In a rare expression of dissent, a Libyan newspaper has sharply criticized a new government edict that bans women from traveling abroad without a legal male guardian. The state-controlled al-Jamahiriya daily wrote March 7 that “turning back women traveling alone is a stark and crude abuse of basic womens’ rights.” It said the edict is “stupid and stains the entire state with backwardness.” The paper also said the edict violates Libya’s domestic human rights document which stipulates that every citizen has the right to free movement in times of peace and officially guarantees equality between the sexes, calling gender discrimination “unjustified blatant injustice.” While not actually naming any officials, the paper called on Libyans to “file suits against those who interfere in our lives,” and blasted “anyone who permits or forbids a Libyan woman, as if this woman comes from the medieval times.” The edict is thought to be a capitulation to conservative clerics. (Reuters, UPI, March 7)
It is very telling that Libya remains so totalitarian even as it is now increasingly embraced by the US as a regional peace-broker.
See our last post on Libya.