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News and Views
Interview: Amina Wadud - "The Koran Cannot Be Usurped"
Islam, gender equality and human rights are compatible – this is a basic conviction of Amina Wadud, author of several books about Islam and women. Martina Sabra interviewed the Islamic feminist at a recent conference about "Women power in Islam" in Germany.
Professor Wadud, in 2005 you produced a world-wide media hype because you publicly lead a gender-inclusive prayer for Muslim men and women in New York. You received hate-mails from all over the world, there were even bomb threats. Looking back, what do you think about the events today, and what are your conclusions from what happened?
Paradoxes of Iranian Society Spur on Heroic Women
(IPS) - Haleh Sahabi is the latest Iranian woman to die in political violence. On Wednesday, security forces attempting to cut short the Tehran funeral of her father scuffled with Sahabi, 55, who .
Sahabi had been let out of prison, where she was serving a two-year term for human rights activism, to attend the funeral.
Rwanda: Rape, justice and privacy
KIGALI, 2 June 2011 (IRIN) - A new report has rekindled debate on whether the Rwandan government "betrayed" women who were raped during the 1994 genocide by letting community-based gacaca courts process their cases.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) marks one of the first attempts by an advocacy group to assess how the gacaca handled rape cases, which were transferred from conventional courts in 2008. (Gacaca means "grass" in Kinyarwanda, symbolizing a gathering place and referring to a system of public conflict resolution once reserved for minor civil disputes.)
FGM: It happens in Malaysia too
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not a familiar custom in Malaysia. FGM is synonymous with the Middle East and African countries, and is a shocking and barbaric practice. A number of academics and researchers have expressed concern over what seems to be a growing prevalence of FGM in Malaysia.
Egypt: Admission of forced 'virginity tests' must lead to justice
The Egyptian authorities must bring those responsible for ordering or conducting forced ‘virginity tests’ to justice, following a senior military figure’s admission that the army subjected female protesters to them, Amnesty International said today.
A senior Egyptian general told CNN that women detained on 9 March at Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’, which the government has previously denied.
The general, speaking on condition of anonymity, justified the abuse by saying that the women “were not like your daughter or mine. These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters.”
Egypt: General admits 'virginity tests' conducted on protesters
Cairo (CNN) -- A senior Egyptian general admits that "virginity checks" were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.
The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.
Iran: Incarcerated Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh - "I Object to these Sentences, With or Without a License to Practice the Law"
Feminist School: At the request of the judicial authorities, Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned from Evin prison today May 29th, 2011 to attend a court hearing at the Iranian Bar Association concerning the revocation of her license to practice the law. According to reports received by the Feminist School, however, her court hearing was rescheduled.
While awaiting her court hearing, Sotoudeh wrote a letter to her husband Reza Khandan. The content of Sotoudeh’s letter is as follows:
United States: Muslim clerics sign up for evolution
The Imam Letter, launched this week in the US, is the latest challenge to Creationists of the three Abrahamic religions who reject evolution in favour of Creationism.
Creationism is the religious belief that all species were created in exactly the form they appear today.
Biological evolution is a scientific theory which posits that modern species have undergone major changes over time and can be traced back to earlier species from which they descended.
Jessica Horn: Every act of violence is a choice
“Sometimes we need to name the abnormal as abnormal, and take action to defend what is normal!” - Shereen Essof. Jessica Horn reports at the close of the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, 'Women Forging a New Security: ending sexual violence in conflict'.
In a caucus to gather input for the global campaign to End Violence Against Women, one of its founders Charlotte Bunch reiterates the basic feminist point, now underlying human rights-based laws and policies on sexual violence- that “rape is about power, not sex”.
Pakistan: Women lose livelihood centres to militants
PESHAWAR, May 28, 2011 (IPS) - Housewife Shahida Jabeen was devastated when she heard the news that she could no longer take sewing and embroidery classes at the local training centre in her hometown in South Waziristan in north-west Pakistan.
"It was like a bombshell when I was told that the skill development centre had been closed," Jabeen told IPS over the phone.
Like Jabeen, Wajiha Begum lamented the closure of her training centre.
Pakistan: Young Women Fight Extremism in Rural Areas
Eight years ago, a brave 16-year-old girl in Peshawar set up an organisation to challenge the culture of violence that was reinforcing the oppression of women.
Much attention has been focused on the process of radicalisation of young men in the areas of that border Afghanistan. Peshawar, the town near the border between the two countries, is infamous for being the centre of a vibrant industry and trade in homemade guns.
Afghanistan: Taliban kills head of girls school
gunmen have killed the headteacher of a girls' school near the Afghan capital after he ignored warnings to stop teaching girls, government officials have said.
Khan Mohammad, the head of the Porak girls' school in Logar province, was shot dead near his home on Tuesday, said Deen Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor.
"He was killed because he wanted to run the school," Darwish said.
An Eye for an Eye: Iran's Blinding Justice System
Iran's judiciary has postponed the blinding of a man as punishment for throwing acid in the face of a young woman in 2004, after she rejected his offer of marriage. The delay came in the face of mounting outcry from both inside Iran and the West over the sentence, which is permissible under qesas, a principle of Islamic law allowing victims analogous retribution for violent crimes.
The case has stirred passionate interest in Iran since 2004, when Majid Movahedi, a university student, accosted Ameneh Bahrami on a Tehran street and tossed a red bucket of sulfuric acid in her face.
Q&A: "Clergy sexual abuse of women is a violent abuse of power"
Cléo Fatoorehchi interviews DR. VALLI BATCHELOR of the World Student Christian Federation Book Project.
NEW YORK, May 15, 2011 (IPS) - Ninety to 95 percent of victims of clergy sexual exploitation are women, according to recent estimates by the Columbia Theological Seminary's Rev. Pamela Cooper White, and yet very few studies have been conducted on this issue.
Egypt: Hunting down the right to love
CAIRO, May 17, 2011 (IPS) - Abeer Fakhry, a young Christian woman, had only wanted to live with a man who would love and respect her, and not with her abusive husband. But within months of trying to escape her marriage, and her faith, Abeer finds herself chased by her family, by the Orthodox Christian Church, by the fundamentalist Islamic Salafi Group and, lately, by Egypt’s top army generals.
"I just wanted to be happy," said Abeer, who is now known by her first name, in a Youtube video that made her story famous in this country.
Egypt: Secularists unite to take on Islamists
CAIRO, May 21, 2011 (IPS) - Liberal and secular Egyptians at the core of mass protests that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak are scrambling to form a unified political front ahead of critical parliamentary elections in which they will face the better-organised Islamists.
"Time is short, and we are trying to unite the 12 million protesters who took to the streets to topple the old regime," says Gameela Ismail, co-founder of the Madaneya movement to protect Egypt’s civil state. "We welcome all the revolution’s various political forces, but we are against anyone who would bring religion into politics."
Kyrgyzstan: Bride Kidnapping - A Tradition Or A Crime?
Some 200 people took to the streets in a northern Kyrgyz province earlier this week to protest the longstanding practice of bride kidnapping.
The custom -- in which single young men kidnap their bride of choice and pressure them to agree to marriage -- is not uncommon in Kyrgyzstan.
But bride kidnapping has recently come under sharp criticism in the Central Asian country after two kidnapped brides committed suicide in a matter of months.
Saudi Arabia: Female Saudi doctor appeals to top court for right to choose a husband
Samia fled to a women's shelter rather than be forced by her male relatives to marry a less educated cousin. Her case illustrates women's growing fight against Saudi Arabia's guardianship system.
Samia is a surgeon who, as she says, is "supposed to be a grandma by now."
Saudi Arabia: Arrest of Woman Leading Right-to-Drive Campaign
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The government of Saudi Arabia moved swiftly to extinguish a budding protest movement of women claiming the right to drive, a campaign inspired by uprisings across the Arab world demanding new freedoms but at risk Monday of foundering.
Manal al-Sharif, 32, one of the campaign organizers, was detained Sunday in the eastern city of Dammam for up to five days on charges of disturbing public order and inciting public opinion by twice driving in a bid to press her cause, said her lawyer, Adnan al-Saleh.
Saudi Arabia: Free Woman Who Dared to Drive
(Beirut) - King Abdullah should immediately order the release of Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested on the morning of May 22, 2011, after she defied the kingdom's de facto ban on driving by women, Human Rights Watch said today.
She had posted a video on YouTube showing herself behind the wheel and describing the inconveniences not being able to drive causes women. Prosecutors charged al-Sharif with besmirching the kingdom's reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion, according to Saudi press reports. King Abdullah should lift the de facto ban, Human Rights Watch said.