Yemeni group slams fatwa banning female MPs

After president sets 15 percent quota for women


A Yemeni women’s rights group in has branded a recent fatwa issued by Muslim clerics as being anti-Islamic for banning women from running for election and warning them not to leave their homes, recent press reports said.

The fatwa was circulated during a conference of religious scholars held earlier this week, the Yemen Observer reported on Saturday.

In a booklet entitled, “The Letter of Yemen’s Clerics on Women’s Quota,” the clerics said it is haram (forbidden) for women to be members of parliament, or hold any other position of leadership, and warned women against leaving their homes.

"We warn against opening the door for women, who will get out of their houses and mix with men," the clerics stated in a booklet distributed during a meeting, according to UAE daily Gulf News.

"Women getting out of their houses and mixing with men in places of work will lead to non-marital relations...loss of decency, adultery and illegal children,” the booklet said.

The Yemeni Women’s Union (YWU) issued a strongly worded statement against the religious decree, saying the fatwa aimed to reduce the value and importance of the role of women in building the society, the paper added.

Gulf News reported on Sunday that the Union had also demanded that parliament condemn the fatwa and was due to meet the speaker and other MPs later in the week.

"This fatwa is against Islam, against equality between men and women stipulated by the Quran," Ramziah Al Eryani, chairperson of the Yemen Women Union, told Gulf News.

"We want to tell them that this is completely against democracy, against human rights, against civil society and against the multiparty system," Al Eryani added.

The fatwa was seen as an attack on a controversial proposal by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to allocate 15 percent of parliamentary seats to women in the upcoming elections in April 2009.