Qatar and CEDAW: a “signed” agreement and a “disabled” application

As a result of the human rights violations and persecution that women are going through around the world at public and private levels, and at the level of law-making and the social status of women, the United Nations General Assembly in December 1979 approved the “CEDAW” treaty as a comprehensive document aimed at removing obstacles that prevent the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. To exercise all their political, social and economic roles without discrimination.

Twenty Arab countries signed the agreement, including all the Gulf states, and the all Gulf states attached their signature to a large number of reservations. As a result, the CEDAW Committee expressed its concern about the increase in Gulf reservations to the agreement.

The Gulf states rely on various justifications, that are similar in their traditional character, in an attempt to justify these reservations, and despite the turbulent political weather in the Gulf region and the current political hostility between Qatar and some of its Gulf neighbors, the Qatari government’s position on the provisions of the CEDAW agreement is in line with the pattern used by the rest of the Gulf states when responding to CEDAW’s gender equality obligations. The Gulf does not appear to be “one” these days, but the forms of political practice and legislation are “one”, which means that the policies and laws that affect the rights of Qatari women are often reserved. Gulf women are in the same boat of oppression and discrimination even if the gender gap in rights varies from one Gulf country to another.  

Qatari reservations on “CEDAW”

CEDAW lists the principles of equality and justice in all areas of life. Nevertheless, the responses of the Qatari committee clashed with what CEDAW demanded, for example (Article 9) which demands granting women the right to pass on, retain, or even change their nationality.

The article also provides for ensuring the survival of the wife’s nationality regardless of the nationality of her husband or any change in his nationality that may occur. Qatar has reserved the article of equality in the right to pass on the nationality to the wife because as the Qatari committee claimed that the article contradicts the provisions of the Qatari Nationality Law, and the conflict in fact is that the provisions of Qatari Nationality law conflicts and contradicts the principle of equality in an inherent right, such as the right to pass your nationality as a parent. The Qatari Nationality Law privileges the blood of Qatari men citizens, and the rights of Qatari women remain to be suspended due to using governmental archaic laws as a justification for applying reservations on CEDAW’s demands. 

As if the state does not have sufficient power or power to propose changes to these laws and what stops Qatari women from obtaining the right to pass nationality, and accordingly, using the Qatari Nationality law as an excuse without an attempt to interpret these laws or explain the grounds they were created on shows that the Qatari committee’s response is an automatic one, which  does not provide a clear explanation for the Qatari government’s rejection of the right of passing nationality. While most countries of the world agreed to this right without reservation, Qatar sits next to 26 other countries that have refused the passing of the mother’s nationality to her children.

The articles that Qatar has reserved represents a fundamental human right. Passing the nationality contributes to obtaining a decent just life for both the Qatari mother and her children, and without any complications which might occur due to the children not having the same document and nationality as the parent.

In addition to (Article 9), Qatar made reservations about (Article 15), which is considered essential to ensuring that women enjoy rights equal to those of men with regard to family benefits, that is, material issues such as inheritance, alimony or participation in games and sports activities and in cultural life as a whole.

The Qatari reservations on (Article 15) regarding issues of inheritance and testimony were mentioned as the article contravenes the provisions of Islamic law, and the Qatari reservation was based on the rejection of equality in financial family dues for women based on the provisions of Islamic law, What is really strange is that Qatari laws do not adopt the foundations of Islamic law in all its fields, as it selects legislation that suits it in specific places, and this reservation contradicts the text of the Qatari constitution, which affirms in Article 35 of it that women and men citizens both are equal in rights and duties.

Some Islamic scholars argue that the “fatwa” granting a woman half of what a man inherits is due to the fact that the social and economic duties of a man previously and in the era in which the “fatwa” was issued were more and greater than the responsibilities and duties of the woman at that time, and since the man is obligated to spend on his family in Islam, but a woman is not then it is logical that he has a greater proportion of the inheritance. However, today’s gulf governments are supposed to establish a comprehensive social welfare system that takes care of the maintenance of all those who do not have a material income, male or female, and in this way, the duty of taking care of the family’s finances is lifted from the shoulders of men, as in they are no longer obliged by the law to do so, and it goes without saying that the responsibilities and duties of women today are great, and that there is no comparison between The duties of women in the era of early Islam and their duties in the twenty-first century.

Women between the weight of “family” and wasted rights:

In another resource, Qatar emphasized that the issue of “challenging stereotypes” mentioned in Article (5/1) should not be understood as encouraging women to give up their role as mothers and nurturers, which leads to the disruption of the family’s core. Accordingly, we can trace the basis on which the policies and laws concerned with women are built in Qatar. The government believes that it is its duty to emphasize gender stereotypes, as the committee itself stated that the role of women is limited to being a mother, and if women fail to meet this commitment then this will result in a “fault” in the family’s structure.

The Qatari memo limited the role of the Qatari woman to motherhood and that she is responsible in the event of any change in the “family’s entity” , and it’s absurd that women at the same time are unable to pass their nationality to their children and have no guardianship over their children. Also, Qatari women cannot issue official documents for their children or even travel with them without the father’s approval.

The Qatari government still applies the male guardianship law over women, and in most cases, the state justifies this discriminatory system with the same arguments that the government listed in its reservations on CEDAW articles. Although these reservations are based on traditional foundations without a logical explanation or justifications, they confirm that Qatar does not yet have the real political desire to change the legal system of the state that legalizes and promotes discrimination against women.

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