Friday, July 6, 2007

"Imagine You're a Woman..."

Here are two articles from The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) addressing the daily life of women under Islamic Law.

First is Saudi Women's Rights Activist Wajeha Al-Huwaidar: For Saudi Women, Every Day Is a Battle, posted June 1, 2007:

The following are excerpts from an interview with Wajeha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women's rights activist, which aired on Hurra TV on May 26, 2007. [1]

To view this clip, please visit:

"There Are Five Types of Shackles, or Jails, For the Woman - if She Manages to Escape One, She Might Enter Another"

Wajeha Al-Huwaidar: "Saudi society is based on masters and slaves, or, to be more precise, masters and maids, because the masters are the men, and the slaves are the women."


"The ownership of a woman is passed from one man to another. Ownership of the woman is passed from the father or the brother to another man, the husband. The woman is merely a piece of merchandise, which is passed over to someone else - her guardian. How do you recognize a maid or a slave? The decision making is out of her hands. All the decisions are made by the master. Women today are not allowed to make any kind of decision - not about marriage, work, studies, medical treatment, leaving the house, or traveling."


"I believe that in general, for the Saudi woman, every day is a new battle. She needs to find ways to live on the face of this earth without colliding with the law, with men, with society, with the religious clerics, or with the political establishment. She is besieged. There are five types of shackles, or jails, for the woman - if she manages to escape one, she might enter another. The first is the tribe, then comes the family, then the religious institutions, the political establishment, and finally, society. Wherever you go, you encounter a battle. What are you to do? Within every Saudi woman, there is a Scheherazade. Imagine Scheherazade trying every night to stay alive until the next night. That's how I see the Saudi woman. Some might say that I am exaggerating, but..."

Interviewer: "Some say your perspective is a bleak one."

"The Woman is Raised to Fear Man and Society"

Wajeha Al-Huwaidar: "It's not bleak. I am being realistic. I know that some of our women live in prosperity and freedom, and I am one of them, but to what extent? To what extent do you own what you possess? Nadine, hypothetically speaking, if whoever gave you that freedom decided to take it away from you - would you have the ability to escape this punishment?"


"The woman is raised to fear man and society."

Saudi author Khaled Al-Ghanami: "So why does she accept this upbringing?"

Wajeha Al-Huwaidar: "Because she stands to lose a great deal, if she rebels. When a man rebels, he might collide with the political establishment only. But when a woman collides with several institutions. Ultimately... I don't know if you've noticed, but when a woman begins to become liberated, she is not respected by society, but when a man raises the banner of liberation, and calls for equality and liberalism, he is highly respected and is always given prominence. Even the state shows respect for a man who speaks freely, but it shows no respect for a woman who speaks freely. She pays the price on every level - her family, religion, and society. Ultimately, I think women are greatly feared. When I compare the Saudi man with other Arab men, I can say that the Saudi is the only man who could not compete with the woman. He could not compete, so what did he do with her?"

Khaled Al-Ghanami: "Why couldn't he compete?"

Wajeha Al-Huwaidar: "Because he has great fear of the woman. The woman has capabilities. When women study, they compete with the men for jobs. All jobs are open to men. 90% of them are open to men. You do not feel any competition. I'm not competing with you for your job. Saudi men do not face competition from non-Saudi men, who are also considered of lower status. The Saudi is a man who has never known the meaning of exerting efforts in order to realize a dream. That is the Saudi man. I am not talking about all men, but about most of them. If you do not face competition from the Saudi woman, and not from the non-Saudi man, you have the entire scene for yourself. All positions and jobs are reserved for you. Therefore, you are a spoiled and self-indulged man."

It's easy in the above quote to see what Islam does to women, but think for a moment how it imprisons the men, as well: it makes them "spoiled and self-indulged" and unable to compete.

And, from Saudi Author: Imagine You're Woman, posted October 24, 2005 (numbers in brackets refer to notes; see original):

Saudi author Badriyya Al-Bishr, a lecturer in social sciences at King Saud University, recently published an article titled "Imagine You're a Woman" in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

The following are excerpts from her article: [1]

"Imagine you're a woman. When your brother is born, people say: 'It's a boy, how wonderful,' and when you are born they say: 'How wonderful, it's a little girl' – using the diminutive form. [2] Your arrival is welcome if [you are] the first or second girl, but it's best if there are no more than two, so that nothing undesirable happens to the mother. On the other hand, your brothers' arrivals are welcomed – the more the merrier.

"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, and you are subject to assault, beatings, or murder. When the press publishes your photo [together with] the photo of the criminals and [descriptions] of their brutality, there are people who ask: 'Was the victim covered [by a veil] or not?' If she was covered up, [the question arises:] 'Who let her go out of the house at such an hour?' In the event that your husband is the one who broke your ribs, [people will say] that no doubt there was good reason for it.

"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, and in order to manage your affairs you must ride in a 'limousine' with an Indian or Sri Lankan driver... or that you [must] wait for a younger brother to take you to work, or that you [must] bring a man who will learn to drive in your car, and will practice at your expense... because you yourself are not permitted to drive.

"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.'"

This "submission" that these guys want is evil, and it has to be stopped.


WomanHonorThyself said...

"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?' ..Deplorable is the word that comes to mind...Brilliant post my friend..brilliant!

English Rose said...

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I am in the process of getting it fixed and will visit you whenever I can.
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Rose x

Rider of Rohan said...

Thanks for contributing to my blog. Well, I'm a Muslim woeman myself, and somehow I feel the stuff written in this post are so typical of Saudi Arabia. And its taken as a benchmark for the way Islam is supposed to function. What is a woman to do if she is a widow, or does not have her husband or family close by ? SHe has to go on with life. That's exactly what my grandmother and my mother did. As quite conservative Muslims my grandmom was forced to study and never leave herself uneducated or illiterate. I don't agree to what the women and men interviewed in this post say about Islam. Its a cultural thing. And in no way applicable to Islam. And when men are said to be guardian of women, it only means one thing- all men HAVE to protect women. And If that is the case we'd have lesser crimes against women. It doesn't men that men have to force women to do things they do not like.

pela68 said...

You have been tagged.

WomanHonorThyself said...

howdy ..long time no see..ty for droppin in!