Women in Arab societies

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For the position of women in Islam and in the Muslim world, see Women in Islam.
Three women from Algiers in the 1880s; the reclining girl holds a cigarette.

The Feminist (history as gender struggle) view of women in the Arab world, is that as in other areas of the world, have throughout history experienced discrimination and have been subject to restrictions of their freedoms and rights. Some of these practices are based on religious beliefs, but many of the limitations are cultural and emanate from tradition as well as religion. These main constraints that create an obstacle towards women's rights and liberties are reflected in laws dealing with criminal justice, economy, education and healthcare.[1]

Arab women before Islam[edit]

Costumes of Arab women, fourth to sixth century.

Many people / writers have discussed the status of women in pre-Islamic Arabia, and their findings have been mixed.[2] Under the customary tribal law existing in Arabia at the advent of Islam, women as a general rule had virtually no legal status. They were sold into marriage by their guardians for a price paid to the guardian, the husband could terminate the union at will, and women had little or no property or succession rights.[3] Some writers have argued that women before Islam were more liberated drawing most often on the first marriage of Muhammad and that of Muhammad's parents, but also on other points such as worship of female idols at Mecca.[2] Other writers, on the contrary, have agreed that women's status in pre-Islamic Arabia was poor, citing practices of female infanticide, unlimited polygyny, patrilineal marriage and others.[2] Saudi historian Hatoon al-Fassi considers much earlier historical origins of Arab women's rights. Using evidence from the ancient Arabian kingdom of Nabataea, she finds that Arab women in Nabataea had independent legal personalities. She suggests that they lost many of their rights through ancient Greek and Roman law prior to the arrival of Islam and that these Greco-Roman constraints were retained under Islam.[4][5] Valentine M. Moghadam analyzes the situation of women from a marxist theoretical framework and argues that the position of women is mostly influenced by the extent of urbanization, industrialization, proletarization and political ploys of the state managers rather than culture or intrinsic properties of Islam; Islam, Moghadam argues, is neither more nor less patriarchal than other world religions especially Christianity and Judaism.[6][7]

In pre-Islamic Arabia, women's status varied widely according to laws and cultural norms of the tribes in which they lived. In the prosperous southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, for example, the religious edicts of Christianity and Judaism held sway among the Sabians and Himyarites. In other places such as the city of Makkah (Mecca) -- where the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was born—a tribal set of rights was in place. This was also true amongst the Bedouin (desert dwellers), and this code varied from tribe to tribe. Thus there was no single definition of the roles played, and rights held, by women prior to the advent of Islam.

In some tribes, women were emancipated even in comparison with many of today's standards.[8][9] There were instances where women held high positions of power and authority.

Pakistani lawyer Sundas Hoorain has said that women in pre-Islamic Arabia had a much higher standing than they got with Islam. She describes a free sex society in which both men and women could have multiple partners or could contract a monogamous relationship per their will. She thus concludes that the Muslim idea of monogamy being a post-Islamic idea is flawed and biased and that women had the right to contract such a marriage before Islam. She also describes a society in which succession was matrilineal and children were retained by the mother and lived with the mother's tribe, whereas in Shariah law, young children stay with their mother until they reach the age of puberty, and older children stay with their father. Hoorain also cites problems with the idea of mass female infanticide and simultaneous widespread polygamy (multiple women for one man), as she sees it as an illogical paradox. She questions how it was possible for men to have numerous women if so many females were being killed as infants.[10]

In pre-Islamic Arabia, there were patterns of homicidal abuse of women and girls, including instances of killing female infants considered to be a liability. The Qur'an mentions that the Arabs in Jahiliya (the period of ignorance or pre-Islamic period) used to bury their daughters alive.[11] The barbaric custom of burying female infants alive, comments a noted Qur'anic commentator, Muhammad Asad, seems to have been fairly widespread in pre-Islamic Arabia. The motives were twofold: the fear that an increase in female offspring would result in economic burden, as well as the fear of the humiliation frequently caused by girls being captured by a hostile tribe and subsequently preferring their captors to their parents and brothers.[12] In his book Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives, Glenn Hausfater details how Qais Bin Assem, a leader of the Tamim tribe, killed every daughter he had for fear of their capture (and his disgrace) in the intertribal wars that dominated Arabian society at that time. According to some scholars; during times of famine, especially, poorer families were likely to kill a daughter, regarding her as a burden on a starving family.[citation needed]

It is generally accepted that Islam changed the structure of Arab society and to a large degree unified the people, reforming and standardizing gender roles throughout the region. According to Islamic studies professor William Montgomery Watt, Islam improved the status of women by "instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce."[13][14] The Hadiths in Bukhari suggest that Islam improved women's status, by the second Caliph Umar saying "We never used to give significance to ladies in the days of the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance, but when Islam came and Allah mentioned their rights, we used to give them their rights but did not allow them to interfere in our affairs", Book 77, Hadith 60, 5843, and Vol. 7, Book 72, Hadith 734.

Arab women after Islam[edit]

See also: Women in Islam
A page from an Arabic manuscript from the 12th century, depicting a man playing the oud among women, (Hadith Bayad wa Riyad).

Islam was introduced in the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century, and improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures.[15] According to the Qur'anic decrees, both men and women have the same duties and responsibilities in their worship of God. As the Qur'an states: "I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another".(Qur'an 3:195)

The Qur'an rejected the traditional and cultural practice of killing unwanted female children soon after birth. As it appears in (Qur'an 16:58-59),the religious message states: "When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief. With shame he hides himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! shall he retain it (his face) (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on!" The Prophet of Islam said that "one to whom a daughter is born and who does not bury her alive, does not humiliate her not prefer a son to a daughter, will be sent to Paradise".[16] Another tradition of Muhammad makes hell fire prohibited to he who undergoes trials and tribulations due to a daughter and yet does not hate her and behaves well towards her.[17]

The Islamic studies professor William Montgomery Watt states:

It is true that Islam is still, in many ways, a man's religion. But I think I’ve found evidence in some of the early sources that seems to show that Muhammad made things better for women. It appears that in some parts of Arabia, notably in Mecca, a matrilineal system was in the process of being replaced by a patrilineal one at the time of Muhammad. Growing prosperity caused by a shifting of trade routes was accompanied by a growth in individualism. Men were amassing considerable personal wealth and wanted to be sure that this would be inherited by their own actual sons, and not simply by an extended family of their sisters’ sons. This led to a deterioration in the rights of women. At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible - they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons. Muhammad improved things quite a lot. By instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, he gave women certain basic safeguards. Set in such historical context the Prophet can be seen as a figure who testified on behalf of women's rights. [18]

Early reforms[edit]

During the early reforms under Islam in the 7th century, reforms in women's rights affected marriage, divorce and inheritance.[19] Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures, including the West, until centuries later.[20] The Oxford Dictionary of Islam states that the general improvement of the status of Arab women included prohibition of female infanticide and recognizing women's full personhood.[21] "The dowry, previously regarded as a bride-price paid to the father, became a nuptial gift retained by the wife as part of her personal property."[19][22] Under Islamic law, marriage was no longer viewed as a "status" but rather as a "contract", in which the woman's consent was imperative.[19][22][23] "Women were given inheritance rights in a patriarchal society that had previously restricted inheritance to male relatives."[19] Annemarie Schimmel states that "compared to the pre-Islamic position of women, Islamic legislation meant an enormous progress; the woman has the right, at least according to the letter of the law, to administer the wealth she has brought into the family or has earned by her own work."[24] William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad, in the historical context of his time, can be seen as a figure who testified on behalf of women's rights and improved things considerably. Watt explains: "At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible - they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons." Muhammad, however, by "instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, gave women certain basic safeguards."[25] Haddad and state that "Muhammad granted women rights and privileges in the sphere of family life, marriage, education, and economic endeavors, rights that help improve women's status in society."[26]

Education[edit]

Main article: Madrasah

Women in played an important role in the foundations of many Islamic educational institutions, such as Fatima al-Fihri's founding of the University of Al Karaouine in 859. This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasahs were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust or trust law) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.[27] As a result, opportunities arose for female education in the medieval Islamic world. According to Sunni scholar Ibn Asakir in the 12th century, women could study, earn ijazahs (academic degrees), and qualify as scholars and teachers. This was especially the case for learned and scholarly families, who wanted to ensure the highest possible education for both their sons and daughters.[28] Ibn Asakir had himself studied under 80 different female teachers in his time. Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Muhammad's wives: Khadijah, a successful businesswoman, and Aisha, a renowned hadith scholar and military leader. According to Aisha, the wife of the Muhammed, "How splendid were the women of Ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith". According to a hadith attributed to Muhammad, he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge.[29]

Employment[edit]

The labor force in the Arab Caliphate were employed from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, while both men and women were involved in diverse occupations and economic activities.[30] Women were employed in a wide range of commercial activities and diverse occupations[31] in the primary sector (as farmers for example), secondary sector (as construction workers, dyers, spinners, etc.) and tertiary sector (as investors, doctors, nurses, presidents of guilds, brokers, peddlers, lenders, scholars, etc.).[32] Muslim women also held a monopoly over certain branches of the textile industry,[31] the largest and most specialized and market-oriented industry at the time, in occupations such as spinning, dyeing, and embroidery. In comparison, female property rights and wage labour were relatively uncommon in Europe until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.[33] Women's economic position was strengthened by the Qur'an, but local custom has weakened that position in its insistence that women must work within private sector of the world: the home or at least in some sphere related to home. Dr. Nadia YousaF, an Egyptian sociologist now teaching in the United States, states in a recent article on labor-force participation by women of Middle Eastern and Latin American Countries that the "Middle East reports systematically the lowest female activity rates on record" for labor. This certainly gives the impression that Middle Eastern women have little or no economical role, until one notes that the statistics are based on non-agricultural labor outside the home.[34]

In the 12th century, the most famous Islamic philosopher and qadi (judge) Ibn Rushd, known to the West as Averroes, claimed that women were equal to men in all respects and possessed equal capacities to shine in peace and in war, citing examples of female warriors among the Arabs, Greeks and Africans to support his case.[35] In early Muslim history, examples of notable female Muslims who fought during the Muslim conquests and Fitna (civil wars) as soldiers or generals included Nusaybah Bint k’ab Al Maziniyyah,[36] Aisha,[37] Kahula and Wafeira,[38] and Um Umarah.

Contemporary Arab world[edit]

Asmahan a prominent Arab singer and actress (1912-1944).

Politics[edit]

There have been many highly respected female leaders in Muslim history, such as Shajar al-Durr (13th century) in Egypt, Queen Orpha (d. 1090) in Yemen and Razia Sultana (13th century) in Delhi. In the modern era there have also been examples of female leadership in Muslim countries, such as in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey. However, in Arabic-speaking countries no woman has ever been head of state, although many Arabs remarked on the presence of women such as Jehan Al Sadat, the wife of Anwar El Sadat in Egypt, and Wassila Bourguiba, the wife of Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia, who have strongly influenced their husbands in their dealings with matters of state.[39] Many Arab countries allow women to vote in national elections. The first female Member of Parliament in the Arab world was Rawya Ateya, who was elected in Egypt in 1957.[40] Some countries granted the female franchise in their constitutions following independence, while some extended the franchise to women in later constitutional amendments.[41][42][43][44][45]

Arab women are under-represented in parliaments in Arab states, although they are gaining more equal representation as Arab states liberalise their political systems. In 2005, the International Parliamentary Union said that 6.5 per cent of MPs in the Arab world were women, compared with 3.5 per cent in 2000. In Tunisia, nearly 23 per cent of members of parliament were women. However, the Arab country with the largest parliament, Egypt, had only around four per cent female representation in parliament.[46] Algeria has the largest female representation in parliament with 32 per cent.[47][48]

In the UAE, in 2006 women stood for election for the first time in the country's history. Although just one female candidate - from Abu Dhabi - was directly elected, the government appointed a further eight women to the 40-seat federal legislature, giving women a 22.5 per cent share of the seats, far higher than the world average of 17.0 per cent. [2]

The role of women in politics in Arab societies is largely determined by the will of these countries' leaderships to support female representation and cultural attitudes towards women's involvement in public life. Dr Rola Dashti, a female candidate in Kuwait's 2006 parliamentary elections, claimed that "the negative cultural and media attitude towards women in politics" was one of the main reasons why no women were elected. She also pointed to "ideological differences", with conservatives and extremist Islamists opposing female participation in political life and discouraging women from voting for a woman. She also cited malicious gossip, attacks on the banners and publications of female candidates, lack of training and corruption as barriers to electing female MPs. [3] In contrast, one of UAE's female MPs, Najla al Awadhi, claimed that "women's advancement is a national issue and we have a leadership that understands that and wants them to have their rights." [4]

Politics of Invisibility[edit]

Since the discussion of the representation of women in Arab societies is being dissected, there should also be a discussion of Arab women representation in western societies. The idea of "politics of invisibility", was introduced by Amira Jarmakani, in the book Arab and Arab American Feminism: Gender, Violence, & Belonging by Naber, Nadine Christine Alsultany, Evelyn Abdulhadi, and Rabab. Jarmakani explains that Arab American Feminists are placed in a paradoxical frame-work of being simultaneously invisible and hypervisible.[49] Jarmakani called this, the “politics of invisibility”, she argues that one can actually use it in a creative way to gain positive attention to important issues.

Jarmakani argues that because of the dominant representation of Arab women given by the Bush administration many individuals in western societies have an orientalist point of view, have Islamophobia and believe that Arab feminism cannot exist.The reason for this is because the Bush administration led the, "invasion of Afghanistan, as a project of liberation meant to save Afghan women from the oppression of the Taliban," this did not allow for the idea that there could be Arab feminism.[49] Jarmakani explains that US based Feminist Majority Foundation has taken on the role of savior instead of fighting with Arab feminists for issues that they believed were important topics that need to be addressed in their communities. This coupled with the invasion led to, "reify stereotypical notions of Arab and Muslim womanhood as monolithically oppressed. They depend on a set of U.S. cultural mythologies about the Arab and Muslim worlds, which are often promulgated through overdetermined signifiers, like the “veil” (the English term collapsing a range of cultural and religious dress expressing modesty, piety, or identity, or all three)".[49] She then concludes that because of the symbols that are used to reinforce this they, "threaten to eclipse the creative work of Arab American feminists. Because the mythologies are so pervasive, operating subtly and insidiously on the register of “common sense,” Arab American feminists are often kept oriented toward correcting these common misconceptions rather than focusing on our own agendas and concerns."[49] Because of these symbols, Arab women are placed in a paradox where, “ the marker (supposedly) of invisibility and cultural authenticity, renders Arab and Muslim womanhood as simultaneously invisible and hypervisible” because the veil is seen as a form of oppression and becomes well known in the western societies as an oppressive form therefore it brings hypervisibility to these women.[49]

Because of this hypervisibility from symbols like the veil, it makes it difficult to talk about the realities of Arab and Arab American women's lives, "without invoking, and necessarily responding to, the looming image and story that the mythology of the veil tells", she goes on to state that the veil is not the only symbol, there are others such as "honor killings" and "stoning". The argument that is being made is that because of these symbols it is hard to talk about anything else that is currently taking place in the lives of Arab and Arab American women. Theses symbols make it difficult to focus on other important issues, however Jarmakani states that because of this hypervisibility Arab feminists can take advantage of it. She builds her argument off of Joe Kadi from her essay, "Speaking about Silence" where Joe argues that those who are silenced or being forced into being silent can break this silence by speaking out. Jarmakani argues that unlike Joe who said one should speak out, Jarmakani is stating to use the silence, meaning that Arab women should use the hypervisibility that is being given by the symbols of invisibility. Jarmakani ends with,

"Simply advocating for a rejection of current stereotypical categories and narratives would inevitably lead to the establishment of equally limiting categories of representation, and spending energy to create a counterdiscourse will perhaps unwittingly reify the false binary that already frames much of public understanding. The work of Arab American feminists, then, must continue to encourage a fruitful fluidity that constantly forges new possibilities for understanding and contextualizing the complex realities of Arab and Arab American women’s lives. In solidarity with social justice and liberation projects worldwide, we must mindfully utilize the tools of an oppositional consciousness in order to support the urgent work of carving and crafting new spaces for the expression of Arab American feminisms. Rather than simply resisting the politics of invisibility that have denied us a full presence, we must mobilize it, thereby reinventing and transforming that invisibility into a tool with which we will continue to illustrate the brilliant complexities of Arab and Arab American women’s lives".[49]

Case Study: Israel-Palestine Conflict[edit]

Women in Arab societies experience discrimination from the western world based upon many misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about the realities of their lives. As described previously, the themes of invisibility, lacking accurate representation in media that other parts of the world absorb, and conflation of identities, be it Arab/Muslim, anti-Zionist/anti-Semite, etc. The conflict occurring Israel and Palestine is a prime example of how these misconceptions create an incorrect understanding of the circumstances and experiences that women in this area encounter in their daily lives. In the article “Arabiya Made Invisible[50]” by Noura Erakat, Ms. Erakat illustrates how the concepts of anti-zionism and antisemitism are conflated to vilify and silence Arab women who support Palestine or denounce the occupation. She says,

“The equation of anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism is systematically used as a silencing tactic. Anti-Semitism refers to the historic oppression and vilification of Jews that led to such tragedies as the Nazi-engineered Holocaust. Zionism is the theoretical notion that global Jewry should have a homeland, and in its practical application, Zionism has meant the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.”

Erakat goes on to discuss one protest that was hosted by a group of women of color at the Boalt Law School at UC Berkeley, a silent vigil protesting the occupation of Palestine, Iraq, and Haiti. A Jewish student wrote an op-ed for the school paper complaining that people should not be protesting Israel because Israel is accepting of homosexuals and gives women equal rights. She pointed out that it was ironic that women and gay men were at this vigil, while the places they were showing support of do not respect their rights as much as Israel does. At this point, Erkat gets to the meat of her argument. She says,

“This student asserts that misogyny and gender inequality are inherent to Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. According to her, “the Israeli occupation has nothing to do with Arab oppression of women and gays.” She fails to consider that structural violence waged on women in the context of war and occupation is the most extreme of its form. Moreover, she swiftly disregards the nexus of colonial occupation and patriarchy....when a nationalist movement becomes militarized . . . male privilege in the community usually becomes more entrenched...”

The denial of the reality that the occupation and the threat it poses to women and gender equality in this opinion shows a prime example of how the incorrect characterization of Arab women can lead to further misconceptions and false justifications for situations of oppression. In a critique of Erakat's Students for Justice in Palestine group, a fellow student claims to be concerned as to whether his Palestinian peers at Berkeley would be comfortable exercising the freedoms they enjoy in Berkeley on the streets of Ramallah or Jerico. Erakat illustrates how this critique uses false concern to invalidate the real concerns that Palestinians living outside the occupied territories hold for their homeland, despite their differences in living situations and freedoms. She writes in response,

“whereas the author wonders whether I would be able to comfortably walk around in tight jeans in Palestine, I wonder, if this man is truly concerned with my personal freedom, then why isn’t he protesting the twenty-five-foot Apartheid Wall built between my village of Abu-Dis and Jerusalem? If he really cares whether I can read Lolita comfortably, then shouldn’t he be more concerned that Palestinian children are denied a roof over their heads because of consistent home demolitions? His concern with my personal liberation seems disingenuous in light of the fact that he fails to mention Israeli military occupation as a significant, if not the most significant, factor contributing to the subjugation of Palestinian women’s rights. Instead, he uses the lack of gender equality in Palestine as a justification for its continued colonization.”

As Erakat depicts in these anecdotes, the conflations and misconceptions of the west, that are a product of lack of representation of the reality of Arab women’s lives and experiences, as well as biased perspectives of what their cultural expressions actually mean, lead to problematic conclusions for many westerners. It is easy to draw the conclusions that some of Erakat’s peers drew in these stories she tells, because they lack the insight into how the occupation of the Palestinian territories actually impacts the daily lives of women living in these areas. By assuming that their limited knowledge is sufficient, it leads to limited understanding of this extremely complex issue.

Women's right to vote in the Arab world[edit]

Women were granted the right to vote on a universal and equal basis in Lebanon in 1952,[51] Syria (to vote) in 1949 [52] (Restrictions or conditions lifted) in 1953,[53] Egypt in 1956,[54] Tunisia in 1959,[55] Mauritania in 1961,[56] Algeria in 1962,[57] Morocco in 1963,[58] Libya [59] and Sudan in 1964,[60] Yemen in 1967 [52] (full right) in 1970,[61] Bahrain in 1973,[62] Jordan in 1974,[63] Iraq (full right) 1980,[62] Kuwait in 1985[64] (later removed and re-granted in 2005) and Oman in 1994.[65] Saudi Arabia announced that it would give women the right to vote in 2015.[66]

Economic role[edit]

In some of the wealthier Arab countries such as UAE, the number of women business owners is growing rapidly and adding to the economic development of the country. Many of these women work with family businesses and are encouraged to work and study outside of the home.[67] Arab women are estimated to have $40 billion of personal wealth at their disposal, with Qatari families being among the richest in the world.[68]

Education[edit]

Since Islam encouraged equality between the sexes, Islam has also encouraged equality in education. In all Arab countries, girls, just like boys, usually get their full education in high school and even move onto getting a Graduate diploma, and this has been going on for a long time after the 1960s. However, in many Arab countries, women do not receive the same educational opportunities as men.

Travel[edit]

Women have varying degrees of difficulty moving freely in Arab countries. Some nations prohibit women from ever traveling alone, while in others women can travel freely but experience a greater risk of sexual harassment or assault than they would in Western countries.

Women have the right to drive in all Arab countries except Saudi Arabia.[69] In Jordan, travel restrictions on women were lifted in 2003.[70] "Jordanian law provides citizens the right to travel freely within the country and abroad except in designated military areas. Unlike Jordan's previous law (No. 2 of 1969), the current Provisional Passport Law (No. 5 of 2003) does not require women to seek permission from their male guardians or husbands in order to renew or obtain a passport." In Yemen, women must obtain approval from a husband or father to get an exit visa to leave the country, and a woman may not take her children with her without their father's permission, regardless of whether or not the father has custody.[71] The ability of women to travel or move freely within Saudi Arabia is severely restricted. However, in 2008 a new law went into effect requiring men who marry non-Saudi women to allow their wife and any children born to her to travel freely in and out of Saudi Arabia.[72]

Costumes of women in the Arab world during the late 19th century.

Traditional dress[edit]

See also: Hijab and Sartorial hijab

Adherence to traditional dress varies across Arab societies. Saudi Arabia is more traditional, while Egypt is less so. Women are required to wear abayas in only Saudi Arabia; this is enforced by the religious police. Some allege that this restricts their economic participation and other activities.[73] In most countries, like Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, the veil is not mandatory. In Tunisia, the secular government has banned the use of the veil in its opposition to religious extremism. Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali called the veil sectarian and foreign and has stressed the importance of traditional Tunisian dress as a symbol of national identity. [5] Islamic feminism counters both sorts of externally imposed dress codes.

Conflation of Muslim and Arab Identity[edit]

"Arab" and "Muslim" are often used interchangeably. The conflation of these two identities ignores the diverse religious beliefs of Arab people and also overlooks Muslims who are not Arabs. It, "also erases the historic and vast ethnic communities who are neither Arab nor Muslim but who live amid and interact with a majority of Arabs or Muslims."[74] This generalization, "enables the construction of Arabs and Muslims as backward, barbaric, misogynist, sexually savage, and sexually repressive."[74] This type of stereotyping leads to the orientalizing of Arab women and depicts them as fragile, sexually oppressed individuals who cannot stand up for their beliefs.

Arab Women as the Orient[edit]

See also: Orientalism

The hijab has been used to describe the sexist oppression Arab women face, especially after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001. This use of the hijab "...capitalizes on the image of exotic, oppressed women who must be saved from their indigenous (hyper)patriarchy."[49] In doing so, the Arab woman is exoticized, marginalized, and considered the other. To the United States military specifically, the hijab symbolizes Arab women's sexist oppression. This idea has paved the way for the U.S. military opposition against Arab communities, claiming Arab women must be saved from the patriarchy and sexism they experience.[49] Global feminism has also taken part in this orientalism. The Feminist Majority Foundation is an example of a global feminist group who have "...been advocating on behalf of (but not with) Afghan women since at least the early 1990s."[49] They, like the United States military, have been fighting against the hijab in an effort to save or free women of their oppression. Instead of speaking with Arab women, global feminists speak for them, ultimately silencing them in the process. Through this silencing, Arab women are seen as incapable of defending themselves.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Challenging Inequality: Obstacles and Opportunities Towards Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa'
  2. ^ a b c Turner, Brian S. Islam (ISBN 0-415-12347-X). Routledge: 2003, p77-78.
  3. ^ Beck, lois. and Keddic, Nikki. " Women in the Muslim world", Harvard University Press, London, 1978, p.37.
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  7. ^ Valentine M. Moghadam. Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East. (Lynne Rienner Publishers, USA, 1993) p. 5
  8. ^ Islam and Women Dr. Younus Shaikh
  9. ^ Aspects of Pre-Islamic Arabian Society
  10. ^ "Sundas Hoorain at LSE". youtube. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  11. ^ The Qur'an, 4 : 19
  12. ^ Engineer, Asgar Ali, "the Rights of Women in Islam", C. Hurst and company, London, 1992, p.21.
  13. ^ Maan, Bashir and Alastair McIntosh. "'The whole house of Islam, and we Christians with them...': An interview with 'the Last Orientalist' - the Rev Prof William Montgomery Watt." Internet version from www.alastairmcintosh.com. Also published in The Coracle, the Iona Community, summer 2000, issue 3:51, pp. 8-11.
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  15. ^ From article on Women and Islam in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  16. ^ See Sunan Abi da'ud, "Kitab al Adab, bab fadl man ala yatama
  17. ^ See Sahih Bukhari, "kitab al-Adab, bab rahmat al-walad wa taqbilihi
  18. ^ Interview with Prof William Montgomery Watt
  19. ^ a b c d Esposito (2005) p. 79
  20. ^ Jones, Lindsay. p.6224
  21. ^ [1] Oxford Islamic Studies Online]
  22. ^ a b Khadduri (1978)
  23. ^ Esposito (2004), p. 339
  24. ^ Schimmel (1992) p.65
  25. ^ Maan, McIntosh (1999)
  26. ^ Haddad, Esposito (1998) p.163
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  28. ^ Lindsay, James E. (2005). Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 196 & 198. ISBN 0-313-32270-8. 
  29. ^ Lindsay, James E. (2005). Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 196. ISBN 0-313-32270-8. 
  30. ^ Maya Shatzmiller, pp. 6–7.
  31. ^ a b Maya Shatzmiller (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World, Brill Publishers, ISBN 90-04-09896-8, pp. 400–1
  32. ^ Maya Shatzmiller, pp. 350–62.
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  42. ^ Legislative Section in the 1970' Constitution of Syria (in Arabic)
  43. ^ Item 21, Section 2 Chapter 1 of the Lebanese Constitution since 1926 (in Arabic)
  44. ^ Item 62 of the 1971' Egyptian Constitution (in Arabic) inherited from previous versions
  45. ^ Item 50 of the 1996' Algeria Constitution (in Arabic) inherited from previous versions
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  52. ^ a b Women's Suffrage
  53. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Syria
  54. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Egypt
  55. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Tunisia
  56. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Mauritania
  57. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Algeria
  58. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Morocco
  59. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Libya
  60. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Sudan
  61. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Yemen
  62. ^ a b Women's Suffrage
  63. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Jordan
  64. ^ Apollo Rwomire (2001). African Women and Children: Crisis and Response. p. 8. 
  65. ^ Reuters AlertNet - Oman
  66. ^ Saudi king: Women will be allowed to vote and run for office, CNN News, September 25, 2011.
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  69. ^ People's Daily Online - Saudi princess, at Davos Forum: ' I'd let women drive'
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  71. ^ U.S. State Department profile: Yemen
  72. ^ U.S. State Department profile: Saudi Arabia
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