Thursday, March 8, 2018
The video showed him shoving Shariatmadari, who had dared to remove her hijab and wave it like a flag. Then he hit her. People around her sheltered her until she was put in a car and taken to a hospital. But she never reached it. Police stopped the car some distance from the scene of the incident and jailed her in Tehran. She received no medical treatment and wasn’t allowed to see a lawyer. Only on Wednesday, two weeks after her arrest, was she released on bail of $5,000. She will apparently be charged with violating the law against encouraging immorality or prostitution. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in jail – the same sentence given brothel owners.
Iranian women’s battle against the hijab is now being waged mainly on social media under the hashtags “Daughters of Revolution Street,” one of Tehran’s main drags, and “What would I have done had I been there.” Men and women use the latter to describe how they would have acted had they been present when police were harassing female demonstrators.
These Twitter accounts, which feature scathing criticism of the regime’s policy, create an alternative public square. Participants try to encourage public activity against the regime and provoke a response from Western governments, who have so far remained mute.
Human rights in general and women’s rights in particular aren’t high priorities for European leaders, much less America’s president. Iran’s nuclear program, missiles, involvement in Syria and support for terror are what could lead to sanctions on it, not its wholesale executions or arrests of anti-hijab activists.
Iran’s female protesters didn’t wait for International Women’s Day. For them, every day is a good day to protest and fight for liberation from political tyranny.
To Iranian women, International Women’s Day seems like a Western story, one for women whose rights are assured, or whose struggle is at least protected by law – unlike Iranians, who risk their freedom and their lives in this battle. True, Iranian women can drive cars and work in most professions, but their legal status, inheritance rights and right to get a passport or divorce are far from the Western norm.
Nevertheless, it’s the hijab that has become the focus of the struggle rather than these basic rights, just as Saudi women focused on getting the right to drive rather than abolishing the need for a male guardian’s permission to study or work in most professions.
The result is that when the Iranian regime makes a symbolic concession toward easing its control over women, without any constitutional changes, the West sees this as a sign of progress and goodwill, a step toward democracy and enlightenment. That’s why Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earned lavish praise from Western leaders for announcing that the ban on women driving would end in June, even though women’s position in Saudi Arabia remains worse than in most other Muslim countries.
Just last year, Saudi women were permitted to work as paralegals, and the fact that they’re allowed to work in women’s clothing stores was considered an achievement and a hallmark of liberalism. When Saudi women were recently allowed to attend games in soccer stadiums and even do a few army jobs, the kingdom and its Western friends celebrated the crown prince’s amazing openness. But the fact that a Saudi woman married to a non-Saudi can’t confer Saudi citizenship on her children, or that she loses her rights if she’s divorced, isn’t even discussed at meetings between senior Western and Saudi officials.
In Turkey, the picture is different. Not that women’s status there is an epitome of liberalism, far from it. In 2017, 409 women were murdered by male relatives, up from 328 in 2016. Those aren’t official statistics, since the government doesn’t publish that data; it comes from women’s organizations which track such murders and organize demonstrations against domestic violence. The latest took place in Ankara this week and was violently dispersed by the police, who arrested at least 15 women. Turkey has barred all demonstrations under emergency regulations enacted following the failed coup in July 2016.
But unlike in Iran and Saudi Arabia, in Turkey, the fight is over substance, not symbols.
Although Turkey is the world leader in the number of companies which have signed the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, women constitute only 28 percent of the work force. It committed to women’s equality under its accession negotiations with the European Union, yet women have trouble divorcing even if their husbands abuse them. To discourage women from seeking divorce, courts require divorcing couples to go to arbitration and limit child support to 10 years.
The Turkish cabinet contains only one woman. Women constitute roughly half of all university faculty and students, yet only three of Turkey’s 11 universities have a female rector, while some don’t even have any female professors. The situation is similar in parliament, the senior diplomatic corps and on corporate boards. “A women’s place is in the home and her job is to obey her husband,” says a Turkish textbook on the life of the prophet Mohammed. When Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz was asked to remove this book from the schools, he responded that the class in question is optional, so any parents whose children take it want them there. But the government did shut down an internet dating site for men seeking second wives. The difference between Turkey and Iran or Saudi Arabia is that while Turkey is no model democracy, it does at least have free elections and portrays itself as committed to international conventions. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, is an absolute monarchy with no democratic processes.
Turkey also defines itself as a secular state, even if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aspires to intensify its religious character (though not to give more power to religious institutions) and has a unique interpretation of such democratic essentials as freedom of expression and the separation of powers. But women’s status isn’t wonderful even in Turkey’s secular bastions.
Iran is a combination of the Turkish and Saudi systems. Yet there, women have proven their political power; their votes were decisive in electing both former President Mohammad Khatami and current President Hassan Rohani. These differences don’t disturb Westerners who assert that religion alone is what determines women’s status rather than the system of government. If this were true, women’s status would be identical in all Muslim countries. Instead, Tunisia gives extensive rights, Morocco has given them more rights than the norm in Islamic countries, and in Syria before the civil war, women had a respectable place in both the ruling Baath party and the government. In Turkey and Pakistan, women have even been prime ministers.
Despite discrimination against women in most Arab countries, most also have constitutions asserting that women’s status is equal to men’s. The real differences are in how these are applied, and in practices based on religious custom. That’s why women’s struggle to improve their status is so important. By their very activity, they prove this battle can succeed, because it is fundamentally political rather than anti-religious.
Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the attack, carried out in a village called Saresha Sultan Shah, killed at least two senior figures in the movement, besides someone believed to be a trainer of suicide bombers. The Pakistani Taliban , also known as Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are separate from the Afghan Taliban and combine a number of groups that fight the government of Pakistan . The US State Department has put it on a list of foreign terrorist organisations.
Last month, a suspected US drone strike on the Pakistani side of the border killed the deputy leader of the TTP, who have been waging a campaign of bombings and other attacks on Pakistani forces.
The Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday’s drone strike in Kunar, an undeveloped and thickly forested province on the two countries’ border, took place during a visit by senior TTP figures prior to sending the militants into Pakistan . They said it killed Gul Mohammad, a TTP leader in Bajaur Agency on the Afghan border, and Qari Yaseen, whom officials described as a “master trainer of suicide bombers”. A son of TTP leader Fazlullah Khorasani was also killed, they added.
Sources in the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the strike had killed more than a dozen of their members but said Fazlullah Khorasani, who was visiting the training camp at the time of the attack, had not himself been killed.
A spokesman of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission and US forces in Afghanistan headquarters in the capital, Kabul, did not confirm the report.
“We were not aware of this report and have no additional information to offer,” he said in an emailed statement.
Last year, the CIA requested increased authorities to conduct covert drone strikes against militant targets in Afghanistan .
Provincial officials in Kunar confirmed a drone strike had been carried out, but did not say what the target had been.
By Aimen Bucha
Asma Jahangir’s death shook us all, not only due to its suddenness but also because we lost one of the bravest voices of the country. Since her demise, there have been a plethora of articles speaking to what this loss means for each writer personally and for our collective politics. In this expression there has been one disturbing trend: the defining of Asma’s courage as something masculine, and most recently Aitzaz Ahsan’s op-ed in Dawn detailing how Asma’s success is more a product of the benevolence of family structures.
There is no doubt about how family support can help make the lives of women easier, but to heavily attribute women’s success to a supportive family detracts from their own gumption and determination. Moreover, by asking women to celebrate family support we reiterate the belief that this is a favour and not our fundamental right. It also reinforces that this extension of acceptance for our activities, whatever they maybe, should be met with deference and gratitude. In such moments we are subtly reminded of the power of patriarchy — a power that has the ability to extend support or snatch it away. This pushes women to turn the criticism inward and not question the insidiousness of patriarchal power, which Asma did so unabashedly.
Asma is an icon for many. She gave us a blueprint of how to speak ‘truth to power’. For many of us women, she showed us how the courage of a woman frightens the structures of power. Attributing this determination and courage to masculinity as was done by Sohail Warriach in his tweet after Asma’s passing is not only problematic but also dangerous. The danger is in the co-option of female icons by the narrative of masculinity — a narrative that genders our successes and conveniently hands them to masculinity by asserting that any form of bravery is ‘like being a man’.
It snatches from women the belief in their capacity to be confident, articulate, and strategic. It forces women to believe that we are inherently incapable of having any form of intellectual and political capacities. The most dangerous of all, it builds and reinforces a consciousness in which femininity is inferior and all forms of success lies in either being born with or spending your whole life trying to replicate masculine behaviour.
It is also essential to remember that in the case of female icons like Asma Jahangir, the society never forgets their womanhood. It uses their subjectivity as a woman to tailor criticism and vitriolic hatred. If anyone were to look at the comments left under Asma’s tweets or under Facebook posts about her, one would clearly see that most people while targeting her opinions made jabs at her womanhood.
It is imperative for us to remember that Asma Jahangir was the loudest voice that called out masculine hegemony. She through her lived reality taught us defiance and determination in the face of insurmountable odds. It is essential that we remember that a majority of women face threats within their own homes
The hatred in itself was gendered. In this scenario, she embraced all that was said and responded with sharp one-liners that usually left the haters speechless. A woman’s subjective self occupies not only her mind but that of society as well. Everything in her being is justified by her subjectivity of being a woman — except success, that is when you are co-opted as one of the men.
It would have been worthy if everyone looked at the profile on Asma done by Herald, in which she in her own words expresses, her struggle. That account clearly explains her positionality of being a woman. She mentions her struggle with depression after having her second child. The ways in which her law college barred her from attending because she was a married woman. She also details how people were comfortable in thinking they could bully her because she was nothing more than an ‘out of shape mummy’. This speaks to how deeply entrenched patriarchal structures and how even women like Asma Jahangir have had to confront them.
All of us women who have been blessed (because it isn’t considered our fundamental right) with an understanding family do express our fortitude for having such support and yes, families like Asma’s do deserve recognition for their own courage in the face of the dangers posed to her. However, in all this, the conversation of how millions of women are oppressed by their families and die at the hands of the family structure gets pushed back — a conversation that Asma vociferously articulated, and an oppression she and her life’s work vehemently opposed.
It is imperative for us to remember that Asma Jahangir was the loudest voice that called out masculine hegemony. She through her lived reality taught us defiance and determination in the face of insurmountable odds. It is essential that we remember that a majority of women face threats within their own homes. It is also imperative that we build a consciousness that doesn’t eulogise supportive men and families; rather it fights to make them the norm.
PPP KP Women Wing held a huge rally in connection to Karwan-e-Benazir on Women’s International Day in Peshawar today. the rally was led by PPP KP Information Secretry Rubina Khalid And Women Wing President Nighat Orakzai.
Hundreds of working women, political activists, students and intellectuals gathered on the occasion of International Women’s Day to give the Pakistani women’s movement a new lease on life by inaugurating the socialist-feminist organisation Women’s Democratic Front (WDF) at the National Press Club.
The inauguration brought together women delegates from Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab to elect office bearers, and pass a manifesto and constitution envisaging a broad-based struggle against patriarchy, capitalism, national oppression, religious fascism and Pakistan’s authoritarian political system. The highlight of the day was Women’s Freedom March, which saw participants march from the press club to Nazimuddin Road.
Speaking on the occasion, newly elected WDF President Ismat Shahjahan and General Secretary Alya Bakhshal said that Pakistan is currently going through a reactionary period in which patriarchy had taken on a brutal character. They said that oppressed nations were resisting against state oppression for their survival, and the working classes had been forced into contract work or part-time jobs, or become migrant labourers or face unemployment.
The state ideology, structure, laws and development policies were all based on patriarchal principles in which women were given the status of second-class citizens. On one hand, Pakistan’s Constitution spoke of gender equality, while on the other, state policies and laws were based on gender inequality, discrimination and violence which keep women in a state of virtual slavery.
In this political and social environment, progressive women in Pakistan have been organising themselves and were now ready to take their struggle forward under the banner of the WDF.
A number of working-class organisations and parties including the Women’s Action Forum, Young Teachers Association, Home-Based Women Workers Union as well as the Awami Workers Party (AWP) and Awami Jamhuri Party were represented at the event, all vowing to work together with the WDF to take forward both the women’s movement as well as the cause of left-wing politics more generally.
Pakistan, Iran, and nations in the Middle East are among the countries that are least likely to have job opportunities for women, resulting in high rates of female unemployment there, the United Nations has found.
A report from the UN's International Labor Organization released late on March 7, on the eve of International Women's Day, said that the unemployment rate for women in the Middle East is twice that of men -- 16.3 percent versus 6.8 percent -- and working women there often fill the lowest-wage, lowest-skilled jobs.
"The incentive for women to work in the Middle East is not there," said Emanuela Pozzan, a UN gender specialist.
"The jobs are not attractive because the salaries are not attractive," she said, adding that maternity leave and child-care services needed by working women are also "poor" in the region.
Globally, about half of women work, while only 19 percent of women work in the Middle East and 28 percent in South Asia, the UN report found.
A ranking of the world's 144 nations last month by the UN found that Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran offered the fewest job opportunities and least workforce participation for women.
The pay gap between men and women performing the same jobs in those countries is at least 65 percent, the World Economic Forum has found.
Globally, women continue to lag men in pay and jobs but not as badly as in the Middle East, the UN report found.
Women on average earn 20 percent less than men worldwide, while their unemployment rate was only somewhat higher at 6 percent, compared to 5.2 percent for men.
While about half of women work worldwide, about three-quarters of all men have jobs -- a rate that is only somewhat higher in the Middle East and South Asia.
Women fare better in developed countries than in developing economies, the UN found.