Appoints Sunni Woman as Ambassador to Brunei
Talaq Bill Anti-Women, Says Women's Wing of AIMPLB
Kurdish Iraq, Women Strive To End Genital Mutilation
Women Appointed As Deputies in Various District Municipalities Of Kabul
Terror to Triumph: a Young Rohingya Woman's Journey to the Impossible
MPs, Lawyers Request Visit to Detained Saudi Activists
Fortification Must For Healthy Women, Children’
second worst on Gender Equality
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Woman in A Hijab Hailed After She Was Pictured Helping the Victims of the Suspected
Terror Attack in Manchester
woman in a hijab has been hailed after she was pictured helping the victims of
the suspected terror attack in Manchester.
profile solicitor Nazir Afzal said the woman was “far more reflective” of the
Muslim community than the attacker, after three people were stabbed at
Manchester Victoria station on New Year’s Eve. A suspect was alleged to have
shouted Islamist slogans as he was bundled into a police van.
commuters, a woman and man in their 50s, as well as a British Transport Police
officer, were knifed in the attack. The woman in the hijab was pictured
comforting the pair of commuters, with her arm around the female victim. Two
other members of the public, as well as two police officers, were also pictured.
Afzal said: “Awful news but Manchester has shown how it responds to those who
try to divide us.
woman with hijab helping victims is far more reflective of Muslims than the
idiot with a knife.
a speedy recovery to those harmed.”
Twitter user responded: “The woman in the hijab shows the caring side of
humanity and reflects well on the reality of the Muslim community. She deserves
said: “Reading reports about the Victoria Station attack and got to say the only
photo that should go viral is of the Muslim lady wearing a hijab helping the
victims. Good people exist. We can’t let the actions of a few taint our view of
Jake Simons added: “This woman in the hijab helping the victims of the Manchester
attack, as well as all the police and bystanders who jumped in, shows why we
will win and they will lose. Makes you proud.”
confirmed on Tuesday that they are treating the “frenzied” attack as being
man, 25, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
on Tuesday afternoon, officers raided a newly built semi-detached house in
Cheetham Hill, a mile north of the city centre where the attack happened.
Manchester Police is continuing to appeal for video footage of the incident,
which happened a short distance from the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack.
Rigi has been appointed as Iran’s ambassador to Brunei, Vice President Ershaq
Jahangiri announced on Tuesday.
has served as the governor of Qasr-e Qand city since 2014. She had also served
as the head of the welfare department of Chabahar.
was Iran's first Sunni female governor since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
announced her new appointment during a visit to Qasr-e Qand city, where he
described her as among the successful governors in President Hassan Rouhani's
was among a number of female governors appointed by Rouhani in a bid to further
empower women in political and economic domains.
is the third woman to serve as an ambassador, following Marzieh Afkham and
Parvin Farshchi, who were appointed as Iran's ambassadors to Malaysia and
The women's wing of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Tuesday alleged
that the triple talaq bill is anti-women and asked Rajya Sabha members to send
it to a Select Committee for legal scrutiny.
'Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on marriage) Bill, 2018' may break
marriages rather than empowering women and causes a direct blow to the family
system and the institution of marriage, the wing's chief organiser Asma Zohra
said in a release here.
Bill has been brought forward to "empower Muslim women", but its provisions
defeat its very purpose, she alleged.
women will not get anything from this Bill. Instead she is left abandoned...deserted. Her condition will
become more miserable," Zohra said.
said that in any criminal case, it is the magistrate who decides the granting
of bail, not the victim.
a mere allegation of the wife, the husband is jailed. This is against criminal
jurisprudence," it said.
said it is an irony that there is freedom in this country for men and women to
have pre-marital, extra-marital and even multiple relationships.
of Section 377 was an example of freedom in personal and civil matters, she
said and sought to know why a Muslim man is then penalised for divorce.
pointed out that the AIMPLB had time and again stated that pronouncing triple
talaq in one sitting is not the standard procedure of divorce and those
practising it should face social boycott.
was no need of this Bill after the Supreme Court judgement invalidating triple
talaq. It has been brought with political and communal motives to divide
society," she said.
opposition to the Bill, the women's wing urged the Rajya Sabha members to send
it to Select Committee for "legal scrutiny".
Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha last week,hit a hurdle in the Rajya Sabha Monday
as the Congress-led Opposition insisted on sending it to the House Select
Committee for further scrutiny, which the government did not agree to.
Saghira (Iraq), Jan 2 (AFP) Dark skies were threatening rain over an Iraqi
Kurdistan village, but one woman refused to budge from outside a house where
two girls were at risk of female genital mutilation.
know you’re home! I just want to talk,” called out Kurdistan Rasul, 35, a pink
headscarf forming a sort of halo around her plump features.
many, she is an angel: an Iraqi Kurdish activist with the non-profit WADI on a
crusade to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM).
in which a girl or woman’s genitals are cut or removed, was once extremely
common in the Kurdish region, but WADI’s campaigning has chipped away at the
who herself was cut at a young age, is helping to eradicate FGM in the village
of Sharboty Saghira, east of regional capital Arbil.
has visited 25 times, challenging its imam on perceptions FGM is mandated by
Islam and warning midwives about infections and emotional trauma.
morning, she used the mosque’s minaret to vaguely invite villagers to discuss
eight women entered the mosque, she patiently described FGM’s dangers.
the end, a thin woman approached Rasul and said her neighbour was planning to
mutilate her two toddlers.
sent Rasul clambering up the muddy pathway to the house, first knocking then
frantically demanding to be allowed in.
the door remained shut.
are changing people’s convictions. That’s why it’s so hard,” Rasul told AFP,
reluctantly walking away.
appears to have been practiced for decades in Iraq’s Kurdish region, usually
known for more progressive stances on women’s rights.
are usually between four and five years old but are impacted for years by
bleeding, extremely reduced sexual sensitivity, tearing during childbirth, and
procedure can prove fatal, with some girls dying from blood loss or infection.
years of campaigning, Kurdish authorities banned FGM under a 2011 domestic
violence law, slapping perpetrators with up to three years in prison and a
roughly USD 80,000 fine.
numbers have dropped steadily since.
2014, a UN children’s agency (UNICEF) survey found 58.5 per cent of women in
the Kurdish region had been mutilated.
year, UNICEF found a lower rate: 37.5 per cent of girls aged 15-49 in the
Kurdish region had undergone FGM.
compares with less than one percent across the rest of Iraq, which has no FGM
cut me, I was hurt and cried,” said Shukriyeh, 61, of the day her mother
mutilated her more than 50 years ago.
was just a child. How could I be angry at my mother?” Shukriyeh’s six
daughters, the youngest of whom is 26, have all been cut too. But with so much
campaigning against FGM, they have declined to do the same to their girls.
ago, 38-year-old Zeinab allowed female relatives to cut her eldest daughter,
was so scared that I stayed far away and came to wash her after they cut her,”
she recalled, squirming.
WADI’s sessions, she protected her other two daughters from mutilation.
the time I accepted (it), but now I wouldn’t. Yes, I regret it. But what can I
do now?” Rasul told AFP it was hard to combat a form of gender-based violence
that women themselves practiced.
men and women agree FGM should stop. But after we leave a village, older women
talk to them and tell them: ‘be careful, that NGO wants to spread problems,'” she
2014 survey found 75 per cent of women saw their own mothers as the most
supportive of cutting.
tell these women: this is violence that you’re carrying out with your own hands
— women against women,” said Rasul.
proximity has also made FGM victims less likely to seek justice.
2011 law isn’t being used because girls won’t file a complaint against their
mothers or fathers,” said Parwin Hassan, who heads the Kurdish Regional
Government’s anti-FGM unit.
has wanted to work on the issue since she narrowly escaped it: her mother
pulled her away from their midwife after a last-minute change of heart.
been working on women’s issues since 1991, but this is the most painful for me.
why I promised to eradicate it completely,” she told AFP.
said Kurdish authorities would unveil a strategy next year to strengthen the
2011 law and carry out more awareness campaigns.
for its part, the UN expects it can better fight FGM in 2019, partly due to the
reduced threat posed by the Islamic State group.
IS emerged in 2014, UN agencies scrambled to deal with displaced families and
combat operations, said UNICEF gender-based violence specialist Ivana
that the acute emergency is over, we can regroup to have that final push
towards making FGM a thing of the past everywhere in Iraq,” she told AFP.(AFP)
Municipality of Kabul has appointed women as deputies in eleven various
district municipalities of the capital.
Jalil Sultani, a spokesperson for the Municipality of Kabul said the eleven
women have qualified to be appointed as deputies after passing an open contest
which was organized by the Independent Directorate of Administrative Reforms
and Civil Services.
said the main purpose of appointing women as deputies in the district
municipalities of the capital is to ensure further role and contribution of
women in the municipality of the capital.
to Kabul Municipality, Wahida Samadi has been appointed as deputy municipal
chief for the first district of the city. She is a graduate of the faculty of
psychology and has completed courses in the fields of management and
administration in the United States.
Mahan has been appointed as deputy municipal chief of the 2nd district of the
city. She has completed her Bachelors and Masters degree in the reputable
higher education institutions of Kabul.
Hajizada has been appointed as deputy municipal chief of the 11th district of
Kabul. She has completed her higher education in the field of administration
and management from the faculty of economy and has work experience in various
organizations including UN Habitat.
Eng. Habiba Sadeqi has been appointed as deputy municipal chief for the 6th
district of the city. She has obtained her Masters degree in the field of
renewable energy from India and Bachelors degree in Polytechnic University of
to Kabul Municipality, Fahima Behzad has been appointed as deputy municipal
chief of the 17th district of the city. She has completed her higher education
in the field of religious studies in Kabul University.
Haseen has been appointed as the deputy municipal chief for the 5th district of
the city. She is a graduate of medical faculty and has obtained her Master’s
degree from India. Ms. Haseen has also worked with various organizations
including UNHCR, SDO, SDE ACTD, MCL.
Arefi has been appointed as deputy municipal chief for the 13th district of the
city. She has obtained her Bachelor’s degree in the field of economy from
Kardan University in Kabul.
Naseri has been appointed as deputy municipal chief for the 9th district of the
city. She is a graduate of the faculty of administration and diplomacy and has
obtained Masters degree from Bakhtar University in administration and business.
Ferdaws, a graduate of Kabul University in the field of Visual Arts, has been
appointed as deputy municipal chief of the 8th district.
Orya Khel has been appointed as deputy municipal chief of the 12th district of
the city. She has completed her higher education in the field of economy from
Maryam University and has worked with various international organizations
including JICA, UN Habitat, and IRC.
Kabul Municipality also added that Nasima Hamidi has been appointed as deputy
municipal chief for the 16th district of the city.
the first day of the school year at the Asian University for Women in southern
Bangladesh, groups of teenage girls in skinny jeans, sleeveless tops and
T-shirts chattered, their laughter carrying through the sticky air.
Akter, 19, stood in a corner by a row of suitcases, facing away from the
students who seemed so modern and full of confidence. Wearing a tunic and pants
that hung loosely on her, she nervously adjusted a brown georgette scarf that
kept slipping from her head.
she finally saw someone she recognized, she beamed, holding a card tied to red
straps around her neck. "Look at my identity card!" she said,
flashing it like a gold medal.
a college ID may have been a mildly exciting rite of passage for other new
students. For Formin, a stateless Rohingya Muslim from Buddhist-dominated
Myanmar, it meant the world.
had spent most of her life dreaming about this moment.
as a Rohingya in Myanmar's apartheid-like Rakhine State, her goal of attending
university had been thwarted. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled a
campaign of arson, rape and killing by the military since August 2017, and many
of those still in the country are languishing in de facto internment camps.
by a father who wanted more than his peasant's life for his daughters, Formin
and her older sister, Nur Jahan, had defied those in their community who
believed education was wasted on women. They were the only two girls from their
village ever to finish high school.
then, the sisters made a pact. Someday, they would go to university together.
her dorm room, Formin moved her belongings into a cupboard: a small pile of
clothes, a dinner plate, a steel pot.
Burmese-English dictionary — one of the few things she had taken with her when
fleeing Myanmar a year before — was tucked on the top shelf. On one of the
walls of the dorm, someone had painted a quote from the Harry Potter series:
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
few hours to the south, in the world's largest refugee camp, her sister Nur
Jahan spends her days teaching children and trying to forget how close she was
to realizing her childhood dream. This year, her parents pushed her to accept a
young man's proposal; now, she is married and pregnant, and must stay at home.
said her sister calls her every day. Formin is excited about college, but she
knows she's a constant reminder of the education that her sister, and hundreds
of thousands of other Rohingya women, can't have.
miss my sister more than anything else," she said. "Every time I
spent with her, I miss."
a rope in a remote village
two girls loved to skip rope together when they were growing up in Hlaing Thi,
an all-Muslim village of about 6,000 people in Rakhine, one of Myanmar's
poorest and least-developed states. Now the village where the girls grew up is
no longer home.
of Rohingya houses in northern Rakhine, including those in Hlaing Thi, were
burned and abandoned in what the United Nations has called an "ethnic
cleansing" carried out with "genocidal intent."
images show what remains of the village: rolling green interspersed with the
fields that former neighbors left behind, cut here and there by narrow streams.
Formin would visit one of those streams every day with her mother to collect
drinking water in plastic pails.
the military launched its crackdown in August 2017, more than 730,000 Rohingya
have fled northern Rakhine for neighbouring Bangladesh. About 15,000 fled this
government denies committing abuses against the Rohingya, saying the military
action in northern Rakhine came in response to attacks by Muslim militants.
the country doesn't grant most Rohingya citizenship, and Myanmar authorities
refer to the Rohingya as "Bengali," a derogatory term because it
implies they are interlopers from Bangladesh. The government and the military
didn't respond to questions about specific incidents in this story.
on education, employment and travel meant most Rohingya were like Formin's
father, farmers or day laborers largely cut off from the outside world.
to a 2015 survey by the Yangon-based Center for Diversity and National Harmony,
Rakhine had the country's lowest literacy levels and the lowest rates of
primary and secondary school enrollment in Myanmar. Rohingya students struggle
to understand teachers because their language isn't recognized in the public
Formin's uncle, Sayat Hossain, showed what was possible against the odds.
Admitted to an engineering college in 1994 in the then-capital, Yangon, he was
forced to leave school after it was shut down in response to pro-democracy
protests two years later, and he fled Myanmar to find work as a day laborer in
Malaysia. Eventually he made his way to asylum in Norway, where he now works as
uncle studied, so he is in Norway. My father didn't study, so he is a
farmer," Formin said.
many in Formin's village, her uncle was something of a local hero. "There
was no family like theirs in the village,"
Bashar, the Rohingya chairman of Hlaing Thi, said from a refugee camp in
Bangladesh. "They understood the value of an education."
father, Mohammed Hossain, imagined a happier future for his daughters.
"You get respect when you have an education," he said.
"Illiterate people have to do hard work, but educated people can find
comfortable work. I wanted that for my girls."
2012, when Formin was 13 and Nur Jahan was 16, an international humanitarian
group was operating schools for children in need of a secondary school
education in northern Rakhine. It offered the sisters the chance to study under
a program that would cover their tuition and living expenses. But they would
have to move away from home.
were murmurs of disapproval in the village. "People thought the girls
would be ruined," said Bashar, the former village chairman.
father said he was often told by fellow villagers: "No matter how much you
make them study, they have to sit at home and cook for their husbands. What is
he allowed his daughters to go away to school — just as racial and religious
tensions in Rakhine boiled over.
on the radio
a white notebook with pink flowers, Formin kept a diary.
wrote about some happy and sad things every day," she said. "If
someone said anything bad about me, I used to write about that."
maintaining that diary, Formin had unconsciously started creating a record of
events in Rakhine that few in the largely illiterate population were
that time, we didn't have TV, radio or mobile," she said,
weeks after Formin and her sister began school away from their village,
communal violence broke out. It was June 2012, and thousands were displaced
across Rakhine State as Buddhists and Muslims torched each other's homes.
saw the military shoot two people going on a motorcycle," Formin said.
Schools were shut, travel was risky, and the hostel where she and other
students lived had to close.
responded to the violence, in part, by barring the Rohingya from enrolling in
the only university in Rakhine State, citing unspecified "security
concerns," according to a report by U.N. investigators earlier this year.
That effectively denied the Rohingya access to higher education, which was
already limited because of travel restrictions, the report said.
that didn't break the sisters' determination to keep studying. Formin and Nur
Jahan moved to a secondary school in Kyein Chaung, a village with a bustling
market where Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus ran shops alongside each other.
Kyein Chaung had been largely untouched by the wave of violence in 2012, and
things began to look hopeful.
2015, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy swept elections and came
to power in a country that had long been ruled by generals. Many Rohingya
rooted for Suu Kyi, who had been a political prisoner, believing she would put
an end to their persecution.
Jahan, three years older, had finished high school and was teaching children
for an international nongovernmental organization. She wanted Formin to
graduate, like her, and was paying her sister's study costs with her NGO
school in Kyein Chaung, Formin met a teacher, Ali Ahmed, who was one of the few
Rohingya licensed to teach in public schools. He says he encouraged her and
other Rohingya students to dream big.
Ali," as the students called him, would often pepperhis lectures with
inspiring stories, sometimes pulled from news reports he heard on the small radio
was how he first heard about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani peace and
education rights activist. He took the story to Formin's class with a
challenge: "If she can go to Oxford from Pakistan, why can't you?"
was struck by the story from the moment she heard how a young Muslim woman from
rural Pakistan stood up to the Taliban, survived a gunshot wound to the head
from a would-be assassin and, in 2014, won the Nobel Peace Prize. At home, she
told her family all about Malala. "Did you know they put a gunto her
head?" Formin said. "She is a great girl. She cares about education,
not other things."
her class, she also heard the story of Helen Keller's remarkable education. Her
sister Nur Jahan found her a copy of Keller's autobiography, and she read it
with the same rapt admiration.
is blind, but she didn't stop learning," Formin said. "We can see
everything … we can't stop studying."
heroic stories of Malala and Helen kept her dreams of university alive. And she
began to nurture another desire: to become an inspiration for Rohingya girls
she pass her exam?
Oct. 8, 2016, Formin remembers, she went to bed early because she had a physics
and chemistry test the next morning.
she woke before dawn for a final round of study, all the students in her
lodgings were already up. Overnight, dozens of Muslim militants armed with
sticks, knives and homemade weapons had launched an attack on police outposts.
attack marked the emergence of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a
group that claimed to be fighting for the rights of the Rohingya.
the early light, Formin said, she could see soldiers fanning out across the
village. She heard gunfire. The students hunkered down in their lodgings,
afraid to move. Some 80,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the months that
followed, many claiming soldiers had torched homes, arrested and tortured
suspected militants and raped women.
again, schools were shut, and gradually reopened over the next few weeks. But
Formin's parents had no plans of sending her back this time. They were
terrified. It wasn't until four months later, as Formin's high school
graduation exam neared, that her parents finally relented. They were still
fearful, her mother said, but they also wanted to prove wrong those in the
village who had predicted that Formin would fail.
and her father made the risky trip back to her high school to take the test. Of
the 150 girls who sat for the exam at the Kyein Chaung school in March 2017,
only four would pass.
Education Ministry typically puts matriculation results on Facebook, but
Formin's village rarely had a connection. She asked a friend in another village
to look for her roll number on the list of those who had passed, but the friend
couldn't find it.
cried for days. One evening, one of her teachers called and asked her:
"Formin, your roll number is 542?"
he said. "You passed your exam."
thought I was going to die’
returned to school to receive her diploma. But once again, violence intervened.
militant group ARSA had waged a more ambitious attack in the early hours of
Aug. 25, 2017, across security posts in northern Rakhine. In the military's
response, the U.N. said, entire Rohingya villages were razed, scores of women
were raped and murdered, and an estimated 10,000 people, if not more, were
killed. The military denies these allegations and says it made a proportionate
response to militant attacks.
houses went up in flames in Hlaing Thi, Formin's mother called her at her
lodgings. "Our village is burning. We are leaving for Bangladesh,"
she said. "What will you do, Formin?"
didn't know what to do. She felt paralyzed as the rattle of bullets went on and
on around her.
the first time in her life, she said, she felt hope slipping away, and she
cried, cried because she was scared for her life, and cried for her dream of
thought I was going to die," she said. "I thought that would be the
last day of my life."
remained locked up inside her lodgings for two days.
as she saw local Buddhists and the military start to burn houses in the
village, an account that echoes those of other eyewitnesses on both sides of
the conflict in Rakhine, she decided to escape with five schoolmates.
was in a panic over how to get away. From afar, her sister Nur Jahan helped her
didn't know the way. When I called her on the phone, Formin was crying,"
Nur Jahan said. "There was military everywhere."
follow the people," Nur Jahan told her.
the dim light of a small phone her father had given her, Formin walked with
crowds of people heading toward the border through monsoon-drenched forests and
streams, protecting her belongings that were wrapped carefully in plastic under
group moved by night to avoid security forces and civilian mobs, stopping at
abandoned houses for shelter. Along the way, Formin said, she saw several
the border with Bangladesh, Formin paid the equivalent of $10 to a boatman to
cross the Naf River. On a wooden boat with nine other people, she reached the
other shore and a refugee camp that would become a home in exile.
she was reunited with her family at the camp, one of the first things she asked
about was her books back home.
tears, her mother told her the house had burned down. Formin's most prized
possessions had turned to ash. Gone too, was a small pink-and-white notebook,
her first diary.
sister left behind
exactly a year since she had fled her country to reach the refugee camps of
Bangladesh, Formin was preparing to leave. She was going to college.
am happy, but nervous," she said, blushing, as she sat on her knees on the
mud floor of a hut. She and 24 other Rohingya girls from the refugee camps had
been accepted to the university's "Pathways to Promise" program,
which offers a full scholarship to selected young women in marginalized
dipped a hand into a purse to fish out a compact face powder with a mirror. She
held the mirror in one hand and with the other lightly dabbed the peach-colored
powder onto her cheeks with the puff, moving her face from left to right.
"I have watched makeup videos," she said, giggling.
also now had a smartphone that she'd bought with her earnings from working as a
translator and community health worker for NGOs in the camp. She had filled it
with language learning apps: Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, English; and a Bollywood
movie about a Hindu boy and Muslim girl who flee communal riots together, and eventually
marriage hasn't been a fairytale ending for her sister Nur Jahan.
May, Nur Jahan married a Rohingya from their village.
Formin, she had been desperate to continue studying, but she was older, and
there was no guarantee the university program in Chittagong would come through.
coming here, we were worried about our daughters' future. The situation became
uncertain," their father said. "She has younger sisters who are
growing fast." So when a proposal came from a fellow refugee who had spent
time working in Saudi Arabia, her parents pushed her to accept.
husband declined to allow Nur Jahan to be interviewed alone. She sat in a chair
with her back straight and legs folded, listening attentively and speaking
enthusiastically about her relationship with Formin and their life back in
midway during talk of college, as Nur Jahan tried to stay composed in front of
her husband, her voice cracked, and she started to cry.
father was very poor, but he helped a lot for our studies," she said.
"We made a pact that we would go to college together, and after we
finished our education, we would help our father any way we can."
79-year-old grandfather, Nur Ahmed, said: "Nur Jahan is even smarter than
Formin. She would do even better at college.
know she is sad. We are also sad. We wish we had waited. But now we cannot do
anything. I am happy for Formin, but I feel bad for Nur Jahan. She still blames
is hoping to study law after she completes her five-year university program,
including two years spent improving her English, math and comprehension skills.
am a Rohingya. If I become a lawyer, I can do something for the cause of the
Rohingya," she said.
reflected on her role models, Malala and Helen Keller.
she spoke of another woman whom she revered. Growing up, she said, she idolized
Suu Kyi, who has drawn international criticism for her silence on the plight of
yes, I really liked her!" she said. "We thought that woman stood for
she ever met Suu Kyi, she said, she would ask her: "I am Rohingya, but I
am also a woman like you. We are all women like you. Please put yourself in our
place. What do you feel?"
cross-party group of British parliamentarians and international lawyers has
asked to visit detained female activists in Saudi Arabia to investigate
allegations that they are being tortured and denied legal representation and
a letter to the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, MP Crispin Blunt, the
head of the group's detention review panel, asked Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf
bin Abdulaziz to assist them in arranging a visit to Dhahban prison near Jeddah
to speak to the activists held there.
hope to be able to gather direct testimony from the detainees during our visit
in Saudi Arabia," Blunt wrote on Wednesday, adding the group wanted to
also "meet and interview officials responsible for and tasked" with
the activists' detention.
international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch, have alleged that eight female activists who had campaigned for
the right for women to drive have been tortured with electric shocks and
whipped with an "egal", a rope that keeps a male headscarf in place.
groups' reports have also alleged that the women were subjected to sexual
harassment, threatened with rape and prevented from accessing lawyers.
allegations made and recorded by these human rights advocates are extremely
damaging to the credibility of the progressive reforms announced recently by
the Saudi Arabian government," the letter said.
has rejected the accusations.
government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia categorically and strongly denies the
allegations made by them. The wild claims made, quoting anonymous 'testimonies'
or 'informed sources', are simply wrong," the Ministry of Media said in a
statement in November.
detained activists have been identified as Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza
al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, Nouf Abdelaziz, Mayaa al-Zahrani, Samar Badawi,
Nassima al-Saada and Hatoon al-Fassi.
letter comes as the Saudi government still grapples with the international
fallout of the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and critic of the
country's leadership who was brutally murdered in the kingdom's consulate in
the Turkish city of Istanbul on October 2.
Khashoggi tragedy was obviously a total and utter disaster for Saudi
Arabia," Blunt told Al Jazeera.
would seem that the people who are responsible for the Khashoggi operation were
also responsible for the detention of these Saudi Arabia women's rights
activists at exactly the same time that Saudi Arabian women were getting the
right to drive and major steps forward in their own personal freedom, with
freedom from the so-called guardian laws, in a way that was a huge step
internationally and rightly paraded as such."
in Saudi Arabia were finally allowed to drive in June 2018.
detention review panel said it also wants to collect testimonies from male
supporters of the women activists, including Ibrahim al-Modaimegh, Abdulaziz
Meshaal and Mohammed Rabea.
letter went on to say that following the panel's review, they would be able to
support Saudi Arabia in "regaining confidence from the international
community that its commitment to progressive reform and the protection of the
rights of peaceful pro-reform activists is both credible and sincere".
group requested the Saudi ambassador to respond by January 9 "in light of
the urgency of this matter".
review panel consists of ITN solicitors, as represented by the firm's partner
Tayab Ali; Dr Tim Moloney QC, the deputy head of Doughty Street Chambers; MP
Layla Moran; and MP Dr Paul Williams.
In a country where millions grapple with hunger, malnutrition and food
insecurity, there is a dire need for fortifying oil, ghee and flour to ensure
health and vitality of the people and future generations. This was a unified
consensus of stakeholders at the Karachi district launch of the Food
Fortification Programme (FFP).
event was jointly organised by the Food Fortification Programme (FFP), UK Aid
and Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP), with representation from the
Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Trade Development Authority
of Pakistan and NGOs.
to a 2017 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),
37.5 million people in Pakistan are not receiving proper nourishment.
the impact of vitamin A deficiency that leads to night blindness particularly
among the poor urban and rural population, TRDP CEO Dr Allah Nawaz Samoo said
food fortification was immediately needed.
Samoo stressed that adding vitamins and minerals to wheat flour and edible oils
would lead to disease prevention and boost immunity and improve cognitive
development and productivity.
about demand and supply trends, he said that more efforts should be made to
create awareness among millers and buyers.
from the National Nutrition Survey 2011 shows that 60 per cent pregnant women
in Pakistan were anaemic.
37pc women have low iron levels, 46.7pc have vitamin A deficiency and 71pc have
vitamin D deficiency while up to 44.5pc have low zinc levels.
high levels of micronutrient deficiency not only affects the wellbeing of
women, but also has lasting impact on the health of their children right from
the moment they are conceived leading to premature and low birth weight babies
and a vicious cycle of wasting and stunting.
are working on wasting and stunting which affect children but there is a dire
need to focus on micronutrient deficiency and ensuring that expectant mothers
have access to good food,” said Dr Naveed Bhutto, Programme Policy Officer/Lead
at the Provincial Fortification Alliance (PFA) Sindh.
stressed that Pakistan needed to work on legislation for wheat fortification to
the success of universal salt iodisation (USI) programme that was adopted by
Pakistan in mid 1990s and saw a significant reduction in goitre cases, he said
replication was needed.
the ongoing efforts, the results of the 2018 nutrition survey might not be
hopeful, but things will surely improve by 2023,” he added.
of KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda said a plant protection department should be made
to check the quality of palm oil when it lands at the port.
FFP is already working with chambers of commerce across the country to raise
awareness of fortified flour and oil among millers and traders.
Gul Sher, who heads the Lady Health Worker (LHW) Programme in Sindh, assured
that work was being done on creating demand for fortified food. The province
would be utilising the strength of its LHWs to create awareness. “We have
already included FFP in our training materials,” he added.
the discussion focused on collaborative efforts, Sindh health secretary Dr
Usman Chachar highlighted the need for having academia onboard with government
departments and policy makers and finding solutions for the multifaceted issue
of malnutrition and stunting.
participant stressed the need for research and development to come up with
nutritionally rich varieties.
participant said fish and meat exports from Pakistan should be checked as
exports were creating shortages in the country increasing there prices and
depriving locals from having them at low rates.
is food fortification?
which are present in all natural foods, are partially lost when wheat is
grounded into flour and during the processing of palm oil. In its simplest
terms, food fortification is the process by which essential vitamins and
minerals are added to staple foods.
to a leaflet of FFP, “wheat flour and edible oil/ghee are consumed daily by
most people and by fortifying these foods, nutritional status can change
quickly — after one year of sustained consumption — without changing eating
by the UK Aid and managed by Mott MacDonald in partnership with Nutrition
International, FFP is a five-year programme in Pakistan which aims to equip the
government to enforce mandatory legislation for fortification across the
country by 2021.
further seeks to improve standards, regulatory compliance, quality assurance
and quality control.
programme aims to improve management and administration to meet legislative
requirements, technical assistance for mixing and storage of premixes,
building industry capacity for compliance and testing.
1,000 wheat flour mills and 100 edible oil mills will be meeting standards.
will be aware of and positive towards the benefits of fortified foods. So far a
total of five laboratories have been set up in Sindh (four in Karachi and one
in Hyderabad) for quality assessment of flour and oil.
major goal of the project is to reduce iron deficiency and anaemia by one-third
and at least a one-quarter reduction in vitamin A deficiency among women and children.
effect, births with neural tube defects are also expected to decline. FFP also
seeks improvement in vitamin D deficiency in the next three years.
‘Global Gender Gap Index 2018’ Report released by the World Economic Forum
(WEF) on December 18 ranks neighbouring Pakistan as the second worst country in
the world in terms of gender parity after Yemen; ranking 148 and 149
respectively. The Geneva-based WEF’s annual report tracked disparities between
the genders in 149 countries across four areas: education, health, economic
opportunity and political empowerment. Western Europe and Scandinavian
countries were at top: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland ranked
from one to five.
year 2018 witnessed setbacks in all three areas-education, health, and
political representation. The gender gap narrowed in the area of economic
opportunity but the global wage gap narrowed to nearly 51%. There still
remained a 32% average gender gap to be closed. Gender parity in workplaces
around the globe could take centuries to achieve and women must wait 217 years
to earn the same as men, the report said.
proportion of women in the workplace stagnated with fewer women participating;
automation had a disproportionate impact on jobs traditionally performed by
women. Under-representation declined in growing areas of employment that sought
skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; in artificial
intelligence it was just 22% of the workforce. Overall global gender gap will
need 108 years to close while those in economic and political empowerment
dimensions were the most challenging, requiring 202 and 107 years respectively
representation in politics also declined. Greater inequality in access to
health and education, offset improvements in wage equality and less number of
women in professional positions-all combined towards only a marginal reduction
in the global gender gap in 2018.
across the 149 countries assessed, only 17 countries currently had women heads
of state i.e.11%, 18% women ministers and 24% women parliamentarians. Women
held just 34% of managerial positions globally but less than 7% in the four
worst-performing countries – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Pakistan.
Asia was the second-lowest scoring region with an average gender gap of 34.2%,
ahead of the Middle East and North Africa and behind Sub-Saharan Africa. The
gender parity across the region was somewhat homogeneous, except Bangladesh and
Pakistan which remained at extremes with gender gap difference of 10% for the
educational attainment. On political empowerment, only Bangladesh crossed
gender parity of more than 50%, while India scored nearly 40% and other
regional countries scored below 20%. Bangladesh was the top performer among the
regional countries and the 5th best among all Asian and Oceania countries,
powered by inclusive labour pool and less Islamist orientation. Other countries
in South Asia should better emulate Bangla, rather than Chinese model.
has shown considerable improvement over last 4 years especially having more
women CEO’s than any other country in the world are encouraging signs.
Asia region has shown fastest progress from a low base over the past decade.
Four out of the seven regional countries showed year-on-year progress compared
to last year, while rest three declined, but still finished low.
rankings of Muslim countries were: Lebanon (140), Saudi Arabia (141), Iran
(142), Syria (146), Iraq (147), Pakistan (148) and Yemen (149). Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, and Pakistan were the four worst-performers with least number of
managerial positions for women due to cultural stigma attached to working women
and no protective laws to protect women at work. Pakistan was the lowest-ranked
country in South Asia, closing 55 per cent of its overall gender gap.
orientation and Jihadi mindset could pull Pakistan further down to surpass
Yemen as the worst country in the world in gender equity. Rather than
introspecting on own faults, Pakistan will blame everything- the data, the
Western values on women’s rights, or humanitarian propaganda. Both genders need
to be cared for and differences celebrated as uniqueness. Cultures are not
fixed but constantly evolve in relation to time and social consciousness.
women behind is the worst tragedy than can befall human destiny. Muslim
countries have got it ingrained into their religious heritage. Muslim men are
unwilling to accept equal opportunities for women while latter not ready yet to
shoulder responsibility. Humanity should do all it can to reduce the gender
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