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Sharia Law Discriminates Against Women and Children

Wed, Feb 13, 2013

Human Rights, Women and Children

imageA BLOG POST BY NAHLA MAHMOUD

From my own experience living under an Islamic regime, I strongly oppose Sharia law and other religious-based laws. Instead, I deeply believe in secular, humanist values that treat human beings equally. International human rights are a testament to those values and oppose the discriminatory practices enshrined in and justified by Sharia law.

Sharia discriminates against women. A women’s testimony is worth half a man’s in Islam. She gets half the inheritance of her male siblings and a woman’s marriage contract is between her male guardian and her husband. A man can have four wives; he can divorce by simply using the word “Talig.” A woman must give specific reasons to get a divorce. Even if the father is abusive, women who remarry lose custody of their children.

Children also suffer under Sharia with life-long implications. A girl is eligible for marriage as soon as she begins her first period.  Considering there were at least 30 cases of child marriage recorded in the London borough of Islington in 2010, I wouldn’t bother to count the number of child marriages in Islamic states where it is legal.

Discrimination against children also occurs through preventing their exposure to different ideas and thoughts. Children from an Islamic background are often brought up to hate their Jewish, Christian and Hindu classmates, as well as any gay students in their class. One only needs to glance through any school curriculum from an Islamic state to see how it restricts critical thinking and any questioning of religious doctrine.

I believe it is everyone’s battle to ensure people are entitled to live under secular laws which enshrine basic human rights for women, including feminist, secular and liberal Muslims. We cannot limit human rights to ‘western values’ or ‘cultural sensitivity’.

We must each strongly and unequivocally demand one equal law for everyone – both in the UK and abroad.

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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.

 

Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.

 

UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.

 

In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.

 

For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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