Repression and Desire: The Sexual Politics of Islam

Monday, 2 September 2002

Release date: 2 September, 2002 REPRESSION AND DESIRE: THE SEXUAL POLITICS OF ISLAM The Women's Studies Centre at NUI, Galway will hold its Annual Lecture at 8.00.p.m., on Thursday, 12 September 2002, in the Ó Tnúthail Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI, Galway. Guest speaker will be Lara Marlowe, Irish Times correspondent, who will recount her experiences working in an often sexist Islamic world, and assess the causes of the subjugation of Muslim women. The lecture is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. In Nigeria last March, Islamic Law was used to justify a death sentence for adultery against an illiterate woman who bore her ex-husband s daughter. Safiya Husseini was pardoned after an international outcry. There was never any question of punishing the ex-husband.. For Saudi women, a recent report by Amnesty International notes that torture is "a nightmare haunting them everywhere, including in the sanctity of the home where it takes place at the hands of their husbands or in the case of foreign domestic workers, their employers". For much of the past two decades, Irish Times correspondent Lara Marlowe has worked as a journalist in Muslim countries. In Afghanistan last year, she saw a woman squat on the ground and cringe when spoken to. Afghan men refused to divulge the first names of women, which can be known only by close male relatives. In Saudi Arabia too, Marlowe met women reduced to the status of chattel by their male owners . In Algeria, where the ten year-old civil war continues, women have been raped by security forces and kidnapped by Islamist rebels who claim Allah gives them the right to enslave women. Is Islam inherently sexist? Or are abuses like those mentioned above the result of tribalism, ignorance and despotism? Some theologians claim the advent of Shari a actually improved the fate of women, and that Islam advocates equality of the sexes. To what extent is this true, and why is it so often distorted in practice? "Almighty God created sexual desire in ten parts," Mohamed s son-in-law Ali ibn Taleb, the first Shi ite leader, wrote. "Then he gave nine parts to women and one to men." Muslim theologians advocate the segregation of men and women because they believe desire is a force so powerful that the faithful must be protected from it. The veiling of women is the most obvious manifestation of this distrust of female sexuality. Muslim women often accuse westerners of being obsessed with the hijab, or Islamic dress code. But has the West imposed another kind of dictatorship on women, one of perfect figures and eternal youth - as the Moroccan Muslim feminist Fatima Mernissi insists? "What good are Western women s diplomas and intelligence, if physical beauty is considered the supreme value for her sex?" Mernissi asks. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418

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NUI Galway Conference to address Gender Matters in Higher Education

Wednesday, 30 October 2002

Release date: 29 October, 2002 NUI Galway Conference to address Gender Matters in Higher Education Fifty-seven per cent of all full-time students are women. Yet, when it comes to employment whether in the public or private sector, women's representation in senior educational or managerial positions is well below this figure. For example, according to the HEA (Higher Education Authority), in 2000 in Higher Education, only 7% of Professors, 8% Associate Professors and 17.5% Senior Lecturers were female, and in the Private Sector the figures are similar. According to the IBEC National Survey 2001, of Chief Executives, 8% were female and Senior Managers/Heads of Functions 21% were female. A conference entitled "Gender Matters in Higher Education", which will address these issues will take place in NUI Galway on the 8th - 9th November, 2002. The conference will be officially opened by Michael D. Higgins T.D., in the Ó Tnúthail Theatre, Arts Millennium Building on Friday, 8 November at 7.00 p.m. The keynote speaker will be Professor Áine Hyland, Vice-President of University College, Cork. Education is a human right and an essential tool for achieving the goals of equality, development and peace (Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 69). It is the single most important factor associated with demographic and economic change for women in Ireland. This is a pattern repeated globally. Investing in formal and non-formal education and training for girls and women has proved to be one of the best means of achieving sustainable development and economic growth. Despite the appearance of gender neutrality, education within Ireland is still highly gendered. Strong differences are apparent between managers and managed, in choice of career studies and in the teaching and medical professions. The NUI, Galway conference will highlight the current gender discrimination in the higher education sector for staff and students and discuss initiatives that could address the imbalance, concluding with a 'Plan for Action' session. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418

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NUI Galway Academic appointed to EU Expert Group

Wednesday, 30 October 2002

NUI, Galway Law Lecturer, Donncha O'Connell, has been appointed to the newly-established EU Network of Experts on Fundamental Rights, which held its inaugural meeting in Brussels last week. The network was established by the European Commission in September 2002 (on foot of a European Parliament Resolution of July 2001), following a competitive tender process. The network consists of legal experts who are authorities on human rights from each of the EU Member States. It is entrusted with the preparation of an annual report on fundamental rights in the European Union and must assist the Commission and Parliament in the adoption of a human rights policy within the Union. It will contribute to an evaluation of the implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights both by the EU institutions and by the Member States over a five-year period. Donncha O'Connell has recently returned to a lecturing position at the Law Faculty, NUI Galway, following a three-year leave of absence in which he was the first full-time Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. He is currently a board member of Amnesty International Irish Section and of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) Ltd. but will serve on the network of experts in an independent capacity. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway Tel. 091-750418

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Tissue Engineering - the new Frontier of Medical Science

Monday, 14 October 2002

Release date: 14 October,2002 Tissue Engineering - the new Frontier of Medical Science Galway seminar to explore the health and employment potential of Tissue Engineering Advances in medical science in recent years have been quite extraordinary, enhancing quality of life and human longevity to a degree unimaginable ten years ago. One area, still in its infancy in Ireland in terms of research, but with huge potential for patient care is that of tissue engineering. Two of the world's foremost authorities on tissue engineering will address a seminar entitled 'The Present Future of Tissue Engineering', which begins at 4.00 p.m., in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway, on Tuesday, 5 November, 2002. Professor Robert Nerem of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA and Professor David Williams, Professor of Tissue Engineering at the University of Liverpool, will share their knowledge and expertise in a subject which carries new hope for patients worldwide. The seminar is being organised by the Bio-Medical Engineering Division of the Institute of Engineers in Ireland. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering and the life sciences to the development of biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function. The ability to engineer or regenerate lost tissue due to injury, aging, disease, or genetic abnormality holds exciting promise. With the development of complex three-dimensional tissue constructs, scientists are beginning to meet clinical needs. Not only does tissue engineering provide the potential to radically improve many medical therapies but it also involves significant financial savings, as for example, in organ transplantation. In standard organ transplantation, a mismatch of tissue types necessitates lifelong immuno-suppression, with its attendant problems of graft rejection, drug therapy costs and the potential for the development of certain types of cancer. In addition, there is the risk of rejection of the tissue and the surgery itself always carries some risk. To date, progress in tissue engineering has achieved the following successes: Design and growth of human tissues outside the body for later implantation to repair or replace diseased tissues. The most common example of this form of therapy is the skin graft, which is used in the treatment of burns. Implantation of cell-containing or cell-free devices that induce the regeneration of functional human tissue. This approach relies on the purification and large-scale production of appropriate 'signal' molecules, like growth factors to assist in tissue regeneration. In addition, novel polymers are being created and assembled into three-dimensional configurations, to which cells attach and grow to reconstitute tissues. An example of this is the biomaterial matrix used to promote bone re-growth for periodontal disease. Development of external or internal devices containing human tissues designed to replace the function of diseased internal tissues. This approach involves isolation of cells from the body, using such techniques as stem cell therapy, placing them on or within structural matrices and implanting the new system inside the body or using the system outside the body. Examples of this approach include repair of bone, muscle, tendon and cartilage as well as cell-lined vascular grafts and artificial liver. The seminar will feature a panel discussion with experts in the fields of medicine and engineering in Ireland, including the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway. Ends Information from:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press and Information Officer, NUI Galway. Tel: 091 750418. Mobile: 087-2986592

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VIRUS REACHES IRISH SEALS

Wednesday, 9 October 2002

Release Date: 8 October, 2002 VIRUS REACHES IRISH SEALS MORBILLIVIRUS INFECTION has been confirmed in the carcase of a harbour seal, one of four found dead at the Aran Islands. Dr Jimmy Dunne and Jane Gilleran of the Zoology Department, NUI Galway examined carcases reported by Dr Michael O Connell at Inishmore on 21st September. They forwarded tissue samples for analysis to Dr. Seamus Kennedy, Veterinary Sciences Division of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland. That analysis has confirmed the presence of morbillivirus infection in tissues of one of the seals. This is the first confirmation of morbillivirus infection in a seal in Ireland during the current European epidemic. About 15,000 seals have died in the waters of continental Europe in the past five months including approximately 1,900 along the east coast of England. Last week, tests carried out in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development laboratory in Belfast indicated that the virus had spread to the seal population on the east coast of Scotland. The last major seal epidemic hit northern Europe in 1988 and killed over 18,000 seals, including hundreds along the coast of Northern Ireland. No cases were evidently identified from the Republic at that time. It is likely that Irish seals now have little immunity against the virus and are at risk of large-scale mortality. Previous surveys have estimated the total number of Irish harbour seals to be about 2000. The Zoology Department at NUI Galway has been studying the biology of Harbour seals in the Galway Bay area since 2000 and has calculated its population to number at least 400 individuals. The seal virus has never been reported to cause illness in humans. However, dying or dead seals may be more accessible to people resulting in an increased risk of infection by other organisms carried by seals, particularly through infected bites or wounds. Members of the public are therefore advised not to approach sick seals or carcases which may be washed ashore during the present high tides. It is likely that the seal virus could cause illness in dogs that have not been vaccinated against distemper. Dogs should therefore be kept away from sick seals or carcases. Sightings of carcases should be reported to either Duchas (Tel. 01-6473000) or the Irish Seal Sanctuary (Tel. 01-8354370). Ends Information from:Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel.091 750418

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