News / Africa

Womens' Rights Unclear in Post-Gadhafi Libya

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid