Rights groups back activist

3 Jun, '05

TWO international human rights organisations have condemned charges filed against women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer.

Ms Jamsheer, who heads the Women’s Petition Committee says she will go to jail rather than be silenced.

Human Rights Watch and the Arab Programme for Human Rights Activists (APHRA) have each called for all charges against her to be dropped.

Ms Jamsheer, who heads the Women’s Petition Committee, is accused of defaming three judges in three separate cases.

The judges claim that she libelled them in the Press and elsewhere when she questioned the judgements they passed.

One case begins tomorrow, a second on June 15 and a third on June 19.

“Ghada Jamsheer is being punished for exposing the injustice that women face in the courtroom,” said Human Rights Watch women’s rights director LaShawn R Jefferson.

“These lawsuits are a blatant attempt to silence her and undermine the reform efforts she spearheads.

“Rather than putting one of Bahrain’s most committed activists on trial, the government should work with Ghada Jamsheer to immediately address the issues that her organisation has brought to light.”

APHRA issued a statement denouncing the use of the judiciary to suppress human rights activities. “APHRA demands the nullification of the charges against Ms Jamsheer in conformity with the international commitments and reforms undertaken by Bahraini authorities to ensure citizens’ rights.”

The statement called on other regional and international human rights groups to support Ms Jamsheer.

Activists in the Women’s Petition Committee have been demanding the codification of Bahrain’s family laws and the reform of its family courts.

In April 2003, the organisation collected 1,700 signatures on a petition demanding legislative and judicial reform of these courts.

For the past four years, Ms Jamsheer has organised protests, vigils and a hunger strike, to draw attention to what campaigners say is the suffering of women in the family court system.

Two separate sharia (Islamic law) based family courts exist for Sunni and Shia Muslims in Bahrain.

These courts hear personal status cases, including marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance cases.

Ms Jamsheer says it is her right to publicly criticise something she sees as being harmful to society and women in particular. “I’m prepared to go to jail if I have to in order to fight for the rights of women,” she told the GDN. “I have nothing against the judges personally. I am only fighting for what I believe is right.”

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  1. anonymous says:

    Rights groups back activist

    Malik ..

    Instead of working overtime in DC trying to overthrow the Al Saud and defending your puritan version of Islam .. why don’t you contribute more significantly to the issue of women’s rights in Islam than merely using the Prophet’s words that can be interpreted in any ambigious way??? The BIGGEST opposition Ghada has is based on religious grounds, because she is asking for the dissolution of the Sharia Courts. Yes, your precious Sharia that used to work when we had decent judges and is being abused by these sex starved self appointed doctors of jurisprudence.

    Let me tell you why the majority of people on this web site get upset with you sometimes. It has nothing to do with you as a person, or your passionate belief in Islam. It is the fact that you dont seem to recognize that these so called religiously enlightened *political reformers* on this island start with religion and then use all their will and their might to use to oppress the people.

    Let me give you a snippet of why you are fighting the wrong battle.

    I was in a government institution this morning. After finishing my business, I got pulled aside by a civil servant, and asked very politely to wear an abbaya. His justification being that even though I had impeccable manners, it would be better if I wore an abbaya. I looked at this man point blank and had to do everything in my power to restrain myself and act with dignity. I responded by saying that we were turning into Saudi Arabia and eventually the Taliban. One day its the abbaya. The next its where I work. And its only a matter of time before they forbid education and schooling for women. The man looked at me and told me that Bahrain would never let things get to that level. I stood my ground and disagreed. Twenty years ago – we didnt have the conservatism that we have now. And, more fundamentally, we didnt have the prostitution that we have now – because not all who are veiled and cloaked are guaranteed to have ‘decent’ morals.

    So, with all due respect to your passion for the Koran and Islam – the ONLY reason that people here are now just even beginning to talk about human rights and individual rights is because the US is putting enough pressure on governments to make it an issue. And quite frankly, I am starting to despise this religion and how the men here have no problems abusing it for their own idiosyncratic insecurities. So, screw any turban short thobed sex obsessed idiot who is going to come and tell me what he thinks Islam does and does not allow for me.

    What scared me was that this gentleman honestly though he was doing me a favor. He had kind eyes and a nice smile. But – he was totally brainwashed. I felt like screaming. Who the hell was he to even think that he had a right to tell me what to wear??

    This obsession with Islam is disgusting. If people want to do Islam a favor – start with philosophy – the mystical side. And keep it well away from governing what people do in their personal lives.

    Angry as Hell

  2. anonymous says:

    Re: Rights groups back activist

    [quote]Malik ..
    Instead of working overtime in DC trying to overthrow the Al Saud and defending your puritan version of Islam .. why don’t you contribute more significantly to the issue of women’s rights in Islam than merely using the Prophet’s words that can be interpreted in any ambigious way??? The BIGGEST opposition Ghada has is based on religious grounds, because she is asking for the dissolution of the Sharia Courts. Yes, your precious Sharia that used to work when we had decent judges and is being abused by these sex starved self appointed doctors of jurisprudence. [/quote]

    Why are you attack me on this issue? I agree with you 100%! My “puritan version of Islam” would have me marked as a Kafir by the Salafee and Wahabis out there. I am not sure that Shari’a ever worked. Why? Because at the end of the day it is left entirely up to a man, or a group of men, to decide someone’s fate based on sources that are not entirely agreed upon, not to mention even when the issue is agreed upon it is still up to the indivdual man or men to interpret how punishment is to be handed out.
    [quote]Let me tell you why the majority of people on this web site get upset with you sometimes. It has nothing to do with you as a person, or your passionate belief in Islam. It is the fact that you dont seem to recognize that these so called religiously enlightened *political reformers* on this island start with religion and then use all their will and their might to use to oppress the people. [/quote]

    Again, I dont know why you are attacking me on this subject. I am not a supporter or even a defender of many of these people. My support lays mostly with those seeking secular reform. Why? Because I do not want someone else’s view of the religion being forced down my throat or anyone else’s. The only solution to that is to allow people to practice religion the way they want to, regardless. This is why I always say that for many reasons the US is actually the best place in the world to be a Muslim. Here we can practice our religion as we like without interference. I firmly believe the US is the most Islamic nation in the world, in its domestic policies. On the other hand, most “Muslim” countries are about as far away from Islam as one can get.

    [quote]I was in a government institution this morning. After finishing my business, I got pulled aside by a civil servant, and asked very politely to wear an abbaya. His justification being that even though I had impeccable manners, it would be better if I wore an abbaya. I looked at this man point blank and had to do everything in my power to restrain myself and act with dignity. I responded by saying that we were turning into Saudi Arabia and eventually the Taliban. One day its the abbaya. The next its where I work. And its only a matter of time before they forbid education and schooling for women. The man looked at me and told me that Bahrain would never let things get to that level. I stood my ground and disagreed. Twenty years ago – we didnt have the conservatism that we have now. And, more fundamentally, we didnt have the prostitution that we have now – because not all who are veiled and cloaked are guaranteed to have ‘decent’ morals. [/quote]

    Again, why you attack me with this or expect me to defend this is beyond me. My wife doesnt wear hijab let alone abbaya, nor do I think I, as her husband, have the right to tell her to. Why would I defend the right of a man not related to you to even talk to you about it? This issue, like most religious issues, should be 100% between God and the person in question. If this man knew his religion he would know that intention is EVERYTHING. You wearing an abbaya because you were asked to would mean nothing because it is a personal issue between you and God. I would like to know why this man even noticed you? As a “religious man” he should have had his eyes lowered and should not have been talking to you unless he had business with you in the first place.

    My wife had a similiar experience trying to get our son’s passport renewed at the Saudi Embassy here. She was made, by the Consular, to show up five days in a row. Every day she showed up he “required” more information. At the end he even started questioning her why she was living in the US without a Saudi male here with her to watch over her. “Where do you get your money from”…..”who do you live with”……”why are no male family members here with you”. She couldnt even tell him she was married to me because the Saudis do not recognise marriages to foreigners unless you get permission from the Ministry of the Interior first. This is an easy process for a Saudi man marrying a foreigner, a very hard issue for a Saudi woman marrying a foreigner. She had to get permission from a male family member in Saudi to even be able to renew her own son’s passport. So I understand your fury. I have sat in the Charge D’Affairs office here at the DC Saudi Embassy, talking until I was blue in the face trying to get our marriage recognised and trying to get my mother-in-laws pension reinstated only to be told “better if they move back to Saudi.” I have found now that it seems that the only way we are going to get our marriage recognised and be able to travel to Saudi together is by using “wasta” from family members in Saudi.
    [quote]So, with all due respect to your passion for the Koran and Islam – the ONLY reason that people here are now just even beginning to talk about human rights and individual rights is because the US is putting enough pressure on governments to make it an issue. And quite frankly, I am starting to despise this religion and how the men here have no problems abusing it for their own idiosyncratic insecurities. So, screw any turban short thobed sex obsessed idiot who is going to come and tell me what he thinks Islam does and does not allow for me. [/quote]

    I agree with you on the attitude of men. I honestly think they do this not out of religious passion, but out of outdated cultural garbage. Dont hate the religion because of the people. These people are not Islam. Like it is said, in the last days holding onto your religion will be like holding onto lit charcoal. I think this is directly because of people like this. People who distort the religion for their own means make it as hard to remain a good Muslim as those who would try to lead you away from the religion. In the end they often have the same affect. As to the US, I dispute your claim. Reform was blowing in the wind long before the US invaded Iraq, and people in the Middle East will be fighting for it, without US help, long after the US leaves Iraq. Two recent things have had much more of an impact that the US, first the death of Arafat and second the murder of Hariri. Both of them dwarf the US invasion of Iraq in regards to influencing the reform movement. Little or nothing of what is going on in the way of reform in the Middle East has to do with the US. Tell me how the Kifaya movement in Egypt owes anything to the US invasion? Or the shift of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt away from armed struggle and towards political reform has anything to do with the US? It doesnt. The reform movements in the Middle East are home grown and home inspired. That is a good thing, reform must come from within, it must come from the will of the people or it will never succede.
    [quote]What scared me was that this gentleman honestly though he was doing me a favor. He had kind eyes and a nice smile. But – he was totally brainwashed. I felt like screaming. Who the hell was he to even think that he had a right to tell me what to wear?? [/quote]

    He had no right. He should have been worrying more about himself. He gains no reward for telling you how to live your life.
    [quote]This obsession with Islam is disgusting. If people want to do Islam a favor – start with philosophy – the mystical side. And keep it well away from governing what people do in their personal lives.
    Angry as Hell [/quote]

    I think obsession with anything is disgusting and unhelpful. The middle of the road is the best path. Sway too far to either way and you misunderstand what it is all about. Such people are not likely to heed your calls to look to the mystical side of Islam, Sufism, because many such people view it as heresy. I, myself, am a big fan of many aspects of Sufism, and I am a big fan of Hafiz. I realise that most of the spread of Islam is due to various Sufi sects.

  3. anonymous says:

    Rights groups back activist

    “As to the US, I dispute your claim. Reform was blowing in the wind long before the US invaded Iraq, and people in the Middle East will be fighting for it, without US help, long after the US leaves Iraq. Two recent things have had much more of an impact that the US, first the death of Arafat and second the murder of Hariri. Both of them dwarf the US invasion of Iraq in regards to influencing the reform movement. Little or nothing of what is going on in the way of reform in the Middle East has to do with the US.”

    Bullshit.

    Because, no-one here ever gave a damn about woman’s rights until the UNDP Human Devlopment Report and until the US created a big stink about it. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any of the women who have been trying to put this issue on the agenda for years.

    Angry, formerly known as Angry as Hell.

  4. anonymous says:

    Re: Rights groups back activist

    “[quote]As to the US, I dispute your claim. Reform was blowing in the wind long before the US invaded Iraq, and people in the Middle East will be fighting for it, without US help, long after the US leaves Iraq. Two recent things have had much more of an impact that the US, first the death of Arafat and second the murder of Hariri. Both of them dwarf the US invasion of Iraq in regards to influencing the reform movement. Little or nothing of what is going on in the way of reform in the Middle East has to do with the US.”
    Bullshit.
    Because, no-one here ever gave a damn about woman’s rights until the UNDP Human Devlopment Report and until the US created a big stink about it. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any of the women who have been trying to put this issue on the agenda for years.
    Angry, formerly known as Angry as Hell. [/quote]

    I don’t buy the statement and am ignoring the cursing. People did care about women’s rights and other issues, it just never made the news. Listen, either way the movement MUST be a homegrown one and it MUST be propelled by the people of the nation in question or it will fail. If you say that the movement for reform comes from the US and is inspired by the US that means it is doomed to fail. Only a movement carried out BY the people, with the inspiration FROM the people, will succeed. If it comes from outside sources it will not last. The first claim was the reform was coming from the US, now it is whittled down to women’s rights. Like I have said before, the reformers, across the board, were there before the US got involved (in whatever limited capacity it has gotten involved) and will be there long after the US looses any interest. I just hope the people get on board and drop the apathy that seems to dominate the region.

  5. anonymous says:

    Rights groups back activist

    malik & angry

    chill out….. both of you.
    ‘angry’ it totally right.
    bow down and stop blowing your horn.
    send a donation to our friend Ghada, and lets move on.

    filled with laughter

  6. anonymous says:

    Re: Rights groups back activist

    [quote]send a donation to our friend Ghada, and lets move on. [/quote]

    A good recommendation for everyone.

    Filled with hope.

  7. anonymous says:

    ROOT NODE – PLACEHOLDER. DO NOT DELETE!

    This is for internal use and works only as a place holder. PLEASE do NOT delete this comment as it could have detrimental effects on the consistency of the comments table.

  8. anonymous says:

    Rights groups back activist

    Ghada Jamsheer is not only fighting for women’s rights, but she is highlighting the fact that the
    judges are incompetant and biased. One of the women there was holding a poster with the name of the judge and her case number. She lost custody of her children for the simple fact that she was working, and that she works at Geant. Things have to change in Bahrain. Why should someone who makes a salary of BD150 be allowed to take a second wife, when he can’t afford to feed his first one and their children? Why should a divorcee receive BD 30 from her husband when he makes over BD500 a month. Ghada is not asking for something impossible, she is demanding that women receive their basic rights.

  9. anonymous says:

    Rights groups back activist

    Like the Prophet(SAW) is reported to have said “For every three judges, two are in hell.” I believe it.

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