Afak Relizane's players attend a training session
in the Algerian city of Relizane. PHOTO: AFP
Biggest Challenge Facing Women, UN Says
Women Footballers Wave Red Card At Stigma
Leaders’ Headscarf Advice for Women ‘Attack on Freedom’: Austrian Govt
Lady Emine Erdoğan Calls to Fight Misperceptions about Muslim Women
Jewish and Muslim Women Look for Common Ground - So Israel Is off the Agenda
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Fanatic Wants Acid Poured On Woman's Face If 'She Barks Against Islam'
Malayali woman Azniya Ashmin, who hails from Kozhikode's Nadapuram, is well
known -- at least in the Kerala Facebook circle -- for being an outspoken
critic of an array of issues ranging from rampant sexism to religious
fundamentalism and extremism.
uploaded a photo of herself on Facebook, posing with three others, two men and
one other woman, on February 16 and within no time, comments started pouring
in. Captioned what translates to English as "only love", the photo
shows Ashmin sitting with friends, sporting a 'Bindi' and not wearing a Hijab.
started off as questioning Ashmin's faith in Islam and asking her whether she's
"really a Muslim", soon changed to calling her a
"prostitute" and then escalated to issuing public threats. Such
comments are often seen on photos posted by Malayali Muslim actors Asif Ali,
Fahad Faasil and Dulquer Salmaan with their wives not wearing a Hijab.
above comment translates to "aren't you a Muslim? Aren't you ashamed to
sport a bindi"?
did not hold herself back. Through sarcastic replies, she hit back at those who
are criticising her choice of lifestyle and went on to critique Islamic
fundamentalism and moral policing in general.
hurt more than an average man can take, one fellow, whose Facebook profile goes
by the name 'Muneer Dheera', threatened to pour acid in her face if she 'barks
those who can't read Malayalam, the above comment translates to, "let her
live the way she wants. If her parents don't care, why should we? But if she
barks against Islam, acid should be poured on her face. Let's see if such women
would still have people to roam around with when their faces are
credit where it's due, however, there were many Keralites who stood up for
Azniya's right to live her life the way she chooses to, and blasted those who tried
to impose religion on her.
biggest challenge facing women, UN says
York: Violence is the biggest challenge facing women around the world as
progress in gender equality is erratic and at times a baffling contradiction,
said the top official at UN Women ahead of International Women’s Day.
Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said despite decades of pushing
for equal rights, no one nation could call itself gender equal with countries
making advances in some areas yet backsliding in others.
described the global gender pay gap of 24 per cent as “the biggest robber” of
women. UN Women is launching a global coalition to tackle pay inequality during
the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women next week.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the biggest difficulty facing women is violence. One in
three women suffer physical or sexual violence during their lifetime, and half
of female murder victims are killed by partners or family members, according to
120 million girls worldwide, roughly one in 10, have experienced forced
intercourse or other sexual acts, the group says.
class and geography help some women to survive this issue differently, but
everywhere in the world the big issue of violence against women is a reality,
whether you are rich or poor, in a developed or developing country,” she said.
countries that have the highest indicators on gender equality like Iceland,
they still have to confront the issue of violence against women,” Mlambo-Ngcuka
told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
was shaken in January by the violent death of a 20-year-old woman in Reykjavik.
A crew member from a Greenlandic trawler has been arrested in connection with
a South African, has since 2013 headed the United Nations’ body charged with
promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. She was a member of
parliament in South Africa’s first democratic government and the nation’s first
female deputy president.
said global advances in women’s rights, from equal pay to boosting women in
leadership and lowering rates of violence, were spotty and unequal.
have constitutions that pride themselves in being democratic, constitutions
that define equality, but no one fights for women to be paid equally,” she
is contradictory,” she said. “How do you explain to me that Afghanistan has more
women in parliament than the Congress in the United States?”
hold 28 per cent of the seats in the Afghan parliament, compared with 19 per
cent in the US Congress, according to World Bank 2016 statistics.
cited Colombia, emerging from a 52-year civil war that killed more than 220,000
people and displaced millions, as an example of one nation moving ahead of its
Congress and rebel insurgents in November reached a peace agreement that
pledges land and property rights for women and prosecution of rapes committed
by military forces and rebel fighters.
that peace agreement, they have made really good strides that address gender
equality,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
there are countries in the neighbourhood of Colombia who have not been going
though what Colombia has been going through who have not addressed these
women footballers wave red card at stigma
When Fathia was seven years old, she would wait each day for classes to end,
throw down her schoolbag and rush to play football with the boys from her
in her twenties,
international Fathia plays for all-female club Afak Relizane, where love for
“the beautiful game” has trumped gender stereotypes and even militant threats
in the conservative yet football-mad North African nation.
Sid Ahmad Mouaz helped to launch Afak in 1997 in the middle of Algeria’s
blood-soaked civil war at a time when armed Islamists prohibited all women’s
terrorists sent me a letter demanding that I stop girls’ football,” Mouaz
he refused to be intimidated. Midfielder Fathia has gone on to triumph in multiple
domestic and regional tournaments with her club.
admits that his passion for football verges on the obsessive, but that drive
has allowed him to assemble his squad of 15, who play and train despite the
social stigma in Algeria of women playing sports.
girls have been insulted, people spit at the entrance to the stadium,” he says.
many families around Relizane, a town in Algeria’s agricultural heartland west
of the capital, even today, “a good woman doesn’t play football”.
home and make dinner”, or “find yourself a husband” are refrains heard
frequently by players, according to the coach.
squad meets at the town’s stadium for two-hour training sessions each day.
modest facilities, the sessions are intense, in keeping with Mouaz’s mantra
that his recruits must have “football in the blood”.
of the players live full-time in club accommodation, fitted out with bunk beds,
wardrobes, a television and stereo system.
cook prepares meals for the players as freshly washed kits hang drying on the
they aren’t training, they enjoy one amenity above all: Wi-Fi. The players
stare into their smartphones, earphones in, and communicate with the outside
world over Facebook.
football is an amateur sport in Algeria, with about 10 female clubs. One of the
first set up, the Relizane club encourages the girls to study or work when not
playing or training.
spite of the team’s runaway success, local parents are often reluctant to allow
their daughters to pursue football into adulthood.
proud of my daughter but I would be calmer if she stopped playing, got married
and wore the veil like other women around here,” says Fathia’s mother, Fatma.
one of the girls is approached by a suitor, the player faces the same question:
“Football or marriage?”
a striker, is getting married next month and will probably have to give up the
they’re motivated, they will continue to play even after they marry,” says
restriction is money. Despite a heaving trophy cabinet and the town pride over
its club’s successes, few locals turn out even for home games.
squad, which plays in green and white, has no sponsor or outside financing.
are no funds for a women’s football team in Relizane,” is a common complaint
club members have represented Algeria at international level but their reward
for winning a league game for Afak is the equivalent of €12 euros (Dh46.60 or
$12.7) - “a pittance”, says Mouaz.
their latest victory, a local official invited the girls for a reception in
their honour, where the players were hoping for some financial reward.
each girl received a sports bag and a tracksuit.
as one club member defiantly puts it: “Love of football is stronger than
backward attitudes, even after all that’s been done to break up this team.”
leaders’ headscarf advice for women ‘attack on freedom’: Austrian govt
government officials are criticising a recommendation by the country’s Islamic
leaders that Muslim women wear a headscarf with the onset of puberty.
minister Sebastian Kurz, who also is the country’s integration minister, says
the stance is “an attack on the freedom and self-determination of women.”
secretary Maria Duzdar says such restrictions on the freedom of women are
media reported their comments on Monday in reaction to a recommendation by the
organisation says the final decision is a woman’s to make and criticises what
it says is political interference into religious affairs.
Austrian government has prohibited full-face veils in courts, schools and other
“public places” and banned police officers, judges, magistrates and public
prosecutors from wearing headscarves earlier this year.
Lady Emine Erdoğan calls to fight misperceptions about Muslim women
is a long way to go toward resolving women's issues, but ending the
misperceptions regarding Muslim women is a key issue that needs to be
addressed, First Lady Emine Erdoğan said.
was addressing the "International Remarkable Women's Summit" held in
Istanbul, an event dedicated to historical and contemporary female figures
singled out for their activism and heroic actions.
first lady stated that for Muslims, the struggle for women's rights should
focus on building a world where women and men are viewed as "two halves of
a whole" in pursuit of social gender justice. "However, women still
face great challenges both on a national and international level. [Muslim women
in particular] have to fight an Orientalist approach. We have to be vigilant
against this misperception toward women," she said. She was referring to
the view of Muslim women as oppressed subjects of their dominating husbands,
fathers or brothers, something Muslim women or women in Muslim-majority
countries often complain about. Although a mindset that sees women as slaves
who are supposed to be confined at home still prevails in some parts of Turkey,
women's rights activists tie it to a set of warped patriarchal values not
linked to religion or culture.
fledgling women's nongovernmental organizations advocate a local approach to
resolving women's issues, a notion supported by the country's leaders, who call
for society to derive more of its views from Turkish and Islamic civilizations
that placed women first in day-to-day affairs and gave more rights to them in
comparison with Western societies. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself said
at an event in Istanbul about women's issues that theirs' was an approach that
holds women in a higher regard than men, rather than a forced equality, in
addition to criticizing the "objectification" of women.
Erdoğan said the role of women has been key, especially in the country's
struggle for independence in the early 20th century, and women have also played
a vital role in "a fair coexistence" of both genders. She said women
in Turkey have come a long way in their struggle for their rights, such as the
fight for the removal of the state's intervention into their lifestyles,
namely, a lifting of a ban on the headscarf. "We now have a strong civic
society and women have more roles in all walks of life, from media to politics,
academia to the business world, and it is a reflection of women's intelligence,
passion and personality," she said.
first lady said women's plight outweighed men's, and since the Industrial
Revolution, they were burdened with more work as they were forced to juggle
their family life with the responsibilities of work. She said the past and
ongoing conflicts were another challenge for women, who have been the most
vulnerable to problems, pointing out that the majority of Syrian refugees who
took shelter in Turkey after they fled their war-torn country were women and
their careers, women face the glass ceiling, and in their private life, it is
women who are affected most by domestic violence," Erdoğan said, noting
that she and her husband spearheaded a campaign to fight domestic violence and
violence in general targeting women. "Our campaign's motto is 'violence
towards women is a betrayal of humanitarian values,' and we seek to raise
awareness about this issue," she told the summit.
violence and the murders of women by their husbands, partners and relatives
have long been a thorn in Turkey's side and broader media coverage in recent
years has made this scar on the society even more visible.
ranging from a warped mindset justifying the killing of women breaking up with
their husbands (so-called honor killings) and being given lighter sentences are
blamed for the rising number of domestic violence cases in Turkey. Though
police protection and shelters are available for women who are threatened by
their spouses, authorities say it is difficult to prevent murders or acts of
violence through legal measures alone. The government has been working on a
plan to improve laws tackling domestic violence crimes while the Erdoğans and
other politicians pioneer efforts to raise awareness about the issue.
Erdoğan said Turkey was determined to combat "wrong practices" and
"injustice towards women in modern times" and gave the example of
mandatory education for girls, which also helped in preventing the disturbing
phenomenon of "child brides" that has plagued the country for
decades. "We have to be proactive both to resolve global and local issues
women face," she added.
Jewish and Muslim Women Look for Common Ground - So Israel Is Off the Agenda
are tough times for Britain’s Jewish and Muslim communities. Both feel under
attack, and with good reason – racial abuse, hatred and assault rates are up
amid the rising mood of nationalism sweeping Europe.
most attacks against both groups are carried out by white males, the perception
remains that relations between Jews and Muslims must be characterized by
hostility and mistrust.
difference is exacerbated by geography; we don’t live together in the same
areas,” explains veteran interfaith activist Laura Marks. “Sixty percent of
Jewish children are in Jewish schools and a third of all Jews live in five
London boroughs. The Midlands has a large Muslim population, but there’s only a
handful of Jews there so vast swaths don’t meet each other.”
and her friend Julie Siddiqi, a former executive director of the Islamic
Society of Britain, decided a new approach was needed.
set up Nisa-Nashim (“women” in Arabic and Hebrew) 18 months ago, with the idea
that women were the ones best placed to build personal and real relationships.
spirit of sisterhood was very much in evidence at the group’s inaugural
conference, in central London on Sunday: 200 Muslim and Jewish attendees
discussed hate crime, social change and interreligious marriage (interspersed
with yoga and music).
now has 17 groups across the country, with plans to set up another 10 by the
end of the year. The groups organize potluck dinners and events around
religious festivals, but the emphasis is, above all, on building personal
group has a Jewish and Muslim cochair,” says Marks. “There’s an absolute
assumption that we are partners in this.”
at the conference said such initiatives are sorely needed. Last year saw a
record number of reported incidents of anti-Semitism, reflecting an ongoing
trend. Muslims are also being targeted: the two weeks following last June’s
Brexit vote saw a fourfold increase in the number of reported anti-Muslim
attacks. Women who wear hijabs are the ones bearing the brunt of the violence.
the women come from a range of levels of observance, “there are so many
similarities between religious Jewish women and religious Muslim women,” says
Jemma Levene, deputy director of anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate.
much better educated than people think we are, and we have to navigate a
male-dominated community in the same way,” she adds.
Marks cochaired a 2011 study that found women occupied less than a quarter of
paid senior management roles in major Jewish organizations.
says she has no figures for the extent of women’s leadership in the Muslim
community – but “it’ll be worse,” she says, bluntly.
are very much in need of an overhaul,” she says. “Most don’t have women on the
boards and all the CEOs of our charities are men, too.”
the tensions, relations between Britain’s near-300,000 Jews and 2.8 million
Muslims tend to be much better than elsewhere in Europe. The two communities
have numerous common concerns – not least faith schools, circumcision and religious
slaughter – and do share best practice on an institutional level.
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