Book review: Jewels of Allah by Nina Ansary

Book cover. Source - ninaansary.com

When I first heard the title of Dr. Nina Ansary’s latest book, Jewels of Allah, on the life of women in Iran, I must admit I had to restrain myself. In general I’m pretty wary about labelling women as two-dimensional objects, whether in a negative (‘lollipops’) or positive (‘pearl in its shell’) way. Ansary explains that the title is “meant to convey that women, who have been ordained as inferior [by hardline conservative factions] are in fact the jewels of the Creator”.The book promises to t … [Read more...]

Not Between Her and Allah: Hijab-shaming in Malaysia

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Hijab-shaming is a favourite activity for some Muslims, both on-and offline. In fact, just last month I attended a religious class where the teacher spent a good half hour doing just that (I had to stop going for my mental health).While meeting up with a girlfriend last week, she regaled me with the details of a religious class where the female teacher showed examples of “improper hijab” from a selection of hijabi Instagram users – young women who were obviously oblivious to the use of their … [Read more...]

Muslimahs with disabilities need to you hold the lift door, not gawk at their mobility aids

A Singaporean news channel produced a series of Youtube videos featuring selected athletes with disabilities, or para-athletes. One featured athlete is Aishah Samad, a shooter who had to have all four of her limbs amputated after going into septic shock and contracting gangrene in the hospital on the way home from a trip to China.In the short 5-minute video, at least a fifth of the entire video focuses solely on footage of Aishah’s mobility aids. The video starts with a drawn-out shot of s … [Read more...]

Why does an Indonesian woman need to be a virgin to join the military?

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An expose by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in November 2014 on the use of virginity tests in Indonesia’s police force has revealed that just because people are silent over a long-standing practice, it doesn’t mean that it is accepted as a normal part of everyday life. Also referred to as the “two-finger test”, it involves a female physician inserting two fingers into the vagina to check for vaginal laxity and the presence of an intact hymen. Women who failed the test are not necessarily rejected, but … [Read more...]

Review of Desert Dancer (2015)

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Six years ago I attended a contemporary dance workshop, and while I’ve been dancing for most of my life, what struck me most was one improvisation that involved dancing as if you were the furniture in your room. When we had come up with a sequence of movements representing various wardrobes, nightstands, mirrors, beds and tables, we had to then dance it while interpreting the concept of fear.I was thinking about this workshop as I watched Desert Dancer (2015) by Richard Raymond. The film is p … [Read more...]

Rejected (Muslim) Princesses: awesomely offbeat women in history

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If you're our regular reader, you know that mainstream media sorely lacks female characters who have a range of emotions, abilities and ambitions - in other words: real women.Children's animated films are of no exception. It was only in 2009 that Disney introduced its first Disney princess of colour, black princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. More recently, Princess Elsa of Frozen (2013) was lauded for being a "complex and contentious heroine" by the Feminist Wire. But most cha … [Read more...]

Stability and Sustainability: Interview with Dr Hawa Abdi

hawa

It is a calm and cool afternoon in Nairobi, Kenya, when I catch up with Dr Hawa Abdi over Skype. After working hard in Mogadishu’s difficult circumstances with her two physician daughters Deqo and Amina Mohamed, she sometimes comes to Nairobi to rest and relax. Speaking over a passable internet connection, our conversation is peppered with silences, as our words travel between Kenya and Singapore. 68 year-old Dr Abdi, affectionately known by Somalis as Mama Hawa, is more than Somalia’s first gyn … [Read more...]


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