Friday, 31 May 2013
Thursday, 30 May 2013
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
"There is not one law in Saudi Arabia that regards violence toward women as an illegal activity": what's really behind Saudi's domestic abuse problem?
Monday, 27 May 2013
It is too early to know exactly what happened in Woolwich this afternoon, but it seems very likely it was a terrorist killing of a British soldier by Islamic extremists.
Shortly after it emerged it could be a terrorist attack, a hashtag appeared online: #notinmyname. The Muslims who expressed this sentiment had honourable motives, but it is a mistake. They do not need to condemn what has happened. This killing has no more to do with them than it does with the rest of us.
Doing so suggests Muslims are somehow more responsible for the attack than other Brits. It vindicates the central message of Islamic extremists: that we are not, ultimately, British. We are Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, endlessly divided by race and faith and culture.
This is false. It has always been false. We are Brits first.
When World War Two began, many intellectuals openly wondered how long it would take for British society to collapse into civil chaos. People assumed a society so strained by inequality and competing political groups could never withstand such pressure. To a very important extent, France failed to do so. In Britain, the essential solidarity of the people prevailed.
It prevailed during the Blitz. It prevailed during the IRA strikes. And it prevailed after 7/7. This is as diverse a society as any in the history of mankind. But it is British, and united, regardless of race or religion or even income. There is no reason to mention such things in day-to-day life. But on days like today, we should proclaim them proudly.
Muslims have nothing to apologise for and nothing to justify. They are no more culpable for what happened this afternoon than I am for the insane rants of Nick Griffin.
ITV today showed footage of a black man dressed in western clothes, his hands covered in blood, talking to the camera. "In our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe," he says.
And yet he speaks in a London accent. This is his land.
Now we will have to undertake the solemn, confusing, despairing process of understanding how people who live in our society could do this to other people in it. That is the debate which should take place. How can Britain still be so beset with alienation that these events could take place?
But that is a question for Brits to answer: not for British Muslims alone. In so far as anyone outside the killers is culpable, we are all culpable.
And when we answer this question, we should remember the following piece of information: After they dragged his body into the road, a group of women crowded around the body and protected it from the assailants. That's why he mentioned the women in the first place. Because they were brave enough to stand between thugs and their victim.
Those women represented Britain too. Source
Sunday, 26 May 2013
Saturday, 25 May 2013
Friday, 24 May 2013
Thursday, 23 May 2013
On the outskirts of the vast Egyptian capital, Egypt ends and the latest Syria enclave begins. Women tie their headscarves in a distinctly Syrian way. They buy Syrian spices and trinkets from vendors whose shops are now tables lined along the streets. There is a constant murmur of stories about the desperate circumstances that forced the residents to flee places such as Homs and Damascus in the past year.
The only sign that one is still in Egypt is the sound of Egyptian men and their mothers, who flock every day in the hopes they can exploit the dashed hopes of the Syrian revolution. Too poor to take an Egyptian bride, the men have heard that Syrian refugees are cheaper, prettier, better cooks and easier to marry.
“I am looking for a Syrian bride,” a 39-year-old painter, his calloused hands showing his struggle to survive, tells a Syrian man selling pita bread and spices outside the local mosque. “They are less complicated.”
The Syrian has heard this a dozen times already that day and doesn’t even respond, but rather points to a professionally made sign in front of the mosque behind him. It says that the mosque “announces that it has nothing to do with the marriage of Egyptian men to Syrian sisters. That’s why there shouldn’t be any questions regarding this issue in any of the offices of the organization. May Allah punish those responsible for spreading these rumors.”
The painter is undeterred. “Maybe there are Syrian women around the corner?” he asks.
The Syrian, who asks that he be identified only as Khalid, just shakes his head.
Before the sign, Khalid said, he fielded the question 100 times a day; now it is only 50. It’s difficult to know if he’s exaggerating.
“They ask us where the office is to buy a Syrian woman, as if they are buying a chicken. They don’t believe us when we tell them it doesn’t exist,” said Khalid, who said he was 26. “Our women are not for sale. We are here because we did not want to be killed.”
Men across the region are now seeking Syrian brides. In Turkey and Jordan, where refugee camps pepper the landscape, the desperation of the Syrians is far easier to spot as rich Persian Gulf men scour the camps to buy brides living in tents. Rape, child brides and temporary marriages are prevalent.
“People are marrying off their daughters for as little as 100 Jordanian dinars ($70) because of the bad circumstances inside the camp in return for money,” said Marwa al Saloumy, who works on women’s issues for a regional advocacy group called Al Zahra.
But in Cairo, where there are no camps, the dashed dreams of both Egyptians and Syrians in the post-Arab Spring world meet on more equal terms. Egyptian men, now poorer as the economy founders, find hope in the desperate Syrians, who can’t live in their own nation because a war that once promised revolutionary change has brought devastation and forced flight instead.
Syrian women say the men instantly spot them by their dress and approach them constantly. Alaa, a woman who fled Damascus three months ago to the Helwan neighborhood that has now become a Syrian enclave, said the harassment has been one of her biggest challenges.
In light of what is happening in Syria, “this is not the time to marry and celebrate and enjoy life,” Alaa said. And because of it, “Egyptian women now are starting to hate Syrian woman.”
That Egyptian men believe they could marry someone for less is changing marriage across Egypt. Men are demanding more of women and are willing to offer less, women report, and the standards for taking a bride are falling. Where an Egyptian man was once expected to provide a home and prove he can work before he could marry, now many believe they can have a Syrian bride for as little as $45.
The men come to the areas where Syrians have congregated all day, hoping to escape forced marriages or no prospects at all. They go to the mosque, to the makeshift Syrian vendors, to apartment complexes where Syrians are known to live. They approach one stranger after another, asking for a woman in the same tone they would ask directions – security guards at apartment complexes, Muslim clerics, anyone whose accent identifies them as Syrian.
For the Syrians, defending the women in their community has become a means to maintain their dignity even as they are living in dire circumstances.
“The thugs of Bashar Assad have spread these false rumors,” explained Khalid. “He has destroyed our nation and now he is destroying the reputation of our women.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are nearly 70,000 Syrian refugees living in Egypt, most in and around Cairo, all arriving in the last year.
But it is unclear how many Egyptians have taken a Syrian bride. Instead, it is a crisis built on rumor.
One regional women’s organization reported recently that 12,000 Syrian women have married Egyptian men in the last year. But according to the Ministry of Justice in Egypt, the official number of marriages between Egyptian men and Syrian women between January 2012 and March 2013 is 170, with 57 of those nuptials between January and March 2013, according to an Al Ahram online newspaper report.
Moreover, neither side wants to admit they are partaking. Syrians here find such claims insulting, and Egyptian women don’t want to admit that their men could find Syrians more attractive.
Some Muslim clerics have urged Egyptian men to marry Syrian women as an act of charity, and there are even rumors that top members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the secretive religious society through which Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rose to prominence, have taken Syrian women as second wives.
Earlier this month, the National Council of Women condemned the push to marry Syrian women, urging Egyptian officials to intervene. It even set up a hotline for Syrians to call and complain.
The number doesn’t work.
Egyptian matchmakers say they keep getting requests for Syrian women but refuse to oblige. They say they do not want to create yet another problem for Egyptian women – another obstacle to marriage.
Nashwa Soltan has worked as a matchmaker for a decade. For the first time, in the last year, two of every 10 men she meets ask for a Syrian bride.
“He has difficult demands,” Soltan said, referring to one such man she is working with. “He is a 54-year-old widower and he has three children, two of them are in college and the third is in sixth grade. And he wants a beautiful woman in her 40s who doesn’t have children and who doesn’t want to have any children.
“He wants someone to cook for his kids and wake up early for him and his children. He wants a servant,” Soltan said.
Soltan tried to hook him up with three Egyptian women, but the Egyptian women always turned him down.
“He tells the women from the first date that he won’t change anything in the house and that each one of his children likes certain types of food and he is expecting her to cook for each one of them,” Soltan said. When he asks to only see Syrian women, Soltan said she refused.
The painter, who refused to give his name, appeared to be just as unlucky. After the sellers lectured him on why he was on a fool’s errand, he walked quietly around the corner where no Syrian women awaited him.
Frustrated, he walked away. The Syrians vendors smirked as though they had won a fight.
“We still have our dignity” Khalid explained.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/05/14/191195/in-cairo-desperate-egyptian-men.html#.UZoe1LVwrp4#storylink=cpy
Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Al-Monitor gained access to this high-security, one-story facility with the permission of the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior, on condition that the correspondent be accompanied by a guard, names of prisoners are not published and that the final report was reviewed by the ministry before publishing.
For many people in Gaza, crimes committed by women are rarely heard of due to the conservative nature of Gazan society. Families of female convicts usually don’t disclose their whereabouts, and even lie about it.
The head of the prison, Jazya Abu Mousa, said that this year has witnessed the largest number of female prisoners since she began working there in 2007.
“The number changes from time to time as most of the prisoners here are detained and not sentenced,” Abu Mousa said.
Criminals in the prison are divided into three categories: thieves, security convicts of crimes often related to cooperating with the Israeli occupation and "moral" convicts, which includes prostitution or sexual relations without marriage. This final category holds the largest number of prisoners.
Abu Mousa blames the increasing number of crimes in the Strip on weak religious awareness among locals, family disintegration and the poor financial situation of most people in Gaza.
RH, 47, collaborated with the Israeli occupation along with her husband, until they were both arrested in 2010. RH’s husband was among six spies who were publicly executed and dragged through the streets of Gaza by Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, during the last Israeli offensive in November 2012.
RH and her husband worked in Israel until Israel denied access for Palestinians from Gaza to enter in 2000, following the second intifada. The couple turned to the Egyptian market for survival.
As Gaza was still under Israeli occupation, RH said that her husband met Israeli intelligence en route to Egypt. There, he was offered a permit to go back to his work in Israel.
The economic situation in Gaza had become dire with Israel’s severe siege, imposed in 2007, tempting RH’s husband to cooperate with the Israelis.
“At the beginning, they told him that they didn’t want anything in return, and it was only a matter of humanitarian support, but as time passed they started asking him for information about specific people,” RH recalled.
With their father killed and their mother in prison, RH’s children found themselves alone. Her son turned to robbery and is now serving a three-year sentence in another section of the same prison. Her daughter-in-law divorced her son, as she no longer wanted to remain part of this “shameful” family.
When asked if she felt guilty for betraying her people, RH said she doesn’t believe she committed a big crime, adding that she was a victim of Israel exploiting her needs.
"The only thing I did was transfer money from Israelis to other spies in Gaza while I was going to Israel to treat my son. It wasn't a serious collaboration," she told Al-Monitor.
RH’s narrative follows a report by Al-Monitor last month that highlighted Israel’s attempts to recruit Palestinians from Gaza seeking medical attention in Israel.
While RH makes attempts to engage and joke with fellow inmates, she said she remains totally devastated inside.
“My man was killed, my son is arrested and I’m away from my children; we are no longer a family. Every day I wish this were just a horrible nightmare. I still can’t believe it,” she said, struggling to contain tears.
The prison head said she is proud of most of the prisoners, as she senses a willingness among them to change. The prison administration focuses on raising religious awareness among the prisoners so they won’t return to crime after their release, said Abu Moussa.
“Besides giving them traditional training like handicrafts and embroidery, Islamic lectures are the main focus,” she explained to Al-Monitor.
When M’s husband found no source of income, as he never had a career, he resorted to drugging his wife and prostituting her for less than $15 a night.
“I only knew about what was going on when the police invaded the house and arrested us. My ex-husband used to drug my drinks. I don’t even remember the people I had sex with,” M. told Al-Monitor, embarrassed.
Prostitution in Gaza barely exists due to strict monitoring by Hamas authorities.
When M’s father discovered what her husband was doing to her, he insisted on a divorce. Six years later, she remarried and returned to a normal life until she received a phone call from one of her former “clients.” She said, “He told me he was from a humanitarian organization and that I should go to get my handout, but when I reached the place, I found it was a trap and I was arrested again.”
The “client” gestured to M to enter his apartment when she got out of the taxi to meet him. She refused and tried to escape, but nearby police saw the altercation and grew suspicious. They were both arrested.
M has so far served two years of her six-year sentence for both her previous conviction of prostitution and the latest incident. She thinks of nothing but finding a way to reach her three children.
“I was told that my children are not proud of me for what they heard about me. I wish I could hug them and tell them it was not my fault,” said M, tears streaming down her face.
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/gaza-women-prison.html#ixzz2TpyVsFUF