On July 16th 2013, the General National Congress approved the Constitutional Drafting Commission electoral law,which outlines the rules and guidelines for electing the 60-member commission charged with drafting Libya’s constitution. After several demands for a female quota that requests 15 seats for females have been rejected, and women were only given 6 seats out of 60.
That was the first indicator that women issues will be subverted in the constitution, since other issues of “ greater importance” will dominate the negotiations and dialogue processes. The volatile political and security situation had affected Libyan female activists; the decline is broad and is affecting all movements in the Libyan civil society.
Libyans had speculated about the Constitution draft, mostly not positive especially since the Constitutional Drafting Commission failed to achieve the desired inclusiveness for all the Libyan parts to be well represented. However, reading the draft that was released on the 63rd anniversary of Libya independence I was dismayed for women’s rights in Libya.
There are several detailed limitations and restrictions of Human Rights in the draft. Article 10 (on nationality):states that Libyan women are still not able to give their children the Libyan nationality. According to the Carter Center’s final report on the 2014 constitutional drafting assembly elections in Libya, there around 5,500 Libyan women who are married to foreigners. Many of them live with their spouses and children in the country. Libyan lawyers for years struggled to amend this law that denies Libyan women’s children from enjoying the same rights Libyan men’s “ children and spouses” receive. The fact that this is plainly evident in the constitution is a serious setback and a concern for future laws concerning women, it would also seem to fall in line with the Grand Mufti’s request (Fatwa) in March 2013 calling on the government to ban women from marrying foreigners.
In the third chapter (The social and cultural determinants) article 28: the first few lines it included that the family is the foundation of the society, the government shall encourage and support marriages. The second point however, the state shall take care of motherhood and childhood, and to reconcile the duties of women towards family and work. I honestly despite how many times read these lines couldn’t understand for the life of me the meaning of it, so will the state control women’s working hours if they have families? Will they be banned from engaging in other activities? Will the state limit or control women’s working lives?
Half of the Libyan population is women; women vastly mobilize the Libyan civil society. We participated in 2011 in so many ways; we continue to participate despite the targeting of activists and violations of Human Rights. We are a very important part of any and every development in Libya, yet it seems our struggle is not ending in the “ new democracy” we have much more to work on.
Lawyers for Justice in Libya are launching an online constitutional discussion of the CDA’s published draft of key elements of Libya’s future constitution, and conducting an in-depth analysis of the draft. The Libyan people and Libyan civil society should be mobilized now to send their recommendations and rejections of the draft to the CDA, women’s voices should be loud and clear in these very crucial times.
Our children should have full equal rights as other children, our family and work lives should be left to us alone to determine how we deal with it. We should marry whom we like, engage in any activity and the state should not control but provide a secure environment where we can thrive and build together OUR Libya.
Written By : A.K
Note : Photo Attached is a painting by Russian artist Ilya Repin. known as “ Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council on May 7, 1901 ” . Genre History Painting. Style Realism.