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News and Views: Discriminatory Laws

Man, woman face lashes in western Afghanistan for adultery

September 3, 2015

Provincial police confirmed execution of the sentence adding measures were in place to safeguard the event

A local court passed the sentence in accordance with the Sharia law and the police took measures to safeguard the event.

An Afghan man and a woman received 100 lashes each after they were found guilty of committing adultery in western Ghor province.

Aceh Prepares to Enforce Broader Sharia Criminal Code, With Stiffer Penalties

May 5, 2015

Sharia police in Indonesia’s westernmost province, Aceh, have begun educating the public about a broadening of the Islamic penal code set to go into effect in October this year. Behaviors punishable under the new regulations – known as Qanun Jinayat – include adultery, rape, sexual harassment, homosexual acts, and falsely accusing others of adultery.

Women's rights in the Indonesian province of Aceh: "The population is being systematically silenced"

April 8, 2015

Azriana Rambe Manalu, 46, and Samsidar, 48, are two of the best-known women in Aceh. In this interview with Christina Schott, they talk about how the introduction of Sharia in Aceh in 2003 has affected society – and women in particular

Sudan: Ethiopian Woman Gang Raped by Seven Sudanese Men, Denied from Making a Formal Complaint of Rape and Instead Charged with Adultery and Prostitution

February 20, 2014

Press Statement

14th February 2014

The Ethiopian woman in Khartoum, Sudan, who was gang raped by seven men, has been denied by the Attorney General the ability to make a formal complaint of rape and thus instigate a full investigation. She has instead been charged with adultery which carries the potential sentence of death by stoning.

UN Women: culture must not block progress on stopping gender violence

March 4, 2013

Commission on Status of Women opens in New York, but Iran, Russia and Vatican thought to be lobbying against key proposals.

Culture and religion must not be allowed to block proposals to eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls, the head of UN Women said on the eve of what is expected to be the largest global summit ever convened to discuss the issue.

Vatican, Iran resist UN effort fighting violence on women

March 4, 2013

The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts by a UN conference, which started Monday, to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.

More than 6,000 non-government groups are registered at the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, one of the biggest events held at the UN headquarters which regularly turns into a diplomatic battle.

Afghanistan: Women march against violence

February 14, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan activists and supporters marked Valentine’s Day by marching in Kabul on Thursday to denounce violence against women amid reports that domestic abuse is on the rise.

Afghan women have made great strides in education and official circles since the days under Taliban rule, when they had to wear all-encompassing burqas and were not allowed to go to school or leave their homes without a male relative as an escort. But they still face widespread domestic violence, forced marriages and other problems.

"Traditional Values" vs Human Rights at the UN

February 18, 2013

A dangerous process is taking place in the UN system that threatens the universality of human rights by seeking to make them contingent on subjective ‘traditional values’ such as ‘responsible behaviour’.

Saudi Arabia: King Invites Women To Join The Debate ... From Another Room

January 14, 2013

King Abdullah kept a promise to Saudi Arabia's women last week, when he appointed 30 of them to four-year terms in the new Consultative Assembly, the pseudo-legislature that advises the monarch on laws and regulations.

As usual with such developments in Saudi Arabia, there is a catch: The women will have to meet in a room separate from the men.

Egyptian Constitution Provides Little Protection

January 15, 2013

A secular Egyptian woman outlines the disappointments written into the country's new constitution, passed in late December. Women have had only one legal advance since the revolution: prosecuting sex harassment.

The Politics of Killing Women in Colonized Contexts

December 17, 2012

As therapists, activists, and scholars who have worked with abused women, and conducted social anthropological studies on the killing of women in Palestinian society, we decided to respond to the article by Lila Abu-Lughod and Maya Mikdashi, “Tradition and the Anti-Politics Machine: DAM Seduced by the ‘Honor Crime.’” They reiterate—as our own interventions, activism, and studies have found—that the killing of women cannot be divorced from the realm of the political.

Women’s rights and the rule of law: education and implementation

December 5, 2012

Legislative victories are important in changing society to eradicate injustices like forced child marriage, but such change is delivered because of and not without daring, challenging, transformative processes of education and action whether led by state, religious, familiar or civic actors. Trusting women, and trusting ourselves, can often be a moment of defiance

Nigeria: The Sexual Minority And Legislative Zealotry

December 23, 2012

LET us go back a little, nearly a year ago, to that earlier attempt to interfere in, and legislate on sexual conduct between consenting adults. Profiting from that experience, I would like to caution – yet again - that it is high time we learnt to ignore what we conveniently designate and react to as ‘foreign interference’.  By now, we should be able to restrict ourselves to the a priori  position that, as rational beings, we make pronouncements on choices of ethical directions from our own collective and/or majority will, independent of what is described as ‘external dictation’.

UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Circumcision

December 20, 2012

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation, a centuries-old practice stemming from the belief that circumcising girls controls women's sexuality and enhances fertility.

It has also been linked to religious and cultural practices, although Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

Although not legally binding, General Assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.

Egypt: The Day after the Referendum

December 13, 2012

It will pass… a draft of a constitution that doesn’t represent Egyptians or their dreams. A draft that did not engage them in the dialogue for change, which passed just two before the referendum, without giving Egyptians the opportunity to discuss it. When the revolution started, Egyptians looked forward to a time where they could evaluate their beliefs and values, discuss them, even change them and reflect it all in a document that recorded the whole process. But this never happened.

Blasphemy, Genocide and Violence Against Women: the case of Bangladesh

December 17, 2012

When Malala Yousafzai and her companions were shot by the Taliban, the whole of Pakistan expressed outrage. The attack on a young girl fighting for her right to education was shocking to many Pakistanis.  What was unusual about this event was, unfortunately, not the targeting of girls, but the fact that there was a national outcry.

Islamic feminism: fighting discrimination, inspired by faith

November 29, 2012

Islamic feminists embrace their faith, culture and tradition while fiercely advocating for legislative reforms and interpretations that reflect a more modern understanding of women's role in society.

"The Malala Effect" - Statement by UNHCHR on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 23, 2012

“Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights, eliminating discrimination and achieving gender equality lie at the heart of the international human rights system, starting with article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states unequivocally: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’

Feminist voices in Islam: promise and potential

November 19, 2012

By Ziba Mir Hosseini

Religion is back in public space, and the thesis that modernization means the privatization of religion has been seriously questioned. Some religious and feminist dogmas need re-examination. What do ‘secular’ or ‘religious’ or ‘feminist’ mean in today’s contexts?

Islam and feminism are often perceived and portrayed as incompatible. There is a plethora of literature and a host of arguments, both in the media and in academia, to show this is the case.

Saudi Arabia: Morality Policy New Guidelines to Not Harass Women

October 26, 2012

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The cleric who heads the Saudi morality police said he is taking steps to rein in the force, the latest move by authorities aimed at improving the position of women in Saudi society amid a public outcry in social media.

Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh, appointed by King Abdullah in January to head the religious police, told The Wall Street Journal that he plans to distribute guidelines to all members of his force making clear that they don't have the power to arrest or interrogate Saudi citizens, or to attend trials.

UPR of Pakistan: ongoing concerns include violence against women and blasphemy laws

October 31, 2012

Pakistan’s second review under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) took place on the 30 October 2012, and was attended by a large delegation led by Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and including the Advisor on Human Rights and the Advisor on Minorities.

 

Egypt: Constitution draft article raises fears for women's rights

September 23, 2012

Following publication of Article 36 of the 'Rights and Duties' section of Egypt's draft constitution, a number of political parties, coalitions and public figures have issued a joint statement expressing their "deep concern" for the draft article's wording, which, they say, could compromise women's historical rights.

Saudi Arabia: Breakthrough feature film "Wadjda" narrates the story of a 10 year old girl breaking social barriers

October 11, 2012

“Wadjda” is not only one of the first films to come out of Saudi Arabia, even more significantly it is the first feature written and directed by a Saudi Arabian woman, the talented Haifaa Al Mansour.
Saudi Arabia’s first female director has made her debut at the Venice film festival, exploring the limitations placed on women in the conservative Islamic kingdom through the tale of a strong-willed 10-year-old girl living in Riyadh.

UN: First International Day of the Girl Child - 11 October 2012

October 11, 2012
Forced Child Marriage, Slavery Like Reality in Every Region of the World
Joint Statement* by a group of UN human rights experts to mark the first International Day of the Girl Child, Thursday 11 October 2012

 

Afghanistan: End trend of Women Jailed for ‘Running Away’

September 18, 2012

(Kabul) – High-level Afghan government officials have for the first time publicly confirmed that it is not a criminal offense for women and girls to “run away” from home, Human Rights Watch said today. The officials also confirmed fleeing violence or running away was not a basis for women’s detention or prosecution.

لیلا موری کارشناس مسائل زنان و روزنامه نگار است

July 24, 2012

اگرچه این روزها بحث مخالفت با حجاب اجباری در فضای مجازی داغ است و کمپینهای مختلف سایبری با انتشار عکسها، مصاحبه ها و شرح احوالات زنان و مردان ایرانی در خصوص حجاب اجباری سعی در نقد و اعتراض به سیاستهای ۳۳ساله جمهوری اسلامی در خصوص تحمیل یک نوع پوشش خاص و متحد الشکل به زنان ایرانی دارند. ولی بحث حجاب اگر از منظر بین المللی آن نیز مورد توجه قرار گیرد شاید برخورد با مسئله حجاب و اعتراض به اجباری بودن آن را قابل تاملتر کند.

Leila Mouri -- Compulsory Hijab in Iran: There Is No Room for Appeasement

July 24, 2012

Depriving women of their basic rights is not a new subject. But when these rights are ignored by social activists in the name of culture or religion we must be alarmed. Now is the time to stop justifying mandatory hijab in the name of religion, nation, country, or culture. It is time to remind ourselves, as women and human rights activists, that when it comes to women's rights, there is no room for appeasement.

السودان: ينبغي وضع حد لعقوبة الرجم، وإصلاح القانون الجنائي

July 30, 2012

 

تدين منظمة العفو الدولية الحكم بالرجم حتى الموت الذي صدر بحق ليلى إبراهيم عيسى جمول، وتدعو الحكومة السودانية إلى وقف تنفيذ الحكم وإصلاح قانونها الجنائي بلا تأخير، بهدف إلغاء عقوبة الإعدام إلغاءً تاماً.

Sudan: End stoning, reform the criminal law

July 30, 2012

Amnesty International condemns the sentencing of Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul to death by stoning and calls on the Sudanese government to halt the execution and to reform its criminal law without delay, with the aim to abolish corporal punishment.

Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul, a 23-year old Sudanese woman, was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery on 10 July 2012 by the Criminal Court of Mayo, in Khartoum, under Article 146 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Code.

Lebanon: Activists slam government inaction over women’s rights

July 17, 2012

Women’s rights campaigners voiced Monday their frustration over the government’s inaction over key issues, namely equal citizenship rights and protection from domestic violence. At a news conference held jointly by the “My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family” and the “National Alliance for Legalizing the Protection of Women from Family Violence” campaigns, organizers spoke of what they called the systematic neglect of citizens’ rights.

Saudi Arabia: Broken Pledge to Send Women to London Games Should Trigger Ban

July 11, 2012

(London) – Saudi Arabia’s announcementthat it would not send any female athletes to compete in the London Olympics despite its recent pledge to do so highlights the need to overturn the fundamental barriers to women playing sports in the kingdom, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Olympic Committee should bar Saudi Arabia from participating in the 2012 Games because of its clear violation of the Olympic Charter.

Morocco: Wearing the hijab may not be an ‘Islamic duty’ says university

June 30, 2012

Casablanca, MOROCCO: Last month at Al Azhar University, Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed defended a thesis that sparked a heated debate among religious scholars.The candidate concluded that Hijab, or the veil, is not an Islamic duty.

The claim is not the first of its kind, but the mere fact that it is adopted in Al Azhar University – the Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning –makes it controversial.

UN: Stop Stoning Globally - Statement by Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers

June 26, 2012

Remarks by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers – Gabriela Knaul -- at the June 26, 2012 panel "Stop Stoning Globally" at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

UN: Stop Stoning Globally - opening remarks by UNSRVAW Rashida Manjoo

May 26, 2012

At the outset, I would like to thank the Worldwide Organization for Women, Justice for Iran and the Women’s UN Report Network, for inviting me to address this panel on the stoning of women. This event is very timely as this year I devoted my annual thematic report to the issue of gender related killings of women, among which death by stoning is a severe and cruel manifestation.

Lebanon: A culture of blame

June 18, 2012

Just over a week ago, female Al-Jadeed reporter Ghadi Francis was brutally beaten outside a hotel in Dhour Choueir, where an event for the Syrian Social Nationalist Party elections was being held. A day prior to the attack, she reportedly posed a question in a news report that sent a wave of intense criticism in her direction from the SSNP leadership.

Sierra Leone: Fighting for women’s right to land

June 22, 2012

FREETOWN - Shortly after her father died, Sia Bona’s husband’s family took over her father’s oil-palm plantation and rice paddies, and drove her and her mother from their home. “I came from riches, but now I am poor,” said the 45-year-old teacher from Koidu town in eastern Sierra Leone. 

Greece: Crisis hits women especially hard

June 15, 2012

Disproportionately affected by public sector cuts and expected to step into caring roles, women also face rising domestic violence.

Ghana: Land Tenure System and Women's Rights

June 8, 2012

Land relations are critical for women's right in Ghana. This is because of the centrality of land as a resource for the livelihoods of the majority of our population, food, water, fuel and medical plants.

Those who control lands and its resources also gain social and political power and authority. As such, women's unequal land rights affect their access to other resources and their economic, social and political status in society.

Pakistan: Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her mission

June 7, 2012

Islamabad, 7 June 2012

Good afternoon, and thank you for coming.

Before giving a brief overview of my impressions during my four-day visit here, I would like to thank the Government for inviting me to Pakistan.

Egypt: Campaign in response to potential lowering of marriage age for girls

May 3, 2012

Plan is deeply concerned at new proposals by the Egyptian parliament to reduce the legal age for girls to marry to 14 – just 4 years after a successful campaign increased the age limit to 18.

Early marriage can have a devastating impact on girls’ lives – they are more likely to be forced out of school, live in poverty, have early pregnancies and endure health complications or die during childbirth.

Legal protection

Is Pleasure a Sin?

June 5, 2012

It’s hard to say what is weirder:

A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.”

Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of Amazon.com’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

Just the latest chapter in the Vatican’s thuggish crusade to push American nuns — and all Catholic women — back into moldy subservience.

Indonesia: Tasikmalaya law to make Muslim women wear veils

June 4, 2012

Tasikmalaya, West Java, will soon require all Muslim women, residents and visitors alike, to wear veils to enforce its sharia ordinance.

“We are finalizing a city regulation so that [the 2009 Ordinance on Islamic-based Values of Community Life] can come into effect as soon as possible,” Tasikmalaya City Secretary Tio Indra Setiadi told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

“Hopefully, it will be finalized this month so it can be immediately promulgated.”

Iran: Women banned from watching Euro 2012

June 10, 2012

Women in Iran are being banned from watching live public screenings of Euro 2012 football games because of an "inappropriate" environment where men could become rowdy, a deputy police commander said Sunday.

"It is an inappropriate situation when men and women watch football in (movie) theatres together," said Bahman Kargar, Iran's deputy police commander in charge of social affairs, according to the ISNA news agency.

India: Stop Child Marriage Entrapment

May 28, 2012

Punitive measures against girls forced into child marriages should not find a place in government policies, programmes and practices.

Egypt: Elections - a Choice Between Islamic Dictatorship and Military Authoritarianism

May 31, 2012

For the next and final round of presidential elections, Egyptians are being asked to choose between an Islamic or military dictatorship both claiming legitimacy through the ballot box.

Turkey: Prime Minister Seeks Limits on Abortion

May 30, 2012

ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a strong response from women's rights activists after calling for legislation to restrict women's access to the procedure. The future of abortion is now in question in Turkey.

Hundreds of women protesters demonstrated outside the Istanbul office of Prime Minister Erdogan. The protest followed his strong attack on abortion at a congress of his party in a football stadium in Istanbul Sunday.  

Saudi Arabia: Manal al-Sharif - 'They just messed with the wrong woman'

May 23, 2012

She is the Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation when she was filmed behind the wheel of a car. In a rare interview, she tells Guy Adams of the persecution she has endured in her fight for equality – and why she will not be silenced.

Indonesia: Women's rights activists push back against threats to gender equality

May 11, 2012

JAKARTA: New legislation being proposed in Indonesia has created a stir of antagonism, especially from conservative Islamist groups in the country, who demand that Islamic law, or Sharia, is implemented and followed in the country.

But women’s groups are lashing out against the push by the Islamic organizations to curtail the bill’s progression in government, saying that “all women and men in Indonesia deserve equal access under the law.”

India: Jamiat wants property rights for women

May 21, 2012

NEW DELHI: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, which runs the largest number of madrasas across the country, has sought inheritance rights for Muslim women through amendment of existing laws.

"According to the law of our country, women are denied right to inheritance in agricultural land. This is against the law of Islamic inheritance. So, the existing law should be amended to ensure her rights," JuH leader Mahmood Madani told TOI.

India: Imams meet to 'introspect' on giving women their due

May 16, 2012

The biggest group of imams in the country, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, is taking the first tentative steps towards addressing issues faced by Muslim women.

At its two-day conference beginning here tomorrow, one of the resolutions before the thousands of imam delegates who are expected to participate is “introspection” on how the community treats its women folk and on giving “women their due”.

Iran: Imprisoned mothers fear being forgotten

May 14, 2012

Tehran, IRAN: Built in 1971 Evin prison, in Iran’s capital city of Tehran, is a place where incarceration for prisoners brings with it depression, frustration and isolation. Prisoners who are mothers often have a secret, and haunting, fear of ‘being forgotten’ by the children they have left behind at home.

USA: The Campaign Against Women

May 19, 2012

Despite the persistent gender gap in opinion polls and mounting criticism of their hostility to women’s rights, Republicans are not backing off their assault on women’s equality and well-being. New laws in some states could mean a death sentence for a pregnant woman who suffers a life-threatening condition. But the attack goes well beyond abortion, into birth control, access to health care, equal pay and domestic violence.

 

Kuwait: Bill proposed to prohibit female judges

May 14, 2012

KUWAIT: Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

Kuwait: Court Victory for Women’s Rights

May 6, 2012

(Beirut) –A court decision on April 22, 2012, cancelling a ministerial order barring women from entry-level jobs at the Justice Ministry is an important victory against legally-sanctioned discrimination in Kuwait, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged the Kuwaiti government to act on the decision, to guarantee women equal access to all public jobs, and to amend or repeal gender-based discriminatory provisions from all its legislation.

United States: United Against the War on Women

May 1, 2012

We are not going back to the days of wide-scale domestic violence, even if 31 Republican men in the Senate recently voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it expanded coverage to the gay community and Native Americans.

When Black Women Get Hit, No One Cares

May 1, 2012

Few statements from an elected official characterize the amount of ignorance surrounding domestic violence as Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman’s loss for words when asked what the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was.  “I’m not sure what that is because I’m not serving right now,” was Steelman’s response to a reporter’s inquiry only days before a critical VAWA reauthorization vote in the Senate.

USA: White House is 'puzzling' on racial profiling

May 1, 2012

Seating was scarce at the April 17 Senate hearing on Ending Racial Profiling in America. Those left outside were directed to an overflow room. But there was one empty seat. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, who was presiding over the hearing, said that he had invited the Justice Department to testify, but “they declined.”

Zainah Anwar: Arab Spring opens window of opportunity for women in Mideast

April 29, 2012
In many countries of the Middle East, women are wondering what the Arab Spring means for them. Some observers are concerned that the power vacuum will leave the door open for Islamist groups to take power and force changes opposing women’s rights.

 Zainah Anwar, a leading Malaysian social activist and intellectual, is not one of them. She is even excited about the prospects that the Arab Spring could have for women.

UK: Female British Muslims are finding their voice

April 28, 2012

Anyone who has worked in British Muslim communities will tell you the very notion of women's rights is still considered a taboo subject. Like many women who have spent years challenging gender-based discrimination, I know how much resistance there is to equality.

Indonesia: Change in attitudes, laws and police training needed to stop sexual violence

April 10, 2012

JAKARTA - Survivors of sexual violence in Indonesia face an uphill battle in recovery as a result of an inadequate legal system, police inaction, and prevailing societal attitudes that tend to be suspicious of victims, say activists.

Why do they hate us? - Mona Eltahawy

April 23, 2012

In "Distant View of a Minaret," the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband's repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, "as though purposely to depriv

Saudi Arabia: Binding Women to Restrictions is about Control, not Religion

April 22, 2012

Binding women to restrictions. Many in Saudi Arabia point out, quoting scholars, that it is not an Islamic issue but one of control.

Malaysia: Kedah’s law on fatwas un-Islamic, says Perlis mufti

April 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR — Kedah’s new legislative provision which bans the challenge of religious edicts (fatwa) in the courts goes against Islamic principles, Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya has said.

The religious scholar asked if Kedah PAS-led administration wanted to become a theocratic government instead of forming Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) often-promoted progressive, welfare state.

“The new fatwa enactment shows they are actually heading towards theocracy and intend on imposing beliefs (on others),” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“This is against Islam,” he said.

Malaysia: Kedah’s new fatwa ruling equates man’s word to God

April 20, 2012

APRIL 20 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is shocked and deeply concerned by media reports on Kedah’s new fatwa ruling. The amendments to the Mufti and Fatwa (Kedah Darul Aman) Enactment 2008 now bar a fatwa from being “challenged, appealed, reviewed, denied or questioned in any civil court or syariah court.”

USA: The marginalized pay for the church's ideological battles

April 11, 2012

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported on social service groups who are being denied funding by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development because of supposed alliances with organizations that support equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender persons.

Join VNC for 2 events April 21st at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey

April 8, 2012

Join VNC for two events on 21 April 2012, at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. We'll be hosting a talk show on "The Nexus between Culture, Gender and Other Identities: Resisting Discrimination and Reclaiming Space", as well as a workshop on "Visioning Cultures Free from Violence: Transnational Advocacy and Communications using Visual Arts and Digital Media". Full details below.

Sudan: Rainbow Sudan shines a light on gay and lesbian life in a country where homosexuality is still punishable by death

March 30, 2012

A new online lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender magazine in Sudan, north Africa, is a first for the country where homosexuality is still punished by death and an opportunity for gay people to start discussing their lives and hopes for the future.

Rainbow Sudan published articles discussing topics including being gay in Sudan, the history of homosexuality in the country, Islam and sexuality, being lesbian and Muslim, poetry and more.

International Women's Day and Women's Rights in Pakistan: Interview with Farida Shaheed

March 6, 2012

Farida Shaheed is a sociologist with over 25 years’ research experience on women’s issues (including rural development, women and labour and legal rights), especially in Pakistan and South Asia. She is a long-time UNRISD collaborator, and joins us with an interview on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Her article on politics, religion and gender in Pakistan has been published in a special issue of Cahier du Genre entitled “Religion et politique: Les femmes prises au piège”.

Morocco: Amina Filali, Rape Survivor, Commits Suicide After Forced Marriage To Rapist

March 21, 2012

RABAT, Morocco -- The case of a 16-year-old girl who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist has spurred outrage among Morocco's internet activists and calls for changes to the country's laws.

An online petition, a Facebook page and countless tweets expressed horror over the suicide of Amina Filali, who swallowed rat poison on Saturday to protest her marriage to the man who raped her a year earlier.

Algérie: Observatoire des Violences faites aux Femmes, Charte d’adhésion à l’Observatoire des Violences faites aux Femmes

March 13, 2012

Confrontées depuis des décennies à des violences, des féministes algériennes  ont décidé de créer un observatoire national, indépendant, sur les violences faites aux femmes. Si le thème n’est actuellement plus un tabou, grâce, notamment aux actions de l’ensemble du mouvement féminin et féministe national, les autorités algériennes, contraintes de se saisir de ce dossier, ne lui ont pourtant pas accordé l’attention que l’on pouvait espérer.

The "End of Stoning": Islamic Republic Style

March 12, 2012

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran in his latest report, published on March 7th, welcomed the omission of stoning as a punishment in the newly ratified Islamic Penal Code, but expressed his concern that severe punishments may still be issued at a judge's discretion in accordance with sharia law or fatwas.

Iranian responses to the “Arab spring”: appropriation and contestation

February 29, 2012

While the Iranian government authorities attempted to appropriate the Arab spring, claiming it was a continuation of the Iranian revolution of 1979, the events revived popular longing for democratic change in Iran. Ziba Mir-Hosseini tells Deniz Kandiyoti that no movement for change in Iran can afford to ignore women’s aspiration for equality – a lesson that some of the successful elements in the Arab spring may yet have to learn.

AWID Statement Of Solidarity Against The Reintroduction Of The "anti-homosexuality" Bill

February 22, 2012

The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) is gravely concerned about the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda's Parliament on February 7th, 2012. At the bill's reintroduction, the Speaker informed the House that the bill will not need to be considered again by the "Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee", thereby making the process faster and raising the possibility of it becoming law.

Olympics Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia Over Discrimination

February 16, 2012

In an extensive report released Wednesday, Human Rights Watch, a New-York based advocacy group, called on the International Olympic Committee to take a harder line with Saudi Arabia’s national Olympic committee unless it enacted significant sports reforms.

India: Madrassas to fight for women’s talaq power

February 20, 2012

Leading Islamic scholars fromreputed 250 ‘madrassas’ around the country will deliberate on the dissolution of marriage and other issues related to Muslim Personal Law at an international seminar in the Madhya Pradesh (MP) city of Mhow from March 2-5.

Egypt's feminists prepare for a long battle

February 7, 2012

Women in the country say their struggle for equal rights is universal, whether the Islamists or military are in charge.

With a tumultuous year behind it, Egypt is bracing for a fresh start - but this new democracy carries some old baggage, including the classic challenge of the marginalisation of the country's women. 

Kyrgyzstan: Efforts to Tackle Bride Kidnapping Hit Polygamy Snag

February 11, 2012

BISHKEK - Legislation designed to discourage the controversial practice of bride kidnapping fizzled recently in Kyrgyzstan's parliament.

The bill lost support because a key provision could also be used to crack down on the ostensibly illegal, yet quietly tolerated practice of polygamy, according to a member of parliament.

Civil society ignored: newly passed Electoral Law does not guarantee any parliamentary seats for Women in Libya.

February 9, 2012

The Voice of Libyan Women unfortunately reports that regardless of the numerous petitions, demonstrations and  alternative drafts suggested by Libyan civil society  the Electoral Law passed by the National Transitional Council of Libya on Wednesday, February 8th 2012 does not in any way guarantee any seats for women at all. Nor does it guarantee a minimum of 40 parliamentary seats for women, despite several statements.

Women in Authoritarian States

February 1, 2012

It’s not just about cars, argues Madawi Al-Rasheed. News reports from Saudi Arabia often appear bizarre and outrageous: young women lashed for defying a driving ban; women accused of witchcraft beheaded; victims of rape stoned to death. Such practices are not unusual in Saudi Arabia and regularly exposed by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Lebanon: Activists can't use "rape" in billboards

February 8, 2012

You’ll soon seen billboards across Lebanon in support of a demonstration on February 18 to raise awareness about a draft law on domestic violence against women.

But get this: the billboards have already been censored.

Activists originally submitted the image (pictured above) to General Security for approval (all billboards are subject to censorship by the government body). But officials came back and rejected the use of the word “rape” in the graphic.

Saudi Women, Shifting Gears, Sue for Right to Drive

February 7, 2012

RIYADH - A court in Saudi Arabia agreed to hear the first lawsuits by Saudi women challenging the kingdom's de facto ban on women driving, a lawyer for one of the women said.

Malawi: Street Vendors Lose Customers after Stripping Women Naked

January 25, 2012

LILONGWE - A campaign to stop people buying merchandise from street vendors is gaining momentum in Malawi’s main cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu after the small-scale traders went on a rampage undressing women and girls wearing trousers, leggings, shorts and mini-skirts.

Iran: Women's Bodies Are Still the Subject of Dispute

January 19, 2012

The Iranian actress Goshifteh Farahani has recently posed naked in a French short film alongside a few up-and-coming French artists. In the film, Corps et Âmes (Body and Soul), the actors undressed as a symbol of emancipation from social restrictions. Screenshots from the film were also published on Madame website in which Golshifteh poses topless, with her hands covering her breasts. The photo was removed just one day after being posted; it's likely that the onslaught of negative reactions forced the website to re-think its original decision.

Egypt: Concerns as Brotherhood Ignores Abuse of Women

January 19, 2012

A group of men gathered around Amira El Bakry in Tahrir Square as she brandished a newspaper photo that shocked many Egyptians. It showed troops dragging a female protester along the street, her robe ripped open to reveal a blue bra and bare midriff.

Saudi Arabia: Women Resist Male Guardianship Laws

January 18, 2012

Mona Hamid left Saudi Arabia 8 years ago for a career in marketing in Dubai. Now, the mother of two and a career woman is fighting back against what she calls the archaic practice of male guardianship in her home country.

“When I wanted to leave Saudi Arabia after university, I had to get permission from my father, and that took a lot of convincing,” she told Bikyamasr.com. “I had to explain why this was a good idea and how I would still be able to find a husband.”

Lebanon: Hundreds of women and men march against rape

January 16, 2012

BEIRUT: Women and men from across Lebanon marched together over the weekend to call for changing the law governing rape crimes and support for victims of such acts.

The march, which began at noon in the Beirut district of Sanayeh, and ended in Parliament Square, drew over 600 people Saturday. Marchers held signs reading, “It is time to hear the screams of all the mothers and daughters the law has silenced,” “Change the laws against marital rape,” and “Skirt length is not an invitation.”

Saudi Arabia: Women to Run and Vote in Municipal Elections without Male Approval

December 28, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Women in Saudi Arabia will not need a male guardian's approval to run or vote in municipal elections in 2015, when women will also run for office for the first time, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

The change signifies a step forward in easing the kingdom's restrictions against women, but it falls far short of what some Saudi reformers are calling for.

USA: The Burning of an Abortion Clinic on New Years Day and a Call to Action on Abortion Rights

January 5, 2012

On January 1st, at 1:00 in the morning, an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida was engulfed in flames. By all accounts thus far, this was a case of arson.

But chances are you have heard nothing about this.

The fact that there has not been a single politician commenting on this violent assault on an institution that is essential to women's freedom and that this act of terror has not been picked up on in the national or mainstream media should only serve as a further wake-up call to those who care about women's rights.

Israel: Condemnation of Violence Not Loud in Haredi World

January 5, 2012

After an 8-year-old girl was harassed by ultra-Orthodox men on her way to a Modern Orthodox girls’ school in Beit Shemesh, the condemnations started pouring in.

Israel’s prime minister and president vowed that Israel would not tolerate haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, violence against women, whether directed at girls walking to school or women riding on public buses. Israel’s opposition leader, Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, attended a demonstration of thousands on Dec. 27 in Beit Shemesh.

Kazakhstan: Students Win Fight Against Hijab Ban

December 13, 2011

AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- Officials at a university in northwestern Kazakhstan have lifted a hijab ban for students after eight female students threatened to sue the school, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The students told RFE/RL on December 8 that they had been unable to attend classes at Saqtaghan Baishev University, as a duty officer at the school's entrance was preventing them from entering the university because of their head scarves, or hijabs.

UN Issues First Report on the Rights of LGBT Persons

December 15, 2011

15 December 2011 – The first ever United Nations report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people details how around the world people are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Lebanon: Draft Nationality Law Further Discriminates Against Women

December 14, 2011

A press communiqué by the Arab Women’s Right to Nationality Campaign discusses the key concerns for women in the draft nationality law issued by the Lebanese Cabinet.

Iran: Separation of Men & Women in Government Offices

December 6, 2011

A new law calling for separation of men and women employees in governmental offices will be enforced soon in Iran’s city of Bushehr, reported a Persian language news publication Asr-Iran yesterday.

The law is enforced because, “no one acts on his/her duty,” said Bushehr governor Mohammad Hussein Jahanbakhsh to news reporters.

Many Iranian women resent the fact that they are forced to wear Hijab (Islamic headscarf) or Chador (A large cloth covering the women’s body from head to toe) when they leave home.

Saudi Arabia: Conservative Cleric Argues Driving Right Will Result in 'End of Virginity'

December 8, 2011

Conservative academic Kamal Subhi has presented a report to Saudi Arabia's legislative assembly, the Shura Council, claiming that the removal of the driving ban for women will lead to increased prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.

Afghanistan: Woman left to Marry her Attacker to Obtain Release from Jail

December 1, 2011

An Afghan woman jailed for adultery after she was raped by a relative is set to be freed – but only after agreeing to marry the man who attacked her.

The case, which has highlighted the plight of Afghan women jailed for so-called moral crimes, was to be the subject of a documentary film funded by the European Union – until diplomats censored it out of fear for the woman's welfare, and for their relations with the Afghan government.

تاریخ سرکوب شدگان، میراث مشترک بشریت*/ شادی صدر

November 5, 2011

بدون شک، ما در برهه ای تاریخی به سر می بریم؛ انقلابهای مردمی در شمال آفریقا و خاورمیانه همه ما را سرشار از امید کرده است. دیکتاتورهایی که سالیان سال، حقوق مردم را به شکلی گسترده و شدید نقض کرده اند، یکی یکی سرنگون می شوند و ما در شادی مردمی شریک می شویم که به خیابانها آمده اند تا حق خود را طلب کنند. تصاویری بسیار تاثیرگذار و قدرتمند است از خوشحالی و امید. اما برای من، و فکر می کنم برای خیلی از ما، فعالان حقوق بشر در سراسر جهان، در کنار این خوشحالی و امید، نگرانی های عمیقی وجود دارد.

Pakistan: New Bill Passed to Protect Women's Rights

November 24, 2011

Women's rights groups in Pakistan have welcomed the passing of a bill which will punish those who force women into marriages, or deny them inheritance.

Shadi Sadr: History of the Oppressed, Humankind’s Common Heritage

November 5, 2011

There is no doubt that we are experiencing history in the making! Popular movements in North Africa and the Middle East have filled the rest of us with hope and optimism. One after another, dictators who for years violated the rights of the people in a widespread and sever manner are being toppled and we join the jubilation of the people who have stormed the streets to demand their just rights. The images of such moments are powerful and impressive; filled with happiness and hope. And yet for me, and certainly I am not alone in this, so in fact for many of us human rights activists across the world, such happiness and hope are accompanied with deep concerns.

Saudi Arabia: Why is No One Protecting Child Brides?

November 8, 2011

Atgaa, 10, and her sister Reemya, 8, are about to be married to men in their 60s. Atgaa will be her husband's fourth wife. Their wedding celebrations are scheduled for this week and will take place in the town of Fayaadah Abban in Qasim, Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan: Push to Pass Provincial Domestic Violence Bill

October 21, 2011

If your husband raises his hand on you, and you are a constant victim of physical violence, humiliation and verbal abuse, a time may come when you say “enough is enough”.

WLUML: Statement on Libya

October 25, 2011

WLUML is deeply concerned that the first public act of the Libya's National Transition Committee has been to proclaim on October 23rd, 2011, that henceforth, a number of laws will be considered annulled and that 'sharia law' is to replace them. Libya’s National Transition Committee is an interim government – what it has responsibility for – and what its first action should have concerned, is to put into place a mechanism for elections for the new government after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Tunisia: In the Name of Democracy - What Secularists and Women Have to Lose in the Tunisian Elections

October 22, 2011

On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .

Tunisia: 'In the Name of Democracy - What Secularists and Women Have to Lose in the Tunisian Elections'

October 22, 2011

On the eve of the elections in Tunisia that will shape the future of the country and even that of the Arab world as well, Western do-gooders and Islamic fundamentalists hand in hand rejoice in ‘Tunisia’s first free elections’ and its access to ‘ democracy’. The recent history of Iran and Algeria have taught us better… And women in Tunisia watch in horror the rise of Muslim fundamentalists, as a possible replication of the Algerian scenario of 1989 .

Iran: 280 Activists Condemn Flogging Sentence for Marzieh Vafamehr

October 21, 2011

A statement issued on behalf of 280 Iranian cultural and social activists is expressing their support for Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr, who has been sentenced to flogging for her role in “My Tehran for Sale.”

Iran: A Long Run to Comply with Human Rights Obligations

October 18, 2011

Geneva, 18th October 2011. The Human Rights Committee sent a clear message to the Iranian delegation during the review of the third periodic report on 17 and 18 October 2011. The lack of transparency in the written information sent by the State, as well as the deviating responses during the review, prevented this mechanism to yield its potential as a space for constructive dialogue.

Malaysia: Sisters in Islam Remains Firmly Opposed to the Implementation of Hudud Law

October 4, 2011

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is unequivocally opposed to the adoption and implementation of Hudud law in Malaysia. This has been our considered position since 1993. Our stand on Hudud law is based on the following reasons:

Saudi Arabia: We Say "Yes" to Women's Full Enjoyment of their Rights

October 2, 2011

The Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) Campaign welcomes long awaited and recent reforms announced by King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud, that promise to gives Saudi Arabian women the rights to vote and run for office in municipal council elections, and to become full voting members of the next Shura council. The promise to increase women’s participation in civic life is a tribute to women’s efforts on the ground who have been campaigning inside the country, despite strict and rigid opposition.

Saudi Arabia: Woman Driver Pardoned from Lashing by King Abdullah

August 29, 2011

Saudi woman sentenced to be lashed 10 times for defying the country's ban on female drivers has had her punishment overturned by the king.

The woman, named as Shaima Jastaina and believed to be in her 30s, was found guilty of driving without permission in Jeddah in July. Her case was the first in which a legal punishment was handed down for a violation of the ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

Malaysia: Hudud Laws - Between the Implicit and the Explicit

September 27, 2011

The hudud controversy has now returned to the eyes of the media after it was discussed at the National Syariah Seminar sponsored by the Department of Islamic Affairs of Kelantan.

PAS indeed had taken a step forward in their comprehensive proposals for a welfare state but their preoccupation with the hudud issue clearly shows that they are still stuck in the framework of antiquarian politics.

Saudi Arabia: Court Orders Lashing of Woman for Defying Driving Ban

September 27, 2011

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.

The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.

Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.

In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.

Malaysia: Why Hudud Law Is Everybody’s Business

September 23, 2011

SEPT 23 — Once again the familiar argument has surfaced, or been desperately invoked, this time in the latest stand-off between the leading Pakatan Rakyat allies Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim.

Hudud law, if implemented, will apply only to Muslims, Anwar Ibrahim again insists, so the question is one that concerns only Muslims, not Malaysian citizens of other faiths — or no conventional doctrinal allegiance at all. So non-Muslims have nothing to fear, no legitimate interest in the matter, and no right to express any opinion. The matter is for Muslims alone.

Saudi Arabia: Voting Reform Excludes Other Forms of Discrimination

September 26, 2011

(Amman) September 26, 2011 – King Abdullah’s announcement that women will be able to participate in municipal elections in 2015 and become members of the consultative Shura Council is a long overdue step toward greater participation of women in public life, Human Rights Watch said today. In his statement on September 25, 2011, Abdullah made no reference to reforming other areas of discrimination against women, such as the guardianship system that authorizes male control over women and the ban on women driving. 

Saudi Arabia: King Grants Women the Right to Vote

September 25, 2011

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Sunday granted women the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, the biggest change in a decade for women in a puritanical kingdom that practices strict separation of the sexes, including banning women from driving.

Iran: Social Media Gives Women a Voice

September 22, 2011

Female protesters were beaten, raped and intimidated in a post-election crackdown by the Iranian authorities. Silenced by stigma and fear, these women are now using social media to bear witness to the horror.

Egypt: The unclear future of women

September 19, 2011

CAIRO, September 13, 2011‑Egyptian women currently face numerous threats that will not only destroy the goals of equality, freedom and change voiced in the January revolution, but the advances women have made over the last century.

Because Mrs. Mubarak was extremely active in women’s issues, including the advancement of women’s rights, many Egyptians, especially men, equate women’s rights with the former corrupt dictatorship of Hosni Mubara.

China: Marriage law interpretation could leave many divorced women homeless

September 7, 2011

BEIJING — Millions of Chinese women, and some men, woke on Aug. 13 to discover their spouse had, in effect, become their landlord.

On that day, the Supreme Court’s new interpretation of the 1980 Marriage Law came into force, stipulating that property bought before marriage, either outright or on mortgage, reverted to the buyer on divorce. Previously, the family home had been considered joint property. Experts agree the change would mostly affect women, since men traditionally provide the family home.

Iraq: Fight for Women’s Rights Begins All Over Again

September 13, 2011

BAGHDAD, Sep 13, 2011 (IPS) - When a middle-aged mother took a taxi alone from Baghdad to Nasiriyah, about 300 kilometres south earlier this year, her 20-year-old driver stopped on the way, pulled her to the side of the road and raped her. And that began a telling legal struggle.

"She is not a simple case," says Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi rights-based Al-Amal Association, established in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. 

Gay Rights: A World of Inequality

September 15, 2011

Gay people still live in fear in many countries around the world – prejudice, torture and execution are common. Can two new legal and diplomatic campaigns change attitudes?

The Netherlands: Transgender Law Violates Rights

September 13, 2011

VNC supports the call below by Human Rights Watch for legal reform, and believes that State imposed rule on its citizens aimed at regulating and controlling their gender identity exemplified by Article 28 of the Netherlands' Civil Code is both influenced by, and reinforces, 'cultural' or social norms that are discriminatory towards LGBT people.

Repeal Requirement for Irreversible Surgery to Change Official Gender.

Tunisia: Leading the way on women's rights in MENA

September 10, 2011

Last December, Tunisians rose up against their dictator, triggering a political earthquake that has sent shockwaves through most of the Middle East and north Africa. Now, Tunisia is leading the way once again – this time on the vexed issue of gender equality.

Lebanon - Penal Code Progess on Honor Killings + Femicide Study

August 9, 2011

After decades of advocacy by the Lebanese women’s movement to abolish the provision of the so-called “honor killing” from the Lebanese law, the Lebanese Parliament voted, on the 4th of August 2011, for the removal of Article 562 from it penal code. Article 562 allowed for a person to benefit from mitigating excuses in the event that this person surprises his/her spouse, sister, or any relative in the act of adultery or unlawful copulation and proceeds to kill or injure one or both of the  participants without prior intent.

Iranian women call for action on gang-rapes

August 1, 2011

As a human rights worker I am used to hearing shocking stories. However, a recent spate of gang-rapes and sexual assaults in Iran highlights increasing violence against women in a country where women’s rights are already under extreme pressure.

Most disturbing of all is the response of Iranian officials to a series of up to six separate, brutal attacks over the past few months.

One senior official even suggested that some of these crimes could have been avoided if the women targeted had adhered to Iran’s strict dress code, or hijab.

300 Austrian clerics call for women priests, reform

July 12, 2011

VATICAN CITY -- Austrian bishops have criticized an effort by a group of priests calling for reforms in church practice, including opening the priesthood to women and married men, but the bishops have not taken or threatened disciplinary action.

Michael Pruller, spokesman for Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, said the cardinal plans to meet in late August or September with the Viennese priests who are among the leaders of the "Initiative of Parish Priests," which launched a "Call to Disobedience" in June.

Lebanon: Hotchpotch of religious laws restricts basic rights

July 19, 2011

The demand for equal religious, gender and other treatment for all Lebanese citizens has gained pace with some saying the time has come to review laws that confer inequality, especially on women.

“As a women, I am not equal to my brother, husband or male friend," Rita Chemaly, a researcher and women’s activist in the capital Beirut, said. "My state doesn’t guarantee my rights. The constitution says that all Lebanese are equal, yet the laws do not [guarantee this]."

Iran: The life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani remains in the balance

July 8, 2011

A year after public attention was cast upon Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s plight, her life appears to remain in the balance.

Saudi Arabia: 5 women detained for driving, activist says

June 29, 2011

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabian police detained 5 women for defying the conservative kingdom's driving ban, an activist said on Wednesday, although police said they had detained only one.

"All the cases were in Jeddah and we were really surprised to hear this because this was not the case before," said Saudi activist Eman al-Nafjan.

Saudi Arabia: Women challenging male guardianship laws

June 29, 2011

When she was a little girl, Samia* would practice medical procedures on watermelons. Back then, her dream was to become a successful surgeon and to marry a good man.

"I started to dream of the [wedding] gown when I was 10 or 11 years old. I dreamed of forming a small family - having a kid like my mum and to be a surgeon at the same time".

More than 30 years on, Samia is a fully-qualified doctor.

A Conversation With Saudi Women's Rights Campaigner Wajeha Al-Huwaider

June 8, 2011


Wajeha al-Huwaider is perhaps the best-known Saudi campaigner for women’s rights, human rights and democracy. She has protested energetically against the kingdom’s lack of formal laws (the Koran is it) and basic freedoms and in particular against the guardianship system, under which every female, from birth to death, needs the permission of a male relative to make decisions in all important areas of life—education, travel, marriage, employment, finances, even surgery. Katha Pollitt

Discriminatory laws in Lebanon: rape, honour crimes

March 7, 2008

Lebanese women may be known as the Arab world's most liberal but they are by no means the region's most liberated considering antiquated laws that reduce them to second-class citizens.

"No Cultural Justifications for Violence Against Women"

March 10, 2008

Statement of the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Stop Killing and Stoning Women!)

Pardoning of Rape Victim Sentenced to 200 Lashes

December 18, 2008

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, reported a Saudi newspaper.