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Libya: democracy and stability - a challenge for women

Meeting at Lower House, call to demine freed zones

18 October, 14:03

    (by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) - ROME, OCTOBER 18 - They are ''strong'' and have actively participated in the revolution against Gaddafi. Now Libya's women are dealing with militia fighting, terrorism, the economic crisis and Islamist forces who want to reduce rights also conquered before 2011.

    The Minerva association, together with the foreign ministry, has dedicated to these women a seminar at the Lower House, attended by a group of lawmakers and members of civil society of Libya.

    The women who sit in the Parliament of Tobruk - the institution that has not given a green light yet to the government of Sarraj - are 30, because in the post-revolution era they were awarded 16% of seats. But there are victims among lawmakers as well, such as Fariha Al Barkawi, who was killed in 2014, just like human right activist Salwa Bughaighis who was assassinated a few months before.

    Women in civil society are dealing with the economic crisis, the lack of essential goods on the market, the scarce cash, the strong deficiencies of the healthcare system, sexual and gender-related violence that is again dominating homes and the street, crime, corruption, the lack of a strong political authority and absolute necessity after five years of civil war and terrorism of a national reconciliation.

    All the problems were discussed at length by the Libyan speakers, including the loss or risk of loss of goals attained in the past, as denounced in particular by Naeima Gebril, member of the council for National Political Dialogue. She spoke about muftis who want to separate boys from girls in school, or a law to reinstate polygamy which was however successfully fought in a Supreme Court appeal, among other things.

    And these women representing Libya made specific requests to Italy and the international community including help in demining homes and civilian infrastructures in freed Benghazi, where defeated Islamist militias have disseminated land mines everywhere.

    Such a call was made by Gebril, as well as by Hana Abudeb, an MP who asks for the support of Europe and Italy for the reconstruction of airports, to reopen embassies and to enable the Libyan army to fight terrorism effectively by lifting an embargo on weapons.

    European countries were also criticized for the ''many words and few facts'' or for pursuing national interest that don't coincide with those of Libya, contributing to divisions between factions.

    Opinions on controversial general Haftar also diverge. Italy is calling for a recognition of an adequate role in the country's security.

    ''Haftar is not a gang leader but a personality charged by parliament'' in the fight against jihadist militias, said MP Sultana Abdurrai, stressing that consensus on his figure now goes beyond Libyans in the east.

    There is no risk that the elderly general means to implement in Libya the same authoritarian model as Egypt's president Sisi, according to the lawmaker, because ''Libya will be governed only by the ballots'' and the scenario of a military dictatorship cited during the debate ''has no foundation'', she said.

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