News / Middle East

    HRW Calls on Libya to Protect Women's Rights

    A Libyan woman holds a pamphlet, which reads "Together to end the violence against women" during a gathering in Benghazi Nov. 25, 2012.
    A Libyan woman holds a pamphlet, which reads "Together to end the violence against women" during a gathering in Benghazi Nov. 25, 2012.
    Selah Hennessy
    The end of Moammar Gadhafi's 40-year rule in 2011 was a watershed moment for women, said a new report from Human Rights Watch. Women's rights are at contention as the country begins to draft a new constitution following four decades of dictatorship.

    The Libyan revolution was an "earthquake" to the cultural status of women in Libya, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Liesl Gerntholtz, the group's women’s rights director, said, "Women particularly feel that their participation in the revolution needs to be valued and that they need to be able to continue to be fully part of public life in Libya. But at the same time they want the tools to challenge the discrimination they feel in their private lives as well."

    The Human Rights Watch report published on Monday calls on the Libyan parliament to make sure that women are involved in the drafting process of a constitution. A Constituent Assembly, tasked with preparing the draft, is due to be chosen by popular election later this year.

    The international campaign group hopes that once the drafting is underway, full gender equality will be guaranteed in the constitution, including banning discrimination based on gender, pregnancy, or marital status.

    But even as women are benefiting in a post-Gadhafi era, there are also signs that progress could be derailed, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Last month, Libya's top religious authority, the grand mufti, called for the separation of men and women in all workplaces, classrooms, and government offices. Sheikh Sadeq al-Ghariani also called for a ban on women marrying foreigners.

    Gerntholtz said Libya's Supreme Court has also effectively lifted restrictions on polygamy.

    "There are very conservative elements in Libyan society and many of these feel very strongly that women should not be participating in public life, that women's role is in the home," said Gerntholtz. "So I think that this is really a struggle between some of those elements and a progressive element, that is partly led by women themselves, but that is supported by more progressive elements in Libyan society."

    Gerntholtz said the so-called "Arab Spring" in the Middle East has had mixed results for women.

    "There have been some positive indications, particularly around the area of participation where it seems there is an openness and a willingness for women to participate more fully in political and public life," Gerntholtz added. "But there has been a lot of rhetoric, especially in places like Egypt, that we need to be concerned about."

    In Libya, women have had some political success. In Libya's parliamentary elections last year, 33 women were elected to the 200-member General National Congress - making up around 15 percent of the parliament.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    May 27, 2013 11:16 AM
    The end of Moammar Gadhafi's 40-year rule in 2011 was a watershed moment for women, said a new report from Human Rights Watch.

    Yes, indeed. Under the Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi women had all the rights the men had. Now, they don't.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.