Saudi mountaineer Raha Moharrak celebrates on the summit of Mount Everest. Raha Moharrak reached the summit of Nepal’s Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in a first for the conservative Muslim kingdom where women’s sports are severely restricted. (Photo: AFP PHOTO/ Ang Norbu SHERPA)
Women’s rights activists on Tuesday welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid’s announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming a penal code that doesn’t do enough to stop violence against women in this North African kingdom.
A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of “corruption” or “kidnapping” of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Aceh introduced a version of Shariah, or Islamic law, in 2009, after it gained autonomy from the government in a 2005 peace deal to end a long-running separatist war there. The Aceh laws regulate women’s dress and public morality, require shops and other places to close at prayer time, and are enforced by a special unit. Punishments can include public caning.
On Monday, authorities in northern Aceh distributed a notice to government offices and villages informing residents of the proposed law, which would apply to adolescent girls and women. It states that women are not allowed to straddle motorbikes unless it’s an “emergency,” and are not allowed to hold onto the driver. (AP Photo/Rahmat Yahya)
“Starting with the next term, women will have the right to run in municipal elections and to choose candidates, according to Islamic principles,” he said in speech to the Shura Council carried live on state television.
“Muslim women in our Islamic history have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice,” he told advisors.
Women’s rights activists have long fought to gain the right to vote in the Gulf kingdom, which applies a strict version of Sunni Islam and bans women from driving or travelling without the consent of a male guardian. (Fahad Shadeed/Reuters)