Tag Archives: women rights

Indonesian Women Fight For Rights

A coalition of Indonesian women groups is fighting against proposed government legislation which, ostensibly, would halt the spread of pornography, but which they regard as a subtle attack on women rights of expression. Rena Herdiyani, director of the women’s group, Kalanamitra, said, “the bill regulates something that shouldn’t be regulated. It would restrict women’s freedom of expression. It’s not that we are pro-pornography, but they (lawmakers) regard women as only objects, not subjects.” She believes the bill is so vague as to the definition as to what constitutes “pornography” that it could be used to silence the right of women to deal with issues pertaining to their lives and bodies. For example, dances or song lyrics could be classified as “pornographic.” Of course, who would be making the definition as to what constitutes pornography?

Democracy means the open expression of ideas. The prospect of a group of fundamentalist Muslim clerics deciding what constitutes pornography is frightening to say the least.

Palin In Wasilla, Alaska

Tim Harper of the Toronto Star has been in Wasilla, Alaska tracking down information on the real Sarah Palin. Following are some of the stories he discovered in talking with people in the town:

1. The librarian at the time Palin took office said within days after becoming mayor, Ms. Palin inquired about censorship and how one would handle pickets. She was told the ACLU would get involved. Palin talked about this topic in the days following her assuming the mayor position.
2. Former Governor Tony Knowles says Palin was the only mayor in Alaska who made rape victims pay for their own medical exams.
3. She dissolved the group working on drunk driving and allowed bars to stay open later
4. On day 120 of her administration there was talk of a recall movement.
5. One by one any city official who had backed the previous mayor was fired.
6. She tried to move a museum claiming it was not making money.
7. Local newspaper, The Frontiersman, referred to her administration as “Welcome to Kingdom Palin.”

British Women Losing Battle For Top Jobs

the Equity and Human Rights Commission’s annual study which examines the number of women given top positions in business, politics, and the public sector, found women’s representation has fallen in almost half the industries surveyed. They discovered there has been the biggest backward step for workplace gender equity in the past five years. The Commission found the proportion of women holding key position in British life has fallen in 12 out of the 25 categories surveyed in 2006. In politics, women now hold fewer positions of power in Parliament or the Cabinet than in the past. Female MPs make up 19.3% of the Commons which places Great Britain in 70th place in the world’s equality league.

Perhaps, the world of the 21st century has yet to seriously address female inequity in Great Britain although there are signs in other European Union nations that women are increasingly assuming the role of heads of government. One can only wonder what has happened to a nation that once had a Margaret Thatcher as its leader. Is it society, lack of enthusiasm, institutional factors and a lack of drive on those concerned about equity?

Iranian Women Fight Against Polygamy Law

Iran’s parliament has postponed a vote on a bill that women fear would allow men to marry a second wife without seeking permission of the first wife. President Ahmadinejad pushed for the bill to be passed which is known as the “Family Support Bill” but women actively campaigned against its provisions which goes against Iranian culture. Although, Muslim law allows a man to have four wives, such ideas are not prevalent in Iran. Women activists interpret the law as simply another example of how their rights are denied in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sussan Tahmasebi, who leads the fight to protect women rights, seeks to collect one million signatures in support of protecting women’s rights. Women activists believe there is institutionalized support to deny women their rights in Iran. The tragedy of Iran is in getting rid of the Shah tyrant, it created the tyranny of Muslim fundamentalism.

Do White South African Women Need Job Protection?

A debate among South African women has arisen over whether white women are entitled to protection under affirmative action programs. Black Management Forum president Jimmy Manyi said white women should not be covered under provisions of South African affirmative action laws. Carrie Shelver of People Opposing Women Abuse argues affirmative action is not achieving the desired effect because it is not addressing black women’s needs. She argues black women are m ore disadvantaged than whites and including white women allows companies to hire white females and thus get around being accused of not adhering to affirmative action guidelines. Theresa Oaklley, CEO of Absolute Ndaba, a human resource company, says “I have never understood why white women were placed in BEE in the first place because white women were not disenfranchised by apartheid. They may have had tough times bt they are not previously disadvantaged.”

Kelebohile Lekoape, consultant for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Resarch, argues to the contrary. “Surely, affirmative action was meant to provide additional opportunity for the previously disadvantaged. Even though white women were not totally disadvantaged, they had limited opportunities, thefore, more opportunities should be opened to them.”

To the extent each group of women, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, is allowed to achieve the full potential of her skills and knowledge, to that extent will all women attain such goals.

What Lies Ahead For Post-War Iraq?

Olivia Ward, writing in the Toronto Star, says two images stick vividly in her mind. One is the sight of a hooded crucifixion-style photo of an Iraqi prisoner, his arms outstretched, electrical wires dangling from his fingers, the other is a smiling George Bush on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one thumb raised in triumph beneath a banner reading, “Mission Accomplished.” Over the years thousands have died, miliions have fled and Muslim groups have killed one another as well as any innocent civilians who have gotten in their way. She notes that Canada never got caught up in the fight for Iraq but stood aside with a detached air of concern and wonderment at what was going on in that far off land.

However, Ms. Ward points out pror to the invasion Iraqi women enjoyed access to a modern existence in which they could work at any job and in their own homes, people enjoyed an exciting intellectual existence. Now, religious fundamentalism has compelled women to wear the hijab and they are afraid to engage in many business enterprises that once provided them with a decent income. “The Iraq that is emerging will not be a woman friendly place, and it won’t be oblivious to differences of faith” since most Christians have fled.

Fight For Women’s Rights In Egypt

The Egyptian People’s Assembly has been engaged in discussions about the rights of women in certain aspects of society. There is a reference in the Quran pertaining to the number of witnesses in transactions: “get two witnesses of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women.” According to Zeinab Radwan, the passage is not discussing any inherent intellectual inferiority of women, but takes into account that at the time it was written, fewer women were engaged in business transactions. She challenges the view of some Musim men the passage means women views are only half the worth of male views.

The discussion of worth of testimony also plunged into issues pertainng to non-Muslims. Abdel-Moeti Byoumi, a member of the Islamic Research Council, agrees with Radwan that since Islam allows Muslim men to marry non-Muslims, it means a non-Muslim woman has the same rights as do Muslim women. Muslim Brotherhood MP Hamdi Zahran Hussein disagrees and argues Islam does not accord non-Muslim relativs the right to inherit from a Muslim. When a Muslim dies, only Muslim relatives are entitled to inherit.

There apparently is disagreement among Muslims regarding certain aspects of their faith. the world has changed dramatically from the days of Muhammad and today’s life entails Muslims and non-Muslims interacting in dozens of ways, both economic and social. Perhaps, it is time to make adjustments and bring the past into the present.

Revolution In Saudi Arabia-Woman Drives A Car!

A Saudi Arabian female activist marked this year’s International Women’s Day by defying the ban on women from driving in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom and she posted a video of her revolutionary action on YouTube. Wajiha Huwaidar, a leading activist in the campaign to get women behind the wheel openly accepted resonsibility for the video which is now being seen. She recorded the video while driving in a deserted area in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. In September, more than 1,000 Saudi men and women signed a petition to King Abdullah urging him to lift the controversial ban on women driving. The petition argues there is nothing in the Koran which remotely relates to a ban on driving cars and noted in many rural areas of the country, women are driving cars.

One can only assume in the days of Muhammad, women rode on camels or horses without anyone being upset. This is the type of law which is an example of the blatant discrimination against women in a Muslim nation.

A Human Tragedy-War And Iraqi Women!

Senator John McCain insists the Bush initiated war in Iraq has been a splended success in fostering principles of democracy. Asma Kadhim, an Iraqi woman, might beg to differ with the Arizona senator. She had a prosperous beauty parlor that enabled her during the Saddam Hussein era to have a car and money. But, within months after America overthrew Saddam, there came a knock on her door and a man delivered an envelope containing two bullets and a note which read: “If you do not close your beauty parlor, we will kill you.” She had no choice but to close it and now she remains at home, as do many other women who were actively engaged in business operations. She notes before America initiated the war, she “used to work in complete freedom.” Now, like so many educated Iraqi women, she is restricted to the home.

Women For Women International recently issued a report which said: “Present day Iraq is plagued by insecurity, a lack of infrastructure and controversial leadership, transforming the situation for women from one of relative autonomy and security before the war into a national crisis.” The crisis for women is not merely confined to Iraq, because even in stable and relatively free of violence Kurdistan, women do not have rights. During the past four months about 100 women committed suicide by burning themselves.

Senator McCain is so caught up in military solutions and defeating terrorists that he has lost sight of the human tragedy created by Bush and his supporters. They were so caught up in their own self-delusion as to completely ignore the rights of women or the impact of defeating secular forces.

Indonesia Parliament Passes Bill Protecting Pluralism

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, took a firm step toward guaranteeing freedom to all groups and religions within its borders. Parliament passed a new bill which supports freedom of association and encourages peaceful settlement of disputes. The bill allows any 50 adults to establish a new political party if it can have chapters in at least 60% of the nation’s provinces. A goal of the legislation is encouraging the development of alternative political associations in order to further the cause of pluralism. The bill also insists that 30% of the party must consist of women in a move toward fostering gender equity.

It is all too common in the Western world to equate “Muslim” with the extreme version as practiced in nations like Saudi Arabia or now in Iraq. The vast majority of Muslim people live in nations which do not insist on Sharia law, which do not insist on dress codes, and in which women play active roles in all facets of society. For example, in Turkey, the Muslim Justice and Development party made certain that at least 60 women ran on its ticket in recent parliamentary elections. Isn’t it time for the American media to present a broad perspective of life in Muslim societies?