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Protection of women’s rights remains on paper

By Nada S. Mussallam / 19 March 2007

ABU DHABI — Despite the progress witnessed in several Arab countries, including the UAE, as far as women’s rights are concerned, there are still some countries in the region which have not implemented international conventions guaranteeing women’s rights, an activist has said.

“Several countries in the Middle East have singed international treaties on human rights protection, including women’s rights. However, unfortunately, most of these agreements had remained on papers and have not been really implemented,” said Dr Zeina Zaatari, Programme Officer, Middle East and North Africa at the Global Fund for Women.

On the sidelines of the forum on women’s rights during war time, Dr Zaatari told Khaleej Times that some countries in the region have reservations on certain clauses of these agreements that contradict the initial signing.

Dr Zaatari is on a short visit to the country to take part in the women’s forum organised by the General Women’s Union (GWU), under the patronage of Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the GWU.

Citing the latest statistics of the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees issued on International Women’s Day on March 8 about sexual violence against women, she said 400 women were raped during the war in Iraq.

Dr Zaatari stressed that a major problem that hinders addressing difficulties facing women during war time is lack of adequate and accurate data.

“There are not any reliable statistics about what happens to women during wars and armed conflicts. Civil societies and organisations are trying to do some studies to collect some data,” she said.

About other problems that face women during wars, Dr Zaatari said, “Physical disabilities, psychological disorders, lack of social support, poverty and domestic violence are among the main problems.”

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