This article was buried in the Mid-East section of BBC.com today. It was hiding behind the various articles about rape as a weapon of war against women in Libya, sexual harassment and abuse against women in Egypt, etc etc etc.
It horrifies me that “etc” is applicable here.
Saudi Arabian women have been hidden away from the world for centuries, and blaming it on Islam is just stupid. Muhammed’s wife owned her own business: there is NOTHING in Islam that says women are the slaves of men, and yet that’s how they’re treated, under the guise of “protection.” Protection from what? Themselves, mostly, because the bottom line reasoning is that women can’t be trusted, can’t control themselves, and are vessels of temptation. Some countries came out of the backward thinking of the Middle Ages where Woman = Sin. Some clearly never grew up.
Women’s rights abuses are a tribal community issue, not a religious one: the ancient tribes in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa are traditionally male-dominated and patrilineal. Hiding women away under burkas/abayas/scarves isn’t mandated by the Koran, and female circumcision isn’t a religious requirement; these are tribal social controls adopted into the local version of a larger religion. Decent men are being told by the people in charge that keeping women in the home, under the thumb of their husbands/fathers/brothers is really “for their own good” and that the honor of a family depends on a woman being virginal and quiet. Why? Because women can’t control ourselves and our bodies? Or because men can’t be expected to control themselves when – GASP – a female is around? The implication that men are really just animals is just as offensive as the idea that women are there to serve and be protected.
One of the most disturbing quotes in the BBC article was a man who, uncomfortable, told the journalist “we give them their rights.” I beg to differ, sir. You don’t GIVE anyone their rights: by definition, RIGHTS are something they have anyway. Instead Saudi Arabia has, indeed, created the “largest women’s prison” on this planet, and we as human beings in the entire world should be ashamed, outraged, and disgusted.
It’s all a load of crap that excuses human rights abuses that should shock the world, but instead headlines of a Libyan woman being dragged away from journalists for reporting her rape get no response. Even a pretty white girl’s assult in Egypt, which actually got some attention, is universally brushed off as “well she shouldn’t have been there.” An 11 year old in Texas is gang raped and the defense attorney says she asked for it. An 11 year old. All women have the right to be human. To control our own bodies, our own minds, our own lives.
The fear, shame, and discomfort that seems to stop the world from stepping in and saying enough needs to be purged, because the moment we blame an 11 year old girl for being raped and accept that in some parts of the world a woman is literally just a piece of silent property for a man to do anything he likes, we’ve lost our humanity.