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".

Naming a woman as the next secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will solve the standoff between Qatar and the other GCC states over the name of the next official for the top post, a Saudi activist and columnist has said. “Since there seems to be a crisis that is likely to prolong over the name of the top official, the possible solution I see is to choose a female secretary-general with a high academic and diplomatic profile. I do not think that selecting a qualified woman will cause opposition since there are many women who have recently held high political positions,” Hatoon Al Fassi, an expert on women’s rights and a columnist with a Saudi newspaper, wrote.

حت عنوان "واحة الإفلات من المحاسبة والعقاب"، يصدر مركز القاهرة لدراسات لحقوق الإنسان اليوم تقريره السنوي الثاني حول حقوق الإنسان في العالم العربي خلال عام 2009. ويأسف مركز القاهرة لدراسات لحقوق الإنسان لأن يعلن للرأي العام، أن حالة حقوق الإنسان في هذه المنطقة، تتجه إلى المزيد من التدهور، حتى بالمقارنة مع الوضع المتدهور عام 2008. يستعرض التقرير أبرز التطورات ذات الصلة في 12 بلد عربي، هي مصر وتونس والجزائر والمغرب والسودان ولبنان وسوريا وفلسطين والعراق والسعودية والبحرين واليمن.

Today the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released its second annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world for the year 2009.  The report, entitled Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform, concludes that the human rights situation in the Arab region has deteriorated throughout the region over the last year. The report reviews the most significant developments in human rights during 2009 in 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. It also devotes separate chapters to the Arab League and an analysis of the performance of Arab governments in UN human rights institutions.

كثفت السلطات البحرينية من برنامجها في التسويق السياسي مستغلة المرأة من عدة جوانب واستخدامها كماكنة ترويج دون أن يتحقق قبال ذلك تطور حقيقي لوضع المرأة على مستوى الحقوق المدنية والسياسية والإقتصادية والاجتماعية والثقافية. ففي الوقت الذي تروج السلطات لمشاركة المرأة في الحياة السياسية وإبرازها كمؤشر للتقدم والإصلاح، فان ذلك في الواقع العملي يقتصر على توظيف عدد محدود جدا من النساء في وظائف عليا بناء على انتقاء سياسي وطائفي، وليس بتطوير النظام الوظيفي بحيث يوفر لعشرات الآلاف من النساء المؤهلات فرص الحصول على الوظائف العامة وفرص التطور الوظيفي دون تمييز على اساس الجنس او الانتماء العرقي او الطائفي. اما فيما يتعلق بالمشاركة في العملية الديمقراطية فإن السلطة تبالغ في تسويق برامج التدريب والدعم لعشرات من النساء ليخضن انتخابات المجالس البلدية والنيابية، في حين لا تتمتع تلك المجالس بسلطات حقيقية، ولا يعتبر دخول النساء او الرجال في تلك المجالس فرصا حقيقية لاتخاذ القرار الذي تسيطر عليه الفئة الحاكمة من خارج تلك المجالس.

The Bahraini Authorities stepped up the political propaganda built on the exploitation of women for promotional purposes, without a real evolution of women’s legal, civil, political, economical, social or cultural rights. While authorities are promoting the involvement of women in the political scene and presenting the program as a proof of progress and reforms, in reality, the program is limited in practice by employing a limited number of women in high positions selected on the basis of political and sectarian affiliation, and not on sound career qualifications, a process which discriminates against thousands of qualified women due to their gender, sectarian and tribal affiliation. 

Umbassil* is unlike other engaged women. Instead of planning her wedding she is wondering where she will have her baby. She is not pregnant but she knows that Bahrain's maternity hospitals will not admit her because she is HIV positive. The 26 year old who refuses to allow HIV to stop her from living her life to the fullest, is bothered by the prospect of being forced to deliver her baby in a country other than her own. "I have come to terms with artificial insemination and caesarean section (C-section) to protect my future husband and baby from contracting the virus, but I cannot accept (that I have) to deliver far away from my country and family members," she told IPS. 

Women in Arab countries are making human rights history as they break down barriers to being treated as full citizens in their own countries. In the past few years, women in Algeria, Egypt, and Morocco married to foreigners have won the right to convey their citizenship to their children. Algerian women can also now extend citizenship rights to their spouses.

In the Middle East and North Africa, where political change occurs slowly, blogging has becomes a serious medium for social and political commentary as well as a target of government suppression, writes Mohamed Abdel Dayem. Before the June presidential election, the Iranian government blocked access to more than a dozen social networking sites and online news sources perceived as favoring opposition candidates. Hours before polls opened, SMS, or short message service for mobile phones, was disrupted and remained offline for weeks. The day after the election, the government shut down mobile phone service for an entire day.

Posted by Yusra: While in Washington, D.C., last month, I attended a forum on Muslim women’s rights titled “Women and the Politics of Change in the Middle East,” at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. It was sponsored by the Women’s Learning Partnership, an international NGO dedicated to women’s leadership and empowerment, especially in Muslim majority countries. The event was held to honor the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW). CEDAW is a U.N. treaty aimed at providing a universal framework for women’s rights.

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