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Mar 05, 2020
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Qatari Women's Rights Activist And Dissident Aisha Al-Qahtani: Women Are Fleeing the Gulf Countries because Violence against Them Is Not Criminalized; Only a State of Its Citizens Can Guarantee Justice for Women

#7880 | 05:25
Source: Al-Hurra TV (The U.S.)

On March 5, 2020, Qatari women's rights activist and dissident Aisha Al-Qahtani gave an interview to Al-Hurra TV (U.S.), in which she spoke about the discrimination against women in Gulf states. In the interview Al-Qahtani points out that there is no law protecting women from domestic violence, saying that "we cannot ask for other rights so long as there is no law that protects women's dignity."

Aisha Al-Qahtani: "The problem is not a personal one. We can give two major reasons that girls are fleeing from the Gulf. The first reason is the law. In the Gulf states, there is no clear and decisive law that criminalizes violence. If we asked any woman who has filed a complaint about violence why she did so, she would draw for us the real picture of the suffering of women in the Gulf, particularly the women who are victims of violence. The complaints are being ignored and the same old expressions are being repeated, such as: 'We do not interfere in domestic problems.' This way, the women who are victims of violence remain in a state of suffering and frustration. The second problem is that the centers that are responsible for protecting and training women in the Gulf states are not effective. An example in Qatar is the Aman Center for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Women. This center promises a lot but does very little. To tell you the truth, it doesn't do anything at all. This is because the Aman Center and other centers in the Gulf that are responsible for protecting women follow a conservative way of thinking that is concerned with [women's] reputations more than with anything else. This covers for crimes perpetrated against women.


"The second reason is the social and political factor. The states and society [of the Gulf] are patriarchal. This fact controls women's everyday matters, including residence, work, marriage, and freedom of travel. This social factor affects the political factor, of course. The conservatives influence the laws, so even the laws are patriarchal.


"First of all, there should be a law that criminalizes violence. We cannot ask for other rights so long as there is no law that protects women's dignity.


"Second, we need a law that protects women's independence and gives women the right to own land. We have an example in Kuwait, where a man and a woman share ownership of land after marriage. The third right [we should have] is freedom of movement. All the restrictions on this right should be lifted, like the [system of] travel passes that still unfortunately exists. In addition, women should be treated according to the constitution. Stop giving a hard time to women who are trying to complete legal or governmental procedures without a legal guardian. These women should not be treated like minors.


"Women should also have joint custody over their children. All the rights we have mentioned are basic rights that do not contradict the religious texts or the constitution.


"I believe that the perpetuation of these laws stems from the perpetuation of the tribal mentality, which is controlled by the masculine way of thinking. In Qatar and in the rest of the Gulf, the conservatives are very strong. They have control and influence that is reflected in political legislation. When it comes to matters that concern women, we see that these political legislations reflect the social reality of conservative masculinity. Therefore, we call to establish a state of its citizens. Such a state would turn us from absolute monarchies to modern states. A modern state of its citizens is our only way to establish basic principles such as justice, equality, and political participation of men and women. If we want to get rid of the discriminatory laws, we must first and foremost establish a state of its citizens."

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