Saturday, March 4, 2000
Single woman sentenced to death
for sex with her boyfriend
A story published today by Reuters reports that Indonesia's foreign
minister is planning a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to plead for a pardon for an
Indonesian maid sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.
Indonesian newspapers reported that the 35-year-old maid, Kartini,
was under police custody in the UAE where she has been sentenced to be stoned to death by
an Islamic tribunal for adultery, allegedly with a man from Bangladesh. The reports said
the unidentified man had fled the country but had been acquitted in absentia.
The story says that Indonesia has the world's largest Moslem
community and religious minister Tolchah Hasan was quoted as saying there was nothing in
Islamic law stating that an unmarried women should be sentenced to death for adultery.
The maid has a has a five-month old child.
According to the story, there are approximately 500,000 Indonesian
workers in Arab countries. The case has sparked fresh anger over the treatment of
Indonesian workers abroad where they often take on menial jobs and which some liken to
Friday, March 3, 2000
Britain tries to tackles forced
A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the
British government created a new unit Friday to tackle the problem of forced marriages
after receiving increasing pleas by women wed without their consent, mostly from Britain's
South Asian community.
Foreign Office minister Baroness Scotland said the unit will work
with local community and religious leaders as well as foreign governments to stem the
problem of nonconsensual marriages.
"Forcing children into marriage is wrong,'' she said at a
family conference in Leeds. "It is not a legitimate cultural tradition, nothing to do
with love, and nothing to do with religious practice ... There is not a major religion in
the world that preaches it.''
According to the story, Foreign Office officials said the vast
majority of cases involve young women from Britain's Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities
duped into marriages with men from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
Quite often the women are only told that they are traveling to their
parent's home country and are unaware that upon arriving, they will be forced to marry a
stranger, the Foreign Office said. Many are then made to sponsor their spouse's entry into
Scotland cited the example of a young newlywed trapped abroad who
appealed to a British Embassy to "help me to get out of this country.'' Scotland did
not provide details, but said the woman was helped to escape. "She was one of the
fortunate minority,'' Scotland said.
The Foreign Office deals with around two people forced into marriage
every week, and estimated the number is in the hundreds annually.
Inspector Martin Baines, the community and race relations officer
for the Bradford Police Department, said his department deals with about 200 forced
marriages annually in his northern city, with a large Asian population and a 60,000-strong
"It can be a touchy issue,'' Baines said. "But if we
didn't at least attempt to address it, the problem would be a lot worse for a lot of
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
Egypt's New Divorce Law Now in
A story published by the Associated Press today reports that an
unprecedented 20 women filed for divorce in Cairo today, the first day of a new law making
it easier for wives to leave their husbands.
"Twenty divorce cases in one day is considered a boom,'' a
court official said on customary condition of anonymity. ``I think our work will double.''
The law, which faced strong criticism in this male-dominated Muslim
country, was approved by parliament on Jan. 26 and by President Hosni Mubarak three days
According to the story, a 36-year-old who was among the first women
to file a divorce case today accused her husband of mistreating her, taking a bank loan
under her name without repaying it, and bouncing checks.
Under the old law, women had to prove they were physically or
psychologically harmed by their husbands in order to secure a divorce. Men in Egypt can
divorce their wives anytime and without the approval of a court or any other authority.
Under the new law, women can declare before a judge they want a
divorce. The judge will give them a three-month period to try to reconcile -- six months
if the couple has children. If the women don't change their minds, a divorce is granted.
Women who divorce their husbands must return their dowries and
relinquish all financial claims, including alimony. Child support payments are not
affected under the new law.
The law was praised by women's groups as flawed but an improvement
over the old order. Even Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the country's top theologian and the
grand sheik of Al-Azhar University, mainstream Islam's most prestigious religious
institution, said it was in line with Islamic law.
But hard-line Muslim clergymen described it as a threat to social