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Arab women urge end to social taboos

15th May 2003

Cairo- May 15, 2003

Arab women’s groups called yesterday for their governments to break through social taboos and help stop violence against women, including beatings, rapes and "honour killings".

In a statement yesterday, some 50 non-government organisations sought support for legal aid centres for battered women and for other kinds of services for women.

The NGOs, which completed two days of UN-backed meetings here, also called for the creation of special departments within police stations to help women.

Most participants at the conference organised by the Egyptian-based Alliance for Arab Women complained that they faced taboos that prevented open discussion and efforts to resolve the problem.

"In most Arab countries, there is an almost complete absence of statistics," according to Zoya Ruhana, co-ordinator of the Lebanese Council to Resist Violence against Women.

"Society and the state do not recognise this phenomenon, (which is needed) in order to agree to discuss ways to stop it, and ordinary women are afraid to speak about it," Ruhana said.

Font: Gulf Daily News CAIRO, EGYPT