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At a glance: International Women's Day in the Arab world
By REUTERS
08/03/2014
A roundup of events marking International Women's Day in the Middle East and Arab world.
 
WEST BANK

RAMALLAH - Palestinian women took part in a rally marking International Woman's Day on Saturday at the Kalandiya checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

On March 8 activists around the globe celebrate International Women's Day, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century and has been observed by the United Nations since 1975.

The UN writes that it is an occasion to commemorate achievements in women's rights and to call for further change.

SYRIA

DAMASCUS - Syrian women demonstrated in Damascus to celebrate International Women's day and ask the world to bring an end to the war in their ravaged country.

The three-year conflict has killed more than 150,000 and displaced thousands, mostly women and children.

Doa'a al-Zoabi, a teacher, criticized women who have fled Syria.

"We must not leave the country no matter what happens. It is more honorable to die here. I will not say anything to the United Nations because they are loyal to America and Israel. We will take our rights with our hands and this land is ours," she said.

The demonstration, organized by Syrian Women's Union, took place in front of the headquarters of the United Nations, where the demonstrators delivered a statement to UN spokesman, Khaled al-Masri.

In the statement they requested the world to help stop the war in Syria where women and children are being killed.

The women cheered for Syria's President Bashar Assad and held pictures of him as well as Syrian flags.

LEBANON

BEIRUT - A few thousand protesters took to the streets of Beirut on Saturday to demand that politicians approve Lebanon's first law against domestic violence in a non-partisan display rarely seen in Lebanon's highly politicized climate.

Organizers harnessed popular outrage over the deaths of two Lebanese women in suspected domestic violence cases which struck a nerve in a country where regular car bombs and rocket attacks have desensitized many to violence.

"The people want the passage of the law," protesters chanted outside the ministry of justice, invoking one of the most popular slogans of the Arab Spring uprisings.

The demonstration, called to coincide with International Women's Day, appeared to number at least 3,000 - large for a politically independent event in Beirut.

Lebanon, known for its nightclubs, stylish boutiques and liberal social norms, offers women freedoms denied to many in the Arab world, but campaigners say one woman a month is killed by domestic violence in the country of 4 million.

IRAQ

BAGHDAD - About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

The group's protest was on International Women's Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi'ite Islamic jurisprudence, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. The draft now goes to parliament.

"On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning," the protesters shouted.

"We believe that this is a crime against humanity," said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. "It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood."

The UN's representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned the legislation. Mladenov wrote on Twitter the bill "risks constitutionally protected rights for women and international commitment ".

The legislation goes to the heart of the divisions in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, as Shi'ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has called on women across the globe to speak out against Qatar Airways on Saturday over its monitoring of staff and rules preventing women from becoming pregnant and getting married.

"The treatment of workers at Qatar Airways goes further than cultural differences. They are the worst for women's rights among airlines," Gabriel Mocho, civil aviation secretary at the international grouping of transport unions, told Reuters.

Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline have defended their policies on pregnancy and marriage for cabin crew after the Qatar carrier came under fire over its working conditions.
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