Bahraini activists abroad shed light on the suffering of Bahraini women due to the violations they are subjected to and the deprivation of their most basic rights.
This came during their participation in a seminar held by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain in cooperation with the Institute for Gender in Political Geography (IGG).
According to the activists, legislation in Bahrain remains discriminatory and fails to address the reforms needed to achieve equality.
The government passed legislation in 2015 to provide resources for reporting domestic violence, of which women are often the first victims.
Journalist and human rights defender, Naziha Saeed, stressed that Bahraini women, as in other Gulf countries, suffer the same violations, and women cannot marry without a guardian’s permission.
In the symposium entitled “The Status of Women in the Gulf Countries: Bahrain as a Model”, Saeed indicated that women in some cases in Bahrain could not grant citizenship to their children, travel or live alone.
She pointed out that a significant obstacle faced by women is nationality law, which prevents the mother from granting citizenship to her children, which is a topic that Bahrain focuses on, as well as the demand to abolish Article 353, which allows the rapist to marry the victim to escape punishment in Bahrain.
Saeed explained that the Supreme Council for Women did not assist many of the women who went to it. In contrast, women’s groups began coordinating, cooperating, and documenting domestic violence and rape issues to confront them.
Recently, Bahraini feminist institutions announced their refusal to participate in the Bahrain Supreme Council for Women in an international conference because of its role in whitewashing the violations of the ruling regime in Manama.
In a joint press statement, the institutions confirmed that the work system on which the Council is based seeks to whitewash the Bahraini government’s violations of human rights violations in the country, including those related to women.
Duke University professor Frances Hasso, founder of the Feminist Studies Program, said that the obstacles facing Bahraini women are modern and born from the ruling elite’s interests.
“Sectarianism pushes towards inequality between men and women in the nationality law, for example, and this is to preserve the system of government.”
She added in the same symposium that the obstacles of gender and sect work together, primarily since 2011 when the conflict between most people and the ruling family increased.
Bahraini activist and researcher Alaa Al-Shihabi confirmed that the movement in 2011 disrupted the marginalization approach adopted by the state.
In addition to the show business in the context of women’s empowerment, the modernization of power included the coding of women to please the West.
She added, “In 2011, women took to the streets to demand recognition of their humanity, and the goal of the authority was to isolate women from their activities through the most violent means of abuse and torture to keep them away from the struggle.”
“There is a difference between the laws of Shiite women and Sunni women in Bahrain,” Shehabi said.
She indicated that the personal status law for women in the Sunni community was approved. In contrast, the law on women in the Shiite community was not approved because it was considered a restriction on Shiite institutions’ authority that saw their power and authority initially limited by the regime.
Regarding the Supreme Council for Women, Al-Shehab said that it is used to oppress women. In 2011, the Council adopted the male and sectarian discourse of authority using the image of women.
“Unfortunately, these institutions are considered by the West as representative of Bahraini women when they are just another way to oppress and control women.”