Riksdagsseminarium om våld mot kvinnor och flickor i Mellanöstern

Den 25 november på den internationella dagen mot våld mot kvinnor medverkade Sveriges Kvinnolobby i ett riksdagsseminarium om kvinnors och flickors rättigheter i Mellanöstern. Seminariet arrangerades av riksdagens tvärpolitiska nätverk mot diskriminering och förtryck i hederns namn i samarbete med Varken hora eller kuvad och Bred feministisk plattform.

Under seminariet berättade kvinnorättsaktivisten Najwa Alimi som nyligen evakuerats från Afghanistan om hur situationen för kvinnor och flickor snabbt förvärras i landet. Den hotade journalisten Mashi Alinejad talade om Sveriges och det internationella samfundets sveket mot kvinnor i Mellanöstern. Nasrin Ebrahimi som flytt till Sverige från Afghanistan för åtta år sedan vittnade om hur många afghanska kvinnor och flickor fortsätter att utsättas för hedersförtryck sedan de kommit till Sverige. Utrikesminister Ann Linde lovade att Sverige inte kommer att erkänna och legitimera talibanstyret och fortsatt stå upp för kvinnor och flickors rättigheter.

Sveriges Kvinnolobbys tal: ”Det pågår ett tvåfrontskrig mot kvinnor och flickor i mellanöstern”

Nedan följer det anförande som hölls av Sveriges Kvinnolobbys generalsekreterare under seminariet.

”The Swedish Women’s Lobby is an independent umbrella organization for the women’s movement in Sweden. We would like to start by expressing our gratitude to the cross party network against honorary violence and oppression in the parliament for their work and for organizing this important event.

Thank you also to Mashi Alinejad and Najwa Alimi. Thank you for standing up for women and girls against ruthless, conservative, and fundamentalist regimes while putting your own lives at risk. Thank you for your courage, I am so happy that you are alive and able to share your stories today. And thank you to Nasrin Ebrahimi for sharing important testimonies of Afghan girls and women in Sweden, that you for speaking up for those who are not able to be here, and sometimes not even able to leave their homes.

As you have heard, there is a war going on against women and girls in Afghanistan, in the world, and even in Sweden. I am sure many of you have heard about the anti-gender movement. This movement gathers nationalist, populist, conservative and extremist religious groups in many different countries. In the US and in Europe they fight against abortion rights, sexuality education, gender studies and other sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is driven by the same desire – to control women’s bodies and sexuality – the core idea of honorary oppression and violence.

But the backlash against women’s rights is not only coming from the far right. Please beware, this is a two-front war. In Sweden, Europe and North America postmodern identity politics and neoliberalism continues to dismiss honorary oppression and crimes against women’s human rights, sometimes even under a feminist label.  

This view has even managed to make a mark inside the UN. In a recent report from UNFPA, ironically called “My body is my own” the following can be read:

“Some States have criminalized child marriage (…), in the interest of protecting vulnerable populations from exploitation or harm. But human rights advocates are generally sceptical about criminal prohibitions, despite their symbolic importance, because they disproportionately affect communities that are already marginalized (…). Advocates instead recommend redressing the conditions that render such individuals and communities vulnerable (…).”

Here is a UN entity questioning the criminalization of child marriage, at least when it comes to some marginalized groups.

This view, that human rights are up for interpretation and can mean different things in different countries needs to be stopped. Instead, Sweden, the EU and the UN should uphold the principle that human rights are universal and non-negotiable and apply to all women and girls all over the world.

To fight the backlash against women’s rights we need to see that the threat is coming both from the far right and from neoliberal postmodern identity politics – at the same time. The two sides have completely different views when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights, but still often go hand in hand, for example when it comes to honorary oppression.

The anti-gender movement want to control women’s bodies and limit their freedom. The other side seems to believe the outside world should not interfere with other countries traditions and laws, even if child marriage is part of that tradition.

Sweden has a feminist foreign policy – this should mean that Sweden needs to stand up against all threats against women’s right no matter where they come from, even when that means confronting countries and organizations that are important allies when it comes to other issues.

The Swedish women’s movement stands in solidarity with women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran. We will not forget about you. We will do all that we can to hold our government accountable and to push then to support and stand up for the universal rights of women and girls.

Thank you”

Foto: Olav Andersen