Bahrain: Advocacy for Divorced Women's Rights

Gulf Daily News

A CAMPAIGN is being stepped up to ensure that women in Bahrain emerge from divorce with alimony, rightful custody of their children and a roof over their heads. A Bahrain society is calling for law reforms and practical strategies to ensure divorced women their rights, without agonising court battles. Bahrain Women's Association for Human Development wants legislation and society to reflect the Quranic concept of divorce, which states a wife either be returned to her husband or "released (divorced) in kindness".

It says that far from being "released in kindness", many women suffer long court battles trying to secure custody, alimony and a place to live.

"Cases of divorce are increasing in courts and women suffer because they have to go to the court and it takes a long time to be resolved and they might not have money or a home," association board member Ebtisam Zaid told the GDN.

"They are not doing what the Quran says. It says let her return to her husband or be released in kindness, but a lot of women suffer.

"We want these cases to be resolved peacefully and responsibly."

The association will highlight the Quranic concept of divorce at a seminar to be held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, from 9am to 1.30pm on Saturday.

Religious scholars and women's rights experts will address the seminar, under the topic: "Retained in honour, or released in kindness".

Members of the public are invited to attend the discussion, which will point out problems and difficulties commonly associated with divorce, such as achieving equality between women and men.

The seminar will look into opportunities to bridge the gap between the current legislation and practical applications in divorce, with the attempt to find realistic solutions to reduce social and institutional practices that oppress women.

"What we read in the Quran is not what we see in practice," said Ms Zaid.

"We need to look at why there is a gap and come up with practical solutions to reduce this gap.

"We want to focus on women from an Islamic view of the world, we want to show that Islam gives equal rights to women."

The association is holding the seminar as a step towards setting practical tools or a road map at legislative and judiciary levels, as well as reforms to ensure the rights of ex-spouses after divorce.

Its aim is to lay down proposals for laws and practical strategies to ensure women's rights to alimony, custody, and housing, in the context of being "released in kindness" and in line with best practices implemented in developed countries.

The seminar is the third in a series of discussions held under the titled: Women: A New Paradigm, which is a consciousness-raising initiative focusing on women's rights and her role in society.

The project is intended to benefit all sectors of society and deals with women's issues in a new context. This initiative was launched in March on the occasion of Family Day as an attempt to activate resolutions from an earlier conference the association organised in 2007, entitled: Advancement of women... A Human Perspective. The Women: A New Paradigm series seeks to bring understanding to controversial issues that have a direct impact on a woman's status and eligibility to perform her humanitarian role in life.

By Rebecca Torr,  Posted on » Tuesday, December 29, 2009