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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 17:47 GMT
Kenyan women protest against equality
File Picture of African women protesting against violence
Muslim women say the bill clashes with their religion
Hundreds of Muslim women in Kenya demonstrated on Friday against a proposed sexual equality bill currently before the Kenyan parliament.

The women, clad in black, took over the streets of the Muslim dominated coastal city of Mombasa after Friday prayers in a march organised by an influential group of local Muslim clerics.


The place of the woman in the Koran is not negotiable, it is very clear that the woman must submit to the man and we can't change this!

Protester Mariam Mohammed
The protesters said they were against the bill which aims to bring greater equality for women and to outlaw sexual discrimination in the country.

The proposed law was brought to parliament by female opposition legislator, Beth Mugo, but has yet to be debated in parliament.

Islamic teachings

The women, who were joined by a few men, chanted anti-government slogans and waved placards expressing their disgust at the draft bill which they said "slighted the Koranic place of the woman".

Mombasa city
Mombasa city is dominated by Muslims
One protester, Mariam Mohammed, said that the place of the women in the Koran cannot be changed. Therefore calls for equality with men, she argued, ran contrary to Islamic teachings.

"The place of the woman in the Koran is not negotiable, it is very clear that the woman must submit to the man and we can't change this!"

President Daniel Arap Moi is reported to have also rejected the bill because the Kenyan constitution already provides a level playing field for all.

The equality bill is supported by civil and human rights groups, women organisations and a large section of the opposition.

Catholic church bishops in the country began a four day meeting on Thursday to discuss their position on the bill.

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Africa
Kenya tackles wife beaters
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya's vigilante problem
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya lynch mob fears
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