Friday Links | July 20, 2012

Last week, Hanifa Safi, an Afghan Women’s Affairs official was killed by a car bomb. While she is not the first female Afghan official to be killed, the Afghan government has not done much to prevent these murders, or to bring those responsible to justice. In the same week, a young Afghan girls, Tamana, was killed, which proves, once again, that violence against women is on the rise in Afghanistan.

When Najat Vallaud-Belkacem became the French minister of women’s rights, Muslims, and in particularly Muslim women, were hoping that she, a Muslim woman herself, would actively work to change the marginalised position of Muslim women in France, but so far she has disappointed.

The Turkish abortion debate has women wondering whether gender equality is a priority at all for the Turkish government, which is trying to position itself as an example for other countries in the Middle East.

Another Sudanese woman, 23-year-old Ms. L.I.E., has been charged with adultery and has been sentenced to death by stoning.

A report on human trafficking released by the U.S. State Department claims that many wealthy Arab Gulf tourists to Egypt “purchase” poor under-age Egyptian girls for marriages that only last for the summer. Many of these girls are left ostracized after their “marriage” has ended, and are often being forced into prostitution by their new husbands.

That Nazgul Akmatbek kyzy was brutally raped by her now ex-husband, a member of Kyrgyzstan’s KGB-successor agency, and his driver, is not that out of the ordinary, but the fact that she pressed charges is extraordinary in Kyrgyzstan, where most women are ashamed or afraid to speak about sexual crimes.

The strain of long term displacement on Darfuri refugees living in refugee camps in Chad, has resulted in a series of problems that affect refugee women in particular, such as an increase in gender based violence (GBV), early marriages and high divorce rates.

A village in Uttar Pradesh, India, has banned women under 40 from shopping, girls from using cell phones and love marriages. It is said that the predominantly Muslim population of the village is pleased with the decisions.

Amnesty International urges Iran to stop the harassment of the family of imprisoned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Last week, her 12-year-old daughter and husband received notice that they are not permitted to leave the country, something they were not planning to do anyway.

Another 250 people have been married in mass weddings in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, as part of a program organised by the Hisbah Board to cut the high number of divorce cases in Kano state. There is a condition though: the men are not allowed to divorce their new wifes without their permission

A Kabul female-only internet cafe provides a safe haven for Afghan women, where they can study and socialize free from the scrutiny of men.

Deutsche Welle profiles the new spokeswoman of the German president Gauck: Ferdos Forudastan, an Iranian German media expert.

Some Syrian refugees coming to Jordan opt for early marriages for their female relatives, believing that the marital status will offer them some protection and insurance.

Deka Mohamed is a young Somali woman, who after completing a tailoring course and obtaining work experience, had acquired the funds and skills needed to start a successful business, that has changed her life and that of her family.

Al Akhbar features an interview with Saudi princess Sarah Bint Talal, who applied for refugee status in Britain and is calling for reforms in Saudi Arabia.

Thwaiba Kanafani is a Syrian Canadian business woman, who felt called to go to Syria and bring her self-perceived expertise to aid the rebels. She was met with skepticism and eventually even called out to be an Israeli spy. If she does not succeed in her own quest to bring peace to Syria on her own terms, she says she will return to Canada and will forget about everything, but surely she will keep her newspaper clippings….

This weekend Maria TV will be launched on a conservative Islamic channel in Egypt, featuring and employing only veiled women.

Nigerian president Jonathan Goodluck has sworn in Aloma Mariam Mukhtar as the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria. Mrs. Mukhtar comes from the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, where gender inequality is most acute.

The Indonesian markets of Pasar Tasik are the place to go for (predominantly) Muslim women from all over the region to get the latest Islamic fashions, for personal use or retail. Especially during the month of Ramadan, the crowds can top 2 million daily… Guess I will be staying home and wishing all of you a very blessed Ramadan and pray that your fasting will be accepted!

  • Duff

    Did Najat Vallaud-Belkacem ever refer to herself as Muslim rather than just being of Moroccan descent? And even if she just happens to hail from a Muslim family, it doesn’t mean she necessarily identifies with Muslims or Muslim women for that matter, and whatever cause is important to them.
    It seems ‘Muslim’ women can’t seem to do anything without being criticised on muslim blogs/by muslim people for either a) not validly ‘representing’ Muslims (with the implication that they perhaps should)- such as in this Guardian article
    or b) being roundly criticised for taking a representative stance, with various Muslim bloggers then stating that they do NOT represent Muslim women (e.g. Asra Nomani etc).

    Now regarding Ms Belkacem, why does she specifically have to reprezent!!1 Muslim womenz? Is it because she herself is a brown woman so it is automatically assumed that she will do so? Funny, because white politicians aren’t constrained in such a way. And now that Ms Belkacem is seen as not doing enough on the burqa issue (which lets face it, is only an issue of relevance to a small minority of French Muslim women anyway), she is being criticised for not doing enough for ‘French Muslim women’ (or a small subset of).

    Why are there such expectations about her in particular?? I’m going to guess that she is very secular if not non-Muslim by religion (has she ever stated she is/is not? why does the Guardian writer just assume she is) AND the majority of her ex-constituents in Lyon were non-Muslim, as were the majority of the people who voted the Socialists into power. The majority of her and her government’s constituents are not invested in this issue (repealing the burqa ban) so why is it expected that a French-Moroccan woman (who seems very secular and quite bourgeois as an adult) will automatically have to pay heed to ‘Muslim issues’ above everything else. Can you imagine a young secular female politician from a nominal Catholic background being blasted by the press from not doing enough/taking a traditional stance on Catholic issues??? Of course not, because that would never happen. A lapsed/secular politician from a Catholic background could go through an entire career not touching ‘Catholic issues’ but for a lapsed/secular Muslim politician this is NOT an option. Why is there such a double standard??

    Why are secular people from nominally Muslim backgrounds tasked with such a burden of representation when a) they may not even identify as Muslim anyway, and b) people from other religious minorities do not get pigeon-holed in such a way. Overnight this young promising politician has transformed into a ‘Muslim politician’ when perhaps that’s not how she sees herself. And alot of it is due to the mainstream media and Muslim writers like the author of that Guardian article and perhaps MMW itself.

    (n.b. I think as a woman who grew up working class, she can definitely tackle some of the inequity issues associated with marginalised North African women/communities without specifically having to deal with the expectations of Muslims regarding ‘Muslim issues’ like those talked about in the Guardian article).

  • Anneke

    @ Duff, I have never read that Vallaud-Belkacem ever labeled herself as a Muslim, but she has said that she participates in religious holidays with her family, who are Muslim. The Guardian did label her as a Muslim, and so did I, as her background is definitely Muslim, and I have not read that she does NOT consider herself Muslim too. Being Muslim, like saying to be Christian etc.etc., can mean many different things. However, she has stated in an interview that she does not have any problem with the headscarf or religious schools. As just recently the “headscarf law” in France became once again stricter (women are not allowed to wear the scarf in a daycare setting, even if that is in their own home), I do believe that many (Muslim, non-Muslim, men and women) were hoping that she, as the minister of women’s rights, would have anything to say about that. So far she has been silent. The headscarf ban does affect many people, unlike the burqa ban, perhaps, and as a woman from North African background, who considers herself Moroccan and French, and comes from a family where Islamic feasts are being celebrated, I do not find it strange that people expect more from her. She is the Minister of women’s rights, for heaven’s sake, not the Minister of fisheries… Any minister of women’s rights should have addressed this issue, and she in particular.


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