Friday Links | November 15, 2013

A survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which includes the opinions of gender experts, suggests that Egypt is the worst country for women in the Arab world. Of the 22 countries reviewed, Comoros was considered to be the best. Iraq and Saudi Arabia were placed in 21st and 20th positions, respectively.

Developments in Turkey have been making the headlines over the past few weeks. The last move by the Turkish prime minister to speak out against mixed gender dorms has received a flood of criticism from different sides. Some wonder if the “silent revolution” by Turkey’s AKP party is actually out to silence women. Turkish hijab activist Merve Kavakci, in an interview, called on the Turkish government to stay out of the private lives of the Turkish people.

The Ultras girls is a new pro-Morsi group in Egypt, consisting of women, who are inspired by soccer fans in their way of protesting.

Several online campaigns have been set up to overthrow the current ban on hijab for women in public sector offices, which require a uniform in Singapore. It has been reported that the Singapore Hijab Movement Facebook page, which received close to 30,000 likes in the last couple of weeks, has been removed from Facebook for unknown reasons.

Women line up to cast their vote in the Maldives on November 9. Image by AFP.

Khabar Southeast Asia features an article on the rapid rise in Indonesia’s hijab fashion sector.

Every day dozens of Syrian women and their families are returning to Syria from Jordan, in an attempt to be unified with their male relatives. Since Jordan has closed the border with Syria, many male relatives of female refugees have been unable to reach them.

Iran’s morality police has been told to stop targeting “indecently clothed” women.

Earlier this year a research suggested that women in the MENA region (Middle East/North Africa) were least likely to start their own business, but this study did not include numbers from countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, where female start-ups are fairly common.

Al Jazeera features yet another article on why so many Syrian girls and women get married, while living in refugee camps.

Lawyers in Turpan, Xinjiang region, China have to sign a pledge denouncing “extremist activities” and participation in “illegal religious activities”. They also have to pledge that no family member or relative will wear a beard or face veil, or participate in any illegal activities.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called on Iran to end the ban on female soccer supporters in stadiums, after a number of Iranians campaigned online urging him to raise the issue during his visit to Iran.

In Germany, the market for affordable housing is extremely tight, but for visible minorities such as Muslim women, obtaining an apartment can be almost impossible.

A group of about 100 female Arab leaders from 14 countries met in Jordan in late October to discuss the post-conflict rights of women and existing UN resolutions.

A fashion event in the southern Russian city of Rostov has been canceled, allegedly after local Cossack leaders criticized the hijab show, featuring young girls.

Even though many of them were actively involved in the revolution, many of Tunisia’s working women have not gained anything from the revolution and continue their lives as ever before.

Amnesty International is calling on Sudanese authorities to drop charges against two Sudanese activists, who allegedly touched each other “indecently” while traveling together. Both are currently at risk of flogging. UN independent experts have also called on Sudan to stop flogging sentences for women accused of moral crimes.

A 26-year-old Nigerian man has to remain in prison after he allegedly raped and strangled a 10-year-old girl to death with her hijab.

The Kyrgyz government is planning to ban (foreign sponsored) pamphlets on sex, puberty and social issues that teenagers face. Most Kyrgyz teenagers do not receive any sexual education in the home, and the country has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Central Asia. Kyrgyz sociologist Gulnara Ibraeva sees this move as part of a larger trend by the Kyrgyz nationalist government.

Turkey has lifted the ban on trousers worn by female MPs in the parliament in a further liberalization of dress code.

Several Middle Eastern countries have announced some reforms in the police force recently in order to combat sexual violence, but according to a report by Saferworld, which focused on Egypt, Libya and Yemen, there is still a long way to go. In Cairo, female police officers now patrol the subway together with female volunteers of the Basma organization, which aims to fight sexual harassment

Al Jazeera features the documentary Casablanca Camerawoman, which follows Khadija, a divorced single parent in Morocco, who wants to work as a wedding photographer, despite resistance from her family.

Five women have been arrested under Senegal’s anti-gay law. Raids against suspected lesbians used to be rare in the West African country, but are now said to be on the rise, due to several recent scandals, which allegedly included lesbians.

Afghan Leila Haidari runs a private shelter for drug addicts in Afghanistan; it is estimated that about a million Afghanis are addicted to drugs.

Iran’s vice-president for women’s issues, Shahindokht Molaverdi, has said that she is planning to take action against the new Iranian law that allows fathers to marry their adopted daughters.

Al-Monitor speaks to Israa al-Mudallal, the 23-year-old first female spokesperson for Hamas.

Human Rights Watch is calling for a new investigation of the gang-rape case of a Somali woman by African Union soldiers in August this year. The victim and witnesses of the attack were reportedly harassed afterwards.

The organization representing Pakistan’s private schools has announced that it will ban the book by Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, as it claims the book would negatively influence the students.

Despite the fact that more men and women are now working together in Gaza, for unmarried couples it still remains a challenge to find opportunities to meet in public.

According to a representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), about half a million teenagers give birth annually in Indonesia.

Two Muslim women in Prague, Czech Republic, have left nursing secondary school, because they were not permitted to attend class wearing the hijab.

Earlier this week, a Pakistani woman was divorced by her husband when she returned home from the hospital after giving birth to yet another girl. Her husband wanted a son.

In most cases, Iranian girls are required to in an undoubtedly “virginal” state when they get married, but some Iranian men are questioning this and even say they prefer girls who are not virgins.

A Yemeni police official was able to stop the wedding of a 9-year-old girl last Friday, the first intervention of this kind in the country.

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