A lot of people and me included have only read very brief mentions regarding the issue such as in here , and are building whole theories on them, but none of us have any concrete proof.
The story began when the Aljamahiriya daily paper ( cartoon above courtesy of the same paper) ran an article on Monday March 5, in which a woman wrote to complain that she had been turned back at the airport apparently because of this new law. Well first of all this is the link to the full article in Arabic by two Libyan female journalists critical of this decision. In the same paper another Libyan female journalist wrote an Op-ed, in which Khjadija Bseekri wonders among others things in Arabic, how is the Libyan female pilot, judge or other professional going to travel and will she have to beg from her male relatives to accompany her.
It seems some women have been turned back, and I also read plenty of references to this Law , but I do not see the text or a copy of it anywhere. So I turned to the website hosted by the General People's Committee . This is an extremely popular and up to date Libyan governement site. It is very professional and all the decisions, decrees and laws are categorized and posted in pdf file mode. I was surprised to find no sign of this law, but only a clarification about it. I even checked the website of the Ministy of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice and still could not locate it . The clarification simply states that this decision aims to regulate the unecessary travel of Libyan women abroad due to some negative past activities and that it is the same as for men, i.e. you have to show why you are travelling and what for. It is well known that employees male and female are required to have a letter stating their purpose of travel if for business/study /etc... I am not translating the entirety of the article but just the salient points. Regardless of that I see no trace of that law yet so could it be that some overzealous people are implementing it already based on rumours ? trigger happy kind of ?
To be honest I am not surprised at this turn of event, I could see it coming for the last few years because of all the questions and hints I kept being bombarded with each time an immigration officer held my passport. I had an uneasy feeling because I had heard of the unfortunate misconduct of some of my Libyan sisters which meant that the reputation of many Libyan women travelling alone has a potential to suffer because they are looked upon as less than pure.
I understand this is discriminatory, because even if some girls are dishonouring themselves, or being sucked into crime, who is to judge ? and why not the men? some of them are behaving even worse. So the responsibility for honour and a crimeless life lies with both males and females as good citizens. If there is a criminal offense, then apprehend the offender, but if it is a case of morality then if someone has not been brought up well in their home whether male or female, then they will not be chaste in their own country or outside away from prying eyes and nothing will curb it.
Preventing Libyan women under 40 from travelling unless they have a male guardian with them is not going to stop depravity. In addition it implies that after the age of 40 you are less depraved and cannot become a criminal because you are mature ? or because you are less pretty and too old , very unflattering. Meanwhile , nothing, zilch , nada in the local press, except for the above mentioned paper.
I will not argue religion because if true this law is not based on Sharia and according to the clarification mentioned it is to curb criminal and depraved behaviour. Sharia has a different angle, and some of it is still under debate. So please don't bring religious arguments into the comments because this alleged decree does not discuss the Sharia as it clearly stipulates a certain age range and not ALL women. The Sharia as illustrated here bases its fatwas on several hadiths . I am not an expert on Islamic jurisprudence and as I said it is not today's topic.
Hence to this date, this decision against lone women travellers under 40 is still unpublished officially even though there have been a few cases of women being refused permit to leave. However, if true then it really clashes with several of our local laws here especially article 21. This is not only ironic as it comes into force concomitently with the celebratrion of International Women's day but if true it is indeed disappointing to say the least.
My personal prediction if it turns out to be correct is that I don't expect the decree to last more than a few weeks, and I have of course my own theory about that..
Obviously this means the farthest I will be travelling for a while could be my grandparents' house... ridiculous no ?
In the meantime, the Egyptians have a wise saying , 'yakhabar il naharda bi flus , bukra bi balash'.
As I said above this law has not been promulgated and there was no trace of it but only indirect references and allusions to security measures prompting the sending back of some females from the airport . Yes the General People's Committee issued an announcement for those who do not read Arabic, here below is the summary :
(1) denial that it was issued on its behalf
(2) confirming some temporary security measures and which have now been taken care off.
(3) clarifying that these organising procedures never aimed that discriminating against Libyan women especially since our ladies are leaders in being aircraft pilots, judges and lawyers etc..
(4) it has already explained before the causes of these temporary measure which have been duly carried out by those in charge , and that there has been a misunderstanding along the way.
So basically I'm not grounded anymore, and I told you so .... and what's more I still have my own theory about all this :P