The Taliban began by speaking about their interest in peace. They discussed the problems of the war itself, civilian casualties, kidnappings, injustice, narcotics trade and corruption, including the internal displacement of over a million people resulting from forced land grabs by commanders aligned with the Afghan government. They seemed genuine in their desire to engage.
Among the visitors, we women were given the first turn to speak. I spoke about working with women’s organizations, and the other women spoke about the right to education for girls and the need for a cease-fire. The Taliban acknowledged that girls would be able to go to school and women would be able to work.
The Taliban argued that progress on women’s issues can be made only in the context of Islam. The Afghan constitution itself declares Islam the religion of Afghanistan. My colleagues on the front lines in Afghanistan have been fighting against domestic violence by using commandments against such violence in the Quran and encouraging education of women by quoting the Prophet Muhammad urging Muslim women and men to seek education even if they have to go “as far as China.”
We recognize that Islamic interpretation of women’s issues will be at the heart of the debate on women’s rights in Afghanistan, but the basis for the defending of the right to education, work and political life already exists in Islam.
Book Launch - Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an
Does Islam call for the oppression of women? The subjugation of women in many Muslim countries is often used as evidence of this, while many Muslims read the Qur’an in ways that seem to justify sexual oppression and inequality. In this paradigm-shifting book, Asma Barlas argues that, far from supporting male privilege, the Qur’an actually affirms the complete equality of the sexes.
Asma Barlas is a Pakistani-American writer and academic. She is currently a professor of politics at Ithaca College. Barlas was previously the founding director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity at Ithaca College for twelve years, and held the Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Her other books include Re-understanding Islam: A Double Critique and Islam, Muslims, and the US: Essays on Religion and Politics.
For Recording Her Boss’s Lewd Call, She, Not He, Will Go to Jail
BANGKOK — A school bookkeeper in Indonesia who recorded her boss’s lewd phone call as proof she was being harassed must serve at least six months in prison for distributing obscene material, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled.
Nuril Maknun, 41, who worked as a part-time bookkeeper at a high school on the religiously conservative island of Lombok, said on Friday that she was disappointed by the court’s ruling, which she called an “obvious injustice.” It was her final appeal in a case that has been closely followed across the country, and which became an issue during the recent presidential election.
“I, as a woman, should be protected, but then I was the one who became the victim,” she said in a telephone interview. “People should know that when we get harassed, there is no place to take refuge.”
Her boss, who goes by the single name Muslim, as is common in Indonesia, was the principal at Senior High School Seven in Mataram, Lombok’s largest city. Ms. Nuril recorded him using explicit language and hounding her to have an affair. He was never punished for harassing her and instead has been promoted repeatedly.
The case has highlighted the common problem of workplace harassment in Indonesia. President Joko Widodo said in the run-up to his re-election that he would consider granting clemency to Ms. Nuril once her legal appeals had been exhausted.
On Friday afternoon, the president told reporters in Manado, a city on Sulawesi island, that he would not comment on the Supreme Court ruling, but that Ms. Nuril should apply for amnesty as soon as possible so that his office could assume legal authority over her case.
“Since the beginning, my attention to this case has never diminished,” he said. “If it gets to me, then it will be under my authority, and I will use the authority I have.”
Women in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, have little legal recourse and are expected to tolerate harassment and sometimes sexual relations if they want to keep their jobs, women’s rights advocates said.
Supported by AKDN’s Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative of Aga Khan Development Network, ZeN was started with some mothers as a response to 50% malnourishment amongst children in the basti and the need to ensure healthy snack habits.
Currently supported under the project, ZeN is thriving to become an independent women enterprise. The members of ZeN, perfecting their art day after day, are in the process of emerging into professional chefs and also managers managing their enterprise.
The main objective for the future is to function as a sustainable, profitable and independent enterprise providing sustained , enhanced and dignified incomes to its members.
The group has evolved into an enterprise owned by 10 confident women perfecting their art day after day, taking baby steps towards regaining their lost identities. It is not just empowering but also endearing to see the ‘bajis’ of Nizamuddin dressed in aprons and head gear, making haleem using their grandmother’s recipe in a fully safe and hygienic bawarchi khana.
When tradition meets enterprise, you get a ZeN kebab; when hundreds of ZeN kebabs meet their customers, Neha (a proud ZeN member) gets a scooty for her husband.
And when thousands of Nehas are able to buy scooties, we move a step forward to a better world and a tastier one too.
The Taliban Promise to Protect Women. Here’s Why Women Don’t Believe Them.
We traveled across the country and asked women about their fears of losing the hard-won freedoms they’ve gained in the last 18 years.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At just 29, Zainab Fayez made herself into one of Afghanistan’s foremost defenders of women.
As the first and only female prosecutor in Kandahar Province, deep in the conservative south of the country, she sent 21 men to jail for beating and abusing their wives or fiancées.
I thought I should speak with her. I had gone to Afghanistan to ask women one of the most urgent questions hanging over the peace talks now unfolding between Taliban leaders, the Afghanistan government and American diplomats: After 18 years of gains for Afghanistan’s women, what are these women thinking now that the Americans might leave, and the Taliban might return?
But as I prepared to travel to Kandahar to meet Ms. Fayez, I discovered that she had fled the city.
She had received a warning she could not ignore: a handwritten note, tacked to the windshield of her family car, folded over a bullet.
“From now on, you are our target,” the letter said, “and we will treat you like other Western slaves.” It was signed “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the formal name the Taliban use for themselves.
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