Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban

A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s prohibition on female drivers.

It is the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Police usually stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.

The sentence comes two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women’s rights and decreed women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to the all-male shura council advisory body.

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Palestinians: Does Anyone Here Care about Muslim Women?

The Palestinian Hamas terror movement recently banned Palestinians living under its control in the Gaza Strip from celebrating International Women’s Day. Hamas dismissed a decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in the West Bank to give all civil servants a day off on this occasion, arguing that International Women’s Day was a “Western and foreign” event that is incompatible with Islamic traditions and teachings.

The Islamic movement also issued a warning to all public and private institutions in the Gaza Strip, including schools and universities, to refrain from marking the occasion.

Hamas’s decision drew sharp criticism from many Palestinians, especially women’s groups and human rights organizations, as well as the Palestinian Authority. The critics maintained that the ban was a sign of Hamas’s disrespect for women and their contribution to Palestinian society.

The General Union of Palestinian Workers issued a statement in which it condemned Hamas’s refusal to acknowledge and honor the role of Palestinian women. The statement said that Palestinian women have made huge sacrifices and contributed remarkably to the Palestinian labor force and the development of society.

The Hamas ban also angered many Palestinian men, who expressed outrage over the “humiliation” of Palestinian women. Fathi Tbail, a leading Palestinian journalist, commented: “I will celebrate International Women’s Day, whether you (Hamas) like it or not. All you represent is retardation!”

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Realizing a dream to protect and empower women and girls

Dear Oyia,

Ten years ago, I took the first step toward realizing my dream to protect and empower women and girls suffering from the dangerous traditional practices I survived.

Opening the doors of the AHA Foundation was that first step and it would not have happened without supporters like you!

Throughout my life, I witnessed pain, abuse and death that was born out of extremist ideological views. In cultures shaped by these views, women are considered second-class citizens. Oppression and abuse are the norm.

When I moved to the US in 2006, I was horrified to learn about women and girls suffering in America from those very same harmful traditional practices I survived. Wherever I looked, I saw honor violence and extremist ideological views infiltrating Western societies. It is no wonder then that dangerous practices such as female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage, and honor violence destroy – and sometimes even take – the lives of girls and women in every corner of the world even today, in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the West still think that such practices only happen in far-away countries. But the truth is it happens here.

Looking back over the past 10 years, I am extremely proud that we have helped write and pass legislation against FGM in four states, and won a huge victory when the law was passed which makes it illegal to take a girl overseas to be cut. We have trained more than 2,500 police officers and other frontline professionals how to save the lives of women and girls who come to them in fear facing honor violence, and we launched the first honor violence crisis text line in the US so that girls at risk have a safe way to reach out for help. These are the big wins that make it into our annual reports, but for us, the most memorable and moving victories have been the individual lives that have been saved because we answered their call for help.

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