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Activist on Forbes list

BAHRAINI women's rights activist Ghada Jamsheer has been voted one of the 10 most powerful and effective women in the Arab world. Ms Jamsheer, the only Bahraini to be selected for the title by Forbes American magazine, was chosen because of her efforts to fight for a family law and reform family courts.

In the Sharia courts there are no written laws governing personal status issues such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody.

The Women's Petition Committee head has actively petitioned for a law to govern these issues by highlighted the suffering of women and children through vigils, protests and a hunger strike.

Last year Ms Jamsheer published a book, entitled The Executioner and Victim In Sharia Courts, in which she revealed what she called the abuse of Arab Muslim women at the hands of Sharia judges.

Her efforts to create more justice for women has received criticism and ridicule and seven Sharia judges even lodged a case against her for defamation, which was later dropped.

"I'm very happy to be chosen because at least it helps to raise the profile and plight of Bahraini women," Ms Jamsheer told the GDN.

"I've organised more than 27 demonstrations calling for a family law and changing of Sharia law.

"The system is going wrong. Sharia court cases are taking too long, they don't give rights for women and children, they always give it to the men.

"The judge decides whatever he thinks and it is unacceptable for them to have this power.

"Still we don't have a family law, we are fighting to get one and we want it to be a strong one.

"I hope we will get it and I am putting pressure on the government."

Recently Ms Jamsheer and 15 Bahraini victims of abuse met UN officials, the British Parliament and several European human rights groups to expose the problems Bahraini women face in Sharia courts and to seek their help.

"I am supporting these women. They can't do anything, so we are trying to do something for them," she explained. "They have been suffering a lot in the Sharia courts.

"They asked the UN and British Parliament to push Bahrain for the family law."



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