Browsing 'women' News

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qataris heading to Austria this fall should take note of an upcoming ban on full-faced veils, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

In a travel advisory reported by QNA, the ministry said citizens who wish to travel to the country once the ban takes effect in October “must abide by it.”

Earlier this year, Austria’s government approved legislation to fine people who wear clothes that obstruct their facial features in public places.

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Photo of Vienna for illustrative purposes only.

Those who do so could be slapped with a €150 (QR614) penalty.

The ban includes burqas and niqabs worn by women at universities, courts or while riding public transport, according to local media.

Across Europe

Other European countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands have also banned the burqa and niqab in public.

And Germany and Norway have been considering following suit.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Most Muslim scholars agree that women are not Islamically required to cover their faces in public.

However, some women, including in Qatar, wear niqabs for cultural reasons or because they feel more comfortable this way.

Politics

Austria’s ban has been denounced by Muslims in the country, who say it plays into Islamophobia. Thousands even rallied against the legislation in Vienna in February.

“Every woman must be able to move freely in public without harassment and discrimination – no matter what she does or does not wear,” one Muslim youth group said on its Facebook page.

According to the Guardian, the move is more a political one than anything else, as government leaders struggle to win the public’s approval.

“Only between 100 and 150 women are estimated to wear the full-face veil in Austria,” the newspaper reported earlier this year.

Zell am See Kaprun/Facebook

Zell am See Kaprun

It added that the ban would apply in tourist destinations such as the Zell am See ski resort as well as the more urban city of Vienna.

Would the ban affect your decision to visit Vienna? Thoughts?

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Hundreds of Qatar University students and community members have been debating gender segregation in school and society this week.

The discussion was sparked by a woman who was recently elected to the student union of QU’s College of Sharia and Islamic Studies, but then objected about the meetings being mixed.

Last month, Mariam Al-Dosari began complaining that the union was not accommodating her request to attend the meetings via video conference, so that she wouldn’t have to meet with male students face-to-face.

Translation: It is really strange that the student council meetings are gender-mixed as it contradicts Qatar University’s segregation policy in classes.

A few weeks later, in early March, Al-Dosari began complaining that her requests were not being met.

Hashtag debate

This led to the creation of a now-viral hashtag on Twitter, كلنا_مريم_الدوسري# (We are all Mariam Al-Dosari).

Many people who engaged in the debate said they sympathized with Al-Dosari’s plight, saying her request should have been honored.

Others saw the issue as an attempt to westernize Qatar in a way that goes against the country’s traditions and values.

Translation: I pity those who reduce this issue to make it only about Mariam. It simply isn’t. It’s a matter of principle; an issue pertaining to the chaste women of Qatar and the values virtue and modesty they were brought up with. Sooner or later the truth will prevail.

Translation: She lives in her home country and has a right to an education that suits her traditions and values.

Translation: Instead of teaching students freedom of expression and democracy a student is being punished by being expelled from the student council and then to add insult to injury, she gets yelled at as if expulsion isn’t enough.

Counterpoints

But many others said it was unreasonable to always expect things to be segregated by gender.

Some critics pointed out that Al-Dosari knew the format of the meetings before she became a representative.

And a few said students are capable of meeting each other in mixed company without anything untoward happening.

Translation: What kind of empowerment and enablement are you searching for and wishing to achieve in the future when you already refuse to attend official public meetings?

Translation: The seatings at the meetings are divided, the front rows are for female students and the back ones for males or the other way around. They don’t even sit next to each other.

Qatar University has not officially weighed in on the discussion, nor has the student union.

On Twitter, some have suggested that Al-Dosari is no longer on the student council, but she has not confirmed this.

A better future

For some, the debate raises a larger question about men and women’s interaction in society.

In an opinion piece this week, QU alum Shabeb Al Rumaihi pointed out that many of his university’s annual events, conferences and movie screenings were not segregated affairs.

Qatar University

Qatar University

“You can not bring a head of state or an international actor to give two separate lectures,” he said.

He added that he didn’t feel mixed events threatened Qatar’s cultural values, and that this helps facilitate female leadership.

“I see it as an opportunity to innovate a new cultural platform that believes in developing a society that needs men and women working together to develop a better future for Qatar.”

He concluded by pointing that during his undergraduate years, there were three female college deans at QU. Now, there’s only one.

Thoughts?

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Pregnant women and new mothers with anxiety, depression or other problems now have a new resource to turn to in Qatar.

This week, the Sidra Medical and Research Center opened the nation’s first Women’s Perinatal Mental Healthcare Clinic.

There, professionals will offer guidance and counseling for mothers with attachment and bonding issues, as well as those dealing with previous trauma and loss, Sidra announced.

Sidra

Sidra Womens Perinatal Mental Healthcare Clinic team

Women with more serious problems, such as OCD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can also receive support at the clinic.

Currently, the center will only see patients who are referred by Sidra’s Obstetrics Clinic, Hamad Medical Corp. hospitals and Primary Health Care Corp. centers.

However, plans are afoot to expand the services offered.

 

Emotional health

In a statement, Dr. Felice Watt, division chief for Women’s Mental Health, said taking care of emotional health is just as important for new mothers as looking after their physical health.

She added:

“Mental health issues are common during this period and the right support and treatment can have a lasting positive impact on the mother, infant, and the entire family.

Our women’s mental healthcare team will provide culturally sensitive, woman and family centered support and treatment during this important time.”

Demand for better mental healthcare services in Qatar has been on the rise for some time.

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The call grew louder earlier this month following the suicide of an American expat, with many community members saying they wouldn’t know where to turn for help with their issues.

Pregnant women and new mothers have also been seeking better support services.

In a series on giving birth in Qatar last year, many moms said they struggled with depression and questions about how to take care of their babies, and their husbands “had no idea how to support them.”

Women who suffer miscarriages in Qatar also say they have trouble coping without help.

Sidra progress

After several hurdles, Sidra partially opened last May with the launch of some pediatric outpatient clinics. And it started doing day surgeries in November.

This year, all 40 of its outpatient services are expected to become fully operational.

But so far, there is no opening date for the entire hospital, which has been delayed for years.

Thoughts?