Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Every 7 Seconds, a Girl Younger than 15 Gets Married: Save the Children

Fawzia poses for a picture as she spends her jail term in one of the tribal elders' house in Paktika province, Afghanistan July 27, 2016. Picture taken July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Most Afghan Women Sentenced To Jail Serve In Tribal Elders’ Home, Not Prison
Malaysian Woman Fights against Islamic Laws Imposed On Her Because Father Is A Muslim
Muslim Women's Law Board Chief Moots New Marriage Act, AIMPLB Trashes Idea
Nigerian Televangelist Randomly Donates To Indian Muslim Acid Attack Victim
Patriarchy Couldn't Stop This 14-Year-Old Muslim Girl from Becoming a Wushu Martial Arts Champion
Kendall Jenner Accused of Cultural Appropriation for Wearing Burqa as Disguise
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Every 7 Seconds, A Girl Younger Than 15 Gets Married: Save The Children
Wednesday Oct 12, 2016
One girl under the age of 15 gets married every seven seconds, according to a new report by the international nonprofit Save the Children.
The study presents a "girls' opportunities" index of countries, ranking nations on a host of criteria, including access to education and the preponderance of child brides. Nordic countries sit at the top, while impoverished, fragile states such as the Central African Republic, Niger and Chad hold up the bottom.
According to UNICEF data, more than 700 million girls today were married before their 18th birthday - and one in three of them were married before she turned 15. They are often forced into these marriages, almost invariably to older men. The bulk of them live in relatively poor, rural communities in South Asia and parts of Africa. In many instances, these unions take place in contravention of local laws.
Despite global efforts to combat the enduring practice, Save the Children estimates that the total number of women married in childhood will grow to 950 million by 2030 and to 1.2 billion by 2050.
There's a link between statistics on child marriage and a country's faltering development. And girls who are subject to such marriages often are more vulnerable to abuse and trafficking, as well as the risk of maternal mortality.
"Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children," Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the chief executive of Save the Children, said. "Girls who marry too early often can't attend school, and are more likely to face domestic violence, abuse and rape."
The international organisation found that girls are more likely to be forced into child marriages in conditions of poverty, humanitarian disaster and conflict. Save the Children pointed to an upswing in girls in Syria being married off as their families cope with life in the shadow of their country's ruinous civil war. In Sierra Leone, an Ebola outbreak shut down schools and led to an estimated 14,000 teenage pregnancies.
The number of child brides is particularly high in South Asia, where the population is large and the practice difficult to stamp out in more impoverished areas. There remains an entrenched rural-urban divide with regard to the preponderance of girls being married as children.
And incidents of child marriage increase where there is less acess to education.
In the index compiled by Save the Children, the United States ranks at a rather lowly 32, beneath nations such as Kazakhstan and Algeria. This is largely because of the country's relatively high rate of teenage pregnancy and slightly higher rates of maternal mortality compared with those in other developed countries.

Most Afghan Women Sentenced To Jail Serve In Tribal Elders’ Home, Not Prison
Wed Oct 12 2016
A new harrowing report has emerged from the eastern Paktika province of Afghanistan unveiling the distressing condition of the Afghan women who are sentenced to jail.
An 18-year-old woman in Paktika province was forced to serve in a tribal elder’s home after she was sentenced to jail on charges of elopement and adultery.
The woman, Fawzia, told Reuters that she was treated like an animal and kept like a slave as she was kept in the tribal elder’s home to serve 18-month jail sentenced awarded by the court.
“What I have suffered, I pray that no woman should ever suffer,” Fawzia told Reuters in Sharana as she was briefly released from the elder’s house due to an illness.
According to the paper, quoting Alim Kohistani, director of Afghanistan’s prison service, some 850 women are imprisoned in official detention centers in Afghanistan for crimes ranging from murder to drugs and “moral crimes”.
Kohistani further added that “There could be thousands of other women kept in unofficial places across the country in the absence of proper jails.”
“We do our best to help them whenever needed and review their cases on time and make sure their rights are not violated,” he said.
Zalmay Kharote, a rights activist in Paktika, said “From sexual abuse to other forms of unjust and inhumane acts, these women become a tribal elder’s property.”
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, some 95 percent of girls and 50 percent of women imprisoned in Afghanistan were accused of “moral crimes” like running away from home or “zina” – extramarital relations.

Malaysian Woman Fights against Islamic Laws Imposed On Her Because Father Is A Muslim
October 11, 2016
A 35-year-old woman who was born to a Buddhist mother and Muslim father out of wedlock is now fighting against having Islamic laws imposed on her in the Selangor state of Malaysia.
Rosliza Ibrahim has been locked in a court battle against religious authorities in the state, which insist she is a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father.
The National Registration Department has refused to change her Muslim name to one of her choice, saying that it first needed a letter of approval from the Shariah Court.
The decision comes despite the fact that she had provided evidence that both her and her mother had never converted to Islam.
Her mother, who is since deceased, had also provided a statutory declaration confirming that she never married Rosliza's father, whose whereabouts is currently unknown.
In the Court of Appeal, Rosliza said that under English common law and substantive Islamic law, an illegitimate child's natural father has no rights over the child, and therefore her religion should follow her mother's wishes.
She had filed a case in the Shah Alam High Court seeking a declaration that Islamic laws in Selangor do not apply to her and therefore the Shariah courts do not have jurisdiction over her. The High Court rejected her application in March of this year, because she did not prove that her parents were not married to each other.
Rosliza's lawyer, Aston Paiva said: "The High Court did not request for evidence of this from the appellant during the hearing. She was not given an opportunity to be heard."
He continued: "A failure by the Malaysian courts to conclusively determine this dispute would affirm that the religion of Islam can be imposed on the Buddhist appellant against her will; violating guaranteed Constitutional rights and human rights in Malaysia."
He told the Malay Mail a day before the Court of Appeal hearing: "Her Constitutional right to religious freedom and disposition of property are all adversely affected. She cannot go to the Shariah court as, by law, she is not even a Muslim in the first place. Thus there is no question of leaving Islam."
On 11 October, the three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in overturning the High Court's decision, ordered that her case be sent back to the Shah Alam High Court but this time, to be heard in front of a different judge, the Malay Mail reports.
Lawyer Philip Koh, who is holding a watching brief for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, urged the court to recognise Rosliza's right to practice the religion of her choice, FreeMalaysiaToday reports.
Malaysia has regularly been hit with cases of unilateral conversions of children into Islam with questions being raised as to whether such conversions are lawful.
There has been pressure for such children to be allowed to hold on to their original faith until they can decide for themselves when they reach the age of 18. There have been several cases when a parent converts to Islam during the dissolution of the marriage, which effectively forces the children to become Muslims even though the other spouse has not converted.

Muslim Women's Law Board Chief Moots New Marriage Act, AIMPLB Trashes Idea
October 12, 2016
As the debate over Triple Talaq heats up with the Centre telling Supreme Court that the practice violates fundamental rights, a Muslim women body has gone a step ahead and demanded a new Muslim Marriage Act on the lines of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Shaista Ambar, head of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, threw her weight behind Centre’s affidavit last week in the apex court that the concept of Triple Talaq violated fundamental rights. She told News18 that what the community needed was a new Muslim Marriage Act that should be based on Quranic principles of marriage while aligned with the law of the land. Ambar said she had written to the then President of India Pratibha Patil as early as 2009 on the need for such a law.
“The Hindu Marriage Act was passed after due deliberations in the Parliament. A Muslim Marriage Act as defined by Quran, which also has a legislative backing, is something which will benefit the community as a whole. The act can nullify polygamy and prohibit Talaq-e-Biddat (Triple Talaq),” she said.
Ambar also rubbished criticism from conservative circles that she was a pawn at the hands of BJP and RSS. “The people who are accusing us of being linked to RSS and BJP are not realizing that it is them who are trying to hide behind their disability and incompetence,” she said.
Ambar’s suggestion for a new Act was rubbished by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a co-litigant in the Triple Talaq case that has been arguing that it is part of Sharia law and is as inevitable part of Islam.
AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani said Ambar’s demand was “illusory” in nature. “If the act prohibits polygamy, then how can it be based on the Quran? Moreover, there are varied sects of Muslims in India…how will the law take into account Shia, Sunnis, Ahle Hadees, Hanafi, Hanbali, etc?” he asked.
Going into the complexity of the issue, Jilani said the Ahle Hadees sect considered Triple Talaq as one Talaq, whereas the Hanafis considered them as three separate Talaqs. “How will you ever achieve any harmony? This will be a clear violation of our personal laws. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 gives Muslims the right to contract marriages and divorces according to the personal laws. What is the need to re-think all of this again?” he asked.
On the Centre’s affidavit last week in the apex court that the concept of Triple Talaq violated fundamental rights, Jilani said the SC itself had laid down in the Madhu Kishwar’s judgment that it has no right to interfere in the personal laws of a community under Article 25 of the Constitution. He said AIMPLB would only attempt to ‘remind’ the court of its earlier stance.
Jilani suggested that the Centre hold a referendum on Triple Talaq. “Ninety per cent of all Muslim women supports Shariat. The Union government can hold a vote on the issue of triple talaq, and see for itself,” he said.
Validity of Triple Talaq, issue of alimony, and the idea of a uniform civil code have been three issues that has been doing politic-legal rounds for decades. While the Triple Talaq issue got a fresh lease of life with the Centre’s affidavit last week, the civil code also came into limelight when the Law Commission put out a questionnaire seeking public comments on the topic.
Ambar’s demand for a new Marriage Act received support from unexpected corners like the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political outfit of Popular Front of India (PFI), known for its conservative views. Advocate Sharifuddin Ahmed, UP President of SDPI, told News18 that marriage is essentially a contract and every woman can state her intent in the contract itself. “A woman should never give approval for a marriage until these issues are sorted out,” he said.
Nadeem Siddiqui, chief of UP-based All India Muslim Majlis, felt that Muslim women have approached the ‘wrong forum’ to settle their disputes. “This entire ‘tamasha’ is happening at the behest of the ruling government who is gearing up for the next year UP elections. If one believes in Islam, then such disputes would have never arisen,” he said.
His views – in line with AIMPLB and other conservative outfits – were echoed by Mohammad Salim Engineer, Secretary General, Jamaat-E-Islami Hind.
“The sole issue of Triple Talaq has been hyped by the present government to create an atmosphere for the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. This entire issue has been created to ignite polarization among the communities. We all know that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hatching a conspiracy here to bring it all up so that a stage for the Uniform Civil Code could be set up. If the government is so worried then what is being done for the people who were lynched at Dadri, or the women who were beaten up for allegedly carrying beef, or the slain Ehsan Jafri?” he asked.
Ambar rubbished allegations that she was acting at the behest of the Centre or any political outfit. She said she was being targeted by the conservative elements for demanding “authentic Islamic justice” which “makes them uncomfortable.”

Nigerian Televangelist Randomly Donates To Indian Muslim Acid Attack Victim
Tue 11 Oct 2016
A televangelist in Nigeria has donated around £12,000 (5 million Nigerian naira) to a Muslim acid attack victim in India after hearing about her case.
Pastor Joshua Iginla, Senior Pastor at Champions Royal Assembly in Kubwa, donated the funds 26-year-old Jamila Yusuf (pictured above) who was allegedly bathed with acid by her partner.
Speaking on his Facebook page, the pastor, who has never met the survivor, said: "I am not doing this for her because she is a member of my Church; I don't know her from anywhere; she's even a Muslim by religion!
"We are only doing this to preach love and not to convert her to Christianity, after her surgery in India, if she decides to remain a Muslim so be it."
The Christian leader has also encouraged parishioners to donate towards the cause as the cost of surgery is expected to be more than his denotation.
He wrote to his almost 700,000 followers: "This is an opportunity to show love to your neighbour because she's not a Christian; your neighbour must not necessarily come from your religion or ethnic group."
The pastor, based in the capital, Abuja, said Jamila Yusuf had suffered chemical burns and would have to have surgery.
Pastor Joshua Iginla announced the donation for Ms Yusaf's surgery at a church service.

Patriarchy Couldn't Stop This 14-Year-Old Muslim Girl from Becoming a Wushu Martial Arts Champion
12 Oct 2016
A majority of Indias may be unfamiliar with the word 'wushu', but students of one girls' school in Hyderabad are big fans of it. A form of martial arts that reportedly originated in China in 1949, wushu combines 'elements of performance and martial application', according to this article.
One school in Hyderabad embraced this form of martial arts to teach girls self defence. And of all the practitioners of this sport in the school, 14-year-old Fareeha Tafim is perhaps the most successful. After winning the state championships, Fareeha was selected to participate in the national championships this year. The nationals were to be held in Assam.
However, Assam seemed too far away and Fareeha's mother wasn't ready to let her go as yet. Her mother told her, "You are a young girl and it is dangerous outside." She also believed that if Fareeha doesn't don the veil--which she couldn't during the competition--she will be called 'shameless' by the community and immediate acquaintances. After all, not only will she be showing her face, she will be doing it in front of thousands of people.
Snooping into somebody's personal life is not 'allowed'  in India. But there are certainly some examples in recent history where celebrated and powerful persons do it and walk without facing trials even if the matter reaches Supreme Court.  In one such case, the accused was a two term CM of a State which was advertised to be a "Model" in growth achievement under his tenure.  This man got the parents hooked 'properly' and they submitted an affidavit (not in fear or under pressure from anybody, naturally)  in the Supreme Court stating that pursuing the case will damage the reputation of the girl and their family and hence the case may please be closed.  Surprisingly, the Supreme Court allowed the closure of the case without looking into the merits or demerits of it.  The same SC later heroically upheld that "even if the accused undergoing trial in a rape case give an assurance to marry the victim and the victim approves of it, case cannot be concluded in acquittal of the accused and he will have to go through the trial and be punished as per the law of the country.  If the rape accused was a powerful two term CM representing a party that believes in terrorizing their opponents through physical high handedness perhaps the SC would have allowed him to marry the rape victim and close the case.  Snooping by powerful politicians are approved in India, legally.
While Fareeha was raring to go, tradition and orthodoxy nearly held her back.
At one point, the teen's mother and brother even told her that she was bringing dishonour to the family. However, Fareeha was not alone in this fight. With unwavering support from her father, not only did she travel all the way to Guwahati, she also won the national championships.
Fareeha is the subject of London-based filmmaker Jayisha Patel's documentary India's Wushu Warrior Girl. Patel's documentary was made for Al Jazeera English's documentary strand, Witness, that focuses on stories and events that go underreported.
Patel, who has been making films on women in India for a while now, tells HuffPost India why she thought Fareeha's story needs to be told. She says, "It is an important issue. What struck me was that for her age, she was very forward thinking. Also the conservative community she lives in and to have that sort of for thinking and the determination is absolutely amazing."
Patel further adds that the principal of the school must be given due credit. Not only did he familiarise himself with this niche sport he also encouraged the girls to take it up and supported them in their pursuit of excellence in the sport.

Kendall Jenner Accused Of Cultural Appropriation For Wearing Burqa As Disguise
Kendall Jenner has been accused of cultural appropriation for wearing a burqa as a disguise from the paparazzi.
She was visiting Dubai with DJ Neptune who posted a picture to his Instagram account.
Social media users denounced the model's use of the garment.
The burqa is traditionally worn by Muslim women for modesty.
One Twitter user wrote: "I wish my hijab helped me go undercover at 14 when a stranger told me I was oppressed and I had trouble with my identity."

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