Discrimination in law

Egypt: protect women’s full equality in the new Constitution

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Nov 15

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Partners in the revolution and democratic Egypt ©UN Women

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send the letter below online.

Please join Equality Now and our Egyptian partners, Alliance for Arab Women and CEWLA, by calling on the Egyptian Constitutional Committee to ensure that all provisions of the Constitution clearly protect and promote the equal rights of all Egyptians both to reflect the spirit of the revolution and in conformity with Egypt’s international obligations. Letters should go to:

Mr. Husam Giranni
Chair of the Constitutional Committee
Qasr al-Aini Street
PO Box Shura Council – Constituent Assembly
Cairo, EGYPT
Tel / Fax + 202 227 942 733
E-mail: sharek@dostour.eg

Letters: 

Dear Mr. Giranni,

I am deeply concerned about the current draft of the new Egyptian constitution, which could severely restrict and undermine women’s and girl’s rights if adopted as proposed by your Committee. The inclusion of articles stipulating that equality of women with men, in all spheres of life, civil, political, cultural, economic and social, cannot violate Islamic law is particularly concerning because of varying interpretations of Sharia or Islamic law. I support women and human rights organizations in Egypt who are calling for the amendment or removal of all sex discriminatory articles.

I understand that the current draft of the suggested Constitution is incompatible with the aspirations of the January 2011 revolution and Egypt’s international obligations and commitments and urge you to do all what you can as the Chair of the Constitutional Committee to ensure that women’s rights are protected and promoted under the new Constitution. Please ensure that the draft Constitution guarantees sex equality as set forth in Egypt’s previous Constitution and in the human rights instruments it has ratified, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
 

Jordan: Give women equal citizenship rights to men

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Nov 5

UPDATE 27 JANUARY 2014: On 12 January 2014, the Government of Jordan gave approval to grant the foreign spouses of Jordanian women and their children certain civil rights, including residence permits and improved access to state medical care facilities, education and work in the private sector. These rights will considerably alleviate the hardships of the affected families, and we urge the government to implement them without delay.

What You Can Do: 

 

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

Call on Jordanian government officials to amend the Nationality Law to give Jordanian women the equal right to pass their nationality on to their children and spouses without delay.

King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein
King’s Office
11100 Amman, JORDAN
Tel: +9626 4637341
Fax: +9626 4627421/2

Prime Minister Abdallah El Nsour

11180 Amman, JORDAN

Tel: +9626 4641211

Fax: +9626 4642520

Email: info@pm.gov.jo

Call on the Minister of the Interior to accelerate governmental efforts to facilitate provision of residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women and access to health and education services for their children, until the Nationality Law is amended.

Mr. Hussein Al-Majali
Minister of the Interior
P.O. Box 100, 11181 Amman
Ibin Zawdun St., Building #9, JORDAN
Tel.: +9626 5691141/Fax: +9626 5691141
Email: info@moi.gov.jo

Letters: 

TO THE KING & PRIME MINISTER:

Dear King, Prime Minister:

I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Jordan advocating for women to be given equal citizenship rights with men, in particular the “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me” campaign organized by Nima Habashna. Under Jordanian Law No.6 of 1954 on Nationality, last amended in 1987, with few exceptions, women cannot transmit their nationality to their non-Jordanian husbands or to the children they have together, which is negatively impacting their lives. I respectfully request that you do all you can to amend the Nationality Law without delay to remove this prohibition and thereby improve the lives of these families immeasurably.

Hardships caused by the inability of a Jordanian woman to pass on her nationality include the fear that children will be taken out of the country by her non-Jordanian husband leaving her with huge legal difficulties in getting access to them, exploitation by employers of foreign-born men and their children, and the urge to marry off girls at a very young age to Jordanians to gain security. Additional restrictions, such as where children from these unions can work or study, in access to government hospitals and the need to obtain Ministry of the Interior approval to marry, are all contributing to the increased vulnerability of these women and their families.

Though Jordanian law allows for the possibility of naturalization of a non-national husband and their children, it is at the discretion of the Council of Ministers and applications must be obtained and filed in person with the Ministry of the Interior based in Amman. No woman in the campaign has even managed to have her petition considered and sometimes women are unable even to obtain an application.

The Arab Women Organization brought the issue to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in February 2012. In its concluding observations in July 2012, CEDAW urged the government “to enable Jordanian women to pass their nationality to their foreign spouses and their mutual children” within the context of nationality rights. Several other UN treaties and treaty monitoring bodies including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have also addressed this issue. All of these committees in their most recent review of Jordan’s implementation of their respective human rights treaties have urged your government to amend its nationality law.

Please act urgently to amend the Nationality Law. In the interim I also urge you to work with the Ministry of the Interior to accelerate efforts to facilitate provision of residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women and regular access to health and education services for their children so that such families have temporary respite from the hardships of the current law. 

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,


TO THE MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR:

Dear Minister,

I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Jordan who are advocating for the amendment of Jordanian Law No. 6 of 1954 to give Jordanian women married to non-nationals the equal right with Jordanian men to pass their citizenship on to their spouses and children. Until the Nationality Law is amended, please also accelerate governmental efforts to facilitate provision of residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women and access to health and education services for their children so that such families have temporary respite from the non-implementation of the naturalization provisions of the current law.

Some of the hardships caused by the inability of Jordanian women to pass on their nationality include real fears that their children will be taken from the country by the non-Jordanian husband with no way for the woman to bring them back, exploitation by employers of foreign-born men and their children, and the inclination to marry off girls at a very young age to Jordanians to gain security. Additional restrictions, such as where children from these unions can work or study, in access to government hospitals, and the need to obtain approval from your office to marry, are all contributing to the increased vulnerability of these women and their families.

Though Jordanian law allows for the possibility of naturalization of a non-national husband and their children, this is only at the discretion of the Council of Ministers and applications must be obtained and filed in person with your Ministry in Amman. Nima Habashna, the organizer of the campaign, “My mother is Jordanian, and her nationality is a right for me,” for example, submitted an application several years ago. However, despite repeated attempts to obtain a decision, and even with the assistance of a Parliamentarian who submitted papers on her behalf, she has never directly received an official written response. It was only this past April that the Parliamentarian received notification that Nima’s application was rejected, but without any explanation as to why. Other women in the campaign have also tried to have their children and spouses naturalized but are unable to even obtain an application from your Ministry. No woman in the campaign has yet managed to have her petition considered.

Please support the amendment of the Nationality Law, in accordance with Jordan’s international legal obligations, and do all that you can to facilitate provision of residence permits to foreign spouses of Jordanian women and regular access to health and education services for their children until then.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Soheila Vahdati Bana

Elevating the issues of Iran’s women to the world’s stage
Sohelia Vahdati Bana

1. What is the current status of women’s rights in Iran?

Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing +15 Review Process

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 Jul 10

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What You Can Do: 

>> TAKE ACTION! Sign our petition calling for the repeal of discriminatory laws

  • Ask your government and others to amend/repeal all sex discriminatory laws as a matter of urgency. 
  • Share this update and your concerns with the media and the general public to enlist their support in the campaign to hold governments accountable to the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Please also sign our petition.

Following advocacy by Equality Now and many civil society groups from around the world, at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s session in September-October 2010 the Human Rights Council established a five member Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice. Equality Now will continue to send information to the Working Group on these and similar issues, and encourages other organizations to do so: wgdiscriminationwomen@ohchr.org.

Equality Now discusses women's rights in Saudi Arabia (Trust Law)

6/13/2012 -- TrustLaw -- "Saudi Arabia takes tiny steps on women’s rights" Equality Now discusses women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

"Women and girls in Saudi Arabia are treated as perpetual minors living under male guardianship all their lives – with restrictions on employment, political participation, travel, education and healthcare." --Yasmeen Hassan, Global Director

Sudan: Stop the stoning of Intisar Sharif Abdalla

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Jun 6
Update Date: 
2012 Jul 3
Update: 

UPDATE 3 July 2012: On 22 June, an appellate court vacated Intisar Sharif Abdalla’s sentence and ordered a new trial based on defects in the original trial. On 3 July, the trial court found no evidence to proceed with the trial and dismissed the charges. Intisar has been freed from prison. Thank you for taking action.

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What You Can Do: 

Please write to Sudanese officials to call for:

  • the immediate and unconditional release of Intisar Sharif Abdalla;
  • the establishment of a moratorium on death by stoning;
  • the commutation of all sentences of death by stoning;
  • the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as torture, flogging and stoning in accordance with Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter and the ICCPR;
  • a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Criminal Act of Sudan, 1991, in particular Article 146, and the removal of all provisions that discriminate against, or have a discriminatory impact on, women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Sudan’s own constitutional provision on the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sex. 

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Please send your letters to:

President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: info@sudan.gov.sd

Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Dr. Moaz Tango
Advisory Committee on Human Rights
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Jalal al-Din Mohammed Osman
Chief Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
P.O Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Letters: 

Dear ______:

I write to you with grave concern over the 13 May 2012 sentencing of Intisar Sharif Abdalla, a mother of three, to death by stoning for adultery under Article 146 of the Sudanese Penal Code.

The prescribed punishment of death by stoning violates Sudan’s International legal obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that clearly prohibit all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment. In addition, the death penalty for the crime of adultery does not fall within internationally accepted concept of ‘most serious offences’ warranting a death penalty as reiterated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (currently the Human Rights Council) and Human Rights Committee.

Moreover, it appears that Intisar’s trial did not meet the standards of fair trial under Sudanese or international law. It is particularly concerning that her sentence was imposed based on a coerced admission after she was tortured by her brother. Confessions extracted under torture and duress should not be admissible in Court and cannot form the basis of a death sentence. Moreover, I believe that Intisar was denied the right to legal representation despite the guarantee under Article 34 (6) of the Interim National Constitution that “Any accused person has the right to defend himself/herself in person or through a lawyer of his/her own choice and to have legal aid assigned to him/her by the State where he/she is unable to defend himself/herself in serious offences.” In addition, Intisar was apparently not able to understand the proceedings against her that were conducted in Arabic, not her native language. The execution of persons after a trial that does not meet international fair trial standards amounts to a violation of the right to life.

I respectfully urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Intisar Sharif Abdalla, declare a moratorium on death by stoning, commute all sentences of death by stoning and prohibit all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, such as torture, flogging and stoning, in accordance with Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter and the ICCPR.

I further urge you to conduct a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Criminal Act of Sudan, 1991, and in particular Article 146 with a view to removing all provisions that discriminate against, or have a discriminatory impact on, women including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Sudan’s Constitutional provisions on the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sex.

Respectfully yours,

Rwanda: Ensure Access to Safe Legal Abortions

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 May 30
Update Date: 
2012 Jul 11
Update: 

UPDATE 11 July 2012: Equality Now welcomes the new Rwandan Penal Code legalizing abortion under certain circumstances, mentioned below in our Urgent Alert, which was signed by the President and came into effect on 14 June 2012. Unfortunately, none of the pre-conditions to obtaining an abortion were removed. The Penal Code was also not amended to allow trained mid-level healthcare providers to conduct safe abortions, so denying women greater access to reproductive health and rights.

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What You Can Do: 

Call on President Kagame to uphold Rwanda’s international legal obligations by:

  • Removing the pre-conditions requiring women to obtain a court order and approval by two doctors in order to access a safe abortion.
  • Amending the bill to allow for trained mid-level health care providers to conduct abortions before the safe abortion bill is signed into law.
  • Ensuring women are able to access safe abortions.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to President Paul Kagame:

c/o Ines Mpambara
Director of Cabinet Office of the President
Email: inesmp@presidenccy.gov.rw

or via the contact form on the President's web page

Letters: 

Dear President Kagame,

I welcome the passage of legislation allowing a woman to obtain an abortion if she becomes pregnant as a result of incest, rape, forced marriage, or if the pregnancy threatens her health. I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Rwanda who are advocating for women to be able to access safe abortions.

However, burdensome pre-conditions – in particular requiring a woman to obtain a court order and approval by two doctors before she can procure an abortion and only allowing doctors to perform abortions – threaten to make safe abortions almost impossible for many women to access. I understand that most women do not have access to courts or doctors and consequently would not be able to benefit from this law. I therefore respectfully request that you do all you can to ensure the removal of these pre-conditions before signing the bill into law. In addition, please ensure that mid-level trained health care providers are allowed to perform safe abortions.

These changes would help women access safe abortions and so reduce the danger of maternity mortality and health complications. They would also be consistent with Rwanda’s obligations under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well other instruments. Please do all that you can to ensure that women are able to access safe abortions.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Egypt: Stop the lowering of the minimum age of marriage for girls in Egypt

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 May 8
Update Date: 
2012 Oct 10
Update: 

UPDATE: Due to the political situation in Egypt, the Egyptian Parliament is currently dissolved. Equality Now and our partners on the ground are monitoring the situation.


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What You Can Do: 

Please urge the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Speaker of the People’s Assembly Council, and the President of the Shura Council to stop the proposed changes to the age of marriage law and the custody on divorce law. Remind the authorities that they have legal obligations both under the Egyptian Constitution to uphold gender equality and under human rights instruments, including the CRC and CEDAW, to reject any amendments that would undermine the rights of girls and women. >> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

  • Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, 11 Al’ourubah Street, Cairo, Egypt / Fax: +202-241-83761, E-mail: amd@mmc.gov.eg (note: some emails have not been going through to this address; online signatures will be collected and faxed.)
  • Dr. Mohamed Said El Katatni, Speaker of the People’s Assembly Council, Majles El Shab St.1, Cairo, Egypt / Fax 002-227921040
  • Mr. Ahmad Fahmy, President of the Shura Council, Kasr Al Aini Street- Cairo, Egypt / Fax: 002-227941980
Letters: 

Dear Field Marshal/Speaker/President:

I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Egypt who are advocating for the maintenance of gender equality in Egypt as guaranteed under the Constitution. I therefore respectfully request that you do all you can to stop the proposed changes to the age of marriage law and the custody on divorce law.

I understand that Egypt’s People’s Assembly Council is currently discussing legislation that would reduce the minimum age of marriage for girls from 18 to possibly as low as 9 years old and could vote on the final draft bill at any moment. If adopted, girls could be married off by their families without their consent putting them at risk of physical and psychological harm, as well as cutting short other life opportunities, such as pursuing their education. I also understand that draft legislation has also been introduced limiting a mother’s custody of her children upon divorce. I support the women and men in Egypt who recently sent a statement to the Parliament highlighting the inconsistency of these proposed legislative changes with the principles of the revolution, which include dignity, justice and freedom.

The guarantee of gender equality under Egypt’s Constitution is also consistent with the government of Egypt’s legal obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as other instruments. Please do not make any amendment to the minimum age of marriage law or the custody on divorce law which would breach the equality provisions in the Egyptian Constitution and under international law.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
 

Morocco: End the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Mar 28
Update Date: 
2012 Dec 4
Update: 

UPDATE 20 MARCH 2013: In February 2013, the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and Liberties approved amendments to the Penal Code, which are said to strengthen punishments for sexual violence. Such changes include revisions to Article 475, which had the effect of exempting from punishment a rapist who subsequently married his minor victim. Deletions have also been proposed to the Personal Status Law to remove articles which allowed a judge to endorse early marriage under the legal age. Full discussion of these revisions in parliament has been postponed until the Spring. Although women’s groups in Morocco have welcomed these proposed amendments, they are calling for a full review of the Penal Code to revoke provisions which discriminate against women and to provide full protection for women against violence and discrimination. We will be issuing a full update, including further action you can take to support their work, as the process progresses.


UPDATE 4 DECEMBER 2012: In solidarity with female victims of violence and discrimination, the Spring of Dignity coalition is organizing a human chain that will start at the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice in Rabat and end at the seat of the House of Representatives on 8 December 2012. Moroccan women and men are calling on the government to amend the Penal Code, including article 475 that still sanctions the exoneration of a rapist if he marries his victim. The coalition, which includes more than 40 associations, networks and organizations, is also demanding the criminalization of marital rape, sexual harassment and psychological abuse, the legalization of safe abortion and the revision of discriminatory articles related to prostitution and trafficking under the Penal Code among other measures.

Equality Now joins the coalition and our partners in calling the Government of Morocco to amend the Penal Code to safeguard women’s rights. Please take Action and keep up the pressure on the Government of Morocco to end the legal exemption for rapists who marry their victims and to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced.


UPDATE 17 MAY 2012: 15-year-old Safae from Tangiers was raped and impregnated in January 2011 when she was 14. Though she and her mother filed a complaint, according to recent reports they were pressured to drop the charges by the prosecutor and the judge. Instead, without her parents being present, the judge allegedly made Safae marry her rapist in order to save her “honor.” By doing so, the law also removed the threat of criminal penalty on Safae’s rapist.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Safae gave birth to a girl in September 2011, but her rapist has disappeared and she and her daughter are not supported by him. Additionally, since the father is not named on the birth certificate, Safae’s rapist remains anonymous with his “honor” intact, while Safae is reported to be in a state of extreme depression, having twice attempted suicide.

As with the previous case of 16-year-old Amina Filali, who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist, this highlights the difficulties faced by Moroccan girls in achieving justice in sexual violence cases. Union de L'Action Feminine, a Moroccan women’s rights group, and other civil society organizations continue to call for the repeal of Article 475, described in detail below, as well as for the repeal of laws permitting judges at their discretion to authorize marriage of minors who are younger than the minimum age of marriage of 18 including in cases of sexual violence. La Marche Des Femmes Libres is organizing demonstrations throughout the country to ensure that rapists are not absolved of their crimes. Action is urgently needed to develop child protection mechanisms, including judicial training, so that judges cannot and do not push girls into marrying their rapists.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Continue to call on the Moroccan government officials below to:

  • Repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code and ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and have access to justice.
  • Ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and stop judges from coercing girls to marry their abusers particularly in cases of sexual violence.
  • Institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency. 
  • Comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution.

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

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!


On 11 March 2012, 16-year-old Amina Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison after being forced to marry her rapist. Neither Amina nor the rapist wanted to marry but court officials, including the prosecutor, suggested the marriage when the victim and her family reported the rape. Article 475 of the Penal Code of Morocco specifically exempts a minor’s “kidnapper” from punishment if she marries him. Culturally, the stigma of being raped is often too much for both rape victims and their parents, and many reluctantly agree to the marriage.

What You Can Do: 

Please call on the Moroccan government officials below to repeal Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code as a matter of urgency. Express the critical need, following the death of Amina Filali, to prevent future deaths and violations of girls’ and women’s rights and to ensure that girls and women are protected and have access to justice. Encourage them to comply with Morocco’s international legal obligations under the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its own Constitution. >> TAKE ACTION NOW!

 
Letters should go to:

Ministry of Justice and Liberties
Mr. Mustafa Ramid
Minister of Justice and Liberties
Fax: +212 5-37-26-31-03
Email: krtmed@gmail.com

Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Ms. Bassima Hakkaoui
Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development
Fax: +212 5-37-67-19-17
Email: a.elouadi@social.gov.ma

House of Representatives
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,

Following recent reports about 14-year-old Safae from Tangiers, who was allegedly forced by a judge to marry her rapist in order to save her “honor,” I urge you to work for the repeal of Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which specifically exempts a rapist from punishment if a girl marries him. In addition, I urge you to ensure that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced and to take measures to stop judges from coercing girls into marriage in cases such as this. I would respectfully encourage your government to do everything it can to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence and discrimination and have access to justice when they face abuse.

Countries with sex discriminatory laws like Article 475, such as Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay, have been amending them over the last several years. A very similar law in Argentina, Article 132 of the Penal Code, was just amended by the Argentine National Congress. If Morocco would do the same, this would also set an example for other countries in the region.

The repeal of Article 475 and ensuring that the prohibition on child marriage is enforced would be in line with the Moroccan Constitution and consistent with Morocco’s international legal obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Please also institute child protection measures and judicial training as matters of urgency to stop judges from marrying young girls to their rapists.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

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