Here is an alphabetical summary of items posted on the Women Living Under Muslim Laws website during October and November 2011.
We hope that our monthly summaries continue to be of use and interest to you. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact us.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws
International Coordination Office
CALLS FOR ACTION
Afghanistan: WLUML Statement on Afghan women’s exclusion from participation at Bonn
In wake of the exclusion of Afghan women from the ‘peace process’ at the Bonn Conference taking place on the 5th of December 2011. WLUML vigorously denounces:
- the ethical incoherence of States that engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan under the fallacious pretext to protect ‘poor oppressed Muslim women living under the burqa’, and now prevent them from participating as full-fledged citizens in the peace process in their country, all while engaging with their oppressors
- the moral responsibility of these States, which are delivering Afghan women, bound and gagged, to the very same Taliban and warlords they pretended to save them from, just a few years ago.
- the political short-sightedness of alliances, such as with Taliban and war lords, which fearfully remind us of other past historical compromises that cost so many lives
- the fallacy of the so-called ‘democratic’ process taking place in Germany, but without the ‘untermensch’ of the day: Afghan women
European Feminist Initiative: “Palestine, Libya, Syria… More than ever Feminists for Peace and Democracy”
We live in historic times. People in the Arab world are rising up against political dictatorship and corruption; they demand reforms and are organizing for freedom, human dignity and social justice. Women have been shouldering the responsibilities in all uprisings and their movement is an integral part of the democratic forces for social and economic justice. But they are systematically excluded from the decision making processes that shape the future of their countries. What democracies are then being prepared and negotiated?
Libya: Women Living Under Muslim Laws Statement on Libya
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 a number of laws would be considered annulled and that ‘sharia law’ was to replace them. Libya’s National Transition Committee is an interim government – what it has responsibility for – and its first action should have been to put into place a mechanism for elections for the new government after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
Saudi Arabia: WLUML/VNC Statement: ‘We Say “Yes” to Women’s Full Enjoyment of their Rights’
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.
RESOURCES and PUBLICATIONS
Afghan Women: Towards Bonn and Beyond
This paper reflects the perspectives and recommendations of Afghan women who have participated in a series of meetings, roundtables and workshops organized by Afghan Women’s Network (AWN). The following overview of consultation outcomes and recommendations presents how women see their future and the future of Afghanistan thru 2014 and beyond.
NEWS & VIEWS
Afghanistan: ‘Afghan Women Excluded’
On December 5, less than two weeks from now, the second conference on Afghanistan will convene in Bonn, ten years after the first one installed the Karzai government. It will include all the usual suspects—Afghan governmental bodies, foreign governments, and representatives of Afghan civil society—with one big exception. Despite some pressure—who can say how much?—from the State Department, and the clear and cogent demands put forth by the Afghan Women’s Network, no Afghan women’s groups or representatives have been invited.
Afghanistan: ‘Afghanistan Mother and Daughter Stoned and Shot Dead’
A group of armed men have stoned and shot dead a woman and her daughter in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, security officials have told the BBC. The officials blamed the Taliban, who they said had accused the women of “moral deviation and adultery”. The police said two men had been arrested in connection with the murder. The attack was only 300m from the governor’s office in Ghazni city, which is on a list of places to be transferred to Afghan security control.
Update: Afghanistan: Women’s Groups Secure Independence of Shelters
In Afghanistan, women’s groups are claiming a rare victory. Last winter, the government was planning to bring battered women’s shelters under government control. Women’s rights advocates sprang into action, complaining that the new rules would turn shelters into virtual prisons for women who had run away from home because of abuse. But after a flurry of media attention, the Afghan government agreed to re-examine the issue. And this month, President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet quietly approved a new draft that has support from women’s groups.
Afghanistan: ‘Afghan Women’s Rights “Under Threat”‘
Women’s rights in Afghanistan are once again under threat after 10 years of progress, two leading British aid agencies have said. Oxfam and Action Aid said on Monday many Afghan women were worried that the impending international troop withdrawal, coupled with an on-going effort to secure a political deal with the Taliban, could undermine their future.
Argentina: ‘Women in Rural Argentina Speak Out on Climate Change’
RESISTENCIA, Argentina, Oct 13, 2011 (IPS) – Rural and indigenous women in northern Argentina, hit hard by the expanding agricultural frontier, deforestation and the spraying of toxic pesticides, spoke out about their problems and set forth proposals for discussion at the next global summit on climate change. They did so at the Women’s Hearing on Gender and Climate Justice 2011-Argentina, held Tuesday Oct. 11 in Resistencia, the capital of Chaco province, 950 km north of Buenos Aires, attended by representatives of organisations from the northern 10 of the country’s 23 provinces.
Australia: ‘Lebanese-Australian girl goes to court to stop her marriage’
A 16-year-old girl has been placed on an airport watch list in Australia after going to court to prevent her parents sending her to Lebanon for a forced marriage. The Federal Magistrates’ Court ruled that the parents of the teenager, who cannot be named, could not remove or attempt to remove their daughter from the country to marry the young man she has met only once. Magistrate Joe Harman also ordered that the parents not assault, molest, harass, threaten or otherwise intimidate the girl or take her out of school.
China: ‘China’s Great Gender Crisis’
His parents knew exactly what they wanted from their son: they called him Famiao, or “produce descendants”. Yet when their first grandchild arrived, they refused to step across the courtyard of the family home to see the new baby. Qiaoyue was a girl. When finally obliged to meet her, “they didn’t even wash her face or comb her hair. I was furious,” says their daughter-in-law, Chen Xingxiao. “My father-in-law’s friends would ask him, ‘How come you haven’t brought your grandchild out for a walk?’ He would say, ‘If it was a boy I would have done. She’s a girl, so I won’t.'”
Ecuador: ‘Lesbians Escape from Ecuador’s “Ex-Gay” Torture Centers’
While LGBT folks in the U.S. deal with religious institutions that encourage so-called reparative therapy, antigay advocates in Latin America are taking that quest to a much darker level. For the past decade, lesbians in Ecuador have been forced into what they call torture camps aimed at making them straight.
Egypt: Egyptian Human Rights Organizations Stop their Participation in an International Campaign Against Gender Based Violence
Joint Statement – 25 November
Today marks the International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women, and we as feminist organizations wanted to take part in the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign by organizing events in Egypt, especially that this year’s theme is challenging Militarism and Ending Violence against Women. This year’s theme was a chance for us to draw attention on the current situation in Egypt and how living under military rule contributes greatly in escalating violence against women by reinforcing patriarchy.
Egypt: ‘Updates on the Situation in Egypt: What is Happening’
I am writing to you to tell you about the situation in Egypt at the moment, as I am not sure about the accuracy of the media. Last Friday there was a huge demonstration in Tahrir Square calling for ending the military rule, to end military trials for civilians (more than 12,000 civilians have been referred to military tribunals) and to object to the supra constitutional principles. There was a huge numbers from different communities that attended the demonstration and most of them left the Square by evening.
Egypt: ‘One brave woman’s fight against virginity-test ordeal in Tahrir Square’
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, Tahrir Square has been an inspiration to pro-democracy activists across the globe. Now one woman is fighting to make sure the public space, which became the focal point of the demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak’s government in Egypt, does not become a symbol for state-sponsored misogyny too.
Egypt: “Nawal El Saadawi: ‘I am going to carry on this fight for ever'”
At the age of six, in the summer of 1937, Nawal El Saadawi was pinned down by four women in her home in Egypt. A midwife, holding a sharpened razor blade, pulled out her clitoris and cut it off. “Since I was a child that deep wound left in my body has never healed,” she wrote in her first autobiography, A Daughter of Isis. “I lay in a pool of blood. After a few days, the bleeding stopped, and the daya [midwife] peered between my thighs and said, ‘All is well. The wound has healed, thanks be to God.’ But the pain was there, like an abscess in my flesh.”
France: ‘Paris, October 17, 1961: 50 Years on From a Dark Day’
Fifty years ago, the Parisian police brutally suppressed a demonstration of 30,000 Algerian workers protesting against a discriminatory and racist curfew banning them from the capital’s streets at night. The march was peaceful, but by the end of the night over 200 Algerians were dead and 11,000 had been arrested and detained in horrific circumstances by French police units. The date, barely known outside France, is undoubtedly one of the city’s darkest episodes, and survivors of the repression and relatives of those killed are still seeking the truth about what happened that night, and full recognition of the role the authorities played on October 17, 1961.
India: ‘Indian SC gives Hindu women equal property rights’
NEW DELHI: A Hindu woman or girl will have equal property rights along with other male relatives for any partition made in intestate succession after September 2005, the Indian Supreme Court has ruled, the Press Trust of India reported. A bench of justices R M Lodhaand Jagdish Singh Khehar in a judgment said that under the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, the daughters are entitled to equal inheritance rights along with other male siblings, which was not available to them prior to the amendment.
International: ‘UN Expert Calls for Integration of Gender Perspective into Criminal Justice Systems’
A gender perspective needs to be integrated into countries’ criminal justice systems to ensure women are not “ruled out of the law,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul said today.
International: ‘Family Planning and Islam’ by Asghar Ali Engineer
Many people, especially women, have asked me if family planning is permissible in Islam. They say the imams and ulema say the Quran prohibits family planning and quote a verse which says, “And kill not your children for fear of poverty — We provide for them and for you. Surely the killing of them is a great wrong” (17:31). In no way does this verse refer to family planning because it is talking of ‘killing’ and you kill one who exists. No law in the world will permit killing one who is already born and hence the Quran rightly condemns the killing of children. Some people suggest that the verse in question refers to the practice of burying girl children alive and when asked they would say they could not provide for them and hence Allah responds that He provides for them.
International: Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Three Women
LONDON — The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three campaigning women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first elected female president — her compatriot, peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, a civil society campaigner.
Israel/Lebanon: ‘The Making of a Secular Democracy: Law, Marriage, and Empirical Irrelevance in Israel and Lebanon’
On any given weekend, Israeli and Lebanese citizens can be found standing together in an orderly line before a Cypriot magistrate. They shuffle forward, couple by couple, in line to get married. The distance to Cyprus is roughly the same for an Israeli or a Lebanese couple, as is the reason why these couples choose to get married there. And no, it is not due to the beautiful weather, the beaches, or the nightlife in Cyprus, which most Israelis and Lebanese would insist to the reader, with a swish of nationalist bravado, are inferior. These are not marriages between Lebanese and Israelis. Rather, these couples leave their countries and travel by boat or by plane to a country that has what Israel and Lebanon both lack: a civil marriage law. To put it more simply, they do not have a marriage law that is adjudicated by secular, and not religious, authorities. Despite the fact that interfaith marriages cannot take place in either country, in Lebanon the lack of civil marriage is understood to index both the lack of secularism and liberalism and the primordial and patriarchal nature of the Lebanese state, while Israel continues to enjoy the ideological capital that its status as “the only [secular] democracy in the Middle East” ensures and unleashes.
Iran: Iran sentences film actress to 1 year in prison and 90 lashes’
An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian actress to one year in jail and 90 lashes related to her role in an Australian-made film portraying social alienation, artistic repression and drug use in Iran, according to an Iranian opposition website.
Libya: CLADEM Stands in Solidarity with Women Living Under Muslim Laws
CLADEM states its deep concern and indignation on account of the public statements made by the National Transition Council (NTC) of Libya on October 23rd last, declaring that the “Sharia” (Islamic Law) shall be a source of legislation for the new regime, establishing the immediate incorporation of polygamy, without any impediments, based on the fact that the Islamic Law does not prohibit it.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”. But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
Malaysia: Sisters in Islam respond to the article ‘Hudud is a matter of choice for Muslims’
SISTERS in Islam would like to respond to “Hudud is a matter of choice for Muslims” (The Star, Oct 9). Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud states that the proponents of hudud law must first present their case in detail before it can be opposed. The truth is, the Kelantan Hudud Enactment was adopted 18 years ago, and the Terengganu Enactment has been in existence for over nine years.
MENA: ‘Manifesto for a Secular Middle East and North Africa’
FOR A FREE AND SECULAR MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
76 secularists and human rights campaigners, including Mina Ahadi, Nawal El Sadaawi, Marieme Helie Lucas, Hameeda Hussein, Ayesha Imam, Maryam Jamil, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, Farida Shaheed, Fatou Sow, and Stasa Zajovic have signed on to a Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa.
Mexico: ‘Women Reject Normalisation of Gender Violence’
Ninety percent of the non-governmental organisations in Mexico are founded and run by women, says journalist and women’s rights activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, even as crimes against women remain cloaked in impunity. Cacho was recently in New York, where she was awarded the Civil Courage award from the Train Foundation, and also spoke at a special event hosted by Columbia University.
Pakistan: ‘A Safer Place for Women’
The passage of the landmark ‘The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011’ through parliament marks an historic occasion for women in the country. The new law promises to make society a safer place by putting in place tough penalties, including jail terms and fines, for those who violate their rights, by engaging in practices such as swara, wani, child marriage or other crimes against women, such as ‘marriages’ to the Holy Quran. Forced marriage to settle a dispute, for instance, becomes a non-bailable offence. Similarly, depriving a woman of her right to inheritance carries a prison term of between five and 10 years and also a possible fine of Rs1 million. Forced marriage in cases where a dispute is not involved carries a prison term of three to 10 years and a fine of Rs500,000. Similar punishments have been laid down for other offences so common in our society.
Saudi Arabia: ‘It’s time to abolish the lashing penalty’
I realize that this is another very sensitive subject, but I would like to make an important point in order to dispel any confusion or misunderstanding. When I discuss a matter having religious implications, I do not mean to criticize the divine Islamic religion itself nor the positive achievements realized by Saudi Arabia, of which I can only express admiration, respect and my sincere devotion. However, I will criticize the wrongful practice of the religion when it betrays Islam’s fundamental principle of human rights.
Saudi Arabia: ‘A Conversation With Saudi Women’s Rights Campaigner Wajeha al-Huwaider’
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. In 2008 a video of her driving a car, which is forbidden for women in Saudi Arabia, created a sensation when it was posted on YouTube. Al-Huwaider is a strong supporter of the June 17 Movement, which calls on Saudi women to start driving on that date, and made the celebrated YouTube video of its co-founder, Manal al-Sherif, jailed for nine days in May for driving. While this interview was in preparation, she was briefly detained by the police when she tried to visit Nathalie Morin, a French-Canadian woman held captive with her children by her Saudi husband.
Update: Saudi Arabia: ‘Shura Council Reconsidering Driving Issue’
AL-KHOBAR — In view of the popular campaign for allowing women to drive in the Kingdom, the Shoura Council is thoroughly reconsidering the issue, said Dr. Misha’l Mamdooh Al-Ali, Chairman of the Council’s Human Rights Committee. Allowing women to drive does not conflict with Islamic law, he said, adding that the majority of people oppose women driving based on tradition and customs. “It has nothing to do with religion,” Al-Ali was quoted by Al-Hayat Arabic daily as saying.
Senegal: Movement to End FGM Spreads in Senegal
SARE HAROUNA, Senegal — When Aissatou Kande was a little girl, her family followed a tradition considered essential to her suitability to marry. Her clitoris was sliced off with nothing to dull the pain. But on her wedding day, Ms. Kande, her head modestly covered in a plain white shawl, vowed to protect her own daughters from the same ancient custom. Days later, her village declared it would abandon female genital cutting for good.
Tunisia: ‘Stop the violation of individual liberties’
Following the violence and violations of civil liberties that took place in a number of schools, institutes and universities, when some students and professors were physically attacked or otherwise threatened due to their clothing not being to the “taste” of the perpetrators, the Association of Tunisian Women for Research on Development (AFTURD) expresses its complete disapproval of and condemns these acts which are contrary to the principles of the Republic and of the public and individual freedoms it guarantees.
Tunisia: ‘Women Fearful of Islamists’ Rise’
TUNIS, Nov 14, 2011 (IPS) – Tunisian women poured into the streets armed with the vote, their latest weapon, when the country voted in its first democratic election since a popular uprising unseated former president Zine Abidine Ben Ali, ending his 27-year- long stronghold on the country.
Tunisia: ‘Women Seek to Set their Stamp’
Nine months after a popular election toppled the dictatorship of former Tunisian president Zine Abidine Ben Ali, voters headed to the polls Sunday to cast their ballots for fresh leaders to rewrite the laws of the country’s political system. The election campaign in the birthplace of the Arab Spring has been, among other things, a battleground for women’s rights as voters set out to choose from about 11,000 candidates, half of them women.
Tunisia: ‘In the name of democracy – What secularists and women have to lose in the Tunisian elections’
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: ‘Tunisia’s Election through the Eyes of Women’
The role of women in the new Tunisia has been a controversial issue throughout the transitional period, with some fearful that they would lose precious rights from the previous era, and others arguing for a return to traditional values. Early on in the democratic transition, an ambitious gender parity law was introduced to ensure women would have a voice in the constituent assembly.
Tunisia: ‘Tunisia’s women fear veil over Islamist intentions in first vote of Arab spring’
In a tiny hall in Nasarallah, a poor agricultural village in the hills beyond Tunisia’s historic Islamic city of Kairouan, Jamila Brahid is irate. Sitting in a huddle of country women wearing traditional rural headscarves, the 50-year-old villager is proud to have had a primary school education in a place where many of her female friends – mostly seasonal fruit-pickers – cannot read or write. A carpet-weaver who owed debts on wool and has never married because of her obligations looking after elderly relatives, she gives thanks for Tunisia’s prized status as the most feminist country in the Arab world. But, she says, Sunday’s elections will be the true test.
Tunisia: Tunisian Women’s Voting Campaign
In a bid to encourage more women to vote in the fourthcoming Constituent Assembly elections, Tunisia has launched a nationwide campaign. The media campaign to run from Oct. 1 to 20 is an initiative of the ministry of women’s affairs and is airing on radio and television spots, plus on posters. The campaign was officially launched by the minister of women’s affairs, Lilia Laabidi, who encouraged women to take part in political life and assert their presence in the Constituent Assembly to be held October 23.
Tunisia: ‘Tunisia is Leading the Way on Women’s Rights in the Middle East’
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. It has become the first country in the region to withdraw all its specific reservations regarding CEDAW – the international convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
UK: ‘Jobs are a feminist issue. So are legal aid, tax and pensions’
It feels as if, for 20 years, the only argument occurring about feminism has been whether or not it has a point – hadn’t its purpose already been served, all its battles won? And when young women eschew feminism, thinking it to describe an uneven temper and hairy armpits, does it have any reliable meaning or future?
Yemen: ‘Yemen women burn veils in Sanaa in anti-Saleh protest’
Hundreds of women have set fire to their traditional veils in Yemen in protest at the violence used against anti-government demonstrators. The women, in the capital Sanaa, made a pile of veils in the street which they then doused with petrol and set alight. Women have played a key part in the uprising against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A Yemeni woman activist, Tawakkul Karman, was joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She received the award for her role in the struggle for women’s rights and democracy in Yemen.
Yemen: ‘Tawakkul Karman as Cause and Effect’
Political activist Tawakkul Karman has brought Yemen’s revolution to New York, speaking directly on October 20 with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and organizing rallies at the United Nations headquarters in lower Manhattan, the largest of which is slated for the afternoon of October 21. The purpose of her visit is to keep pressure on the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that reflects the aspirations of the overwhelming numbers of Yemenis who have sustained peaceful calls for change for the nine long months since protests began in late January.