Friday, February 1, 2013

Women's rights trampled under Hamas

The decline of women's freedom, equality and human rights in Gaza under Hamas. Written by Asmaa al-Ghoul, a journalist and writer from Rafah.

Aqsa University, a public university in Gaza, has introduced an Islamic dress code for women. After being characterized for more than 20 years by political and intellectual diversity, female students are now bound to adhere to a strict dress code, including an abaya (cloak) and hijab (veil) while on campus. The decision has caused uproar and sparked heated debates.

Dr. Naaman Ulwan, an independent academic and advisor for cultural affairs at Al Aqsa University, revealed to Al-Monitor that he did not know about the decision ahead of its announcement on Jan. 26, 2013. Ulwan affirmed that even if such decision was approved, it certainly complies with the conservative society of Gaza that does not tolerate attire showing women’s curves.

Dr. Faiq al-Naouk, advisor for managerial affairs in Al Aqsa University and the decision maker, expressly denied the “Taliban” aspect of this decision. He reiterated that it was unanimously approved two months ago and would be implemented at the beginning of the next semester, underlining that he was not a representative of Hamas in the university board.

Naouk elaborated on the implementation process, stressing that it was a matter of “persuasion” not “coercion.” Female employees would stand at the front gate of the university to observe the students; any female with alluring apparel would be reprimanded, once or twice, until she abided by the decision. “If we were intransigent, I would not have received you while you were unveiled, but even though you weren’t veiled, we received you and gave you an interview. We are not extreme, we are moderate,” declared Naouk, addressing Al-Monitor’s reporter...

“Women’s rights in Gaza are regressing. Many decisions are being passed in secret and only become public by chance, such as the decision to destroy curriculum books that are thought to be morally corrupting, in addition to the imposition of the hijab in schools and the prohibition of female participation in folklore dancing. When Hamas officials are asked about these matters, they always end up finding shallow justifications,” said feminist activist Dunia al-Amal Ismail.

Ismail contends that whenever women call for change and an improvement in their social situation, they are asked to put their demands on hold under the pretext that it is not the right time; the people are fighting the Israeli occupation. Ismail, however, notes dangerous changes being made by the government pertaining to the endorsement of the penal code without informing the feminist movement. Causes like gender equality are seen as a western product and feminist movements are thought to contradict Islamic feminism. “Accusations are heaped upon the feminist movement, even though the struggle it led — on the level of amending laws and imposing quotas for women — has ushered in the participation of Hamas’ women in the legislative council,” she added...

Article 18 of the 1936 penal code, applicable in the Gaza Strip and used by judges to mitigate the sentence of a murderer who kills his daughter, wife, mother, sister or relative in the name of “honor” states the following: “Any person who commits a crime to defend himself or another person or their money, honor or pride shall benefit from a reduced sentence.”

Haroun says that the issue with the penal code is not limited to this article alone, but also includes several articles and provisions that should be amended. Several articles have been suspended because their modification requires a lot of effort. They are based on an old and hackneyed law and should be replaced by a unified Palestinian law in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the opinion of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on gender, Haroun stated, “We are not fighting gender, but we are addressing women’s issues from an Islamic perspective. We are also investigating women’s real needs in Gaza, and we do not have to put up with anything that does not suit their situation and role. We have our own agenda and we are not infected with a Western phobia. We just take what is convenient for us and leave out what opposes our religion and Sharia.”

The regression of the situation of women in the Gaza Strip is not only obvious to female activists, but it is also clear from the figures of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics for 2011. A total of 15% of families with a female majority suffer from extreme poverty in the Palestinian lands, with a rate of 20.6% in the Gaza Strip and 12.5% in the West Bank. In 2011, the unemployment rate among women reached 28.4% in the Palestinian lands compared to 13.8% in 2001. The highest and lowest rates of violence were reported in the Gaza Strip and Rafah district, south of the strip, and were respectively 58.1% and 23.1%.

Director of the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee, Nadia Abou Nahla, mentioned in a meeting with Al-Monitor, held at the committee’s headquarters that “the statistics of the Palestinian system show a slow but clear increase in the participation of Palestinian women in the overall workforce. The numbers show a rise from a maximum of 12% in 2006 to 16% in 2011, as opposed to over 85% male participation. It is noteworthy that Palestinian society has the highest rates of female graduates and higher education in the Arab world. However, these rates contradict those showing the presence of women in the workforce, which can be attributed to the traditional mindset of Palestinian society regarding women and their role.

Abou Nahla affirmed that the female employment rate in the government of Hamas reached 35% — a relatively high rate considering the fact that it is political employment. The same can be applied to the West Bank, which has taken several decisions and issued laws independently in this regard. Significantly, however, most of the decisions were in line with women’s rights, but only in the context of the annulment of the article that reduces the murderer’s sentence in honor crimes.

Abou Nahla clarified that, obviously, there was a decline in honor crimes in Gaza Strip in 2012. Only three cases were reported, relative to many more in the previous years. She believes that this is due to the police affirming their presence as the sole body entitled to implement the law. Moreover, there is now a safe shelter for women in danger — the “Aman” governmental center. She added, “Even if we disagree with the way this center deals with battered or abused women and with its religious orientation, we cannot deny that it is protecting women from violence and murder.”

Abou Nahla said, “The Hamas government took more than 200 decisions and issued legislative laws that were approved by the members, such as the amendment of the Law of Associations, including women’s associations. Granting permanent child custody for a widow was another amendment that mainly benefits Hamas women. As for the right of custody for divorced women, judges are dealing with it temperamentally. Other decisions include those of the virtue campaign related to wearing the veil and smoking water-pipes — an activity which hasn’t improved the situation of women but has influenced the idea of public liberties negatively.”

She said that the decision taken by the board of Al Aqsa University to impose a dress code was against the law, since it was taken without the knowledge of the university’s board of trustees.

Abou Nahla added, “It is true that unveiled women are a minority in Gazan society, but their rights should be protected in a pluralistic society. Consequently, any decision that violates the articles of the basic Palestinian law will be deemed illegitimate.”

Moreover, she considered that the Islamic women’s discourse stems from the idea of doing good and religious forgiveness; whereas the national pluralistic women’s discourse is issued by feminist movements in the Gaza Strip and is based on partisanship, change of concepts and spreading values of gender equality and justice. The first type trains women to memorize the Quran and the principles of obedience to men, while the second empowers them and teaches them self-defense and gender values.

Read more:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jyoti Singh Pandey

Jyoti Singh Pandey

Flying in face of the ban on revealing the identity of the Delhi braveheart, who succumbed to injuries sustained fighting off her six rapists, her father Badri Singh Pandey has given the permission to reveal her name:

Jyoti Singh Pandey.

In an interview to The Sunday People, the 53-year-old Badri said: “We want the world to know her real name. My daughter didn’t do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter.”

Jyoti Singh Pandey.

According to the Indian Penal Code, the disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc. can be made
a) by or under the order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation; or
b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or
c) where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim

Jyoti Singh Pandey.

The world will not forget your name.

Friday, November 30, 2012

14 year old Afghani girl killed for refusing a marriage proposal.

The attack happened Tuesday, a day before new legislation was introduced in Congress calling on the U.S. government to take steps to help protect Afghan women and girls as the U.S. military prepares to exit Afghanistan.

Gasitina, a student, was beheaded in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province. The attack was initially reported by local media, and was confirmed by Amnesty International researcher Horia Mosadiq in an email.

The girl was fetching water when she was accosted, according to reports. The men, who have not been identified, were arrested by police. The girl and her parents had refused a marriage proposal by one of the men, according to the Amnesty International report.

This was the 15th deadly attack on a female victim in Kunduz in 2012, the human rights organization said.

"Amnesty International is very concerned about the violations against women in Afghanistan," said Cristina Finch, director of the organization's Women's Human Rights program.

Amnesty reported a similar incident in October, when a young woman was murdered and her throat slashed. In that case, the woman apparently refused to work as a prostitute.

Although it appears such attacks are increasing in frequency, it may be that the world outside Afghanistan is just beginning to hear about them, Finch said.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas, introduced the Afghan Women and Girls' Security Promotion Act. If passed in its current form, the bill addresses how women's security will be monitored as the U.S. military withdraws from the country.

The bill also calls for improved gender sensitivity among Afghanistan's national security forces and recruitment of women within the ranks of those forces.

Amnesty International USA's executive director Suzanne Nossel applauded Casey and Hutchison for introducing the bill.

"As the United States military transitions out of Afghanistan, Afghan women's human rights continue to be at grave risk and demand urgent attention," Nossel said in a statement. "The fate of women will be a crucial determinant of that country's prospects for a stable and prosperous future."

Straight from yahoo- at least it entering the mainstream press now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not the typical IDF soldier's mom

Anet Haskia is not the typical mom of a soldier serving in the Israel Defense Forces. A Muslim Arab, who grew up in a mixed Arab-Jewish city in the north, Haskia is breathing a little easier this week.

For Haskia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision not to enter the Gaza Strip last week was "brave and right."

The mother of three children, with a 20-year-old IDF combat soldier, Haskia told Tazpit News Agency, that "many Israeli soldiers’ lives were saved thanks to that decision."

"Going into Gaza would have yielded success for the Hamas terrorists. Israel did what it had to do for the time being to stop the rocket attacks and played it smart."

Haskia who was born and raised in Akko, a mixed Arab-Jewish city in the Western Galilee in northern Israel, is openly vocal about her support for the Jewish State of Israel.

"I am proud to live in Israel," she says. "I am even prouder that both my sons have served as soldiers for this country."

"If I was living in Gaza, I would have no rights as a woman under Hamas," explained Haskia. "And you can’t expect anything different—Hamas is a terror organization, they treat people like animals with no regard to human life. They will never hold democratic elections like they do in Israel."

"I’m open about these truths," adds Haskia. "The Arab MKs in the Israeli Knesset don’t represent me. The extremist left-wing in Israel also doesn’t represent me and others in my community who share my beliefs. Those corrupt politicians just contribute to hate, incitement and lies."

"When an IDF soldier is killed in combat, not one Arab MK will stand up and offer his condolences to the bereaved family," she exclaims. "These Arab MKs enjoy democratic rights but don’t appreciate them."

Anet explains that her attitude towards the Jewish state as a member of the Arab minority country stems from the fact that she was raised in a home that "respected both Hebrew and Arabic-speakers."

"When I grew up in Akko, we had good relations between Jewish and Arab families."

"I realized early on that I wanted my children to advance in Israeli society. They studied in a private Jewish school on a kibbutz and were exposed to a different mentality. It was not an easy road, but I taught my children to always be proud of their identity and not to cry and whine like our politicians."

During Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, Haskia did not just sit worried over what may happen to her son—the proud mom did her share to help Israel as well. "Over 12 years, Hamas has been firing rockets at Israeli civilians and all you see are photos of Gaza in the media. Some of those photos are fakes," Haskia pointed out.

"I noticed many times in Arab media that 'Gaza' photos of bleeding civilians were actually photos from other Arab conflicts in the Middle East— Syria and Iraq for example. They were being used to incite hatred against Israel, so I started to post these fake photos and their origins on my Facebook wall."

Haskia, however, has political ambitions as well. "I want to be part of Israeli politics some day and make a change by representing my people politically. There are many people who are too scared to speak up, who love Israel like I do and have done well here. They want a future where their children will not fall to hatred and incitement, but overcome that. I want to be their voice," she concludes.

Originally published at YNET

Friday, November 9, 2012

The death of Shaima Alawadi

It was the cause celebre for some time. Until it wasn't.

From the Huffington post:

March 24, 2012, EL CAJON, Calif. ­ A 32-year-old woman from Iraq who was found severely beaten next to a threatening note saying "go back to your country" died on Saturday.

Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met with Shaima Alawadi's family members in the morning and was told that she was taken off life support around 3 p.m.

"The family is in shock at the moment. They're still trying to deal with what happened," Mohebi said.

Alawadi, a mother of five, had been hospitalized since her 17-year-old daughter found her unconscious Wednesday in the family's house in El Cajon, police Lt. Steve Shakowski said.

The daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, and that the note said "go back to your country, you terrorist."

Addressing the camera, the tearful daughter asked: "You took my mother away from me. You took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it?"

Police said the family had found a similar note earlier this month but did not report it to authorities.

Al Himidi told KGTV-TV her mother dismissed the first note, found outside the home, as a child's prank.

A family friend, Sura Alzaidy, told UT San Diego () that the attack apparently occurred after the father took the younger children to school. Alzaidy told the newspaper the family is from Iraq, and that Alawadi is a "respectful modest muhajiba," meaning she wears the traditional hijab, a head scarf.

Investigators said they believe the assault is an isolated incident.

"A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that," Lt. Mark Coit said. "We don't want to focus on only one issue and miss something else."


Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, 4/2/12

El CAJON, Calif. -- This day's English lessons for Iraqi immigrants at Cuyamaca College involved learning how to talk about bad news.

From their text, "Day by Day: English for Employment Communication," the 25 students repeated dialogue wrapped around common occurrences: "I lost my wallet" and "My husband got fired from his job."

But the students had a horrific piece of real news on their minds: the March 24 death of an Iraqi immigrant who had been bludgeoned with a tire iron in her home three days earlier. A note near her bloodied body called her a terrorist and told her to "go back to your country."

"They can't stop talking about it," said the instructor, Hayfa Dalali, an immigrant from Baghdad. "They just keep saying: 'She was a mother of five, from a nice family, in a safe neighborhood.'"

Predictably, the unsolved killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi has led to heightened concern among some women about their safety.

But in this working-class suburb east of San Diego, the nation's second-most-populous community of Iraqi immigrants, the fear does not seem to spring from a belief that the killing was a hate crime committed by a predator stalking Iraqis. ...

Officials of the San Diego branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council have urged residents not to jump to conclusions and to wait for the police to find the killer. So did Imam Sharif Battikhi at a memorial service for Alawadi at the mosque in nearby Lakeside


There were vigils in her honor.

Attempts were made to tie her death in with Trevon Martin. Both became potent symbols of the "inherent racism" of American society. Our local AROC (Arab Resource organizing center) also planned a vigil.

Bradley Manning/ Justin Herman Plaza San Francisco
Vigil, Procession, and Speak Out

On March 21st Shaima Alawadi, 32, a mother of five, a devoted wife, and an Iraqi refugee who fled violence there in 1995 was found lying on her kitchen floor in a puddle of her own blood, She had been viciously beaten with a tire iron. By her body was a note saying "Go back where you came from terrorist"

Shaima's attack and death come on the heels of the massacre in Afghanistan of 17 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, by a "rogue" soldier who "snapped" after previously serving three tours of duty in Iraq.

Join us on this occasion to remember Shaima and to address the aftermath of 9/11, the war on Iraq, and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments that are at the core of this terrible incident.

It is important to touch on these issues and educate the public about the misunderstandings and mistreatment the Arab and Muslim communities go through in this country.

Bring red and white flowers

Then it was abruptly cancelled. Without explanation


Bradley Manning/ Justin Herman Plaza San Francisco
Vigil, Procession, and Speak Out


Sadly, Shaima Alawadi's death only concerned people as long as she could be used as a symbol. But as increasing amounts of evidence pointed to domestic violence as the cause of her death, the local Muslim community was just as happy to sweep it under the rug.

Finally, there may be justice for Shaima. Interestingly enough, neither AROC nor CAIR followed up on this story, or informed their email lists of the new developments. Their silence is complicity, not only in Shaima's death, but in the deaths of all women who are abused at home. CAIR and AROC are only concerned with exploiting the deaths of these women to advance their own political agendas, turning a blind eye to issues such as domestic violence, underage marriages, and the subjugation of women. Shaima again was exploited in death, just as she had been exploited in life. Shaima was a 32 year old woman with a 17 year old daughter. Do the math.

Husband held in killing of Iraqi-American woman

L CAJON, Calif. (AP) - The husband of an Iraqi-American woman whose beating death initially appeared to be a hate crime was arrested on suspicion of murder in what police described Friday as an act of domestic violence.

The killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi drew international attention in March when the couple's 17-year-old daughter told reporters that she found a note by her mother's bludgeoned body that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist."

Kassim Alhimidi, 48, was taken into custody Thursday after being called into the police station, said El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman.

Police said there were no other suspects. Redman declined to comment on the evidence or elaborate on a possible motive.

"Criminal investigations build, evidence builds, and you reach a point where you have enough evidence to move forward, and that's what happened in this case," he said.

Alhimidi went to Iraq for about two weeks to bury his wife and returned voluntarily, Redman said. Police did not try to prevent him from leaving the country because he was not a suspect at the time.

At the burial in Najaf, relatives wept uncontrollably. Alhimidi and the 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, fainted as the body was lowered into the grave.

Kassim Alhimidi was publicly silent for six days after the body was found, while his children spoke often with reporters.

To AROC AND to CAIR: Justice begins at home. If you refuse to take a stand on these issues that are vital to the health and to the safety of our community- you will lose half your members. you've already lost me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saudi Arabia: The real Apartheid State

Saudi Arabia is the real Apartheid State.

There is religious apartheid

And there is gender apartheid.

And yet we don't here a word about it from the BDS movement. I can't imagine why.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hamas beating Women with sticks

If this happened in Israel, it would be all over the news.

The background- women in Gaza from a variety of political backgrounds decided to have a peaceful unity rally. Hamas would have none of that. Whats left to do? Watch and see