Women's Rights

Women's Rights

The articles here are largely Islamic-centric and will challenge the views propagated through the liberal media that almost exclusively targets Islam. 

Exploring the gender issues in society. Is there a genuine concern for upholding women's rights or is this merely a political tool used by the West as means of waging a propaganda war? I see this disparity in the media as certain aspects get disproportionate focus and more serious issues are often ignored. 

From the arguments that rage over the Islamic veil and the bikini, a battle between the conservatives and liberal secular forces, you would think it can be summed up as: nudity is liberation and covering up is oppression from the secular faction . A Tunisian woman took the bait, and from the birth place of the Arab-Spring she displayed her breasts, with "My body is mine, not somebody's honour" written across it, clearly aimed at the conservative faction of society. This is supposed to contribute towards the advancement for women’s rights, because the argument goes, it shows that she has control over her body, nobody (men in particular) is forcing her to cover up. One would assume the protest in a different form would take place, if the women were forced to walk around topless in Tunisia in the first place.

On that note, women who chose to wear the Hijab (head scarf) under the previous regime were treated awfully, and in countries like Turkey the HIjab was banned in public life. The same argument of women having control over their bodies and having the ability to exercise their choice is applicable here, but it did not lead to the feminists screaming; hence, why the selectivity? Ironically, it seems the feminists are pandering to the male urges through the back door, as they are only intervening when women want to strip!

Editor's Comment - The author does address various aspects of the issue well, but in my view fails to address the fundamental point about the scope of women's right. Which does not mean it gives her complete right over her body. Even in the west, this is recognized, otherwise suicide, injection of drugs, various forms of self harm, all types of sexual activity to public nudity would be legal. The issue of women's rights is in relation with the opposite gender and the society at large. Displaying ones private parts is merely a primitive expression like that of an animal, it does not elevate anyone.

Tunisian feminist Amina Tyler says that she set out to highlight the issue of women's rights when she posted topless pictures of herself on the Femen website. Since you can see topless girls on Page 3 in Britain's largest selling newspaper and similar full frontals across other European print media, it wasn't really such a shocking act.

However, her audience wasn't European; it was aimed at a specific group of conservative men in Tunisia. To make sure that they got the message, she wrote, "My body is mine, not somebody's honour" in Arabic across her breasts and stomach. The reality, though, is that she could have just shown her shoulder blade with the same Arabic writing on her flesh and it would have had a greater impact and drawn wider support for the point she was trying to make.

Editor’s note: If the perpetrators had the most tenuous connection to Islam, the Islamophobic media headlines would have implied - Muslim men conducts rape inspired by Islam; this gets elaborated upon with commentaries from Islamophobic experts, reaffirming the view that Islam is a medieval tool for oppressing women. Was it Al-Qaeda like ‘terrorists’ or the Christian US soldiers under the flag of freedom were committing rape and sodomy in Abu-Ghraib and elsewhere? I recall the Americans were quick to flood the internet with their self-righteous arrogance when the recent case of gang rape in India made headlines, pointing fingers and making the basic claim – you need to be progressive and tolerant like us, implying that rape is rare phenomena in the US. How quickly they forget their national statistics that makes them a world leader on the subject of rape.

Although the author is candid and asks the pertinent question: "The pictures from Steubenville don’t just show a girl being raped. They show that rape being condoned, encouraged, celebrated. What type of culture could possibly produce such pictures?", but she does not go forward and answer the question and make the connection with the American values of freedom and liberalism. However, she does make a candid analysis of the mindset of the American male, they are supposed to be the flag bearer of women's rights, how ironic!

Ever since the attacks of 9/11, feminists in the West have increasingly used the theme of the oppression of women in Islam as justification for war and domination. This strategy of using this rhetoric of "saving the women" in the name of "civilization" is an old ploy used many times in the past by Western imperialists, writes Leila Ahmed

For those of us who have worked in the field of women in Islam for years the changes which overtook our field after 9/11 were dramatic and profound. Just on the most facile level for example, the topic went from being one that a few of us feminists and academics were interested in, to being one about which heads of state and world leaders – most recently for example France's president Sarkozy, were apt to have strong opinions about. From being something we studied in libraries it became a topic we now followed in the media – where, under one guise or another, it often now figured on the front pages or in the headlines.

"Secularism prohibits the imposition of any religion, except the religion of secularism"

According to the UK laws, adultery is illegal, but not a criminal offence; almost all the western secular societies uphold this view. Adultery only has relevance within the institution of marriage, which is rooted in religious texts. A fundamental tenet of a secular society is that religion is reduced to a personal choice; it is the prerogative of the individual to uphold or to abandon it. Therefore, they can formally marry in a Church, or cohabit, or participate in an open relationship where adultery has no meaning.

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