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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Bahraini women feature prominently in the Forbes 2017 list of the 100 Most Powerful Arab businesswomen. We celebrate this achievement with this special feature looking at these women and why they so richly deserve to be recognized:

Mona Almoayyed - Managing Director, YK Almoayyed & Sons

"I am really very passionate about what I do. I love the family business but I also love the causes that I work for;" Mona Almoayyed.

At ninth place on Forbes’ list, Mona Almoayyed hardly fits the profile of an average business leader; particularly given all her dedicated service to the cause workers’ rights with the Migrant Workers Protection Society. This extends to Mona’s prioritization of her own workers’ rights and privileges and her efforts to support unemployed Bahrainis in returning to work. She places a premium on encouraging the employment of local Bahraini staff and is the patron of a number of vocational training programmes.

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Between 2012 and 2016, the capabilities of Bahraini militants to embark on terrorist attacks expanded to a worrying degree, resulting in fatal attacks against security and civilian targets and the killing of numerous policeman. However, there was also a corresponding growth in the readiness of Bahraini authorities to confront this threat, meaning that terrorist groups were broken up and detained almost as rapidly as they were able to organize themselves. In this section we evaluate these efforts to counter militancy:

Previous sections

Part 1: Beginnings of militancy – 1950-1990

Part 2: Evolution of militancy – 1990-2011

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The approval of the Unified Family Law is the culmination of a decade of efforts to secure comprehensive legislation which protects Bahraini families from both the Sunni and Shia communities. The result is that all Bahrainis now have equal access to justice concerning personal issues like marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance rights.

After blocs of MPs in previous parliaments blocked progress to this end, it was particularly important to see this measure approved by more than two-thirds of MPs in the elected chamber, representing all segments of Bahrain’s diverse society.

The Bahrain Women’s Union, the Supreme Council for Women, Shura MPs, women’s rights activists, as well as the Bahrain Government itself, have all played significant roles in bringing us to where we are today. The Unified Family Law comes hot on the heels of other valuable legislation, such as Bahrain’s enhanced accession to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Domestic Violence Law, passed in 2015. 

These are all important milestones in enhancing the rights and freedoms of Bahraini women and families and we can be jointly proud of these achievements.

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