During the Annual Full-day Meeting on Women's Human Rights held last week at
the Human Rights Council, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
and member states expressed their opposition to the idea of setting up a new
Special Rapporteur who would monitor laws that discriminate against women.
According to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the establishment of
this new mechanism has been under consideration since 2005 and is supported
by both the Secretary-General and the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR). Active OIC opposition - common on all human rights
fronts at the UN - introduces a major impediment to realizing this idea for
the better protection of women's rights.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC), "disagreed" with the proposal because "The solitary focus of this
mandate would lead to more polemics that surround contemporary discussions
on issues such as universality versus respect of cultural, legal and
religious diversities. It would also lead to further polarization in the
system as it may be perceived as against certain regional and religious
groups. The OIC believes that the international community needs to be
afforded ample time and opportunity with full respect to cultural diversity
and better coordination of existing standards to graduate to
universally-agreed standards."

Egypt "did not favor" this idea..."It will lead to unnecessary duplication
and waste of resources. No single individual would be able to follow laws on
all countries and have knowledge of different legal systems in the various
parts of the world, let alone apply common yardstick to evaluate them. This
might lead to polarization and politicization because some groups might feel
specially targeted."

Algeria argued that, "we shouldn't lose sight of the importance of taking
into account national and regional special characteristics and historical
and religious diversity. We must insure there is no proliferation of
mechanisms on the subject."

At the end of the debate, Iran suggested a "remedy" for violence against
women: "National and regional particularities as well as various cultural
historical and cultural background should be taken into account in an
appropriate manner. I would like to emphasize the role of chastity on
strengthening crime prevention to eliminate violence against women and girl
children."

Why the opposition to close monitoring of laws that discriminate against
women:

In Pakistan rape is frequent, prosecutions are rare and there is no specific
legislation prohibiting domestic violence.

In Egypt, spousal rape is not illegal and the law does not prohibit domestic
violence or spousal abuse. The law requires any kind of assault victim to
produce multiple eyewitnesses, a difficult condition for a domestic abuse
victim to meet. The law does not specifically address honor crimes.

In Algeria, spousal rape is not illegal and the penal code [which is
applicable in domestic violence cases] states that a person must be
incapacitated for 15 days or more and present a doctor's note certifying the
injuries before filing charges for battery.

In Iran, the constitution bars women from becoming president or serving as
supreme leader or as certain types of judges. Adultery is a capital offense
punishable by stoning. Spousal rape is not illegal and domestic violence is
not specifically prohibited by law.

www.EYEontheUN.org

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