Middle East

Outrage as 'Obedient Wives Club' spreads across south-east Asia

Publication Date: 
July 6, 2011
The Guardian
Malaysian Muslim Ishak Md Nor and his two wives, Aishah Abdul Ghafar, left, and Afiratul Abidah Mohd Hanan, members of the 'OWC'

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’

Publication Date: 
May 30, 2009
Women may be veiled but they are sexually harassed on Cairo’s streets. Credit:Cam McGrath/IPS

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

Publication Date: 
June 28, 2011
Women's Media Center (WMC)
Yanar Mohammed has a message from Iraqi women for President Obama.

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

Publication Date: 
June 30, 2011
The Guardian
Fatima Baradiya, mother of Aya Baradiya, with a picture of her daughter Photograph: Gali Tibbon

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

Publication Date: 
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.

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

Publication Date: 
June 26, 2011
Arab News

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

Publication Date: 
June 29, 2011
Guardianship rules severely restrict the freedom of women in Saudi Arabia (Getty Images)

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'

Publication Date: 
June 27, 2011
Amnesty International
17 female protesters were subjected to forced 'virginity tests' by the army in March © Maggie Osama

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.

Palestine: Honour Killing Draws Government & Social Response

Publication Date: 
May 19, 2011
The Star
Palestinian children walk into the house of Aya Baradiya's family in the West Bank town of Surif, near Hebron, May 19, 2011.

A 20-year-old Palestinian woman who was thrown into a well and left to die in the name of “family honour” has not become just another statistic in one of the Middle East’s most shameful practices.

The killing of Aya Baradiya — by an uncle who didn’t like a potential suitor — sparked such outrage that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas scrapped laws this week that guaranteed sentences of six months or less for such killings.

And in another sign of changing attitudes, the young college student is being mourned as a “martyr” and her grieving parents are being embraced, not shunned, by neighbours.

Iran: University Student Writes on Violence Against Women - “Invisible Wounds”

Publication Date: 
June 19, 2011
Shadi Reyhani

University of Tehran student Shadi Reyhani writes a piece on the invisible violence against Iranian women.

You know, violence is not always about swollen eyes, broken teeth, and bloody noses. Violence can be the humiliation that comes from a dirty look; when a man looks down upon the fallen collar of a woman’s shirt while she is serving tea or the look of a brother when his sister is laughing out loud at a dinner party. These are looks that are invisible to us.