In an opinion piece in Truthout, Lauren Rankin, a graduate student at Rutgers University, denies the assertions that rape and harassment of women in Egypt are because of Islam: “Let’s make something clear: the sexual harassment and rape of women in Egypt (as it is anywhere) is horrendous and unacceptable. Clearly, something is at play here, if that many women report being sexually harassed. I just don’t think that “something” is Islam. If it was, sexual harassment and rape would be limited to Muslim countries and communities. But as we well know, that is simply not true.” Rankin is a feminist activist, a freelance writer, and a graduate student in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers.
Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category
The title of this post is a quote from Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Indian political leader and diplomat, related to the theme of striving for a comprehensive peace impossible without gender equality. This theme was the main message at a discussion hosted by the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) on January 30th, which explored the role of women in the Yemeni transition. Amat Alsoswa, Yemen’s first Minister for Human Rights, presented an overview of the role of women to date, focusing her talk on the importance of following the women’s right agenda in 2013. Below is a summary of her talk.
The women and youth of Yemen played a crucial role in the relatively peaceful February 2011 revolution. Women in Yemen have traditionally been amongst the least publicly active populations across the world. Thus, it came as a shock to the society when women came out on the streets in sizeable numbers. Yet this only lasted for two months; many women reverted back to their homes after a speech made by ex-President Saleh in April 2011 saying that mixing between men and women during the revolution was haraam, [a sin]. Despite initial backlash to his words, the revolutionaries were certainly affected and started a process of gender segregation. Nevertheless, the important role of women has not subsided. For example, negotiators proposed that women should be represented at a ‘suitable’ level throughout the transition process but women resisted this and managed to get a 30% quota for representation throughout the transitional period.
The Economist provides a review of a new double biography of two women whose lives were transformed by militant Islam: “Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui are forceful, intelligent women who were born around 40 years ago in the heart of the conservative Islamic world, into families of some prominence. Later, they moved to America. Like tens of millions of others who made similar journeys, they had to negotiate the interface between an immigrant sub-culture that harked back to the homeland and a liberal society where very different options existed. Presented with two sharply contrasting value systems, two diametrically opposed ideas about the meaning of virtue, success and fulfilment, they had to make their choices.”
The book is:
Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui. By Deborah Scroggins. To be published in Britain in February by HarperCollins.
The April 2011 issue of Human Resource Development International contains four articles devoted to women, empowerment and human resource development in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Beverly Dawn Metcalfe, senior lecturer in the Center for Organizations and Development at the University of Manchester, wrote the guest editorial piece and one of the articles.In her editorial, she states that her aim is to “promote transformative scholarship that addresses the centrality of women, work, empowerment and development in Arab Gulf states.”
She points out that Human Resource Development (HRD) has overlooked gender concerns. She notes that the articles in the issue of HRDI on women in the Gulf region describe the challenges the women there face, highlight positive gains made and critique outsiders’ assumptions.
Intersecting themes shaping women’s identity are globalization, women’s movements, Islamic feminism, institutional development and governance.
In her article, “Women, Empowerment and Development in Arab Gulf States: A Critical Appraisal of Governance, Culture and National Human Resource Development (HRD) Frameworks,” Metcalfe makes a case for inserting gender into the discipline of HRD. She considers national HRD planning in the context first of several Gulf states and provides gender statistics on them in comparison to the U.K. and the U.S.: women holding seats in parliament, women in minister positions, labor force participation and more. Women in the Gulf states are severely disadvantaged in all these measures.
Moreover, surveys reveal that both men and women see the man as the family provider and protector of the wife. The author then compares Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. None of these countries has a dedicated women’s ministry. But beyond this shared feature, variations across the three countries appear in women’s organizations and possibilities for women’s leadership training. Metcalfe points out that a key area will be finding ways for women to balance family and work responsibilities.
I apologize for coming back to the issue of dress, especially as related to Muslim women. But the challenge posed is too important to resist, especially after a week in which a prominent U.S. politician tweeted messages with pictures of himself wearing less.
My inspiration comes from a news article about an American Muslim woman weight lifter who prefers to lift weights while wearing a head scarf.Why is it wrong to wear more? Well, in this case, the “more” is a head covering. It, however, signals adherence to a particular religious faith (Islam) which is under suspicion in the U.S. It also signals female modesty. Depending on which micro-culture you belong to in the U.S., female modesty is variously defined and expressed through clothing and behavior.
The contemporary Western “modern” code is for girls/young women to show more of their bodies. That’s supposed to be a sign of their freedom. I can relate to that, because I can still remember being a teenager in a small town in central New York, with a conservative Christian father, and not being allowed to wear skirts that were shorter than my knees to high school. What did I do? As soon as I got to school, I rolled up the waistband and felt so free.
As I recall, some of the high school guys appreciated my freedom, too.
Now, decades later, we have the SlutWalk campaign. I support them, wholeheartedly. Shouldn’t anybody, no matter what they are wearing or not wearing, be safe at home or in public?
Everyone, worldwide, needs to work to create zones where covered and uncovered women’s rights are protected and where women are valued as people and are safe, whether covered or uncovered.
My thanks to Kulsoom Abdullah, the Muslim woman weight-lifter of Atlanta, Ga., for challenging the categories of public performance, dress and human value for women everywhere.
A reader made an interesting point on our Facebook page about what a Muslim woman lifeguard would do if she had to rescue a male victim.
Could she touch him? Could she resuscitate him? Could she give him the “kiss of life?” What would Mohammed say?I know my limits. I cannot answer these questions. I hope knowledgeable readers will comment.
In the meantime, I did a quick Google search with the keywords “Islam Women Swimming.” Really interesting! One of the first things to pop was an article about….my university! Who knew? How did I miss all this?
In 2010, George Washington University declared one hour per day at its health center pool as “Sisters Splash.” No men allowed.
Beyond all the political flap, the puzzle is this: does gender-segregated access to an otherwise denied resource for women actually promote gender integration (if not with men, in public, but with the “larger society” and its resources)?
Similarly, in 2008, a policy of women-only access for two hours a day to a public swimming pool in France made a splash in the media. The local mayor said it was a means of cultural integration. Others said it defies the heartfelt French value of equality.
What do you think?
She says that it forces women to maintain a childlike figure below the waist with purchased/enhanced breasts on top.
So what looks like liberation is in fact a cage constructed of dental floss (this blogger’s words).
Bhutto is concerned that the increasing adoption of the burqa by Muslim women may lead to further gender segregation.
She also argues that outsiders’ focus on women’s veiling in Muslim populations diverts attention from more important issues such as women’s voting rights.
Can the bikini and the burqa be friends?
This blogger says: as examples of extremely controlling female clothing, both should be consigned to the dustbin.