Women of the Middle East

The Middle East is a beautiful place — truly unique desert landscapes that rise and fall as I imagine the moon must look.  It is also the heart of world’s three most prominent religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam .  It is also the home of constant conflict over natural resources (mostly water and oil), territories (think West Bank), and how to pray to God.

As is relevant to de la Femme – I found while abroad in the M.E. that as a Westerner it is totally and utterly shocking to see how differently women are treated in Arab nations.  Is it the religion or the culture that leads to such oppression or rather ‘regulation of’ women [ Zohra Sarwari]?  Personal experiences derived from discussing with men in Jordan, (Muslim women were no where to be found) gave me the insight that women today are still very much treated like property.  To the point that it remains completely legal to kill your wife (sister or mother) or perhaps stone them [views of harsh punishment in the M.E.] for infidelity?

But – the real reason why I wanted to begin a discussion on women of the M.E. is because of two recent news articles that I came across.  The first was reporting on Saudi TV during the holy month of Ramadan (which just ended so Eid Mubarak!) [NYTimes: Saudi TV].  In this article it discusses how Muslim women are exposed to Western women and yet do not even have the power or the choice to drive a car (that is correct ladies — no driving) – to work – or to wear clothes that express who they are as women! [Full disclosure, as far as I understand the hijab is out of respect for the Islam religion, and many women are happy to wear them – but what about the niqab or the burqa?].  And are women really making these choices or are the imposed upon them by their fathers, brothers, and husbands?

The second article I actually came across because of it being mentioned on NPR this morning.  It is about how there will be a government trial in Pakistan to determine whether an 11 year old girl [who is presumed to have downs syndrome] will be stoned to death after accidentally burning papers that were a portion of the Quran.  Full article.   There are very little words for me to say here — other than this is absolutely devastating.  A book – even the book of God – has now trumped the life of a woman [although I am sure it is not the first].  The second thought that I have – would it be the same if it were a little boy?  Perhaps the laws would bend more easily with a penis?