10/24/2006, 00.00
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Text messaging threats against women candidates in upcoming elections

"We suspect there are rival candidates who are trying to bring in a religious angle", says Munira Fakhro, a woman candidate running for office.

Bahrain (AsiaNews) – Some women candidates in the upcoming elections in Bahrain have received threats via Short Message Service (SMS) on their cellphones and have filed complaints with the Supreme Council for Women (SCW). In some cases, the messages said that they "lacked the qualification to run the country and hold parliamentary positions".

"We had to approach the SCW after these messages were sent to some of the women candidates," Munira Fakhro, who is contesting a seat, told the Bahrain Tribune.

"There are some conservative scholars who are against women contesting the elections. This is not fair as it is an attempt to weaken the position of women candidates," said Ms Fakhro. "Women are being targeted to discourage them from running. Actions like this show how tough it is for a woman to make her mark in this chauvinistic society."

Some 18 women candidates are trying to be elected—most of them as independents. And "threats of this kind can affect their psyche and we need to address this issue and punish the culprits," she said.

Ms Munira, who has called on the Ministry of Justice to open an inquiry into the matter, insisted that she had "confidence in the SCW which is chaired by Her Highness Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa who works for the empowerment of women" adding that the "government should take immediate steps to curb this menace. We have no clue [about] who is behind all these messages. We suspect there are rival candidates who are trying to bring in a religious angle."  

In the 2002 elections, women candidates were victims of similar attempts to force them to give up.

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