ACTION ALERT: An Appeal to the UN

August 25th, 2005 - by admin

From: The Iraqi Women’s Movement – 2005-08-25 00:37:01

We have a VERY urgent call to action, to help the women in Iraq, who are about to lose their freedom. Katrin Michael has sent us a plea from Iraq about the curtailing of freedom of Iraqi women due to the so-called new “democracy.” This new system that was supposed to give more democratic freedom to women, is endangering the little freedom they enjoyed till now!

Until the US Occupation, Iraqui women were among those women in Islamic countries that enjoyed the most democratic freedom — including the freedom not to wear the veil if they did not want to, the freedom to drive cars, to work out of their homes, to study at universities together with male students, and the freedom to enjoy such simple things as sitting in a coffee house together with their husbands and children.

Today, the new government is about to take all this away from Iraqi women, under the Sharia Islamic law.

Please read the poignant appeal below, and send your urgent pleas, to help save women from their horrifying impending plight, to your Senators and to the UN, and to all leaders and institutions that can help. Let us all do our best to help our Iraqi sisters. Thank you,
— Ada Aharoni / IFLAC

VERY URGENT: An Appeal to the UN from the Women of Iraq
From: The Iraqi Women Movement
Baghdad, August 16, 2005
To: Mr. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General and,
The Permanent Member Governments of the UN Security Council / UNAMI

We have sent a memorandum, in mid-July, to the Constitution Committee and lawmakers demanding a few months extension for drafting the constitution in accordance with what was mentioned in the Transitional Administrative Law concerning this issue, which might offer enough time for peaceful dialogues and understanding and establishing trust among all the components of the Iraqi people to participate in drafting the constitution, which also accords with the Security Council’s Resolution No.1546, article 7, Para 3/A.

During the past weeks’ activities, we saw that some politically influential parties have persisted in disregarding and ignoring the demands raised by the Iraqi Women Movement, which was reflected on drafting the constitution particularly in the Chapter of Duties and Rights which opposed human rights conventions and the international conventions signed by Iraq.

According to the most recent draft, there are no guarantees for women’s human rights and this prolongs the suffering of the Iraqi women from discrimination in a way that does not agree with the international human rights assurances like CEDAW, the Security Council Resolutions No.1325 and Resolution No.1546 article 7, Para III/B. (referring to the sections in the draft that use religion, Sharia and tribes to justify violating women’s rights of equality and of issues concerning the personal status as well as the quota which was put in the Transitional Chapter and restricted for two electoral rounds).

We anticipated that the Iraqi political parties would not reach a consensus demanded by the Security Council’s Resolution No. 1546, by August 15, and we still see that it is hard for them to reach a consensus in one week time limit, but even if they reach a consensus, it will be at the expense of the contents of the constitution and its ambiguity and it will also be at the expense of the human rights of women, children and religious and ethnic minorities.

Hence, after the delaying of drafting the constitution, and in the name of the Iraqi Women Movement, we sum up our views about this issue:

1- In the light of the latest changes in the constitutional process which coincide with the serious deterioration of security, services, economic and social situations in Iraq which threaten the international peace and security, we claim that the Translational Administrative Law should be endorsed as a permanent constitution for the country, after being updated to correspond with the requirements of the permanent constitution, taking into consideration the national consensus that was achieved on that law.

2- We also address you personally as we address all the permanent members of the UN Security Council to interfere as soon as possible by issuing a new resolution that can support this claim which would serve the Iraqi people’s interest in achieving stability, social security, protecting human rights and establishing democracy.

For Contacts:

Cats and Dogs in the Developed World Have More Rights than Women in the Arab and Muslim World
Katrin Michael / Special Dispatch Series – No. 890

(April 12, 2005 ) — Marking Valentine’s Day and International Women’s Day, the Arabic press published numerous articles dealing with the status of women in the Arab and Muslim world and the denial of their rights, on the part of both governments and public in general. The progressive Web sites and published articles by feminist authors harshly critical of the state of women’s rights in these countries.

“Covert Animosity and Open Discrimination Against Women Prevail in Arab Countries” by Wajiha Al-Huweidar:

Writing in on March 7, 2005 Saudi author Wajiha Al-Huweidar explained: “All of the Arab regimes are UN members and have ratified the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, which clearly establishes justice and equality in the rights and obligations of all citizens. Despite this, women in our chauvinist countries are still considered the property of their relatives. All Arab countries, without exception, harbor covert animosity and open discrimination against women. To this day, all official bodies reject any scientific discussion of a solution to women’s problems – while on the other hand the men, who benefit from women’s oppression, continue to regurgitate [the mant r a] that ‘women are respected’ [in Arab and Muslim societies].

“Arab countries’ legislation patently discriminates against women and clearly denies their rights, which affronts them as human beings. They are still treated as though they contaminate purity, and arouse temptation and immorality. What is astounding is that most Arabs, at all levels and in every area – whether governments, institutions, or individuals – still consider women’s issues a religious issue, and thus believe that her concerns should be dealt with through outdated chauvinist [religious] interpretations.

“An improvement in women’s status will not come through invalid solutions which have been proven ineffectual. The laws grant female citizens only half a voice, diminish women’s rights, classify them as having only partial sense, denigrate their importance, doubt their capabilities, permit beating and banishing them, permit their caging within four walls, allow their husbands to treat them as they see fit, and allow them to be bought and sold according to legal agreements. When women fail [in matters forbidden by religious law], the laws welcome their barbarous execution.

“These laws are clearly no longer suited to an era in which cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than Arab women, and more even than those of Arab men.

“Women’s problems, which await a solution, are not religious problems, but are purely legal. They should be addressed in accordance with the international declarations that guarantee human liberty and honor ratified by all the countries of the world, in the East and West, including the confused Arab countries.

“The legislation which curtails women’s rights as citizens must be replaced by legislation guaranteeing their full rights. This does not require wasting time on discussions, consultations, interpretations and counter-interpretations, debates and conferences . because it is nothing new for Islamic countries to change their form of government or to repeal their religious legislation so as to adapt these to their international interests and to the requirements of the era in which they live.

“It is known that in the Muslim countries the system permitting buying and selling slaves was abolished, as was the jizya [poll tax] system imposed on the dhimmi s — the Jews and the Christians — from the Islamic conquests until the last century. This is despite the fact that there are still religious texts that permit slave trading and the poll tax — but both of these were suppressed so that [Muslims] could act according to [modern values].

“These practices were abolished years ago, and people have forgotten them… because they violated civil and human rights. It is also time to abolish all chauvinistic interpretations that incite to violence, discriminate, and persecute women, and deprive them of their rights…”