Arab Women in Revolution: Reports from the Ground

Part: 11

Libya Liberation Speech Raises Hackles on Polygamy

Friday, October 28, 2011

Libya's long-awaited declaration of liberation excluded female voices and raised questions about how the tide might turn on matters of family law. The country's interim leader faced immediate backlash for endorsing a return to unrestricted polygamy.



(WOMENSENEWS)--The mood couldn't have been more festive as tens of thousands of Libyans came to hear acting president Mustafa Abdul-Jalil speak in Benghazi in what promised to be a historic speech setting the tone for the next stage of Libya's future.

Men, women and children waved the Libyan revolution's red, green and black flag and chanted songs celebrating the end of 42 years of tyranny under ex-leader Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed Oct. 20.

Three days later, after eight months of civil war pitting rebel fighters and defected soldiers against troops loyal to Gadhafi, the North African nation's new leadership proudly declared its liberation. High ranking officials of the now governing National Transitional Council took the stage one after the other to pay passionate tribute to Libya's martyrs--their sons and brothers, but also their mothers, their wives and sisters -- building up momentum to Abdul-Jalil's speech.

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Not a single woman was on the stage to take credit for her role throughout the revolution or to set the tone on matters of direct personal relevance to women, such as the needs of war widows or the Libyan family code.

Libya's current family law, partly based on the Maliki school of Sunni Islam, includes several progressive protections for women that are not found in personal status laws of other Arab countries, according to Freedom House International, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. It sets the minimum legal age for marriage at 20 and gives women the opportunity to negotiate their marriage rights before entering the agreement. Mothers by law get custody in divorce, while fathers remain financially responsible.

"It is particularly worrying that, at such a crucial moment of a new democracy, women don't have a public voice," said Marianne Mollman, senior policy adviser for Amnesty International, the London-based rights watchdog.

The absence of a female voice at the podium made it clear that women will have to fight if they want to be equal shareholders--or even just represented--in the transition to democracy, said Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch in New York.

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As one of the Libyan women said, '[this]...is mind-boggling". The rise in Muslim fundamentalism is exactly one of the concerns of the West in some of these uprisings. Women must now be very aware of how they may be pushed aside, and there has never been a time when women are more in need of each others' support in nations including Libya, as they reset their national standards, laws, and methods of education and policing. The United Nations and nations with strong laws and practices of women's rights must show definite support for these women!

You say: "Not a single woman was on the stage to take credit for her role throughout the revolution or to set the tone on matters of direct personal relevance to women, such as the needs of war widows or the Libyan family code."

Of course not! The overwhelming majority of women supporting the rebelion, esp. in Benghazi and Misrata, were doing so by subjection to their male relatives, they weren't fighting, they submitted, by tradition and kin, and they conform to the misogynous sharia...

The only women fighting even with their weapons in their hands, were those defending their homeland against NATO and their reactionary stooges.

All your fogging rhetoric to justify the NATO regime is sheer rubbish. You bought the propaganda and media lies to such an extent that you believe them!

Whatever you, Susan Rice, and Jalil say to dress the monkey in silk, it is still a monkey, in this case a disparate bunch of fanatic Islamists, former regime renegades, vicious looters and killers, and foreing mass murderers and thieves.

Libya has been raped to the bone, a prosperous country living in peace with everybody and respecting all its engagements has turned into a lawless land in the fist of armed gangs aided by ultratechnological foreign high-road robbers. It has gone 50 years backwards, and its citizens have lost their lives and wealth, their care and wellfare, their highest income and life expectancy in Africa, and now thanks to NATO, the fanatic Islamists, and the treacherous and lying global media, they have turned into pariahs.

So please stop persuading us that the rebels' and NATO's intentions were good but risk to go awry. They were not and they are not! They were precisely this, what happened! The return to the middle ages on the one hand, and the control and misappropriation of Libyan riches by the imperial powers on the other hand.

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