Collecting fees “All Malaysian men crossing the border to have their
marriages held in Thailand must pay marriage fees,” Angkhana said. But the problem is much wider than this one
case. Thailand has one of the highest rates of youth marriages in the region,
with Unicef figures showing one of every seven Thai teen aged 15 to 19 being
married. Premature marriage in Thailand
occurs for many reasons, including cultural and economic. While the legal age
of marriage is 18, the Thai Civil Code allows parents to approve marriage at
age 17, and younger with a court’s permission.
An exception is made for the four predominantly Muslim provinces of
Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun where girls can get married after
menstruation – which usually occurs at around 12 – under Islamic law. “While
some progressive Muslim communities want to set a clear standard [for a minimum
marriage age], some religious leaders who benefit from organising these
marriages don’t want to change and they use religious faith as their
explanation,” Sanphasit said. “This has
led to many Malaysian men exploiting the loopholes to marry children,” he said.
In Malaysia, a religious court must approve a marriage involving a Muslim girl
under age 16. Gary Risser, chief of
child protection for Unicef Thailand, said he wanted to see the government set
a clear standard. He encouraged religious leaders to engage with the issue.
“Evidence around the world shows that child marriage is harmful to children in
the long run. We need to work together towards finding solutions,” he said.
Risser said Thailand had the second-highest rate of premature marriage in
Southeast Asia, after Laos. He noted that some countries, including Malaysia,
do not report marriage data. Also, one in seven (14.1 per cent) of Thai females
aged 15-19 were married or in a union, according to Unicef’s Multiple Indicator
Cluster Survey for 2015-16.
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