The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) was founded in 2001, following the “Women, Sexuality and Social Change in the Middle East and Mediterranean Symposium” organized by WWHR in Istanbul, Turkey. In this groundbreaking meeting, NGO representatives, activists and academicians from the Middle East and North Africa came together for the first time to discuss sexuality in the region and affirmed the need for a solidarity network of those advocating for sexual, reproductive and bodily rights as human rights in the region.
Starting out as a network of NGO representatives, activists and academicians in the Middle East and North Africa, the Coalition expanded to South and South East Asia in 2004. The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, a bi-regional network, now includes 38 organizational members from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines.
As a network involved in activist work on advocacy and lobbying for the promotion of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, CSBR’s principles are founded on the premise that sexual, bodily and reproductive rights are basic human rights, and that all people have the right to make free decisions in matters relating to their sexuality, body and reproduction free from discrimination and coercion. CSBR’s activities include organizing regional and international meetings, conferences, workshops and trainings on sexuality and sexual rights; supporting national campaigns and efforts to promote sexual rights; advocating and lobbying for legal reforms in the domain of sexuality; producing and disseminating research and publications; advocating at the United Nations level for the advancement of sexual and reproductive rights.
As the only network working on sexual and bodily rights in Muslim Societies and connecting the two regions, CSBR has succeeded in creating an alternative discourse and progressive spaces around issues of sexuality and sexual rights, countering global conservative politics and challenging taboos around sexuality and providing an opportunity for dialogue within a “safe space” on pivotal human rights issues related to sexual, bodily and reproductive rights, sexual politics, power and gender in Muslim societies.
CSBR has supported national campaigns and efforts to promote sexual, bodily and reproductive rights through the initiation and coordination of national and international actions, linking member organizations for collective efforts, sharing best practices with the contribution of member organizations in similar contexts.
Successful achievements of the Coalition to date include:
- Pioneering the very first high level international meetings on sexual and reproductive rights in countries like Lebanon and Tunisia where previously the issue of sexuality was a taboo that could not be discussed
- Realization of significant achievements in various United Nations meetings despite the alliance of conservative Christian forces like USA and Vatican and Islamic conservative states such as Egypt, Sudan and Pakistan that employ religion to attack the human rights of women, girls and homosexuals
- Launching international campaigns and actions on sexual rights and freedoms, human rights violations, reproductive rights and the right to organize in many countries including Malaysia, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, Palestine and Iran.