Tag Archives: Islam

Malala Yousafzai: Brave enough to go to school

19 Oct

Malala Yousafzai, now being treated in hospital in the north of England, has woken up and communicated with her doctors. The passionate and vocal advocate for the education of all girls everywhere, no matter the opposition, excuses, and violence of her foes, was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban.

Despite the international outcry–complete with people everywhere declaring their support through the slogan “I am Malala”, the Taliban have publicly stated that a bounty remains on Malala’s head. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/16/malala-yousafzai-deserved-say-taliban

The group refuses the right of Malala to express herself or even to exist based on their claim that because of her positions in support of President Barack Obama and against the Taliban army, she must–in accordance with the Qur’an–be killed.

Human rights crusader Angelina Jolie penned an opinion piece titled “We are all Malala,” claiming that this tragedy has led to the beginnings of  a revolutionary movement in Pakistan for the rights of girls to be educated. She insisted that the Taliban is losing, that in its declaration “Let this be a lesson,” it is the Taliban that is being schooled.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/16/angelina-jolie-we-all-are-malala.html

If only this were the case. As long as Pakistan remains desperately poor, corrupt, and at the various mercies of the United States and Islamic fundamentalism, positive change will remain virtually impossible. Thousands of Pakistani and Afghan teenage girls might shout that they are all Malala, but that is because metaphorically they are: lacking in access to education, health care, and civil rights, at the mercy of the adult men in charge of their lives.

Angelina Jolie and girls around the world might shout “we are all Malala,” but they fundamentally are not. The average American, French, Japanese, Chilean girl cannot possibly understand the difficulties, obstacles and potential daily tragedies that a young female in the Swat Valley faces. It’s a nice turn of phrase, but it’s false.

Of course, Malala and all the other girls in the region yearning for the basic human right of access to education must be supported. But the fact remains that as long as American and NATO forces continue their military scourge, complete with daily drone strikes and omnipresent occupation, the Taliban and its allied jihadists will continue to wage their war against Western forces, and whoever and wherever else amongst their fellow countrymen and countrywomen they see it reflected.

When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, America had not yet begun its war against the nation. Prior to its occupation, President Bush claimed that one of the reasons for its strikes against the enemy state was its severe and brutal oppression of women. This was a telegenic excuse. Further, it must be acknowledged that the American and coalition forces’ occupation has done little to change the average Pakistani or Afghan girl’s life for the better.

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Another awful Republican rape statement

13 Sep

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/us/politics/behind-romneys-decision-to-criticize-obama-on-libya.html?ref=politics

As the crisis over the amateur anti-Muslim video spreads across the Middle East, its effects on the presidential campaigns here continue to gain in intensity. Romney’s premature statements criticizing the White House’s response (which had not yet occurred), have been widely mocked and ridiculed.

So in turn, Romney’s backers gathered around him, crowing about the American value of free speech, while happily ignoring the very real convergence of hate speech. As the haters manned the defenses: of Romney, of American values, of America’s never-having-to-say-we’re-sorry, Arizona Republican Jon Kyl had this to say:

“This is like a judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed,’ ” he said. “O.K.? That’s the same thing: ‘Well, America you should be the ones to apologize. You should have known this would happen.’”

America having to apologize to ANYONE is as ridiculous and horrific as a judge telling a woman she deserved to get raped. America is akin to a woman in hot pants walking down a dark alley and getting attacked….it’s like the First Amendment in an up-to-there mini-skirt getting jumped on an un-lit socialist cobblestone path.  Well, I hope that America as rape victim does not get pregnant, because America as Republicans will sure not pony up for an abortion.

Iran begins universities’ semesters with bans on female students

24 Aug

As of the fall semester, many Iranian universities have installed a ban on female students in 77 different courses and degrees.  The courses range across the subjects of English literature, English translation, hotel management, archaeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management; spanning the disciplines from the humanties to science and technology, the bans’ lack of subject specificity signals a desire to shrink female college attendance overall.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9487761/Anger-as-Iran-bans-women-from-universities.html

Female students greatly outnumber male students, with the number of females approximately 65% of student bodies. The Science and Higher Education Minister, Kamran Daneshjoo, has claimed that the bans answer the need to achieve equality and a balance between the sexes in education, implying that the male student population is somehow suffering from its lack of parity.

Human rights lawyer and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has written to the United Nations Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human Rights demanding an external investigation, claiming “[T]he aim is that women will give up their opposition and demands for their own rights.”

With education and exposure comes open-mindedness, enlightenment, and a requisite desire for more of it: freedom, in other words. With these bans, the Iranian male religious elite is attempting to cut the power-source of such demands at their roots, thus stifling the potential before it is even glimpsed or realized.

P.S. (As of Sept. 25) Online Slate Magazine just published additional information regarding the ban, centering on 77 programs, notably concentrating on degrees generally related to business and entrepreneurship.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/09/24/iran_bans_women_from_77_college_majors_can_leaders_really_stop_progress_.html

These recent attempts coincidentally dovetail with the Ayatollah Khamenei’s August declaration urging Iranian adults to focus more on the family, and the subsequent decrease in government support for birth control and family planning.

http://www.aninews.in/newsdetail4/story65450/ayatollah-khamenei-urges-iranians-to-039-have-more-babies-039-.html

Voting and living in Libya

20 Jul

http://womensenews.org/story/the-world/120719/libyan-elections-give-women-17-starting-point

There is a saying that a Libyan woman faces 5 problems: her father, her brother, her husband, her son, and the working man.

This is to say that the problem is being a woman while living in Libya. However, are there signs that this problem might be dissipating?

45% of the voters in the July 7th elections were female, and because of an invoked requirement mandating that all parties maintain a “zipper system” of alternation between female and male candidates, women numbered around 45% of the candidates.

After tally, 16.5% of the 200-member transitional government are women. This number is extraordinarily positive, considering the fact that the number was previously zero, and that women historically have had little presence in politics or social activist organizations.

In the United States Congress, women hold 16.8% of the seats. Given that the United States has not just emerged from a decades-long dictatorship, given that the United States does not supposedly suffer from entrenched male-dominated home, work and cultural life, given that American women have been able to vote–and thereby run for office–for almost 100 years, what’s our excuse?

Death by AK-47 for Afghan woman

10 Jul

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/08/us-afghanistan-execution-reaction-idUSBRE8670IS20120708

A young Afghan woman, wife of a Talibani, was shot to death after being accused of adultery. Video of the event can easily be found online, the “God is great!” cheers of the male bystanders heard after the woman is shot several times by automatic weapon.

The hideousness of this incident is so obvious it almost needs no comment. The murder occurred in Pashwar Province, one of the “safer regions” closer to Kabul and home to many Western military forces. It does not matter how close a woman is to the occupying Americans, how close to the most cosmopolitan city in the country, how seemingly unfriendly to Taliban forces the area is supposed to be, and how completely chaste she is. All it takes is an accusation, one sentence decrying any woman’s character, and she is as good as dead.

These are the daily obstacles any woman faces in the country of Afghanistan.

July 11 Update:

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-58384-Afghan-women-protest-over-girls-killing

Dozens of female activists protested near President Karzai’s compound in Kabul this morning, including a woman deformed from an acid attack by a spurned suitor, and another woman who, as a child bride, was tortured and imprisoned by her husband’s family after she refused to prostitute herself.

However Karzai responds, what effects could his government produce? His administration has completely and utterly failed in its battle against the Talibani resurrection, nor has the man himself ever convincingly argued for the rights of Afghan women. The protest is effective if it increases international awareness of  the plight of Afghanistan’s female citizens.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the female anatomy

19 Jun

Despite the fact that former authoritarian ruler Mubarak banned the archaic and brutal custom of female genital mutilation throughout Egpyt, there are recent reports that the Muslim Brotherhood has organized a mobile “medical” van that has been travelling through southern areas of Egpyt, with female genital mutilation as one of its principle “surgical” procedures.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been a subject of intense controversy and condemnation for decades now. At first, defenders of the practice referred to its “cultural” importance, decrying those western imperialists who sought to preach to others. Now, it’s being justified as a religious practice, which in turn renders those who attempt to curb its practice as Islamophobes.

But religion’s got nothing to do with it. And, even if it was a cultural practice, a tradition–who cares?! Traditions and cultures change and evolve as do their peoples. The slicing off of 1/4 to 1/3 of a female’s genitals do nothing other than lead to constant, chronic pain for the rest of a girl’s life. Intense pain during urination, sexual intercourse and childbirth; an increased susceptibility to disease and infection; an inability to feel anything other than throbbing, searing agony during sex: these are the after-effects of slicing off the external front area of the clitoris and lips of the vagina.

The tools: a few razor blades.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s commitment to the practice might mean that those knives are a little cleaner, but it must be demanded as to why they are propagating such brutal, hateful, torturuous practices? Why have The Faith and Justice Party members of parliament (including a female politician) denounced the existing law which criminalizes fgm, and stated their support for its continued practice?

The Muslim Brotherhood runs an extensive community outreach program, providing health, education and other social services. This benevolent arm of the party undoubtedly also serves as terrific propaganda for it, enabling its politicians to claim greater understanding of Egytian citizens’ needs and desires. So, if female genital mutilation is being done via the Muslim Brotherhood’s medical vans, this means that fgm is considered part of the party’s community outreach. Slicing off parts of a young girl’s body is part of the community outreach in which it is engaging.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/mutilating-bodies-muslim-brotherhood%E2%80%99s-gift-to-egyptian-women

Further, by providing the service via a “medical” van, the Muslim Brotherhood strives to give fgm legitimacy, supposedly rendering the procedure safe and presumptive. By advertising its services as “surgical circumcision for males and females,” it equates the two, and further attempts to justify fgm by referring to it as “surgery.”

See? It’s done to men too. Except male circumcision doesn’t lead to chronic pain, generally does not welcome numerous infections, and definitely doesn’t prevent sexual pleasure. Female genital mutilation is exactly what it describes: mutilation. A girl’s female parts are scarred for life; she is forced to bear the pain of her sex until the day she dies.

5 most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman

15 Jun

1. Afghanistan

2. The Congo

3. Pakistan

4. India

5. Somalia

Thomson Reuters has just published the results of its survey on the physical, emotional, legal, political and cultural safety of women throughout the world. The survey can be found in its entirety through TrustLaw, its non-profit international organization founded to assist in the proliferation of women’s rights everywhere:                                      

http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/womens-rights/dangerpoll/

India’s placement at 4th most dangerous country to be a woman is quite shocking considering its billing as the largest democracy on earth, and more importantly, that it remains the only country of the 5 who has been relatively free of violent conflict with both other countries and its own citizens. Its placement here emphasizes that war, starvation, religious turmoil, and a history of inherent violence are not the only precursors for placement on such an ominous list. Extreme poverty must be added to this cycle, and it is due to the ongoing catastrophe of poverty throughout India that the country appears within such an inglorious grouping.

The trading of young girls into marriage, the still-present custom of sati- the burning of a widow on a pyre, rampant female illiteracy, the prevalence of sexual slavery and prostitution in its major cities, the very common and culturally accepted use of ultrasound technology in the serviec of sex selection (i. e. the detected female fetus is often aborted), all of these components coagulate into a kind of unmoveable force against female progress, even in a country struggling to maintain and improve its democratic structures.  And then, even something as simple and overlooked as peeing becomes an overwhelming issue in such a poor and populous place:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/15/world/asia/in-mumbai-a-campaign-against-restroom-injustice.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

It is estimated that in some slums there is one public restroom for 300 people; male restrooms and urinals outnumber female restrooms by anywhere from 35%-90%. The budding Indian “Right to Pee” movement is attempting to revolutionize the public restroom structure, but in the meantime the average urban Indian woman withholds the amount of water she drinks, goes in packs at dawn to defecate, and holds it in as long as she can.

Living in the Western world, it is easy to forget how the simplest parts of daily life have the possibility to become so much more arduous when the structuring element of poverty enters. Not being able to have regular bowel movements, having nowhere safe to pee at any given time, risking one’s health merely by having to crouch over a hole somewhere: these remain daily hurdles for the average Indian female in the 21st century. In addition to everything else…