15/5/10; A mud-walled village in Iran. Soraya, a 35-year-old mother of seven, is falsely accused of adultery by her violent husband, who wants to be rid of her to marry a 4-year-old girl. He blackmails the local mullah, who sentences Soraya to death by stoning under Sharia law. The crowd cries “Allahu akbar [God is great!]” as Soraya’s two young sons are invited to hurl the first stones. It takes Soraya an agonising three hours to die. The next day an Iranian-French journalist, Freidoune Sahebjam, stops in the village to get his car fixed and is told the horrific story by Soraya’s fearless aunt, Zahra. He makes a narrow escape from the village and goes on to write a book in honour of Soraya that will become an international bestseller in 1994, opening the eyes of the West for the first time to the barbaric practice of stoning in some Islamic countries.
Posts Tagged ‘Womens Rights’
Tony Allen-Mills; 15/5/10
What are these? Why did you choose this place?” asks Ayaan Hirsi Ali, eyebrows arched in feigned alarm. We are in New York’s Algonquin hotel, just a few hundred metres from Times Square, where a Muslim would-be bomber parked a car full of explosives a couple of days earlier. Radical Islamists have been trying for years to kill Hirsi Ali, a softly spoken politician turned intellectual who combines the beauty of a film star with the uncompromising zeal of an Enlightenment crusader. She has been under siege since the ritualised murder in 2004 of her friend, Theo van Gogh, who had helped her make the film Submission, a blistering polemic about Islam’s treatment of women. A letter pinned to Van Gogh’s chest – or, rather, stabbed in place with a butcher’s knife – warned Hirsi Ali that “you will go down”. She went into hiding, exchanging a career as a Dutch MP for exile.
Carole Landry, 13/5/10
The French parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the full-face Islamic veil as an affront to the nation’s values, setting the stage for a law banning it. The vote in the National Assembly put France on course to become the second European country after Belgium to declare the wearing of the burqa or the niqab illegal in public places. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party and the opposition Socialists made a rare show of unity in backing the non-binding resolution that declared the veil ”contrary to the values of the republic”.
10/5/10; (2 Items)
A couple who operated a Sydney brothel forced five women to live in “conditions of slavery”, making them work more than 100 hours per week, even if they were sick, a jury has been told. Trevor Frank McIvor, 62, and his de facto wife, Kanokporn Tanuchit, 44, have each pleaded not guilty to five counts of possessing a slave and five counts of using a slave. The jurors, who were told the hearing is a retrial, heard that the five women were recruited from Thailand by a third party, who arranged Australian visas for them. Crown prosecutor Bruce Levet said on their arrival in Sydney, the women had their passports and phones taken and they were housed in “restricted circumstances” at the Fairfield brothel or the couple’s house.
The Labor government has broken its promise on domestic violence, delivering just half the police officers promised to a specialised unit, state opposition leader Barry O’Farrell says. Only 23 of the 40 additional specially-trained police officers promised to the Family and Domestic Violence Unit in Labor’s 2007 election policy have been assigned, Mr O’Farrell said in a statement on Friday. “This is another tragic example of the Keneally Labor government making the grand announcement but failing to follow through,” Mr O’Farrell said. There were 25,694 domestic violence-related assaults in 2009, an average of 71 a day, Mr O’Farrell said. “To make matters worse, two years ago, Labor axed 24 experienced domestic violence case-workers in the Department of Community Services,” he said.”It is simply unacceptable for the Keneally Labor government to walk away from this commitment. “The incompetent Keneally Labor government has let down the victims of domestic violence, who deserve to be treated with care and sensitivity.”
Anyone who discriminates against breastfeeding mothers could face action under proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act. Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government would amend the legislation by extending protections from discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities to both women and men in all areas of employment. Mr McClelland said the changes would provide greater protection from sexual harassment for students and workers, ensure protections from sex discrimination applied equally to women and men and establish breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination. “Ensuring that anti-discrimination law meets the needs of contemporary Australians is an important part of ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights,” he said in a statement. The proposed changes are part of the government’s response to a report of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs into eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality. Mr McClelland said the government would also consider other recommendations from the committee report as part of a move towards consolidating anti-discrimination legislation into one single comprehensive law. “Strengthening protections for workers with family responsibilities is an important step toward achieving economic equality between women and men,” he said.
Katherine Murphy; 7/5/10
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has fuelled the political debate over the burqas worn by Muslim women by saying there is ”understandable community concern” about the attire. Mr Abbott made the remarks in response to a call by one of his MPs for burqas to be banned in Australia in the wake of an armed robbery in Sydney by a man in a full black burqa. Mr Abbott said Senator Cory Bernardi’s remarks reflected his personal views rather than Coalition policy – but he added: ”There is understandable concern in the community about what former prime minister John Howard called a confronting form of attire.” Senator Bernardi’s call was dismissed yesterday by some Muslim leaders as nothing more than a political stunt.
A Muslim in Italy has been fined €500 for wearing a burqa. Tunisian immigrant Amel Marmouri, 26, was stopped by police in the city of Novara, in the north-east. A 1975 regulation invoking an anti-terrorism law prohibits people from wearing anything that impedes identification. Mrs Marmouri’s husband said his wife would continue to wear the burqa as he did not want other men to see her. He said she would have to stay at home. Town mayor Massimo Giordano said he had hoped the new ordinance would have deterred Muslim women from wearing burqas and niqabs. He said the new rule was introduced because it is ”the only tool at our disposal to stop behaviour that makes the already difficult process of integration even harder”.
Days before G20 leaders meet in June, women from the world’s 20 leading economies are to hold their own “G(irls)20 summit” to highlight women’s contributions to global economic prosperity. From June 15 to 18, the women will discuss the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals that affect girls and women, notably eradicating poverty and hunger, and improving maternal health, organisers announced on Wednesday. Delegates are to debate education, contraception and the role of women in a modern society. They will also be encouraged to propose ways to bolster women’s economic participation. The summit was inspired in part by a suggestion by Lawrence Summers, former World Bank chief economist and current economic adviser to US President Barack Obama, that a woman invests 80 per cent of every dollar earned in her family and community, compared to 30 per cent by men.
Nina Funnell; 5/5/10
The recent exhibition about female criminals – Femme Fatale – was spread over two rooms at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum. The first room charted the history of deviant females, starting with that evil biblical temptress Eve. The vain, sexually rapacious queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs got a mention as did female sex workers who patrol Kings Cross each night. The second room stopped us dead in our tracks. A disclaimer advised its contents might disturb, and explained the room was devoted to abortion because it was the one crime Australian women were most frequently involved in, and it was one of the only crimes always involving a woman. The exhibition was not simply equating female sexuality with female deviancy; it was exposing the ways in which our current culture and laws do exactly that. My friend and I walked silently through the second room, reflecting soberly on the fact Australian women still do not have complete rights over our own bodies, 50 years after the contraceptive pill became available.
30/4/10; (2 Items)
Belgian legislators voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public, paving the way for the first clampdown of its kind in Europe. In the lower house of federal parliament, 136 deputies voted to ban nationwide clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified, including the full-face niqab and burqa. There were two abstentions. No one voted against. The upper house of parliament has two weeks to raise any objections to the decision.
Charles Bremner; 27/4/10
President Sarkozy’s campaign against full Islamic veils took a comic turn yesterday when a Muslim butcher claimed that his wives were no different from the mistresses that Frenchmen traditionally enjoyed. Lies Hebbadj, 35, was defending himself after the Government made him a national example by citing his supposed polygamy as an illustration of un-French ways. He came to attention when a police officer in Nantes fined his wife euros 22 for driving while dressed in a niqab. Brice Hortefeux, the Interior Minister, demanded that Mr Hebbadj, who was born in Algeria, be stripped of his French nationality. The butcher said: “If we are stripped of nationality for having mistresses there would be a lot of French people stripped of nationality.” Mr Hebbadj has become an unwitting symbol for both sides in the row over Mr Sarkozy’s plans for a law, to be tabled in Parliament next month, that will bar women from covering their faces in public.
Jo Chandler; 26/4/10
If world leaders are serious about ending poverty, they must put an end to the maltreatment of women in developing countries. The phone rings and there’s the now familiar voice, the echo of a call that comes every couple of months. The conscience call. ”Hello, Jo? It’s us, the ladies from Laita.” The voice is warm and vibrant, just like the woman, Roslyn. Other voices are in the background, scraps of pidgin. ”Let me call you back.” Phone credit is precious and will soon expire somewhere in the 2000-plus kilometres of land and water between us.
Sally Neighbour; 26/4/10
France’s move to extend its ban on the Islamic headscarf and outlaw the full-face veil appears to be catching on. Belgian MPs will vote on whether to prohibit it and similar laws have been drafted in Italy. Europe’s rising Muslim population, which exceeds 20 per cent in some cities, has ensured a groundswell of support for these moves. The debate in Europe has stirred interest in Australia too. Some commentators have seized on calls to ban the burka, which they judge to be “un-Australian”. Others, including this writer, saw the French move as a xenophobic overreaction, more likely to inflame social tensions than ease them. However, this glib interpretation does not withstand an hour’s conversation with a key architect of the hijab ban, French scholar Gilles Kepel, who visited Australia recently.Kepel was a member of a commission established by the French government in 2003, which recommended forbidding the hijab, along with other religious symbols such as the Jewish yarmulke and large Christian crosses, from government-run schools. Kepel is no xenophobe. He’s the son of Czech migrants and has an Algerian wife. He is also one of the world’s most esteemed authorities on political Islam.
Emma-Kate Symons, 24/4/10
A saviour of women, or rank Islamophobe and racist? By pushing for a total ban on the burka, or full Islamic veil, in all public places, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is provoking outrage in the political establishment while winning the backing of the electorate and the far-right. Citing the republican value of equality, France will go further than any European country in outlawing head covering that conceals the face and an individual’s identity. The target is what is known as the burka in France, but usually refers to the niqab, or Islamic head-to-toe covering for women leaving only slits for eyes. “This is about an attack on women’s dignity, and it is not acceptable to French society,” said Mr Sarkozy’s spokesman and Education Minister, Luc Chatel. Under the law due to be rushed through parliament next month, the full veil will be forbidden everywhere from schools and town halls to the streets.
Nujood Ali; William Heinemann, 190pp, $24.95; The Sydney Morning Herald; No Internet Text
If you want to understand the damage done by the infamous Norma Khouri Forbidden Love hoax, here is a perfect example. This book is almost certainly true but, given that it feeds into anti-Islamic stereotypes, how does anyone know it is not fraud?
The story is sad, courageous and horrific. In 2008, aged 10, Nujood Ali was married to a man 20 years her senior, according to ancient rural customs in her homeland of Yemen. But Nujood, who was raped and beaten by her husband, rebelled.
Her family refused to help but her father’s second wife told her to go to the courts and plead for a divorce. Fortunately her case was taken up by a committed local lawyer and, although both her father and husband lied in court, Nujood was granted a divorce.
The case attracted international media attention and was supported by women’s organisations eager to bring some semblance of modernity to Yemen’s harsh patriarchy.