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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Somali MUSLIM WOMEN beaten for not wearing socks

ISLAMISTS who control parts of Somalia’s capital city are beating women in broad daylight for violating their radical brand of Islamic law. Just today, Al-Shabaab dispatched men with whips to the streets around Bakara market and they are flogging any woman who is found not wearing socks.

In the past two days, more than 130 people, including women who were not wearing headscarves and men chewing dried khat leaves, have been detained for violating Al-Shabaab’s interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, according to witnesses and officials.

Hooded Al-Shabaab gunmen rounded up 50 women on Wednesday from Mogadishu’s Bakara market for not wearing the veil that is required for women under some interpretations of Islamic law, according to the maize trader.

“Most of these women were vegetable traders, so they are poor and can’t afford to buy veils for 600,000 shillings [about $23 U.S.],” she said.

Another 80 Somali civilians were detained in the southwestern town of Luuq, near the Kenyan and Ethiopian border, “because they turned deaf ear to orders we imposed on the town,” said the local Al-Shabaab commander Sheikh Hussien al-Iraqi.

Al-Shabaab is considered a terrorist organization by the United States because of its ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network. It has been imposing stricter rules on Somali civilians living in the areas it controls.

Earlier this month, Al-Shabaab militants whipped women for wearing bras in an area of northern Mogadishu that they control, shocking residents who have been besieged by the ongoing insurgency. The militants believe the female undergarments are a deception to men. CNN


Story fromm CNN, photos added by barenakedislam

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: “Don’t cut it all off”

Just a side note - This practice is quite popular in areas of Africa and Parts of the Middle East. Dolly P.

“When mutilating a woman’s genitals, don’t cut off the whole thing, just take part of it.”

AFGANISTAN - Women choose suicide by self-immolation

Death by self-immolation is the most painful of all methods of suicide, but Muslim women choose it rather than staying in abusive marriages.

For many women trapped in abusive marriages in Afghanistan, death can seem like the only way out. In the northwestern province of Herat, doctors this year have treated at least seventy women who attempted to take their own lives by setting themselves on fire. More than 40 of them died, in what doctors describe as a lingering and painful process.




Monday, December 28, 2009


Trying to make themselves appear more civilized, Turkey has cracked down on honor killings, so, now, women who have ‘dishonored’ their families are being forced to commit ‘HONOR SUICIDE.’

November 28, 2009
Categories: Women . . Author: barenakedislam

GANG RAPE of young girls by men in Afghanistan goes largely unpunished

Gang-raped by eight men two years ago, this 14-year old girl has been attacked and beaten while her father is locked up for demanding justice for her.



Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

EMBED-Acid Attacks and Muslims - Watch more free videos

PHYLLIS CHESLER describes what we are seeing here:

The Arabization or the Saudi-ization of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan is the hidden hand behind these acid attacks upon women. These poor girls and women have had their lives ruined; some have been forced to undergo surgery 20-30 times in order that they may see a little, or breathe a bit, hear something, perhaps in order to eat or make themselves understood. They look like…monsters. That was what their attackers wanted to accomplish. To render their faces into self-portraits of their attackers.

Why was acid thrown into their faces? The main reasons are because they dared to reject someone in marriage or because they wanted a divorce. The “jilted” suitors (or husbands) took their revenge in this fashion. If he can’t have her, no man will; I will make sure that no man will ever want her.” One young girl was gang-raped aftger which her rapists threw acid on her face. Another committed the “crime” of disappointing her father by being born female, not male. Many were disfigured as a result of a “family dispute.”

Thus, the punishment for being born female, for exercising any will of one’s own is, Saudi-style, the most horrible punishment. The men tried to make the women loathsome to humanity, to sentence them to painful surgeries, self-hatred, perhaps to lives lived in isolation.

Make no mistake. This tendency to disfigure women–even those who wear the Islamic Veil–is real. And, it might be coming our way if we do not stop the Wahhabi and Salafi influence which is funding our universities in North America as well as the Islamic religious schools.







November 30, 2009
Categories: Women . . Author: barenakedislam

Sunday, December 27, 2009

the 411

lately northern africa and the middle east have been invading my thoughts and prayers, my heart breaks particularly for the women in those regions. they suffer much oppression, abuse and over all poor quality of life.
i would love for God to move on their behalf and i believe that He will if we, as Godly women, stand in the gap for them and pray from our hearts. that is why i am starting the 'sisterhood of the traveling prayer journal' and i would love for you to be a part of it.
this is how it works.

there are:
20 praying women (young and old)
2 prayer journals (one for the women of afganistan and one for darfur)

1. over the next year you will get both journals in the mail at different times.
2. each time you will keep it for 5 days, and over those 5 days you will diligently lift the women of that region up in prayer
3. then you will mail the journal to the next person on the mailing list

you do not necessarily have to write all your prayers in the journal - you can put your thoughts, poetry, artwork, etc. - you can be creative - it's not about the journal as much as it's about the 5 days of prayer!

this is the blog site that you will be able to refer to when you receive the journal in the mail. it will keep you current on the obstacles facing the women in the region you are praying for. i will be posting more info as the start date draws near. if you have questions let me know.
if you want to be a part of it, i just need your address, i'm hoping to get it started by january 10th 2010.

thanks and God bless

The Plight of the Afgan Woman

AFGHANISTAN: Sharp rise in reported cases of violence against women

KABUL, 8 March 2008 (IRIN) - Registered cases of physical violence against women and girls in Afghanistan have increased by about 40 percent since March 2007.

UN agencies involved in women’s development efforts in Afghanistan say a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of violence against women does not necessarily imply that gender-based violence has increased.

“There is an increased awareness among the law enforcement authorities, so it is not [necessarily] an increasing trend of violence - that has always been there, perhaps it is declining - but what is happening is that there are more people coming forward to report; nobody talked about this when it happened within the four walls of a house,” said Ramesh Penumaka, representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Afghanistan.

However, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said worsening insecurity in large swaths of the country, a growing culture of criminal impunity, weak law enforcement institutions, poverty and many other factors had contributed to increasing violence against women, such as rape and torture - and oppression whereby, for example, they are often forced into marriages against their will.

IHRC’s concerns were echoed in a recent report by Womankind Worldwide, a UK charity, which said 80 percent of Afghan women are affected by domestic violence; over 60 percent of marriages are forced; and half of all girls are married before the age of 16.

“Seven years after the US and the UK ‘freed’ Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, our report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases,” said the report Afghanistan Women and Girls Seven Years On released on 25 February.

Gender violence has reached “shocking and worrying” levels in Afghanistan and efforts must be redoubled to tackle it, the country’s human rights watchdog and civil society organisations said. “Our findings clearly indicate that despite over six years of international rhetoric about Afghan women’s emancipation and development, a real and tangible change has not touched the lives of millions of women in this country,” Suraya Subhrang, a commissioner on the rights of women at AIHRC, said.

Suicide, rape, self-immolation

The number of women attempting suicide in the past year was 626, of whom 130 died. Suicide methods included self-immolation, the slashing of veins and taking lethal doses of drugs, according to the AIHRC.

Cases of rape and self-immolation appeared to be going up: “In 2006 we recorded 1,545 cases of violence against [or severe psychological oppression of] women, which included 98 cases of self-immolation and 34 cases of rape, while in 2007 we listed 2,374 cases of violence, which constitute 165 self-immolations and 51 cases of rape,” Subhrang told IRIN in Kabul.

Women affected by poor health services

Not only are Afghan women victims of gender-based violence, thousands of them are also dying and suffering due to a lack of health services in the war-torn country.

Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in the world in terms of maternal mortality ranking with 1,600-1,900 out of every 100,000 women dying in childbirth, according to UNFPA and the Ministry of Public Health.

Every year at least 24,000 Afghan women die due to diseases and during childbirth – 25 times the number of people dying of security-related violence in the country – of which 87 percent are preventable, UNFPA’s Penumaka said.

The UNFPA findings indicate that up to 70 percent of pregnant women do not receive medical attention, 40 percent do not have access to emergency obstetric care, and 48 percent suffer from iron deficiency.

Investing more in women

In his message on International Women’s Day, 8 March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments and international organisations to increase meaningful investments in women and girls, particularly in their education, health and empowerment.

By 2020 Afghanistan is committed to eliminating gender disparity at all levels of education, promoting gender equality, empowering women, giving everyone access to justice, and reducing the maternal mortality rate by 75 percent, according to the country’s third and fifth national Millennium Development Goals (nMDGs).

The AIHRC and some aid agencies are concerned that Afghanistan will not achieve its nMDGs unless strong measures are implemented urgently to reduce widespread violence towards women and improve their access to health, education and other services.

“Only by investing in the world’s women and girls can we expect to reach our destination [MDGs],” said Ban Ki-moon’s message.

Source: Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a project the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. IRIN is UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

The Plight of the Afgan Woman

UN human rights chief says Afghan law restricting women's rights is reminiscent of Taliban era

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

2 April 2009, GENEVA -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday urged the Afghan Government to rescind a new law, reportedly signed by President Karzai earlier this month, saying it would seriously undermine women's rights in Afghanistan and contravene the Afghanistan constitution as well as universal human rights standards.

The new law, which has not yet been published, was passed by the two houses of Afghanistan's parliament before proceeding for signature by the President. It regulates the personal status of Afghanistan's minority Shi'a community members, including relations between women and men, divorce and property rights.

"This is another clear indication that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is getting worse not better," Pillay said. "Respect for women's rights – and human rights in general – is of paramount importance to Afghanistan's future security and development. This law is a huge step in the wrong direction."

The new law denies Afghan Shi'a women the right to leave their homes except for "legimitate" purposes; forbids women from working or receiving education without their husbands' express permission; explicitly permits marital rape; diminishes the right of mothers to be their children's guardians in the event of a divorce; and makes it impossible for wives to inherit houses and land from their husbands – even though husbands may inherit immoveable property from their wives.

"For a new law in 2009 to target women in this way is extraordinary, reprehensible and reminiscent of the decrees made by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the 1990s," Pillay said.

Afghanistan's Shi'a community, composed mainly but not exclusively of the Hazara minority, represents around 10 per cent of Afghanistan's population, and the new law has the active support of some of the Hazaras' male leadership, although it has been strongly opposed by other Hazaras and Afghan human rights campaigners throughout the country. There are concerns the law will establish precedents that will adversely affect all Afghan women.

The High Commissioner cited a number of other human rights set-backs in Afghanistan that have been undermining efforts to build the rule of law in the country.

"Freedom of expression by media and civil society activists has come under increasing assault," Pillay said. "There has been no progress in ensuring justice or accountability for past war crimes and crimes against humanity, which have characterized decades of warfare and lawlessness. Impunity is widespread, deeply entrenched, and an impediment to ending the pervasive and ongoing violation of human rights. And, after a moratorium of some years, the Government has recently reactivated the death penalty despite a deeply flawed judicial system."

The intensifying armed conflict in Afghanistan has also had disastrous consequences for civilians, with a 40 per cent increase in civilian casualties during 2008.

Women In Afganistan

The vast majority of Afghanistan's population professes to be followers of Islam. Over 1400 years ago, Islam demanded that men and women be equal before God, and gave them various rights such the right to inheritance, the right to vote, the right to work, and even choose their own partners in marriage. For centuries now in Afghanistan, women have been denied these rights either by official government decree or by their own husbands, fathers, and brothers. During the rule of the Taliban (1996 - 2001), women were treated worse than in any other time or by any other society. They were forbidden to work, leave the house without a male escort, not allowed to seek medical help from a male doctor, and forced to cover themselves from head to toe, even covering their eyes. Women who were doctors and teachers before, suddenly were forced to be beggars and even prostitutes in order to feed their families.

Since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, many would agree that the political and cultural position of Afghan women has improved substantially. The recently adopted Afghan constitution states that "the citizens of Afghanistan - whether man or woman- have equal rights and duties before the law". So far, women have been allowed to return back to work, the government no longer forces them to wear the all covering burqa, and they even have been appointed to prominent positions in the government. Despite all these changes many challenges still remain. The repression of women is still prevalent in rural areas where many families still restrict their own mothers, daughters, wives and sisters from participation in public life. They are still forced into marriages and denied a basic education. Numerous school for girls have been burned down and little girls have even been poisoned to death for daring to go to school.

- by Abdullah Qazi

Fact Box
  • Every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth
  • 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate
  • 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan
  • 1 in every 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence
  • 44 years is the average life expectancy rate for women in Afghanistan
  • 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan

Source: IRIN

Al-Shabaab Orders Women To Wear Veils in Somalia

From Newstime Africa:
Mogadishu, Somalia 10th Dec, 2009 – The Al-qaeda linked Islamist rebels Al-shabaab have ordered Somali women in the border town of Dhobley close to Kenya to wear veils or face punishment, the top rebel commander in the town declared late on Wednesday. During a press conference yesterday afternoon, Al shabab’s security chief in the town Sheik Da’ud Hassan Ali said that all women in Dhobley and surrounding villages are told to wear veils and cover all their bodies otherwise they will be punished for neglecting the Islamic orders.

“According to the holly Quran Allah had obligated Muslim women in all over the world to have veils, that is a religious article and any woman who doesn’t obey will be dealt with in accordance with Islamic sharia law” the Islamist official told reporters.

Al-shabaab also banned cigarettes and Kat {the green narcotic leafs grown in the neighbouring Kenya} to be used in the city. Dhoble, a key border town close to Kenya is about 695 kilometres south of the capital Mogadishu and it fell into the hands of Al-shabaab late last month when militias belonging to their former ally Hezbal Islam fled from the city toward Kenyan border.

This week, Kenya said that its security forces have been put on a high alert to intercept Islamists from entering in its territories as they are getting very closer to Kenyan side of the border. On may 7 this year, both groups united in combating against Somalia’s world-backed transitional government and launched a big offensive to topple it, but later they disagreed over the administrative power of the key port town of Kismayo, about 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

Al-shabaab Islamists, Al-qaeda’s proxy in the horn of Africa say they are fighting to establish Islamic state in Somalia, while the Somali government accuses them of wanting to make Somalia a safe haven for international terrorists running from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

Spain: Catalonia, Islamic Moral Brigades Impose Shariah Law

Harassment Across Arab World Drives Women Inside

CAIRO – The sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab world is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes, said activists at the first-ever regional conference addressing the once taboo topic.

Activists from 17 countries across the region met in Cairo for a two-day conference ending Monday and concluded that harassment was unchecked across the region because laws don't punish it, women don't report it and the authorities ignore it.

The harassment, including groping and verbal abuse, is a daily experience women in the region face and makes them wary of going into public spaces, whether it's the streets or jobs, the participants said. It happens regardless of what women are wearing.

With more and more women in schools, the workplace and politics, roles have changed but often traditional attitudes have not. Experts said in some places, like Egypt, harassment appears sometimes to be out of vengeance, from men blaming women for denied work opportunities.

Amal Madbouli, who wears the conservative face veil or niqab, told The Associated Press that despite her dress, she is harassed and described how a man came after her in the streets of her neighborhood.

"He hissed at me and kept asking me if I wanted to go with him to a quieter area, and to give him my phone number," said Madbouli, a mother of two. "This is a national security issue. I am a mother, and I want to be reassured when my daughters go out on the streets."

Statistics on harassment in the region have until recently been nonexistent, but a series of studies presented at the conference hinted at the widespread nature of the problem.

As many as 90 percent of Yemeni women say they have been harassed, while in Egypt, out of a sample of 1,000, 83 percent reported being verbally or physically abused.

A study in Lebanon reported that more than 30 percent of women said they had been harassed there.

"We are facing a phenomena that is limiting women's right to move ... and is threatening women's participation in all walks of life," said Nehad Abul Komsan, an Egyptian activist who organized the event with funding from the U.N. and the Swedish development agency.

Harassment has long been a problem in Mideast nations. But it was little discussed until three years ago, when blogs gave posted amateur videos showing a crowd of men assaulting women in downtown Cairo during a major Muslim holiday in one of the most shocking harassment incidents in the region.

The public outcry sparked an unprecedented public acknowledgment of the problem in Egypt and elsewhere in the region, and drove the Egyptian government to consider two draft bills addressing sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment, including verbal and physical assault, has been specifically criminalized in only half a dozen Arab countries over the past five years. Most of the 22 Arab states outlaw overtly violent acts like rape or lewd acts in public areas, according to a study by Abul Komsan.

Participants at the conference said men are threatened by an increasingly active female labor force, with conservatives laying the blame for harassment on women's dress and behavior.

In Syria, men from traditional homes go shopping in the market place instead of female family members to spare them harassment, said Sherifa Zuhur, a Lebanese-American academic at the conference.

Abul Komsan described how one of the victims of harassment she interviewed told her she had taken on the full-face veil to stave off the hassle.

"She told me 'I have put on the niqab. By God, what more can I do so they leave me alone,'" she said, quoting the woman. Some even said they were reconsidering going to work or school because of the constant harassment in the streets and on public transpiration.

Where segregation between the sexes is the norm and women are sheltered by religious or tribal customs, cases of sexual harassment are still common at homes and in the times when women must venture out, whether to markets, hospitals or government offices.

In Yemen, where nearly all women are covered from head to toe, activist Amal Basha said 90 percent of women in a published study reported harassment, specifically pinching.

"The religious leaders are always blaming the women, making them live in a constant state of fear because out there, someone is following them," she said.

If a harassment case is reported in Yemen, Basha added, traditional leaders interfere to cover it up, remove the evidence or terrorize the victim.

In Saudi Arabia, another country where women cover themselves completely and are nearly totally segregated from men in public life, women report harassment as well, according to Saudi activist Majid al-Eissa.

His organization, the National Family Safety Program, has been helping draft a law criminalizing violence against women in the conservative kingdom, where flirting can often cross the line into outright assault. Discussion of the law begins Tuesday.

"It will take time especially in this part of the world to absorb the gender mixture and the role each gender can play in society," he said. "We are coping with changes (of modern life), except in our minds."

Darfur - Sudan: Women’s Groups Advocate for Rape Law Reform

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Cross posted from Refugees International’s blog.

Women’s groups in Khartoum are working together to push for reform of north Sudan’s criminal laws on rape and adultery. Despite all of the difficulties that they face, they are taking positive steps forward and using the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence to launch their campaign.

A new network of Sudanese women’s organizations calling itself “the section 149 alliance” has come together to advocate for reform of section 149 of north Sudan’s Penal Code. Section 149 is one of the huge problems that face northern Sudanese women, including Darfuri women, who want to report a rape. This section of the criminal code mixes up the offences of rape and adultery.

As Refugees International reported back in 2007, the criminal system in north Sudan makes it almost impossible to prosecute rape cases successfully. The crime of rape is difficult to prove in most criminal systems, but in north Sudan many judges require four adult male witnesses to testify that a rape took place. Such evidence is of course almost impossible to obtain. Sadly, reporting rape brings stigma onto survivors in almost all countries. But in north Sudan, women have even more to fear than the stigma. Sudanese women are scared to report rape because they could themselves be prosecuted for adultery if the rape prosecution fails. For an unmarried woman the punishment for adultery is 100 lashes; for a married woman the punishment is death by stoning. This is obviously an enormous disincentive for rape survivors to come forward.

So it is good news that women’s groups in Sudan are campaigning to change this system. They are pointing out to lawmakers in Sudan that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan requires them to change their laws to bring them in line with international human rights. The current laws on rape and adultery in north Sudan are clearly in violation of international human rights laws. There are many Islamic religious scholars who have stated that Islamic law does not prevent reform of these rape and adultery laws. It is heartening to see that Sudanese women’s groups are standing up for the rights of rape survivors and calling on their politicians to reform these unjust

Melanie Teff is an Advocate with Refugees International.

DARFUR Building A Safer Planet: Reflections on the 16 Days

December 16th, 2009 by Niemat Ahmadi

In concert with the commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the 16 Days mark important events in our lifetime in which the bases for equality, liberty, justice, security for all and the respect for human dignity have been established.

These 16 days are very unique for all of us as human beings and as women in particular. They are a reminder to those who care about human and women’s rights to check our calendars and see how far we have come since both of these declarations. Have we done enough to honor them, or is there a lot more homework to be done?

Sadly, in recent history and in the current crisis in Darfur, war is too often waged on and with women’s bodies. In Darfur, where slaughter continues and insecurity has reigned supreme for over six years, women are the most common targets. Women and children make up the overwhelming majority of the camp population, estimated at eighty percent. Every week, innocent people in Darfur – especially children, women and the elderly – lose their lives or are forcibly displaced from their villages. Countless women and girls continue to face brutal rape, humiliation, beating, starvation and disease. As recently as October 2009, the UN Panel of Experts report showed that “sexual and gender-based violence is rampant.”

In Darfur, rape is being used as weapon of war. It is a systematic tactic to destroy the very fabric of our community. Sexual violence in Darfur is not the product of chaos or undisciplined troops. It is not an after-effect of war. It is a well-planned and orchestrated calculation to break apart families, tear down leadership structures and leave individuals and communities with long-term social, emotional, and physical scars. Women are raped when their villages are attacked, when they flee their homes seeking safe refuge and while they are living in camps for the internally displaced. Abduction and sexual slavery are also tactics used by the Sudanese government and its allied janjaweed militia.

This terrorizing of women, families and communities is not a nightmare – it is the reality of daily life in Darfur. Even when the firing of guns stops, rape does not. As the UN Panel of Experts report tells us, “an overwhelming concern expressed by internally displaced persons was the unchecked aggression by armed elements from Arab tribes, janjaweed, Government of the Sudan forces and other belligerent tribes, and the high rate of harassment and of sexual and gender-based violence. These fears are exacerbated by the apparent impunity these forces seem to enjoy, the ever-present memories of most internally displaced persons of grave human rights violations committed against them and the fact that many individuals commonly referred to as the janjaweed have not been disarmed and continue to brandish their weapons.”

Despite the alarming rate at which rape and sexual violence are used in the genocide in Darfur, little has been done to address this deadly phenomenon. Until today, there has been no study carried out to determine the number of women and girls in Darfur impacted by sexual violence, which is indeed beyond our imagination. Trauma counseling and psychosocial support are unavailable to most women survivors of violence in Darfur. Also lacking are projects that could be designed to provide fuel alternatives for Darfuri women. With these lacking, women leave camps to go in search of firewood for fuel and income and risk facing this cruel act of violence.

The expulsion of many NGOs from Darfur in March 2009 put women at risk more than ever before. Some of these NGOs were doing very important to address women’s emergency health and protection needs. While the programs were insufficient to address the scale of sexual violence in Darfur, they provided crucial services to many women and girls.

For years, the Government of Sudan has kept my people hostage and has obstructed any effort to put an end to the tragic situation in Darfur. The government not only orchestrates crimes, but also denies the existence of sexual violence in Darfur even as its army and allied militias perpetrate rape day and night.

I feel the agony of my beloved ones and know the value of being a voice for those who are voiceless. This is why my organization chose to recognize those who make use of their voices, who stand up to say no to the dehumanization of women. Among the 16 Leaders we honor, some have been through similar experiences, like my sister and countrywoman Zeinab Eyega. While she fled Sudan after the brutal civil war in the South, the suffering hasn’t weakened her – instead it has given her more courage and confidence to stand up for the women of the continent of Africa, not only those from Sudan.

Zainab Salbi grew up in Iraq during its rule by one of the most notorious dictators of our time, where women could barely dream of having voices. But she saw beyond the borders of her home country. Today, as the co-founder and CEO of Women for Women International, she is standing in solidarity with women in conflict zones around the world, including my country Sudan.

Dr. Mohammed is a man of great principle who sacrificed his own safety to give hope to many others, including victims of torture and rape. Using his profession and compassion to heal and remedy their wounds, he brings women the possibility of going back to normal and rebuilding their communities. His contributions are indeed unique and deserve our recognition.

The former Ambassador Swanee Hunt has extended her help to the women of Bosnia and many more on continents far from her own homeland. Is this not amazing? Imagine finding someone advocating on your behalf from across the world, while you were abandoned by your own people.

By mentioning these leaders, I am hoping to highlight the unique experiences of our honorees and how they have struggled and sacrificed to do their great work. They set an example of the power of conscience in supporting, empowering and giving hope. For all their contributions to the betterment of others, these 16 leaders deserve our gratitude and recognition.

If we can find 16 voices within each continent, country, state or community to educate and raise the attention of their closest 16 friends and family members, we will make the world a better place for all of us to live in peace.

If every individual making up our united front just speaks loudly and says no to the abuse of women and girls everywhere, we will make the promise of “never again” become reality. While there are many famous people working for change, you don’t need to be recognized across the world to be a leader. I believe the voice of conscience can be even stronger and more meaningful coming from ordinary citizens who care.

I believe women are the center of the world community. If we can all come together to protect, educate and empower women, our planet will be safe enough to sustain us all.

Niemat Ahmadi is the Darfuri Liaison Officer for the Save Darfur Coalition

Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Muslim Relatives of Sudanese Christian Woman Pursue Her, Son,"

Compass Direct News, December 10 (thanks to Maxwell):

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 10 (CDN) -- A Sudanese woman who fled to Egypt after converting from Islam to Christianity is living in secluded isolation as her angry family members try to track her down.

Howida Ali's Muslim brother and her ex-husband began searching for her in Cairo earlier this year after a relative there reported her whereabouts to them. While there, her brother and ex-husband tried to seize her 10-year-old son from school.

"I'm afraid of my brother finding us," said the 38-year-old Ali, who has moved to another area. "Their aim is to take us back to Sudan, and there they will force us to return to the Islamic faith or sentence us to death according to Islamic law."...

Afganistan - Pakistan: Taliban continues campaign against the alarming spectre of educated women

Threatened by girls with books. "Taliban blow up Pakistan girls school: official," from Agence France-Presse, December 23:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - The Taliban blew up a girls' school in Pakistan's Khyber district, where troops are fighting against militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.
Militants detonated explosives overnight at the government-run school in Bazgarah town, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Peshawar, capital of the violence-plagued North West Frontier Province.
"The building had 21 rooms. All have been completely demolished," local administration chief Shafeerullah Wazir told AFP by telephone.
There were no casualties because the property was empty at the time.
"Taliban and their local allies are responsible. They are destroying educational institutions to avenge the military operation against their hideouts in the area," said Wazir.
"This was the ninth educational institution blown up in Khyber over the past six weeks," he added.
Islamist militants opposed to co-education and subscribers to sharia law have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in northwest Pakistan in recent years....

EGYPT Coptic Pope Shenouda III in 1976: "There is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands."

Nothing has changed, except for the new generation of victims. Note also the state's adherence in practice to Sharia guidelines rather than civil law, and al Azhar University's affirmation of Aisha's age at marriage as a precedent -- something apologists adamantly deny to Western audiences. "Forced Islamization of Christian Girls Supported By Egyptian State," by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency, December 23:

Cairo (AINA) -- The phenomenon of abduction, rape and forced Islamization of Christian girls in Egypt was shown for the first time on the Christian TV channel "Life TV", which broadcasts from outside Egypt and has nearly 60 million Arab-speaking viewers in Egypt and around the world.
The testimonies of the victims and their families came as a shock to many, including Egyptian Christians, since this issue is taboo for the Egyptian media, "Our role is to expose those behind those crimes," said Rasheed El Maghreby, the program's moderator.
The program was aired in mid-November 2009, and interviewed Mr. Magdi Khalil, an authority on Coptic affairs who has made a complete field study on forced Islamization of Christian minors in Egypt. Mr Khalil explained that this phenomenon in its present form is nearly 40 years old, and most of these conversion crimes, with a few isolated exceptions, are carried out by organized Islamization gangs or "Islamization Mafia", a termed coined by him, which are fully funded by the state and supported by State Security.
"Those highly organized gangs carry out systematic planning," says Khalil. "Besides violent forced abductions, other devious means include allurement, deception, psychological pressure, financial temptation, emotional relationships ending in rape and photographs taken to blackmail the victims into conversion, and spreading fear in the hearts of their families. They turn the minor into a broken, humble, and submissive person who drifts along a road which would have been impossible for her to take under normal circumstances or in an atmosphere of family or legal protection, and of her own free will."
The TV program aired three cases of victims throwing light on the complete disadvantage of the affected families in front of the "Islamization mafia", in view of the complete lack of support, if not collusion, of the authorities. [...]
Another incident was described by a villager who said that his daughter, who was less than 16-years-old, was abducted as she went to the nearby grocery store. When he reported the matter to the police, he was told he was causing 'sectarian strife.' He said: "I asked to see my daughter just for 10 minutes, but they refused. I was detained at the police station until the officer received a phone call that my daughter was taken away." He said that the police forced him to leave the village. "My daughter returned to the village 3 days after I left. They have taken my home by force and now my daughter lives in it with her Muslim husband....

Video of victims' testimony can be found at AINA's site, linked above.

"This is thuggery. As long as it is for the benefit of Islam, all authorities join together as if it is an 'armed invasion.' Sharia over the law and Islam over the nation," said Khalil.
The latest fraud mentioned on the TV program is that Muslim gangs who dress as Coptic priests, offer a car lift to Christian girls and then abduct them. "The Coptic Church has warned its congregation against letting any unknown person dressed as a priest into their homes or accepting a lift," said Khalil.
Several international organizations have criticized Egypt regarding forced Islamization of minors, among which is the International Religious Freedom report from 2005 to 2009, the Helsinki Commission Report of November 9th, 2006, Human Rights Watch Report of November 12th, 2007, and on November 10th, 2009, Christian Solidarity International issued a report quoting 25 cases of forced Islamization of minors.
H.H. Pope Shenouda protested as far back as December 17th, 1976, during a conference held in Alexandria, saying: "There is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands." He demanded that the abducted girls be returned to their families.
Sheikh Fawzy al-Zafzaf, former head of the Azhar committee for inter-religious dialogue told Al-Destoor Newspaper on November 17th, 2009, that he did not deny the existence of cases of abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls in Egypt. He called on the government to intervene to stop such acts by imposing just penalties on people who commit them.
Pope Shenouda warned during a lecture on March 17, 2004 that he received thousands of letters of abduction of Christian girls through certain Islamic store chains which lure them away by being told they won a prize and have to go to an upper floor in the building to collect it.
"Christian activists who work in cases of abductions and forced Islamization have a good idea about who the organizations, State Security officers and businessmen supporting the Islamization gangs," he explained. [...]
Despite the existence of laws in Egypt setting the minimum age of conversion to Islam at 21, as well as legally forbidding marriage of a girl younger than 18 without the consent of her parent or guardian, "we still find fatwas (religious edicts) being issued to justify those criminal acts," says Khalil.
The Chairman of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, Sheikh Abdulah Mogawer, talking to Al-Arabya-net justified the marriage of two underage Christian girls (15 and 17 when abducted) by saying that they accept Islamization at the age of 16 . "According to Sharia, the main criteria for marriage to be valid is for the girl to reach puberty and is not tied to a specific age. Aisha married [consummated] the Prophet at the age of 9. Some girls might reach puberty at 14 or 15 years old, depending on her physical growth," said Mogawer.