Monday, October 24, 2005

Imagine You're a Woman

Via MEMRI, a splendid article by Saudi author Badriyya Al-Bishr, a lecturer in social sciences at King Saud University, published in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

"Imagine you're a woman. You always need your guardian's approval, not only regarding your first marriage, as maintained by the Islamic legal scholars, but regarding each and every matter. You cannot study without your guardian's approval, even if you reach a doctorate level. You cannot get a job and earn a living without your guardian's approval. Moreover, there are people who are not ashamed to say that a woman must have permission to work even in the private sector.

"Imagine you're a woman, and the guardian who must accompany you wherever [you go] is your 15-year-old son or your brother, who scratches his chin before giving his approval, saying: 'What do you think, guys, should I give her my permission?' Sometimes he asks for... a bribe [in return], heaven forbid! [But] your brother avoids taking such a bribe in 'cash' because his self-respect prevents him from touching a woman's money. So he prefers the bribe to be a car, a fridge, or an assurance of money that you will pay in installments [for him], until Allah gets him out of his financial straits...

"Imagine you're a woman whose husband breaks her nose, arm, or leg, and you go to the Qadi to lodge a complaint. When the Qadi asks you about your complaint, and you say, 'He beat me,' he responds reproachfully 'That's all?!' In other words, [for the Qadi], beating is a technical situation that exists among all couples and lovers, [as the saying goes]: 'Beating the beloved is like eating raisins.'

"Imagine you're a woman in the 21st century, and you see fatwas [issued] by some contemporary experts in Islamic law dealing with the rules regarding taking the women of the enemy prisoner and having sexual intercourse with them. Moreover, you find someone issuing a fatwa about the rules of taking the women of the enemy prisoner even in times of peace, and you don't know to which enemy women it refers.

"Imagine you're a woman who writes in a newspaper, and every time you write about your [women's] concerns, problems, poverty, unemployment, and legal status, they say about you: 'Never mind her, it's all women's talk.'"


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