Posts Tagged ‘women’

Women’s Rights are Non-Negotiable in Afghanistan

May 22, 2012

More than ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, modest advances have been made for girls and women in Afghanistan, but much remains to be done. Peace talks between the Taliban, Afghan government and the U.S. jeopardize even these modest gains as the U.S. searches for a quick exit.

Amnesty International urges the U.S. government to adopt an action plan for Afghan women to ensure that their rights are not traded away in the transition. The U.S. should make clear that human rights are non-negotiable and ensure mechanisms are in place to uphold those rights after any agreement is reached.

Meryl Streep, Sting, Joan Baez, Cynthia Nixon, Yoko Ono and Sir Patrick Stewart signed their names to an Amnesty International open letter released Sunday to President Obama and President Karzai, calling on them to give women a voice in the conversation about Afghanistan’s future. The letter was released by Amnesty International as it staged a “Shadow Summit for Afghan Women” hours before the NATO Summit got underway in Chicago.

Joining the artists as signatories were authors, including Stephen King, Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark).

Signatories included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, feminist Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi, along with a roster of leading Afghan women’s rights advocates.

“The women of Afghanistan have come too far to see their rights vanish,” said Frank Januzzi, head of Amnesty International USA’s Washington office. “They must be part of the conversation about the future of Afghanistan or that future will look very bleak indeed. No one wants a return to the days when the Taliban banned women and girls from schools and work, and held them as virtual prisoners in their own country. This would be the ultimate catastrophe after a decade of gains for women. We hope the voices of these notable signatories will add to the pressure on Presidents Obama and Karzai to follow through on the promise of human rights for all women in Afghanistan.”

Amnesty International urged Presidents Obama and Karzai to adopt eight key steps to make sure Afghan woman can continue the progress they have made on rights and freedoms after the troops leave in 2014.

Beheaded for practising witchcraft

December 15, 2011
Saudi sorcery protest in Lebanon

Saudi sorcery protest in Lebanon

Amina Bint Abdulhalim Nassar was executed in the northern province of Jawf for ‘practising witchcraft and sorcery’. — Saudi Arabia Interior Ministry

Beware of reading the runes, tea leaves or entrails in Saudi Arabia as it might just get you into a whole heap of trouble. You could quite easily lose your head over it.

You do not even have to be in Saudi Arabia, but will be arrested and sentenced to death if you set foot in Saudi Arabia.

A woman has recently been beheaded having been charged with witchcraft, though a cursory glance at the case seems that a more appropriate charge would have been fraud.

Saudi woman beheaded for ‘sorcery’
Saudi woman executed for ‘witchcraft and sorcery’
How Do You Prove Someone’s a Witch in Saudi Arabia?

Being a woman did not help. Being a woman in Saudi Arabia is in itself sufficient to be seen as a crime.

To be a woman in Saudi Arabia is to be marginalised. If you set foot outside the house you have to be covered from head to toe in case your appearance may offend men.

As a woman you are not allowed to drive a car. If caught, you will be lashed.

Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban

A recent report has said women should not be allowed to drive as it will lead to a loss of virginity, prostitution and homosexuality. For a woman to lose her virginity is to lose her market value.

‘End of virginity’ if women drive, Saudi cleric warns

Witch hunting is institutionalized in barbaric Saudi Arabia which seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages where witchcraft, sorcery and women are concerned. The country’s religious police has an Anti-Witchcraft Unit and a sorcery hotline to combat practices like astrology and fortune telling that are considered un-Islamic.

In the West a witch-hunt is a figure of speech. In Saudi Arabia it is a mediaeval barbarity.

The Alchemist
The Witch of Portobello
The Bookseller of Kabul
Women and Islam

Women and Islam

March 25, 2011


Proper veiling and Islamic dress code that upholds women’s chastity and modesty is a public issue. Indubitably this is an absolute legal and Sharia matter that is a religious imperative. Being un-Islamically dressed is a crime. — Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejehei, Iran’s public prosecutor

When Islam became imperial, a lot of cultural baggage infiltrated Islamic society. — Haifaa Jawad, senior lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Birmingham in England

I had an interesting conversation with three Muslim girls who I met at the New Mosque in Istanbul. I asked why they were dressed as they were, why they wore head scarves, as this was not required by the Koran.

This surpised them, they disagreed, and one whipped out her iPhone on which she had stored the Koran. You are wrong she said, I can find no mention in the Koran. To me, it seemed to make my point.

I suggested they read Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto which dicusses the role of women in Islam, also the relationship between Islam, the West and democracy.

The West does not have a dislike of Islam because of prejudice, it is because of killing of innocent people, terrorism, the appalling treatment of women.

The Koran was way ahead of its time. Women in the Arabian Peninsular had no rights, they were worthless, little more than slaves, female babies were burried alive.

The Koran explicitly gave women rights, they were to be treated as equals, they were equal in the eye of God, they were made and man in his image. Women could keep the money they earned. The wife of the Prophet was a successful businesswoman. If they bore and fed and looked after children, it was the role of the men to compensate them for the work they did in child rearing.

O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you.

We see the same in Genesis, where God created man and woman in His image. If in His image, then God must be male and female.

If men and women arise from the same being, then they must be equal!

The Koran says: And surely we have honoured the children of Adam.

If both are honoured equally, then they must be equal in the eyes of God, and in Islamic practice.

There is a requirement of women to dress modestly, an explicit requirement on dress for the family of the Prophet when they received visitors at Medina, but not a requirement on others.

O Prophet! say to your wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they lay down upon them their overgarments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

There is a reference to a veil and that is in a saying of the Prophet: the best veil is in the eyes. In other words men should treat women with respect.

The abuse and mistreatment of women in much of the Muslim world has nothing to do with the Koran.

Maulana Azad, an Asian Islamic scholar, argues that men and women are equal in the Koran: They have rights [in regard to their husbands] similar to those against them in a just manner.

In contrast there are those bigots to who women are a commodity, for example Sheikh Taj al-Dian al-Hilali in a Friday sermon in Australia in 2006 in which he compared woman with meat left out for the cat! [see Australia fury at cleric comments]

If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?

Al-Hilali argued that women who are not veiled and who are sexually assaulted are themselves to blame for the assault. It is the same bigots who deny woman an education, who keep them locked in the family home as domestic slaves. Who justify terrorism and killing of innocent civilians and at the same decry human rights and democracy as something alien imposed on Muslim society by the West.

The same cleric a year later mocked Jewish people as pigs!

Another Muslim cleric in Australia, Samir Abu Hamza, said it was ok for husbands to rape and beat their wives! [see Cleric ‘must deny’ views on rape]

“You beat them… but this is the last resort, after you have advised them for a long, long time, then you smack them, you beat them.
“You are not allowed to bruise them, you are not allowed to make them bleed, this is just to shape them up – ‘shape up woman’ – that’s about it.
“You don’t go and get a broomstick.”
“Even if her husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing him the bread on the stove, she must leave it and come and respond to her husband”.
“In this country if the husband wants to sleep with his wife and she does not want to and… there’s nothing wrong with her, she just does not want to, and he ends up sleeping with her by force, it is… known to be as a rape.
“Amazing. How can a person rape his wife?”

The Koran encouraged learning. It ushered in the Golden Age of Islam in what is now Iraq. Devout scholars, clerics, were also men of learning, doctors, poets, artists, scientists.

Islam encouraged tolerance and respect for other religions.

But the interests of men rode roughshod over the teachings of the Koran. Bigotry replaced tolerance. Ignorance replaced learning. Dogma replaced compassion.

That I was able to hold the conversation with the three girls, would not have been possible in most Islamic countries. I was though amused by their dress. They were very elegant in black, wore fine silk scarves.

Synchronicity: Whilst I was writing this I was sent two examples of the abuse and mistreatment of women. In Iran a woman subjected to 74 lashes for being ‘un-Islamically’ dressed and in Egypt women being subjected to tests of virginity and being treated as prostitutes if they failed the test.

Seeing Clearly
The Bookseller of Kabul
By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations
The Saudi women taking small steps for change
Australia fury at cleric comments
Australia Muslim cleric suspended
Cleric ‘must deny’ views on rape
Fury at Australia cleric comments
Egyptian women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’
74 lashes for women who are “un-Islamically” dressed
Official Laws against Women in Iran

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