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, "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.
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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid