On the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Freedom House recognizes the equal rights of women globally and particularly calls upon governments in the Middle East and North Africa, where women experience the lowest levels of fundamental rights, to fulfill their commitments to gender equality.
Despite continuing resistance from religious and cultural elites, women in the Middle East and North Africa have made modest progress in achieving certain rights over the past five years. While women in the region suffer from greater inequality than do women elsewhere, they now enjoy more economic opportunity, fewer barriers to education, and expanded ability to participate in the political process than they did five years ago. These are the conclusions of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, a new study released today by Freedom House.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rightsexamines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship. In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.
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