Europe

Walking a Tightrope: Women and Veiling in the United Kingdom by Ayesha Salma Kariapper examines the ways in which public debates over the headscarf and the full-face veil have shaped the strategies of women from Muslim communities, strategies developed to deal with the limitations imposed on them in the name of religion, culture, tradition and identity within the community, and with racism and exclusion from mainstream society. You can now download the book for free!

May 18, 2015

An interview by Peace is Loud with Karima Bennoune, University of California-Davis Professor of Law, author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, and Peace is Loud speaker

From 1991 through 2001, a series of conflicts, including the Bosnian War, were fought on the territory of the Former Yugoslavia. During that time, ethnic, sexual and economic violence against women was rampant and rape was used as a tool for “ethnic cleansing”. Neither international nor domestic trials adequately addressed these multiple forms of violence against women, and neither was focused on the interests of victims. It was evident that a court designed by and for women was needed in order to develop a feminist approach to justice in this context.

Huda Jawad is a WLUML networker based in London, United Kingdom.  She recently spoke at the Inspiring Migrant Women Conference in London.  Below is the text of her speech, which drew partly upon the reflections she wrote for our 16 Days of Activism in 2013.  The text of the speech was originally published on Huda’s website www.hudajawad.org

Text of Migrant Woman Conference Speech 2 May 2015 Huda Jawad ©

I was born in Baghdad and left Iraq at the age of two. I grew up in the United Arab Emirates and Syria before coming to settle as a teenager in London in the late eighties. My parents were political activists during the time of Saddam Hussein and fled Iraq after the death sentence was imposed on them in absentia. We travelled throughout the Middle East and seemed that we were constantly on the move.

By Marieme Helie Lucas, Algerian sociologist, founder and former International Coordinator of Women Living Under Muslim Laws

Sarajevo, Bosnia – May 8, 2015 - Yesterday May 7, the Women’s Court on war crimes against women during the war in the 1990’s formally started in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Women have come together from all the corners of the former-Yugoslavia to participate in the Women’s Court in Sarajevo, to demand justice for the crimes committed against them during the wars and the enduring inequalities and suffering that followed.

We are facing a political threat, a totalitarian Islamist threat that manifests in terrorism. Journalists are defending something which is elementary to our democracy: our freedom to breathe and to laugh.

Pen against kalashnikov: courage against atrocity. People of Muslim heritage call for combatting Islamist ideology by political means and mass mobilisation.

Statement in defense of rights defenders Women In Black - Belgrade and founder Stasa Zajovic

July 28, 2014

The individuals and organizations undersigned note with concern the increasing violence against the women’s peace organisation Women in Black -Belgrade, and in particular against its founder, Stasa Zajovic, who has been targeted repeatedly in the past few months by extreme-right political groups and individuals, as well as harassed by the police and justice system in her country. 

We will remain alert and closely monitor Serbian authorities’ actions to ensure Stasa Zajovic’s safety.

Les individus et organisations sous-signés expriment leur inquiétude devant la violence croissante à laquelle fait face l'organisation de femmes pour la paix: Femmes en Noir - Belgrade, et en particulier sa fondatrice Stasa Zajovic, qui a été visée de façon répétée au cours des derniers mois par des individus et des groupes politiques d'extrême droite, en même temps qu'elle était harcelée par la police et la justice de son pays.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) condemn the Law Society’s recent guidelines for ‘Shari’a-compliant’ wills in the UK, which make provision for gender-discriminatory inheritance practices.  The Law Society’s practice note includes the following points:

“... No distinction is made between children of different marriages, but illegitimate and adopted children are not Shari’a heirs.”

“The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Shari’a heir”.[1]

Clearly, inheritance conducted in this manner discriminates on the basis of gender.  When inheritance follows these lines, economic violence against women becomes viable – financial assets follow the male line and women, even if they have previously invested in property for example, can become impoverished as assets are handed to male heirs.  In this sense, the guidelines offer a mandate for the financial abuse of women and their children.  Such inheritance practices also blatantly discriminate against ‘illegitimate’ and adopted children.

Reading the stories of women’s rights activists across the world in the 16 Days blog series has been an empowering experience. The experiences of violence, extra-judicial punishments and honour-based abuse taking place in countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan are humbling and give us an extra appreciation of the relative security and peace we have here in the United Kingdom. However,   we hear echoes of the climate of fear described in these blogs in the calls to our helpline from women and men living in towns and cities in this country.  Most of our callers are female, but a growing number are from men and boys. Some callers are too scared to say their names, using pseudonyms for weeks until they begin to trust us enough to tell us who and where they really are. Some speak in a whisper, calling from under their bedcovers or behind a locked bathroom door from a secret mobile phone they keep hidden from their family. 

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