Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nigeria, Canada Kick against Child Marriage

An Iraqi bride prepares to go to her wedding party in Baghdad, Jan. 4, 2007. (photo by Getty Images/Sabah Arar)


Pakistan Girl Burnt To Death for Refusing Marriage Proposal
Miss USA's 'Message to Terrorists' Evokes Widespread Criticism
Saudi Businesswomen Hope Reforms Initiated By Abdullah Will Continue
Blackburn Faith Schools Thwart Sexual Health Workers
Birmingham' Hospital Deals With 1,500 Cases of FGM in Just Five Years
Women Face Violence All Over Turkey
Britain Allows To Find Out Partner's History Of Domestic Violence Before Marriage
Female Engineers in Lebanon Push the Glass Ceiling
Rising Incomes Mean Many Iraqi Men Marry Multiple Wives
Child Rapist's Beheading Is First Execution under New Saudi King
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


Nigeria, Canada Kick against Child Marriage
27 January 2015
Abuja — IN furtherance of Canada's programme on the eradication of child, early and forced marriage all over the world, the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria has kicked off a campaign to end the menace in Nigeria, especially in northern part of the country, where the case of early marriage is more prevalent and girl education is at its minimum.
The High Commission is currently working with a local non- governmental organisation, Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, which is a part of the 400-member Girl Not Bride Network worldwide. The organisation is helping to map the extent of child and early marriage, as well as to sensitise local communities especially, on the damage that is done by the menace, as well as working to reduce it.
To drive home the point, the embassy recently in Abuja, held a photo exhibition of the extent of child marriage all over the world. From Yemen to India and elsewhere in Asia, the travelling exhibit consisting of 26 framed photos and three videos showed how under-aged girls of between eight and 12 are forced into early marriage.
The High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, Mr. Perry Calderwood, who noted that about 15 million girls are forced into early marriage worldwide on an annual basis, said that the exhibition, "Too Young To Wed", had been shown around the world, including in countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, Argentina, Portugal, Finland, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Senegal and Ghana.
According to Calderwood, the issue of child, early and forced marriage has become a priority to Canada because it has hindered the advancement of six out of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), talking about the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; combat HIV and other diseases. "A significant reduction in its prevalence would result in more developed, just and prosperous societies", he said, adding that it is a top priority for Canada for the issue of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) to be included in the post-2015 global development agenda.
He stated that Canada in October 2013, announced the donation of $5 million in new money to address the causes and consequences of CEFM around the world. These funds, he said, were used for programmes in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia, and Zimbabwe.
According to him, Canada donated another $20 million in July 2014, to UNICEF, toward ending child, early and forced marriage. The donation is to be spread over two years. The UNICEF project aims to accelerate the movement to end child marriage in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Yemen and Zambia by supporting efforts in these countries to strengthen programming and political support to end the practice.
The ambassador noted that the regional campaign aims to accelerate the end of child marriage in Africa by enhancing continental awareness of its effects.
Member of the Board of the Nigerian NGO, Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative, Mrs. Mariam Uwais, who also spoke on the Nigerian experience at the press conference and exhibition held by the embassy, noted that many girls are not given the opportunity to realise their potentials mainly because they are married off early. According to her, half of them are married off before the age of 15.
"This impacts on their health, talking about maternal health. We have about 20,000 young girls with narrow pelvis having VVF a year and our repair centre can only cope with 4,000 a year. The only way to combat this is to prevent it. We have girls dying while having children. They have babies dying of malnutrition. Most babies who suffer malnutrition come from girls who are malnourished because the mother herself is malnourished. The child only grabs from whatever it can".
"This is frightening because in 10 or 20 years, these children are not able to reach their potentials in terms of nutrition and even cognitive ability. Then you think about the young girl that is married off. She moves into a new environment with responsibilities such as cooking for the husband, she starts looking after her husband, starts to get pregnant. That saps her emotionally. She has no formal education; her children don't get formal education. This is a cycle that needs to be broken. She can not have a legitimate income, many communities where child marriage is practised are in poverty".
"When you have half of the community not being productive, there's no way the girls can rise above their abject condition. The only option is to have divorce because they are immature, they are not patient. They have children left behind because they can't take them back to their parents. So you have the almajiris, drug abuse and commercial sex workers", she said.
While addressing the misconception about certain faiths believed to be encouraging child-marriage, Uwais said that there is no faith that can justify injustice. "There is no way you can justify child-marriage, when you look at the scriptures, you will know that God is a just God. I appeal to everybody to adopt a girl or ensure that a girl remains in school. That way, they will be better wives and better mothers".
"Many Muslim majority countries are now pegging the minimum age for marriage because they've realised that it is harmful to the society. Even within Islam, there are doctrines that are utilised to prevent harm. And the problem is the people that actually benefit from child marriage are the parents and the husbands. We need to show what is happening in other countries to show that it is wrong, harmful and un-Islamic to compel a child to go through pains for the rest of her life. We have the duty to protect the weak and vulnerable in the society and there is no doubt that child-marriage has a lot of adverse effects", she added.
Executive Secretary of the NGO, Amina Hanga, who spoke about the experience in Kano, narrated the ordeal that women who had been married off early go through.
"What struck me was the recent bombings that took place in a mosque in Kano. A lot of the men were killed and their wives, a lot of whom had been married off while they were children, none of them had formal education. They had no economic skills. The breadwinners were gone. Some had up to 10 children and some still had babies. One was a 40-day-old baby. What will happen to these women who had no education to help themselves? I live and work in Kano, this is what we see every day, from the rural to the urban areas".
"In the rural areas especially, up till now, there is a lot of ignorance about the education of the girl-child. It's either you see the girls hawking on the streets while the boys are almajiris, begging. It's a challenge we need to work on. We need to get people to be aware of the problems and tackle them".
Hanga stated the need to sensitise the communities while calling on the legislators to pass the Child Rights Bill into law both at national and state levels. She also implored religious leaders to show leadership on the importance of education for children.

Pakistan Girl Burnt To Death for Refusing Marriage Proposal
PTI | Jan 27, 2015
ISLAMABAD: In a horrific incident, an 18-year-old Pakistani girl was burnt to death after being doused with kerosene by her jilted lover for refusing his marriage proposal, the latest case of violence against women in the country.
The girl was set on fire in Naushahro Feroze district of Sindh province on Monday by Sajid Qureshi, a cloth merchant, after his marriage proposal was refused more than once by the girl's mother and brother.
Sajid, who was reportedly drunk, on Monday broke into the girl's house and tried to assault her. The girl resisted and started screaming for help. The accused then threw kerosene oil on her, set her on fire and fled, police said.
The girl was rushed to the Taluka hospital, where the doctors said that 60 to 65 per cent of her body was burnt.
The victim was later shifted to a hospital in Karachi but succumbed to her injuries, Samma TV reported.
Police, on the complaint of the girl's brother, has lodged an FIR against Sajid and arrested him.
The man in question lives adjacent to girl's house. The accused allegedly broke into their house and threw kerosene oil on the girl and put her on fire, Station Head Officer Asad Nabi Khichi said.

Miss USA's 'Message to Terrorists' Evokes Widespread Criticism
27 January 2015
Miss USA Nia Sanchez may not have won the crown at the recently held Miss Universe pageant, but her 'message' to terrorists at the event has created a Twitter storm.
The 24-year-old beauty, who made it to top five but lost the crown to Miss Colombia, was asked what message she would send to global terrorists, at which replied she wanted to 'spread a message of hope and love and peace', News.com.au reported. Following her response, social media users started debating, criticizing and sharing their thoughts on what they thought of her message
While a fan wrote "PS: Miss USA answered her onstage question in true Miss Congeniality form and said she wanted world peace. My life is complete: another said "miss USA said she would try to spread love and hope to terrorists. yes, if only we would've tried offering love and peace to ISIS."
A Twitter user mocked her answer saying "GOOD ONE MISS USA" while another expressed that Sanchez's answer was a little too ambitious, adding that "Hope and love and peace, beautiful words but can they tackle terrorism? No!” Sanchez was the first runner-up in the 63rd edition of the Miss Universe pageant, which was held at Florida International University.
Here are some Twitter reactions post Sanchez's comments.

Saudi Businesswomen Hope Reforms Initiated By Abdullah Will Continue
 January 27, 2015
DAMMAM — A group of Saudi businesswomen agreed the death of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has dealt a hard blow to all women, Al-Madinah reported.
During his reign, women had made unprecedented achievements, the most important of which was full membership of the Shoura Council and becoming active members who play a role in the decision-making process.
Women entered the private and public sector workforces and were able to work in different jobs and achieve many of their ambitions and dreams because of King Abdullah's policies.
Businesswomen are confident Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman will adopt the same policy toward women and continue the journey of reforms. They are certain they will continue moving forward under the current King.
Women won't be marginalized
King Abdullah was a staunch supporter of women and had played a major role in enhancing women's social status, said Omaima Azouz, chairwoman of the design and fashion committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Because of him, women are no longer marginalized; they are the center of attention for the government.
She said: “Women have accomplished so many things and won leading positions that were dominated by men.
“He opened the doors for us to work as saleswoman, engineers, reporters, security guards, fashion designers and more.
“He had removed all insurmountable obstacles facing women and paved the way for them to go out and earn their own living without relying on anyone.”
She still remembers vividly King Abdullah's famous words: “Allah knows you are all in my heart.
“My source of strength is Allah and you.
“Always include me in your prayer.”
Global achievements
Olfat Qabani, deputy chairwoman of the industrial committee, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said women had played a bigger role in the development of the country and national economy during King Abdullah's reign.
She said Saudi women have set an example for other women in the Muslim and Arab countries.
Since King Abdullah took over, he had made many decisions and launched numerous initiatives to make women major partners in development programs.
King Abdullah once said to the foreign media: “Saudi women have proven over the years they possess professional capabilities similar to those of their counterparts in other parts of the world.
“We are keen to enhance this role and create an environment conducive to women, an environment that stimulates Saudi women and allows them to work without violating the Shariah rules and social traditions.”
Qabani said she is sure women will continue to move ahead during the reign of King Salman, who is known for his balanced approach.
Leading positions
Mona Rehan, deputy chairwoman of the JCCI's fashion decision committee, talked about the leading positions women held in the era of King Abdullah.
Many women had won global awards and appreciation certificates as well as medals in recognition of their accomplishments in various scientific and non-scientific fields. “There is no doubt that the era of King Abdullah had witnessed great achievements by women on so many levels,” she said.
Successful stories
Amal Anqawi, businesswoman, said during the reign of King Abdullah the number of female members of the Shoura Council who worked on a part-time basis increased from six to 12. The first batch of female lawyers graduated from King Saud University.
The government introduced numerous regulations supporting women socially and the Ministry of Labor set up a training center for young women who wanted to join the private sector.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry facilitated the procedures for women who wanted to start their own businesses.

Blackburn Faith Schools Thwart Sexual Health Workers
 January 27, 2015
HEALTH workers have voiced their frustration at several faith schools which have refused to host their sex education workshops – fearing pupils are not getting the information they need.
The NHS Community Education Sexual Health Team (CESH) said it had not been given access to any of the Catholic and Muslim secondary schools in Blackburn, some in other parts of East Lancashire also appear to have declined the sessions.
The team believes its information about contraception is the main reason, and fears pupils will be more at risk of teenage pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
They would not name individual schools, but the state-funded Catholic and Muslim schools in Blackburn are St Bede’s, Our Lady and St John, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School and Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School.
Meanwhile, St Augustine’s in Billington and Mount Carmel in Accrington do not appear to run the sessions, while St John Fisher and Thomas More in Colne has not hosted the team for about two years.
There is no suggestion that any of the schools are failing to adhere to the national curriculum, which requires contraception and some sex and relationship education (SRE) to be covered under the science agenda. However, several leading charities and sexual health experts have described this as inadequate, and called for comprehensive SRE to be taught within compulsory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) classes.
Sue Roscow, a senior member of the sexual health team, said: “The thing about the faith schools is the misunderstanding about what we deliver. It’s been extremely frustrating over ten or 12 years of working in this post. At one school a parent didn’t like what we were doing and went to the governors. I then had a phone call from the school saying, I’m sorry, we have to take it out because you’re talking about contraception.”
The CESH team’s work goes beyond the national curriculum by offering specialist support and advice on contraception and other issues, as well as sessions about the impact of pornography, digital technology and the risk of sexual exploitation.
East Lancashire is one of a few areas in the country to benefit from this dedicated outreach service, due to its historically high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
There are no problems with accessing pupils at non-faith and Church of England schools, the team said.
When asked why they had not hosted CESH sessions, the schools said they designed their own sessions within the PSHE programme.
Sue Capstick, manager of the CESH team, said: “We would recommend that every school recognises the need for a big cultural shift in the way we talk with, and listen to, young people about sex and relationships.”

Birmingham' Hospital Deals With 1,500 Cases of FGM in Just Five Years
 January 27, 2015
Doctors at one English hospital have dealt with 1,500 cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in just five years, it emerged today.
Figures from Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital reveal that staff sees six patients who have been subjected to the barbaric procedure every week.
Nationwide, 15 new cases of FGM are reported to hospital around the country every day. But the victims of the shocking practice are clustered in certain areas, which explain the high rate in Birmingham.
Heartlands saw 349 cases in 2013, following 288 cases in 2012, 316 in 2011 and 317 in 2010.
It is thought to be one of the centres which has seen a large number of the 463 cases now being identified in England every month.
NSPCC Head of Child Protection Operations John Cameron said: 'These figures show the NHS is consistently seeing a high number of FGM cases every month.
'FGM is a live public health issue and it is vital all health professionals are trained to spot the signs of FGM and that girls who are subjected to this brutal practice get the post-traumatic support they deserve.
'We need to ensure doctors, midwives and other healthcare professionals are working effectively together with children's services to support and protect FGM victims and their family members.'
The records show the number of women recorded as having been subjected to the practice, even if they were in hospital for another reason.
Campaigners have pointed out that the numbers may be just the tip of the iceberg, as only those women who have sought specific medical treatment are included in the data.
It is believed the vast majority of cases are women who were born abroad and then moved to the UK in childhood or later life.
Victims are often identified when they come in to have infections and other conditions linked to the procedure treated, while others are noted when they attend for pre-natal checks.
FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1984 and since 2003 anyone taking a child out of the UK for the practice faces 14 years in prison.
Despite the rise in hospital cases and an increase in reports to police in 2014 there has not been a single conviction in the UK.
Research by the charity Equality Now and City University last year estimated more than 100,000 women have migrated to England and Wales after suffering FGM - up more than 50% since 2001.
The Birmingham hospital's figures were released after the Muslim Women's Network told the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel that the levels current support and counselling for victims - many of whom suffer flashbacks - are not good enough.
The charity said the latest case it uncovered was just last week and involved a young Yemeni girl from an unnamed Birmingham school.
Shaita Gohir MBE, who is chair of the charity, told the panel: 'We need to get funding for specific counselling in this area.'
Birmingham is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Britain. In the 2011 census, more than 280,000 residents - 26% of the city's population - gave their ethnicity as Asian or Asian-British, 93,000 said they consider themselves Black or Black-British and 10,900 listed themselves as Arab.
Earlier this month, Britain's top family judge, Sir James Munby called on local councils to do more to battle what he called 'the great evil' of FGM.
He said: 'Plainly, given the nature of the evil, prevention is infinitely better than cure.
'Local authorities need to be pro-active and vigilant in taking appropriate protective measures to prevent girls being subjected to FGM.
'The court must not hesitate to use every weapon in its protective arsenal if faced with a case of actual or anticipated FGM.'

Women face violence all over Turkey
27 January 2015
Women face violence in many fields across Turkey, but the type of harassment differs according to geographical regions, a new Family Ministry report has shown.
The study, which divides the country into 12 regions, showed that sexual violence is most prevalent in northeastern Anatolia, while physical violence is widespread in Central Anatolia.
The survey, which was not announced to the public, but submitted to a parliamentary commission that works on violence against women, also showed that the women in Istanbul are not much less victimized by physical violence compared to Central Anatolia. Some 36 percent of the women in Turkey's largest city have faced physical violence in their lifetime, and 8 percent have suffered from violence in the last 12 months, according to the survey. 
The study was conducted by Hacettepe University and was finalized at the end of last year. It categorizes violence under “physical,” “sexual,” “emotional,” “economic” and “insistent harassment [stalking],” with a more detailed report of the figures to be released soon.
Some 43 percent of women in Central Anatolia, which is known as a conservative region, said they have faced physical violence at one point in their lives, followed by Western Anatolia at 42 percent, and 27 percent in the eastern Black Sea region.
Some 16 percent of women in northeast Anatolia were subject to sexual violence, and 8 percent were victimized in the last 12 months. Istanbul is above the national average in this category at 13 percent, while 10 percent of Western Black Sea and Central Anatolian women said they were subject to sexual violence.
Meanwhile, Western Anatolia is the peak of "emotional violence" at 54 percent, while the lowest proportion of women reporting this type of harassment is in the Eastern Marmara region at 35 percent.
Four out of every 10 women face violence, according to Aylin Nazlıaka, an Ankara deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), speaking during a press conference at parliament on Jan. 26. However, 89 percent of them do not apply to the authorities because they usually do not know what to do, Nazlıaka added.
She also criticized the government's recently unveiled family package promoting motherhood, saying it was an attempt to “put women into darkness.”
“The only thing they care about is having women give birth, like incubators,” Nazlıaka said.

Britain allows to find out partner's history of domestic violence before marriage
27 January 2015
LONDON: A landmark law introduced in Britain recently that allowed people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence before getting married to them has successfully been used more than 1,300 times in less than a year.
Clare's Law - named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009 - came into force across England and Wales in March 2014.
At least 1,335 disclosures have been made so far, police figures show.
This new power enables police and magistrates' courts to provide protection to victims in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.
Around 76 women were killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner last year.
The figures, released following Freedom of Information requests, show there have been at least 3,760 applications under the law so far - resulting in the 1,335 disclosures.
Home secretary Theresa May said "the scheme is designed to provide victims with information that may protect them from an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. The scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. It follows a 14 moth pilot trial in four police force areas - Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire - since September 2012 which provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information."
Clare Wood, a mother-of-one, was killed by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton, who had a history of violence to women. Her body was discovered in her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 - she had been strangled and set on fire. He became known as the "Facebook killer" as he prowled the social networking site in search of partners.
In the months before her murder she had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police alleging Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed her, threatened to kill her and tried to rape her. Police watchdogs later concluded Miss Wood had been badly let down by "individual and systemic" failures by the force.

Female Engineers in Lebanon Push The Glass Ceiling
January 27, 2015
Even though the number of working women in Lebanon is less than that of men, 26% of working women have specialized careers, such as medicine and engineering, in comparison to 8% of men. According to 2009 figures from the Central Statistics Directorate, 21% and 27% of the total number of engineers in the Beirut and Tripoli syndicates, respectively, are women.
These rates are lower than what is required. However, Lebanese women engineers are proving that women can achieve success and take on senior positions at the economic and social levels, and even maybe excel over men in some fields.
When asked about professional success, engineer Layla Awwad smiles. “Women have remarkable competence and manage their work meticulously,” she told As-Safir. “They can also solve problems and overcome obstacles smoothly, unlike men who lose their temper immediately.” Awwad noted that she has “been working in the interior design field for over 20 years,” saying that many male engineers used to envy her for the large number of job offers she received from abroad due to her experience and expertise.
Nabila, an agricultural engineer, believes that “women are patient. This reflects positively on their work and daily life. At times, they can endure what men cannot.” She then added, “I often hear that dealing with women is easier than men. However, I do not believe that this is a competition or a race. Both genders can prove their capacities and perform the job differently.”
Female engineers who were interviewed by As-Safir said that their work was often coupled with obstacles, mainly the difficulty of balancing work and family life. Sumaya, a civil engineer, explained that because of her work in Lebanon and abroad, she postponed marriage because she did not want to settle down before achieving her ambitions. “When I got married at the age of 35, I was obliged to leave work for two years when my first child was born. It was impossible at that stage to normally pursue my work. However, I returned to the job because I have yet to achieve all my ambitions. Many dreams are still waiting for me.”
Jean, a communication engineer, believes that her “work inside and outside Lebanon is a proof that women have become fierce competitors with men. The latter now are concerned that women will assume prominent positions and take control over the management because they will definitely excel.” She said, “The male chauvinistic mentality that marginalizes women has started to slightly recede in recent years because women proved their competence and right to get equal pay, and even more, sometimes, in addition to women assuming important positions.”
Another obstacle threatening the engineering profession is the large number of graduates, notably in the computer engineering field. This leads to a high rate of unemployment among engineers. The licenses granted to a large number of universities resulted in large number of graduates, reaching around 55,000 — 44,000 in Beirut and the remaining 11,000 in the north. This means that there is one engineer to every hundred Lebanese citizens, with the majority of graduates being males. From March 31, 2014, to date, around 1,200 engineers have joined the syndicate.
Women in the workforce
According to the 2009 figures from the Central Statistics Directorate, the rate of economic activity reached 48% in 2009. In other words, half of the population is working or ready to work. It was shown that the majority of men are economically active (73%), in comparison to a much lower rate for women. However, the rate of economic activity for women has registered a slight increase, reaching 23% in 2009, in comparison with 21% in 2007.

Rising Incomes Mean Many Iraqi Men Marry Multiple Wives
January 27, 2015
BAGHDAD — Hashem (a pseudonym), told Al-Monitor, “I married a widow who works as a schoolteacher and lives in the city of Karbala. I did so because I needed a woman from the same academic and cultural background as mine, as I was fed up with my illiterate wife.”
Hashem said that he graduated from the Arabic department at the University of Baghdad in 1982 and then married his cousin while living in the countryside on the outskirts of Baghdad.
“After 2003, my monthly salary increased and my living situation improved. Later on, I met a female colleague and we agreed to get married,” Hashem said, adding bluntly, “My first wife does not know I have a second wife, but my new wife knows that I am married and she understands the circumstances that drove me to marry a woman who is not of my level.”
Although Hashem, who is a teacher, said he married a woman who does not share his educational level, he has four children with her and he is proud of them.
Women's rights activist Susan Qaisi told Al-Monitor that this duality in behavior — when a man lives with a wife for two decades and has four children with her and then claims that she is unsuitable and that he is forced to remarry — is social hypocrisy. She said, “This is the product of a backward culture that sees women as a commodity that may be sold by a man as he pleases. Invoking cultural differences after a long time of marriage is not convincing.”
The second-wife phenomenon, both publicly and in secret, is widely spread in Iraqi society. Polygamy has increased with per capita income.
Those who support the practice invoke Islamic permission for polygamy, which is authorized under the 1959 Personal Status Law with a judge’s permission, on the condition that the husband is financially capable and provided there is a "legitimate" reason for concluding another marriage. Possible "legitimate" reasons include the first wife being unable to bear children or having a disease preventing her from performing her other "duties" to her husband.
However, others consider this a backward phenomenon that has no place in the modern era and leads to social problems, such as family disintegration and juvenile delinquency.
In another example, soldier Hassan Jassem is not even 30 years old but already married to a second wife. He told Al-Monitor, “There is full harmony between my two wives and they live with my mother under the same roof.”
Jassem said, “I got married for the second time to a widow who is my friend’s sister, to save her from staying alone with no husband and especially since she did not have children from her first marriage. We are now expecting our first child.”
Jassem gave several social and religious justifications, saying that he followed the advice of a religious man who encouraged him to marry widows, divorcees and spinsters.
The polygamy phenomenon has increased with the increasing numbers of widows resulting from the wars Iraq has fought over three centuries. The number of divorcees and spinsters is also said to be rising, though there are no accurate statistics available.
Salam Jabbar, a human rights activist and researcher with the University of Qadisiyah, told Al-Monitor, “A second marriage in Iraqi society has become an urgent necessity, and the first wife must understand this so as not to force the man to marry in secret.”
Jawad al-Shamari, the media director of Iraq’s Human Rights Commission, spoke to Al-Monitor and criticized the attitude that women are “inferior,” saying, “Inter-gender communication on social networking sites and the rise of employment among men in the private sector boosted the polygamy phenomenon.”
Civil activist and writer Ali Srhan has a different interpretation. He told Al-Monitor that polygamy “is due to the sexual complex suffered by the Iraqis,” saying, “This complex is expressed in different ways when it comes to marriage. In light of the lack of freedoms and social and economic backwardness, marriage options are closer to coercion rather than freedom of choice.”
“It is easier for a man to opt for a second marriage, given the large array of 'aesthetic choices' that have spread with the new means of communication, which offer men in particular a vast multiplicity of temptations,” Srhan said. “This is also due to the fact that women in our society are less willing to serve their husbands [now that they have more economic freedom and independence], in addition to the improved economic situations of some, and the huge number of spinsters who missed the marriage train.”
Qasim Mozan, a researcher in the social investigation department in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah, told Al-Monitor, “The Eastern man sees his second wife as his mistress and he plays this role with her, whether the marriage is for a short term or long. No matter how courageous a man is, he remains weak in the face of Eastern women's stubbornness and conservatism and therefore seeks the oasis of freedom that he finds in a second wife.”
Mozan believes the “Eastern man suffers injustice in his relationship with his wife, and thus most of them resort to a secret wife.”
For his part, Majid al-Kallabi, a sheikh from the Kullabiya tribe, told Al-Monitor, “This phenomenon is due to the financial ability that makes polygamy possible. The social environment promotes the likelihood of a second or even a third marriage. This phenomenon is widely spread in rural and conservative communities with a low educational level, more than in cities and among the educated social classes.”
Kallabi believes that “polygamy promotes the dignity of women by protecting them with marriage and preventing them from falling into sin and having to live alone without a breadwinner.”
Feminist and rights activist Alia al-Kadi told Al-Monitor that the practice is “humiliating for women and an arbitrary behavior in a patriarchal society.”

Child Rapist's Beheading Is First Execution under New Saudi King
 January 27, 2015
Saudi Arabia on Monday beheaded a serial child rapist, in the first execution since King Salman's rise to the throne in the conservative Muslim monarchy, official media said. "Mousa bin Saeed Ali al-Zahrani lured several underage girls and kidnapped them. He also threatened them and their relatives and physically assaulted them in his home," the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the interior ministry.
"He raped them, detained them, forced them to drink alcohol, and forced some to watch pornographic material."The report did not disclose his nationality. Zahrani was beheaded in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, bringing to 13 the number of Saudis and foreigners executed this year, according to an agency tally.
Salman acceded to the throne last Friday after his half-brother King Abdullah died aged about 90, following a reign of almost 10 years. The kingdom has faced constant international criticism over its human rights record, including the use of the death penalty.
Under Abdullah, the number of executions jumped from 27 in 2010 to around 80 annually, with 87 last year. An independent expert working on behalf of the United Nations called in September for an immediate moratorium on executions in Saudi Arabia.
But the interior ministry insists that the execution of convicts such as Zahrani aims "to maintain security and realise justice". Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

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