Marie Michael Library

Legal Aspects

Our lives, our stories

AUTHOR(S): White Ink
IMPRINT: Bangkok: Research Action Project on Traffic in Women, 1995. 105 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Book, Case Study
LANGUAGE: Thai and English
SUBJECTS: Human Rights

Produced by the women themselves, this is a collection of stories describing the experiences of women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and violence arising from the international traffic in women. The stories originate from different parts of Thailand and the women speak frankly of the difficulties they faced in returning home and attempting to re-integrate into community life.

Profoundly moving, the text is easy to read and is accompanied by line drawings. As conditions in rural Thailand continue to deteriorate and the worldwide traffic in women increases, this is an important book for community development workers to read because it reveals the unseen economic and socio-cultural context for development work in many of the poorest communities. More information about the process of consciousness raising that led to the publication of this book would have been interesting.

Reviewed By: Nancy Peters, Northeast Thailand Foundation, Surin

Reform of personal status laws in North Africa: a problem of Islamic or Mediterranean status laws?

AUTHOR(S): Mayer, Ann Elizabeth
IMPRINT: Grabels, France: Women Living Under Muslim Laws, 1996. 19 p. Occasional Paper no.8.
SUBJECTS: Human Rights, Labour, Law & Legislation

This paper compares changes in the legal definitions of marriage and the relationship of spouses in French Law, the secular laws of Turkey, and the laws of three North African states to reveal similar patterns in legal evolution of family laws in Muslim countries on both northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. The author carefully counters what she considers to be a tendency in the West to exaggerate the gap between the evolution of Western family laws and the evolving process of family laws in Muslim countries, arguing that western laws regulating the status of women in the family only recently (since the 1960s) incorporated the modern norm of equality. Tracing the sponsorship of 19th century patriarchy to the Code Napoleon of 1804 (Napoleon reportedly proclaimed, “Women ought to obey us. Nature has made women our slaves.”), Mayer points out that not until 1965 did a French wife get the right to work without her husband’s permission, and French husbands did not forfeit rights that came with their status as head of the family (chef de famille) until 1970. “These French reforms came, be it noted, after the era of French colonialims in North Africa had already ended” (p.8).

In a section titled “Lessons from the Turkish experience” (p.16) the author suggests that reform is underway, motivated by pressure from women’s associations, succefful challenges to unconstitutional civil laws in the context of economic transformation and changed attitudes. In a particular case, a Turkish court ruled that Turkey, by its own proclamation as a “law state” was bound by international human rights standards. As a member of the United Nations and as a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been ratified by Morocco and Tunisia), the court noted that Turkey had established the equality of men and women.

Thoughtfully questions Western assumptions about the East.

Reviewed By: Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), in “Keeping Informed” no. 23, December 1996.

Rural women as labour force: realities of law in Bangladesh

AUTHOR(S): Bangladesh Jatiyo Mahila Ainjibi Samity
IMPRINT: Dhaka: Legal Literacy Research and Legal Aid Project, Bangladesh Jatiyo Mahila Ainjibi Samity (Bangladesh National Women Lawyer’s Association), 1985. 44 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Book, Case Study
SUBJECTS: Agriculture, Human Rights, Labour, Law & Legislation

This study evaluates the effectiveness of current labour legislation in protecting the rights of women agricultural labourers in Bangladesh. The analysis includes a description of a number of food processing activities, women’s economic contribution, and negative gender-based attitudes that contribute to discrimination against women.

Although some legislation exists to address problems faced by women, such legislation is often inadequately implemented. Recommendations are made to improve the effectiveness of current laws.

Concise evaluation of women’s roles in food processing in Bangladesh. Analysis and recommendations are specific to the cultural and legal conditions in Bangladesh. Includes statistical information.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady

A study of the incidence of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago from 1991 to 1993

AUTHOR(S): Creque, Merri
IMPRINT: Port of Spain, Trinidad: The Shelter for Battered Women; Trinidad and Tobago Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1993. 28 p.
SUBJECTS: Health, Human Rights

This research study attempted to compile reported incidence of four types of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago from 1991 to 1993 inclusive. The four investigated areas of abuse were wife abuse, child abuse, elderly abuse and abuse to persons with handicaps. The main objective of the study was to establish baseline statistics on domestic violence on a national level for Trinidad and Tobago.

Two previous studies have focused on child abuse in the twin islands. There have been no local studies on the other types of abuse and no research on a national scale on any area of domestic violence.

A number of other groups have become interested in the impact of domestic violence in our society and have sourced funding to do research on the subject. We hope they will be able to use this study as a base upon which other studies will be done in future in order to map an ongoing factual record over the years of what cannot help but be a very emotional issue.

Reviewed By: Diana Mahabir Wyatt, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Wasichana na wanawake wana haki!

AUTHOR(S): Kuleana: Kituo cha afya ya kujamiana
IMPRINT: Mwanza, Tanzania: Kuleana. 43 p.
MATERIAL TYPE: Training Material
LANGUAGE: Kiswahili and English
SUBJECTS: Human Rights, Law & Legislation

This small booklet explains the situation of women and girls in East Africa. Women are concerned about their families, culture, rights and role in the community. They want to be recognized by society for their contribution toward the family, as well as activities at the national and international levels. They also want to claim their rights to basic needs, and access to adequate education, health care and political participation.

This booklet is useful because it is written in Kiswahili and clearly portrays women’s daily lives. It could be used with women’s, men’s or youth groups to stimulate questions about human rights. The pictures could be used with groups having members who can’t read. The book could be improved by showing men in more positive roles; helping women, sharing ideas, and working more co-operatively.

Reviewed By: Isri Yusuf Adhan, KIPOC-NGO of Pastoral People, Loliondo.

Women and human rights

AUTHOR(S): Subodhan, G.
IMPRINT: Thiruvananthapuram, India: National Women’s Welfare Centre, 1993.
LANGUAGE: Malayalam
SUBJECTS: Human Rights

This book gives an introduction about the mounting atrocities and discrimination against women in India and the legislative measures to prevent such atrocities. The book also gives a description of the role of peoples organization of women in launching the mass movement of women and the empowerment of women in finding solutions to the gender problems.

The said book gives some valuable insights regarding the human rights violation in India, particularly relating to the atrocities against women. It is useful to the women’s organizations and activists in launching missions for protecting women. Apart from the legislative measures for protecting women, the non-formal measures for the same are also discussed in the book.

Reviewed By: M. Rajayyan, National Women’s Welfare Centre

Women representatives at the union level as change agent of development

AUTHOR(S): Qadir, Sayeda Rowshan and Islam, Mahmuda
IMPRINT: Dhaka: Women for Women, 1987. 86 p.
SUBJECTS: Community Development, Law & Legislation

This book describes the efforts to increase the number of women in Union Parishad, the lowest level of local government. This level is identified as having considerable potential for implementing changes to assist rural women. Women active at this level can act as mediators between local administrations and rural women, and become change agents to promote the interests of these women. A study was conducted in order to develop strategies to increase the effectiveness of these women as change agents. Women representatives, other administrators and community members were consulted. Statistical data are provided in addition to qualitative responses. Activities, problems faced and suggestions for solutions are included, in addition to descriptions of local attitudes and regional situations. Case studies and recommendations are made to enable women to gain more experience at governmental levels and to give voice to concerns of rural women.

Specific to Bangladesh. Extensive statistical data on roles of women in local government levels.

Reviewed By: Catherine Irving, Coady

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