The decision of the outgoing Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU), led by Abdul Hamid Dabaiba, to prevent women from traveling alone without a male mahram has sparked legal controversy and condemnation by human rights and societal organizations and figures who consider it an infringement of women’s right to freedom of movement, an insult to Libyan women, and an unacceptable violation of the constitution and the law.
The decision was issued by the GNU Internal Security Agency in western Libya on May 14 and sparked angry reactions on social media.
Details of the decision
In the text of the decision, all institutions concerned with civil affairs, passports, and immigration are requested not to issue a passport to any Libyan woman over the age of 18, except after submitting a written permission from a security authority affiliated with the Internal Security Agency in which a close relative (husband, father, or brother) approves of her travel.
It also requires that all female travelers undergo a comprehensive medical examination before being issued a passport.
In the event that the female traveler is pregnant, a medical certificate proving her pregnancy period is required.
Reasons and motives for the decision
The decision did not mention any reasons or motives, although some government sources there said that it comes within the framework of a campaign to preserve morals and ethics and prevent illegal immigration of young women.
They added that these procedures target certain categories of female tourists, students, and workers in the commercial and relief fields.
Feedback and criticism
The justifications did not convince many of the opponents of the decision, which they considered a danger to women’s right to move freely without restrictions or censorship. Immediately after the decision was issued, dozens of influential institutions, associations, and civil society figures organized a joint statement rejecting the decision and demanded its immediate cancellation, as well as an investigation into its sources and objectives.
Thousands of social media users also participated in online campaigns using the hashtag “No to the travel ban on women in Libya.”
Discrimination between men and women
For her part, Libyan human rights activist Ihsan Mansour said that this decision limits the freedom of movement and travel for women who want to study, work, receive treatment or visit abroad.
She stated to the Reference that the decision is a blatant discrimination between women and men in their respective civil and human rights, in addition to women being harassed and threatened by some officials at airports and crossings.
Mansour added that the decision creates family and social problems for women who do not have a mahram or who suffer difficulty in obtaining his approval, as this takes women back to the dark ages and deprives them of their role in society.
She explained that there is resistance to these restrictions by women and civil and feminist organizations in Libya and abroad.
Among the forms of this resistance is the organization of campaigns on social media to express the rejection of this decision and request its cancellation, with the signing of petitions on websites to prevent the implementation of this decision, as well as a call for protests in some Libyan cities to denounce this decision.
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