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Middle East

Is Pleasure a Sin?

June 5, 2012

It’s hard to say what is weirder:

A Sister of Mercy writing about the Kama Sutra, sexual desire and “our yearnings for pleasure.”

Or the Vatican getting so hot and bothered about the academic treatise on sexuality that the pope censures it, causing it to shoot from obscurity to the top tier of’s best-seller list six years after it was published.

Just the latest chapter in the Vatican’s thuggish crusade to push American nuns — and all Catholic women — back into moldy subservience.

Iran: Women banned from watching Euro 2012

June 10, 2012

Women in Iran are being banned from watching live public screenings of Euro 2012 football games because of an "inappropriate" environment where men could become rowdy, a deputy police commander said Sunday.

"It is an inappropriate situation when men and women watch football in (movie) theatres together," said Bahman Kargar, Iran's deputy police commander in charge of social affairs, according to the ISNA news agency.

United Arab Emirates: Gender equality is more than financial

June 6, 2012

The UAE has consistently taken steps to empower women. Female workers can be seen across all sectors of the economy, from media and law to engineering and science. But while the UAE is ahead of other countries in the region in guaranteeing gender rights and equality, women's empowerment is still a work in progress.

Jordan: Woman Is Fired After Refusing to Cover Her Free-Flowing Hair

May 27, 2012

A Christian Jordanian woman named Vivian Salameh is suing her former employer, the Dubai Islamic Bank, for arbitrary dismissal after she was fired a week ago for refusing to comply with her company's dress code, which required her to wear a headscarf that would cover all her hair except for her hairline. Salameh, who had been an assistant manager of corporate operations with the bank, objected to wearing the headscarf on the grounds that a) she never had before and b) doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

Saudi Arabia: Manal al-Sharif - 'They just messed with the wrong woman'

May 23, 2012

She is the Saudi woman who became a symbol of female emancipation when she was filmed behind the wheel of a car. In a rare interview, she tells Guy Adams of the persecution she has endured in her fight for equality – and why she will not be silenced.

Iran: Imprisoned mothers fear being forgotten

May 14, 2012

Tehran, IRAN: Built in 1971 Evin prison, in Iran’s capital city of Tehran, is a place where incarceration for prisoners brings with it depression, frustration and isolation. Prisoners who are mothers often have a secret, and haunting, fear of ‘being forgotten’ by the children they have left behind at home.

Kuwait: Bill proposed to prohibit female judges

May 14, 2012

KUWAIT: Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

Activism Under the Radar: Volunteer Health Workers in Iran

May, 2009

Few would disagree that the 1979 Iranian revolution, despite the massive participation of women, rapidly became a catastrophe for women’s legal status and social position. Under the Shah, Iran had a mildly forward-looking family law limiting men’s rights to polygamy and unilateral divorce, and, at least theoretically, basing child custody on the best interests of the child. Within two weeks of the revolution, this legislation was annulled, on the grounds that it was against the shari‘a. The new Islamic Republic introduced retrograde laws that, among other things, valued a woman’s life at half of a man’s, and considered two women witnesses to be the equal of one man. The age of marriage as well as maturity for women was reduced to nine. At the same time, the regime promoted motherhood as the only viable life option for women and dismantled the family planning unit the Shah’s regime had founded. In 1989, concerned about the burgeoning population, the Islamic Republic made a volte face and introduced one of the most successful family planning programs in the developing world. In the process of transmitting health messages, however, these volunteers continuously found ways to redefine their mandate and expand their position in other areas of the public sphere.

Kuwait: Court Victory for Women’s Rights

May 6, 2012

(Beirut) –A court decision on April 22, 2012, cancelling a ministerial order barring women from entry-level jobs at the Justice Ministry is an important victory against legally-sanctioned discrimination in Kuwait, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged the Kuwaiti government to act on the decision, to guarantee women equal access to all public jobs, and to amend or repeal gender-based discriminatory provisions from all its legislation.

Yemen: Women harassed for not wearing face veil

May 1, 2012

Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen have begun to harass women who do not wear the veil with Bikya Masr reporting on one instance of physical abuse as militants forced a woman to don the full face veil in Aden.

The group, known as Ansar al-Sharia, believes a woman should follow the example of the Prophet’s wives and be fully covered, including her face.

Women in Aden, however, have expressed outrage at the recent form of harassment against them, according to a report on Sunday.