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International Womens Day Theme 2015 3

Geneva on March 11, 2015

On International Women's Day, the International Center for Justice and Human Rights reminds that the United Arab Emirates are holding since February 15, 2015 three sisters, Asma, Meriem and AlYazyeh Khalifa Al Suwaidi unlawfully and without informing about the place of detention or reasons or to allow the presence of a lawyer.

These repressive practices reflect the invalidity of State's remarks and its officials in front of the UN bodies in relation to the efforts of the State and its achievements in relation to women. UAE women continue to suffer from discrimination and legislation and security practices strengthen this concept. For example, the wives of political prisoners and residents abroad meet administrative obstacles due to the absence of the husband. Obtaining administrative documents of children trailed in the absence of the father because it requires its presence or present his identification to continue the procedure. So the wife feels unable to manage the Affairs of her children in the absence of the husband.

Often, the police obstructs the proceedings to avenge the father dissent or militant. The wife becomes unable to manage administrative affairs and very dependent on her husband which is inconsistent with the State's obligations and commitments to promote women's autonomy and guarantee their rights and the administration of the family on an equal footing with men.

Contrary to article 15 of the Convention, which stipulates, "States Parties shall accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity. They shall in particular give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and their dealings based on equality in all stages of the judicial process. "

This is also a flaw in the understanding of the article 1 of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, which provides that the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."

Freedom of Assembly and Association

There are no parties in the UAE, and women in the UAE cannot afford any political affiliation or opinion freely because the UAE does not accept this and considers it a criminal offense. Democracy in the UAE is particular democracy, says Mohammed Ben Rached, Prime minister, where the councils of elders and rulers and not outside this framework. Who goes outside this frame is considered opposed to the State and may be tried.

As well as the freedom of Assembly is guaranteed only within the framework of agreed security services in line with the Government's directives as otherwise it might expose women to accountability and job transfers as a large group of women who were transferred from the education to ministries of service unrelated to their competence because of their opinions which does not suit the wishes of the State and the right of expression.

Transferred from teaching to services departments that have no connection with their skills because of their thoughts, which do not correspond to the wishes of the Government and freedom of expression standards as defined by the same Government.

The establishment of associations of public benefit is part of security approval that controls all the articulations of the State and thus resolve any Board does not comply with this policy.

And the product of this repressive policy, a large group of women activists in human rights or political reform advocates or wives and daughters of reform advocates are subject to harassment and abuse, including:

-        Women who tried within the "UAE 94" group: the women who have been part of a group "United Arab Emirates 94" were subject to travel and job bans despite their acquittal. In addition to shedding penalties for their children, such as travel, the study and function bans.

-        Arbitrary transfer from functions: The State pursues a policy of systematic collective punishment for families of political prisoners and activists. We have reached in international center for justice and human rights that a number of women, some relatives of the detainees, have been transferred from their jobs in the Ministry of education (administrators and teachers) to other ministries.

-        Banned from higher education: The report devoted a paragraph to women's education and it lacks precision in determining the areas of strengthening the presence of women in the various stages of education, especially higher education, and the proportion of females at this stage. We have reached in our organization that security authorities intervened directly in the work of these institutions and deprived a number of girls to continue their education because of their political affiliation. It is discrimination against them and the UAE pledged before the Human Rights Council in 2013 to continue their efforts to further promote the enrollment of girls in secondary and higher education and the participation of women in the professional and political area (recommendation No. 128-100).

-        Travel ban: The article 29 of the Constitution states that the freedom of movement and residence was guaranteed to citizens within the limits of the law. However, in reality, the authorities does not prevent only the dissidents to travel but also their wives and daughters. We learned that since the arrest of a UAE 94 group, the UAE authorities have taken arbitrary measures against wives and daughters of prisoners and activists living outside the country. This is a violation of article 15, paragraph 4, of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women: "States parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and freedom to choose their residence and domicile."

-        Starving and maltreatment of wives of prisoners of opinion: The families of prisoners of conscience suffer of collective punishment policy practiced by the authorities to make pressure and intimidate their families. We registered numerous cases, in which the women and the girls are targeted in livelihood and subsistence by Stopping salaries, preventing the family from the disposition of the funds, disabling procuration procedures and seizure of the properties.

-        Threats of arrest and fabrication of charges: The wives, daughters and sisters of many prisoners of conscience are exposed to harassment and threats by the security services without regard to prevailing norms in the UAE. We have learned in the ICJHR that on 15 February 2015 security forces convened the sisters of the prisoner of conscience ISA Khalifa Al Suwaidi ruled in the UAE94 trial. They are: Asma, Meriem and aliyazziyah Khalifa Al suwaidi and are missing since 4 pm and had not returned and their families do not know their whereabouts at this moment and the place of their detention. A case was made for the daughter of Mohammed Al-Mansouri arrested for hours in November 2012 and then released with bail. And then tried to arrest her in February 2013 but the arrest did not take place because she was not at home and remained hidden for nearly a month until her presumption of innocence. She is 23-year-old. The frame-up occurred before the trial of her father (accused to call for reforms) in about 4 months.

-        The wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of prisoners are exposed to ill-treatment continuously during the visit to the prison of resin such as prevention of visit without prior communication so the family takes a distance not less than two and a half hours to find the visit cancelled when arriving to prison resin.

Traffic in women  

Trafficking in women and prostitution is one of the most important problems facing the State because of the large employment that do not have the means to bring their families, as well as the state allow hidden prostitution, and regardless of the activity, despite the clear complaints from many people around.

The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, joy Ngozi azilo visited the UAE from 11 to 17 April 2012 and stated in its report that sex workers are "invisible workforce catering for the continuing demand for sexual services, not only by nationals and tourists, but also by the large population of male migrant workers, who often leave their wives and families in their home countries.

Consequently, trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation has become rampant in the Emirates, with victims coming from Africa, Eastern Europe, South Asia and Latin America. They are misled into believing that they will be employed as salespersons, domestic workers, hotel receptionists or waiters by the traffickers, who usually take advantage of their vulnerable and disadvantaged situations.

Traffickers arrange for their travel to the United Arab Emirates through other persons, who in many cases use shell companies registered in the Emirates to process travel documents, visas and entry permits. Once in the United Arab Emirates, the victims’ passports are either taken or forcefully confiscated, they are locked in apartments and villas and must either repay the alleged costs for arranging their visa and travel, claimed to be as high as US$5,000 to $9,000, or prostitute themselves in order to pay off the debt. If they refuse, they are beaten up, often sexually abused and threatened that if they run away or go to the police they would risk imprisonment before being deported for being in the country illegally and/or engaging in illegal trade.

They are watched and accompanied at all times and forced to provide sexual services to clients without receiving any part of the money collected by the traffickers or handlers, which is claimed to be repayment of their “debt”. Under such circumstances, only few victims manage to escape or contact the police. “

The recommendations of the Human Rights Council confirmed too in 2013 on the UAE Government to continue "its efforts to provide greater protection for domestic workers and improve their living conditions." but the UAE Government made reservations at the same time on a recommendation against discrimination against non-citizens, especially domestic workers. Reflecting the Government's double standards and discrimination between citizen and migrant women.  

When we look to status of women in the UAE, we note the evolution of the female presence in several areas and in legislation and perceptions, but what we fear is that these realizations were an exterior banner to fascinate the world while on the ground the Government continues to apply a double standard policy in dealing with women. Women who support government policy are privileged and get rights and women claiming political reforms are of second-class citizen, and does not have the right to a dignified life.

So to ensure that the achievements of the Government does not remain ink on paper, we believe that it should take some concrete measures to improve the status of women in the UAE and the achievement of equality between women and between women and men.

The International Center for Justice and Human Rights calls on the United Arab Emirates to:

  1. Release Asma, Meriem and Alyazziyah Khalifa Al-Suweidi immediately and unconditionally.
  2. Respect the terms of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and comply with its obligations.
  3. Equality between citizens in terms of the application of the Convention and in promoting women's rights without discrimination on the basis of gender, nationality or political loyalty .
  4. To respect the articles 1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 15.
  5. Fulfill its obligations towards the Human Rights Council in relation to women's rights and gender equality and the harmonization of legislation.
  6. Stop the harassment and pressure inflicted on the wives and daughters and sisters of prisoners of conscience.
  7. Respect the women's freedom of movement and travel and getting travel documents.
  8. Stop the prosecution of opponent women or human rights activists or on social networks and the recognition of women's right to exercise political and associative activity without fear or restriction of freedom. .
  9. Allow the daughters of detainees to enjoy the full rights and equal access to education, scholarship and function.

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