By Nihal Zaroug.
Tripoli, 14 January 2013:
A cross-party women’s bloc has been set up in the General National . . .[restrict]Congress (GNC) to promote women’s rights. The move was announced on Sunday by Congresswoman Hana Al-Orfi from Misrata. Twenty-eight other congresswomen have joined her in the bloc which also aims to ensure a fair representation of women on the constitutional drafting committee.
Orfi said that the bloc was a result of the eagerness of the congresswomen to play a positive role in the building of new Libya, similar to the role women took on throughout the 17 February revolution.
However, the bloc comes just days after Zawia Congressman Mohammed Al-Kilani criticised the presence of congresswomen on 8 January. He said that the attire of the female members and gender mixing within the GNC caused God to be furious with the legislature, and that was the reason for Congress’s shortcomings.
During Sunday’s GNC session, Congresswoman Najah Salouh read a statement on behalf of the female members of GNC in response to Kilani’s remarks.
Salouh responded that female members of Congress were elected like him and thus held great responsibilities. Failing to live up to these duties would be wrong. Salouh added that women through the history of Islam had held important roles.
A more stinging response came from Congresswoman Amina Megheirbi, who posted on her Facebook page that during the evening GNC session, Al-Kilani had launched a new string of “shameful expressions” towards the female members of the GNC.
It was reported that a number of congresswomen walked out of the sessions in response to Kilani’s comments.