News Flash June-July 2014
Taliban gunmen stopped two vehicles in central Afghanistan and shot dead 10 men, four women and one child police in Ghor province said. Most of the slain were labourers heading to Kabul. “They ordered all passengers to stand in one line, and then they shot them dead one by one”. A newly-wed couple amongst those killed. The group may have been on the way back from celebrating the marriage.
A 10 year old girl was raped in a mosque by a mullah who invoked the familiar defence that it had been consensual. The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an “honour killing” against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead. The police then removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed. The head of the Women for Afghan Women shelter where the girl took refuge, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and other mullahs. The doctor said she now wanted to flee Afghanistan. The head of the women’s affairs office in Kunduz, Nederah Geyah, who actively campaigned to have the young girl protected from her family and the mullah prosecuted, resigned on May 21 and moved to another part of the country.
The government of Afghanistan should adopt recommendations to abolish prosecution of women for “moral crimes.” Afghanistan rejected the recommendations in its Universal Periodic Review Outcome Report at the UN Human Rights Council. The government’s rejection of the recommendations to end prosecutions for “moral crimes” undercuts its acceptance of recommendations supporting women’s rights. The action also runs counter to directives from Afghanistan’s attorney general and Justice Ministry to decriminalize “running away” and “attempted zina,” or sex outside marriage.
On June 29, 2014, the first session of the case of the 7 women human rights defenders was conducted, among others, known as the Ittihadia Presidential Palace Case; the judge postponed the session. The seven women human rights defenders are Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo) and Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh). The women were arrested on 21 June 2014 along with others for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law.
When her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman the head of the village council ordered that the brother of the victimized woman rape the 10-year-old sister of the man accused. The little girl was dragged out of her house and raped. The entire village witnessed the crime but no one intervened, and most are refusing to speak out.
A number of female employees were recently fired by the Tehran municipality for their own “well-being.” Citing long hours and possible disruptions to family life, officials at the Tehran municipality have replaced female secretarial workers with men. Farzad Khalafi, media affairs deputy for the Tehran municipality, said: “Secretarial work and office management is time consuming and lengthy, and for the comfort and well-being of women, this decision was adopted that the office manager and secretary be a gentleman”.
The ban on Iranian women entering stadiums once again caused an uproar as police forces didn’t allow women to attend the International Federation of Volleyball World League games in Tehran. Police dispersed women’s rights activists and female volleyball fans who were gathered in front of the entrance of Azadi Stadium when Iran played Italy in the first leg on June 20. According to eyewitness reports, some were beaten and detained. The ban originally came after the establishment of an Islamic regime in Iran as mixed crowds enjoying games was deemed un-Islamic. “In the current conditions, the mixing of men and women in stadiums is not in the public interest”, said Iran’s police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam. “The stance taken by religious scholars and the supreme leader remains unchanged, and as the enforcer of law, we cannot allow women to enter stadiums”.
In the latest case of Iranian authorities cracking down on fashion they deem “un-Islamic,” clothing design institute called “Khaneh Mode” or Mode House was shut down in Tehran. It caused a controversy when it held a show with models wearing coats which appeared to be made of the Iranian flag—minus its religious symbols. Nor did it help that the show had allowed men among its audience, which violates Islamic rules. The shutting down of the fashion house is just the latest instance of an endless tug of war between authorities and women in Iran, one that has been fought since an Islamic dress code was enforced since establishment of Islamic regime. This clash comes to the forefront every summer, when the latest female attire trends pick up with a tendency towards shorter and skimpier coats and ever tighter legwear, which has been epitomized this year in leggings. The authorities react every year by escalating their “Morality Patrols.” The outcome is a cat and mouse game between more fashionably dressed women and the authorities. The results can be bizarre—women sporting trendy attire will sometimes take taxis from one side to the other side of squares and junctions just to bypass the morality police. But over time the will of Iranian women has slowly but surely prevailed, with acceptable dress these days now far beyond the harsh codes of the first years of the Islamic regime, when practically no makeup was tolerated and anything less than a chador—a loose robe that covers the body from head to toe—was frowned upon. Officially there has been no relaxation, in fact the authorities have tried everything they could think of to counter it. But in practice it’s a losing battle.
ISIS has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment. They also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn. “The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing” the group said in a statement. “This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theatre for the eyes of those who are looking”. A cleric in Mosul said ISIS gunmen had shown up at his mosque and ordered him to read their warning on loudspeakers when worshippers gather. “Anyone who is not committed to this duty and is motivated by glamour will be subject to accountability and severe punishment to protect society from harm and to maintain the necessities of religion and protect it from debauchery” it said. The guidelines said women’s hands and feet must be covered, shapeless clothes that don’t hug the body must be worn and perfume is prohibited. Women have also been told to never walk unaccompanied by a male guardian. ISIS has even ordered shopkeepers to cover their store mannequins with full-face veils. The insurgents run vice patrols in Mosul that answer to a morality committee, which has shut the city’s college of fine arts and physical education, knocked down statues of famous poets and banned smoking and waterpipes. ISIS militants view Iraq’s majority Shias as infidels who deserve to be killed and have told Christians to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death. Their views have alarmed Iraqis.
Islamists killed 29 people – 20 of them women – in Baghdad. One officer said he “found bodies everywhere”. Writing left on the door of one of the buildings read: “This is the fate of any prostitution”. Locals in Zayouna have accused Shia militias of killing women thought to be prostitutes. The neighbourhood is a mixed district of Sunni and Shia Muslims.
ISIS has formed an all-female brigade called the ‘al-Khansaa’ to ensure strict adherence to Sharia law by the Iraqi and Syrian women. A local activist said that the al-Khansaa have detained and whipped women for wearing veils that are too thin, wearing hair clips under veils, walking alone and exposing too much of their face. An official in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa said that the brigade was established to raise awareness of Islam among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law. The group came up with the new rule saying that doing so was in line with Sharia law. Members of the group assert that the human form is not to be depicted in statues or artwork. One of Iraq’s prominent Christian politicians, Yonadam Kanna, said that this was ethnic cleansing but nobody was speaking up.
Amid worsening armed violence in Iraq, the Baghdad-based Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq is working to help women who have been harmed and driven out of their homes. The group is reaching out to cities with the largest numbers of women displaced by the fighting. While men on both sides of the conflict in Iraq are being shot by militants or taken by force and sent to the front lines with the army, women are being kidnapped and raped. The group is also concerned about the situation in the northern city of Mosul, where atrocities against women have been concentrated. The city was seized on June 10 by ISIS. Women “are being kidnapped from their house by the ISIS warriors and forced into what they call into a ‘jihad marriage’” says Yanar Mohamed, the organisation’s president. Jihad marriage, also known as “sexual jihad”, is a term for women who offer sexual comfort to fighters to assist the cause of establishing Islamic rule. In the cases to which Mohammed refers, however, the women are not volunteers. They are forced. Over the past week, 18 women were taken from their houses and raped by ISIS in Mosul. Large media outlets have reported that four women who were raped have committed suicide. More than 500,000 of Mosul residents have fled since the surprise of the attack, according to U.N. agencies. Consequences of the establishment of an Islamic state by the ISIS, is associated with the restriction of movement by women, rape, abductions, forced prostitutions and increase in forced and child marriages. Reports of mass killings committed by ISIS have been emerging.
Libyan lawyer, politician and human rights activist Salwa Bugaighis was assassinated at her home on June 25, 2014. Salwa Bugaighis played an active part in Libya’s 2011 revolution, which overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. She was appointed a member of the National Transitional Council but soon resigned because of the lack of progress in women’s rights. Thereafter she was the vice-president of a preparatory committee for national dialogue in Libya. Salwa Bugaighis was one of the driving forces behind the political transition in the post-Gaddafi era and continued with passion and courage to fight for the role of women in this transition.
Nearly a dozen parents of the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will never see their daughters again. Since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls by Boko Haram three months ago, at least 11 of their parents have died and their hometown, Chibok, is under siege from the Islamists. Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists. At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago. A presidential committee investigating the kidnappings said 219 girls still are missing. Boko Haram filmed a video in which they threatened to sell the students into slavery and as child brides. It also showed a couple of the girls describing their “conversion” from Christianity to Islam. At least two have died of snake bites, a mediator who was liaising with Boko Haram told AP. At that time he said at least 20 of the girls were ill — not surprising given that they are probably being held in an area infested with malarial mosquitoes, poisonous snakes and spiders, and relying on unclean water from rivers.
Four women were critically injured in an acid attack in southwest Pakistan. The women were shopping at a popular retail centre in Quetta when two men approached on motorcycle and threw the acid at the women’s faces. The women are being treated in the burn unit of the Bolan Medical Complex.
A pregnant 25-year-old was stoned to death by her own family in a so-called “honour” killing for marrying the man she loved in Pakistan, police said. Farzana Iqbal was attacked outside the Lahore High Court building. She had been engaged to her cousin but married Mohammad Iqbal instead.
The Israeli state offensive has killed 663 Palestinians, of whom 541 are civilians, including 161 children and 91 women, and 3,457 others wounded, mostly civilians, including 991 children and 703 women. 491 houses have been targeted and destroyed and hundreds of others extensively damaged with thousands of Palestinian civilians forcibly displaced.
See Maryam Namazie’s statement in defence of the children and people of Israel and Palestine on Bread and Roses TV.
Popular Somali musician and member of parliament Saado Ali Warsame has been shot dead along with a civil servant in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu by the Islamist group, al-Shabab . She is the fourth MP to be killed this year. Ms Warsame rose to fame during the time of former President Siad Barre, who was overthrown in 1991, with her songs which were critical of his rule. She was one of the few Somali female musicians to go on stage without covering her head and she sometimes wore trousers. The singer song-writer continued to perform even after taking up her position in parliament.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese woman reached Italy with her family after being spared a death sentence for apostasy after more than a month in the US embassy in Khartoum. Mrs Ibrahim’s father is Muslim so according to Sudan’s Islamic law she is also Muslim and cannot convert. She was raised by her Christian mother and says she has never been Muslim. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, also a Christian, is from South Sudan and has US nationality. Their daughter Maya was born in prison in May, shortly after Mrs Ibrahim was sentenced to hang for apostasy. Under intense international pressure, her conviction was quashed and she was freed in June. She was given South Sudanese travel documents but was arrested at Khartoum airport, with Sudanese officials saying the travel documents were fake. These new charges meant she was not allowed to leave the country but she was released into the custody of the US embassy in Khartoum. Last week, her father’s family filed a lawsuit trying to have her marriage annulled, on the basis that a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim.
Militants with black masks stand by as 15-year-old Mohammed watches a video of fighters cutting off a man’s head. “This is jihad for the sake of God” the men with rifles say. Mohammed begins to feel lost, confused. “Does God want me to do jihad?” he wonders.
This is Mohammed’s eyewitness account told to CNN. He was one of the more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys kidnapped in Syria last month by ISIS and forced to take daily lessons in Islamist theology. Armed fighters in pickup trucks on May 29 stopped buses driving children back to their hometown of Ayn al-Arab from their junior high final exams in Aleppo. “How can you sit with the girls? It is forbidden!” the men, many with foreign accents, yelled as they separated the female students and took only the boys. The convoy of fighters then forcibly escorted the all-male group to the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij in northern Syria, Mohammed told CNN. Nearly a month later, all the boys, ranging in age from 14 to 16, remain hostages, except for Mohammed and three others who made a harrowing escape.
From the initial uprisings against the government of Bashar al-Assad in spring 2011, women in Syria have organised and participated in peaceful demonstrations and provided vital humanitarian assistance to those in need. Like their male counterparts, Syrian women who take part in protests or provide aid are targets of abuse, harassment, detention, and even torture by government forces and some armed groups opposed to the government. At the same time, general insecurity and discriminatory restrictions imposed by some armed groups opposed to the government have curtailed women’s dress and freedom of movement. Many women have become de facto household heads, both inside Syria and in refugee settings, when male family members have been killed, detained, forcibly disappeared, injured, disabled, or unable to find steady employment.
On the first anniversary of Mohamed Brahmi’s assassination, his widow denounces fundamentalism and terrorism in Tunisia. In memory of her husband, a left-wing politician, Mbarka Brahmi urges Tunisians not to support the Ennahdha party in the autumn elections, and appeals for peace. Mbarka Brahmi, 47, mother of five, has become a key spokesperson for the fight against fundamentalism and terror in Tunisia since the assassination of her husband Mohamed Brahmi a year ago at their Tunis home on 25 July 2013.
On a single day — July 2 — three women were murdered by their husbands in Turkey. The following day, a young woman was killed by her 16-year-old brother. Since then, there have been several murders of women by their husband or a close male relative. The Turkish government continuously fails to tackle the issue, and instead tries to defend itself from any responsibility or blame.