Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egypt's New Political Parties Refuse To Protect Women's Rights

The Egyptians (mostly youth) who fought long and hard to oust dictator Hosni Mubarak after decades of totalitarian rule only garnered a small percentage of votes in the latest democratic elections. A whopping majority of the parliamentary seats went to Islamists: 47 percent to the so-called 'moderate' Muslim Brotherhood, and 25 percent to the ultra-conservative Salafis. With the final tally in, it seems that the Egyptians squandered away the tremendous gains they made with Mubarak's ouster. Not that it was terribly surprising to me when the Islamists effectively 'bought' the Egyptian people's vote.

Although the Islamists have been trying to assuage the fears of the West and secular Egyptians with promises of 'moderation', they're proving it's nothing but lip service, at least when it comes to their female population.  The Salafis are already trying to force their conservative will on the people, though the women are fighting back. But according to Amnesty International,

“Most of the biggest Egyptian political parties have committed to delivering ambitious human rights reform in the country’s transition, but have either given mixed signals or flatly refused to sign up to ending discrimination, protecting women’s rights and to abolishing the death penalty,” Amnesty said.

The London-based rights watchdog had contacted 54 parties running in Egypt’s first post-revolution parliamentary elections to sign a “human rights manifesto” containing 10 key pledges.

“It is disturbing that a number of parties refused to commit to equal rights for women,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“With a handful of women taking up seats in the new parliament, there remain huge obstacles to women playing a full role in Egyptian political life,” said Luther.

Apparently, the Muslim Brotherhood did not respond to Amnesty, and the Salafi Al-Nour party

“agreed orally to all pledges with the exception of the abolition of the death penalty and protection of women’s rights.”
Equally troubling is the fact that it wasn't just the Islamists who either didn't respond or refused to commit to women's rights.  The Free Egyptians party didn't respond either, and ten other parties also refused to commit to women's rights and discrimination.  Out of all the many parties that make up the new Egyptian government, only the Popular Socialist Alliance Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Part agreed to all ten pledges,

 which also include ending the state of emergency, combating torture, ensuring fair trials and upholding freedom of association and expression.

Of course, pledging and actually acting upon those pledges are two separate things. It's easy to say one thing and do another. Only time will tell if they actually do implement change, but the fact that the majority (including non-Islamists) refuse to view women as equals does not bode well.


unrighteousfury said...

Blowback anybody?

Incognito said...

I think they had high hopes. Just not in their genes.