Discrimination in law

Saudi Arabia: Protect don’t prosecute women’s rights activists

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Jun 18
Update Date: 
2013 Jul 18
Update: 

6 NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE: On 14 July 2013, Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni filed their appeal with the appeals court. If the appeals court upholds the District Court's decision then the activists will be imprisoned while they prepare their final appeal. The appeals court has still not issued an official decision and Wajeha is still being pressured by the government not to participate in human rights advocacy such as the right to drive campaign on 26 October. Please continue to call on the Saudi authorities listed below to overturn the activists' prison sentences and travel ban.


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please join Equality Now in urgently calling for the overturning of the activists’ prison sentences and travel ban. Also, ask the Saudi authorities to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally expunge all charges against them;
  • Institute, in consultation with women’s rights defenders, concrete measures to protect women at risk of and subjected to domestic violence;
  • End the male guardianship system to remove discrimination against women and girls, including in their access to justice, safety, education and employment, and the ability to make their own life choices; and
  • Protect and promote the right of human rights defenders to peacefully advocate for human rights.

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-491-2726

H.E. Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul El Karim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741

Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abulaziz
Minister of Interior
Fax: +966-1-1442-0057

With a copy to: The Human Rights Commission, Fax: +966 1 461 2061, Email: info@hrc.gov.sa

 

Letters: 

Dear King Abdullah, Minister:

I am writing to you about the conviction on 15 June 2013 of two women’s rights activists, Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni, of the Islamic Sharia law offence of Takhbib, or incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband. They were charged after trying to give support to a woman and her children who were allegedly abused by the woman’s husband. While absolved of the charge of trying to help the woman and her children escape, they were nevertheless convicted of supporting a wife without her husband’s knowledge, thereby undermining the marriage. The District Court in Al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia sentenced them to 10 months in prison. In addition, the court banned them from leaving the country for two years following completion of their prison term.

The fact that the authorities have punished those seeking to protect human rights, but appear to have done nothing to investigate the violence allegedly perpetrated by the husband, is deeply disturbing and a breach of international law. It signifies that protecting his dominant and apparently violent position in the family is more important than ensuring his wife’s safety. I understand Saudi authorities have repeated in international meetings that the male guardianship system is not prescribed in law. However, this conviction seems to suggest otherwise.

I therefore urge you to immediately overturn the unwarranted sentences given to Wajeha Al-Hwaider and Fawzia Al-Qyouni by expunging all charges against them and removing the travel ban. I further encourage you to institute, in consultation with women’s rights defenders, concrete measures to protect women at risk of and subjected to domestic violence. Finally, please protect and promote the right of human rights defenders to peacefully advocate for human rights.

I respectfully call on you to put an end to the male guardianship system, which would remove discrimination against women and girls and allow them to fully realize their human rights. This would be in accordance with international standards, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ratified by Saudi Arabia.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission email: info@hrc.gov.sa

Morocco: Enact legal reforms to strengthen punishments for sexual violence & prevent child marriage

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 May 29

28 JANUARY 2014 UPDATE:  Great news! Following nearly two years of sustained public pressure on the government on 22 January 2014 the Moroccan parliament amended Article 475 of the Penal Code - the law that was used to exempt rapists from punishment if they married their victim.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please write to the Moroccan authorities below, congratulating them on the proposed changes, and urging them to comply with their international and national obligations to end discrimination against women, by:

  • Swiftly passing and implementing the proposed amendments
  • Conducting a comprehensive review of all of Morocco’s laws, in collaboration with civil society organizations, to remove sex-based discrimination and ensure protection from violence
  • Training all law enforcement officers, particularly judges, on the revised Penal Code and family law without delay.

Letters should go to:

Mr. Mustafa Ramid
Minister of Justice and Liberties
Fax: +212 5-37-26-31-03

Email: krtmed@gmail.com

Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui

Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Fax: +212 5-37-67-19-17

Email: a.elouadi@social.gov.ma

Mr. Karim Ghelleb

Speaker of the House of Representatives
Fax: +212 5-37-67-77-26

Email: kghelleb@parlement.ma; parlement@parlement.ma

Letters: 

Dear Minister/Speaker of the House,

I welcome Parliament’s vote on 22 January 2014 approving revisions to Article 475 to no longer exempt a “kidnapper” from punishment if his underage victim marries him. Thank you for taking this important step to protect women from violence and discrimination. I respectfully urge you to continue this good work and move to delete the family law provisions that permit a judge to authorize the marriage of girls under the age of 18, so that marriage is only entered into by adults who are able to give their full and free consent.

Legal reforms such as these might have protected 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, and 15-year-old Safae who was reported to have been pressured by a prosecutor and judge, in the name of preserving her “honor”, to drop the charges and marry her rapist. Safae twice attempted suicide as a result.

To comply with Morocco’s international and domestic legal obligations, and in support of Moroccan women’s organizations, I urge you to work for the swift passage and implementation of the proposed amendments to the family law. Please also support a comprehensive review of the Penal Code to remove all sex-based discrimination and ensure protection for women and girls from violence. I also urge you to ensure the immediate training of all law enforcement officers on the revised Penal Code and family law once enacted.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Saudi Arabia: End child marriages and male guardianship over women

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 May 16

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Please write to the authorities below and urge them to provide safeguards to ensure that girls and women have a real choice in the timing of marriage and selection of a spouse by:

  • Adopting and implementing the proposed regulations to set a minimum age of marriage
  • Going a step further to meet the international recommended standard by raising the suggested minimum marriage age to 18 years old
  • Ending the male guardianship system to remove discrimination against women and girls, including in their access to education, employment, and justice and the ability to make their own life choices

Letters should go to:

His Majesty, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-491-2726

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Speaker of the Shura Council
Tel: +966-1-482-1666
Fax: +966-1-481-6985
Email: webmaster@shura.gov.sa

H.E. Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul El Karim Abdul Azziz El Issa
Minister of Justice
University Street, Riyadh 11137
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-1-401-1741

With a copy to: The Human Rights Commission, Fax: +966 1 461 2061, Email: info@hrc.gov.sa

Letters: 

Dear King Abdullah, Speaker of the Shura Council/ Minister:

As there is currently no minimum age of marriage law in Saudi Arabia, I welcome the 8 April 2013 proposal by the Saudi Ministry of Justice to introduce new regulations regarding the marriage age of girls. I understand that the draft regulations set 16 as the minimum age of marriage and propose preconditions to any marriage of a girl under the age of 16, which begin to offer protection to girls who would otherwise be married off with no restriction. I welcome these steps, which also reflect closer compliance with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations, and urge you to support their adoption and implementation without delay.

I respectfully call on you to go a step further, however, in accordance with international standards (including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by Saudi Arabia), by moving quickly to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 and by putting an end to the male guardianship system. Please also ensure there are appropriate safeguards to guarantee that a woman has a real choice in the timing of her marriage and the selection of her spouse. This will allow Saudi women and girls to enjoy their human rights and fulfill their aspirations.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission email:info@hrc.gov.sa

Egypt: Stop sexual violence against women demanding their rights

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Apr 11

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Remind the authorities of Egypt’s obligations under CEDAW, the ICCPR and the ICESCR to provide equality between men and women, including freedom from gender-based violence. Please write to the Egyptian authorities listed below and urge them to:

  • Stop the sexual violence and intimidation tactics being perpetrated against women advocating for their rights
  • Properly investigate and fully prosecute any sexual assault whether occurring in public or in private
  • Develop processes for the comprehensive inclusion of women’s voices in all governmental and administrative processes

Letters should go to:

Interim President Adly Mansour
El Etahadiya Presidential Palace
Merghiny St., Heliopolis
Cairo, EGYPT
Fax & Tel.: +202 239 019 980
Twitter: @EgyPresidency

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb
Magless El Shaàb Street, Al Kasr El Einy
Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202-2793-5000
Fax: +202-2795-8048
Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg

Minister of Justice Mr. Nayer Adel-Monei Othman
Lazoghly Square, Cairo, EGYPT
Tel.: +202 279 22263
Fax: +202 279 58103
Email: mjustice@moj.gov.eg

Letters: 

Dear President, Prime Minister, Minister:

I am writing to express my support of Egyptian women who continue to demand their full- integration in all post-revolution institutions and policy frameworks as laid out in the 2011 Egyptian Women’s Charter. Egyptian women deserve to be recognized as full and equal citizens and should not be subjected to sexual violence for demanding their rights.

The increase in seemingly organized incidents of sexual violence, perpetrated in and around Tahrir Square, is alarming. I urge you to stop the sexual violence and intimidation tactics being perpetrated against women advocating for their rights. Please act swiftly and decisively to prevent such violence against women; to hold the perpetrators of any violence to account in a timely fashion; and to ensure that everyone, including women, is entitled to participate freely without intimidation or harassment in peaceful debate or demonstration about the future of the country. I understand your government has launched an “Initiative to support the Rights and Freedoms of the Egyptian Women,” which I hope will take strong action on the fundamental issue of violence against women as well as other issues of discrimination against women. I also urge you to comprehensively include women in all governmental and administrative processes.

Egypt’s international obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, require full equality between men and women and the prohibition and prevention of gender-based violence.

Such steps will ensure that Egyptian women and men’s human rights are respected and will contribute to a more secure Egypt.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Global: Amend all sex discriminatory nationality & citizenship laws

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Jan 30

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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to sign our petition calling for the repeal of discriminatory nationality laws.

  • Sign our online petition calling for immediate legal reform to remove discrimination between men and women in nationality and citizenship laws around the world.
  • Share the petition with your friends and colleagues and urge them to take part in the campaign.
Letters: 

TEXT OF PETITION

Good laws that put women on an equal footing with men are necessary to protect and promote women's rights and facilitate their full social, economic and political participation. Legal equality gives women a level playing field from which to make their own choices, build their capabilities and realize their hopes and dreams, positively affecting the development of society in general.

We call on your government to amend, as a matter of urgency, the sex discriminatory provisions in your laws relating to nationality so that women and men may pass on their nationality to their children and/or their spouses on an equal basis and free from discrimination.

This petition calls on the governments of the following countries to amend all discriminatory provisions in their constitutions, laws, regulations and policies that prevent women and men from passing on their nationality to their children and their spouse on an equal basis: Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Denmark, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vanuatu, Yemen.

London Office Director Jacqui Hunt on how elected ministers should help eliminate rather than reflect harmful gender stereotypes (Guardian)

1/24/2013 -- The Guardian -- "Casual sexism from politicians is no joke"; London Office Director Jacqui Hunt on how elected members of parliament should help eliminate rather than reflect harmful gender stereotypes. 

Global Nationality Review: The Real Human Cost of Discriminatory Laws (HuffPo UK)

1/21/2013 -- Huffington Post UK -- "Global Nationality Review: The Real Human Cost of Discriminatory Laws"; London Office Director Jacqui Hunt discusses our new global report on nationality and citizenship laws, which discriminate on the basis of sex.

Pakistan: Stop attacks on human rights advocates and NGO workers

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Jan 14
Update Date: 
2013 Feb 6
Update: 

FEBRUARY 6, 2013 UPDATE: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial government has pledged monetary compensation (300,000 PKR) and one government job to each of the seven victims’ families in Swabi.  While this falls short of our demands, it will be a great benefit to the families, as the victims’ NGO jobs were often the families’ main source of income.  Additionally, the fact that the government responded to the civil society organizations at all, which is fairly uncommon, is encouraging. In response to the government, local groups are calling for increased compensation to all of the murdered human rights advocates and NGO worker’s families (2,000,000 PKR), and re-iterated that all such cases be properly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice. Equality Now has also sent our Urgent Alert to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Geneva.

Please continue to mount pressure on the Pakistani government to protect human rights defenders, ensure justice for targeted activists, prevent future violence and end the culture of impunity for crimes against women.


 

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Equality Now and our partners in Pakistan are deeply concerned about the continuing attacks and threats against activists and NGO workers in Pakistan. Women, and those working to promote the rights of women and girls, have been particularly targeted by some of the attacks.

What You Can Do: 

Please join Equality Now and our partners and ask the Pakistani government to heed the call of Pakistani civil society groups to protect human rights defenders, ensure justice for targeted activists, and prevent future violence, including by guaranteeing and promoting women’s right to equality.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Alert with your friends.

Letters should go to:

Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Email: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

Mr. Amir Haider Hoti
Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Chief Minister House
Fort Road
Peshawar Cantt
Pakistan
Tel: +92 91 9213574, +92 91 9211719
Fax: +92 91 9210718, +92 91 9210743
Email: javedkhaki@gmail.com

Barrister Syed Masood Kausar
Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Governor House Abdul Qayum Road
Peshawar
Pakistan
Fax: +92 91 9210751

Letters: 

Dear Prime Minister/Chief Minister/Governor:

I am deeply concerned about the recent attacks and threats upon human rights defenders and NGO workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and FATA, including the attack on Malala Yousafzai last October, and the numerous fatal shootings of health, education and other local and foreign NGO workers between December 2012 and January 2013. 

According to NGOs in the area, threats to the lives of human rights defenders, and NGO workers in general, are common in KP province and FATA and I am troubled by the lack of effective measures to protect human rights activists in the region.  As many local and foreign NGOs are working particularly to improve the situation of women and girls, the continued threats and attacks against them are slowing down progress to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Pakistan. 

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders specifies the obligations of States to guarantee and protect the rights of human rights defenders. Pakistan also has a duty to protect all human rights established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) among others committed to by Pakistan. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, have both taken note of violations against human rights defenders working on women’s rights in Pakistan and have highlighted the government’s responsibility to investigate and promptly ensure that perpetrators are held accountable. Additionally, in the June 2008 report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan, Pakistan was called upon to “combat impunity for attacks on human rights defenders by effectively investigating allegations and by prosecuting those responsible.”

I support civil society organizations working in KP and FATA, including the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) and Tribal NGOs Consortium (TNC) coalitions, as well as End Violence against Women and Girls (EVAW/G) Alliance KP & FATA, and join them in urging you to:

  • amend the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to make it a specific criminal offence to intimidate, harass, threaten, attack or injure any individual because of their human rights or NGO work;
  • take immediate measures to end the culture of impunity for crimes against women, including by:
    • repealing or revising laws, policies and practices – both written and unwritten – that deny women’s equality and rights;
    • bringing to justice perpetrators of violence and discrimination against women and those who collude with them; and
    • taking legislative, educational and other appropriate measures to address the culture of silence and victim-blaming that increases the vulnerability of women to violence, results in the violation of their rights and impedes their enjoyment of full and equal citizenship. 

Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely,

Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination (HuffPo UK)

12/13/2012 -- Huffington Post UK -- "Morocco: Amend Penal Code to Protect Women Against Violence and Discrimination"; In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the "Spring of Dignity" coalition organised a human chain which started at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and ended at the seat of the House of Representatives. Several hundred people took part.

Equality Now Calls on All-Male Committee to Protect Women’s Equality in New Egyptian Constitution (Safe World For Women)

11/29/2012 -- A Safe World For Women -- "Equality Now Calls on All-Male Committee to Protect Women’s Equality in New Egyptian Constitution"; If adopted as proposed, the current draft of the new Egyptian constitution could restrict and severely undermine the rights of women and girls.

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