Bahrain: Women rights activists will launch protest

Khaleej Times
Women rights activists are about to launch an aggressive campaign in support of the proposed Family Law that has faced rejection from religious scholars because it lacks the Shari'a laws.
Ghada Jamsheer, an outspoken and active woman rights activist who is leading the campaign, said it was unfortunate that some people were rejecting the proposed law without showing any concern for women.
A number of religious scholars from both Sunni and Shia communities in Bahrain have joined hands demanding the inclusion of the Shari'a laws in the proposed Family Law, which is initiated by the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) in line with its objective of empowerment of women.

As part of its opposition drive, Al Wefaq National Islamic Society (Wefaq) organised here a rally, led by Wefaq President Shaikh Ali Sulman, in protest of the bill, highlighting that it lacked Shari'a laws within its framework.

Shaikh Ali Sulman stressed that the inclusion of Shari'a laws was a vital factor. Ghada, who heads the Women's Petition Committee, said delaying the Family Law would mean taking the country backward and it was sad that there was opposition to the law particularly at a time when we need the law in place urgently.

She said that most of the members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Shura (Consultative) Council cared little about the law and they had done nothing constructive to pass it.

It is unfortunate that a forward-looking country like Bahrain has nothing in terms of legislation that guarantees the protection of women and their rights, said Ghada who had late last month hosted a get-together for victims of domestic violence as part of efforts to drum up support for the passage of the law.

She said that efforts were being taken to lobby for the family law immediately after the Eid Al Fitr, while focusing on creating awareness for the law and holding a dialogue with its opponents, if possible.

The Ministry of the Interior reported earlier this year some 1,300 cases of physical violence and verbal abuse against women during 2001-04.

Hemu Gorde, 8 November 2005