Women Living Under Muslim Laws is deeply concerned about the prosecution and detention of Shamial Raj and Shahzina Tariq of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Shamial Raj had a sex change operation and for years has been living as a man. He and Shahzina Tariq married for love last year, despite the fact that Shahzina's father had wanted to marry her off to someone to whom he owed money. Shahzina's father, Tariq Hussain and other members of her family continued to harrass the pair and took legal action against Shamial accusing him of kidnapping their daughter, despite the consensual nature of their marriage. On the 28th of May, 2007 the Lahore High Court decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Shahzina and Shamial under section 377 (unnatural offences). However the couple have both been sentenced to three years imprisonment on lesser charges.
Incommunicado detention of and judicial proceedings against several Iranian-American citizens including Dr. Haleh Esfiandiari, director of the Middle East programme at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC. Dr. Esfiandiari was arrested in Tehran on 8th May 2007 after being summoned for questioning by Ministry of Intelligence officials and was taken to section 209 of Evin prison, where she was allowed one call to inform her relatives that she had been jailed. Dr. Esfandiari is also a well-known advocate of dialogue between the US and Iranian governments.
When asked about Zeinab’s bail, her father Peyqambarzadeh explained that court officials did not even discuss the issue of bail with him. “They only told me to leave and didn’t allow me any visits with my daughter either. They were angry and shouted a lot and told me that they have reactivated Zeinab’s previous criminal charge [for when she was arrested on the metro for distributing pamphlets about the Campaign]”. Zeinab’s father explained further that he worries for his daughter’s safety because they won’t tell him what they are going to do. "Is it a crime to ask for a written summons?" he asks.
Zeinab Peyqambarzadeh, an active youth member of the “One Million Signatures” campaign, was arrested yesterday for her participation in a peaceful protest on March 4. She reported to the Revolutionary Court after receiving a summons, where she was then arrested and transferred to Evin prison. Her father and lawyer attempted to post the set bail of 20 million toumans (about $27,000), but the court refused to accept the bail and would not authorize Peyqambarzadeh’s release.
The Ajoka Theatre company staged a satirical play, "Burqavaganza", in Lahore earlier this month using the image of the burqa as a metaphor for the double standards which exist in contemporary Pakistani society. Following protests from Islamist politicians, the play has now been banned.
Fariba Davoudi Mohajer and Sussan Tahmasebi, two of the eleven women’s rights activists summoned by the Revolutionary Court, were sentenced to prison on April 18 for threatening “national security.” The two activists were organizers of the peaceful protest on June 12, 2006 and the “One Million Signatures” campaign demanding an end to discriminatory laws against women. Davoudi Mohajer, who was tried in absentia as she is currently abroad, was sentenced to one year in prison and three years suspended sentence. Tahmasebi was sentenced to six months in jail and one year suspended sentence. Their lawyers are appealing the sentences.