One of the crucial issues affecting women in South Asia
today has been the growth of state sponsored religious fundamentalism. This is
occurring in the context of increasing evidence of violence against women -
dowry murders, sexual harassment, rape often by the police and army, and the
throwing of acid on women in the streets. (1) As a result of campaigns and
agitations by women's movements, these incidents have been highlighted and the
governments have passed some preventive laws, albeit with many loopholes and
On 7th June 1988, the members of
the controversially elected parliament of Bangladesh passed the Constitution
(8th Amendment) Bill imposing Islam as the state religion of the country which
broke away from another religious-based country - Pakistan - only 17 years ago.
The four pillars of the Constitution of Bangladesh originally were nationalism,
democracy, secularism and socialism. Secularism and socialism were dropped from
the Constitution in 1977 to be replaced by ‘total faith in Allah’ and ‘social
Ms Noriani Nik Badli Shah, research manager of Sisters in Islam, an NGO which lobbies for the rights of Muslim women, said not many Muslim women were aware of this right, and those who did were discouraged from using it by social pressure.
Mianwali again saw a manifestation of one of the worst forms of religious extremism and fundamentalism in Pakistan, when Rukhsana Bunyad, a local social activist and district councilor was charged having allegedly made remarks against the Holy Qur'an.
A pregnant Nigerian student was released from custody and given temporary stay in Cyprus on Wednesday after she applied for asylum, fearing death by stoning in her homeland for having a child out of wedlock.