Women’s Rights in the Middle East

Brigham Young once said, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate women; you educate a generation” (Digital Empowerment Foundation). Education is very important to the young women in the Middle East and religion can cause conflict, it is not just about private faith. There are many titles that a woman can be given such as, a woman’s main job is to take care of their children, they are not allowed to show any hair of skin, and they are required to have an escort at all times outside of the house (Harik). These titles can often drive women to commit suicide by having strict rules on being locked and covered up (Harik). One of the many places that women’s rights are a major problem is in the Middle East and it can be solved by raising awareness to prove that women are equal to men.

There have been significant changes in the history of women’s rights. Women have played leading roles to take action like Tawwakol Karman, who founded a group to raise awareness of the lack of women’s rights. In the last 20 years, the number of organizations for women to gain their sexual rights has notably increased. Commentary: Sexual Health and Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress or Backlash states, “Despite this diversity, the region faces common challenges in securing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). These challenges include gender inequality, lack of sexuality education, social taboos and restrictions on women’s sexual autonomy, premarital and extramarital sexual activity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and harmful traditional practices including early and forced marriages, honour crimes, and female genital mutilation. All of these jeopardise women’s and girl’s health and violate their basic human rights”(Ilkkaracan). Women have had to go through these horrendous situations for hundreds of years and until a couple of decades ago no one has stood up for these women or tried to help them. Women are not permitted to leave their own house without their husbands and their hijabs on to prevent any skin from being shown.

It is believed that to have a well-formatted society than it is important that women remain strictly mothers to their children and wives. Women, Sexuality, and Social Change in the Middle East and the Maghreb states, “At the same time, in the last decade, women around the globe have Joined forces to counter these moves from the conservative and religious right and have engaged in an international struggle against violations of their sexual and reproductive rights a struggle transcending national borders as well as real or constructed North-South and East-West dichotomies”(Ilkkaracan). Women have recently started to voice what they have had to endure and their opinions about their rights as a human and a woman. They are tired of doing what they are told and being controlled by men, women want to have their own rights, live their life how they want to, and not how their strict husband or parents want.

The reason women are being treated so horribly is because they are still under Islamic Law and it is holding them back from having these basic human rights. Under this law women were thrown into marriages without their own consent, forced to be obedient and submissive to any man, paid significantly less than men (if they were able get a job), and had restrictions on contacting anyone outside of the family by her husband. Children as young as thirteen were subjected into marriages with any man who wanted them and the husband could have up to five wives at a time. If women were not obedient or submissive to their husband they would get beaten or killed in extreme cases. If women tried to contact anyone outside their family their husband is entitled to beat them and if they left without permission men could get the police to forcibly bring the women back home. Once a woman was divorced from a man they were paid one-half the amount a man was paid and still had to support their children, which is why the majority of divorced women live in poverty. All of these reasons are wrong because women deserve the right to talk to whoever they want, get married to anyone they please, leave their own home whenever they want, be safe in their own home and not have to worry about getting beat, and to be treated equally compared to men no matter the situation. It is time for a change and some women have begun to realize this and do something about it.

Thousands of woman have participated in demonstrations to show awareness of this sexual harassment. These demonstrations broke many barriers and are now used politically by men (Ilkkaracan). Women in the Middle East are finally getting the recognition they need in able for them to get rights after decades of fighting for them. Commentary: Sexual health and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa states that, “The shattering of taboos on gender equality and sexuality, the mobilisation of women, youth and LGBTQ, and the push from the bottom for democracy have opened spaces for new discourses and movements on SRHR that will continue, even though religious conservatives currently seem to be the ‘winners’ in the short term” (Ilkkaracan). Women are finally able to do more than stay in the house to clean and cook for their family. Women will soon be able to hold a job just as well as a man could, which allows them to leave their house when they want. Women’s Rights in the Middle East states, “Much of the progress made in improving the legal status of women has been made by male-dominated legislatures”(Trofin). Even though they are currently trying to improving the social status of women legally, men are still in charge of the laws.

Women’s rights in the Middle East have significantly progressed over the last couple decades. Laws have been changed to give women more rights then they used to, which is a major step up from previous years. Even though women have gained more and more rights, they are still not respected enough and deemed inferior compared to men. Now, many women in the Middle East have been standing up against the unfair treatment established by men to change the way they can live their life, how they are treated by men, and how they are seen by others. Even though women may face conflicts, they are moving forward as a whole to resolve their struggles.

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