Sexual/reproductive rights & health

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, Tahrir Square has been an inspiration to pro-democracy activists across the globe. Now one woman is fighting to make sure the public space, which became the focal point of the demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt, does not become a symbol for state-sponsored misogyny too.

Many people, especially women, have asked me if family planning is permissible in Islam. They say the imams and ulema say the Quran prohibits family planning and quote a verse which says, “And kill not your children for fear of poverty — We provide for them and for you. Surely the killing of them is a great wrong” (17:31).

In no way does this verse refer to family planning because it is talking of ‘killing’ and you kill one who exists. No law in the world will permit killing one who is already born and hence the Quran rightly condemns the killing of children. Some people suggest that the verse in question refers to the practice of burying girl children alive and when asked they would say they could not provide for them and hence Allah responds that He provides for them.

DAKAR, 26 September 2011 (IRIN) - Talibouya Ka, Muslim leader (imam) of the Omar Kane mosque in the Medina neighbourhood of the Senegalese capital Dakar, encourages his followers to procreate as much as they can. “There are imams who are for family planning, but I am not. I tell worshippers they need to increase the size of the global Muslim family.”

Such attitudes, which used to be prevalent in Senegal, are increasingly rare, particularly in Dakar, midwives and doctors at the Hospital Centre for Health and Hygiene in Medina, told IRIN. 

In a bid to retain culture and due to the greed of men who profit by marrying off their daughters, some communities in Kenya still practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Section 14 of The Children’s Act of 2001 in Kenya protects children against harmful cultural practices under which FGM falls. Though this law has been in place for a decade, the practice is still rampant, especially among pastoral communities where even a girl may demand FGM since she has been brought up believing it to be part of her initiation to maturity.

POYAI, Thailand — Maikaew Panomyai did a little dance coming out of the examination room, switching her hips, waving her fists in the air and crowing, in her limited English: “Everything’s O.K.! Everything’s O.K.!”

Translation: The nurse just told me I do not have cervical cancer, and even the little white spot I had treated three years ago is still gone.

Health workers say an apparent rise in contraceptive use in Nigeria stems largely from a willingness by traditional and religious leaders in some regions to use their influence in promoting reproductive health. In the predominantly Muslim north, where contraceptive use has historically been far lower than the national average, the support of traditional leaders has helped change attitudes in communities where contraception was long regarded as taboo. Alhaji Sani Umar, district head of Gagi District, Sokoto State, in northwestern Nigeria, works with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to advocate reproductive health in his community. 

The High Court yesterday ruled that pregnant women should not be discriminated from seeking employment. In a landmark ruling, judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof made her decision in favour of Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, who took the government to court to seek a declaration that pregnancy is not a reason for her to be denied employment as an untrained relief teacher.

L’enquête menée par le Centre national d’études et d’analyses pour la population et le développement (Ceneap) au profit de l’Unicef, a révélé que la plupart des mères célibataires sont issues de familles défavorisées, prés de la moitié de ces femmes ont été victimes de harcèlement sexuel, de violence domestique et d’inceste.

Though the Indonesian government banned female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) four years ago, experts say religious support for the practice is more fervent than ever, particularly in rural communities. A lack of regulation since the ban makes it difficult to monitor, but medical practitioners say FGM/C remains commonplace for women of all ages in this emerging democracy of 240 million - the world’s largest Muslim nation.

A landmark study on polygamy in Malaysia has cast doubt on whether husbands in polygamous marriages are able to treat their wives and children equally as intoned by the Quran. The study, conducted by Sisters in Islam in collaboration with academics from several local universities, found that while almost 80% of husbands interviewed said they could be fair, their wives disagreed. Researcher Masjaliza Hamzah said just over half of the second wives interviewed in the study said their husbands could be fair. Among first wives, only 35% shared this view. “Among the wives, the first wife is the most dissatisfied. She experiences the strongest effects as she is able to compare the polygamous marriage with when she was in a monogamous marriage. In many cases, they expressed sadness, a sense of being wronged and betrayal,” Masjaliza said.

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