The Global Persecution of Women
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
”U.K: Forced marriage law 'not needed',” Women in the Middle East, No. 44, July-Aug. 2006.
The Home Office has decided a specific law to ban forced marriages in the UK is not needed. Ministers had asked groups and individuals if there should be a law criminalising the act of forcing someone into marriage.
Most thought the disadvantages of a new law would outweigh the advantages, and possibly drive the practice of forced marriages underground. The Home Office will put forward three recommendations to stop the practice.
These included better training for those who work in this field and "engaging more with communities". It also called for an increase in the work done with statutory agencies in sharing best practice and implementing guidelines.
The third recommendation was to ensure that existing legislation was fully implemented, including making better use of civil remedies and the family courts. Home Office minister Baroness Scotland said: "Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence which cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds. In the future, we will continue to provide information and assistance both to potential victims and to concerned professionals.
At present, anyone found guilty of forcing someone into marriage can be prosecuted for kidnap, false imprisonment or rape. About 300 forced marriages are reported to the authorities every year - often involving people from Britain's South Asian community. In most cases young women are pressured into marrying, but at least 15% involve coercion of men.
The Southall Black Sisters, a group which campaigns against domestic violence, says it believes that young people will not report their parents for fear of criminalising them. Pragna Patel, chair of the group, told Radio 4 that existing laws were sufficient.
"We don't see the need for criminalisation of forced marriage, which is yet another way of stereotyping and criminalising entire communities at a time when there is heightened racism in this country."
The government has made it clear that it is not attacking the idea of arranged marriages - a popular practice in South Asian communities - when both bride and groom give their consent. Ministers have said that they recognise the problem is not exclusively South Asian.
”Women's bill in Pakistan assembly,” BBC News, 13 Feb. 2007.
Pakistan's national assembly has begun work on a bill to safeguard women's rights to property and inheritance.
The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill seeks to ban various customs that deny women the right to marry or subject them to forced marriages.
Last November the assembly overcame bitter opposition from Islamic parties to amend the country's controversial rape laws.
The new bill is a key part of plans to empower women, the government says.
The position of women in Pakistan has come under intense international scrutiny, partly because of a number of high-profile rape cases.
"The bill seeks to correct the wrongs committed against women," the head of the ruling PMLQ party, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, said while tabling the bill.
"I hope that sections of the opposition that supported us on women's issues earlier would back this bill as well."
Last November the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto put aside its differences with the government to support the changes in the rape laws.
The new bill criminalises customs such as vanni and swara, in which young girls are given away in marriage to settle murder feuds.
It prescribes a maximum of three years' imprisonment for offenders in these cases.
In addition, the bill prescribes up to seven years in jail for those who deprive a woman of her right to property.
It further seeks to punish the practice of marrying women to the Koran with up to three years in jail.
Koran marriages are aimed at preventing a woman from contracting a normal marriage and bearing children who could then claim her share in ancestral property.
The bill proposes that husbands who bring charges of infidelity against their wives under Islamic law but fail in their cases could face charges of slander.
In such cases, the wife would be given the power to initiate divorce proceedings.
The Global Persecution of Women