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News and Views: Parallel Legal Systems

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

 

UN: Harmful Traditional Practices - statement by Rashida Manjoo, UNSRVAW

June 27, 2012

Throughout the world, there are practices that are violent towards women and girls and harmful to their well-being overall. Young girls are circumcised, bound by severe dress codes, denied property rights or killed for the sake of honour in the family. Although these and other practices constitute a form of violence, they have often avoided national and international scrutiny because they are seen as traditional practices that deserve tolerance and respect. This highlights how the universality of human rights is often denied when it comes to the rights of women and girls, and how cultural relativism can be wrongly used to allow for inhumane and discriminatory practices against women.

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. 

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.

Mali: Students flee Sharia in northern schools

May 22, 2012

BAMAKO - Strict Sharia, or Islamic religious laws, imposed by the Islamist rebels controlling vast swathes of northern Mali are driving thousands of students out of schools. Dress codes have been imposed, boys and girls are forced to learn separately, and subjects deemed to promote “infidelity” have been struck off the curriculum.

Outraged parents are transferring their children and some students are opting to miss examinations rather than learn under these conditions.

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.”

Cameroon: Matrilineal Custom Puts Widows in Limbo

June 8, 2012

DIKOME BALUE, Cameroon -- James Elangwe, 87, belongs to the Balues, the only clan in which inheritance passes through the female line.

But this doesn't mean that women inherit. Instead, it means that when a man dies, the first son of the man's sister inherits.

Elangwe says matrilineal inheritance puts women at a greater disadvantage than patrilineal inheritance because wealth leaves the immediate family.

United Kingdom: Pressures and Resistance to Polygamy

May 31, 2012

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family.

But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married.

Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy.

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.

Afghanistan: "Baad" Abduction of Girls for Elders' Misdeeds

February 16, 2012

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls that they complained, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.

It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.

Saudi Arabia: Reformist Cleric Named to Enforce Saudi Morals

January 14, 2012

RIYADH—Saudi Arabia's king replaced the hard-line chief of the country's morality police with a more liberal cleric who has encouraged greater women's rights, a change welcomed by activists as a sign that the monarchy would continue to pursue cautious social reforms in the face of political upheaval in the Middle East.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud on Friday appointed Sheik Abdulatif al-Sheikh to oversee the religious police, who roam the kingdom's shopping malls and streets enforcing a rigorous version of Islamic law among the 27 million residents of Saudi Arabia.

Violence Against Women in Lebanon: A Debate That’s Not Going Away

January 13, 2012

On the surface, it would seem that passing a law that criminalizes violence perpetrated against women by family members would be straightforward in a diverse, and seemingly progressive country such as Lebanon. But the country’s diversity is one of the main hindrances to bringing it in line with international norms regarding women’s rights.

DR Congo: Traditional Leaders Roles

November 5, 2011

In the DRC traditional leaders are exclusively men. Traditional leaders existed in the Congo since long ago, with colonialism, after the independence, and even today, they still exist.

USA: Laws "Not Enough" to Tackle Violence Against Native Women

July 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, Jul 25, 2011 (IPS) - Juana Majel Dixon, first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, said earlier this year that, "Young women on reservations live their lives in anticipation of being raped…They talk about 'how I will survive my rape‚' as opposed to not thinking about it at all."

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.

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. 

Indonesia: Sharia police in Aceh dissolve lesbian marriage

August 25, 2011

Islamic police in the Indonesian province of Aceh have forced two women to have their marriage annulled and sign an agreement to separate.

The women had been legally married for a few months after one of them passed as a man in front of an Islamic cleric who presided over their wedding.

But suspicious neighbours confronted the couple and reported them to police.

The two women are now back with their families, forcibly separated and under surveillance by the Islamic police.

Pakistan: No Tribal Justice for Women

August 10, 2011

MULTAN, Pakistan, Aug 9, (Reuters) - On April 14, two men entered Asma Firdous' home, cut off six of her fingers, slashed her arms and lips and then sliced off her nose. Before leaving the house, the men locked their 28-year-old victim inside.

Asma, from impoverished Kohaur Junobi village in Pakistan's south, was mutilated because her husband was involved in a dispute with his relatives, and they wanted revenge.

Rigid Coptic Divorce Law Sparks Brawl, Protests

August 4, 2011

CAIRO, Egypt (WOMENSENEWS)--Despite the stigma attached to divorce, ending a marriage is still relatively easy for Muslim women in Egypt. All they have to do is file paperwork with a family court and the deed is done, as long as they're not seeking alimony or damages from their husbands.

For the country's millions of Orthodox Christians, or Copts, it's been nearly impossible since Pope Shenouda III, the head of one of the most conservative churches in Christianity, forbade divorce except in the case of conversion or adultery three years ago.