September 2011 review

Dear Friends,


Here is an alphabetical summary of items posted on the
English section of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws website during September 2011.


We hope that our monthly summaries continue to be of
use and interest to you. If you have any questions or comments please do not
hesitate to contact us.


In solidarity,


Women Living Under Muslim Laws

International Coordination Office

Facebook page








Great Ancestors: Women Claiming Rights in Muslim Contexts

book breaks the myth of Muslim women being passive, oppressed and apolitical.
It retrieves the mostly forgotten lives and voices of women from the eighth to
the early twentieth centuries in Muslim countries and communities who asserted
rights for themselves and for other women, promoting justice in the home and in
the public sphere. These narratives from East and South Asia to the Middle East
and West Africa, bring to life the rich history of women’s resistance and
engagement for rights, effectively overturning the misconception that the roots
of women’s activism lie exclusively in modern-day Europe and North America.
Women acted in their individual capacity and undertook collective actions in
the public sphere. Not all the women assembled in Great Ancestors were famous
or powerful, but they all exercised their agency for empowerment, challenging
power structures and opening new avenues for women. The issues of identity,
Muslim-ness and women’s rights from a contemporary perspective and the
importance of reclaiming this history are discussed in an introductory essay.
This book has been republished by Oxford University Press Pakistan.




Colombia: ‘Colombian Authorities Fail
Survivors of Sexual Violence’

The Colombian authorities
have failed to tackle the lack of justice for women and girl survivors during
the country’s long-running armed conflict, Amnesty International said in a new
report today. “Women and girls in Colombia are often treated as trophies of
war. They are raped and sexually abused by all the warring parties as a way to
silence and punish them,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty



France: ‘France’s burqa ban: women are
“effectively under house arrest”‘

Hind Ahmas walks into a
brasserie in the north Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. Jaws drop, shoulders
tighten and a look of disgust ripples across the faces of haggard men sipping
coffee at the bar.



Guatemala: ‘More Not Always Better for

GUATEMALA CITY, Sept 9, 2011
(IPS) – “Women have more opportunities nowadays to participate in the
economic, social and political development of the country, but this has still
not improved the quality of their lives,” said Laura Reyes, one of the
three women candidates for vice president of Guatemala.

“Many women have done a
good job, but others have taken advantage of power to serve their own personal
interests,” Reyes, a lawyer belonging to the Cakchiquel Maya indigenous
group, told IPS ahead of Sunday’s general elections.



International: ‘Gay Rights: A World of

Thursday, three men were hanged in Iran for the crime of lavat, sexual
intercourse between two men. The case is considered extreme even by Iranian
standards, because while the death penalty is in place for homosexuality, it is
usually enforced only when there is a charge of assault or rape alongside
it; the accusations in these three cases were of consensual sex.



Iran: ‘Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi
jailed for 11 years’

prominent Iranian human rights activist who was taken seriously ill
after being detained by the authorities has been sentenced to 11 years in jail.
Narges Mohammadi, 39, the deputy head of Iran‘s
Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), a rights organisation presided over by
the Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, was picked up last year by security
officials who raided her house in middle of the night without a warrant for her



Iran, Sudan, Libya, Egypt: Social Media
Helps Give Women a Voice

young woman is speaking to the camera, her face obscured to prevent her being
identified. Her voice heavy with emotion, and hands gesturing, she describes
the rape and torture she endured at the hands of her guards while imprisoned
during the post-election crackdown in Iran.
“Death was my first wish,” she says after recounting the physical and
sexual assaults that began when she was picked up on her way home from
university and thrown into a van. “I wanted it to be over. I wanted to



Iran: Dervishes and Lawyers Arrested in

Over 60 individuals, mostly
dervishes (members of a religious order), were arrested in the Iranian
cities of Kavar, Tehran and Shiraz between 3 and 14 September. At least
three lawyers who represent the group were also arrested on 4 September.
All are currently held in Evin Prison in Tehran and are at risk of torture or
other ill-treatment.



Update: Iran: Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s
Jail Sentence is Reduced

An appeals court in
Iran has reduced the prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s
jail sentence to six years, her husband said. The 45-year-old lawyer, who has
represented several political activists and protesters arrested in recent
years, has been kept in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since last September. In
Evin, she is spending time with some of the prisoners she defended in court.



Iran: Women’s rights activist, Faranak
Farid, beaten severely in detention

Faranak Farid was arrested
on 3 September in Tabriz, north-west Iran, during demonstrations over the
drying of Lake Oroumieh, which is situated between the Iranian provinces of
East and West Azerbaijan. She is reported to have been tortured and otherwise
ill-treated in detention.



Iran: ‘We are Everywhere: Gay and Lesbian
Iranians Come Out on Facebook’

Iran’s gay and lesbian
community is struggling to win some recognition by coming out in defiance of a
regime that criminalises homosexuality. A group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender Iranians have posted videos of themselves on Facebook in a campaign
to highlight the discrimination against sexual minorities in Iran where homosexuals
are put to death.



Iraq: ‘Fight for Women’s Rights Begins All
Over Again’

BAGHDAD, Sep 13, 2011 (IPS)
– When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about
300 kilometres south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the
way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling
legal struggle. “She is not a simple case,” says Hanaa Edwar, head of
the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the
U.S.-led invasion in 2003.



Jordan: ‘Rape Case Turns Focus to Jordan’s

IRBID, Jordan (AP) — After a
garment factory worker told Jordanian police she had been raped three times by
her boss, the case escalated into an international campaign that threatens to
close down Jordan’s largest garment exporter to the U.S. It could also force
government and business to do more to improve conditions in an industry that
has been crucial to this kingdom’s economy — and to its relations with the
United States.



Kenya: ‘FGM Outlawed but Persists’

In a bid to retain culture
and due to the greed of men who profit by marrying off their daughters, some
communities in Kenyastill practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Section 14
of The Children’s Act of 2001 in Kenyaprotects children against harmful
cultural practices under which FGM falls. Though this law has been in place for
a decade, the practice is still rampant, especially among pastoral communities
where even a girl may demand FGM since she has been brought up believing it to
be part of her initiation to maturity.



Kenya: ‘Wangari Maathai, Nobel peace prize
winner, dies at 71’

Wangari Maathai, the first
African woman to win the Nobel peace prize, died on Sunday night of cancer. She
was 71. A towering figure in Kenya, Maathai
was renowned as a fearless social activist and an environmental crusader. Her
Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977, planted tens of millions of



Lebanon: Girls Camp Focuses on Technology
for Empowerment

Equipped with writing,
filming and editing skills, “Geekettes” are ready to take back the tech and
introduce audiences to an entirely new way of looking at the world: through the
eyes of Lebanese girls ages 15-19.

During the weeklong Girl Geek Camp in
July, girls from across Lebanon arrived in the city of Kfardebian to learn how
to create blogs, use social networks, and film videos on cameras and mobile
phones. Building on the camp’s success, the second class of Geekettes arrive
this month.



Morocco: ‘Gender at the Heart of New
Moroccan Constitution’

Fez, Morocco – The new
reforms outlined in the June 2011 Moroccan constitution can be grouped in three
major categories: separation of powers, independence of justice, and good
governance. However there are other key reforms that have gotten less attention
but will have a major impact on Moroccan society, including a recognition of
Morocco’s multicultural roots, a greater recognition of gender equality and
more freedom of speech.



Myanmar: ‘Military Guilty of Rape,
Activists Say’

CHIANG MAI, 26 September
2011 (IRIN) – Human rights activists are reporting an increased incidence of
rape against Kachin women in areas of recent military attacks by government
forces in northern Myanmar.

In Kachin State alone, at
least 18 cases of rape – sometimes aggravated with murder – were documented
over an eight-day period in June by the Kachin Women’s Association of
Thailand (KWAT), following renewed fighting between government and Kachin



Pakistan: ‘Suffering in Silence’

MULTAN, 28 September 2011
(IRIN) – Being beaten almost daily by her husband is a routine part of Saadia
Bibi’s life. “Ever since I was married nearly seven years ago, I have been
slapped, punched or kicked virtually every day. Once or twice my husband has
burnt me with cigarettes,” she told IRIN in Multan, in conservative southern
Punjab, displaying the distinct, circular scars on her shoulders and legs. The
“misdemeanours” Saadia has been beaten for include cooking food which is
“tasteless”, speaking “too loudly” on the telephone or “arguing back”.



Update: Saudi Arabia: Woman driver pardoned
by Saudi King

A Saudi woman sentenced to
be lashed 10 times for defying the country’s ban on female drivers has had
her punishment overturned by the king. The woman, named as Shaima Jastaina and
believed to be in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission in
Jeddah in July. Her case was the first in which a legal punishment was handed
down for a violation of the ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.



Saudi Arabia: ‘Saudi woman to be lashed
for defying driving ban’

A Saudi woman has been
sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s
prohibition on female drivers. It is the first time a legal punishment has been
handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim
nation. Police usually stop female drivers, question them and let them go
after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued
to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.



Saudi Arabia: ‘Saudi Women Given Right to
Vote and Stand for Election in Four Years’

Women in Saudi
Arabia will be given the right to vote and to stand for election within
four years, King Abdullah announced on Sunday, in a cultural shift that
appears to mark a new era in the rigidly conservative Islamic kingdom. The
right to vote in council elections will not take effect until 2015, and women
will still be banned from casting ballots in elections this Thursday. However,
the 87-year-old monarch has invited women to take part in the next shura
council, a governing body that supervises legislation.



Senegal: ‘”Small Revolution” in
family planning’

DAKAR, 26 September 2011
(IRIN) – Talibouya Ka, Muslim leader (imam) of the Omar Kane mosque in the
Medina neighbourhood of the Senegalese capital Dakar, encourages his followers
to procreate as much as they can. “There are imams who are for family planning,
but I am not. I tell worshippers they need to increase the size of the global
Muslim family.” Such attitudes, which used to be prevalent in Senegal, are
increasingly rare, particularly in Dakar, midwives and doctors at the Hospital
Centre for Health and Hygiene in Medina, told IRIN.



Sri Lanka: ‘Battles ahead for women’

ALLANKULAM, 8 September 2011
(IRIN) – More policies and programmes must address the needs of female-headed
households in Sri Lanka’s former conflict zone, experts say. “Most
programmes don’t take into account the unique role of women here,” Saroja
Sivachandran, director of the Center for Women and Development (CWD), an
advocacy body based in northern Jaffna, told IRIN. “They may be
providing for the families, but [women] still have to cook, look after children
and do all household chores.”



Thailand: ‘Fighting Cervical Cancer with
Vinegar and Ingenuity’

POYAI, Thailand — Maikaew
Panomyai did a little dance coming out of the examination room, switching her
hips, waving her fists in the air and crowing, in her limited English:
“Everything’s O.K.! Everything’s O.K.!”

Translation: The nurse just
told me I do not have cervical cancer, and even the little white spot I had
treated three years ago is still gone.



Uganda: ‘Northern Uganda’s Girl Soldiers
Find a Harsh Homecoming’

GULU, Uganda
(WOMENSENEWS)–Rebels with the Lord’s Resistance Army abducted Florence Ayot,
31, in 1989, when she was 9 years old. She served as a wife to Dominic Ongwen,
a rebel commander who is now wanted by the International Criminal Court in The
Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Ayot had two children with
Ongwen, a daughter, 8, and son, 6. She says she used to want to escape, but now
she’d rather still be in captivity because she hasn’t been able to rebuild her
life here. Villagers constantly give her unwanted attention because of her
former husband.


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