More about...  Women rights in Libya


The Libyan revolution in 2011 opened doors to opportunities but also insecurities and impunity. Women rights situation have made significant progress: A decree was adopted providing reparations to victims of sexual violence by state agents under Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s rule and during the 2011 conflict along with a decree promising compensation for victims of sexual violence. The revolution has also brought with it an increasingly destabilized country exacerbated by the armed conflict. Women suffer from discrimination and are inadequately protected against gender-based violence. Women’s rights activists are in some situation victim of intimidation by militias. Unveiled women are increasingly stopped and harassed at checkpoints. In addition, it still exist cases of the so-called “honour killings”. According to Amnesty international report 2014, guards harassed university students in Tripoli for refusing to wear the hijab and some women faced harassment while attempting to travel out of Libya without a male guardian. Due to the current situation in the country, the formal security, informal channels (tribes, elder councils, religious leaders, armed groups) play a more important role. Women tend to use alternative systems as it is socially preferred not to deal with culturally sensitive crimes in the formal system which risks making the crime public with social repercussions.

Links: (October 2015)

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 created on: Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

global, Libya


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English, Arabic

My name is Isra, I am a 22 year old medical student from Libya. I don’t know when I first caught on that I wasn’t an equal part of my society, that I was less, weaker than the men that purportedly ‘ran’ things when in reality women seemed to be doing all the work, without the due recognition or credit. From childhood, compliments about my looks or being called “aroosa” (bride) always managed to irritate me, they never held any weight because they never spoke of me as a person, only as a visually pleasing shell, a fact made worse because the boys around were being complimented on their smarts and their accomplishments, things within their control, rather than their physical attributes. As a young woman, being told not to chew gum or food in public because “ladies eat at home.” As a medical student, my first time in the operating room, being told by the anesthesiologist that “You shouldn’t bother with surgery, women are only suited to gynecology and pediatrics,” because, “those are less demanding and you wouldn’t be able to handle the more difficult specialties,” (never mind that it’d be difficult to find a single doctor that’ll tell you dealing with pregnant women, childbirth, or young children is a walk in the park).

I don’t have any grand big story of unfairness, any huge injustice, only small anecdotes that all women have on the receiving end… And really, I think that’s the biggest crime of all. It’s easy to identify and to combat a problem when it’s big, unavoidable, undeniable.. but when its small cultural rules, little anecdotes made here and there, it’s harder to pinpoint the underlying cause, it’s difficult to say “ah yes, you say that because we live in a world where women are inherently presumed inadequate, weaker, less.”

Knowing you are an equal and being treated as such are two very different things. I hope the day comes when the latter is the reality, when I don’t have to wonder if the mark I got in a class is because my oral examiner thought my nervous smiles were flirtatious ones, the day when footsteps behind me isn’t a cause for alarm, when a cop pulling me over is because I’ve actually done something wrong and not because he wants to start a conversation. These creeping inequalities on a day to day basis may seem like nothing, and they’re constantly minimized, as much by society as they are by us ourselves. But the reality is they make for, at best, an uneasy existence for half the world’s population, and at worst, a danger to our lives and wellbeing.

If there’s anything I want from this generation, it’s not to be treated as an equal – I realize that’s a goal far too high for most in our society to reach – but just to realize the undercurrent of their actions. Take notice of the inequalities around them, the ones they play a part in, whichever part that may be. We can’t expect to change something we have yet to realize is even happening. Only when we take notice, become aware, can we begin to alter the course of our actions.