Algerian single mothers jailed for adultery

by Kal El on May 28, 2008 · 2 comments

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Yet another muslim country showcasing its regard for the rights of women.

A member of a Moroccan delegation in New York this month described a secret detention center in southwestern Algeria for mothers whose only crime was being unwed. The story’s political backdrop is a complicated territorial dispute in Western Sahara.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Pregnant women and single mothers are languishing in a secret detention center in Tindouf, a southwestern province in Algeria, charges Brahim El Selem. “It is made out of mud bricks . . . You can’t see the jail because it is a hole between two hills.”

El Selem says the women’s detention center–which he says he visited three or four times–confines almost 30 women, some with toddlers. The structure’s zinc roof provides minimal protection from the Saharan desert heat, he adds.

The women’s offense? Sex outside marriage, a crime often leading to jail sentences for men and women in Muslim countries.

El Selem says he is a former police officer with the Polisario Front, an independence movement backed by Algeria in its decades-long fight with Morocco over the Western Sahara.

El Selem says women in this jail can leave under only two situations. One is when her child turns 2. The other is if a member of the Sahrawi community agrees to marry her. Marriage for single mothers is so improbable that he says that option is rarely exercised. Although one woman, he says, did resort to marrying a cousin with developmental disabilities to get out.

He says he visited the prison for unwed mothers while on patrol duty. Some of the women, he says, were rape victims who continued to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of their guards.

More human rights women’s rights violations committed in yet another muslim country. CAIR is strangely silent of course, as are all “moderate” muslim groups.

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  • Will

    I’d take this report with a grain of salt. Like the article says, the person saying this is actually sponsored by the Moroccan government–a group actively opposed to the Sahrawi liberation movement running this alleged camp. The Moroccan lobbying group running the trip has been caught in many lies before, so while no one in the US has verified the existence or lack thereof of this prison, it’s not like the Moroccan lobby is disinterested.

    If you’re interested in womens’ rights in the Maghreb, consider this: in Sahrawi culture, a woman can divorce her husband if he beats her (among other ways to divorce), and a party is thrown by the community to make sure she doesn’t feel like a pariah. In Morocco, husbands could beat their wives without legal repercussion until only a few years ago.

  • single mothers

    It’s really very sad to heard such story about the women.. I was not aware of it.. I must say that women should always be strong to fight against any situation and also why always women have to face the such problem? What about the men?