Saturday, June 14, 2008

on women's rights in Kurdistan

There is some dispute right now in Kurdistan over those laws that deal with women's rights, particularly polygamy, inheritance, and marriage age. Women's rights groups have lobbied to expand the 5-member (all male) legal advisory council to include 5 women (so it is now 5M/5F). However, moves like that always seem a little puzzling when you get statements like this:

Shamsa Saeed, a member of parliament from the Kurdistan Islamic League list, a political Islamic party with six seats in the regional parliament, argued that polygamy helps widows to remarry. She also noted that women obtain financial security when they get married, which she argued lessens their need for inheritance.

Ultimately, she asserted that polygamy and inheritance cannot be changed because they are Islamic principles.

“The rights of women are determined in Islam, and any changes will be at odds with the jurisprudence of Islam,” she said.

Just being a woman doesn't make you a women's rights advocate. Which is not to say that I am against equal representation for its own sake - I supported Hillary Clinton's presidential run in large part because of the role she would play in that sense - I simply think that adding women to a conversation in an instance like this, as an attempt to re-route the dominant thinking on a particular policy once the process is already under way, may be unsuccessful.

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