Select CSBR Press Statements
Istanbul, September 30, 2001
WOMEN, SEXUALITY AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE MEDITERRANEAN SYMPOSIUM - PRESS STATEMENT
Nineteen women, academicians, representatives of NGOs and international organizations, from Algeria,
Egypt, France, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen gathered
in Istanbul between September 28 and 30, 2001 for a conference on “Women, Sexuality and Social
Change in the Middle East and the Mediterranean” organized by Women for Women’s Human
Rights (WWHR) – NEW WAYS.
Using their experience and the results of research conducted in their countries, participants confronted
some of the pressing issues that directly affect the lives of women in this region, such as:
- links between sexuality and the politics of power
- laws and sexuality
- sexual harassment
- violence against women
- honor crimes
- female genital mutilation
- sexual norms, values and behaviors of men and women
- freedom of mobility
- reproductive and sexual health and human rights
- desire and pleasure
- political movements and sexuality
Participants called for the recognition of the right of individuals, women and men, to enjoy a sexual life
in accordance with their values and with respect for others. This entails not only the right to determine
one’s sexual behavior, but also the right to seek sexual pleasure.
Sexuality is not only a personal and private issue, but it is also linked to systems of power politics and
domination in society. Means to control sexuality are institutionalized not only in cultural and social
norms and customs, but also in legal policy and practice. For instance, various legal systems sanction
crimes committed against women, such as early and forced marriage, virginity tests, discriminatory
divorce laws, female genital mutilation, and even reduction of sentence for murders committed in the
name of “family honor”.
Participants felt that during periods of militarization and war, oppression of sexuality is exacerbated,
because such systems promote rigid notions of masculinity and femininity and perpetuate a culture of
Jakarta, September 26, 2004
SEXUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES IN SOUTH / SOUTHEAST ASIA
We, as prominent NGOs and scholars from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Malaysia,
Pakistan, Philippines and Turkey have come together in Jakarta to explore issues concerning “Sexuality
and Human Rights in Muslim Societies”.
We are all committed to the realization of human rights and gender equality in our societies. We salute
and support the efforts that have been taken by civil society groups in Indonesia to promote women’s
In a majority of Muslim societies, sexuality, especially women’s bodies and sexuality are increasingly becoming arenas of intense political and social conflict. Conservative and religious right forces are fiercely trying to reinforce traditional mechanisms of control over women′s sexuality and create new ones. Wide-spread practices such as sexual violence, forced marriages, honor crimes, female genital
mutilation, marital rape, unsafe abortion and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity constitute blatant human rights violations.
Social justice and the dignity of women and men are enshrined in the Quran. Sexual oppression cannot be justified by islam, but results from a combination of political, social and economic inequalities. We strongly protest the misuse of religion to legitimize any human rights violation.
This meeting, a first of its kind in the region constitutes another step in our determined efforts on the national and international levels to combat all human rights violations related to sexual, bodily and reproductive rights in Muslim societies.
We call upon all states and the entire Muslim world to take all possible legal, social and political
measures to eradicate human rights violations related to sexual rights and bodily integrity.
Istanbul, April 26, 2007
THE COALITION FOR SEXUAL AND BODILY RIGHTS IN MUSLIM SOCIETIES GENERAL ASSEMBLY & STRATEGIC PLANNING MEETING - PRESS STATEMENT
Sexuality and sexual and bodily rights continue to be taboos in our countries, regions and across the
world. Most severe human rights violations such as the so-called honor killings, forced marriages, marital
rape, murder of homosexuals, are legitimized through these taboos, discriminatory approaches and the
As The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) we believe that sexual and
bodily rights are central to the realization of human rights and gender equality. In 2001 we initiated the
foundation of this network consisting of researchers and NGO representatives lobbying and advocating in
the Middle East, North Africa and South / Southeast Asia for the realization of sexual and bodily rights as
human rights and to prevent the violation of these rights. During the course of the past six years CSBR has
grown rapidly and now includes 50 leading NGOs and academicians in 15 countries ranging from Morocco
to Indonesia. This Coalition is the only network of its kind and has been playing a leading role working on
national, regional and international levels. The coalition continues to struggle for the prevention of human
rights violations such as female genital mutilation and so-called honor killings and works on a variety of
issues including the right to sexual and bodily integrity and the right to sexual orientation.
The Coalition’s work areas include:
- Sexuality and human rights
- Sexual orientation
- Legal reforms (e.g. Age of marriage, penal codes, family law, Sharia law)
- Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual rights
- Right to abortion
- Sexual and reproductive health
- Sexual violence
- Sexual and reproductive rights
- Sexual harassment
- Rights of sex workers
- Sexuality and religion
- Politics of sexuality
- International advocacy (UN)
Among the successful achievements of the Coalition to date are:
- Realization of legal reforms in countries like Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia on issues
like the Civil Code, Penal Code and the right to safe abortion.
- Pioneering the very first high level international meetings on the rights to sexual and reproductive rights in countries like Lebanon and Tunisia where previously sexuality was not an issue to be talked about.
- Realization of significant achievements in various United Nations meetings despite the alliance of conservative Christian forces like USA and Vatican and Islamic conservative states such as
Egypt, Sudan and Pakistan that employ religion to attack the human rights of women and girls and
- Rendering the efforts and gains of the struggle for sexual and bodily rights in Middle East, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia visible for the first time at the United nations (UN) and international platforms.
- Initiating and supporting international campaigns in numerous countries such as Malaysia,
Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Iraq on issues including human rights violations, lack of
freedom to organize and sexual rights.
This meeting will bring together 35 activists and scholars from Bangladesh, Algeria, Indonesia, Philippines, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Turkey and constitutes an important step for the continuation of our efforts. In the current global climate of the alarming rise of the conservative right wing, nationalist and militarist forces, we feel our progressive efforts striving for personal freedoms and equality gains even more importance.
Issues such as the impact of war and armed conflict on human rights and gender equality; alarming rise of conservative right wing force in our countries; criminalization of abortion and the spread of HIV/AIDS in our regions and among women and girls make our work a priority and increase the importance of our efforts. The Coalition will also work on the rising need for sexuality education and the improvement of institutions to meet the needs of youth emerging from the change in the demographic structure.
In the course of the next few years, The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies focus areas will include research on sexual, bodily and reproductive rights, sexuality education, sexual rights and religion, and lobbying and advocacy for legal reform. We believe that our work for the realization of sexual and bodily rights as human rights in Muslim societies will enable for radical progress in equality and human rights, and constitute groundbreaking steps to prevent discrimination and human rights violations.