Friday, November 15, 2013

Three years after the "Arab Spring" revolts, women's rights are worse than before

This should surprise no one, yet most will gape in awe and ask themselves, "How did this happen?"

Women have been second class citizens in Islam since 610AD.  Yes Muhammad gave women certain rights that were not common for women in the 7th century, but today those Islamic "rights" are the main reason we see women not being allowed to drive, women being forced to wear the burqa and a rampant FGM problem in supposedly moderate Muslim countries like Egypt and Malaysia.

Until women in Islamic countries are afforded the same human rights as the males in their culture we will see more abuse, and more spinning of the truth.

From Al-Arabiya November 12

Arab Spring nations backtrack on women’s rights, poll says

Arab women played a central role in the Arab Spring, but their hopes the revolts would bring greater freedom and expanded rights for women have been thwarted by entrenched patriarchal structures and the rise of Islamists, gender experts in the countries say.

Almost three years after popular uprisings toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world, a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll on 22 Arab states showed three out of five Arab Spring countries in the bottom five states for women's rights (for the methodology behind the poll, please see

Egypt emerged as the worst country to be a woman in the Arab world today, followed closely by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Egypt scored badly in almost every category, including gender violence, reproductive rights, treatment of women in the family and their inclusion in politics and the economy.

Arab Spring countries Syria and Yemen ranked 18th and 19th, respectively - worse than Sudan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and insurgency-hit Somalia, which scored better on factors such as political and economic inclusion, women's position in the family, reproductive rights and sexual violence. Libya and Tunisia came in 9th and 6th.

But while the situation is dire, some activists saw reasons for optimism. For one thing, the revolts led more poor women and those on the margins to be aware of their rights.

Women's rights have traditionally been a concern of the “intellectual elite” in Egypt, where many are illiterate and live below the poverty line, said Nihad Abul Komsan, head of the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights.

“We used to suffer from the fact that talk of women's rights came across as talk ... limited to the creme-de-la-creme ladies of society,” she told Reuters.

“But the big challenge women faced led to women's issues being discussed on the street by ordinary women and illiterate women.”

The questions to 336 gender experts invited to take part in the poll were based on key provisions of the U.N. Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which all Arab Spring states have signed or ratified. The polling took place in August and September.

Egypt's ranking below Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving and need permission from a male guardian to work or travel, reflects widespread concerns about harassment, which was mentioned by almost every respondent as a major issue.

A U.N report on women in April said up to 99.3 percent of women and girls in Egypt are subjected to sexual harassment.
Samira Ibrahim, a pro-democracy protester who was subjected to an invasive virginity test while in detention when the military council was in power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, said “harassment is the biggest problem facing us now”.

Read it all

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