Friday Links | November 23, 2012

Journalist Abigail Haworth shares her experience about the day she attended a religious event in Indonesia, where 248 girls underwent genital mutilation in return for a cash handout and a promise of spiritual purity. Genital mutilation is on the rise in Indonesia, where the practice is deemed by many to be an Islamic requirement for women.

This weekend a new online campaign will be launched, called Take Back The Tech, which aims to end (online) violence and discrimination against women and empower women to control technology. RNW focuses in its article on the campaign mainly on women from predominantly Muslim societies. Syrian Dana Bakdounis posted a picture on the Facebook page of The Uprising of Women in the Arab World, on which she removed her hijab; a picture that was removed a few days later by Facebook. In an interview with the BBC, she says she does not regret her move, and she has received numerous encouraging messages from women from all ages and backgrounds, in addition to a some threats.

After disputes with their families, five Saudi women living in the USA have been able to replace their student visas with so-called victim visas.

Somalia’s new foreign minister Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan is not very well known, but the challenges of her position require her to make some tough decisions in the near future.

Lawmakers in Iran are contemplating a new legislation that will make obtaining a passport and international travel more difficult for adult Iranian women.

Filipino Muslim activists light candles during a rally outside the Israeli embassy in Manila to urge an end to violence in the Gaza Strip. Image by REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Al Arabiya reports that women who do not wear the hijab in Iraq are facing increasing discrimination.

Many earthen stoves used for cooking during the Hindu festival of Chhath in Bihar, India, are made by Muslim women, who not only benefit financially, but feel that their contribution is respected by the devotees.

Last week dozens of women in Timbuktu, Mali, have been arrested for not wearing the veil.

A member of the Kyrgyz parliament urges the country’s grand mufti to ban divorce by text message. An increasing number of migrant workers divorce their wives by text message; the custom is already banned in Tajikistan.

China Daily features an article on the women-only mosques of China’s Hui minority.

Amnesty International urges as many people as possible to call for justice in the case of Egytian Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, who rescued a woman beaten and stripped by soldiers earlier this year on Tahrir Square, and was consequently attacked by soldiers herself. She has filed a formal complaint, but as of yet nobody has been held accountable.

Leila Ashirova and Bakiya Kasymova, two Uzbek migrant workers that were freed recently from the supermarket where they were living as slaves, are now facing deportation from Russia. According to the Moscow prosecutor’s office there is no ground for a criminal case, and as these two women were the initiators of the criminal case, they will now have to be deported; what will happen to the other Uzbek and Kazakh migrant workers is unclear.

A center in Iraq helps widows by offering courses that help them to qualify for employment or start their own business, so that they can provide for their families.

Former athlete and official of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Nawal El Moutakawel is mulling over her bid to become the IOC’s first female president in 2013.

Despite the fact that polygyny is illegal in Tajikistan, the practice is now very common and even deemed acceptable by Tajik society.

In the ethnically diverse Russian region of Stavropol, religious clothing, and in particular the head scarf, have been banned in schools.

In Sudan 33 women and one man have been arrested for alleged membership of the SPLM-N (Sudan People Liberation Movement-North). It is said that all detainees are subject to humiliation in detention. May Allah ease their suffering.

25% of Indian Muslim children, many of whom girls, have never attended government provided education, but have gone to religious schools instead, but these schools often do not offer courses such as math, English or science. 17-year-old Shabana Rizvi is going to a madrassa, where she did not learn how to read nor write, but she has been educated in Islam, sewing, cooking and so on.

The Guardian features an article on the question whether Senegal’s gender parity law has helped Senegalese women.

Kazakh president Nazarbayev has said that Kazakh women should not wear (Arab-style) hijab, as it is not Kazakh tradition to do so and equals going back to the Middle Ages.

IndepthAfrica reports that the religious rights of Somali women are abused inside the Somali embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. According to reports and witnessed by the author himself, women have to remove their hijabs for a passport picture.

Police and fire men in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek have prevented the self-immolation of at least ten women, who were demanding lower interest rates on mortgages and loans in the country.

An online web drama Fasateen, produced in Lebanon, aims to portray the lives of (relatively privileged Lebanese) Arab women in their 30s. You can watch Fasateen here, with English subtitles.

  • Narjis

    I appreciate being informed, but have to admit these Friday Links depress me a lot. After reading this, I feel ashamed to be of the same religion as those who oppress my sisters in Islam. I don’t think our religion is meant to make us miserable, but sometimes it feels like there is no joy for a Muslimah in this world. May Allah forgive me for what I have said.

  • Anneke

    Thanks Narjis for your comment! Yes, majority of the news is not very positive, but I believe that awareness is the first step in bettering the lives of people, and in particular Muslim women, worldwide. “Our” problems are as diverse as our community is, and that is something that we have to realize, but unfortunately many of “our” problems are directly or indirectly related to (mis)interpretations of our religion in combination with tradition, customs and perceived norms and values. Even if we cannot help these women directly, sharing their stories and indeed, praying for them, might have some effect in the long run. Don’t be discouraged, there are very many positive stories out there too! They just don’t always make the news!

  • karimah

    @Narjis

    I often too feel the same way as you while reading these friday links but I am glad Anneke responded to you because her points were extremely valid. These terrible things done to women in the name of Islam are truely unislamic and the first step is awareness and afterwhich education, not just of girls but boys also. I see a lot of issues that appear are actually cultural in nature and have over time been unjustly brought into the fold of Islam where they don’t belong. All we can do for them a majority of the time is pray for them.

  • Guy

    Whats even more depressing is that Muslim men are ALWAYS blamed for everything. Has anyone ever devoted ANY understanding and recognition to the millions of Muslim men who are wrongfully oppressed, tortured, defamed and abused simply for being Muslim. It seems the entire world wants to ‘rescue’ Muslim women, fight for their rights and empower them. But God forbid if you are a Muslim man!! You’re evil from the day you were born. I know this is about women’s issues but you will never achieve any rights for women in a society if you fail to objectively evaluate the roles of men in the same society. I respect women and want to fight for their rights but as soon as I encounter the atrocious levels of sexism and bigotry in the ‘Islamic’ feminist movements, I lose heart immediately. I think I’m going to have to start a Muslim men’s rights group. Its almost as if its a crime to be a Muslim man, especially if you happen to come from the Islamic third world.


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