"Seize Chance to Protect Women’s Rights", HRW

Libyan authorities should seize a historic opportunity to promote and protect women’s rights as the country transitions from four decades of dictatorship, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The parliament, government, and other bodies should ensure that women can participate actively and equally in the drafting of the new constitution and the reform of legislation that affect their lives, Human Rights Watch said.

“Libyan women are at a pivotal moment in their country’s history with the drafting of a new constitution and the start of legislative reform,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “If Libya misses this opportunity to lay the legal foundation for women’s rights, it could lead to serious violations for years to come.”

The 40-page report, “A Revolution for All: Women’s Rights in the New Libya,” highlights key steps that Libya should take to meet its international obligations by firmly rejecting gender-based discrimination in both law and practice.

The report calls on Libya’s parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), to ensure that women are involved on equal terms with men in the entire constitution drafting process, including active participation in the Constituent Assembly tasked with preparing the draft.

“The revolution was an earthquake to the cultural status of women in Libya,” said Iman Bugaighis, a rights activist in Benghazi. “We don’t want to lose what we’ve gained as Libyan women.”

Her sister, Selwa Bugaighis, a lawyer, echoed this view: “We had never participated before in protests; these were taboo. The revolution made us proud to be there on the front line … But now there are some who think it is time for women to go home.”

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