Friday Links | February 21, 2014

Last week was Valentine’s Day, and for some Muslims this is, and has been, a heated topic. Islamic leaders in countries such as  Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi ArabiaIndonesia and Turkey have spoken out against the celebration, saying that it leads to fornication, “baby-dumping” and general immorality. In Uzbekistan, students were “asked” to sign contracts affirming that they won’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Salafists in the Gaza Strip have tried to halt the celebration of Valentine’s Day by campaigning against it, but for many Gazans Valentine’s Day remains rather harmless celebration of (young) love. Asiya Andrabi, an activist from Kashmir, has been arrested with several others on Valentine’s Day for attempting to raid several restaurants in her organisation’s anti-Valentine’s campaign. In Turkey, celebrating Valentine’s Day has become fairly common and popular, which is ironic, some say, since so many women are still victims of violence and abuse, especially in the domestic sphere.

Friends and relatives of three “prisoners of conscience” in Uzbekistan have expressed concern about the health status of the three prisoners (two of whom are sisters) and the lack of adequate health care that has been made available to them. The sisters are arrested for holding unauthorised religious gatherings, for which they received a seven-year jail sentence in 2010.

Many of the early marriages among Syrian refugees end early too, but the questionable legality of many of these marriages often makes divorce complicated.

In a piece for 50.50 OpenDemocracy, Sudanese blogger Yosra Akasha shares how in Sudan women generally are blamed for rape and sexual assault.

Verbal and physical harassment aimed at women and girls has become a serious problem in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi women are turning to social media to document the cases and reveal the identities of the perpetrators.

Bohra Muslim girls, clad in multicolour headwear, chat outside a mosque in Mumbai, India. Around 1.2 million Muslims worldwide are Bohra Muslims, which is a sect of Shi’a Islam. Image by Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images.

A Pakistani widow shares how violence has affected her family, and how she remains hopeful that peace will return to her home in Waziristan, despite the announcement by the Pakistani government that it will not engage in peace talks with the Taliban until the fighters agree to a cease fire.

An 11-year-old girl is reported to be the only survivor of two massacres in the Muslim quarter in a village not far from Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR). The girl was hiding in an abandoned house when she was found.

Afghani president Karzai has ordered a review of the controversial draft law that would make it very difficult for victims of domestic abuse to stand up against their perpetrators, after weeks of campaigning by rights activists and (international) organizations, who now cheer their victory.

A former US soldier sentenced to life for raping and killing a teenage Iraqi girl and shooting three of her family members while on duty in Iraq has been found hanged in his cell.

Amnesty International calls for more legal protection for millions of predominantly female domestic workers in Indonesia.

There is no evidence from security cameras that a woman and her baby were attacked last June during protest in Istanbul, Turkey, because she was wearing a headscarf. Critics claim that PM Erdogan used to story to defame Gezi protesters and say that he should either admit his lie or come up with evidence.

Women’s rights activists in Azerbaijan have noted an increase in murders and suicides in the home and are calling on the government to act faster in cases of domestic violence.

Last Friday, the Tunisian government announced an enhanced control on women wearing a face veil to deal with terrorist risks.

Several recent cases of kidnapping, violence and other acts against women in Lebanon are proof that the country still has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality.

A couple in Balochistan, Pakistan has been stoned to death for having an affair, while both being married to other people; six people have been arrested for the murder, including the cleric who allegedly issued the order to kill them.

Underage and “uneven” marriages are on the rise in urban Iraq; though historically already common in more remote rural areas, these marriages have become more acceptable in the urban centres now too.

A survey among Syrian refugee women in Lebanon criticises the lack of antenatal, mental health and general care available to the refugees.

The ease of sanctions by the US on Iran could help the country and civil groups operating there, but many women activists in exile are concerned about the lack of progress in the country’s human rights situation.

Bahraini activist Zainab al-Khawaja has been released from prison, after having spent almost a year incarcerated, but could face more time as she has two pending trials. She is determined to continue fighting for her cause.

Libya says it will offer compensation to women raped during the 2011 uprising, which resulted in the killing of the former Libyan president Gaddafi.

Dating sites for China’s Hui Muslim minority try to help Hui Chinese find their life partner, but differences in religious observance and demographic obstacles make finding love rather complicated.

Over 10,000 women in Kashmir now own their own businesses, mainly in handicrafts; in a society were this was previously thought of as being taboo, people are speaking of a silent social change.

The murder of Iranian Sanaz Nezami by her Iranian-American husband draws attention to the vulnerability of immigrant women when it comes to domestic abuse.

The report Women in Niqab Speak: A study of the niqab in Canada was presented last Sunday in Guelph, Canada.

The Maldives Olympic Committee says it will now give priority to training and funding female athletes, although few sports have an opportunity to actually represent the Maldives on an international level.

Victims of a garment factory fire almost two years ago are still awaiting their compensation.

Plastic surgery is gaining popularity in Iraq, especially among veiled women, at a time where a veil for many women is not so much a religious symbol but more of a social habit.

Somayya Jabarti has been named as the first female editor-in-chief of a major daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia.

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  • Y. A. Warren

    Even after having the privilege of working as an editorial mentor in Yosra’s training with World Pulse, I was not aware that Yosra has her own blog. Thank you for pointing this out.