CDWRME Bulletin #31

"Women in the Middle East" 

Number 31, January, 2005

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

Editor: Azam Kamguian
Assistant Editor: Mona Basaruddin

In this issue:

  • Iran: Stoning of Hajieh Eamailvand put on hold

  • Iran: Islamic Republic of Iran continues stoning sentences.

  • Iran: A 19 year old woman is awaiting execution

  • Iran: Islamic female parliament member insists on executing the street women and runaway girls

  • Canada: Ontario government makes way for Sharia based arbitration

  • Palestine: Over 50 women elected to council seats

  • France: A woman stoned to death in Marseilles

  • Algeria: small changes to family law criticised by women’s groups

  • Palestine: “Stop the Apartheid Wall”

  • Letters to and requests from CDWRME

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

Iran: Stoning of Hajieh Eamailvand put on hold

The Islamic Republic has temporarily stayed the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery while her case is studied by the judiciary pardons commission.

Hajieh Esmailvand, whose plight has been taken up by women’s rights groups and Amnesty International, was sentenced by a court in the north western town of Jolfa to be flogged 100 times, jailed for five years and then hanged. Although the exact date of Esmailvand's arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in Jolfa since January 2000.

The man with whom Hajieh had the affair, who was 17 at the time, has been sentenced to death by hanging.

The Supreme Court later changed her sentence to stoning because of the adultery, as is permitted under Islamic law.

Iran: Islamic Republic of Iran continues stoning sentences.

Islamic Republic Regime has confessed to at least to two recent cases of stoning in Iran. It is necessary to point out that under International and the European Parliament pressure, Iran had declared the ban on stoning. But the confession of Jamal Kareemee a responsible member of the judicial system to at least two cases of stoning shows that Islamic regime only publicly has stopped this act but continues to execute this criminal act covertly.

Please pay attention to the following report from ELNA, the Iranian news agency in Iran:

Based on ELNA's report, Jamal Kareemee in his weekly media conference in response to a question from a reporter said "even though, the judicial chief had suspended the stoning sentencing, but we recently witnessed carrying out two cases of stoning". He also added that achieving a final result on the stoning files that we have in the country is difficult. I have heard of a report but proving these accusations is hard since practically we have not witnessed execution of such sentences.

With an international campaign Islamic regime must be exposed. Protests against these savage sentencing must be organized in Iran and abroad. We must not let these criminals take human lives with such savagery. This Islamic sentencing must stop now.

IKIR & Organization for Emancipation of Women.

Iran: A 19 year old woman is awaiting execution

Cruel and inhuman punishments continue in Iran. The Islamic republic has confirmed that a court has sentenced a young woman to death for prostitution but denied that she is mentally disabled.

Leyla Mafi was sentenced more than a year ago at a court in Arak after being found guilty of having illegal sex. Human rights group monitoring the case said Ms Mafi had a mental age of eight, but this has been disputed by Islamic judicial officials. The decision is now under review by the Iranian Supreme Court.

Leyla Mafi's case was given international exposure last week by women and human rights groups in Europe. They said Iran was breaking its commitments as a party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights - which include a promise not execute anyone under the age of 18.

Women rights organisations said the woman's mother had forced her into prostitution at the age of eight. It has also been said she had been repeatedly raped and had given birth to a baby at the age of nine.

Islamic officials have rejected some of the group's findings. They say Leyla Mafi is mentally and physically normal and had only been working as a prostitute as an adult.

Under Islamic law, girls over the age of nine and boys over 16 face the death penalty for crimes such as rape and murder.

Please sign the follwing pettition and demand the immidiate release of Leyla!

We the undersigned are tremendously grieved that 19-year-old Leila after suffering so much poverty and unjust persecution through out her childhood has been sentenced to execution by the Islamic courts in Iran.

Leila at the age of 8 was sold into Sigheh (a temporary marriage under Islamic law between man and woman for a price given to the woman or her family. These marriages last any where from 1 hour to years.) to a man old enough to be her father. For her Sigheh, her family only received enough money to cover one day’s meals. No body heard the cries of pain and anguish of this little child as she was raped and her life was ruined under the pretense of Islamic law!

She was nine when she became pregnant and was condemned by an Islamic judge to one hundred lashes from a whip for a crime committed against her. Once again no one heeded to her cries for help! Once she was 12 her poverty-stricken family sold her again under the law of “Sigheh”. Her new owner (husband) began prostituting her body at once. She was 14 when she became pregnant again and was once again condemned bay Islamic judge to one hundred lashes for unwillingly being involved in prostitution. The very last time this desolate child was sold to a 55 year old man whom also prostituted her for his own benefit.

Now the Islamic regime has issued her execution order. While condemning this crime against this child, Leila, we demand her immediate release. We advocate that those (civilians and government and courtroom officials) who were in any shape or way involved in: the acts of “Sigheh”, raping a helpless nine year old child, putting her in prostitution and prison, whipping her for the crimes committed against her and condemning her to death should be publicly associated with the crimes committed and brought to justice in an international court where they will be prosecuted for such horrendous offenses towards humanity

Click here to sign petition

Iran: Islamic female parliament member insists on executing the street women & runaway girls

According to a report by state-run news agency ILNA, Eshrat Shayegh, the female parliamentary member of Tabriz, made an assertion about the rising rate of runaway girls and homeless women in the streets, an issue known as street women. She suggested: if any judge argues we have no laws to deal with these women, I offer a solution myself. She added: If we execute 10 of these street women, we will no longer face this issue. She emphasized, Women have no value without their families.

Eshrat Shayegh’s comment sparked such an outrage among women’s organizations inside and outside of Iran that she was forced to rephrase her statement while blaming the press for misquoting her.

Canada: The Ontario government makes way for Sharia based arbitration

Ontario Muslims should have the same rights as Catholics and Jews in the province to seek arbitration based on religious laws for family disputes and inheritance cases, concludes a report by former attorney general Marion Boyd.

Some groups from Muslim origin called Boyd's report "naive," and said she fell victim to pressure from right-wing Islamists who want to use the 1,400-year-old Sharia to settle divorces and custody disputes for Muslims in Ontario.

"We're being very clear, this is not Sharia law," said Boyd. "This is Muslim religious principles within Canadian law." Boyd said her report avoided the term "Sharia" law because as practiced in Middle East countries it combines criminal and civil laws, and allows the death penalty for adultery. It also considers a woman's testimony to be worth half that of a man's. "We're talking about arbitration based on certain religious principles similar to our Charter values of equality, freedom and justice," she told reporters at a news conference.

"What exactly are these Muslim principles?" asked Tarek Fatah. He said most Muslims in Ontario want to be treated as equal citizens. Proponents of Sharia in Canada are not concerned about settling family law disputes, he added.

Boyd also called for additional safeguards to protect people from being forced into religious-based arbitration, including a recommendation for every party to have independent legal advice before agreeing not to take the case to court.

Her critics say Boyd undermined those protections by also allowing people to waive their right to legal advice before they agree to arbitration instead of going to court to settle a dispute.

"I need to sound the alarm on a recommendation that poor women should be allowed to waive their fundamental right to an independent legal opinion," said Marilou McPhedran, legal counsel to the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

"Marion Boyd today has given legitimacy and credibility to the right-wing racists who fundamentally are against equal rights for men and women." Boyd was appointed last June to study the issue after the Islamic Institute for Civil Justice said it would in effect establish a Sharia court in Ontario to handle family matters.
Source: Toronto CP

Palestine: Over 50 women elected to council seats

50 local women councillors elected for the first time in Palestinian society. In the first local Palestinian council elections in 28 years, 886 candidates, including 139 women, ran for 306 council seats in 26 municipalities on Thursday.

Under a quota of two women per council, around 50 women have swept to positions of relative municipal power. Out of the 13 councillors elected in Dahiriyyeh, six belong to Hamas, three to Fatah - the party founded by deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - and four are independents.

"Women participating in the municipalities through a quota system have broken through a taboo in Palestinian society," said sociologist Nader Said, from Bir Zeit University.

Source: AFP

France: A woman stoned to death in Marseilles

Days before she was due to be married, Ghofrane Haddaoui, 23, refused the advances of a teenage boy and paid with her life. Lured to waste ground near her home in Marseilles, the Tunisian-born French woman was stoned to death, her skull smashed by rocks hurled by at least two young men, according to police.

Although the circumstances of the murder are not clear, the horrific “lapidating” of the young Muslim stoked a French belief that the country can no longer tolerate the excesses of an alien culture in its midst.

Later, pop celebrities joined 2,000 people in a march through Marseilles denouncing violence against women, particularly in the immigrant-dominated housing estates. The protest against Islamic “obscurantism” and the “fundamentalism that imprisons women” was led by a group of women of Muslim origin who call themselves Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive).

The movement, which emerged three years ago to defend Muslim women, is spawning similar groups across Europe, supported by a mainstream opinion that has recently abandoned political correctness and wants to halt the inroads of Islam.

Algeria: small changes to family law criticised by women’s groups

After many yeas of lobbying by women’s rights groups, the Algerian government has approved a preliminary draft of amendments to the Family Code (1984).

A coalition of women’s groups, Collectif 20 ans barakat (20 Years is enough!) comments however that only one of the proposed changes constitutes an advance: a divorced man will be required to provide his ex-wife who has custody of the children adequate accommodation or alternatively rent payments or maintenance in the marital home. The group criticizes the other proposed amendments as follows:

“Polygamy, although subject to greater restrictions, is retained;
Only divorced women will have been recognised as parental authority over their children;
Women’s right to divorce, even though extended to three additional grounds, remains conditional, while men retain the power of unilateral repudiation (talaq);
The requirement of having a wali (matrimonial guardian) has not been done away with and is now a voluntary option, which will ensure the practice continues;
The provision allowing for a marriage contract to contain negotiated conditions which already existed in practice will only be accessible and of use to those who are the most informed or the wealthiest, and who, in any case, are still subject to the discriminatory provisions of the Code.”

Palestine: “Stop the Apartheid Wall”

“Stop the Apartheid Wall” is a publication by the Jerusalem Centre for Women (October 2004) which notes the results of a year long program that aimed to increase awareness of Palestinian women on human rights, violence against women, democracy and the importance of women's political participation.

For more details on and how to obtain a copy, see online

Letters to & Requests from CDWRME

I am working to start a campaign for sponsorships for women to go to school in the Middle East, and I was wondering if I could use your partnership for this.... please write back as soon as you can.

Yoanna Yelsaveta Vadim
I would greatly appreciate any information that you could send to me about the treatment of women under Saddam's rule. I would be using this information in a research paper for a college composition course. If it is also possible I would appreciate any links to other helpful and reputable cites. I'm sure you are a busy person but I would like you to know that the information would be greatly appreciated. Some great information would be about how Saddam's sons themselves were towards women.
 Jessica Rutkowsky

Dear Azam,
Currently I am studying in Essex University. I am doing MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights. I have to write an essay, the topic is "Human Rights and Islamic Countries". Maybe you could help me with materials, as there are a lot of materials in Internet, but I am not sure what sources I should use, as I have to use legal base for it...

Thank you.
Alina Mehdiyeva

Unless the Iraqi Parliament comes to select its PM by (top-dead-centre, counter-extremist & thus anti-terrorist) Preferential (ranked multiple-choice) Ballot, it may not hold & the world will be in danger of going to war over some oil well. Be a shining light & see that this powerful idea gets put in time to as many Iraqis as possible. See for further discussion

Z. Z

Would you please place me on an email list to receive your bulletins?  I am very interested in your work.


I am very impressed!  The issue of oppression and mistreatment of women in the Middle East has been an issue burning inside of me.  I am a retired police officer and still have a desire to rescue abused people.  Your site is very encouraging.
I speak about these issues regularly and many women have expressed interest in developing email friendships with Muslim women of the Middle East.  They have a lot of questions that could best be answered through personal communications with those who actually live it.
Could you please help me connect these groups? I foresee much support for your work!

Hello.  I seem to have a hard time getting friends to acknowledge the unacceptable state of the lack of women's rights in Middle East countries, Islamic and secular alike.  I would greatly appreciate a resource where I could collect a listing of some of the more egregious abuses, especially with specific examples.  I'm afraid my examples of some of the more horrific practices -- female circumcision, death penalties for unproven adultery, wholesale banning of Western-style arts, such as music, theatre -- are dismissed as rhetoric, and I'm hoping for some authentication to back up my arguments. 
It is my personal position that World Politics dictate approaching the subject of human rights abuses in the Middle East with the utmost diplomacy, which I consider in light of the stakes to be inexcusable timidity.  When any group of people on the Earth face brutal withholding of basic human rights from their government it is the business of every free citizen in the world, regardless of the "culture" or "customs" of the nation in question, to protest.  Politics is damned.
Berton A. 

CDWRME: Join Us to Support Victims of Violence & defend Women's Rights

· 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 by 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: Tel: + 44(0) 788 4040 835 Fax: + 44(0) 870 831 0204 Web-site: 

And send your membership fees/donations

In the U.K. 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

In North America: Friends of Women in the Middle East Association Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Account No: 00600 010 Sort Code: 9218 211 1427 Kingsway Vancouver, B.C. V5N 2R6 Canada

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

Tel: + 44(0) 788 4040 835
Fax: + 44 (0) 870 831 0204
Web site: