In view of the leading role of Libyan women in the February 15th revolution, and in recognition of the great sacrifices made by the Libyan people in their quest for freedom, dignity and rights for both men and women, we regret to have noted systematic cases of human rights violations especially against women. Generally speaking, such abuse is either condoned as being in the name of the revolution, or given religious credence, although unsanctioned by moderate Islam. On account of this, many human rights activists and civil society organizations have come together to monitor this situation and make recommendations on combatting such abuse to be submitted to the official authorities.
Amongst the major violations observed are in the following areas:
- In the first drafting of the Election Law which completely overlooked any representation for women, even the minimal 10% quota. The argument presented was lack of requirements for equality. Any women representation seen today is the outcome of civil pressure that led to the change of the Law.
- Dismissing Sara Al-Meslaty, a media professional who was assigned to host the ceremony for the handover of power to the National Congress, the highest legislative power, on account that she was not wearing the veil.
- Refusal by the Ministry of the Wounded to treat raped women as victims of the liberation war.
- Depriving women the right to join the military institution by a decision from the Chief of Staff.
- Negligence on part of the Executive as regards women police officers, thus adversely impacting female prisoners and depriving then any care.
- Refrainment by the executive bodies to condemn violence against women and bringing the perpetrators to justice as in the following incidents:
- Security officers in Beninah airport in Benghazi harassed Sanaa Al-Mansouri, a media figure, because she was not wearing the veil.
- Harassment by officers in the fourth security support unit in Tripoli of Aicha Al-Maghrabi, a university professor and writer, because she was travelling in a car with her driver, unchaperoned by a Mehrem.
- A group of armed men broke into a women’s forum and forcibly pulled out Magdoline Ebeidah, a civil activist, and abducted her. The women who were present at this forum were intimidated and threatened. Presently, this activist has received political asylum in the UK.
- The guards of the National Congress attacked Mona Al-Bakoush, a civil activist. This, in addition to the threats to many female activists and media professionals.
- Verbal abuse by a deputy of the National Congress targeting female Congress members in a plenary. The argument was that they wore make up, dressed indecently and mingled with men.
- The Supreme Constitutional Court amended the law governing marriage and divorce. And based on an interim constitutional declaration, has removed the restriction on polygamy, without waiting for the promulgation of the permanent constitution and the amendment of the personal status law in a comprehensive manner, thus ensuring adequate safeguards to all parties to the contract, including the children.
- The State’s negative response viz-a-viz the assassinations and the crimes against human rights. Instead, we see all these politicized fatwas (legal opinion based on Islamic Law) which overlook such violations and only call for and advocate to prevent raising any demands of the legitimate rights, which constitute one major principle of February 17th revolution. This is manifested in the following instances:
- Neglect of those who died on duty and the wounded security and army men.
- Lack of seriousness in the investigations and final judgments, thus leading to increased rumors; which consequently lead to a state of lawlessness.
- Promoting religious discourse in a manner that highlights human rights and ensures human freedom and dignity.
- Enforcing the rule of law, and obliging the implementing bodies, mainly the Ministry of the Interior, to abide by the rulings.
- Holding accountable whosoever violates the principle of the rule of law in a manner that relates to rights and freedoms of Libyan men and women.
- We also recommend a circulation of a note to all those who work in the security apparatus, calling them to respect women and do their security work in a professional non-humiliating manner. The note should also call them to take disciplinary deterring procedures towards those complained against to be an example to all. Let alone helping in bringing perpetrators of crimes to justice.
- We, thus, recommend the Ministry of Awqaf (Endowment) to train and build the capacities of mosque preachers and prevent them from incitement against women and using a stiff religious discourse. They should also be trained to follow suite the Prophet in all aspects, including gentle advising.
- We further urge the Supreme Council for Freedoms and Human Rights to necessarily assume its role in relation to those violations. The work of the Council should not be confined to the fundamental freedoms, prisons and prisoners, because the communal human rights touch on the lives of a wide spectrum of people; it is not any less important than the limited role it is currently playing.
Failing to respond to these demands and to address such violations will make Libya internationally accountable, since Libya is still under Security Council Resolutions No. 1970 & 1973, and the supervision of the UN Mission, in accordance with Resolution No. 2009.
Libyan Women’s Peace Platform