Women Human Rights Defenders

Karima Bennoune, member of WLUML’s Council and a law professor at Rutgers School of Law - Newark, served as a human rights observer at a series of pro-democracy demonstrations in Algeria in February. These demonstrations included significant numbers of women, and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) from a new coalition, the Observatoire Nationale sur la violence faites aux femmes (National Observatory on Violence against Women). Bennoune documented the treatment of the protestors, in particular of the women activists involved, as they faced police beatings, arrest and harassment. Prominent women’s rights advocateCherifa Kheddar, was arrested and briefly detained. Many of the Algerian women Bennoune met expressed tremendous enthusiasm about the presence of an international observer.

We, feminist activists from around the world, stand in support of our sisters and brothers peacefully demonstrating for basic rights in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square. On June 10, demonstrators were brutally targeted with sexual violence and beatings by men who were reportedly bussed in by the thousands to disrupt the weekly protest. Protesters suffered broken bones, knife wounds and beatings. Several women were severely beaten and violently groped; armed attackers attempted to forcibly strip off the women’s clothing. The activists, who work with the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, report that their attackers were organized and paid by government security forces who used the un-uniformed men to avoid accountability for the violence.  

In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani seamstress from a small village in the Punjab province was gang-raped by men from a neighbouring clan. Several men from the dominant Mastoi tribe in Meeranwalla had volunteered to rape Ms Mai as a way to settle a score after her 12-year-old brother Abdul Shakoor was seen walking with a Mastoi girl. The decision had been taken by a village court to preserve tribal honour. The jirga, or council of village elders, summoned Ms Mai to apologise for her brother's sexual misdeed. When she apologised, they gang-raped her anyway. In April 2011, the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Lahore high court and ordered the release of the five acquitted men. In February, 2009, WLUML issued a call for action: Pakistan: Interference in the case of Mukhtar Mai demanding that the Pakistani authorities ensured the trial of those accused of attacking Ms. Mai went ahead without interference. Unfortunately, there continued to be political influence in her case and regular serious threats to her life and the lives of family members in an attempt to pressure her to drop the charges against the perpetrators. Sanaz Raji explains the genesis of a petition to be sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, below. Please consider signing it.

A Libyan woman who says she was raped by supporters of Col Muammar Gaddafi is recovering from her ordeal in a refugee centre in western Romania, the UN says.Twelve weeks after she burst into a Tripoli hotel to tell her story to reporters, Eman al-Obeidi, 29, is now in a private clinic attached to the UN refugee centre in Timisoara, it says. She arrived there from Libya’s rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Monday. US officials have said she is welcome to apply for asylum in America. They promised to prioritise any application she might make.

Les autorités saoudiennes ont décidé lundi de libérer sous caution Manal al-Charif, la jeune Saoudienne détenue depuis une dizaine de jours pour avoir bravé l’interdiction de conduire une voiture. «Nous avons été informés aujourd’hui de la décision de libérer Manal sous caution. Des démarches de procédure sont en cours pour sa libération», a déclaré à l’AFP Me Adnane al-Saleh. Il a émis l’espoir que l’affaire soit «classée». La jeune femme avait appelé le roi Abdallah à la libérer, avait indiqué dimanche à l’AFP Me Saleh après avoir rencontré sa cliente en prison.

Faced with an avalanche of indignation at home and abroad, Saudi authorities on Monday freed a woman jailed nine days ago for her role in promoting the right to drive for Saudi women. Manal Al Sharif, a 32-year-old computer security specialist employed by the oil giant ARAMCO, was detained May 22 after she defied the kingdom's ban on female drivers and posted a video of her action on YouTube, as part of a national campaign. The divorced mother of a 5-year-old son was charged with “inciting women to drive” and “rallying public opinion.” It is not clear if those charges have been formally dropped. Her lawyer, Adnan Al Saleh, declined to discuss the conditions of her release. 

الرياض: في أول تصرح لأحد أعضاء الحكومة السعودية حول موضوع الساعة في المملكة، قال وزير الإعلام السعودي عبدالعزيز الخوجة عبر موقع تويتر الإجتماعي إن قيادة المرأة السيارة"حق مشروع" ولا يوجد ما يحرّمه. وأكد خوجه، الذي حمل ناشطون سعوديون بعضاً من المسؤولية على الهجوم الذي تعرضت له منال الشريف  من الإعلام السعودي، "أن القيادة مشروعة إن التزمت المرأة بالآداب والأخلاق الاسلامية". وكانت الشريف هددت بأنها ستقاضي كل من يتقول عنها أو ينشر صورة من دون إذنها.

Manal Al Sherif, according to first reports of her sentence, was supposed to be released today. The local media has taken an official stance on Manal’s case. While columnists in these very same schizophrenic newspapers have taken the opposite position by supporting Manal and advocating lifting the ban on women driving. In one estimate, there were over 60 columns supporting Manal on Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile theofficial stance is that Manal has confessed and repented. The story goes that Manal has broken down sobbingly and said that she was mislead and misinformed by a group of Saudi women, some of whom are in the USA to go ahead with the campaign and driving video. 

يبدو بأن الجماعة (قلطواعلى القانون بعد أن كانوا يحرمون بيع كتبه أو قراءتها ، و هو كما قلتُ في تدوينة سابقة أمرٌ جيد و تطور سيفيد الجميع ، و يجمعنا على المحجة القانونية حيث المرجع النص القانوني لا أراء الرجال .

Une jeune Saoudienne arrêtée pour avoir bravé l’interdiction de conduire dans le royaume a été inculpée pour avoir "incité les femmes" à prendre le volant, a indiqué lundi son avocat. Manal al-Charif, 32 ans, une consultante en sécurité informatique, avait été arrêtée samedi à Khobar, dans l’est du royaume, après avoir posté sur Youtube une vidéo la montrant en train de conduire.

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