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15 Mar, 2013 03:28

‘Misleading and deceptive’: Egypt's Islamists slam UN women’s rights resolution

‘Misleading and deceptive’: Egypt's Islamists slam UN women’s rights resolution

Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood has condemned a UN draft declaration on women's rights, claiming the document violates Islamic Law. The party outlined ten reasons why women in Muslim countries should not have the proposed rights.

The document, “End Violence Against Women,” is planned to be ratified on Friday by the UN Commission on the Status of Women and is now being negotiated as part of the 57th session.

The Muslim Brotherhood, in a statement on its official website, claims that the articles of the declaration “are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution.” The Islamists claim the document would “subvert the entire society and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.”

Among the clauses which the organization finds offensive are an article that would enable women to choose the gender of their partners; use of contraceptives by teenagers; and a clause that allocates equal rights for homosexuals and protection for sex workers.

Some other articles the Egyptian leadership finds challenging include granting “equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships” and giving wives “full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment.”

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Islamic countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document,” the party said in the statement.

The issue of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men has also been condemned in the outline.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen also found unacceptable a call for “cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like travel, work, or use of contraception” and rejected the idea of abolishing “polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending.”

AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed

The 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is comprised of 45 countries united by a goal of stopping violence against women worldwide. However, the “End Violence Against Women” report has seen objections coming from Russia, the Vatican, Iran and Egypt.

“There's this sort of unholy alliance ... coming together to oppose language on sexual health, reproductive rights and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights,” a senior UN diplomat told Reuters on Wednesday. “It's tough going, but progress is being made.”

Cairo, for instance, is seeking to recognize that sovereign countries have the right to ignore elements of the declaration which would conflict with their religious values.

Moscow, the Vatican and Tehran meanwhile voiced concerns over emergency contraception, abortion and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Gay rights and sexual and reproductive rights, they argue, should also be decided by each nation separately. 

The CSW is part of the UN Economic and Social Council. It was launched in 1946 with annual summits aimed at setting global gender equality policies.