The international network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML), was initially formed in response to several incidents urgently requiring action in 1984, all of which related to Islam, laws and women. In Algeria, three feminists were arrested and jailed without trial, then kept incommunicado for seven months. Their crime was having discussed with other women the government's proposal to introduce a new set of laws on the family (Code de la Famille) that severely reduced women's rights in this field.
The women's movement has long been active internationally and is often considered
the exemplar of both the new social movements and a new kind of
internationalism. Yet it is difficult to find even a single theoretical article
on the historical or contemporary forms of feminist internationalism. There is,
also, limited historical or contemporary research directly on the problem. It is
therefore necessary to first ask why this might be so and then suggest how the
vacuum might be filled.
Following the publication of articles on progressive interpretations of Islam in our previous issues, we chose to highlight efforts by women historians to trace and recover women's history at the advent of Islam. For the first time we have included pieces on Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, where women actively struggle for their rights, and a paper on migrants in the UK where the Rushdie affair was a strong indicator of an extremist religious right.
This discussion started in Dossier No. 4 and we hope you will feed into it with your contributions, keeping in mind that we need to cross examine these questions in different parts of the Muslim world.
By reproducing some of the ‘Alerts for Action’ which we sent out during the past months, we also bring to your attention some of the problems that women in the migrant communities face and the need for solidarity from and with women’s groups in Muslim contexts.