Monday, February 4, 2008
HRW World Report 2008 , Women's Rights in Bahrain
Women’s Rights : Bahrain has no written personal status law. Instead, separate Sharia-based family courts for Sunni and Shia Muslims hear marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance cases. Family court judges, who are generally conservative religious scholars with limited formal legal training, render judgments according to their individual reading of Islamic jurisprudence. They have consistently favored men in their rulings and are unapologetically adverse to women’s equality. In June, a Sharia court denied the former wife of a Bahraini policeman custody of their three children and any rights to the marital home. Prior to the ruling, the 29-year-old woman appeared on television criticizing these judges for their handling of the case and the Ministry of Interior for failing to take any action against her ex-husband despite numerous allegations of physical abuse and harassment. The government has intensified its harassment of women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer following an April letter she addressed to Shaikh Hamad calling for the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Women (chaired by the king’s wife) for failing to do more to advance women’s status in the kingdom. Women’s rights organizations continued to call for a written unified personal status law.