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Category Archives: women’s rights


Women Living Under Muslim Laws is an international solidarity network that provides information, support and a collective space for women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam.

For more than two decades WLUML has linked individual women and organisations. It now extends to more than 70 countries ranging from South Africa to Uzbekistan, Senegal to Indonesia and Brazil to France. It links:

  • women living in countries or states where Islam is the state religion, secular states with Muslim majorities as well as those from Muslim communities governed by minority religious laws;
  • women in secular states where political groups are demanding religious laws;
  • women in migrant Muslim communities in Europe, the Americas, and around the world;
  • non-Muslim women who may have Muslim laws applied to them directly or through their children;
  • women born into Muslim communities/families who are automatically categorized as Muslim but may not define themselves as such, either because they are not believers or because they choose not to identify themselves in religious terms, preferring to prioritise other aspects of their identity such as political ideology, profession, sexual orientation or others.

Our name challenges the myth of one, homogenous ‘Muslim world’. This deliberately created myth fails to reflect that: a) laws said to be Muslim vary from one context to another and, b) the laws that determine our lives are from diverse sources: religious, customary, colonial and secular. We are governed simultaneously by many different laws: laws recognised by the state (codified and uncodified) and informal laws such as customary practices which vary according to the cultural, social and political context.


WLUML was formed in 1984 in response to three cases in Muslim countries and communities in which women were being denied rights by reference to laws said to be ‘Muslim’ requiring urgent action. Nine women from Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Mauritius, Tanzania, Bangladesh and Pakistan came together and formed the Action Committee of Women Living Under Muslim Laws in support of local women’s struggles. This evolved into the present network in 1986. The network is guided by Plans of Action which are reviewed periodically.


The network aims to strengthen women’s individual and collective struggles for equality and their rights, especially in Muslim contexts.

It achieves this by:

  • Breaking the isolation in which women wage their struggles by creating and reinforcing linkages between women within Muslim countries and communities, and with global feminist and progressive groups;
  • Sharing information and analysis that helps demystify the diverse sources of control over women’s lives, and the strategies and experiences of challenging all means of control.

WLUML’s current focus is on the three themes of, fundamentalisms, militarization, and their impact on women’s lives, and sexuality. As a theme, violence against women cuts across all of WLUML’s projects and activities.


WLUML’s open structure has been designed to maximize participation of diverse and autonomous groups and individuals as well as collective decision-making. WLUML does not have formal membership and networkers are a fluid group of individuals and organisations who maintain regular two-way contact with the network.

The Programme Implementation Council (PIC) comprises 20-30 women and men involved in aspects of cross-regional networking within WLUML for a significant period of time. They take primary responsibility for developing and implementing the Plans of Action.

The International Coordination Office (ICO) has primary responsibility for facilitating coordination between networkers. Regional Coordination Offices are in Pakistan (Asia) and Senegal (Africa and Middle East) and are responsible for coordinating network activities in their respective regions. Although legally and financially autonomous, they are key components of WLUML. Based on their connections with networkers, and their knowledge and understanding of networkers’ activities and contexts, the ICO and Regional Offices ensure that the relevant people in the network are meeting, strategizing, planning and acting so as to support each other and thereby strengthen local, regional and global effectiveness.


WLUML focuses on laws and customs and the concrete realities of women’s lives. This includes the often diverse practices and laws classified as ‘Muslim’ (resulting from different interpretations of religious texts and/or the political use of religion) and the effects these have on women, rather than on the religion of Islam itself.

The network consciously builds bridges across identities – within our contexts and internationally. We are especially concerned about marginalized women. This includes non-Muslims in Muslim majority states, especially where spaces for religious minorities is rapidly dwindling; Muslim minorities facing discrimination, oppression, or racism; women whose assertions of sexuality – including but not limited to sexual orientation – are either criminalized or are socially

WLUML recognises that women’s struggles are interconnected and complementary, and therefore has a commitment to international solidarity.

WLUML actively endorses plurality and autonomy, and consciously reflects, recognises and values a diversity of opinions. Individuals and groups linked through the network define their own particular priorities and strategies according to their context.

The personal has always played an important part in the work of WLUML, which values the solidarity and active support that the networkers extend to each other by way of personal links.


Solidarity & Alerts
WLUML responds to, circulates and initiates international alerts for action and campaigns as requested by networking groups and allies. WLUML also provides concrete support for individual women in the form of information on their legal rights, assistance with asylum applications, and links with relevant support institutions, psychological support, etc.

Networking & Information Services
WLUML puts women in direct contact with each other to facilitate a non-hierarchical exchange of information, expertise, strategies and experience. Networking also involves documenting trends, proactively circulating information among networkers and allies, generating new analysis, and supporting networkers’ participation in exchanges and international events. While WLUML prioritises the needs of networkers, it also selectively responds to requests for information from, for example, academics, activists, the media, international agencies and government institutions.

Capacity Building
WLUML consciously builds the capacity of networking groups through internships at the coordination offices, and exchanges, trainings and workshops.

Publications and Media
WLUML collects, analyses and circulates information regarding women’s diverse experiences and strategies in Muslim contexts using a variety of media. It translates information into and from French, Arabic and English wherever possible. Networking groups also translate information into numerous other languages.

An active publications programme produces:

  • A theme based Dossier, an occasional journal which provides information about the lives, struggles and strategies of women in various Muslim communities and countries;
  • A quarterly Newsheet on women, laws and society by Shirkat Gah, WLUML Asia Regional Coordination Office;
  • Occasional Papers – specific studies and materials which, for reasons of length or style, cannot be included in the Dossier series and;
  • Other publications on specific issues of concern such as family laws, women’s movements, initiatives and strategies, etc.

For more information and to download WLUML publications, please visit

The WLUML website is in English, French and Arabic and updated regularly with news and views, calls for action and publications.

Collective Projects
Collective projects have included topic-specific initiatives that arise out of the shared needs, interests and analysis of networkers. Networking groups and individuals are free to participate, or not, according to their needs and capacity, and collective projects have involved from three to over twenty networking groups and lasted from a few months to ten years. Projects are principally coordinated and implemented by networking groups or individual networkers in their respective countries or communities; the coordination offices provide facilitation when necessary.

Collective projects have included training sessions, workshops, research for advocacy, meetings and exchanges around specialised topics.

Previous projects include:

  • Exchange programme (1988)
  • Qur’anic interpretations meetings (1990) and for West African networkers (2002) and Francophone West Africa (2004)
  • Women and Law in the Muslim world programme (1991-2001)
  • Feminism in the Muslim World Leadership Institutes (1998 and 1999)
  • Gender and displacement in Muslim contexts (1999-2002)
  • Initiative for Strengthening Afghan Family Laws – INSAF (2002 – present)


Africa & Middle East Coordination Office
Groupe de Recherche sur les Femmes et les Lois au Senegal (GREFELS)

PO BOX 5330, Dakar Fann, Dakar, Senegal

Asia Coordination Office
Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre

PO Box 5192, Lahore, Pakistan

International Coordination Office
PO Box 28445, London, N19 5NZ, UK


International LGBT Organizations


Films about LGBT Arabs

LGBTIQ Arab groups around the world






Gay Research, Gay Medical International

Cairo, May 20, 2008, The Egyptian Underground Film Society (EUFS) is proud to announce the world premiere of its first production, All My Life, at Frameline 32, The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, June 19-29, 2008, the world’s oldest and largest queer film festival! All My Life falls firmly into the category of Queer Cinema.

Its protagonists are gay men, and we see their problems facing up to persecution and discrimination, particularly in the wake of the 2001 witch-hunts against them, the most famous being the Queen Boat arrests in which 52 alleged homosexuals were tried in a national security court.

Although Egyptian cinema, since its inception, has presented many homosexual characters, most of these have been comic devices inserted to generate a few cheap laughs. The only serious portrayals of homosexuality have been through a few minor characters in a handful of Egyptian films like Salah Abou Seif’s The Bathhouse of Malatily (1973), Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria… Why? (1978), Asmaa Bakry’s Mendiants et Orgueilleux (1991), Yousry Nasrallah’s Marcides (1993), and Marwan Hamed’s The Yacoubian Building (2007). However, these were presented in a manner so subtle, merely hinted at, to be detected by the initiated.

All My Life tells the story of people whose story remains unheard. It is a tale of difference, of those who have been silenced and forced to disappear. The movie embodies the 1970s feminist quote, “The personal is political.” Even now, human rights activists expect gays and lesbians to wait until other, “more important” issues are resolved. But piecemeal freedom is no freedom at all; and the most important step towards it is making sure the oppressed have a voice.

The title “Toul Omri/All My Life” is based on the title of an Egyptian song from the 1930s, “Toul Omri Ayesh Liwahdi” (“All My Life I’ve Lived Alone”) by Mohamad Abdel-wahab . The song speaks of loneliness while among family and friends, and the search for a soulmate. Other than being the central metaphor for the film, the song (played briefly during the movie) also harks back to the spirit of an age, not so long ago, when society was more liberal and the spread of political fundamentalism had not yet encroached onto the private sphere.

All My Life was shot against overwhelming odds: a no-budget film shot on location in Cairo and California, it took three years to finish and depended on volunteer work and the assistance of the community. Shooting in the street, in borrowed locations and their own homes, the cast and crew of the movie doubled as key grips, boom operators, set builders and refreshment servers. The result was a team effort in every sense of the word.

Despite the risks (all the Egyptian scenes were shot guerrilla-style due to government restrictions on street filming), it was absolutely indispensable for the film to be shot both in Egypt and California. While emigration is a theme of the movie, escape is not a solution: those who are different should not be harassed into abandoning their homeland. By utilizing Arab talent at home and in the diaspora, we hope to spark a dialogue spanning continents and bringing crucial issues out into the open.

According to the film’s director/screenwriter Maher Sabry:

“We all build fences around ourselves to protect ourselves from pain; that’s why it’s easy, when we see others treated unjustly, to assume that they must have done something to deserve punishment. It’s especially easy if they believe differently from us or live a lifestyle we don’t approve of. Then it comes around to us, and others say the same.. and so on until we all know what it feels like to be oppressed.”

With the rise of the wave of conservatism in Egypt and the Arab world in recent years, artists have become increasingly unable to tackle a number of subjects that were dealt with in Egyptian cinema in the past. Last year, following the screening of Egyptian film The Yacoubian Building, 112 members of the Egyptian Parliament – one-quarter of the total – signed a petition demanding the removal of the scenes portraying the only homosexual character in the film. And yet, the portrayal of the gay character in Yacoubian Building is tame compared to the one in The Malatili Bathhouse in 1973, more than thirty years earlier. All My Life, a product of guerrilla filmmaking, breaks every taboo imposed by Egyptian censorship, sexual, social and political. According to the director,

“Censorship is a knife in the heart of any artistic movement. The censor treats me like a child, telling me, as a person, what to read, what to hear, what to watch, and therefore how to think, how to express myself. All this is done in the name of “protecting the public interest” but in fact it is “protecting power-holders and political interests. Censorship only flourishes in countries with corrupt and tyrannical governments afraid of a rise in public awareness; it guarantees the maintenance of the status quo. Just as the Internet revolution has opened the door to people to express themselves uncensored, so the digital filmmaking revolution has given me the same opportunity. I knew from the start that my movie would never officially be allowed a public screening; but I’m confident that people will see it, because where there is corruption, video piracy is all the rage. When the festivals are over, it’ll be for sale on the sidewalks like all banned films. This way, I know I may not recoup the money I spent on the film, but at least I’ll have achieved self-fulfillment.”

Director/screenwriter Maher Sabry “was the first director to portray gay and lesbian love in lyrical and sympathetic manner on stage, in fact in the Egyptian media as a whole…” (Arts and the Islamic World, vol.35). His work as a gay activist for Egyptian LGBT, including alerting the international community to the notorious Queen Boat arrests of 2001, and helping its victims, earned him the Felipa de Souza Award, in 2002, from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). He has made several short films and a documentary. “All My Life” is his first feature length.


For more information, or an interview with the director, please email Pakinam Refaat, at

EUFS was founded in 2005 by a group of artists and intellectuals seeking a creative outlet away from the restrictions of censorship and conservative production values. EUFS is open to new members, both independent filmmakers and supporters of creative freedom. If you’d like more information about EUFS, or are interested in joining the group, please e-mail Sarah at

Movie’s web site:
Photo Gallery:
Press release in Arabic:



ردًا على طلب المفتي بحرق فيلم “طول عمري”: المفتي مازال يعيش في العصور الوسطى

القاهرة — ردًا على مفتى مصر الأسبق الدكتور نصر فريد واصل، ومطالبته بمصادرة فيلم طول عمري و”حرقه فوراً”، تعلن الجمعية المصرية للافلام المهمشة عن اسفها لما صدر عن المفتي على لسان مخرج الفيلم ماهر صبري: “احنا في القرن الواحد والعشرين لكن لسه فيه اصوات عايشين في العصور الوسطى وبتنادي بحرق كل اللي يخالفهم في الرأي.
حضارتنا في الشرق (او الحضارة الاسلامية) ازدهرت لما كانت الحرية في بلادنا هي الطابع الغالب وسقطت الحضارة دي مع حرق الكتب ومصادرة الرأي الآخر وتكفير المعارضين. تصريح المفتي الاسبق واللي بيمثله من سلطة دينية بيؤدي لتطرف اكتر وتحجر في الرآي اكتر.”

وكان الفيلم قد عرض في مهرجان “فريم لاين” يوم ٢٢ يونيو بسان فرنسيسكو، حيث اكتظت السينما بالجمهور بينما اصطف الكثيرون امام شباك التذاكر. وفي نهاية الفيلم ومع عرض تيترات الفيلم، وقف الكل و ضجت القاعة بالتصفيق. وتناولت الندوة التي تلت الفيلم موضوعات كالجنس والسياسة والعلاقة بينهما.” الحياة الشخصية جزء لا يتجزأ من السياسة العامة” عبارة تكررت طوال الندوة، حيث ناقش الجمهور مع المخرج كيف يمثل قهر الاقليات الجنسية الخطوة الاولى والاسهل في سلسلة من الاجراءات لبتر الحريات الاخرى. ومن هنا فلا عجب من رد التقليديين على الفيلم.

اما عن تصريح المفتي فقال المخرج:

“انا مش مستغرب من اللي حصل. دي حاجة كنت متوقعها، ورغم كدة لسة وقعها علىّ مؤلم، لانه مؤشر للحال اللي وصلنا ليه من تخلف. احنا دلوقت عايشين في عصر الردة الثقافية. عصر بيتسجن فيه المخالف في الرأي والمرشح الجمهوري والاقليات الدينية. احنا بنتشدق بالحضارة الاسلامية لكن لو الناس اللي بنو الحضارة دي كانو اتولدو في عصرنا الي عايشينه دلوقت كانت حاتطلع فتاوي ضدهم وكانو حيحرقوا كتبهم واعمالهم.”

كما تعلن الجمعية أيضًا عن اسفها لما صدر عن مدير برنامج مكافحة الايدز في مصر الدكتور زين العابدين وتصريحه بأن الفيلم ” ضربة موجعة لكل الجهود التى نبذلها لمكافحة فيروس الايدز “. رغم ان الدكتور زين العابدين لم يشاهد الفيلم فقد بنى رأيه فقط على انه يتناول حياة المثليين جنسيًا. وقد قال في حديثه للعربية نت: ” ان الممارسات الجنسية غير الطبيعية تأتي في المرتبة الثانية لاحتمالات الاصابة بهذا المرض بعد نقل الدم”. موحيًا بأن فيروس نقصان المناعة ومرض الايدز لا يصيبان إلا المثليين. وقد تغاضی بذلك عن الحقائق العلمية وارقام الإحْصائِيّات التي تشير الى ان مرض الايدز ينتشر ايضًا بين المغايرين جنسيًا والاطفال. فللأسف ان هذه التصاريح توحي بان المرض لا يصيب الا فئات معينة دون الاخرى، مما يشعر عامة الناس بالأمان الزائف ويوزيد من انتشار المرض.

وعن تصريح مدير برنامج مكافحة الايدز صرح ممثل الجمعية المصرية للافلام المهمشة “نحن نعيش نفس الاحداث التي مرت بها الولايات المتحدة في عصر الرئيس ريجان، الذي فرض اجندته الايديولوجية، حين تم التعتيم على الاسباب الحقيقية لفيروس نقصان المناعة ومرض الايدز والخداع الاعلامي بان المرض يصيب المثليين دون غيرهم مما ادى الى كارثة انتشار المرض. وللاسف الشديد ان حالة إنكار الحقائق التي نعيشها والتكتم ورفض المناقشة العلنية للمواضيع الحساسة والتي تمس الناس يؤدي الى احداث لا تحمد عواقبها.”

كما قال المخرج ماهر صبري: “رغم اني كنت متوقع الهجوم على الفيلم من كل الاوساط التقليدية الا ان تصريح الدكتور زين العابدين كان مفاجأة. مش قادر افهم إزاى الدكتور يعتبر ان فيلمي هو الضربة الموجعة لجهود المركز في الوقت اللي الحكومة المصرية بتقبض فيه على مرضى الايدز وتحاكمهم بتهمة الفجور ، والناس اللي عرضة للمرض خايفة تهوب ناحية المركز او المستشفيات الحكومية. لكن ده مؤشر للحالة العامة في مصر بين الاوساط المتعلمة اللي مابتقدرش تفرق بين الحقائق العلمية ومعتقداتهم الخاصة سواء كانت دينية او اجتماعية او خُرافية، وبتخدع الناس اللي بيثقوا فيهم على انهم السلطة العلمية.”

ان اتفاق السلطة الدينية والسلطة العلمية في مقال العربية نت لا يمثلان رأي كل المصريين ولكنه ايضًا دَلالَه على التجاهل الكامل للاراء غير التقليدية وتنحية التيار المتحرر جانبًا. وعدم أخذ رأيه وتجاهله تمامًا مما يزيد من حالة التردي الفكري للبلاد.

تأسست الجمعية المصرية للافلام المهمشة في سنة ٢٠٠٥ بواسطة مجموعة من الفنانين والمثقفين الذين يسعون إلی مَخرج إبداعي بعيدًا عن تعسفات الرقابة وقيم الانتاج المتحفظة. الجمعية تقبل أعضاء جدد من صانعي الافلام المستقلة/الحرة ومُناصري الحرية الابداعية. للمزيد من المعلومات عن الجمعية، أو للإنضمام لها، الرجاء إرسال رسالة اليكترونية إلی سارة علی العنوان التالي:

يقدّم فيلم “طول عمري” حكاية أناس لم نسمع عن حكايتهم من قبل. إنها حكاية الإختلاف عن الآخر، وقصة اولئك الذين أُجبروا على الصمت والعيش في الخفاء. يقول مخرج الفيلم، ماهر صبري: “الرقابة عبارة عن خنجر في قلب الحركة الإبداعية. الرقيب بيعاملني زي الطفل بيحدد لي كإنسان أقرا إيه، وأسمع إيه، وأشوف إيه. وبالتالي بيحدد لي أفكر إزاي وأعبّر إزاي. كل ده باسم “حماية الصالح العام” لكن بالفعل هو حماية السلطة والكرسي”.

تمّ تصوير “طول عمري” في مدينتي القاهرة وسان فرانسيسكـو رغم كل الصعوبات، وإستغرق تصويره ثلاث سنوات. موسيقى الفيلم للملحن اللبناني الدكتور إلياس ايليا. أما الممثلون فتتطوعوا وتوافدوا من مصر، لبنان، العراق، السعودية، البحرين، ليبيا، المغرب، المكسيك والولايات المتحدة الأمريكية لإنجاز هذا الفيلم الضخم.

القاهرة، في ٢٠ مايو (أيّار) ٢٠٠٨ — يسرّ الجمعية المصرية للافلام المهمشة أن تعلن عن العرض العالمي الأول لإنتاجها الأول، فيلم “طول عمري”، ضمن مهرجان فرايم لاين 32 ، مهرجان سان فرانسيسكـو السينمائي الدولي للافلام المثلية من ١٩ حتى ٢٩ يناير (حزيران)، وهو المهرجان الأقدم والأضخم لأفلام أحرار الجنس في العالم!

وفيلم “طول عمري” يندرج في خانة سينما أحرار الجنس الجديدة. يتناول الفيلم حياة بعض المثليين والمشاكل التي تواجههم في ظل التمييز الإجتماعي والإضطهاد نحوهم، خاصةً بعد الحملات التعسفية ضدهم التي إزدادت منذ سنة ٢٠٠١ وأشهر تلك الحملات قضية الـكوين بوت والتي قبض فيها علی ٥٢ رجلٍ بإدعاء أنهم مثليون جنسيًا وجرت محاكمتهم في محاكم أمن الدولةعنوان الفيلم “طول عمري” مُستوحى من أغنية “طول عمري عايش لوحدي” من الثلاثينات للموسيقار المرحوم محمد عبد الوهاب. موضوع الأغنية هو العيش وحيداً بين “الأهل والخلّان”، والبحث عن رفيق الروح. هذه الأغنية التي عُزفت بشكل مُقتضب في الفيلم ليست فقط إستعارة أدبية رئيسية بل تعبّر عن زمن غير بعيد كان المجتمع فيه متحرراً أكثر ولم يكن إنتشار الأصولية السياسية قد إنتهك الحريات الشخصية بعد.

تمّ تصوير “طول عمري” في مدينتي القاهرة وسان فرانسيسكـو رغم كل الصعوبات، وهو فيلم بدون ميزانية إستغرق تصويره ثلاث سنوات، وإعتمد على عمل المتطوعين. تمّ التصوير في الشارع وفي بيوت المتطوعين. ساهم الممثلون والمساعدون في تشغيل آلة الصوت وحمل الميكروفون وبناء الديكور وتقديم المرطبات. هذا الفيلم هو مِثال لتعاون فريق العمل المتعاضد بكل ما في الكلمة من معنى.رغم كل المخاطر، كون كل المَشاهد في مصر قد صُوّرت على طريقة “الغوريلا” (أي صَوّر وأهرب) بسبب القيود التي تفرضها الدولة على التصوير في الشارع، كان ضرورياً تصوير الفيلم في مصر وكاليفورنيا. ورغم أنّ الهجرة هي من مواضيع الفيلم، فإن الهروب ليس حلاً. لا يجوز التضييق على مَن هم مختلفين حتى يتخلوا عن موطنهم. إستعنّا في هذا الفيلم بالمواهب العربية في العالم العربي وبلاد المهجر آملين إرسال شرارة الحوار عبر القارات ونقل الحوار حول مسائل هامّة الى العلن.

ويقول مخرج الفيلم، ماهر صبري، وهو أيضًا كاتب السيناريو والحوار: “كلنا بنبني اسوار حوالين نفسنا علشان نحميها من الوجع والالم. علشان كدة لما بنشوف الظلم بيحصل لغيرنا اسهل حاجة نعملها اننا نقنع نفسنا ان ده مش حيحصلنا، لأن أكيد ضحاية الظلم عملوا حاجة تستوجب عقابهم. ويمكن الضحاية دول بيؤمنوا بآفكار غير أفكارنا أو بيعيشوا بطريقة مش على مزاجنا فيبقى الموضوع اسهل بكتير. ولما العجلة تدور ونقع تحتيها حنلاقي غيرنا بيقولوا لنفسهم نفس الكلام لحد مايبقاش فيه حد ماداقش الظلم.”

مع تزايد الموجة المتحفظة والمتشددة في مصر والعالم العربي في السنوات الأخيرة، أصبح الفنان العربي لا يستطيع أن يتناول الكثير من الموضوعات التي تناولتها السينما المصرية في الماضي. مثال علی ذلك، في العام الماضي عندما عُرض الفيلم المصري “عمارة يعقوبيان، ” قام 112 عضو من اعضاء مجلس الشعب، ربع اعضاء المجلس، بالتوقيع على بيان يطالبون فيه بحذف مشاهد الشخصية المثلية. وبالمقارنة بين الطريقة التي قُدمت بها الشخصية المثلية في هذا الفيلم وبين الطريقة التي قدمت بها الشخصية المثلية مثلًا في فيلم “حمام الملاطيلي” (١٩٧٣) نجد ان مخرج “عمارة يعقوبيان” كان أكثر تحفظًا من نظيره في السبعينيات. فيلم “طول عمري”، واللذي صور بطريقة تعرف باسم سينما الغوريلا يقوم بكسر كل التابوهات والمحرمات التي تفرضها الرقابة المصرية، سواء كانت جنسية أو إجتماعية أو سياسية.

وعن ذلك يقول مخرج الفيلم: “الرقابة عبارة عن خنجر في قلب الحركة الإبداعية. الرقيب بيعاملني زي الطفل بيحدد لي كإنسان أقرا إيه، وأسمع إيه، وأشوف إيه. وبالتالي بيحدد لي أفكر إزاي وأعبّر إزاي. كل ده باسم “حماية الصالح العام” لكن بالفعل هو “حماية السلطة والكرسي” الرقابة مش موجودة غير في البلاد اللي تحت حكومات فاسدة ومستبدة واللي بتخاف إن شعبها يكون عنده وعي وبكده تضمن ان الوضع يفضل على ماهو عليه. وزي ما ثورة الإنترنت فتحت الباب للتاس اتها تعبر عن نفسها بالكتابة من غير رقابة ، ثورة صناعة الافلام الديجيتال حققتلي نفس الفرصة.
من البداية وانا عارف ان الفيلم بتاعي مش حايتسمح له يتعرض بشكل رسمي لكن متأكد إن الناس حاتشوفو لان تحت الفساد، قرصنة الڤيديو شغالة علی ودنه. يعني بعد المهرجانات حتلاقي الفيلم بيتباع عالرصيف مع كل الافلام الممنوعة. يمكن بالطريقة دي مش حاعوض تكاليف الفيلم، لكن حأحقق إشباع ذاتي.”

ماهر صبري مخرج سيبمائي ومسرحي ورسام كاريكاتير. كان “أول مخرج يقدم الحب بين المثليين والمثليات بشكل شاعري علی خشبة المسرح [المصري]، بل وفي وسائل الإعلام كافة… (الفن والعالم الإسلامي، المجلد الـ35) ادى عمله كنشط من أجل حقوق المثليين في مصر، الذي يتضمن العمل على إعلان قضية الكوين بوت في 2001 ومساعدة ضحاياها، الى حصوله على جائزة فليپة دو سوزا، في سنة 2002، من المنظمة الدولية لحقوق الانسان من المثليين والمثليات. قام بإخراج عدة افلام قصيرة وتسجيلية. “طول عـمري” هو اول فيلم روائي طويل له. للمزيد من المعلومات، او لمقابلة صحافية مع المخرج، الرجاء إرسال رسالة عبر البريد الإلكتروني إلی پاكينام رفعت علی العنوان التالي:

تأسست الجمعية المصرية للافلام المهمشة في سنة ٢٠٠٥ بواسطة مجموعة من الفنانين والمثقفين الذين يسعون إلی مَخرج إبداعي بعيدًا عن تعسفات الرقابة وقيم الانتاج المتحفظة. الجمعية تقبل أعضاء جدد من صانعي الافلام المستقلة/الحرة ومُناصري الحرية الابداعية. للمزيد من المعلومات عن الجمعية، أو للإنضمام لها، الرجاء إرسال رسالة اليكترونية إلی سارة علی العنوان التالي: پـاكينام رفـعـت القاهرة، مصر

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Cover Image

Brian Whitaker

Unspeakable Love

Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East

$21.95, paperback
Available Now

264 pages, 6 x 9 inches,
November 2006, Only available in Include North America

“Casts light on a critically underreported subject matter.”—Washington Blade

“With all the reams of Western paper devoted to the study of the Middle East, remarkably little has been said about the status of gay men and lesbians in Arab and Islamic cultures and religious texts. U.K. journalist Whitaker builds an important first bridge across this gap. “—Out

“The book boldly delves into one of the biggest taboos in modern Muslim societies with subtlety and sensitivity, addressing both Arab reformers and interested Western readers. [It] provides fascinating insights into the lives of ordinary gays and lesbians, and how society views and treats them.” —Toronto Globe & Mail

“While directing readers toward the pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel, Whitaker clearly demarcates tradition and family honor as two powerhouses eternally keeping Middle Eastern alternative lifestyles in the dark. . . . Strong, condensed, world-weary portrait infused with hope.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This is an illuminating book on an important topic.”—Publishers Weekly

“I enjoyed and learnt much from Brian Whitaker’s book, which is excellent. It was inspirational to me on the challenges to international law, and the uses of nationalism to suppress dissent within countries.” – Fred Halliday, London School of Economics

“It is high time this issue was brought out of the closet once and for all, and afforded a frank and honest discussion. Brian Whitaker’s humane, sophisticated, and deeply rewarding book, Unspeakable Love, does exactly that.” – Ali Al-Ahmed, Saudi reform advocate and director of the Gulf Institute, Washington

“This book is a compelling read. It captures with detail and with disturbing accuracy the difficulties and dangers facing lesbians and gay men across the Middle East. It helps us to understand the social pressure, the sense of isolation, the anxiety and fear and trauma. And through it all we glimpse also the possibility of hope, of remarkable courage, and perhaps even in the longer term the chance of a more open and accepting society.” – Chris Smith MP, Former UK Secretary of State for Culture

“Brian Whitaker has given us a moving analysis of the hidden lives of Arab homosexuals. This genuinely groundbreaking investigation reveals a side of Arab and Muslim culture shrouded by the strictest taboos. Arab societies can no longer contain their cultural, religious, ethnic or sexual diversity within their traditional patriarchal definitions of the public sphere. Anyone interested in reform in the Arab world must read this book.” – Mai Yamani, Research Fellow at Chatham House and author of Cradle of Islam

Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Arab countries. Clerics denounce it as a heinous sin, while newspapers write cryptically of “shameful acts.” Although many parts of the world now accept sexual diversity, the Middle East is moving in the opposite direction. In this absorbing account, journalist Brian Whitaker calls attention to the voices of men and women who are struggling with gay identities in societies where they are marginalized and persecuted by the authorities. He paints a disturbing picture of people who live secretive, fearful lives and who are often jailed, beaten, and ostracized by their families, or sent to be “cured” by psychiatrists.

Whitaker’s exploration of changing sexual behavior in the Arab world reveals that—while deeply repressive prejudices and stereotypes still govern much thinking about homosexuality—there are pockets of change and tolerance. The author combines personal accounts from individuals in the region with a look at recent Arab films and novels featuring gay characters and conducts a sensitive comparative reading of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic strictures around sexuality. Deeply informed and engagingly written, Unspeakable Love draws long overdue attention to a crucial subject.

Copub: Saqi Books

Brian Whitaker is the Middle East Editor of the Guardian.

Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age, by R. Stephen Humphreys

Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation
of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

Endorsed by:
Amnesty International (AI)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)
Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)
Front Line
Human Rights First
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Information Monitor (INFORM)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights (UAF)
World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)

This draft document outlines concrete suggestions for EU Missions (including embassies and consulates of EU member states and European Commission delegations) in implementing “Ensuring protection – the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders” (EU Guidelines). It is specifically aimed to ensure due support and protection of women human rights defenders.

Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) is a term referring to women who individually or with others act to promote and protect human rights; it also refers to any individual working specifically to promote women’s rights. This sub-category of defenders has been singled out because women activists face risks particular to their gender committed by both state and non-state actors (including their families and communities), in particular when they confront and challenge cultural, religious or social norms about the role and status of women in their societies. Whether or not they work to ensure reproductive and sexual rights, the rights of lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals or people living with HIV/AIDS, their protection falls squarely within international legal obligations of all states to ensure the realisation of the fundamental human rights of all, including WHRDs.

Because of prescribed gender roles, their often marginalized social status, and at times the “controversial” nature of their work, WHRDs encounter additional risks and obstacles to those faced by their male counterparts. These risks include sexual assault and harassment, various forms of violence and the use of pejorative ideas about sexuality to discredit their individual reputations, their work, and their political agendas. Consequently, WHRDs are often the ones who require the utmost support and protection.

Our organisations specifically call for:

  • The adoption of specific conclusions by the General Affairs External Relations Council (GAERC) taking note of the risks and obstacles faced by WHRDs in the exercise of their activities, emphasizing the urgency and necessity of enhancing their protection and stressing the importance of applying a gender perspective in addressing human rights defenders issues;
  • The incorporation of gender-specific recommendations and implementation tools into the Handbook on the Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (as drafted under the Dutch Presidency);
  • The dissemination of gender-specific recommendations for the protection of WHRDs to all missions as soon as possible and their full implementation.
  • The incorporation of the gender-specific recommendations in training for mission staff on HRDs to ensure specific focus on issues related to WHRDs.

1. Monitoring, reporting, assessment (Section IV, Article 8)

Pursuant to Section IV, Article 8 of the EU Guidelines, EU Heads of Mission (HoM) are requested to cover the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in periodic human rights reports. In monitoring the occurrence of any “threats or attacks against HRDs,” HoMs are requested to assess measures (legislative, judicial, administrative, etc.) taken by the State to protect against “violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action” that curtail the exercise of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

1.1 Violence, threats, retaliation

  • Document gender-specific or gender-motivated threats, retaliation and violence
    Specific violations most commonly endured by WHRDs tend to be ignored. In fulfilling the monitoring and periodic reporting requirements to the Council Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM), HoM should also use the guidelines for documenting human rights violations against WHRDs . EU Missions should also devise documentation systems or sustained and systemic ways to record incidents of violence, retaliation and threats against WHRDs, particularly by non-state actors including armed groups, community and religious leaders, family and community members and other activists.
  • Accurately assess the severity of gender-driven harassment and threats
    When assessing the situation of HRDs, EU Missions must accord due and equal weight to all forms of violence and threats whether they occur in the public or private sphere. EU HoMs should endeavour to document overt public violence, threats and repression of women defenders, as well as the lesser documented, more subtle and insidious violations that take place in the private sphere. Intimidation and hostility against WHRDs aimed to discredit their work by, for example, vilifying them based on their actual or perceived sexual practises or their rejection of prescribed gender roles (also known as “sexuality baiting”) must be recognized seriously and redress instituted properly.
  • Incorporate the situation of WHRDs in periodic human rights reports
    In fulfilling the monitoring and periodic reporting requirements to the COHOM, HoM should include an assessment of the situation of WHRDs in a particular country drawing from the reports and recommendations of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders (both annual reports and country reports). It is also important to take into consideration communications on specific cases on WHRDs at risk addressed by the Special Representative to Governments. In many cases, annual and country reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its causes and consequences can also be a valuable resource on the violations and abuses against WHRDs.
  • Consult with WHRDs and women’s organisations when producing human rights reports
    The HoM should consult WHRDs and women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in their respective countries for additional or alternative information on the situation of WHRDs in a particular country.

1.2 De facto or de jure adverse discrimination

  • Analyse state response to gender-based discriminatory laws and practices
  • Assessing the generalised patterns of gender-based discrimination will enable a more accurate and nuanced evaluation of the legal and social obstacles that hamper women from pursing human rights work. EU Missions should highlight the failures of states to enact measures to protect, promote and fulfil women’s rights, including the rights of women to defend human rights, and .in particular, to ensure that WHRDs can conduct their activities without threats to their organisations and networks, whether they are legally or informally established.

  • Monitor equal participation of women in public and civil life
    EU Missions should report on discriminatory practices and laws which exclusively or disproportionately adversely impact on women and curtail their access to participation in public and civil life, especially as defenders of human rights. EU Missions should take particular note of the impact of prevailing attitudes that discredit and dismiss women as experts on certain issues – such as religion and security, thus exclude them from debates related to women’s rights.
  • Document the absence of public platforms for pro-women’s human rights views
    The gender-neutral interpretations of the freedom of expression fail to account for state and social pressure that silence women who wish to promote women’s rights by challenging national, local, social, or religious customs or conventions. Moreover, state regulations that disallow the formation or deny or revoke registration of NGOs impact in particular on WHRDs who are already more likely to be excluded from formal public spaces. To counter the effective marginalisation of women’s views from the public sphere, EU Missions could facilitate their access to public platforms and the full realisation of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
  • Document lack of access to form associations and organisations
    Women’s lower socio-economic position and discriminatory legal or social practices deny women access to resources that can impinge on the exercise of their right to form human rights associations. Other laws or practices that require the approval of a male relative or a guardian for legal action or social sanction of a woman’s activism likewise prevent women from informally organizing or formally establishing groups. EU Missions could highlight cases where women activists are barred to organise themselves or are unable to access resources to form associations and organisations.
  • Monitor impunity for attack against WHRDs
    In monitoring whether cases of violations against defenders are investigated, perpetrators brought to justice and victims compensated, EU Missions should account for unequal treatment of WHRDs who are subject to abuse. Perpetrators of violations against female – as opposed to male – human rights defenders enjoy greater impunity in countries with biased legal justice systems or discriminatory laws and practices or social attitudes that do not consider women as equal under the law or fail to take seriously violations against women. This situation is particularly prevalent when perpetrators are members of the WHRD’s family or community and the state lacks or fails to enforce protective or remedial measures for such violence against women.
  • Account for intersectional obstacles and risks faced by WHRDs
    WHRDs are attacked for who they are in addition to what they do. When monitoring incidents against WHRDs and in assessing the level of risk and challenge to their work and person, the compound impact of various social factors should be considered. This is of particular concern when women’s various identity factors are compounded by hostility towards the political work they do. For example, women who work to promote the land rights of their indigenous communities struggle against hostility based on their gender and ethnicity. Women active in trade unions or organisations for fair labour practices are particularly marginalised in countries where the female workforce is least protected and most exploited. 1.3 Pressure and Other Arbitrary Action
  • Document incidents of pressure not only by State but also by non-State actors designed to silence women and discourage their activism
    In undertaking monitoring efforts pursuant to Section IV, Article 8, EU Missions should consider conducting field missions to highlight and verify little known or publicised violations against women defenders, in particular those operating in remote areas or who work on issues that challenge or are deemed to “transgress” social and religious conventions subjecting them to grave risk of violations by non-state actors. Such documentation can form the basis for EU Missions to call on states to investigate incidents of pressure, threats and abuse against WHRDs and to act to ensure redress for these violations and abuses, particularly by non-state actors.
  • Document donor funding policies that selectively mute women defenders working on certain rights
    EU Missions should assess and evaluate EU and other donor funding policies that undermine support for comprehensive programmes that promote sexuality and reproductive rights, including work on HIV/AIDS and work with sex workers and IV drug users. Reduced funding to these presumably controversial areas endangers not only the provision of services and advocacy around these issues, but also contributes to a social climate of impunity for abuse against WHRDs who engage in such work.
  • Document curtailment of the freedoms of expression and association that inhibit the advocacy for women’s rights
    EU Missions should also reflect in their documentation the rise in incidents of governments that are closing down borders, restricting movement, freedom of association and freedom of speech to stop human rights defenders from gathering together to advocate for human rights issues, such as civil society meetings and actions around WTO, IFIs, etc. Curtailing these freedoms also inhibit the work of WHRDs and the advocacy for women’s rights.

2. Support and protection of HRDs (Section IV, Article 10)

Section IV, Article 10 of the EU Guidelines outlines possible measures that may be undertaken by EU Missions on behalf of and in consultation with human rights defenders. Notably, EU statements should regularly cite and address violations against WHRDs and the political, legal, economic and social contexts enabling the persistence of such abuse.

2.1 Co-ordinating closely and sharing information on human rights defenders, including WHRDs

  • Form in-country working group of EU Missions staff working on human rights, gender, democracy, security and development policy
    These country working groups, addressing different thematic concerns, should meet and strategise regularly about the situation of human rights defenders, including that of WHRDs.
  • WHRD Focal Points in EU missions and delegations
    Designate contact persons or focal points within the EU Missions and delegations that are gender-sensitive and aware of the specificities of WHRDs to facilitate contact with WHRDs.
  • Involve WHRDs and members of international, regional and national NGOs
    WHRDs and those who work for and with WHRDs should be involved in regular information and strategy meetings about protection and support for women defenders. It should also be ensured that contacts and dialogue with women and human rights defenders are not restricted to organisations funded by the EC or EU member states, and that discussions transcend a donor-beneficiary relationship. Dialogue on a regular basis with local WHRDs is also necessary to better identify their concerns and tailor interventions and support to their specific needs.
  • Maintain “Watch List” of violations against WHRDs
    Create a database of violations against defenders and collect case studies to highlight systematic violations and abuses against WHRDs. An alert system for monitoring and responding to threats or abuses against WHRDs can be developed based on this database. Note that such a list may only be initiated and maintained with the consent of the WHRDs and any information contained therein must be kept strictly confidential and under restricted access to ensure that it does not put WHRDs at greater risk.
  • Provide in country temporary shelter for WHRDs at grave risk
    Since threats against WHRDs are often by family and community members and WHRDs may have less access to financial and other resources, EU Missions could offer temporary shelter in-country, in-region or elsewhere; refer WHRDs to other international organisations that assist human rights defenders at risk; or contribute to local initiatives, including shelters for women survivors of violence, to accommodate protection needs of WHRDs. EU Missions can also share information about expedited visa schemes or other temporary status option in EU member states for WHRDs at grave risk.
  • Fund or provide for in-country protective accompaniment to WHRDs at risk
    Accompaniment and protection procedures should be negotiated with the WHRDs at risk. EU Missions should be sensitive to the specific security perceptions and needs of WHRDs. For example, in many cases WHRDs would seek protection not only for themselves, but together with their children.

2.2. Maintaining, suitable contacts with human rights defenders, including by receiving them in Missions and visiting their areas of work, consideration could be given to appointing specific liaison officers….

  • Maintain contacts with WHRDs, particularly those working on marginalised on ‘unpopular’ issues
    Identify and outreach to WHRDs who work in remote areas or with populations or issues that are marginalised by the broad human rights agenda or the state. In particular, outreach to isolated WHRDs who work on controversial issues, such as those who work on violence against women, sexual and reproductive rights, and rights of LGBT individuals, people with HIV/AIDS, sex workers, and others. In the context of women activists who work at the community level and have not achieved public recognition for their work, this is crucial as they are most likely to suffer human rights violations without the public being aware of it.
  • Create urgent action responses for WHRDs at risk
    Urgent action responses may include emergency visits to the WHRD’s home or place of work; extension of an open invitation to enter EU Missions compounds when faced with a threatening situation; visit the police station or detention centre where the WHRD is kept; or prompt diplomatic action on her behalf.
  • Ensure that WHRDs participate in political dialogues and reconstruction initiatives
    EU Missions should ensure WHRDs are active participants in bilateral or multilateral political human rights dialogues; general meetings on human rights in the country of the missions; processes addressing conflict/ post-conflict reconstruction, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and relevant EU documents on the inclusion of women in conflict resolution and peace initiatives. EU Missions should ensure women’s human rights form part of the agenda of these peace processes.

2.3 Providing, as and where appropriate, visible recognition to human rights defenders, through the use of appropriate publicity, visits or invitations

  • Raise the profile of WHRDs, especially those working on marginalised issues
    Providing visible recognition to WHRDs is particularly critical given the traditional separation in many countries between the mainstream human rights community and women’s rights movement. Visits from EU Missions and dissemination of materials that highlight the importance and legitimacy of the work of WHRDs are necessary, especially when they challenge traditional norms and practices. EU officials visiting men and women defenders should be of equivalent rank to ensure a consistent message about the equal importance and legitimacy of the work of all defenders.
  • Conduct visits to arrested, detained and imprisoned WHRDs
    Due process violations against WHRDs must be documented from the time of arrest.
    EU Missions should request access to visit WHRDs held in police stations, pre-trial holding cells, any other detention centres, prisons and military bases. Note that EU delegations visiting WHRDs should include women representatives, preferably with experience in dealing with women’s human rights violations, to ensure that WHRDs have the option to meet with and confide in women delegates.

    When visiting WHRDs, EU Missions should also consider whether WHRDs have access to medical and counsel and if they can afford legal representation, especially in cases where they allege sexual assault and rape and that such assistance is prompt, sensitive, and timely to gather evidence of abuse and provide support for the survivor. Visit reports should ensure that confidentiality is protected and other risks associated with breaches of privacy or disclosure of information related to WHRD work does not place defenders at further risk.

  • Contribute to initiatives to establish rapid response intervention to aid WHRDs at risk
    EU Missions could support networks of legal and other professionals that could immediately visit, provide medical assistance or legal counsel, or at a minimum, monitor the situation of WHRDs who have been arrested or detained. Lawyers, medical practitioners and other related professionals should be trained to identify gender-specific abuses and standards in assessing the case of arrested or detained WHRDs.

2.4 Attending and observing, where appropriate, trials of human rights defenders

  • Account for gender-specific violations against WHRDs during all stages of the judicial proceedings
    Discriminatory legal systems, laws, practices, social attitudes or religious dicta undermine women’s equal access to the law. EU Missions should demand that WHRDs enjoy equal access to the law and the judicial investigations and proceedings against them are conducted in accordance with international fair trial standards and evolving legal norms about gender-specific violations.
  • Attend and observe parallel legal system proceedings
    WHRDs may be at particular risk of unfair judgements in parallel legal or social system trials, such as community tribunals, religious or customary law courts. Such venues could function as swift channels for condemnation and “sentencing” of WHRDs who transgress accepted norms in their advocacy for women’s rights.
  • Evaluate investigations of abuses against WHRDs
    Being present in-country, EU Missions are in an advantageous position to press for exhaustive and impartial investigations to be conducted regarding violations against WHRDs and demand that those responsible are brought to justice and the victims or their relatives provided with redress and reparation.
  • Call for action against initiators of smear trials against WHRDs
    EU Missions can identify state officials and non-state actors who abuse the criminal justice system, utilise the media or community to harass or threaten the reputations of WHRDs or curtail their legitimate activities for the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Those identified in the trial observation reports could then be put forward for investigation and trial, as appropriate.

3. Promotion of respect for human rights defenders in relations with third countries and in multilateral fora (Article IV, Section 11)

The EU Guidelines is not only applicable to EU member states but also governs relations with third countries. As such, it can be used to influence governments, both within the EU and beyond, to adopt measure for the protection of WHRDs.

  • Raising individual cases on WHRDs with third countries
    Visits and dialogues with third countries can provide a unique opportunity for the EU to promote the rights of WHRDs. EU representatives should establish a practice of raising cases particularly on WHRDs with third countries, including those mentioned in the annual and country reports of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and other Special Rapporteurs related to the protection of WHRDs.
  • Facilitating exchanges between international and regional mechanisms on human rights defenders
    The exchanges between international and regional mechanisms on HRDs have been instrumental in the creation of regional mechanisms, such as the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the Human Rights Defenders Unit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders of the OSCE, and the development of regional approaches to the implementation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. These initiatives should be continued and the EU should support regular annual meetings between international and regional mechanisms, with a focus on the concerns of WHRDs.
  • Strengthening regional mechanisms on HRDs
    Providing financial support is one way in which the EU and its member states can contribute to the strengthening of regional mechanisms. Lack of resources has been a significant obstacle on the ability of these mechanisms to carry out monitoring, investigation, and protection and follow up functions. For example, the EU and its member states can support professional staff servicing these regional mechanisms that are sensitive to the concerns of WHRDs.
  • Facilitating cross-sectoral exchanges between mechanisms on women’s rights and human rights defenders at regional and international levels
    In order to ensure a gender-specific focus in the work of all mechanisms on human rights defenders at regional and international levels, the EU should also support meetings between women’s rights and human rights defenders mechanisms. These could include exchanges between the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the ACHPR, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, the African Commission’s Rapporteur on Women’s Rights, among other specialised mechanisms, whose mandate holders often undertake field missions and document the obstacles WHRDs face in conducting their work and the gender-specific nature of the violations against them.

4. Support for UN Special Procedures of the Commission on Human Rights, including the Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders (Article IV, Section 12)

The role of EU and its member states in the former UN Human Rights Commission and the General Assembly has proven essential to ensuring the passage of resolutions strengthening the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders. This support has been particularly important in the context of the recent attempts by some countries, both at the Commission and at the General Assembly, to weaken the text of the Human Rights Defenders resolutions and to limit the scope of the UN Special Representative’s mandate.

  • Support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders and other relevant UN mechanisms
    The mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders is coming to an end in 2007. The uncertainty surrounding the UN reform process and the future of the procedures established under the former UN Commission on Human Rights raises questions regarding the certainty of renewing this mandate. In this context, The EU and its member states have an essential role to play by providing support to the renewal and strengthening of the mandate of the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and also influencing third countries to support this mandate. This proactive approach should also be adopted with regard to the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.
  • Strengthen exchanges between UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and civil society
    Support for regional and national consultations between the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders and NGOs is another important mechanism for strengthening the work of the UN Special Representative and furthering the realisation of the rights of human rights defenders as codified in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

5. Practical Support to Human Rights Defenders via Development Policy (Section IV, Article 13)

In providing practical support to WHRDs, EU delegations should seek collaboration with UN specialised agencies and other international cooperation agencies with representation at the country level, in particular those with gender-specific programmes and which support women’s groups, in order to ensure coordination in the implementation of the EU Guidelines with regard to WHRDs.

5.1 Supporting human rights defenders through such activities as capacity building and public awareness campaigns

  • Translate and distribute copies of the EU Guidelines to WHRDs
    Disseminating not only the EU Guidelines, but also information about best practices, actions and measures adopted by EU Missions to implement the Guidelines will further its application and contribute to assisting WHRDs and NGOs in understanding the practical support that the EU Guidelines can offer to WHRDs.
  • Ensure WHRDs have equal access to resources, capacity building and training opportunities
    WHRDs, in particular those who work on issues of sexual and reproductive rights and economic, social and cultural rights are often marginalised and not recognised as bona fide human rights defenders with legitimate claims to exercise their right to defend human rights. Consequently, they are often excluded from broader opportunities available to human rights defenders in general. So EU Missions are encouraged to fund or provide capacity building trainings, and other academic and professional opportunities specifically for WHRDs and those engaging in defence of the rights noted above.

    In particular, capacity building should include: Risk assessment and security training that address the gender-specific dimensions of risk and protection plans based on local context solutions; Skills and techniques on preventing, managing and coping with context-specific violations and risks of working as WHRDs; details in national and local languages on national, regional and international mechanisms and resources available for human rights defenders, and in particular WHRDS; training on monitoring, documenting and reporting violations of human rights, including against WHRDs themselves; developing documentation into advocacy materials and submission to national, regional or international human rights bodies; and campaigning techniques.

  • Strengthened coordination on capacity-building activities
    Coordination between staff of EU Missions, other EU bodies, and NGOs (international, regional and national) should be strengthened at the country level to carry out capacity building activities for human rights defenders in general, and more specifically WHRDs.
  • Set up support mechanisms for multiple roles in the private and public spheres
    Women still shoulder a disproportionate ratio of household and childrearing responsibilities. Due to the absence of support from family or community, who may oppose the activism of the WHRD, or the state (e.g. via subsided childcare), women activists are unable to carry out their human rights work. EU Missions should ensure that women’s multiple responsibilities are taken into account and they are provided with the support, including child care that will enable them to work as WHRDs.
  • Strengthen well-being support services for WHRDs
    Set up or support services for the well-being of WHRDs, including addressing their psycho-social needs on a personal, organisational and community level.
  • Support international, regional and national capacity building initiatives on WHRDs
    Support periodic national, regional and international consultations on WHRDs and assist in implementing follow-up actions, such as the development of a training manual on the documentation of violations against WHRDs, and the production of other resource materials on WHRDs.

5.2 Encouraging and supporting the establishment, and work, of national bodies for the promotion and protection of human rights….

  • Track response of national human rights bodies to concerns of WHRDs
    Encourage national human rights bodies to cover all human rights, and in particular those that disproportionately affect women. Encourage joint projects of national human rights bodies with women’s rights bodies or ministries. Advocate for the concerns of WHRDs to feature in the formation of the institutional mandate and on-going decision-making processes of national bodies. National bodies should have personnel to address violations against women and WHRDs.
  • Document access of WHRDs to national human rights bodies and mechanisms
    WHRDs are often unable to access national human rights bodies and mechanisms. EU Missions should report on such access by assessing the following: Are there staff with experience in handling complaints of gender-based violations? Are staff members sensitive to violations by non-state actors and the duty of the state to protect WHRDs? Do complaints by WHRDs receive equal attention to those by male human rights defenders? Are national institutions reluctant to take up cases deemed “controversial” because they involve defenders of sexuality or reproductive rights, including those of LGBT, sex workers or HIV/AIDS carriers?

5.3 Assisting in the establishment of networks of human rights defenders at an international level, including by facilitating meetings of human rights defenders

  • Invite or fund WHRDs to attend sessions of UN and regional Human Rights bodies and meetings of inter-governmental bodies
    EU Missions can facilitate invitations or funding for WHRDs to attend human rights meetings and events (e.g., African Union, Arab League, Council of Europe, Organization of American States, Organisation for the Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE), UN Human Rights Council, UN Treaty Bodies, UN Security Council) where they can testify and advocate on behalf of WHRDs in their country.
  • Facilitate internships and tours of WHRDs to EU member states
    Such trips could double as temporary protection measures for WHRDs facing risk, as well as strengthen ties with international networks of human rights defenders, human rights and women’s rights organisations, and enhance advocacy and future protection for the WHRDs.
  • Ensure access to international networks
    EU Missions should ensure that WHRDs are aware of and have access to existing support networks, regional and international initiatives for the support of WHRDs. For example, EU Missions can assist WHRDs who are unable or are restricted from submitting information to international or regional human rights bodies to safely contact international organisations that may be able to submit such material on their behalf. EU Missions could also fund WHRDs to attend international network meetings, solidarity events, and other women and human rights defenders activities worldwide.
  • Encourage inclusive alliances across the human rights movement
    EU Missions can facilitate through co-funding or co-sponsorship of networking events, conferences and workshops to foster and strengthen alliances across various segments of the human rights movements and incorporate a women’s human rights perspective into general human right agenda.

5.4 Seeking to ensure that human rights defenders in third countries can access resources, including financial, from abroad

  • Prioritise funding to women’s rights programmes and initiatives As national and international funding to women’s rights programmes worldwide has suffered severe cut backs in recent years, the ability of women activists to advocate for women’s human rights has been compromised. EU funding priorities should emphasise the need to support the advocacy for the promotion of women’s rights. Note also the persistent lack of funding to defenders who work on the rights of LGBT, sex workers and people with HIV/AIDS. EU Missions can also urge international financial institutions and funding agencies to allocate adequate funding and resources for the full protection of WHRDs and the promotion of their rights.
  • Create a resource pool earmarked for WHRDs Specific funding or resource pool for WHRDs and their activities should include funding relief for WHRDs at risk such as emergency support, legal defence fund, psycho-social counselling, and provisions for family care.
  • Craft human rights and development assistance programmes to address concerns of WHRDs
    EU member states should endeavour to develop human rights and development assistance programmes that address the wider economic, political and social contexts that inhibit or restrict women’s exercise of the right to defend human rights and allow for violations against WHRDs to take place.
  • Repeal governmental regulations that restrict access to funds by WHRDs
    EU institutions and its member states need to review their regulations and influence third countries to ensure that the funding process is accessible to local and national WHRDs and that registration requirements to receive funding are not being used to limit the operation of NGOs. EU institutions, delegations and missions should raise these issues in visits to third countries, and incorporate them in political dialogues between the EU and third countries.

5.5 “By ensuring that human rights education programmes promote, inter alia, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders….”

  • Support national implementation of Human Rights Defenders standards
    Commission or fund national-level implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and identify gender-specific ways of implementing the provisions of these instruments in order to further the support and protection for WHRDs at the national level.
  • Human Rights Education programmes at national and local levels These programmes should target law enforcement personnel, government agencies and actors in the legal system to sensitise them to the abuses faced by WHRDs and ensure that they deliver appropriate responses. Human rights education programmes at the community level should address gender stereotypes and prejudices that work to silence and restrict WHRDs in the community.
The recommendations contained in this document are drawn from the comments of the endorsing organisations and the outcome documents produced in national, regional and international fora, including the first international consultation on women human rights defenders (Sri Lanka, 29 Nov- Dec 2, 2005), and preceding regional consultations (e.g., in Africa (Dakar, Senegal, 18-19 November 2004) and Asia (Bangkok, Thailand, April 4-6, 2003), and national and regional workshops facilitated by AI, APWLD, Forum Asia, Front Line and other organisations.

Ensuring protection – the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (2004), available at

Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, A/RES/53/144, 8 March 1999.

The Manual on Documentation of Human Rights Violations against Women Human Rights Defenders contains guidelines for the documentation of violations and abuses against WHRDs. It is a project of APWLD and Inform and will be finalized in April 2007.



Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) is a term referring to women who individually or with others, act to promote and protect everyone’s human rights and any individual working specifically to promote women’s rights. This sub-category of defenders has been singled out because they face risks particular to their gender committed by both state and non-state actors, including their families and communities, especially when they confront and challenge cultural, religious or social norms about the role of women and their status in their societies. Consequently, WHRDs are often the ones who require the utmost support and protection.

In 2004 the European Union adopted Ensuring Protection – European Union Guidelines on Human Rights defenders (the Guidelines). The Guidelines acknowledge that it is “important to apply a gender perspective when approaching the issue of human rights defenders”. While the Guidelines are addressed to EU member states, EU Missions, and relevant EU bodies, it is also intended to influence the conduct of governments outside the EU regarding the protection of WHRDs and the promotion and realization of their rights.

In April 2006, the EU carried out a review of the implementation of the Guidelines and in its conclusions the Council called for “particular attention to the situation of women human rights defenders”. It provided a set of 41 concrete recommendations, two of which specifically pertain to WHRDs. In order to advance upon these initial important recommendations and ensure their effective implementation, ten women’s rights and human rights non-governmental organisations have endorse a set of Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. We urge you to also endorse this document and lobby representatives of EU embassies, consulates and European Commission delegations in your respective countries to respond to the campaign calls below.

Recommended Actions

1. Organise a meeting with EU representatives or delegations in your country around November 29 – preferably any date from November 29 (Women Human Rights Defenders Day) – December 10 (Human Rights Day). In the meeting, present a copy of the Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Organisations with network members within EU

Arrange a meeting with the person responsible for Human Rights in your country’s foreign ministry on or around 29 November to discuss the provision of greater protection and support for women human rights defenders. A copy of the Gender-Specific Recommendations on the Implementation of EU Guidelines on HRDs should be handed over during the meeting.

Organisations with network members outside EU

Meet with the EU delegation and/or German Embassy (Germany will take up the presidency of the EU from January 2007) in you country on or around 29 November to discuss the provision of greater protection and support for women human rights defenders. A copy of the Gender-Specific Recommendations on the Implementation of EU Guidelines on HRDs should be handed over during the meeting.

2. At the meeting with EU representatives or delegations in your country or in any other activity you organise to lobby for the Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, please call for:

  • The adoption of specific conclusions by the General Affairs External Relations Council (GAERC) taking note of the risks and obstacles faced by WHRDs in the exercise of their activities, emphasizing the urgency and necessity of enhancing their protection and stressing the importance of applying a gender perspective in addressing human rights defenders issues;
  • The incorporation of gender-specific recommendations and implementation tools into the Handbook on the Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (as drafted under the Dutch Presidency);
  • The dissemination of gender-specific recommendations for the protection of WHRDs to all missions as soon as possible and their full implementation.
  • The incorporation of the gender-specific recommendations in training for mission staff on HRDs to ensure specific focus on issues related to WHRDs.

3. Please contact the media, mobilise your networks, and involve all women and other human rights defenders you know to support the Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Contact Us

Inform us about your meeting with the EU representative or delegations in your country or any lobbying activity you have done. Send us a brief description so we can post it on the women human rights defenders website to inspire others!
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Additional Information

Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders

4/11/2008: 13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on Monday, 27 October 2008, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, Somalia in front of around 1,000 spectators. She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

Some of the Somali journalists who had reported she was 23 have told Amnesty International that this age was based upon a judgement of her age from her physical appearance.

She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

“This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo,” said David Copeman, Amnesty’s International Somalia Campaigner.

“This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia, and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an International Commission of Inquiry.”

Amnesty International has reported that:

• Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was reported as being 23, based upon a judgement on her physical appearance, according to one of the journalists who had reported the stoning. Her actual age of 13 was confirmed to Amnesty International by other sources, including her father.

• Her father said she had only travelled to Kismayo from Hagardeer refugee camp in north eastern Kenya three months earlier.

• She was detained by militia of the Kismayo authorities, a coalition of Al-shabab and clan militias. During this time, she was reportedly extremely distressed, with some individuals stating she had become mentally unstable.

• A truckload of stones was brought into the stadium to be used in the stoning.

• At one point during the stoning, Amnesty International has been told by numerous eyewitnesses that nurses were instructed to check whether Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue.

• An individual calling himself Sheik Hayakalah, was quoted on Radio Shabelle saying:“The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt, while she told us that she is happy with the punishment under Islamic law.” In contradiction to this claim, a number of eye witnesses have told Amnesty International she struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium.

• Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.


You can write a letter to the representatives of Somalia, the African Union, and various UN human rights offices to encourage them to take action by investigating this murder, bringing the perpetrators to justice, and denouncing the actions of these insurgents.



Subject: Subject: Stoning of Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow in Somalia

Dear [Sir / Madam],

We are deeply concerned to learn about the stoning to death of Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, a 13 year old Somali girl who was publically tortured and murdered Monday October 27 2008 in the local square in Kismayu, Somalia.

Accused of adultery, Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck in front of around 1000 people while stones were hurled at her head. Witnesses to the stoning said the militants, known as al-Shabaab, accused the woman of adultery and extracted a confession. Although all standard interpretations of “sharia” (or, collections of various Muslim laws and their interpretations) dictate that adultery must be proven by four eye witnesses in a court of law, the Somali Concern Group reported that the killing was extra-judicial, and that the woman did not receive a trial.

Stoning is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran and is considered by many respected Muslim scholars to be un-Islamic. Many Muslim nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Tunisia, Algeria and others have banned death by stoning. Despite calls for abolition from around the globe, stoning still occurs in several countries, either under law or by the community.

Members of al-Shabaab apparently publicized the execution, killing the woman in front of hundreds of people at the town square. When a relative and others pushed forward to rescue the victim, guards opened fire, killing a child. Islamist leaders have reportedly apologized for killing the child, but offered no such repentance for the stoning of Dhuhulow.

Stoning is a grave and serious violation of International Human Rights Law. Stoning breeches the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (1966). Somalia acceded to the convention in 1990.

Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”, of which adultery is not.

Article 7 of the ICCPR states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. This last injunction is reinforced in the 1985 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) to which Somalia acceded in 1990.

Although the killing was carried out by non-state insurgents, Article 2 of the CAT states that “each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Somalia is one of the only countries in the world that has not signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We encourage you to use your influence and authority to promote and preserve human rights, peace and security in the region. We urge a prompt and impartial investigation into this grave case. Members of al-Shabaab as well as every individual who took part in the stoning must be brought to justice, and the African Union should take due diligence in taking every possible measure in order to prevent any such violation of women’s human rights from reoccurring.

We thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

[Your name / your organization]


Representatives of Somalia

The Somali Prime Minister Office
HE. Ali Mohamed Gedi
P.O. Box 623 – 00606
Sarit, Somalia
Fax: +252-5-974242

Prime Minister’s Secretary
Mr. Abukar Ali Abdirahman (Abukar Ga’al)
Fax: +252-5-974242

African Union

African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243, Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area)
W21K19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 78 44

Social Affairs Commissioner
Adv. Bience P. Gawanas
Fax: +251 11 550 49 85

Directorate of Peace and Security
Mr Geofrey Mugumya
Fax: +251 11-552 58 72

Directorate of Women, Gender and Development
Mrs. Litha Musyimi-Ogana
Fax: +251 11-551 78 44

United Nations Human Rights Bodies

Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Mr. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
c/o Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations Secretariat
2 United Nations Plaza
DC-2/12th Floor
New York, NY 10017
United States of America
Fax: + 1-212-963-3463

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 9179022

Ms Yanghee Lee
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 9179022

Please also copy all correspondence to


Somalia: Woman stoned to death for adultery
29/10/2008: Somali Islamists have stoned to death a woman accused of adultery, witnesses said, the first such public killing by the militants for about two years. (Independent / Reuters)

The woman was placed in a hole up to her neck for the execution late yesterday in front of hundreds of people in a square in the southern port of Kismayu, which the Islamist insurgents captured in August.

Stones were hurled at her head and she was pulled out three times to see if she was dead, witnesses said. When a relative and others surged forward, guards opened fire, killing a child.

“A woman in green veil and black mask was brought in a car as we waited to watch the merciless act of stoning,” one local resident, Abdullahi Aden, told Reuters.

“We were told she submitted herself to be punished, yet we could see her screaming as she was forcefully bound, legs and hands. A relative of hers ran towards her, but the Islamists opened fire and killed a child.”

The European Union’s presidency condemned the stoning.

“The EU … condemns a particularly vile execution, which the Islamist insurgents who took control of the city deliberately publicised,” it said in a statement.

The Islamists last carried out public executions when they ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for half of 2006. Allied Ethiopian and Somali government forces toppled them at the end of that year, but they have waged an Iraq-style guerrilla campaign since then, gradually taking territory back.

As when they ruled Mogadishu in 2006, the Islamists now controlling the Kismayu area are again providing much-needed security, but also imposing fundamentalist practices such as banning forms of entertainment seen as anti-Islamic.

Relatives of the woman executed in Kismayu, whom they named as Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, were furious.

“The stoning was totally irreligious and illogical,” said her sister, who asked not to be named. “Islam does not execute a woman for adultery unless four witnesses and the man with whom she committed sex are brought forward publicly.”

Islamist leaders at the execution said the woman had broken Islamic law. They promised to punish the guard who had shot the child in the melee around the execution.

“We apologise for killing the child. And we promise we shall bring the one who opened fire before the courts and deal with him accordingly,” one unnamed Islamist leader told the crowd.

28 October 2008

Source: The Independent / Reuters

شبكة “نساء في ظل قوانين المسلمين” هي شبكة تضامن دولية تعمل على تقديم المعلومات والدعم وكفالة فضاء عام لجميع النساء اللاتي قد تحكم حياتهن أو تشكلها مجموعة من القوانين والأعراف يقال إنها مستقاة من الإسلام.
وعلى مدى أكثر من عقدين شكّلت الشبكة رابطة بين نساء فرادى ومنظمات. وهي تتسع اليوم لتشمل أكثر من سبعين بلداً تمتد من جنوب أفريقيا إلى أوزبكستان ومن السنغال إلى إندونيسيا ومن البرازيل إلى فرنسا. وتربط الشبكة:

  • نساء يعشن في دول أو ولايات يكون فيها الإسلام دين الدولة، وأخريات يعشن في دول علمانية تضم غالبية من المسلمين، فضلاً عن اللاتي ينتمين إلى أقليات مسلمة تحكمها قوانين الأقلية الدينية؛
  • نساء يعشن في دول علمانية فيها حضور لمجموعات سياسية تطالب بقوانين دينية؛
  • نساء يحيين في مجتمعات مسلمة مهاجرة في أوروبا والأميركتين والعالم؛
  • نساء غير مسلمات قد تسري عليهن قوانين المسلمين مباشرة أو عبر أبنائهن؛
  • نساء مولودات في مجتمعات أو أسر مسلمة يتم تصنيفهن تلقائياً كمسلمات رغم أنهن ربما لا يُعَرِّفن أنفسهن بالضرورة بهذه الصفة، إما لكونهن غير مؤمنات أو لاختيارهن عدم تصنيف أنفسهن على أسس دينية، وذلك تفضيلاً من جانبهن لإعطاء الأولوية لجوانب أخرى من هويتهن مثل القومية أو الأيديولوجيا السياسية أو المهنة أو الميول الجنسية أو غير ذلك.

ويعد إسمنا تحدياً لأسطورة “العالم الإسلامي” الواحد المتجانس. إن هذه الأسطورة التي جرى الترويج لها عمداً تفشل في أن تعكس ما يلي: أ) القوانين التي يقال إنها إسلامية تختلف من سياق إلى آخر؛ ب) القوانين التي تشكّل حياتنا تأتي من مصادر متنوعة: دينية وعرفية وكولونيالية وعلمانية. إننا محكومون في الوقت نفسه بالعديد من القوانين المختلفة: قوانين معترف بها من قِبَل الدولة (مدوّنة أو غير مدوّنة) وقوانين غير رسمية كالممارسات العرفية التي تختلف وفق السياق الثقافي والاجتماعي والسياسي.

كيف بدأت الشبكة عملها؟

تأسست الشبكة في عام 1984 استجابة لثلاث حالات في بلدان ومجتمعات مسلمة شهدت حرمان النساء من حقوقهن باسم قوانين قيل إنها “إسلامية”، وهو الأمر الذي يتطلب اتخاذ تدابير عاجلة. فقد تجمعت تسع نساء من الجزائر والمغرب والسودان وإيران وموريشيوس وتنزانيا وبنغلاديش وباكستان وشكّلن “لجنة عمل النساء في ظل قوانين المسلمين” من أجل دعم النضالات المحلية للمرأة وقد تطوّرت هذه اللجنة في عام 1986 إلى ما هي عليه الشبكة حالياً. وترشد الشبكة خطط عمل يتم مراجعتها دورياً. للمزيد من المعلومات رجاء زيارة موقع الشبكة على الإنترنت
ما هي أهداف الشبكة وبؤر تركيزها؟
ترمي الشبكة إلى تعزيز نضالات النساء الفردية والجماعية من أجل المساواة ونيل الحقوق، خاصة في المجتمعات المسلمة.
وهي تحقّق ذلك عبر:

  • كسر العزلة التي تخوض النساء نضالاتهن في ظلها عبر إيجاد وتعزيز الروابط بين النساء داخل البلدان والمجتمعات المسلمة، فضلاً عن الصلات مع المجموعات النسوية والتقدمية العالمية؛
  • تبادل المعلومات والتحليلات التي تساعد على الكشف عن المصادر المتنوعة للسيطرة على حياة النساء، وبلورة الاستراتيجيات والخبرات التي تطرح تحدياً لكافة أشكال السيطرة.

وتركّز الشبكة اهتمامها حالياً على تيمات ثلاث هي الأصولية والعسكرة وتأثيرهما على حياة النساء وجنسانيتهن. ويعد العنف ضد النساء تيمة عامة حاضرة عبر كافة مشروعات الشبكة وأنشطتها.
طريقة تنظيم الشبكة:
جرى تصميم بنية الشبكة المفتوحة على النحو الذي يعظّم مشاركة المجموعات المتنوعة والأفراد المستقلين كما يعزّز جماعية صنع القرار. وليس للشبكة عضوية رسمية ويمثّل أطراف الشبكة مجموعة مرنة من الأفراد والمنظمات تحتفظ بصلة تفاعلية منتظمة مع الشبكة.
ويضم “مجلس تنفيذ البرامج” ما بين عشرين وثلاثين امرأة ورجلاً من المنخرطين في جوانب من التشبيك عبر الإقليمي داخل إطار الشبكة على مدى فترة زمنية ممتدة. ويتولى هؤلاء المسؤولية الأساسية عن تطوير خطط العمل وتنفيذها.
ويتولى “مكتب التنسيق الدولي” المسؤولية الأولى عن تسهيل التنسيق بين أطراف الشبكة. ويوجد مكتبا تنسيق إقليميين في باكستان (آسيا) ونيجيريا (أفريقيا والشرق الأوسط) يتوليان مسؤولية تنسيق أنشطة الشبكة في منطقتيهما. ورغم استقلالهما القانوني والمالي، فإنهما يعدان من بين أهم مكونات الشبكة. واستناداً إلى المتوافر لها من صلات بأطراف الشبكة ومعرفة بأنشطة المنخرطين فيها والسياقات التي يعملون بها، يكفل كل من “مكتب التنسيق الدولي” والمكتبان الإقليميان عقد اللقاءات بين الأشخاص المعنيين داخل الشبكة بحيث يضع هؤلاء الأشخاص الإستراتيجيات ويخططون ويعملون على النحو الذي يوفر الدعم لبعضهم البعض ومن ثم يعزّز الفعالية المحلية والإقليمية والدولية.
ما هي مبادئ الشبكة؟
ينصب اهتمام الشبكة على القوانين والأعراف والحقائق الملموسة من واقع النساء. ويشمل ذلك الممارسات والقوانين المتنوعة المصنّفة على أنها “إسلامية” (والناتجة عن تفسيرات مختلفة للنصوص الدينية و/أو الاستخدام السياسي للدين) وآثار ذلك كله على النساء، وليس الديانة الإسلامية ذاتها.
وتعمل الشبكة بوعي على بناء الجسور عبر الهويات المختلفة ـ داخل سياقاتنا وعلى المستوى الدولي. ونحن مهتمون على وجه الخصوص بالنساء المهمشات. ويشمل ذلك غير المسلمات في الدول ذات الأغلبية المسلمة، خاصة حيثما يتقلص حثيثاً الفضاء المتاح أمام الأقليات الدينية؛ والأقليات المسلمة التي تعاني من التمييز أو الاضطهاد أو العنصرية؛ والنساء اللاتي يتمخض عن إصرارهن على جنسانيتهن ـ ويشمل ذلك الميول الجنسية وإن كان لا يقتصر عليها ـ وقوعهن تحت طائلة التجريم أو عدم القبول الاجتماعي.
وتقر الشبكة بأن نضالات النساء مترابطة ومتكاملة فيما بينها، ومن ثم فإن الشبكة تلتزم بالتضامن الدولي.
وتدعم الشبكة بقوة التعددية والاستقلالية، وهي تعكس وتقر وتثمّن واعية مجموعة متنوعة من الآراء. ويتولى الأفراد والمجموعات الذين تربط بينهم الشبكة تحديد أولوياتهم واستراتيجياتهم بأنفسهم وفقاً للسياق الذي يتواجدون فيه.
وقد لعب العامل الشخصي دوماً دوراً مهماً في عمل الشبكة التي تثمّن التضامن والدعم الفعال المتبادل بين أطراف الشبكة عبر الصلات الشخصية.
ما الذي تعمله الشبكة؟
تضامن ومناشدات للتحرك العاجل:
تستجيب الشبكة للحملات والمناشدات الدولية والإقليمية والمحلية الداعية للتحرك العاجل، كما تنشر مثل تلك المناشدات وتبادر بإصدارها، وذلك بناء على طلبات المجموعات المنخرطة في الشبكة والحلفاء. وتوفر الشبكة أيضاً دعماً فردياً للنساء على هيئة معلومات بشأن حقوقهن القانونية ومساعدة في قضايا اللجوء فضلاً عن ربطهن بمؤسسات الدعم المعنية وتلك التي تكفل الدعم النفسي، الخ.
التشبيك وخدمات المعلومات:
تقيم الشبكة صلات مباشرة بين النساء بحيث تسهّل تبادل المعلومات والخبرات والإستراتيجيات والتجارب على نحو غير تراتبي. ويشمل التشبيك أيضاً توثيق التيارات والتبادل النشط للمعلومات فيما بين المرتبطين بالشبكة والحلفاء وتوليد تحليلات جديدة ودعم مشاركة المرتبطين بالشبكة في اللقاءات والمؤتمرات الدولية. وعلى حين تعطي الشبكة الأولوية لاحتياجات المرتبطين بها، فإنها تستجيب أيضاً على نحو انتقائي لطلبات المعلومات من قِبَل الأكاديميين والنشطاء والإعلام والوكالات الدولية والمؤسسات الحكومية على سبيل المثال.

بناء القدرات:
تعمل الشبكة واعية على بناء قدرات المجموعات المرتبطة بها عبر تقديم فرص تدريبيةinternships في مكاتب التنسيق وتوفير الفرص لتبادل الخبرات وإستراتيجيات العمل والتدريب وورش العمل.
المنشورات والإعلام:
تجمع الشبكة وتحلّل وتنشر المعلومات المتعلقة بخبرات النساء وإستراتيجياتهن المختلفة في المجتمعات المسلمة باستخدام نطاق متنوع من الوسائط الإعلامية. وهي تترجم المعلومات من وإلى الفرنسية والعربية والإنكليزية متى تسنى ذلك. كما تتولى المجموعات المرتبطة بالشبكة أيضاً ترجمة المعلومات إلى لغات أخرى عديدة.
ويصدر عن برنامج النشر النشط ما يلي:

  • ملفات تدور حول تيمات بعينها، على هيئة مجلة توفّر المعلومات حول حياة ونضالات وإستراتيجيات نساء من مختلف المجتمعات والبلدان المسلمة؛
  • نشرة إعلامية ربع سنوية حول النساء والقوانين والمجتمع تصدر عن “شركت غاه”، مكتب التنسيق الإقليمي لآسيا التابع للشبكة؛
  • أوراق ـ دراسات أو مواد محددة لم يكن بالإمكان نشرها في إطار الملفات بسبب حجمها أو أسلوبها؛
  • نشرات أخرى حول قضايا محدّدة محل اهتمام مثل قوانين الأحوال الشخصية والحركات والمبادرات والإستراتيجيات النسائية، الخ.

لمزيد من المعلومات أو لتحميل منشورات الشبكة، رجاء زيارة الموقع:

وتدير الشبكة موقعاً على الإنترنت باللغات الإنكليزية والفرنسية والعربية، وهو موقع يتم تحديثه دورياً بالأخبار والآراء والمناشدات للتحرك العاجل والمنشورات :

المشروعات الجماعية:

تضمنت المشروعات الجماعية مبادرات حول موضوعات محدّدة تنبع من الاحتياجات والاهتمامات والتحليلات المشتركة لأطراف الشبكة. وللمجموعات والأفراد المنخرطين في الشبكة حرية المشاركة من عدمها وفقاً لاحتياجاتهم وقدراتهم. وقد شملت المشروعات الجماعية ما بين ثلاث إلى عشرين من المجموعات المنخرطة في الشبكة ودامت لفترة تتراوح بين بضعة شهور وعشر سنوات. ويتولى تنسيق المشروعات بالأساس المجموعات المنخرطة في الشبكة أو الأفراد المرتبطون بها في بلدانهم ومجتمعاتهم المختلفة؛ وتقدّم مكاتب التنسيق تسهيلات عند الاقتضاء.

وقد شملت المشروعات الجماعية جلسات التدريب وورش العمل والأبحاث واللقاءات والتبادلات حول موضوعات متخصصة.

وتضمنت المشروعات السابقة:

  • برنامج التبادل (1988)
  • لقاءات التفسيرات القرآنية (1990) واللقاءات الخاصة بالمجموعات المنخرطة في الشبكة في أفريقيا الغربية (2002) وفي أفريقيا الغربية الفرانكوفونية (2004)
  • برنامج المرأة والقانون في المجتمعات المسلمة(1991-2001)
  • معاهد القيادات النسوية في المجتمعات المسلمة (1998 و1999)
  • النوع الاجتماعي والنزوح في البلدان والمجتمعات المسلمة (1999-2002)
  • مبادرة العمل حول قوانين الأحوال الشخصية الأفغاني (2002 – حالياً)

مكتب التنسيق الخاص بأفريقيا والشرق الأوسط
Africa & Middle East Coordination Office
Groupe de Recherche sur les Femmes et les Lois au Senegal (GREFELS)
PO BOX 5330, Dakar Fann, Dakar, Senegal
البريد الإلكتروني:

مكتب التنسيق الخاص بآسيا
Asia Coordination Office
Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre
PO Box 5192, Lahore, Pakistan
البريد الإلكتروني:
الموقع على شبكة الإنترنت:

مكتب التنسيق الدولي
International Coordination Office
PO Box 28445, London, N19 5NZ, UK
البريد الإلكتروني: