The Council of Representatives Approved Legislations pertinent to Women Rights and Interests
The Council of Representatives endeavored, since its establishment in 2002, to improve the legal status of women at all levels, and surmounted all obstacles hindering women development; being aided by the provided constitutional, legislative and oversight tools. Women related legislations approved by the Council of Representatives ex- officio one of the chambers of the bicameral National Council, were ratified by His Majesty the King and promulgated thereof, depending on the type of legislative tool utilized to issue the same. The following are some of the important legislation:
International Agreements and Accords
Article (37) of the constitution stipulates that “the King shall conclude treaties by Decree, and shall communicate them to the Consultative Council and the Council of Representatives forthwith accompanied by all necessary supporting documents”, excluding treaties exclusively stated in the same Article, which must be promulgated by law to be valid. As such, the Council ratified a number of treaties that underline the rights of women, and forge their interests at the international level, including:
- CEDAW Convention that was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18/12/1979. Bahrain acceded to the Convention by virtue of Decree Law (5) for 2002, and its amendments.
The Convention reiterated, within its principles, the “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men”, and hence “bearing in mind the great contribution of women to the welfare of the family and to the development of society, so far not fully recognized, the social significance of maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the upbringing of children”. Moreover, the convention stipulated in Article (2) “States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women”, in particular the recitals of paragraph (b) of Article (2) that stated: “To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women”. The aforementioned were amongst the reservations which Bahrain has against the Convention.
The Arab Charter for Human rights that was adopted by the Arab League at the summit level in its 16th Session held on 23/5/2004. It was endorsed by virtue of Law No. (7) for 2006.
The Charter included a number of provisions related to women rights that were embedded in many of its articles:
- Paragraph (3) of Article (3) of the charter stated: “Men and women are equal in respect of human dignity, rights and obligations”.
- The death penalty shall not be inflicted on a pregnant woman prior to her delivery or on a nursing mother.
- Paragraph (1) of Article (33) stated: “The laws in force regulate the rights and duties of the man and woman as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution”.
- The State and society shall prohibit all forms of violence or abuse in the relations among family members, and particularly against women and children.
- There shall be no discrimination between men and women in their enjoyment of the right to effectively benefit from training, employment and job protection and the right to receive equal remuneration for equal work.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that was ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1966, which Bahrain join by virtue of Law No. (56) for 2006.
- Paragraph (2) of Article (23) recognized “the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized”. The aforementioned is amongst the reservations put forth by Bahrain with regard to the Covenant.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that was ratified by virtue of Law No. (22) for 2011.
Article (3) stated with regard to the principles of the present Convention “Equality between men and women”, in addition to the provisions of relevance to “recognizing women and girls with disabilities” as stated in Article (6) of the Convention.
- Law No. (26) for 2014 pertinent to establishing the National Institute for Human Rights.
Article (3) of the law took into account the representation of women in the Institute’s Commissioners Council, which consists of (11) members, including the Chairman and Vice-chairman. Royal Order No. (20) for 2015 was issued appointing members of the NIHR Commissioners Council, whereas Dr. Jameela Mansour Jassim Al Sammak , Ms. Maria Antoine Khoury, Dr. Mona Mohammed Al Hejres, were appointed as members of the NIHR Commissioners Council.
- Law No. (40) for 2009 amending article (51) of the Civil Service Law promulgated by Law No (35) for 2006.
The Council of Representatives sought, by virtue of modifying Article (51) to amend the maternity leave duration so as to reach 60 days.
Further to issuing the enacted Civil Service Law promulgated b by Law No. (48) for 2010, the same was adopted as per amendment of Article (51) of the Executive Regulations of the Civil Service Law in Paragraph (3) of Article (31) stating: Sixty (60) days Delivery Leave for female Employee commence from the first day of delivery date stated in the birth certificate.
- Law No. (36) for 2012 promulgating the Labor Law for the Private Sector, and its amendments.
A female worker shall be entitled to an unpaid leave for taking care of her child not exceeding six years of age, of maximum six month each time and for three times throughout the period of her service, as stipulated in Article (34) of the Labor Law. Moreover, a female worker shall be entitled after the end of her maternity leave and until her child reaches six month of age to two breastfeeding periods of not less than one hour each. The female worker shall also be entitled to two period of half an hour to provide care for her child each until her child reaches one year of age, as stipulated in Article (35) of the Labor Law. The Law considered dismissing a worker on basis of pregnancy, birth or maternity as arbitrary.
- Law No. (28) for 2012 amending certain provisions of the Public Security Forces Law promulgated by virtue of Decree Law No. (3) for 1982.
Law No. (28) for 2012 amended certain provisions of the PSF Law where a woman is a member of the PSF and was treated as a civilians employee with regard with the maternity leave as per Article 65/paragraph (c). A woman is awarded a maternity leave fully paid with all bonuses and allowances as of the date of birth for the duration stipulated in the Civil Service Law and Executive Regulations as per article (68) thereof. It also awarded a Muslim woman who is a member of the PSF, whose spouse perishes a “Uddah Leave” with full pay including bonuses and allowances for the period stipulated in the Civil Service Law. As such, the amendments awarded women who are members of the PSF, all the privileges set forth in the Civil Service Law.
- Law No. (17) for 2015 pertinent to Protection Against Domestic Violence:
Complementing Bahrain’s accession to international accords of relevance to women and child, by virtue of Decree Law No. (16) for 1991 with regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that is amended by Decree Law (8) for 2000, and Decree Law No. (5) for 2002 to endorse the CEDAW Convention by virtue of Law No. (15) for 2010, Law No. (17) for 2015 on the protection against domestic violence; was promulgated to embed and clearly state the protection of women from domestic violence within it.
- Law No. (19) for 2009 promulgating the Family Law (First Section).
Developing provisions of the Family Law was accompanied by significant pressures and concerns related primarily to the repercussions of the Law on family disputes, the extent of opted family reforms after adopting the same. However, what is confirmed is that the law addressed many issues faced by women in marital life, most importantly, without limitation, the problem of breaking an engagement and its impact on gifts and compensation, the signing of marriage contracts and divorces, transparency and clarity in information and the stipulated conditions, unjust prevention of marriage, marriage without consent of guardians or appropriateness of age; in addition to issues of equality, custodianship, preserving a woman’ dignity, issues of custody entitlement, visitation and access, and upbringing; as well as divorce disputes and the aftermath of divorces in a way to protect and preserve the dignity of a woman.
- Law No. (1) for 2008 issuing the Anti-trafficking Law
The above law contributed, by virtue of approving the general provisions, to preserve and protect women rights from any abuse, and thus incriminates any act that aims to exploit women in the forms set forth by the law.
- Law No. (26) for 2005 on Political Societies:
Article (1) of the said law equated the right of men and women to establish political societies and the right to join political societies; it has also established one of the key rules of democracy, and implemented the principles contained in the amended constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain. It further reiterated the right of women to political participation.
- Decree law No. (50) for 2010 to amend certain provisions of the Associations, Social and Cultural Clubs in the field of youth and sports and private institutions issued by virtue of Decree Law No. (21) for 1989:
The said Decree Law entrusted the task of amending certain provisions of Decree Law (21) for 1989 in line with Paragraph (15) of Article (72) on including women in sports in general and in the Olympic field in particular to the Bahrain Olympic Committee, and underlined that such a task would be an objective must be achieved by the Committee to raise the status of Bahrain women in sports, and thus making the same a priority in its future programs and activities.
- Law No. (6) for 2008 on amending certain provisions of Decree Law No (19) for 1976 with regard to emblems, insignia, medals, and orders:
In appreciation of women and the efforts undertaken to empower, protect women rights and interests; Paragraph (3) of Article (3 bis) of the said law stipulates awarding the King Hamad Nahda Medallion by virtue of a Royal Order to persons who significantly and effectively contribute in supporting women.
- Law No. (57) for 2006 to Establish the Labor Fund:
The above law aims, inter alia, to increase the consolidation and inclusion of Bahraini women in the labor market, prepares the adequate environment for the same, and contributes to surmounting all obstacles that may hinder women participation in the work force within the legal framework of Articles (3) and (4) of the Law.
- Law No. (18) for 2006 with respect to Social Security:
The Social Security Law defined terms of relevance to the different social statuses of women in a manner that preserves their rights, particularly with regard to the financial aspect. It considered (widows, divorced, spouse of imprisoned persons, abandoned, orphans, elderly, children, unmarried women, and persons with special needs, incapacitated persons) as eligible to a social welfare assistance that ranges between BHD 70-150.
- Law No. (74) for 2006 on the welfare, rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities, and its amendments:
Amendments of the said law provide for exempting a woman employee with disability from provisions of the Labor Law in the Private Sector and regulations of the Civil Service; whereby it approved awarding a fully paid special leave not deducted from other leaves if a woman worker with disability becomes pregnant, and a medical committee recommended that her condition requires so in line with the conditions and rules set forth in the Law, by virtue of a decision from the competent minister.
- Law No. (35) for 2009 on the treatment of the non-Bahraini wife of a Bahraini man, children of Bahraini women married to non-Bahrain men with regard to incurred fees of governmental services.
A non-Bahraini wife of a Bahraini man and the children of Bahraini women married to non-Bahrain men – by law – shall be treated as a Bahraini citizen with regard to all incurred fees on health, educational services, and permanent residence in Bahrain.
- Law No. (18) for 2014 Promulgating the Reform and Rehabilitation Institute:
The said law allocated rehabilitation and reform centers for women, and centers for precautionary detention especially for women. It also stipulated that each police station must be headed by an officer who is assisted by a sufficient number of other officers and junior officers, guards; in addition to civilians who are social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, vocational teachers and other staff under his supervision; provided such persons are women as much as possible with regard to women detention centers. Women should assume guard and other duties for women inmates, in a manner that conserves the dignity of women.
It is worth mentioning that the above recitals are merely a part of the legislative tools set forth to care for women and their interests that were approved by the Council of Representatives, taking into account that listing all similar legislations requires in-depth research. Even though the said legislations address women in particular and protect women rights, most laws approved by the Council address citizens in general regardless of the titles, whereas most of the said laws address women issues as a citizen who is liable to the same duties and has the same rights of all citizens.<>/p>
Additionally, the political means and oversight tools assumed by the Council members within the scope of the legislative authority, as well as the stance of the Council members in terms of promoting the status of women, by approving annual budgets – without delay- that are in favor of women rights whether in terms of the funds allocated to social security or other means of financial support.
Members of the Council of Representatives take part, by means of the Kingdom of Bahrain Inter-parliamentary group delegations and friendship associations, in activities and meetings related to women affairs; as well as social media activities that are organized by the Secretariat General of the Council, in addition to organized regular visits to women majlis in order to connect with women groups, listen to their viewpoints, address their inquiries and endeavor to achieve their ambitions.
The parliamentary Select Standing Committee on Women Affairs and Child endeavors to address all women issues by virtue of executive decisions issued by the Chairman of the Council:
- Review draft laws, law proposals, bills related to women and Child issue, and report on the same to the Council.
- Obtain information, data and the necessary documents related to the referred subjects from the competent authorities.
- Submit opinions and proposals to other committees on issues of relevance to their specialties.
- Participate in parliamentary delegations to meetings on issues of relevance to women affairs and child, which the Council decides to take part in.
Second: Privileges of Legal Women at the Council of Representatives
Female employees of the Council of Representatives Secretariat General coupled the privileges awarded by the Council, with the privileges of legal women. With regard to privileges awarded by the Secretariat General, it is imperative to underline that the rights embedded in the Rules of the Council issued by virtue of Decision No. (28) for 2010 awarded legal women the same privileges stipulated in the Civil Service Law, particularly with regard to maternity leave, nursing hours, non-paid special leaves; in addition to the right to receive a social increase similarly to male employees according to their social status, unlike the case in past version of the Rules; for the Secretariat General equated the rights of men and women, in reiteration of the constitutional right of equality.
With regard to supporting women, the Council of Representatives endeavors through the “Equal Opportunities Committee” to achieve a number of objectives, most importantly: continue including the requirements of women in the Council development programs and plans, increase women awareness of their rights, in addition to the legal and constitutional duties, contribute to preparing the Council plans to ensure equal opportunities of genders, reiterate the principle of equal opportunities in terms of appointment, promotion, inclusion in training courses, and other work related activities by virtue of coordinating the same with the Supreme Council for Women in issues of relevance to women, and review the latest updates to empower and consolidate women requirements in the government action plan; as well as other tasks entrusted to the Committee in line with the decision to establish it.
Legal employees at the Council of Representatives enjoy the great attention of the Council higher management, who endeavor to develop the legal cadres by means of engaging them in internal training courses and abroad, as well as engage the legal employees in the domestic, regional and international activities; in addition to financing their pursue of higher studies to pave the way for their promotion and career development.
With regard to bonuses due to the legal cadres of the Council whether men and women, Annex (9) of the Employees Rules on the same states that permanent bonuses are awarded to legal employees at the Council according to the following:
- Legal Appointment (grades 8 and 9): BHD 400
- Legal Appointment (grade 7): BHD 300
- Legal Appointment (grade 6): BHD 200
- Legal Appointment (grade 5): BHD 100
The higher management of the Council of Representatives spares no effort to adopt all the necessary steps, and approve the necessary mechanisms that empower legal women, and thus supports the due privileges compared with peers in the same profession.