Arab women and the International Women's Day
Regional, Politics, 3/9/2000
Under conservative and Islamic pressures, Arab parliaments are confronting attempts made by certain Arab governments to give women additional rights in countries like Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan.
This issue was basically clear in Kuwait, where the Kuwaiti Nation's Council (parliament) refused on November 30 to give women the right to vote and to be candidates, in contradiction to a decree released by the emir of the country, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, on May 16, 1999.
The Kuwaiti activist for women's rights affairs and official at the Ministry of Education, Hind al-Deij, said that the, "Emir had released a decree and has tried to restore back the deprived rights of women. But the religious group at the parliament said that if the Woman practices her political right, it is forbidden (haram) in Islam. And this is not true."
Al-Deij added, "It is presumed that they will not use religion as a pretext. It is rather the traditions. And the women should not be deprived from things awarded to her by the Almighty God."
However, since the decision of the parliament, depriving women of their political rights, the Kuwaiti women increased demonstrations before the premises of the voters registration department in order to debate their case before the court and held another demonstration before the Ministry of Justice.
Kuwait is the only Arab Gulf State which has an elected parliament.
In Qatar women were able to take part in the first municipal elections in April 1999.
In Saudi Arabia, women took for the first time in October 1999 in discussions held at the Shoura council, but the chairman of this council, Muhammad Bin Jubeir, stressed to those women that they will not be able to reach this council.
Meanwhile, the women activist Fareeda al-Naqqash from Egypt, who is also the chairperson of the women's commission forum in Egypt said, "The recession of Arab women's conditions is part of the general recession in the Arab society, backwardness in development and besieging of democratic freedoms and citizenship rights."
Al-Naqqash added, "These parliaments, who are usually a result of forged elections, which means that they are illegal, would eventually revive social backwardness under these conditions and most of the time take a religious attitude."
In Jordan the parliament refused in October 1999 a draft law proposed by the government to abrogate an item at the sanctions law permitted the killers in defense of honor to receive light sentences instead of the normal penalties that sometimes reach death penalty.
The Islamic Labor Party considered abrogation of this item as "a violation of the Sharia" and an encouragement of "crimes in society."
Lebanon on Wednesday marked the International Women's Day with a demonstration launched at a call made by Lebanon's First Lady, Andrea Lahoud, at a time while Arab women Parliamentarians are expressing at the Lebanese parliament their solidarity with the Lebanese women who are detained or under the Israeli occupation.
40 Egyptian women present lawsuits to end their marriages
Morocco participates in Beirut's Islamic women union congress
Woman in Qatar gets the right to be lawyer for the first time
Demonstration in Jordan today over honor crimes
Kuwaiti women's association calls on women to demonstrate
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