While Syria celebrates 64 years of independence, Syrian women who have been, and continue to be, partners in all aspects of life still do not have full citizenship because of the misogynistic culture that dominates in the Syrian government, and which states daily its refusal to give women full citizenship.

In Syria, in the year 2010, a woman’s right to life is violated in one of the harshest possible ways: A man has the right to kill a woman with little retribution or punishment if he does not like her behavior by claiming it was in the “defense of honor”! He is protected by articles 548 (Decree 37 from 2009) and 92 of the Syrian Penal Code.

A woman still does not have the basic right to pass her citizenship on to her children, since children of a Syrian woman married to a non-Syrian man are prohibited from taking the citizenship of their mothers. The excuses given for denying these basic rights tend to be specious and vague like “decisions of the Arab League” or “customs and traditions” or “protection of the nation.” As if these Syrian women were moles working against the nation!

Syrian women continue to be no more than maids and baby makers, especially since a man has the right to marry a second, third and fourth time for any reason including the excuse that one wife does not satisfy him sexually! He also has the right, with the force of the law behind him, to divorce whenever and however he wants, simply throwing his wife to the street and taking with him all the belongings that they obtained together in the course of their marriage. A man also has the right to “discipline” a woman as though she were a child.

Syrian women are also legally prohibited from any relationship with their children that is not transactional  - under the law they are only considered reproducers, wet nurses and babysitters. Women are not given the right to supervise in any matters that concern their children. Any man in the family, even an uncle or a grandfather has more control over these issues than a woman. This state of affairs is not surprising given that in the eyes of the law a Syrian woman is neither a human being nor a citizen. 

All of this is just a drop in the bucket. These injustices and the persecution of Syrian women are not enough for the Syrian government and for some religious men who make a mockery of their religions for their own personal interests. Instead of defending women, they hurry to pass through new legislation, the so-called “Personal Status Law,” that does not take into consideration any of the developments Syria has witnessed in 20th century. There are those working both within and outside of the government to pass this law that is truly unjust and prejudiced against Syrian women’s rights, under hypocritical names such as “Sharia”! The Personal Status Law is currently being worked on in absolute secrecy and with great care not to let any information leak to the people. If there was nothing to hide, then why keep the law from the people who have proven that Syria is a not a place for the dead, but rather a place for the living who derive their morals and values from citizenship and equality and not from the length of their beards or the length of their robes?

Unfortunately, civil society organizations have proven that they still cling to a culture of violence, discrimination and the violation of women’s rights from the Syrian government and other oppressors. In reality, a lot of work that these organizations do has focused on talk, narrow interests, attending this or that party or conference rather than doing any real work on the ground. In the same vein, others in civil society do work that is outside their area of interest and are irresponsible toward Syrian women publishing statement after statement, while remaining completely silent and not publishing a single word when women are killed in the name of “honor” or when her rights are violated in successive resolutions taken by the Syrian government. How can these organizations claim to work for “women’s rights”?

On the anniversary of 64 years of independence, the time has come for the Syrian government, political parties, and organizations to stop committing these violations against Syrian women. The time has come to get rid of discriminatory laws and for the Syrian government to decide (through laws, decisions and practices) that Syrian women are true citizens on the same level as men. Any discrimination between men and women on the basis of sex is a flagrant violation of the rights of citizenry, human rights and the most basic principles of justice whether religious or not religious.

Syrian women are equal partners with men in real life. Often a woman’s responsibility and role is greater than those of a man. In addition, any justification for continuing these violations is hypocritical and serves no purpose except to enforce a misogynistic power that has no place in a society at this current state of human civilization.

By Bassam AlKadi, (64 Years After Syrian Independence, When Will Syrian Women Get Their Rights?)

Translated by Elizabeth Broadwin

source in Arabic..

SWO (18/4/2010)