This June 2013, Women Living Under Muslim Laws traveled to Nottingham for the 2013 Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference. In the course of a lively discussion about religion, secularism, law and gender discrimination ignited by our name and history we found itself at the centre of what one member of the audience called the most exciting debate of the day.
Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Solidarity Network (WLUML) are deeply concerned about the situation of Iranian journalist Fariba Pajooh, who has been detained since her arrest without charge on July 10, 2013 (first day of Ramadan). When her family visited the Evin Prison Court, Islamic Republic of Iran authorities informed them that Ms. Pajooh’s case file had been transferred to Branch 2 of the Shahid Moghaddas Prosecutor’s Office of the same prison. IRI authorities have reportedly instructed the family to not follow up on her case as they have reportedly guaranteed her imminent release.
“It may be said that the provision of Mahr may be considered to be beneficiary to women as long as women’s social and economic subordination remains the norm. It is a way of reinforcing, institutionalising and perpetuating women’s dependency on men...It can only be appreciated as an effort to minimise the economic risk of women within marriage in a society where her rights to equality are either systematically denied or violated.”
In 1998, in Dossier 19, Sultana Kamal tackled the topic of Mahr, the Islamic obligation of the groom to provide the bride with money or possessions as a prerequisite to marriage. I will revisit this topic and review the ideas put forward by Kamal in different contexts. Kamal analyzes Mahr within a South Asian framework, but what can be said of it from a Gulf context? Furthermore, how can we as Muslim women assert our rights by understanding the place of Mahr in the Qur’an and Hadith?
The following is the official statement of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network and its partners in Afghanistan, which is addressed to all parties, particularly Afghanistan’s donor countries, who are supporting the direct talks between the Taliban and United States government.
WLUML calls for the immediate release of FEMEN activists, including Amina Tyler, and demands that the Tunisian government drop all charges. WLUML does not endorse FEMEN’s tactics or specific platforms, but we find the imminent imprisonment of FEMEN activists for exercising their right to freedom of expression to be a violation of fundamental human rights. However we may feel about nude protest as a method, it is critical to defend the right of free expression, particularly in the post-dictatorship countries of the Middle East.
There was a quiet moment in the conference room in the Culloden Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland as six women: Mairead Macguire (Northern Ireland) Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), Tawakkol Karman (Yemen), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala) and Jody Williams (USA), all recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, joined together to welcome us – women activists from all over the world – to the fourth biennial conference of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Some women were there to discuss women’s rights, some women were there to discuss peace, but regardless of each woman’s motivation, there was one thing that we all agreed on - it is women that have to “invade (or reinvade) the spaces we need to invade” in order to highlight the devastating impact of war and conflict on women.
“Still Palestinian feminists are struggling to prioritize their goals: Should they fight exclusively for Palestinian statehood, in the hope that this will further their goals? Or should they be social critics, promoting long-term issues of democracy and women's rights as national institutions and a constitution are being formed? In 1988, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat proclaimed that "Palestine is a state...based on social justice, equality with no discrimination...on the basis of ethnicity, religion, color or between men and women." The mechanics of achieving such a vision were left undefined.”
- Dahlia Scheindlin, "Palestinian Women's Model Parliament"
In WLUML Dossier 22, published 14 years ago, Dahlia Scheindlin argued that the relationship between the women’s movement in Palestine and the Palestinian national struggle is an uncertain one, as the national women’s movement is constantly faced with the question of where it situates itself in relation to the Palestinian liberation struggle. Is the women’s struggle situated within the wider national struggle or is gender equality a separate goal to be pursued independently of Palestinian nationhood?