Women's Rights in Question in New Egyptian Constitution
Women's rights activists are protesting the draft constitution proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that will be voted on by the general public on December 15th, 2012. Many activists are worried that the draft constitution does not protect women's equality under the law and instead inserts women into the law as defined by traditional roles.
One of the most controversial aspects of the constitution is the assertion of Sharia, Islamic law, as the primary foundation of legislation. Many secular and women's activist believe that this assertion will allow for religious extremism to become the basis for laws restricting women's rights.
In addition, women activists believe that women's rights are not protected fully and the constitution reasserts women to traditional family roles. Article 10 provides free maternal and child health services, but also states the government will "enable the reconciliation between the duties of a woman toward her family and her work" which many fear is an indication the government will push women back into the home. Article 11 empowers the Egyptian government "to safeguard ethics, morality..." which could lead to extremist controls on women's freedoms under the guise of "morality." While proponents of the constitution argue that women are included as part of an equality article, many critics feel this article does not sufficiently protect women from discrimination under the law.
In a press conference, the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights said "The current draft constitution does not represent Egyptian women in any way, but progressively ignores their rights as citizens." An activist group, Nazra, issued a statement declaring: "The draft constitution ignores political participation of women, it did not adopt an electoral system to ensure their effective participation or that women are represented democratically within different elected assemblies."
"Women have not been mentioned in the constitution, only in family and divorce. Seventy-five per cent of Egyptian women work and there is no mention about their rights in the constitution," protester Mona Elwakel told the Toronto Star from Tahrir Square.
In December 2011, thousands of women gathered in Cairo as part of the "Million Women March" to protest police brutality towards female protestors. The march followed a widely broadcasted incident in which security forces brutally beat, kicked, and dragged a woman protestor. According to the New York Times, "Historians called the event the biggest women's demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women's activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world." Women were also a large population of protesters in the 2011 revolution protests in Tahrir Square that lead to the fall of former President Hosni Murbarak.
Media Resources: Women's e-News 12/13/12; Washington Post 12/12/12;All Africa 12/10/12;Toronto Star 12/10/12; Time 12/9/12; Feminist Newswire 12/22/11
3/25/2015 Afghan Woman Beaten to Death for Burning Koran - A 27-year-old woman who reportedly burned a copy of the Koran inside of a riverside shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan was brutally beaten and burned alive on Thursday.
Shocking videos quickly spread on social media showing crowds of men surrounded by hundreds of onlookers assaulting the 27-year-old Farkhunda with bricks and sticks and repeatedly kicking her. . . .
3/25/2015 Masked Intruder Attacks Last Abortion Clinic Standing in Mississippi - In the early hours of the morning Monday, a person in a mask wielding what appeared to be a machete attacked the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi.
The clinic revealed in a post on their website the details of the attack on what is affectionately referred to by staff and community members as The Pink House. . . .
3/17/2015 Vice President Biden Pledges 41 Million to Clear Rape Kit Backlog - Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Mikulski (D-MD) spoke yesterday at a Maryland State Police Laboratory to declare their support for a $41 million budget proposal to combat the national backlog of rape kits.
"Testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States of America," Vice President Biden said, referring to the estimated 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide. . . .