News / Africa

Womens' Rights Unclear in Post-Gadhafi Libya

As Libya heads toward elections, there are Western concerns its new government could move towards conservative Islam and limit the rights of women.

On Libya’s Liberation Day, transitional leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said in the new Libya he wants men to be allowed to marry up to four wives, without getting permission from their existing wives, as a Gadhafi-era law required.

That raises concerns in the West, and among some Libyans.  But many Libyans take the announcement in stride, including unmarried 19-year-old university student Zakia Hassan who acknowledges that the arrangement of her future husband with multiple wives would not be a problem for her.

But other Libyan women express concerns. One woman stated: “I have no objection to Sharia, but we should not just give men the right to marry additional women and forget about the rights of his other wives.” Another, “I have no objection to men taking multiple wives, but not my husband.  Only if I’m sick and can’t take care of him.  But if I’m OK, no way I could accept that.” Yet another, “A man has the right to marry another woman, but he should get permission from his first wife.”

Libyan lawyer Manal al-Deber, who lived in Britain for 14 years, thinks Westerners are too worried about this aspect of Islam. “Everybody’s scared on this point," she said. "But when you give man authority to do it, he will run away from it [laughs]. “

Several men indicate she might be right. One man stated: "One wife is just enough.  We have many problems, and more than one wife, come on, we can take one and we can say that that’s it.  More than one, it might be a difficult problem." Another, "“If you ask me for my own opinion, one woman is too enough for me.”

But clothing importer Marukh Dubruk has a different view. “I already have two wives, and I will take a third, God willing," he said. In Sharia, we can have up to four wives, but a man must be fair with all of them.”

One concern is that allowing multiple wives would go along with limits on women’s rights.  But Libyan psychiatrist Iman Farhad, a mother of two, is not worried about that. “My husband wouldn’t do that.  And if he is going to do that, he doesn’t need my permission," she stated. "He can do it without that."

That is not going to convince those who worry about the future of women’s rights in Libya.  

But in fact the revolution inspired some women to get more involved in their society.  One organization that sprung up is Heartfelt Promise, founded by housewife Su’ad al-Feituri and several of her neighbors. “The goal is to raise the standards of Libyan women, for example by teaching them how to operate computers and how to speak English," she said."Democracy starts from the smallest units of society, and then it expands.”

All across the country, women joined in the celebrations of Libya’s liberation.  But as Libyans build their new society, one question they will have to answer is to what extent women will truly be involved.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

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