Analysis: Bahraini views on the new Unified Family Law

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Almost a decade after the issuance of the Sunni Family Law in Bahrain, the King ratified a Unified Family Law for both the Sunni and Shia sect early last month. The decision came following the vote by Parliament in which majority of the MPs voted in favour of a Unified Family Law.

This is an important step in ensuring that all women and family members have equal access to effective justice. Below are the views of a wide range of Bahrainis on what the Unified Family Law means to them:

“What we've waited for”

“This is one of the most important steps taken by the country. Having a Unified Family Law is what we've waited for and today we can say that we enjoy equal rights in family rights despite the differences in our sects;” said Samar, aged 38, from Isa Town.

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Militancy in Bahrain

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This series of articles is the first attempt of its kind to definitively document the history of militancy in Bahrain over more than sixty years – looking both at Sunni and Shia militant trends, as well as examining the role of external powers like Iran in influencing and fueling these radical tendencies. These articles also examine the ideological and theological currents which have underpinned Islamist activism in Bahrain.

By examining these developments in historical context it becomes easier to see how militancy has evolved, as well as better understanding how to address these challenges and prevent young people from becoming radicalized in the future.

Click on the hyperlinks below to access the complete articles:

Part 1: Beginnings of militancy – 1950-1990

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Sectarianism and radicalization – Two sides of the same coin

During the previous chapters we examined how militant trends evolved in Bahrain throughout more than sixty years. Here we look at the various factors which have fueled radicalization and militancy, as well as examining the complex relationship between radicalization and sectarianism.

This discussion helps us to arrive at a number of recommendations for how militancy can be countered in the GCC region, in order to arrive at a society which is more tolerant, coherent and at peace with itself.

Previous sections

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Sixteen year-old Aminah Filali committed suicide by swallowing rat poison after she was forced to marry the man who raped her. The Moroccan state prosecutor had reportedly urged the attacker to marry Aminah in return for the charges to be dropped. Aminah’s death in 2012 was widely covered in the Moroccan media and helped create the momentum for changes in the law.

Basma Latifah, a Syrian rape victim living in south Lebanon, was pressured by her family and the community to marry her attacker. She endured the marriage for three years, (the period required by law to avoid prosecution) during which she was regularly beaten and assaulted. After she divorced him, the man visited her family home in June 2017 and shot Basma dead.

In recent days Jordan and Tunisia both took the important step of striking down a clause in their law on rape, excusing the offender from prosecution if he married his victim. Jordan and Tunisia are among the numerous Arab and Muslim states which until recently allowed for such an eventuality.

Such a clause was supposedly designed to prevent the shame of this crime becoming a matter of public knowledge. However, the result was that a loophole existed for rapists to escape punishment (especially given the low conviction rate globally for cases of rape). Meanwhile, the female victim is put in the extraordinary situation of being made to suffer twice; from the attack itself, and then being pressured to marry the man who attacked her. As we can see from the above examples; such involuntary and unnatural marriages are highly likely to end in tragedy.

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