Middle East

Importance to Health, Education of Women.  [India] Observing that women were subjected to various types of harassment in society, Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, today said importance has to be given to health and education of the fairer sex to help them out of the crisis.  "Women are are getting worse treatment even today.  With respect to health and education, they are lagging behind.   We have to take the message of health and education to every home," she said while speaking at a function organised to observe the 60th anniversary celebration of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust at Gandhi Smriti here.
50% Women Over Thirty Face Risk of FSD.  [India] Contrary to popular perception, it's not just men who suffer from sexual dysfunction.  A great many women suffer from what is called female sexual dysfunction (FSD).  Doctors, however, say that most of them are unaware of the condition and therefore do not seek treatment for it.  "Earlier the condition was thought to exist only in post-menopausal women, but now, for the past couple of years, we have realised that a high percentage of women from the age of 30 onwards suffer from FSD," said Dr Rajeev Sood, head of department of urology at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.   "In fact, studies abroad have shown that more than 40% women may suffer from FSD as opposed to about 30% men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED)," he added.
Women Troubles.  [India] In several parts of India, the ratio between women and men is now so skewed that there are only 750 women to every 1,000 men.   The nationwide average is 927 to 1,000; in a nation of more than a billion people, that translates to a shortfall of about 40 million women—the same as the entire population of Spain.  Rising prosperity and a historic preference for boys are exacerbating a worrisome imbalance between the sexes.  Soon after I had arrived in New Delhi in spring 2002, I was horrified to read in my morning newspaper that flooding in a Rajasthani village had been traced to a drain behind a back-alley abortion clinic, which had been blocked with scores of discarded fetuses.  Since then, I've become accustomed to tales of fatal, amateur late-term terminations and of doctors who make money on the side by breaking a law banning them from telling expectant couples the sex of their babies — and offering discreet abortions if the child is a girl.  I've also heard the laments of young Indian men about the difficulties of finding a mate; one mainstream newspaper even argued that the upside of all this extermination is that the cost of dowries will come down due to the short supply of women.  And now that my wife is pregnant again, I'm becoming accustomed to other mothers praying for a boy on our behalf.  Our Rajasthan receptionist and fellow travelers, I now realize, were actually just being polite.
Limited Access to Justice for Women.  [Jordan ] three-month long rights campaign in Jordan has revealed that women are unable to seek access to justice due to financial burdens and social norms.  "Either because of limited financial resources or social stigma, some women abandon their rights," said Jordanian rights advocate Najah Enab from Mizan, a local NGO which organized the campaign.  "It's not easy to have access to justice when you're poor. You need a lawyer, and not everyone can afford this."  According to Mizan, lawyers usually charge between 300 and 500 Jordanian dinars (US $375 and US $625) per case.  While a 1972 Bar Association Law guarantees the provision of legal aid to low-income citizens, human rights activists say that in practice women are often deprived of it.  The campaign, which is to finish on 27 February, was launched by the Ministry of Political Development and Parliamentarian Affairs in cooperation with Mizan.  "Our goal was to raise awareness about each person's legal rights and obligations," said Rula Haddadin, campaign manager at Mizan, also known as the Law Group for Human Rights.  "Since the first days of the campaign, the number of phone calls we've received has increased considerably."
Thousands of Women Pour Out Hatred of Sacrilege.  [Pakistan] Thousands of women and students took part in rallies in the city on Saturday to protest the publication of sacrilegious cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by some European newspapers.   Thousands of women, most of them veiled, gathered near the Quaid's mausoleum along with a significant number of children and men, and protested against the cartoons.   The women started gathering at the Gurumandir Roundabout and the mausoleum well before the scheduled time and moved towards the Old Numaish roundabout reciting the Durood Sharif along the way.  A number of women were carrying their infants with them.   A five-month baby named Fayez had a black band around his forehead.  The band said, "I am here to sacrifice for your sanctity Ya Rasool Allah (PBUH)."   Another child was carrying a down-with-Bush effigy.  A large number of female students also participated in the rally.  They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against Denmark, the United States and Pakistani rulers.
Women's Committee Highlights Problems Facing Women in Quake Camps.  [Pakistan] Over 30 women sitting in a tent are holding up their right arms high in the air, waiting for their turn to talk.  Many are clutching scraps of paper with meticulous lists written on them.  One by one they stand up and address the meeting in nervous, shaky voices.  But as the women around them nod in agreement and call out their support, their confidence grows and so do their voices.  This is Muzaffarabad's Female Committee and for most of the women here, this is the first time they have aired their problems in a public forum.  "Women are being empowered and they are enjoying it," explained Catherine Harding, a community services officer with the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), who initiated the scheme and chairs the committee meetings.  "This is something new and innovative for them.  There's been a real change in the women, they are showing great initiative," she said.  The Female Committee, which was established by UNHCR, represents some 60 camps in Muzaffarabad district and meets every week in the UN compound in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Female Hamas MPs to Tackle Sex Discrimination.  [Palestine] Ask Huda Naeem how she intends to use her influence as a newly elected MP for Hamas and she ticks off a list of wrongs done to women in the name of religion.  Forced marriage, honor killings, low pay and girls being kept out of school are her priorities for change in the Palestinian parliament.   That is when she is not preparing her 13-year-old son to die in the fight against Israel.   "A lot of things need to change," she said.  "Women in Gaza and the West Bank should be given complete rights.  Some women and girls are made to marry someone they don't want to marry.  This is not in our religion, it's our tradition.  In our religion, a woman has a right to choose," Naeem said.
Women Hopeful of Victory as Elections Begin.  [Saudi Arabia] Elections to the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s board of directors began with Jubail and Hafr Al-Batin voting yesterday.  Voters will go to the polls today in Qatif and Khafji and tomorrow women voters will cast their votes at the EPCCI headquarters in Dammam.  The final leg of the polling will be in Dammam on Tuesday and Wednesday.   Some 11,000 chamber members, who are eligible to vote, will elect 12 members of the 18-member board and the Commerce and Industry Ministry will appoint the remaining six.   The election to the chamber, which is contested every four years, has evoked more interest than usual because of the six businesswomen candidates.  Four of the women candidates have formed their own group called Watania (Nationalists), while two women candidates are contesting as independents.  The victory of two business women in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry elections has raised hope among the businesswomen of their winning the battle and gaining seats in the hitherto all-male board.
Women, Opportunities and the Road Ahead.  [Saudi Arabia] The 20-member group of intellectuals who went before the visit of King Abdullah to China consisted mostly of women.  One of them, Aljohrah Alsodairy (23), spoke fluent Chinese.  They made waves and charmed the Chinese with their excellent quality and positive attitude.   Reem Al-Faisal, world-class photographer, was in China three months ago, hobbling from one town to another, six in all, in the Yunnan Province, south of China to show her Haj photo collection. In the last decade, she showed her talent in at least ten cities in Europe, Asia and the Arab world.  Her work was published and praised in prominent journals like Le Monde, Le Figaro, The Guardian, Liberation, Canvas and Marie Claire.