News and Views by Region
Lebanon: Hotchpotch of religious laws restricts basic rights
BEIRUT, 19 July 2011 (IRIN) - 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]."
Lebanon has a system that allocates political power through quotas for all officially recognized religious sects.
Iran: The life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani remains in the balance
A year after public attention was cast upon Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s plight, her life appears to remain in the balance.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old woman from Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, was sentenced in 2006 to be stoned to death for “adultery while married”. She was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for her role in her husband’s murder which, according to her lawyer, was reduced to five years’ imprisonment for complicity in the murder. She remains in prison in Tabriz. In a letter sent by the Iranian Embassy in Spain to Amnesty International Spain on 8 July 2011, the Iranian authorities reiterated that she was sentenced to death by stoning and to 10 years’ imprisonment for murder.
Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia
A women's group that aims to teach Muslim wives how to "keep their spouses happy in the bedroom" is taking root in south-east Asia, prompting outrage from Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The Obedient Wives Club (OWC), which has chapters in Malaysia, Indonesia and and intends to open in London and Paris later this year, says it intends to curb various social problems, including prostitution and gambling, by showing Muslim wives how to "be submissive and keep their spouses happy in the bedroom". This, in turn, would lead to more harmonious marriages and societies, it says.
Egypt: ‘They Ogle, Touch, Use the Filthiest Language Imaginable’
CAIRO, May 30, 2009 (IPS) - As night falls over Egypt’s capital, youth gather along the banks of the Nile where a carnivalesque atmosphere prevails.
Tamer and Mido have taken up positions on the railing next to the river. As a group of veiled teenage girls approaches, the duo works in tandem. Tamer removes the girls’ headscarves with his eyes, while sexually nuanced words roll off Mido’s tongue.
"Girls love the attention - it makes them feel attractive," says Mido, an engineering student, as the girls divert their eyes to the pavement and nervously scurry past. "They pretend to be innocent, but it’s just part of the game they play."
Yanar Mohammed: Iraqi Women’s Vigilant Champion
The democratic spirit of the Arab Spring uprisings is alive and well in the determination of women protesters in Iraq, who are seeing their rights slip away under the current administration.
Although the focus of many media reports has been on Egypt’s Tahrir Square, there is another Tahrir Square that demands our attention—the one in Baghdad. On June 10, members of the (OWFI) were attacked and sexually molested as they gathered there to make demands.
Death in the West Bank: the story of an 'honour' killing
The brutal murder of a young Palestinian woman shocked a nation and helped change the law over so-called 'honour' killings.
Saudi Arabia: 5 women detained for driving, activist says
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.
Authorities have appeared to allow driving this month by dozens of women who answered a call from groups, including "Women2Drive" and "Women's Right to Drive in KSA", to challenge the ban. Many posted accounts of their driving on the Internet.
Lebanon: Clerics attack domestic violence law
New legislation intended to combat domestic violence in Lebanon has run into opposition by the country's religious establishment.
Dar Al-Fatwa, the country's highest Sunni religious authority, claimed that the new law contradicted Islamic law (Shariah) and would deprive Muslim women of the ability to turn to religious courts for protection. It warned the legislators against "religious innovations" such as the concept of rape within the marital framework.
Saudi Arabia: Women challenging male guardianship laws
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.
Egypt: Military pledges to stop forced 'virginity tests'
The head of Egypt’s military intelligence has promised Amnesty International that the army will no longer carry out forced ‘virginity tests’ after defending their use, during a meeting with the organisation in Cairo on Sunday.
Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), discussed the issue with Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty months after the organisation publicized allegations of the forced ‘tests’.
Major General al-Sisi said that ‘virginity tests’ had been carried out on female detainees in March to "protect" the army against possible allegations of rape, but that such forced tests would not be carried out again. He also added that army would avoid detaining women in the future.