Middle Eastern Women the Middle essay

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Thorough reviews of the Q'uran have revealed that it actually forbids sexual oppression of women. Several and well-entrenched customary practices in the region, however, violate women's basic human rights. These practices include honor crimes, stoning, female general mutilation, and virginity tests. Women researchers and activists did not find a basis for these practices in the Q'uran (Ilkakaracan).

Modernization in the 19th and 20th centuries, the foundation of nation-states and the establishment of nationalist ideologies and the rise of the Islamic religious right have somewhat modified the conditions of the women in the Middle East (Ilkkaracan 2002). Social values have begun evolving and strengthening the activities of women's groups to produce change. New attitudes about sexuality, especially among young people, have spurred new and progressive legal and social changes and reforms. As a consequence, a new basis for new rights for women has surfaced concerning their sexuality and family status. The reform wave seeks to analyze and rationalize women's sexuality in the light of social circumstances rather than by nature or the "divine will." It seeks to redeem women's sexuality from the rule of social practices and traditional norms. One more potential form of change is expected to evolve from the increasing participation of women in the traditionally male-dominated field of religious knowledge (Ilkkaracan).

Some improvements have been observed in women's rights since the 1979 Islamic Revolution (WIN News 2003). Sixty-five percent of enrollees and 46% of teachers in the region are now female. In the 80s, women were still denied the right to divorce and to custody of their children. But in 1999, the Iranian Parliament passed a law, allowing custody of minor children to divorced mothers if it would be in the best interests of the children. The first woman vice president was appointed into Iran President Khatami's cabinet (WIN News).

Increasing women's strengths in the different types of communities would be an ideal step taken in the direction of liberation in the region (Western 2008). However, only time and improved or increased economic development could really bring in economic gains. Professor Clair Apodaca of the Women's Economic and Social Human Rights or WESHR offers a formula to track down women's achievement in the various parts of the region. Achievement is in the areas of work, rates of gainful employment, sex-differentiated literacy rates and rights to an education. The attempt may not yield all the desired results but it could balance men's and women's rights. It could serve as a helpful indication of women's social and economic progress. It will also help identify the factors, which induce potentials or threats to abuses. Most of all, it can be the basis for determining what international assistance will likely produce the optimum economic and social change to end the horrible practice of female genital mutilation (Western).

A modern outlook makes a different presentation. Saudi Arabia's perception of Islam and sexism is unique as it is severe (Abukhalil 2000). Women in many parts of the region, in reality, are have begun enjoying political and social rights. Women in Egypt may now divorce their husbands. Abortion is now considered legal in Tunisia, which also prohibits polygamy. Women can now serve as ministers in Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi and Tunisian government, like a vice president in Iran. Women now lead Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey. Golda Meir of Israel once headed that government (Abukhalil).

It can be gleaned that Westerners' treatment of Muslim women has been one of hypocrisy (Abukhalil 200s). Critics describe it as "colonial feminism." This is the tendency among colonial officers to promote Muslim women's rights while opposing these rights in other countries. Critics, hence, see the improved status of Middle Easterner women as only a means to vilify Islam and the culture of the Middle East. Feminism in the Middle East is railed against for its links with colonialism. Western political power belongs, without doubt, to the United States of America. It has supported Saudi Arabian Islam, financed and armed Islamic fundamentalist groups. These, in turn, have brought about the suffering of Middle Eastern women (Abukhalil).


Abukhalil, a'sad. Women in the Middle East. Foreign Policy in Focus: International

Relations Center, 2000. Retrieved on December 13, 2008 at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb42/is_30_5/ai_n28798892?tag=content;col1

Darraj, Susan Muaddi. The Case of Arab Feminism. Monthly Review: Monthly Review

Foundation, 2002. Retrieved on December 13, 2008 at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1132/is_10_53/ai_84184713?tag=content;col1

Ilkkaracan, Pinar. Women, Sexuality and Social Change in the Middle East and the Maghreb. Social Research: New School for Social Research, 2002. Retrieved on December 13, 2008 at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2267/is_3_69/ai_94227140?tag=content;col1

Rushfan. 10 Extreme Examples of Gender Inequality. The List Universe:

listverse.com, 2008. Retrieved on December 18, 2008 at http://listverse.com/miscellaneous/10-extreme-examples-of-gender-inequality

Sluglett, Peter. Middle East. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia: Microsoft

Corporation, Retrieved on December 17, 2008 at http://encarta.msn.com

Western, David. The Key to the Amelioration of Women's Legal Rights in the Middle

East. Air Force Law Review: U.S. Air Force Academy Department of Law. Retrieved on December 13, 2008 at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m6007/is_61/ai_n24960891?tag=content;col1

WIN News. Iran: Tightening of Dress Code for Women. The Feminist Majority

Foundation: Women's International Network, 2003. Retrieved on December 13, 2008 from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2872/is_3_29/ai_107121984?tag=content;col1[continue]

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