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  • Human Rights Research Center

Laws in MENA Countries Limit Women's Rights and Freedom of Movement

July 18, 2023

[Image Source: Artur Widak/Getty Images]

Cited article by Sarah Little and Tom Levitt, The Guardian


HRRC condemns laws that restrict women's rights and the agency of women, and calls for both international governments and organizations to push for change in the MENA region. These restrictions affect women's ability to have a social life, independence, and further their careers.


Article Summary


Laws in 15 countries within the Middle East and north Africa (MENA) specifically limit women's rights based on the consent of their husbands. In these countries, courts have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, and women require the permission of their husbands to leave their homes and to work. Additionally, in Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, women can be arrested and forced to return home if male "guardians" report that they are missing from the home.


Rothna Begum, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), is stated, “It’s important to understand that violence against women doesn’t just include physical violence; it also includes restrictions on movement”. This restriction of movement prevents women from developing a social life, it affects the agency of the individual, and can lead to mental health issues, depression, and suicide.


The countries included in the HRW report were: Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen.

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