CDWRME Bulletin #29


"Women in the Middle East" 

Number 29, November, 2004

Bulletin of "Committee to Defend 
Women's Rights in the Middle East"

Editor: Azam Kamguian
Assistant Editor: Mona Basaruddin

In this issue:

  • Holland: Filmmaker shut dead; another victim of Islamic terrorism 

  • We must fight to release Jhila from prison immediately!

  • The Press Conference of “Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar” 

  • Nigeria: Islamic Courts sentenced two women to be stoned

  • Saudi Arabia: Women may not vote or run in municipal elections

  • Solemn appeal against female genital mutilation

  • Afghanistan: Women victims of Islam and backward traditions 

  • Pakistan: Tackling honour killing or cosmetic gesture towards Islamic and cultural cruelties?

  • Letters to & Requests from CDWRME

  • CDWRME: Join us to defend women’s rights & Support victims of violence

Holland: Filmmaker shut dead; another victim of Islamic terrorism 

Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who received death threats following his movie about violence against women in Islam, was shot dead in Amsterdam; he is another victim of Political Islam and Islamic terrorism. 

The attacker stabbed him and shot him many times. Police arrested a suspect, who is 26 and has Dutch and Moroccan passports, after a shootout during which a bystander was injured. The suspect was shot in the leg and is in hospital, Vroegland said. Van Gogh received death threats after the August broadcast on Dutch national TV of his film ``Submission,'' made with Member of Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali. 

``Submission,'' a 10-minute film, features images of a Muslim woman wearing a transparent veil, which reveals her breasts. Koranic texts describing physical punishments for ``disobedient women'' are written on parts of her body. Van Gogh also criticized Islam's treatment of women in his column in the Metro newspaper in Amsterdam. 

We must fight to release Jhila from prison immediately!
Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar

Freedom Lovers!
The Islamic Republic of Iran has stepped back from stoning Jhila to death. Jhila is a 13-year girl who, in an unwanted and unknowing sexual relation, became pregnant. The Islamic Republic of Iran had imprisoned and sentenced her to death penalty by stoning. They took away her new born child to a state infants centre. To protest this verdict, I published my first press release to announce a campaign against stoning and imprisoning this 13-year child. It is unprecedented that this campaign has proliferated everywhere now! The Islamic Regime has stepped back under the pressure of people’s struggle and the campaign for saving the life of Jhila. The Islamic Republic Daily Paper on 17.10.04 has quoted one of the official judiciaries that they did not issue a sentence of death penalty by stoning for Jhila, but she had been sentenced to penal imprisonment. He said that Jhila has been sent back to Marivan to fulfill her punishment.

This step back is not enough. Jhila is a child. Jhila must live with her family, not in jail, be a provincial welfare penitentiary or any kind of prison. She is a child who needs guardianship, support and safe environment. International covenant on Civil Rights forbids and condemns children imprisonment. Jhila must be released immediately. We fight for her release.

Jhila’s child, if she will, must be given back to her. We demand financial and health support for both of them. The two children, both mother and her baby, must be kept in a safe place out of religious and traditional moral pressures and political violence. 

According to the recent news received by the Organization for Woman Emancipation, Jhila and her brother’s cases had been sent to the office of Khameniee, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Regime.

On behalf of the Organization for Woman Emancipation and as a coordinator of the campaign for saving the life of Jhila, I call upon all people, progressive individuals, web lags owners, media representatives and all opposition groups to help me to release Jhila from prison. If necessary, we will process a procedure to reside Jhila and her child in an European country.

The Organization for Woman Emancipation will publish details of this campaign. You can go to the site for saving Jhila’s life and sign the petition for her releas: www.stoning.webbyen.dk.

Phon: 0045 40543992
E-mail: nahid@mail.danbbs.dk

 The Press Conference of “Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar” 

A Press Conference was successfully held today, Wednesday 27th October by “Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar” in Strasburg, France.

Ali Ahani, the Iranian representative to the European Parliament, in a letter to the organisers of the Press Conference while reporting that Zhila and Bakhtiyar had been released from prison had attempted to have the conference cancelled. Despite such attempts the conference was held at 3:30pm as arranged.

The Conference was opened with a speech by the Swedish MEP Ms Eva-Britt Svensson on the violation of women and children’s rights in Iran and she condemned the Islamic Republic for violating the basic rights of women. Ms Svensson also condemned the detention of Zhila and Bakhtiyar and supported the “Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar”.

Then Mehrnush Musavi, the Secretary of the “Organisation for Emancipation of Women in Iran” spoke about the women’s suppression and the sexual apartheid and the extensive use of imprisonment, execution and stoning to suppress women and children in Iran. Mehrnush Musavi reiterated her position on Zhila and Bakhtiyar’s case and stated that while the Islamic Regime is claiming that they have been released nevertheless they are responsible for their safety and well-being.

The next speaker was Houzan Mahmoud, member of the central council of the “Organisation for Emancipation of Women in Iran” and one of the activists of “Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar” who elaborated on the role of the political Islam and the lack of basic and fundamental universal rights of women and children in Iran. Houzan referred to Iran as one of the main bastion of political Islam in the Middle East and pointed out the political Islam is committing similar crimes in today’s Iraq and Afghanistan. Houzan Mahmoud also called for the safety and security of Zhila and Bakhtiyar.

At the end of the Press Conference a delegation of the Iranian regimes to the European Union led by Mr Mohammadi entered the Briefing Room and requested to negotiate with Mehrnush Musavi and Houzan Mahmoud. This request was declined by Mehrnush and Houzan and they announced that the Islamic Republic is a murderous regime and the people of Iran demand their downfall and they would not negotiate with them.

At the end of the conference an official statement by the Islamic Republic was distributed stating that Zhila and Bakhtiyar had been released. Our colleagues rejected this claim as false and it was announced that Zhila and Bakhtiyar are still in detention.

Nahid Riazi
On behalf of the Campaign to Save Zhila and Bakhtiyar 

Member of Central Council of the Organization for Emancipation of Women in Iran.

27 October 2004
Contact details: nahid@mail.danbbs.dk
Farsi and Danish: 0045 40543992

Nigeria: Islamic Courts sentenced two women to be stoned

Islamic courts in Nigeria sentenced two women to death by stoning in the northern state of Bauchi for having sex out of wedlock, but two men whom they said they slept with were acquitted for lack of evidence. 

Hajara Ibrahim, a 29-year-old woman, was sentenced on Oct. 5 by a Sharia court in the Tafawa Balewa area of the state, having confessed to having sex with 35-year-old Dauda Sani and becoming pregnant.

The court has however handed the woman convict to her guardian to take care of her until she delivers the baby before the sentence will be executed by stoning her to death according to the provisions of the Sharia penal code. 

The second woman, 26-year-old Daso Adamu, was handed the same sentence on September 15 by a Sharia court. Adamu admitted to having sex with a 35-year-old man 12 times. Adamu was initially imprisoned along with her baby of less than six months. She was released on bail. 

Under Sharia law, men can only be convicted of adultery on the basis of witness statements, while pregnancy is considered sufficient evidence to convict women. In all but one case, men have been cleared, as Sharia courts found there was insufficient evidence to prove they had sex with the women. Tests to determine children's paternity have not been conducted by the courts.

Saudi Arabia: Women may not vote or run in municipal elections

Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first countrywide elections, the government announced. Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. 

The Islamic establishment had been lobbying against women's participation in the elections. But an electoral official cited administrative and logistical reasons for the decision to ban women from the municipal elections, scheduled to be held in three stages from Feb. 10 to April 21. 

Only a fraction of women have the photo identity cards that would have been needed to vote. Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards - introduced three years ago - because the photographs would show their faces unveiled. 

Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, they may not travel, get an education or work. Regardless of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix with men in public or leave home without covering themselves with black cloaks, called abaya. 

The elections are part of the government's measured response to calls for political and social change. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with an unelected Consultative Council, which acts like a legislature. Political parties are banned and press freedoms are limited. 

Solemn appeal against female genital mutilation

We, the women and men, signatories of this Appeal, born in countries where female genital mutilation has been traditionally practiced or in countries where it has been imported in recent times, or simply eager to fight against a custom that violates the rights and the dignity of millions of women around the world, pledge to use all our influence and to do everything in our ability to contribute to its eradication. For this reason, we solemnly call upon:

* the Heads of State, the Governments and the Parliamentarians of the countries in which Female Genital Mutilation are traditionally practiced: 
* to ensure the respect of the human rights of women and girls, in particular the right not to be subjected to discrimination, and the right to health, to physical integrity and to life;
* to legislate - in countries which don't yet have specific legislation - to consider Female Genital Mutilation as a violation of fundamental rights of the human person and to provide for sanctions for those who practice it;
* to promote information campaigns to bring about a lasting change in the behaviours of the populations that practice Female Genital Mutilation, addressed to all social classes and taking into consideration all the aspects of the practice: human rights, health, social and gender relations, involving national and local institutions, non-governmental organisations, traditional and religious leaders and the media;
* to include programmes for the prevention of the practice in reproductive health policies and to guarantee universal access to the health services;
* to set aside sufficient funds for these initiatives.
* the governments and the Parliamentarians of the immigration countries: 
* harmonise the existing legislative framework on Female Genital Mutilation and to ensure that all legislative measures are accompanied by information campaigns to ensure that the law is understood, accepted, applied and respected;
* to consider carefully the application of penalties against Female Genital Mutilation in order to ensure their effectiveness; 
* to consider the possibility of granting residence permits and protection to the victims of this practice and to recognise the right of asylum for women and girls who risk genital mutilation.
* international organisations and the governments of the countries concerned, as well as donor countries: 
* to support information campaigns, education programmes and reproductive health initiatives that aim to eradicate female genital mutilation;
* to support the work of non-governmental organisations, associations, and women’s or youth groups, as well as networks of such bodies;
* to contribute to effect the reforms necessary to promote equality between the sexes.
* Local, national and international non-governmental organisations: 
* to reinforce collaboration and co-ordination of interventions, as well as the capitalising upon the results obtained, in order to increase the effectiveness of their actions and to achieve as soon as possible the goal of the complete eradication of Female Genital Mutilation;
* to intensify collaboration between organisations in the countries of origin and immigration countries of women who have suffered Female Genital Mutilation in order to prevent the practice among migrant populations.
* Finally, we call upon all women and men of good-will all over the world to do everything they can to help to abolish the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, with the aim of ensuring that it disappears completely within fifteen years, so that, in the countries concerned, a new generation of women, equal to everyone else in rights and in dignity, will be born.

http://www.stopfgm.org/stopfgm/FGMappeal/appeal.jsp?idMenu=1,14&

Afghanistan: Women victims of Islam and backward traditions

In post-Taliban Afghanistan, despite a new constitution enshrining women's rights which passed in January 2004, women’s self - immolation remains a depressingly familiar story.

Many women attempt a fiery suicide rather than be trapped in an unhappy marriage or denied the opportunity to make something of their lives. In the past year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has recorded at least 110 cases of self-immolation by women in just five parts of the country.

There have been no fewer than 56 cases in Herat, a Western province ruled by a hard-line Islamist accused of continuing "Taliban-like" restrictions on women.

Rights workers say the phenomenon reflects a culture of violence, discrimination and broken post-Taliban dreams. They also say the problem could be far worse than the statistics show.

Also see: http://hrw.org/backgrounder/asia/afghanistan1004/

Pakistan: Tackling honour killing or cosmetic gesture towards Islamic and cultural cruelties?

Hundreds of women are killed every year for alleged misdemeanours such as adultery, marrying without the family's consent, pre-marital sex or having been raped. According to the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Women Development, Ms Neelofar Bakhtiar, as many as 913 women had been killed in 'honour- related crimes' in the country during the year 2003 with 638 cases of honour crime committed in Sindh, 463 in Punjab, 120 in the North West Frontier Province and 40 in Balochistan. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded honour killings of 329 women in 1998, 303 women in 1999, 315 women in 2000, 227 women in 2002 and 290 women in 2002 based on the press reports. But many incidents are not reported in the newspapers and the vast majority of the victims come from rural areas.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2004 and its provisions:
The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill states that the "issue of honour-killing and other honour crimes committed in the name of 'karo-kari, siyah-kari and similar other customs has always been a matter of concern of human rights organizations and the public which has assumed more significance in the recent years". 

The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2004 which proposes amendments of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860 enhances punishment for the offence of murders carried out in the name of honour. However, the word 'honour killing' has been replaced with 'honour crime' to make it mild and acceptable to various sections of the society. 

Under amended Section 299, Act XLY of 1860 PPC, 'honour crime' will mean an offence committed in the name of 'Ghairat' or honour or for "vindication of Ghairat or honour and includes honour killing and the offence committed on the pretext of karo-kari, siyah-kari or similar other customs". In clause 'm' it seeks to add at the end the words 'other than the person who has murdered the victim'. 

Under amended section 302, Act XLY of 1860, honour crimes carry a maximum imprisonment of 25 years and not less than 10 years for the offence. Amended Sections 310 and 331 of the PPC prohibit giving a girl in marriage as 'badla-i-sullah' and any offence under these sections carries maximum punishment of 14 years imprisonment and a minimum of not less than seven years of imprisonment. 

Amendment to section 324 seeks to include the hurting of a victim as an honour crime. Similarly 'Ta'zir' shall not be less than one-third of the maximum imprisonment provided for the hurt caused and shall not be less than half of such imprisonment term if the hurt caused relates to honour crime. 

The Bill further provides that for investigation of an offence under section 295-C of PPC for blasphemy, no officer below the rank of superintendent of police (SP) will be eligible. An amendment to section 56B envisaged that no police officer below the rank of Superintendent of Police shall investigate the case of a woman accused of the offence of adultery. 

Qisas and Diyat Law prevail:
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2004 against 'honour killings', however, did not address the real issue of waiver or compounding in which the perpetrators were given the advantage of seeking forgiveness from the heir of the victim. The major flaw in the Qisas and Diyat law, which covers all offences against the human body, is that it makes such offences compoundable (open to compromise as a private matter between two parties) by providing for qisas (retribution) or diyat (blood-money). The heirs of the victim can forgive the murderer in the name of God without receiving any compensation or diyat (Section 309), or compromise after receiving diyat (Section 310). 

Most honour killings are usually committed by close relatives - father, brother, son, or husband of the woman. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the persons accused of honour killings between 1998 and 2002 involved 462 persons who were brothers, 395 persons who were husbands, 217 persons who were relatives, 103 persons who were fathers, 60 persons who were involved, 58 persons who were sons and 44 unknown persons. Often, the victims are the most vulnerable members of the family or community. In either case, if and when the case reaches a court of law, the victim's family may 'pardon' the murderer (who may well be one of them), or be pressurised to accept diyat ('blood-money') as compensation. The murderer then goes free. Impunity has been the single most important factor encouraging honour killings. As the Criminal Law Amendment Bill does not address the issue of waiving and compounding, the perpetrators will continue to be able to escape punishment.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in various judgements reiterated that "Neither the law of the land nor religion permits so-called 'honour' killings and it amounts to intentional murder ('qatl-i-amd')" noting that "such iniquitous and vile" acts violate the fundamental rights as enshrined in Article 9 of the Pakistan Constitution which provides that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty except in accordance with law". Article 8 of the Constitution of Pakistan provides that “Any law, or any custom or usage having the force of law, in so far as it is inconsistent with the rights conferred by this Chapter (Fundamental Rights), shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void”. The failure to uphold the right to life guaranteed under the Constitution is at the heart of the crisis, not lack of provisions in the Pakistan Penal Code to combat honour killings. Unless the Senate takes measures to amend the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2004 to ensure that State takes the responsibility for registering, investigating and prosecuting the accused of honour killings without any scope for waiver or compounding under the Qisas and Diyat law, cosmetic gesture is unlikely to be able to curb cultural cruelties.

Letters to & Requests from CDWRME

USA
Hi Azam, 

I read your article in regarding honour killing in CDWRME site. It was awesome. I find it funny how Muslims say that is not part of the religion yet, imams and sheiks do not openly condemn it. That is why it is still part of the Jordanian code of law under 2 articles until now. 

That's why I got interested in doing a research for my university paper on it and I was wondering, do you have any references, or peer review journals that you might like to share with me about honour killing, imam's perspective regarding honour killing and the likes. 

I would appreciate it.
Thanks a lot. 

UK
I hate Islam because they forbid me from having my normal life and don’t let me express my love for a woman. They have washed the brain of woman and tell them that relations with men without marriage is wrong. You know all that what I really wanted to say is that you are doing a great gob by writing in this site about Iraqi women. The Muslims now are controlling the situation in Iraq. You should attack them by opening Arabic anti Islamic websites, I will open one but we need more. 

Thanks. 
Basim

USA
Hi CDWRME
My question is this: If an American woman marries a Palestinian man in the United States and then travels to Palestine as his wife, is she a Palestinian citizen?

UK
Salaam,

I read your article on "Girls nightmare in Muslim families", and I found it to be a very interesting read. I am currently studying a law degree and have chosen to do a dissertation on forced marriages, only because I find it to be a very interesting topic which is taboo amongst the Asian communities.

I have read many articles about this topic and many cases have brought a tear to my eye not to mention a lump in my throat, born a Muslim myself I personally cannot understand how parents can torture their off spring in such an inhumane way. What I have noticed universally and in my community is that the older generation have interpreted the words of the Koran the way that suits them, and as more and more youngsters are educating themselves they are revealing that the Koran does not read what we have been told.

I am doing my research on why there are no concrete laws in the UK to stop such inhumane activities, it is fine to legislate laws against not wearing a seat belt whilst driving, and taking into account that statistically there weren’t many deaths from this. Yet the topic of forced marriages isn’t considered as significant, individuals have to rely on domestic violence, or rape to be considered as living in danger. I can understand why there is a problem with the lack of individuals who want share their story publicly, but what is needed is a legislation which may just stop these parents contemplating such an act, I don’t agree with it becoming a criminal offence but there must be something out there that can help these poor unfortunate souls.

I shall continue my research and hope to come up with something. Thank you for listening to me and hope to receive a response from you.

Regards, 
Nasim Ahmed.

Canada
I agree with your view that the veiling of girls is a form of child abuse. I also think that any religious indoctrination is an abuse of children, and often leads to lifelong unhappiness. Let adults decide which forms of escape/drugs/religion they need to indulge in, but they have no right to impose this on their children. Religious "education" is a tautology. 

Nick

Ireland
Is there any petition to the Secretary General regarding the human rights of women in Saudi Arabia?
Thank you

Marsha Lake

CDWRME: Join Us to Defend Women’s Rights & Support Victims of Violence

  • We fight for the recognition of honour killing as a grave crime. We strive to abolish it.

  • We help and support victims of forced marriage and campaign for prohibition of interference of authorities and family members in the private lives of women. 

  • We campaign for the Imposition of severe penalties on abuse, intimidation and violent treatment of women and girls in the family.

  • We campaign for a secular and egalitarian family law. 

Join us to support victims of “honour killing” and forced marriage.

Committee to Defend Women’s Rights in the Middle East strives to achieve these objectives and is solely dependent on its members and donations from supporters.

Abuse and violence is disturbing, but not unstoppable. That’s why when we hear about each new atrocity, we never lose hope. We know that it may be hard to believe that the action of a few individuals can change dominant attitudes, but believe us, it is possible. 

So before you ask yourself “what difference can one person make?” just think what your support could mean to a victim. Don’t give abusers the opportunity to intimidate and terrorise women. Support us now either be becoming a member of “Friends of Women in the Middle East” or by making a donation.

Please complete the form and give as generously as you can. A yearly membership of £35 / $55 will help us continue our work. Of course, if you can afford more, we will appreciate it. Your membership and your money can really make the difference to many women.

Join Us:

• I wish to join “Friends of Women in the Middle East” as a member 
At £35 p.a. / $ 55 p.a. 

• I wish to make a donation of: £---------/ $---------

• I wish to subscribe to Women in the Middle East, bulletin of the Committee to Defend Women’s Rights in the Middle East, and to participate in its petition signing and letter campaigning.


Name: ____________________________________

Address: ____________________________

Email: ____________________________

Please send your membership application to: 

azam_kamguian@yahoo.com
cdwrme@yahoo.co.uk
Tel: + 44(0) 788 4040 835
Fax: + 44(0) 870 831 0204
Web-site: www.middleastwomen.org

And send your membership fees/donations to:

Lloyd TSB
Butler Place Branch
Account-holder: Middle Eastern Women’s Rights Service
Account No: 2237128
Sort Code: 30-98-97

Address: 
P O Box 132 1
Butler Place
London SW1H 0PR
U.K


Committee to Defend Women's Rights in the Middle East Coordinator & Spokesperson: Azam Kamguian

Email: azam_kamguian@yahoo.com
Cdwrme@yahoo.com 
Tel: + 44(0) 788 4040 835
Fax: + 44 (0) 870 831 0204
Web site: www.middleastwomen.org