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MALI WOMEN’S RIGHTS

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Mali is a desert state of 1,240,00 km and with only about 12 millions people, almost all of them Muslims. The country south of the Sahara is bordering Algerian in the North, Mauritania in the West, Niger in the East and many small African countries in the South. Mali has no access to the sea. The country is also one of the poorest countries in the world with about $1,200 gross income per capita a year (relative to $46,000 in USA).In the recent years Mali suffers from growing influence of radical Islamists who fled from Algeria in the mid 90s’ and used the border regions of Mali with Mauritania and Algeria as a safe haven for MAGHREB al-Qaeda and base of operations against Mali’s Arab neighbors (see – Mali 07.08.09 ).

 On Thursday 08/27/2009, the president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, has announced that he is not going to sign the country’s new family law, instead retured it to parliament for review. For example, under the new law women are no longer required to obey their husbands, instead husbands and wives owe each other loyalty and protection. Women, according to the new draft, get greater inheritance rights, and the minimum age for girls to marry in most circumstances is raised to 18. The marriage is defined as a secular institution.

Muslim groups have been protesting against the law, which gives greater rights to women, ever since parliament adopted it at the start of 08/2009. Muslim leaders have called the law the work of the devil and against Islam. Tens of thousands have turned out at protests in Bamako, Mali’s capital, in recent weeks and there have been other demonstrations against the law across the country. 

It is a political defeat for President Toure, who was a strong backer of the new law. It has only been the continuing angry protests by Muslim groups that have forced him to send the law back to parliament.

Mali’s president is not alone and not the first leader to give up to Islamic radicalization.

A week before the elections, on Friday 08/14/2009, Hamid Karzai – the Afghan president and the leading candidate to be reelected, approved a new law in a last attempt to gain Shiaa support. According to the new draft husbands in the Shiaa community can prevent food from their wives if they refuse sex with their husbands for over four days. The law was hushed by UK and USA in order to support the reelection of “their man” Hamid Karzai (see – Afghan 09 Elections ).

On 04/18/2009, Somalia’s parliament unanimously approved a government proposal to introduce Shariaa, Islamic law, in the country, in a move aimed at appeasing Islamists waging a civil war since 1991 (see – Shariaa 04.18.09 ).

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari has signed, on Monday 04/13/2009, a controversial bill introducing Islamic Shariaa Law, in one of its most strict versions, to the Swat District in an effort to appease the pro-Taliban militants in the region (see – Swat-Law ).

One of the main reasons for the relapse of most of the Muslim and Arab countries, despite their enormous wealth, especially in oil, is the status of women in Islamic society.

As women are half of humanity they obtain half of its creativity, its skills and abilities. Leaving women behind as second class persons eventually hits back on every society. All those Muslim countries, which discriminate women, undermine their own prospect to prosperity and well being.

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