One of the things that has most impressed me in the development of the movement for a non-sectarian democratic republic in Bahrain has been the powerful role that women have played at many levels in this struggle. This has been the case even though it has only been 9 years since women were granted the vote in this country in 2002.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights reports that there are ten women currently being detained by the Bahraini and occupying Saudi security forces. Ghosoon Al Sayed, Ruquya Al Sayed Aboruiz, Nawal Khalil Owanati, Sana Abdul Razak, Jaleela Salman, Seinab Mohammed Abdel Nabi Al Makhloog, Alaa Al Sayed Shubbar, Ayat Hassan Yousef Qormei, Fadheela Mubarak Al Mubarak and Zahra Zabar.
At least one woman, a doctor, has died in the struggle there. There have been multiple reports of women facing harassment during raids and searches on their homes as security forces round up suspected protesters, bloggers and others who have reported to the media, human rights activists and young men suspected of sympathy toward the democratic movement. There is at least one documented case of a sexual assault on a Shia woman on the part of the security forces presently controlling the state of martial law.
In the context of these sacrifices being made by the women of this Gulf country I have decided to focus my next few articles and posts on the social conditions and situation facing women in Bahrain during the state of martial law which was imposed on March 14 of this year. I will attempt to draw attention to the plight of the women who are presently in detention, document incidents of violence against women which have happened during the struggle there, and highlight the positive roles and examples set by many women in Bahrain and some of their supporters internationally.
Some of the greatest injustice in Bahrain, as in other Gulf States and in many other places in the world occur against migrant female domestic workers. For today I will include the full text of a report issued by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2010 on the severe conditions faced by many of these workers.
While the issue of the oppression of these women may not seem to be at the immediate center of the struggle taking place there, which is framed by most of the press to be a struggle of the Shia majority in Bahrain for political rights. There is a broader issue, as this country struggles to build a democracy and overcome the legacy of autocratic minority rule. In a democratic Bahrain in which human and civil rights were fully respected and in which the rights of social equality and economic justice were a part of the political agenda, the abusive and restrictive conditions faced by these women workers would have to be addressed and their basic human rights respected.
The report below is a concise 12 pages and speaks for itself. I came across it in my research and encourage readers to click on one of the links below for the full text.
PDF format Bahrain Center for Human Rights report on female domestic migrant workers.
Docx version of Bahrain Center for Human Rights report on female domestic migrant workers.
As always readers are encouraged to make comments or offer information or stories relevant to the subject matter posted.