Report on Women’s Rights, Sharia Law and Secularism Conference
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- On April 8, 2011
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To mark and celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day, a one day conference was held on 12 March 2011 to discuss the impact of religion on the lives of women. The conference was organised by One Law for All and the International Committee against Stoning, Iran Solidarity, and Equal Rights Now.
The day started with an opening address by renowned philosopher A C Grayling which was followed by a hugely successful conference with speakers from across the world creating a vibrant and very important debate.
Issues explored included the impact of religion on women’s rights – and whether religion is compatible with women’s rights – and whether it should be curtailed in the interests of the rights and equality of women. A discussion on religion and secularism looked at the relationship between religion and secularism and whether these are interdependent, complimentary or contradictory. It followed with a discussion on religion and the law –looking at religion’s influence on law and law makers, and on the importance of secularism and a closing address by Maryam Namazie.
Speakers included: Ahlam Akram, Executive Committee member of the Arab Jewish Forum and Joint Action for Israeli Palestinian Peace (UK), Helle Merete Brix, Writer and Commentator on free speech and the rise of political Islam (Denmark), Philipp Bekaert, Member of Réseau d’Actions pour la Promotion d’un Etat Laïque (Belgium), Julie Bindel, Journalist and Campaigner to end violence against women and children (UK), Patty Debonitas, Spokesperson of Iran Solidarity (UK), Nadia Geerts, Co-founder of Réseau d’Action pour la Promotion d’un Etat laïque (Belgium), Maria Hagberg, Chairperson of the Network Against Honour-Related Violence (Sweden), Anne-marie Lizin, Honorary Speaker of the Belgian Senate and Coordinator of the Association against Honour Crimes and Forced Marriages (Belgium), Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson of One Law for All, Equal Rights Now and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (UK), Elizabeth O’Casey, Vice-President of the National Secular Society (UK), David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation (UK), Fariborz Pooya, Director of Iranian Secular Society (UK), Yasmin Rehman Campaigner against violence against women and for community cohesion (UK), Gita Sahgal, Writer, Journalist and Women’s Rights Activist (UK), Nina Sankari, President of the European Feminist Initiative (Poland), Sohaila Sharifi, Women’s Rights Activist (UK), Annie Sugier, Cofounder of the League of Women’s International Rights (France), Michèle Vianès, President of Regards de Femmes (France), and Anne Marie Waters, Spokesperson of One Law for All (UK).
There was also a reading of Ghazi Rabihavi’s play ‘Stoning’ – ‘A very strong and powerful piece of work, beautifully constructed’ as described by Harold Pinter.
Video footage of the conference follows:
Panel discussion on Religion’s Impact on Women’s Rights chaired by Helle Merete Brix with panellists Patty Debonitas, Maria Hagberg, Anne-Marie Lizin, Yasmin Rehman, and Michèle Vianès:
Panel discussion on Religion and Secularism chaired by Fariborz Pooya with panellists Ahlam Akram, Julie Bindel, Nadia Geerts/ Philipp Bekaert, Maryam Namazie, and Annie Sugier:
Video footage of individual statements below:
Annie Sugier/Ahlam Akram
Nadia Geerts/Phillip Bekaert
Anne Marie Waters