Discrimination in law

Saudi Arabia: Give women equal opportunities to education & end male guardianship over women

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2011 Apr 5
Swsan and her father
Swsan and her father

Swsan Ali El Demini, a bright and ambitious 18-year-old Saudi girl, has dreams of getting the best education. However, Swsan’s education has been an uphill struggle.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia, the Minister of Higher Education, the Minister of Education and the Shura Council asking them to live up to their obligations under international law to provide men and women equal rights in education with equal access to all academic levels and equal resources and facilities. Urge them to revoke all requirements that hinder female students from pursuing their education at all stages including the requirement that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship. Urge them to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to pursue all levels of education with access to the same fields of study, educational resources and facilities and on the same terms as their male counterparts. Please send a copy to the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

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. Khaled Al Anqari
Minister of Higher Education
Tel: +966 1 441 5555     
Fax: +966 1 441 9004
contact@mohe.gov.sa

H.E. Faisal Bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Sud
Minister of Education
Fax: +96614057279

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

With a copy to:

The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Letters: 

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

[H.E. Dr. Khaled Al Anqari
Minister of Higher Education
Tel: +966 1 441 5555
Fax: +966 1 4419004
contact@mohe.gov.sa]

[H.E. Faisal Bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Sud            
Minister of Education]
Fax:96614057279+

[H.E. Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh
Speaker of the Shura
Shura Council
Tel: +966 1 4821666 , +966 1 4821666      
Fax: +9661 4816985
webmaster@shura.gov.sa]

[Date]

[Your Highness] [Dear Minister],

I am writing to express my deep concern about the system of male guardianship in Saudi Arabia which among other things restricts girls’ access to education and therefore, to a successful and productive future.  Girls cannot be educated without the consent of their male guardian, can be restricted from pursuing further studies at any level, cannot leave the premises of educational institutions without permission from a male guardian and cannot travel abroad to study on a government scholarship without a male guardian.  In addition, the Saudi sex-segregated education system also provides inferior facilities and restricted curricula and fields of study to women. 

A case in point is that of 18-year-old Swsan Ali El Demini who wants to continue her studies overseas in the United States.  However, as her family requires government assistance to cover the cost of a US education, Swsan is unable to apply because of the requirement of the Saudi Ministry of Education that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship.

I urge you to ensure that Saudi Arabia lives up to its obligations under international law to provide men and women equal rights in education with equal access to all academic levels and equal resources and facilities.  In this respect I urge you to revoke all requirements that hinder female students from pursuing their education at all stages including the requirement that a male guardian accompany any Saudi female who studies abroad on a government scholarship.  Please ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other things, to pursue all levels of education with access to the same fields of study, educational resources and facilities and on the same terms as their male counterparts.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Cc: The Human Rights Commission (email: hrc@haq-ksa.org)
       Shura Council
 

Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing + 10 Review Process

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2004 Mar 1

Beijing + 10 Report (pdf, 196KB)

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the heads of state of the countries mentioned in this report and call on them to ensure that the laws mentioned, and any other discriminatory laws in force, are repealed or amended before the agreed target date of 2005. Urge them to undertake and complete these reforms as a demonstration of their genuine commitment to the words and spirit of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and the Outcome Document adopted in 2000. To address the harmful and disproportionate impact on women of laws that are gender neutral in language, call on your own government to undertake a comprehensive review, in conjunction with women's groups in the country, of existing laws to identify and address any sex discriminatory impact these laws might have, through legal reform or other measures needed to ensure non-discriminatory implementation of the law. This appeal should be addressed to your Minister of Justice, as well as your President or Prime Minister. Share this report and your concerns with the media and the general public, to enlist their support in this campaign to hold governments accountable to the promises they made in the Beijing Platform for Action. Please keep us updated on your campaign efforts and let us know about discriminatory laws in your country and efforts underway to change them.

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

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 Aug 24

At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, 189 governments pledged in the Beijing Platform for Action to “revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex.” In 2000, the UN General Assembly established a target date of 2005 for revocation of all sex-discriminatory laws. Fifteen years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action, and five years past the set target date, numerous laws that explicitly discriminate against women are still in force.

What You Can Do: 

Please call on your government’s foreign ministry as a matter of urgency to support the creation by the Human Rights Council of a special mechanism on women’s equality before the law, including through active engagement in the half-day discussion at the September 2010 session of the Human Rights Council. 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 calling on the heads of state indicated in our Beijing +15 report to repeal or amend any discriminatory laws in force as a matter of urgency.

Sample letter

Rapid Response Alert: Equality Now Calls on Iran to Stop the Imminent Execution of Iranian Sisters Zohreh and Azar Kabiri Recently Sentenced to Death by Stoning for Adultery

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2008 Feb 8

In its latest assault on Iranian women’s rights, the Iranian judiciary has sentenced two sisters, Zohreh and Azar Kabiri to death by stoning. According to Iranian media reports, following allegations of adultery by Zohreh’s husband, the sisters were arrested in February 2007. In the first trial, which took place without defense counsel, the sisters were coerced to “confess” to adultery during the course of interrogations by the judge. The General Court of Ferdis found Zohreh and Azar guilty of “inappropriate relations” and sentenced them to 99 lashes.

What You Can Do: 

Please contact Iran’s Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi* urging him to release Zohreh and Azar Kabiri immediately and unconditionally from prison. Also urge him to release Kobra Najjar (see Women's Action 29.1 for more information about her case) and to commute all death sentences that have been passed and await execution. Iran must comply with its obligations under the ICCPR and ban the practice of stoning, and recognize adultery as a private act that should not incur criminal penalties.

*The contact information below functioned when previously tested, but you may encounter delivery problems so please keep trying to send your message. Thank you for taking action!

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Teheran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: iripr@iranjudiciary.org, irjpr@iranjudiciary.com and info@dadgostary-tehran.ir
Phone: +98 21 22741002, +98 21 22741003, +98 21 22741004, +98 21 22741005

In the United States please contact:
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
(Housed in the Embassy of Pakistan)
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 965-4990, (202) 965-4992, (202) 965-4993, (202) 965-4994, (202) 965-4999
Fax: (202) 965-1073
Email: requests@daftar.org

In the United Kingdom please contact:
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince's Gate
London SW7 1PT
Phone: 0207 225 3000
Fax: 0207 589 4440
Email: info@iran-embassy.org.uk

 

News Alert: Saudi Arabia: Equality Now issues urgent call for the immediate reunification of the family of Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani as the family’s health deteriorates

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jul 27

Equality Now recently called on the Saudi government to take urgent action to reunite Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani, a happily married couple who were forced to divorce against their will and have been living apart under duress for over three years. For more background on the case, please see Women's Action 31.1.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Saudi Ambassador in your country, urging the immediate reunification of Fatima, Mansour and their children so that they can attempt to rebuild their lives in peace and security without fear of persecution or abuse. Ask that the government put a stop to all forced divorces, so that couples who wish can reunite.

Contact information for Saudi embassies around the world can be found on the following websites:

http://www.the-saudi.net/saudi-arabia-directory/Saudi_Embassies/
http://www.saudinf.com/main/p1.htm

Please send copies of your letters to:

Dr. Bandar bin Abdullah El Aiban
President
The Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 58889 Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street
Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 14 612 061
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

 

Letters: 

Dear Ambassador:

It is with deep concern that I have learned of the severe trauma of 5-year-old Nuha, daughter of Fatima Bent Suleiman Al Azzaz and Mansour Ben Attieh El Timani, who were divorced by the Saudi authorities against their will and in breach of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The forced separation of Nuha and her younger brother Suleiman’s parents and their intolerable treatment by the Saudi authorities is not, by the government’s own admission, legally prescribed. I ask you to do all that you can to end this family’s suffering. Please ask the King to grant the immediate reunification of Fatima, Mansour and their children and allow them to rebuild their shattered lives without fear of persecution or abuse. I ask that you do the same for all other couples forcibly divorced in Saudi Arabia who wish to be reunited.

Sincerely yours,
 

News Alert: Pakistan: Equality Now Calls on the Government of Pakistan to Protect the Rights of Women and Girls in the Swat Valley and Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Feb 17

Please find below an opinion piece from today's UK Independent newspaper written by Equality Now. The piece highlights the deteriorating situation of law and order in the Swat and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan which is leading to increased violence and discrimination against women. It also questions the Government of Pakistan’s plans to implement shariah (Islamic law) as part of a peace deal with militants.

What You Can Do: 

Please contact the officials below urging them to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected and not sacrificed in order to appease militants in Swat and FATA.

President Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President's Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan

Mr Farooq Naik
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan

Mr Ameer Hussain Hoti
Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province
info@nwfp.gov.pk
Tel: +92- 92-9211705

Please also send copies of your messages to the Speaker of the House of Parliament:

Dr Fehmida Mirza
Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan
Parliament House
Islamabad, Pakistan
E-mail: speaker@na.gov.pk

 

Letters: 

[add address of relevant official]

Dear [name]

I am writing to express my deep concern about the violence and discrimination being faced by women and girls in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in Swat in Pakistan and, in particular, the latest reports that the Government of Pakistan is ready to approve the implementation of shariah law in these areas as part of a peace agreement.

A parallel, uncodified, justice system would not only bring confusion to those seeking to assert their rights, it would also risk denying them the protections provided by Pakistan’s national laws as well as under Pakistan’s Constitution. Given the record of the militants to date, evidence suggests that rights already provided by Pakistan’s Constitution, especially those of women and girls, would be denied or diminished under any system administered by the militants. This would be a violation of constitutional guarantees of equality among other things.

I would therefore respectfully urge the Government urgently to reject endorsement of any alternative legal system which does not guarantee equality to all. We would also urge you to take active steps to uphold and protect the rights of women and girls, including by effectively countering the militants’ ban on girls’ education and ensuring girls’ safe access to education.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely
 

News Alert: Pakistan: Fundamentalist Pressure in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan Has Led to Alarming Violence and Discrimination Against Girls and Women

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jan 1

Equality Now Calls on Pakistan's Government to Protect Girls and Ensure Their Right to Education

In late December 2008 the Taliban ordered a ban on girls’ education in the district of Swat in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The announcement made by an extremist cleric, Maulana Fazlullah through an illegal FM radio station, asked all parents to remove their daughters from school (both private and public) by 15 January 2009, failing which schools would be bombed, girls murdered and, like the recent case in Afghanistan, acid thrown in their faces.

What You Can Do: 

Equality Now is calling on the Government of Pakistan to take immediate action, coordinated between law enforcement, legislature (national and provincial), the Ministry of Education and other line ministries to ensure women and girls in FATA and Swat are able to fully exercise their rights without fear of violence or intimidation including the access of all girls to school as well as their security in school. In addition, the Government should reject the endorsement of any alternative legal system which does not guarantee to all citizens the rights provided under the Pakistani Constitution and the international human rights instruments to which Pakistan is a party. Please write to the officials listed below asking them to give immediate and urgent attention to eliminate the threat to girls’ education in Swat and to curb all moves to reduce or deny women’s rights in Pakistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President's Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan

Dr. Fehmida Mirza
Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan
Parliament House
Islamabad, Pakistan
E-mail: speaker@na.gov.pk

Meer Hazar Khan Bijarani
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: (0092-51) 920-1392, 921-2020
E-mail: minister@moe.gov.pk

 

Letters: 

[add address of relevant official]

Dear [President Zardari/Dr, Mirza/ Minister] [delete as appropriate]

I am writing to express my deep concern about the violence and discrimination being faced by women and girls in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Swat in Pakistan and, in particular, the targeting of girls’ schools by militants who have announced a ban on girls’ education effective 15 January 2009. I am also concerned about reports that the Government of Pakistan is considering the adoption of shariah (Islamic law) in these areas as a way to compromise with the militants.

I urge the Government of Pakistan to take immediate action, coordinated between law enforcement, legislature (both national and provincial), the Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries in order to ensure that women and girls in FATA and Swat are able to fully exercise their rights without fear of violence or intimidation, including the access of all girls to school as well as their security. I urge the Government to ensure that any intervention upholds Pakistan’s commitments to gender equality and education under its Constitution as well as under international human rights instruments ratified by it. As such, I would also urge you to reject the endorsement of any alternative legal system which does not guarantee equality to all.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely

 

News Alert: Iran: Equality Now Condemns the Abduction and Illegal Arrest of Iranian Human Rights Activist and Lawyer Shadi Sadr

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jul 1
Update Date: 
2009 Jul 28
Update: 

28 July 2009

Equality Now welcomes the news of Shadi Sadr's release from prison on 28 July 2009, following her illegal arrest on 17 July 2009 (please see below for history). Currently no further action is needed and we would like to thank all our members for their efforts in calling for Shadi's release.

Equality Now is deeply concerned for the welfare of human rights activist and lawyer Shadi Sadr who was allegedly beaten, manhandled and arrested without warrant in Tehran on 17 July on her way to Friday prayers. Her friends who were accompanying her have reported that she was dragged into a car by plain-clothes officials. Shadi struggled out of the car and managed to escape with her friends’ help, but was pursued by other officials who beat her violently with a baton and then drove her away.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Iranian Embassy in your country calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Shadi Sadr who was arrested without justification. Express your extreme concern about her assault at the hands of plain-clothes security officials. Ask for the release of all those currently detained for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. Contact information for Iranian embassies around the world can be found at:

http://www.offshorewave.com/embassies_show.php?country_id=98
http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Iran

 

News Alert: Iran: Equality Now Welcomes News of the Commutation Of Kobra Najjar’s Stoning But Condemns The Sentence Of 100 Lashings To Take Its Place

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2009 Jan 1
Update Date: 
2009 May 6
Update: 

6 May 2009

Equality Now welcomes news of Kobra Najjar's release from prison. Kobra is an Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery—a judgment based on the prostitution her abusive husband forced upon her in order to sustain his heroin addiction. We would like to thank all our members who campaigned against her execution by stoning and for her release. A campaign update will follow soon.
 

The Iranian government has commuted the execution of Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery—a judgment based on the prostitution her abusive husband forced upon her in order to sustain his heroin addiction.

What You Can Do: 

Please immediately contact Iran’s Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi* welcoming news of Zohreh and Azr Kabiri’s pending release and urging him to commute Kobra’s sentence for lashing and call for her immediate and unconditional release from prison. Call on him to do all that he can to end the cruel punishment of stoning once and for all.

*The contact information below functioned when previously tested, but you may encounter delivery problems so please keep trying to send your message. Thank you for taking action!

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
c/o Ministry of Justice
Park-e Shahr
Teheran
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: iripr@iranjudiciary.org, irjpr@iranjudiciary.com and info@dadgostary-tehran.ir
Phone: +98 21 22741002, +98 21 22741003, +98 21 22741004, +98 21 22741005

Please also contact the Iranian embassy in your country. The following link may help you find the contact information: http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/Iran/Iran.html

In the United States please contact:
Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran
(Housed in the Embassy of Pakistan)
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 965-4990, (202) 965-4992, (202) 965-4993, (202) 965-4994, (202) 965-4999
Fax: (202) 965-1073
Email: requests@daftar.org

In the United Kingdom please contact:
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince's Gate
London SW7 1PT
Phone: 0207 225 3000 Fax: 0207 589 4440
Email: info@iran-embassy.org.uk

Saudi Arabia: Women under Perpetual Guardianship of Male Relatives

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2010 May 17

On 17 February 2010, after four years of separation, Fatima Bent Suleiman, Mansour El Timani and their children were finally reunited following a decision by the Supreme Judiciary Council to overturn their forced divorce. Fatima’s marriage had been approved by Fatima’s father in 2003, but after his death her half-brothers petitioned for her divorce on the grounds of her tribal incompatibility with her husband. Fatima believes one reason for this was to enable her half-brothers through legal guardianship to retain control over her inheritance.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the King of Saudi Arabia and the Minister of Justice asking them to ensure that the Saudi legal and judicial system reflect the stated claim that women are not subject to male guardianship, but rather have the right, among other aspects, to enter into and stay in marriages of their choice without third party interference and make relevant decisions about their education, healthcare, travel and employment and other aspects of life. Urge them to support the establishment of a codified personal status law to guarantee the rights of women in marriage, divorce and all other aspects of life and to revoke the male guardianship system that hinders women’s participation in both private and public life. TAKE ACTION!

Letters should go to:

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

His Excellency Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Elkarim 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
P.O. Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahed Street, Building 373, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Email: hrc@haq-ksa.org

Sample letter

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