Zazi Sadou – Algeria

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “The source of my energy is women’s courage, intelligence and indomitable belief in achieving a better world: one that is just for them and for their children, one that we can build together.”

Zazi Sadou – Algeria

She works for the Algerian Assembly of Democratic Women (AADW), and for the Women Living under Muslim Laws (WLUML).

Linked to our presentation of Women Living under Muslim Laws WLUML on January 5, 2006. And also linked to our presentation of Shadow Report on Algeria on the same date.

Over the last decade Zazi Sadou has been actively advocating women’s rights in a highly vulnerable environment. She has been sentenced to death by Algerian religious extremists for probing the question of how and why hundreds of Algerian girls were raped by Islamist militants. Sadou is a spokeswoman and founding member of The Algerian Assembly of Democratic Women (AADW). Created in 1993, the Assembly is dedicated to combating human rights violations and to advance women’s legal status.

Pogroms against women in Algeria: According to early reports from the independent Algerian press, during the night of Friday July 13 to Saturday July 14, after the sermon of the Friday 13th prayers at the mosque by an Islamist imam, Amar Taleb, in the Saharan city of Hassi Messaoud, the most ancient oil station in the country, a mob of 300 men attacked working women in the city area called Bouamama. These were mostly cleaning personnel and a few secretaries and cooks[1], all employed by foreign oil companies. The women had been imported from North-Western cities of Algeria, poverty being the reason for this emigration from within: their meagre salaries helped feed a whole extended family, not only the children of these widows and divorcees – but also parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc…[2] Witnesses said that the Imam accused these women of ‘immoral’ behaviour and called on the men in the mosque to a ‘jihad against the Evil’ and to ‘chase the women fornicators out of the area’[3], on the ground that since they were living on their own by themselves, that is without a ‘wali’, meaning the male guardian of the Maliki tradition, – hence they could be considered to be prostitutes.

In this process of “purification of the area”, women were murdered, tortured, stabbed, mutilated and raped – including three young women who were virgins (indeed ‘prostitutes’!) who claim they were gang raped[4]. Their houses were robbed, looted and some were set on fire. Security forces intervened at 3 am. The pogrom continued on July 14-15 in the area of Hassi Messaoud called ‘area 136’, and went on July 16 in the area called ‘area 200’. On July 17 and then on July 23-24 similar events took place in the Southern city of Tebessa, where not only the houses of single women but also shops owned by women, such as hair dressing salons, were also attacked. In Hassi Messaoud, 95 women who have been attacked[5], plus some that ‘could be attacked’ have been locked up by the authorities ‘for their protection’[6] in a youth hostel guarded by security forces. Till today, they are not allowed to leave the place, not even to regain their hometowns. They are sequestered without access to medicines and sufficient food[7]. However, more and more women gather at the gates and plead in vain with the armed guards to be admitted inside: but the hostel is filled to the brim[8].

Independent journalists report that the Imam and, depending on the reports, between 9 and 40 of the identified perpetrators[9] – that included some of the owners of the poor shacks rented out for a very high price to the working women – may have been arrested by the police and could be in the process of being tried. (Read more on WLUML).

links:

democracy now;

Equality now;

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