News / Africa

Libya's Women Activists Outraged by Court Ruling on Wives

Women hold banners during a demonstration for women's rights in Tripoli. The poster on the left reads,
Women hold banners during a demonstration for women's rights in Tripoli. The poster on the left reads, "Quota: Since two women equal one man (in Sharia law), there should be two women for every man in parliament. Then the formula will be perfect." Feb. 7, 2013.
Libya’s Supreme Court has overturned a marriage law requiring a husband to secure the approval of his first wife before taking a second. This ruling on multiple wives has horrified liberals, who fear the clock is being turned back on advances won during the revolution on women’s issues and the small gains already made under former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Earlier this month, the court quashed the Gadhafi-era Marriage Act (Law 10) requiring men to secure the consent of a first wife before taking a second.

Under the former legislation introduced by the late dictator, a husband had to go to court to seek permission to marry further wives, if he failed to gain approval of the first.

Shahrazad Magrabi, founding director of the non-governmental organization Libyan Women Forum, says the court’s decision to do away with the requirement adds to liberal worries that post-Gadhafi Libya will be more conservative than they hoped when it comes to women’s issues.

“At the beginning, we really were very surprised and very shocked as well. Because it is a right that we had, [and] we were able to get a few years ago and it is very important that women [think] at least they won’t be cheated, you know, because we feel that a person who is married to someone and then going and remarry without her consent is cheating and I don’t think Koran allows that,” said Magrabi.

She says that liberal activists will not accept this decision without a fight. But other women support the ruling because it is in line with Sharia law.

“I am not against the decision because it goes in line with religion, the Islamic religion. The Islamic religion allows a man to have four wives. He has to inform the wife, so the religion says he has to inform the wife if he wanted to get married, but it doesn’t say he has to take permission," stated Najwan ElHouni. "When Gadhafi had the decree that a man had to get the permission of the woman, he was just trying to get all the women on his side.“

Women played a critical role in the revolution that toppled Mr. Gadhafi -- from the perilous smuggling of guns and medicines to organizing media outreach. Now, women activists are upset that Prime Minister Ali Zeidan appointed only two women to his cabinet -- as ministers for social affairs and tourism.

When it comes to greater participation in politics, all women activists agree about the need for more involvement by women. But there is a growing division in Libya’s women’s movement when it comes to family issues.

Most women activists accept that a new constitution will be based on Islamic Sharia law and do not see any contradiction between that and their demands for greater gender equality and a bigger role for women.  

What concerns the more liberal activists is who interprets Sharia and how men apply it, says Farida Allaghi, a veteran human rights campaigner and founder of the Libyan Forum for Civil Society. “Here again, it is very disappointing and it is very sad that now they play with the interpretation of Islam in the 21st century to fit their agenda and to fit their interests and to fit their own ideology as men. This is not going to be acceptable by Libyan women anymore, anyway. This is not Islam," she said. "Islam has been hijacked.”

Liberals are now anxious that other Gadhafi-era laws will be struck down, including a measure that prohibits parents marrying off teenage daughters. And, they are fearful of other retrograde measures being introduced such as requiring women when traveling to be accompanied by a husband or a male relative.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs