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International News Archive
March 01 - March 05, 2000

 

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This page contains news for the period Wednesday, March 01, 2000 through Sunday, March 05, 2000.

 

<<   March 2000  >>

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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 near slavery.

 

Friday, March 3, 2000


Britain tries to tackles forced marriages

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 Britain.

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 Muslim community.

"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 people.''

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Egypt's New Divorce Law Now in Effect

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 later.

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 stability.

 

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