TEL AVIV – The Qatari daily Al-Raya published two articles condemning the Arab and Muslim world for denying women the rights afforded them by the Koran, saying a “backward legacy” favors Muslim men’s control over women rather than allowing women to express their individuality.
According to Dr. Kaltham Jaber, a lecturer at the University of Qatar and author of the two articles translated by MEMRI on Wednesday, the Koran and the Sunna grant women clear rights, but many women are not even aware of those rights. She claims “women suffer from many tragedies due to their ignorance of these rights.”
One of the grievances suffered by women in the Arab world is domestic violence. Jaber writes that even if women are able to get divorced in order to escape spousal abuse, they are still the “primary victim” in the divorce courts, and often end up as victims of assaults by the husband’s families. In many cases they are denied custody – and in some instances, even access – to their children.
Jaber charges that the education system in the Arab world is responsible for this attitude toward women.
“We Muslims always speak of the justice of Islam and the integrity with which it treats the woman, but social reality provides us with cases that are far removed from the dictates of Islam, in which men abuse women due to a condemnable education passed down from generation to generation,” she writes.
Jaber laments that Muslim society’s “backward legacy excludes the woman and disrespects her, her rights, and her very being.”
She slams the Arab world’s misogynist systems in which men “serve their own ambitions to control women and have exclusivity over their affairs, eliminate their individuality, and exclude them.”
Jaber notes that Arab women are “unique” and therefore cannot be compared to women in the West. Nevertheless, she contends that women should be afforded the same chances as men in higher education and achieving senior positions of power.
Jaber calls on Muslim governments to implement strict legislation defending women’s rights, and to raise awareness of those rights by involving Muslim clerics and media personalities.
“There is no choice but to reexamine existing laws on women’s rights and legislate new ones that ease the grip of the man’s iron fist on them,” she writes.
Jaber emphasizes the importance of women’s role in society:
Legislative and legal bodies should treat women justly and honestly because they are not only half of the population. Rather, they are the entire population, for they create the men: they give birth to them, educate them, and teach them – which does not negate the role of the man.
She concludes by asserting that as long as women’s rights are ignored and women continue to lead miserable existences, Arab and Muslim societies as a whole will suffer.