As the U.S. military winds down more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, there are growing concerns about what will happen to the fragile progress of women’s rights in those countries.
Those fears are underscored by the findings of a new Pew Survey of the social and political attitudes of Muslims worldwide. According to the report, of the 23 countries surveyed, Iraq and Afghanistan are the only two countries where majorities of Muslims surveyed said that honor killings of women are justified as punishment for alleged pre- or extra-marital sex.
Interestingly, Pew also found that, across the countries surveyed, attitudes toward honor killings were not consistently linked to religious observance; Muslims who pray several times a day are just as likely to oppose honor killings as those who do not.
Together, those findings indicate a pervasive disregard for women’s rights in both countries — one that is only likely to get worse as the U.S. troop presence and related human rights work diminishes.
The report also found that, as in many of the countries surveyed, support for making Islamic sharia the official “law of the land” is overwhelming among Muslims in Afghanistan (99 percent) and Iraq (91 percent).
Read more here.
An Iraqi mother was sentenced to two years’ probation after she was accused of beating her teenage daughter because the girl refused to go along with an arranged marriage and was spotted talking a male student at her high school.
Yursah Farhan, 51, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, was spared jail time in exchange for a guilty plea to unlawful imprisonment of her daughter, 19-year-old Aiya Altameemi.
The girl’s father, Mohammed Altameemi, 46, also received two years’ probation for disorderly conduct, and her 18-year-old sister, Tabarak Altameemi, received the same sentence for assault.
Prosecutors said the incident started when Aiya was spotted by family members talking to a young man outside her high school.
The father and Aiya’s sister confront the young woman and took her home, where Mohammed Altameemi struck her several times. The girl’s mother and sister admitted to tying her to a bed with a rope that was secured with a padlock and beating her.
Aiya Altameemi also claimed that she was burned with a hot spoon on her face and chest while her sisters held her down.
A new culture rift is emerging in Iraq, as young women replace shapeless cover-ups with ankle-baring skirts and tight blouses, while men strut around in revealing slacks and spiky haircuts. The relatively skimpy styles have prompted Islamic clerics in at least two Iraqi cities to mobilize local security guards as a “fashion police” in the name of protecting religious values.
“I see the way (older people) look at me – they don’t like it,” said Mayada Hamid, 32, wearing a pink leopard-print headscarf with jeans, a blue blouse and lots of sparkly eyeliner Sunday while shopping at the famous gold market in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s just suppression.” So far, though, there are no reports of the police actually taking action.
This is a conflict playing out across the Arab world, where conservative Islamic societies grapple with the effects of Western influence, especially the most obvious – the way their young choose to dress.
The violations of old Iraqi norms have grown especially egregious, religious officials say, since the Aug. 20 end of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month. In the last two weeks, posters and banners have been hanging along the streets of Kazimiyah, sternly reminding women to wear an abaya – a long, loose black cloak that covers the body from shoulders to feet.
A similar warning came from Diwaniyah, a Shiite city about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, where some posters have painted a red X over pictures of women wearing pants. Other banners praise women who keep their hair fully covered beneath a headscarf.
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Several young adults strolling the Kazimiyah gold market on Sunday accused the religious class of trying to pull Iraq back to the dark ages, a sentiment that human rights activist Hana Adwar echoed.
“It is an aggression on the rights of not only religious minorities, but also on secular Muslim women who do not want to wear veils,” said Adwar, head of the Baghdad-based Iraqi Hope Association.
Read the rest: Iraqi Youth Defy Fashion Police.
Residents of Buuri sublocation in Tigania East district staged demonstrations protesting against a gang that has been kidnapping people fighting archaic traditional practices [of FGM].
The gang kidnaps people who oppose female genital mutilation and support an alternative rite of passage for boys. They have been harassing human rights activists and kidnapping women who have refused to undergo the cut and men who have not passed through traditional circumcision.
Read the rest: Gangs in Kenya Abducting Those Refusing FGM.
Parents Face FGM Trial in France
A Guinean couple will face trial in France for allegedly practicing female genital mutilation on their four daughters, officials said.
The couple, who arrived in France in the late 1980s, have been charged with complicity in violence, “having brought about the mutilation of a minor of less than 15 years old,” Radio France Internationale reported. They are to go to trial Tuesday and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
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Female genital cutting is practiced traditionally in about 30 African countries but is illegal in France. About 40 female genital mutilation cases have been brought to court in France.
Read the rest: Female Circumcision Trial in France.
FGM in Germany
Half a million women and girls in Europe suffer from the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. Unlike France, Germany does not specifically outlaw FGM in its penal code. Activitsts are working for change.
Jawahir Cumar comes from Somalia. Like many young Somali women, she was circumcised as a child. She wanted to ensure that other girls were spared this painful experience so she founded her own society “Stop Mutilation – Stop Female Genital Mutilation” in Düsseldorf in 1996.
As well as the women here in Germany who were subjected to this painful ritual in their youth, there are also thousands of young girls in the country who are at risk and could be forced to undergo female genital mutilation at a later date.
Read the rest: Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation in Germany.
Kurdistan Anti-FGM Law Ignored
In June 2011, Iraqi Kurdistan passed a landmark law that criminalised female circumcision and domestic violence, but one year on, activists remain frustrated with its patchwork implementation.
A year later no one is paying attention to the law and, in some areas, 72 to 100% of the girls have had FGM.
Read the rest: Iraqi Law Against FGM Ignored.
For more info: Resource on Female Genital Mutilation.