A Saudi mother is shown being served by fellow women at a passport control office
No Make-Up and No Nail Polish: Kuwaiti Policewomen Told
Women No Longer Need Identifiers at Saudi Courts
Nursing Gaining Acceptance as Profession among Saudi Women
Israeli Study: Breastfeeding Can Reduce Risk of Children Getting Cancer
Literary Magazine Faces Charges as Islamic Dress Controversy for Women Continues
Saudi Soccer Debates Broadens Over Women's Rights and Nationalism
Project Launched to Boost Women’s Employment in Turkey
Sold Into Slavery 8 Yrs. Old Was Forced To Work 20 Hrs A Day, Kept In A Cell for Four Years by Her US 'Owners'
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Married Off For 'Honour': Pakistan's Child Brides
February 13, 2014
MADYAN: One sunny afternoon as she skipped home from school, Saneeda was accosted by her estranged father, who wanted to marry her to a man she'd never met to settle a debt of "honour". She was five years old.
A few months earlier, Saneeda's father Ali Ahmed had eloped with a girl from another valley. To avoid violent revenge from her family, he promised to give them his daughter and niece Sapna in marriage.
Offering young girls as brides in compensation to settle disputes persists in certain areas of Pakistan.
In Saneeda's home district of Swat, in the country's northwest, the practice is known as "Swara".
Government data show that it is on the rise in Swat, four years after an army operation ended the Taliban's brutal two-year rule in the scenic valley.
Nine cases were registered in the area in 2013, up from just one in 2012. Rights groups say the true number is much higher.
"My father stopped me in the street and told me that he has given me in Swara and soon will hand me over to a man who will be my husband," Saneeda, wearing a golden shawl with red and purple embroidery, told AFP, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment.
Her mother dismissed it at first, but the arrangement had been ordered by a jirga, a traditional tribal gathering, and the gravity of the situation soon became clear.
"We initially thought they can't take this girl away but then they increased pressure with every passing day to give her in Swara," Fazal Ahad, Saneeda's maternal uncle, told AFP.
Eventually Saneeda's family got a court order protecting her. Police arrested her father and the jirga members who had decided to give her in Swara.
A lucky escape, but Saneeda, now aged seven, still faces discrimination and mockery.
"Whenever I go to school, children taunt me and tell me that I have been given in Swara and will be married to a man," she said.
Saneeda was unusual in that her family challenged the Jirga’s ruling. In Pakistan's patriarchal society, where family reputation is paramount, airing the "dirty laundry" in public in this way is very rare.
"There are many other cases of Swara, but people in our area don't go to police and court and don't highlight such cases. We don't take matters of our women to the court — the victimised girls have to bear it all," said Ahad.
The authorities do not keep detailed data on Swara, but Samar Minallah, an activist who made an acclaimed documentary on the practice, said she had identified at least 132 cases around Pakistan in 2012.
The other girl given by Saneeda's father, 16-year-old Sapna had to abide by the jirga ruling and settled with the husband they chose for her.
The custom and the code of silence that surrounds it is so strictly followed that AFP was unable to reach her to speak about her experience.
Ahad said the nine Swara cases reported in Swat are just the tip of the iceberg, but victims were becoming increasingly willing to speak out.
"People are slowly getting aware through media that this custom is an evil, so some of them have started reporting," he said.
Forced marriage under Swara is against the law, but police say that even when a complaint is brought there is great reluctance among witnesses to give statements.
"In the cases of Swara, people don't provide evidence against each other, because they are from the same village and community," Naveed Khan, a senior police official told AFP in Mingora, the district headquarters of Swat.
"In the single Swara marriage case in 2012, all 12 accused were set free because there was lack of evidence against them. Nobody speaks up in such cases."
Officers arrested 65 suspects in the nine swara cases in 2013, including Saneeda's father, Khan said, but their fate rests with the courts.
Women's rights groups say the government needs to do more to crack down on swara.
"There are more than 15 cases of Swara, which have been highlighted," Tabassum Adnan Safi, the chair of a local women's campaign group, told AFP.
"We are working to make women aware of the evilness of this custom. Besides these awareness campaigns, we also protest against Swara and raise voice for the protection.
"But getting evidence in such cases is no doubt a big challenge because nobody talks about it."
Minallah says that nothing will change until the police and prosecutors are prepared to challenge the authority of local elders — a difficult task in areas where such traditional power structures are deeply entrenched.
"An awareness has been created against Swara, that is why there are more reported cases, but the authorities need to take strict action against jirgas and stop them violating the law," she said.
And there are those, even in the legal community, who defend the practice staunchly.
"It is helpful in removing deadly enmities among scores of tribes, saves dozens of lives and brings peace among families," Syed Kareem Shalman, a practising lawyer in Mingora, told AFP.
"If a family, which gets a bride in Swara mistreats her, faces revenge from the family who give their daughter to resolve the dispute."
No make-up and no nail polish: Kuwaiti policewomen told
February 13, 2014
Women in Kuwait could now think twice before joining the police after a new decision banning them of wearing make-up or adding nail polish during duty.
The decision by the ministry of interior also warned the female cops against dying their hair and stressed that they must always appear in good shape and clean uniform.
Newspapers said the ministry issued the new decision after it noticed many police women come to duty with polished nails and wearing much make-up.
“The decision warned all police women against adding make-up or nail polish and against having a dyed hair while on duty,” Al Anba daily said.
The decision following a recent ministry warning to police men to stop trimming their uniforms and growing their beards and to make sure they always wear clean uniforms to maintain what it described as “the prestige of the police force.”
Women no longer need identifiers at Saudi courts
The Supreme Judicial Council has decided that Saudi women no longer have to have males identify them at court hearings, and would only require their identity cards.
The council issued a circular to all the courts on Monday to announce its decision.
The move has been welcomed by Saudis.
“This has brought an end to the dilemma that both women and judges used to face when trying to identify women who appear in court. Sometimes the identifier would be the plaintiff or the defendant in the same case,” said Ali Al-Alyani, a columnist and editor in chief of Ya Hala talk show.
“The previous practice gave men the upper hand in cases where they would either refuse to identify the woman or give false information in some cases,” he said.
Suhaila Zain Al-Abideen, a social activist and member of the National Society for Human Rights, said the ID cards of women previously had no value in Saudi courts.
“There is nothing in Islam that states that women need an identifier when appearing in a court in front of a judge. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the first judge in Islam and he never asked a woman to bring along an identifier,” she said.
“A judge once told me that this was a decision taken by the Ministry of Interior. I was surprised because the ID card was issued by them but was only accepted when produced by a man,” she said. Al-Abideen said many women have lost their rights in cases.
For example, a woman’s brother would take her inheritance by presenting his wife in place of her in court, she said.
She said males in these positions are the “worst financial abusers.”
Al-Alyani said other ideas suggested by the Ministry of Justice were never implemented by the courts and judges. “They talked about hiring women at the courts whose only job it would have been to verify women with their photo IDs.”
“Another idea is to use fingerprints to identify women. The Supreme Judicial Council is currently requesting this,” he said.
Lawyer Abdul Kareem Abdul Wahed said the decision would ensure justice for many women and reduce cases of identity theft. He said the courts have a backlog of cases involving women because they failed to bring males to identify them.
Nursing gaining acceptance as profession among Saudi women
Nursing is a noble profession and is steadily gaining popularity with Saudi women who are increasingly taking up the vocation to serve humanity.
The first International Nursing Conference to support this profession and to exchange ideas and experiences was held with the participation of more than 600 nurses in Jeddah recently.
Dr. Yousef Al-Essa of King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences for Educational Affairs inaugurated the international event on behalf of Dr. Bandar bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Qanawi, the executive director general of National Guard Health Affairs and director of King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences on Tuesday.
The International Nursing Conference under the theme “Clinical education and learning in nursing and health sciences,” was organized by the College of Nursing at the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences Branch, Jeddah.
The main objective of the conference was to provide opportunities for scientific education, training of research within the academic environment, latest developments, techniques and modern teaching to produce the best and most competent people in the health sector who could save the community and the country.
The vision of the university is to entrench education in the field of nursing on the basis of systematic thinking and to establish a scientific method of addressing the issues.
Dr. Taqwa Omar dean of the College of Nursing at the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Jeddah indicated that the nursing profession has a distinguished history.
Dr. Omar said that clinical education has now changed a lot in terms of its mechanisms of learning, teaching and working, adding that the objective of the College of Nursing in Jeddah is to pursue excellence as an educational center on the local International levels.
She further said that they want to establish the best institute in the world in the field of nursing education, clinical application, scientific research, community service and to play a leading role in the development of the nursing profession in order to improve the quality of nursing and health care in the Kingdom.
Dr. Mansour Al-Qurashi, associate dean for Graduate Studies and Academic Affairs at the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, also said that nursing is a humanitarian profession and Saudi nurses have an effective role to play as they represent an important part of society in the field of medical services. He said that the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences proves that Saudi nurses are the best and deserve all the respect and appreciation.
Dr. Yousef Al-Essa said that he does not have any doubts that the university administration made excellent initiatives by organizing the event and provided an opportunity to exchange information and experiences and take advantage of the developments in health sciences and nursing.
“We hope the outcomes of this event with recommendations and results serve the objectives and support the development of nursing education and training programs academically, scientifically and technologically and also highlight the educational programs of clinical health sciences.
The International keynote speakers were Jane Watson, Dr. Karen Morin and Dr. Pamela Jeffries.
JNS.org - Breastfeeding can significantly reduce the risk of children getting cancer, says a new study conducted by Israel’s University of Haifa.
According to the study, children who were breastfed decreased the chances of developing cancer by 60 percent.
“We asked the mothers in the study about breastfeeding, nutrition, exposure to pets, exposure to detergents, etc.,” said Dr. Keinan-Boker, a professor in the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health and deputy director of the Israeli Health Ministry’s Center for Disease Control.
Additionally, the study compared children who were exclusively breastfed up until four months old with children who stopped being breastfed before that age, and found that those who were exclusively breastfed had decreased the chances of getting cancer by 40 percent.
The study, which was funded by the Israel Cancer Association, interviewed 190 whose children developed leukemia or lymphoma before the age of 19 as well as 348 mothers from healthy children.
Literary magazine faces charges as Islamic dress controversy for women continues
Tehran, IRAN, SOUTHERN ASIA: Conservative Islamic dress for women inside Iran is on the plate this month as a long-standing literary magazine, known as “Bukhara,” working out of Iran’s capital city of Tehran, is under Iranian government scrutiny.
Under charges of going against ‘Islamic values’ Iran’s Press Court with the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has charged the journal’s publisher with publishing materials that denigrate what is considered ‘proper modest dress’ for women in Iran, the black chador.
Mr. Ali Dehbashi, publisher, literary scholar and editor for the well-loved journal since it began in 1998, has kept his magazine afloat by focusing on Iranian history and culture, instead of politics, under the days of President Ahmadinejad. He will now be facing court appearance under the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, in a legal action that has been described by Iranian activists in the diaspora as ‘Iran’s long history in denial of freedom of the press’.
“Since my youth I have been devoted to respecting and observing Islamic values, and have sought to bring that sensibility to the work published in Bukhara,” outlined Dehbashi in a public statement after the charges were made. “It should be needless to say that I was raised by a veiled, faithful woman and that many women of my own family wear the hejab, and as such, am regretful for what inadvertently and negligently has passed. I extend my apologies to the faithful women readers who comprise part of Bukhara’s readership,” he continued.
The magazine’s material under scrutiny by the Iranian government is a poem written by poet Mr. Mansoor Oji that compares a woman dressed in a black chador to a raven.
“There are many spaces where black is invoked in a way that is abhorrent. If my poem conveys the color black as constricting my heart, it is because of this, not because of the Islamic hejab (headscarf),” said Oji after legal charges were made against Bukhara’s publisher.
Current laws governing the press in Iran are working, as Iran’s constitution itself describes, “to fight against the manifestation of colonial culture,” the culture of the West. The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Press Affairs office, now headed by Mohammad Jaafar Mohammadzadeh, has been given the authority through the press courts to impose criminal penalties on individuals as well as to order closures of newspapers and periodicals.
“The press have the right to publish the opinions, constructive criticisms, suggestions and explanations of individuals and government officials for public information while duly observing the Islamic teachings and the best interest of the community,” states Article 3 of Iran’s Press Law.
Since taking over the presidency of Iran in June 2013 President Rouhani barred women from being arrested for what is considered by hard-liners as ‘inappropriate dress’ in public. The President did this in an attempt to keep an election promise, but the more relaxed policy may not stay in place as the issue of dress for women in Iran is not completely decided by higher authorities than the office of the presidency.
In early December 2013 two Iran based poets, 28-year-0ld Ms. Fatemeh Ekhtesari and 38-year-old Mr. Mehdi Mousavi were arrested and taken away to Evin Prison. Under a literary culture exchange bringing Fatemeh to Sweden bringing the work of six Iranian poets together with six Swedish poets in a project called, “Resistance At My Writing Desk,” Fatemeh worked to help translate Persian Farsi into Swedish for the project. When she returned from Sweden in this her Facebook page was blocked in Iran. Her blog was also taken down.
As part of the underground post-modern poetry movement inside Iran both Ekhtesari and Mousavi had been under scrutiny in Iran. Today they are considered prisoners of conscience by activists and human rights organizations.
In the first two weeks of January 2014, under the watch of President Rouhani, over 50 people have been executed by authorities. 32-year-old Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activist Hashem Shaabani is also one of those who was executed under a court sentence as ‘an enemy of God’. Shaabani was founder of the Dialogue Institute, an organization in Iran’s Khuzestan Province that promotes the understanding of Arabic culture and literature in Iran.
In 2013 625 people, including 28 women were executed. This is 100 more than the year before, said Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations expert in monitoring human rights in Iran to The New York Times on January 22.
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Saudi Soccer Debates Broadens Over Women's Rights and nationalism
A Saudi debate about the societal role of soccer expanded this week with controversy over a group of female American Congressional staffers being allowed to watch a match in a Riyadh stadium from which Saudi women are barred and a video in which a teacher encouraged his students to chant slogans for a soccer club rather than the national anthem.
The expanded debate hooks into a broader debate about women's rights in a country that upholds gender segregation; bans women from driving, attending sports matches and forces women's soccer clubs to operate in a legal and social nether land; and in general provides few sporting opportunities for women. A Saudi student allegedly died earlier this month after officials at King Saud University refused to allow male emergency responders entry to the women only section of the campus to apply first aid.
In the latest twist of the debate on women's rights, Saudi media quoted female entrepreneurs as saying they were forced to close down shops because their women employees had difficulty finding affordable transport to and from work. With relatively few municipal buses offering separate sections for women, women are forced to either hire a full-time driver or pay for expensive taxis.
The restrictions on women's sports appear at odds with public opinion. A Saudi sociologist concluded in November on the basis of a survey that the vast majority of Saudis favour granting women the right to engage in sports. The survey conducted by Mariam Dujain Al-Kaabi as part of her master thesis showed that 73.5 percent of the respondents unambiguously endorsed a woman's right to engage in sports while 21.6 percent felt that it should be conditional.
There are no official facilities for female athletes or physical education programs for girls in schools in the kingdom. Spanish consultants hired to draft Saudi Arabia's first ever national sports plan were instructed by the government to do so for men only.
Saudi Arabia alongside Yemen was the only Middle Eastern nation that refused last year to sign on to a campaign by the region's soccer associations grouped in the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) to put women's soccer on par with men's football.
Human Rights Watch last year accused Saudi Arabia of kowtowing to assertions by the country's powerful conservative Muslim clerics that female sports constitute "steps of the devil" as well as a corrupting and satanic influence that would spread decadence. The clerics warn that running and jumping could damage a woman's hymen and ruin her chances of getting married.
Saudi Arabia, in which the beautiful game was legalized only in the 1950s, has long had an ambiguous relationship to the sport. The revived debate about women's rights and nationalism expands discussion in recent days about the role of soccer.
That debate on social media, increasingly the only public space where Saudis can express dissenting views, was prompted by a father's decision not to send his 10-year old to school for several days after his son's team, Al Hilal FC (The Crescent), lost a derby with its arch rival, Al Nasr FC, and a YouTube video in which Saudi cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zobaydi derby warned that soccer 'fanaticism' threatened to destroy Saudi society.
The decision at the request of Saudi Arabia's Shura or Consultative Council, a largely toothless body intended to project a sense of popular participation, to allow the female American Congressional staffers to attend a match between Al Nasr and Al Shabab FC revived intermittent efforts in recent years to lift the ban on Saudi women joining their male counterparts as spectators in stadia. 'The move was aimed at impressing the Americans with the Kingdom's advanced sports facilities," the Jeddah-based Arab News quoted a Saudi official as saying.
The granting of permission to the Americans followed a flurry of statements and denials last year about allowing Saudi and/or foreign women into stadia. Such flurries of contradictory statements often are an indication of debate within the inner councils of the secretive, deeply religious kingdom.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, the head of the youth welfare authority that oversees Saudi sports, denied in September that women would be allowed to attend a match between the kingdom and New Zealand.
That denial was called into a question by a picture on the website of the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television network of a few women and children in the stadium during the game. Prince Nawaf issued his denial in response to an announcement by the manager of Riyadh's King Fahad Stadium, Sulaiman al-Yousef that foreign women and children would be permitted to watch the match.
The Americans' presence sparked renewed calls for a lifting of the ban on women attending matches. "Why do the authorities allow foreign women to enter stadiums while they deny Saudi women the same privilege?" asked a commenter who identified himself as Saudi in the Arab News' online comment section.
"Double standards of the Saudi Government!!,' quipped Ahmed. 'Change is unavoidable. Let the foreigners lead the way, take the heat - as long as our national women can follow soon," added Kolwyntjie. "Welcome to American women but a huge kick for rest of women. It's shameful really!! It's like a big slap. One rule is for someone & other rule is for others. That's what I can say!!! Our Religion ISLAM teaches the lesson of EQUALITY!!!!,"said Humanity.
Saudi Arabia's soccer-related debate was further fuelled by some Saudis expressing outrage at a teacher who encouraged his students in an online video to chant "I am an Al-Nasr fan" instead of singing the national anthem. They called on Twitter on the education ministry to discipline the teacher.
"This teacher cannot be trusted. In this video, he can be seen instilling unhealthy attitudes among students. This is indoctrination," one tweeter said.
James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is also co-director of the University of Würzburg's Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and a forthcoming book with the same title.
Project launched to boost women’s employment in Turkey
The opening conference of a new project “More and Better Jobs for Women: Women’s Empowerment through Decent Work in Turkey,” will be held today at the Dedeman Hotel in Ankara.
The project, whose mottos is “We Are Equal and We Are Together at Work, at Home and Everywhere,” aims to create decent work opportunities for women and the development of inclusive and coherent policies to promote women’s employment in Turkey.
The undertaking is being implemented by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) with the financial contribution of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
In line with its motto and the targets of the project, both women and men will benefit from the project which will also serve as a basis for the preparation of Turkey’s first “National Action Plan on Women’s Employment and Gender Equality.”
Moderated by journalist Şirin Payzın from CNNTürk, the conference will start with the speech of a working woman who benefited from İŞKUR’s employment services.
Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşegül İslam and Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik are expected to deliver opening speeches at the conference.
At the same time, Ümit Deniz Efendioğlu, director of the ILO office for Turkey, Nusret Yazıcı, director general of İŞKUR, and Lars Wahlund, Swedish ambassador to Turkey, will also take the floor and address gender equality and the importance of the project in the conference.
Following the opening speeches, a panel discussion on “Women’s Employment in Turkey: Challenges and Opportunities” will be held with the participation of social partners and stakeholders.
A 24-year-old new mother calls her life 'heaven' now, but it didn't always used to be that way.
In 1998, at just 8-years-old, Shyima Hall was sold into slavery by her parents in Egypt.
She spent the next four years working 20 hours days for a family that hit her, called her stupid, and kept her in a cell-like bedroom.
Hall finally got her taste of freedom two years after the family she worked for moved to California, and child services received an anonymous tip about her existence.
Now she has written a book, Hidden Girl, shedding more light on her dark years as a servant and how she's bounced back to create a life of her own.
'I want people to know this can happen. Slavery is not in the history book. It's right next to you,' she told People magazine.
Hall was one of 11 children born to her parents in the slums south of Alexandria.
She says her home life was mostly happy, but her construction-worker father did beat the kids up.
Her childhood came to an end the day one of her older sisters was accused of stealing something from the home of her wealthy employers, a man named Abdel Nasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim and his wife Amal Admed Ewis-Abd El Motelib.
Hall went with her mother to visit the wealthy couple's house in Cairo and listened as they demanded a younger replacement to make up for the stolen property.
Surprisingly, Hall's mother agreed.
Hall cried as her mother left and the last thing she said was: 'This is for the good of the family'.
Hall spent the next two years working for Ibrahim and Motelib who she called 'the Dad' and 'the Mom', caring for the couple's pair of twins three years younger than her and a daughter about the same age.
She says the children 'knew what I was and reminded me all the time' while the Dad would smack her with his fist and the Mom would call her 'stupid slave'.
The terrible treatment seemed endless for Hall, who would call her mom crying asking when she could come home.
'She'd always say, "You need to pay off your sister's debt"'
Two years later, the family relocated to Irvine, California and their abuse got even worse.
In Cairo, the family had a staff, but in the smaller California home Hall was the only doing all the work.
She got up at 5:30am every day to get the kids ready for school and proceeded to work on the upkeep of the house for the rest of the day; scared the Mom would come home and criticize her cleaning.
She never took a break for eating either since she was only allowed one meal a day - whatever was leftover from the family's dinner.
As for Hall's part of the house, the family kept her in a room without heat, air-conditioning or lighting with only a bare mattress to sleep on.
She had to wash her clothes by hand after she learned the lesson not to use the washing and drying machines.
When the Mom discovered her using the dryer one day she screamed, and said: 'Your clothes are never to touch ours. This bucket is what you wash your clothes in, behind the house.'
Hall never considered escape out of fear of what would happen if she was found.
'The Mom and the Dad would tell me "If you walk out the cops are going to get you and beat you and you'll never see your family again"' Hall remembers.
She got through each day by focusing on seeing her three younger siblings again - it 'was all I thought about'.
Her lucky day came in 2002 when someone sent an anonymous tip into child services and a group of police, social workers and immigration officials stormed the house and took her away from her abusers.
After years as a slave, Hall's only reaction to her freedom was fear. Ibrahim even had the nerve to order her to conceal her identity from police.
The last thing he told her in Arabic was: 'Don't tell them you work for us, say you're here for a visit'.
Hall contacted her parents soon after being released and instead of being happy to have their daughter back, her father was upset she left the family 'that had put a roof over my head'.
Her dad told her to return to Egypt, but this time Hall made her own choice and decided to stay in the U.S.
She bounced around foster homes for the next few years and eventually became a U.S. citizen, attended three years of community college and now she works as an assistant manager at a luggage store.
In addition to her job, Hall works to spread awareness of human trafficking and hopes to one day become an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent.
She also has a daughter, Athena, with boyfriend Daniel Eurquidez.
'Holding her up in my arms, I couldn't imagine giving her up - not even to save the world,' Hall said. 'i have my beautiful daughter and my boyfriend. It was a hard road, but I'm 100 per cent okay.'
Her father has since died, and she hasn't seen her family since gaining her freedom. But she does hope to one day reconnect with her siblings.
Both Ibrahim and Motelib were convicted and sentenced to two to three years in prison. Motelib was deported back to Egypt but her husband may still be living in Southern California.