Page 1

Sahar Moussly: ‘Real happiness is not obtained from materialistic things’ PG 03 Monday 30.01.2012 Published in United Arab Emirates AED4

theguardian guardian.net.ae

Volume 1 Issue 1 | Rabi Al Awwal 5, 1433

WOMEN FOCUS EDITION

NO Violence against women and children GOVERNMENTS IN ARAB COUNTRIES UNDERTAKE ACTION TO STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN negative impact on the course of Islam with wrong interpretations resurfacing yet again. Syed Abdul Naveed, a student who is a strong supporter of the UNiTE campaign said, “Women are considered sacred in Islam. They demand much respect and are given the most importance. People who do hurt them are just scared of accepting the fact that they are nothing but failures, not only in life but in personality.”

Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor Say NO - UNiTE to end violence against women; a campaign that is currently being handled by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s who calls for the prevention and elimination of violence against women, girls in all parts of the world. No country is immune from violence against women and girls or exempted from the responsibility to put an end to it. The global vision of UNiTE is to raise awareness about the negative impact of this violence and attain a world free from violence against all women and children. Arab World The highest number reported cases of violence were from the rural parts of the Arab countries where wife-beating is treated as a common practice among households. As reported by Gulf News that as many as 34 per cent of the children of 74 married women had been subjected to psychological and economic violence and 50 per cent were beaten by their fathers, according to a study conducted by the Lebanese council (2000). After much probing into this matter, psychologists have revealed a reasonable explanation for what leads to such types of violent behavior is the economic factor which includes unemployment and low income. Violence against women is a ‘battle of civilization’, said Hesham Qasem, head of the Human Rights Organization in Egypt. “It exists everywhere.Wifebeating differs according to the advancement of a society and the existence of laws that provide protection for women,” he added.

Syed Abdul Naveed a supporter of this cause, hopes for a quick action initiated soon. Qudsiya Siddiqui / the guardian

Islam Arab countries are under the strict rule of Islamic governance. Whilst in Islam in accordance to the Quran [Holy Book] the point is stressed several times that Muslim women are to be treated with great respect and their presence is meant to be honored at all times. And yet news reports still surface the contents of such shameful acts with the rape/molestation cases on a rising scale in the Arab world, where women are tortured, killed, raped and scarred for life as they fall to be the key victims to these acts. This not only affects the country’s reputation but also sends out a direct message that seemingly leaves a

Imposition of driving ban still ceases to exist WOMEN FROM SAUDI ARABIA STILL FIGHTING TO LIFT THE BAN Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor Over the past couple of years, repeated efforts by the Saudi women to lift the driving ban placed on them has been back-fired wholly because of the law imposed by the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia which has taken this decision based on religious code of conduct or fatwas. Dr. Ebtisam Al-Ketbi, Assistant professor of Political Science at UAE University, said in accordance to the driving ban, “Islam promotes equality; wrong interpretations henceforth prove this religion as depriving women of their rights. Islam gives its women their freedom as long as they are in limits with their activities.” Whilst some women in Saud Arabia like Farhadh Nawaz Kaiser who has been living in the country for the past 17 years doesn’t find the strong urge to

drive, she said, “with personal drivers and cheap public transport, I don’t wish to drive.” She further added, “if women start driving around the city there will be superiority and the existence of the equality will banish.” But some strong willed Arab women are not ready to back out and have tied hopes to lift the ban. They have launched campaigns ‘women2drive’ on facebook, twitter and with petitions signed to raise the issue in the Saudi interior ministry. Upon receiving no prompt response from the ministry, furious women such as the activist Manal Al Sharif defied the ban and drove around the city with videos posted on Youtube which lead to her immediate arrest and released only after signing a pledge to never drive or speak publicly about her actions. In this ultra-conservative country women are obliged to be veiled in public and cannot travel unless accompanied by husband or close male relative.

Take Action Governments in Arab countries are acknowledging the existence of the problem and some are already taking steps to curb it, according to the women activists in the Arab countries. Through awareness programs women are encouraged to speak-out against the different types of violence they undergo. As specified in the United Nations website, many states have no specific legal provisions against domestic violence and that marital rape is not a lawful offence in more than 50 countries. UNiTE works alongside governments in different countries in a bid to develop and implement national laws and supports women who are victims and survivors, from all walks of life to get their deserved rights and respect in the society. A man who remained quite towards injustice towards a woman is equally responsible for the rise in crime rates that prevails in developing countries. In order to restore humanity in this world and attain a world free from violence against all women and children, it’s important to take action against it.

inside >>

Women and the exaggeration of their presence during protests. Agree or Disagree? pg 02


theguardian Monday, January 30, 2012

WOMEN FOCUS EDITION 02

Dubai Debates extensively on womens presence during Arab uprising DISCUSSION ON WHETHER MEDIA EXAGGERATES THE ROLE OF WOMEN AS PROTESTERS

The panelists involved in an intriguing discussion about women and civil rights in the Arab World at the 4th Edition of Dubai Debates from left to right were, Mohammed Abu Obeid, Amira Yahyaoui, the moderator - Mishaal Al Gergawi, Sumaya Tayara and Dr. Ebtisam Al-Ketbi. Courtesy Nazia Fatma

Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor The Arab world is currently in its revolutionary period with historical uprising taking place in countries such Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Bahrain which attracted a wide-array of media attention for the responsible citizens were creating an uproar to bring about changes in the current political scenario of the country along with transparence in the governance. The panel event organized by Dubai Debates in its fourth edition emphasized a strong focus on the topic ‘Women, Civil Society and leadership in the New Arab World’ on the 18th of December 2011 held at Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium, in cooperation with Vital Voices and CNN International. Panelists agreed to the importance of empowering women and encouraging positive discrimination. The intriguing debate raised questions about the actual extent of a women’s involvement in the Arab uprising with panelists setting up a heated

Panelists agree to empower women and encourage positive argument disregarding the fact that the media exaggerates when a woman takes part in rallies to create revolution and surpass the men. Whilst a panel member Dr. Ebitsam Al Ketbi, a political science professor at UAE University strongly disagreed to the previous fact and said, “The media did not do justice in covering women’s role during the Arab Revolution”. Strongly disagreeing to that statement panelist Sumaya Tayara, a Syrian activist stated that women need not necessarily take part in protests and rallies but can stay behind the scenes by offering relief, raise funds and moral support to families affected by this revolution. Whilst the other panelists debated about the strong need of motivation, to empower the Arab women in the political arena and business management, rightly stated

by the panelist Mohammed Abu Obeid, Al Arabiya TV Anchor and a strong women’s rights defender. A controversial motion discussed in the debate was the human rights model being successfully adopted in the western regions but the implementation of those rights have failed in the Arab world. Amira Yahyaoui, Tunisian human rights activist & blogger at the panel-discussion said, “It’s time for the Arab world to trust in themselves. Human rights are a universal concept we don’t need to take a western model.” To that Soumya Tayara added the fact over how everyone needs to mobilize their energies, re-shape the rights and give birth to our rights, rather than implementing the rights imposed by the western culture. And she also emphasized on the importance of working towards equality and fairness among all humans to bring peace into this world. >> Read more about the Egyptian Revolution, pg 04

ENTERTAINMENT

Half Value Life -depicts the lives of afghani women

Courtesy Royal Films House

Under the violent ruling of the Taliban, this documentary film showcases the hardships faced by women in Afghanistan, Reviews by Qudsiya Siddiqui

Afghanistan, located in the center of Asia a landlocked country which is developing from its war-torn state and under the strict rule of conduct created by the Taliban militants, who strongly oppose any rights given to women. With women trying to defy the existence of Taliban rules in Afghanistan; Elka Sadat the director of Half value life, a woman filmmaker who effectively manages to convey the harsh truth of Afghanistan and ill-treatment of women in this male dominant society. This documentary film showcases the life and works of Marya Basher, the first woman in Afghanistan to have obtained the position of a provincial investigator officer. The film portrays a subjective view from this woman’s perspective her daily activities on tackling cases of young girls who are victims of abuse and mistreatment by their husbands and their families

and are used merely to be child-bearers with no respect and honor on their names. With bits in this 25-min film, the director also shed light on to Marya Basher’s lifestyle as being a working mother and living amongst a nuclear household. The decision-making power within reach she actively supports the young girls and women oppressed and treated cruelly by men in the Muslim minority society present in the country. However by working on such cases she puts her life in danger as she starts receiving death threats from Taliban militants and is forced to home-school her children fearing their safety in the open streets of Herat. This film is truly heart-wrenching as it unveils the reality of Afghanistan. A county known for selling their violent philosophy to the vast majority of Afghanis present in the country.


WOMEN FOCUS EDITION 03

theguardian Monday, January 30, 2012 ENTERTAINMENT

Emirati filmmakers scaling new heights

MARIAM AL SARKAL AND SARAH AL AGROOBI SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES

EDITORIAL Qudsiya Siddiqui

We are in the 21st century the world is evolving and advancing in every field of technology and science, but the concept of culture and traditions never seem to advance. No matter how much knowledge an individual gains, the cultural values and traditions are embedded forever, possibly on the lines of positive and negative influence. Islam as a religion that is often raised fingers at for being a religion that promotes violence which is utter nonsense. Islam is a religion which promotes peace amongst people and equality between genders; women in Islam have long been given equal rights as to men. The only reason why this has failed to be executed in the Arab World is because of the lack of practice of religion among Muslims that, henceforth raises doubts in the minds of individuals. A known fact too many is that Maulanas who seemingly have vast knowledge about the religion, at times are the ones responsible for ruling out wrong interpretations from Quran [The Holy Book]. Shocking statistics have proven that women in the Arab world are treated harshly by their husbands and undergo extensive torture after marriage, read about the NO violence campaign launched by United Nations to put a stop towards such kind of behavior on pg 01. Women across the world are fighting for equal rights specially, here in the Arab world. Recent advancements in the political fields and benchmarks in business are set by women, read a review about a debate discussion regarding that topic on pg 02. This special women focus edition by theguardian contains extensive coverage of news stories in relation to the women in the Arab World.

Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor The Arab Cinema still establishing its grounds internationally, but on a region wise has been lauded for its independent films. The Dubai International Film Festival, an annual event provides these budding Emirati film makers with a genuine platform to showcase their proficient art of film making. This new generation of storytellers with their talent and skills used hands onto film making, a field no more inhibited by men but upcoming emirati women bearing the veil also have clearly defined themselves in film making. “Being an Emirati woman filmmaker, I’m extremely happy and glad that I’m in an empowering league of film making with men”, said Sarah Alagroobi who was amongst the youngest filmmaker to be nominated for the Muhr Emirati Awards in association with the film festival and received an exclusive opportunity to screen her film – The Forbidden Fruit at one of the most extravagant affairs in the United Arab Emirates. She described her film may seem as a ‘controversial’ one in relation to the Arab culture as it portrays the transmission of traditional Arab culture being westernized, “I pushed the boundaries and am advocating for change with this film, doing something completely different”. Her film presents the rise of western influence in Arab world and effectively manages to convey the message across to the youth, where exactly the gap in the bridge is to be filled. She also advised the youth, “It’s better to ask forgiveness then permission. Be passionate and be driven in the field of your choice.” Another one such promising Emirati film maker is Mariam AlSarkal whose film London in a Headscarf won her the Special Mention Award at the Dubai International Film festival; an independent film which documents her life as a woman coming from a conserva

Courtesy The National

Mariam Al Sarkal’s documentary deals with the cultural clashes faced by emirati women who study abroad.

In film making, be passionate and be driven Sarah Alagroobi, filmmaker

-tive background to a more liberated country like London. She said, “The decision here is whether to let go of the culture or not let go in order to fit into this different environment.” She is currently pursuing her Masters in Film making in London. She offers words of wisdom to aspiring film makers, “Not to be afraid of your thoughts and ideas, and just go with the flow. Don’t think too much about certain things.” She accentuates on the point that an individual should not limit oneself to the thought of just being a director and nothing less than that, they should be on the film sets and acquire the basic knowledge of lighting, production design. Film festivals like these definitely create the buzz for these independennt film makers, promising them with more hope and achievements along the way.

Unwrap your true happiness

REALIZING THE TRUE ESSENCE OF HAPPINESS WITH SAHAR MOUSSLY, FOUNDER OF DUBAI 7 HUMOR HABITS Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor ‘What is Real Happiness to you?’ According to Sahar Moussly, Happiness is accepting oneself and being satisfied, we are all searching for happiness with hopes pinned on the future which makes it something illusive and can can never be reached, others easily manage to connect happiness to materialistic things. Relating happiness to materialistic things is Pleasure. For some it might be getting a new car, changing jobs, graduating from college, these are all long-term plans for happiness. Why can’t a person be happy now? Why think about happiness in future? The answer is deep down within us and all we have to do is think with a peace of mind. Sahar Moussly was raised in an Arab enriched background - Syria, where she has completed a bachelors degree in Translation-English, pursued a 1-year course in Simultaneous Interpretation from University College London and a 1-year course as a Life-coach in London. This woman is truly inspirational, as she has even launched her company in 1997 – Trans Gulf Management Consultants (TGMC) in Dubai which offers linguistic services,

Being happy is being successful in life and money is not the representation of true happiness Sahar Moussly, life-coaching on happiness

such as legal translation for the Dubai Courts, copy writing and alongside provides life-coaching. Sahar recently started a meet-up group known as Dubai 7 Humor Habits, with a mission to spread the message of positivity and laughter around. The reason she took up such a responsibility is because of the recent crises in the Arab World has really shaken many Arabs around the country, she says, “not just the Middle East but also Dubai, large number of expatriates have lost their jobs due to the financial meltdown and they are under huge debts. I feel I must do something to lift up these people’s dampened spirits; we don’t have to snap at everything around us or be morbid about certain situations, this enhances the negative attitude in us.” She adds, “Everyone should develop humor habits, foreseeing the economical conditions; we should create happiness as a kind of a mentality. Because being happy

is being successful and often people relate money to happiness.” Sahar goes on to explain the essential difference between laughter and happiness, stating that laughter is more complicated than happiness and happiness is like an enabler, once we are full-filed and the most important self-acceptance to our conditions; we will realize the true essence of happiness. Laughter improves the positivity in human nature and maintaining a positive attitude reduces heart problems. Comparing our lifestyle to a baby, occurs quite often in human nature, at times we wish to be like them, without a worry in the world, sleep the peaceful sleep and smile that says everything will be alright. But sadly, as we are growing up, we mature and we lose that sense of humor, it’s like we learn to be unhappy. And if one is unhappy, dealing with problems seems like a burden and increases the frustration in ones behavior; the only way to successfully deal with a problem is being happy and content. Happiness is what makes you successful in life. Even if you are a millionaire, you’ll still feel something’s missing. At times when we feel nothing’s going right and we ask ourselves questions like why me? Then, It’s time we started appreciating things we have and stop longing for materialistic things.


theguardian Monday, January 30, 2012

WOMEN FOCUS EDITION 04

THE REGION

Women lead protests at Tahrir Square

EGYPTIANS ARE CELEBRATING AND PROTESTING ON FIRST ANNIVERSARY SINCE REVOLUTION Qudsiya Siddiqui UAE Editor

Egypt celebrated its one-year anniversary ever since the antiMubarak revolt at Tahrir Square – the symbolic heart of the uprisings in the central Cairo. Egyptian flags were waved high and above within hands of the thousands of citizens surrounding the area marking the anniversary while some were protesting against the military ruling in Egypt, others just celebrated the great cause of not being under the Hossny Mubarak regime. As reported by Gulf News, protesters gathered around the square to re-ignite their unfinished revolution in the chaotic area, chanting slogans like ‘down with the military rule’ and ‘either we die like them or regain our rights’, referring to more than 800 people who were killed in protests against the Mubarak reign last year with all these sit-ins led by women protesters. Commencement Millions of Egyptian youth engaged themselves into antigovernment demonstrations that turned into a public revolution held at the Tahrir Square, which had started off with the extensive use of social-networking sites such as facebook and twitter to promote and support the protests. to bring about a positive change. Hossein Jalali, head of online at Al Aan TV said, “the highest number of twitterusers are from the Arab world and Arabic is the fastest growing language on twitter.” Twitter was on an extreme rise during the Arab revolution. Women leads Women activists and protesters were leading the protests, Activist Mohammed El-Bakry said, “protests witnessed strong participation by women and a lot of support from normal citizens who, even if they did not join the protests, made their support clear,” as reported by the Daily News Egypt.

One year on... Top: Women on frontlines leading the protests at Tahrir Sqauare. Above left: Waving flags in support of the celebrations. Above right: University students actively involved in cleaning-up after the protests. Courtesy Halim Elsharani and Misr International University

We Egyptians are liable for a change Reem Ayman, student protester and celebrant

Another student who supported these protests said, “We Egyptians are liable for a change, after 30 years of Hossny Mubarak’s ruling, another 30 years are surely needed to reinstate the country”, Reem Ayman who is currently pursuing a major in marketing at Misr International University in Egypt took part in the one year celebrations.

She also proudly stated the fact of the win of the citizens over its government, “the celebrations were like amazing, loud music played all across the roads.” All the Egyptians united to enjoy the taste of change. Tens of thousands also packed the main squares in Alexandria, Suez and in the Nile Delta ,Sinai Peninsula, as reported by Gulf News.

Clean-up at Tahrir

The day after the celebrations and protests, in the early hours of the morning, female students of Misr International University students along with their male friends initiated and engaged in a clean-up campaign at the square and repainted the side walks, as per Yara Ahmad, student organizer of the campaign.

Disclaimer: This is a student course project. Solely responsible for editorial policy and content and these donot necessarily represent my views and opinions over any of the published material, everything is sourced accordingly. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/theguardianuae

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The Guardian - Women Focus Edition (Student Newsletter)  

Solely designed and content generated as part of my graduation project at Manipal University. Articles about Muslim women's role in Arab Spr...

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