Posted on February 03 2021
WOMEN AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA ARE NOT TREATED EQUALLY TO MEN AND NOBODY TALKS ABOUT IT. WITH ALL THE CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS THAT HAVE HAPPENED, STILL, WOMEN ARE NOT EQUAL NOR FREE WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR BODIES.
Interviewer: What would you say to a woman in this country who assumes she is no longer oppressed, who believes women's liberation has been achieved?
El Saadawi: Well I would think she is blind. Like many people who are blind to gender problems, to class problems, to international problems. She's blind to what's happening to her.
Nawal El Saadawi an Egyptian writer.
Despite the problems that women face, some of the most inspiring reforms and positive change came from the Middle East and North African region. Tunisian women have received new protections from violence. Migrant domestic workers in the Gulf have been armed with new labor protection measures. The ban on women driving was lifted in Saudi Arabia.With all the work that activist feminists are trying to do, still women are not free.
Women around the MENA region are facing challenges that other individuals do not normally face around Europe and in America.
Most women are raised by very strict parents, grow up in a hostile environment, and have to navigate in a patriarchal society. Young girls are taught they are less than men. They are constantly being told that the ultimate goal of their life is to get married.
Young girls carry the honor of their family at a very young age. Muslim families make their young girls wear a hijab at the age of 8 in the name of religion as they get their periods which they were taught that their period means that they ready to get married. For example, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, many girls get married after their first period, in many cases even before it begins.
Aside from young girls' marriage, female genital mutilation is one of the worst methods to hold girls down and shut their sexuality in order to keep the family honor. Even though we live in the 21st century, people around Egypt and Sudan are still doing this to their girls at the age of 10 and 11, which cause trauma and damages women's physical and emotional health throughout their lives.
WOMEN FACE MANY CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR BODIES, SEXUALITY AND CHOICES.
Women are not allowed to have sex until they get married and if they did by any chance, they could be killed. This happens in countries like Iraq, Saudia Arabia, and Sudan.
Women are not allowed to leave home without their parents and husbands. Patriarchal society believes that "Women's place is in the home" and that tradition must be kept at any cost. To maintain this control, women cannot wear what they want to wear. Some have to wear long skirts, cover their skin, and are forced to wear a hijab against their will. Women cannot wear short skirts, shorts or show some skin from their bodies otherwise they would get called names and molested. In Saudi Arabia, if women remove their hijab they will be punished with arrest.
Domestic Violence is a very normal subject that most don't consider around the MENA region. Women face violence in their homes and in the street from a very young age until they grow up. The law must protect them. In Iraq, there aren’t any law that protect women from domestic violence or from their abusive parents. Feminists in the area are working hard to endorse the anti-domestic violence law.
Many claim it is against their religion and tradition to give women more opportunities. They would rather see women treated poorly to see them protected by the law.
These examples provided here are a short summary of what Middle Eastern and African women face every day from their birth until their death.
Activists around the world should focus more on women’s rights in the Middle East. We should learn more about women's lives around the world, listen to them, and help them. We need to make their stories heard.
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