March 15, 2013


womenEgyptian women protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011 against violence against women. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

( – As the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women tries to finalize a document on violence against women by the end of its two-week session Friday, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is leading a pushback by governments that accuse it of trying to undermine religious or cultural values.

Egypt’s ruling Islamist party called on all Muslim countries to “reject and condemn” the draft document under discussion at the CSW session in New York, warning that it would undermine the family, subvert society, and “drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.”

“This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies,” it said in a statement.

The declaration would in fact be non-binding, although U.N. documents are typically cited in future negotiations as having set norms to be built upon.

Earlier, Libya’s grand mufti issued a fatwa (religious ruling) against the draft document.

Among elements in the CSW draft opposed by the Brotherhood are some that would resonate with many Western conservatives – including a reference to “safe abortion” where permitted by law and an allusion to same-sex relationships (couched as the right to decide without coercion on “matters related to their sexuality.”)

Others, however, touch on norms Westerners would generally not dispute but which the Brotherhood says are contrary to shari’a, such as those relating to early marriage, polygamy, and inheritance equality.

Where the CSW document calls for women to enjoy equality in “participation and decision-making in all spheres of life,” for instance, the Brotherhood sees a threat against the right of Muslim men to give or withhold consent for wives to travel or work.

Full equality in marriage, it said in the statement, would allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, abolish polygamy, and remove the authority of divorce from husbands.


womenEgyptian women take part in demonstrations against the Mubarak regime in Cairo on Jan. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The Brotherhood was also unhappy that the document sought to promote “full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.”

Egypt wants the draft amended to allow countries to sidestep those recommendations they view as clashing with religious or cultural values.

The document itself urges against such a provision, calling on states “to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations” with respect to eliminating violence against women and girls.


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NCW responds to Muslim Brotherhood statement

  /   March 14, 2013

National Council for Women denies the UN declaration on violence against women breaches Islamic Shari’a

 Egyptian women demand their rights on the occasion of the International Women's Day, (Photo by Mohamed Omar/DNE)

Egyptian women demand their rights on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, (Photo by Mohamed Omar/DNE)

The National Council for Women (NCW) denied in a statement released on Thursday that a declaration regarding violence against women currently being drafted in the 57th United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women breaches Islamic Shari’a.

The Muslim Brotherhood released a statement on Wednesday denouncing the declaration for “contradicting principles of Islam and destroying family life and the entire society”.

“The Brotherhood’s statement is completely unfounded,” the NCW said in its statement. The council added that the final draft of the declaration is yet to be released and voted on.

The council denied that the declaration goes against the principles of Islam, eliminates Islamic manner or destroys families. “This misleading allegation abuses religion to taint the UN and stall women’s rights,” the statement read. It added that the “accusations” referred to in the Brotherhood’s statement are all non-existent in the draft declaration.

“The points mentioned in the Brotherhood’s statement cannot be found in the declaration; neither literally nor metaphorically,” said Abeer Abul Ella, head of the NCW’s media office.

In its statement, the Muslim Brotherhood listed ten points allegedly present within the declaration which represent “the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries”.

The points include: granting girls sexual freedom as well as the freedom to decide their gender, providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and legalising abortion “in the name of reproductive rights”, granting adulterous wives and illegitimate children equal rights, granting equal rights to homosexuals and protecting and respecting prostitutes, allowing wives to legally accuse their husbands of rape or sexual harassment, allowing equal inheritance rights among men and women, replacing husbands’ guardianship with partnership, full equality in marriage legislation (which would allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men), removing the divorce authority from husbands and giving it to legal courts, and abolishing the need for husbands’ consent on matters such as their wives’ work, travel or going out.

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