October 31, 2007 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 397

Cartoons in the Arab Press on the Status of Women in the Arab World

October 31, 2007 | By E. Glass*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 397

Although not constantly in the headlines, the status of women in the Arab world is an issue frequently addressed by Arab cartoonists. Cartoons published in recent months have approached the issue from various angles. While some have criticized the discrimination against women and women's inferior status relative to that of men, others have condemned Arab society for keeping women prisoners and for depriving them of their basic rights. Others have dealt with problems related to marriage, including husbands' violence against wives and the effect this has on the children; the phenomenon of marriage of older men and very young girls; and the ease with which Muslim men can divorce their wives.

The following are examples of these cartoons:


The Inferior Status of Women in Arab Society

Cartoon No. 1:

Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 5, 2007.

Cartoon No. 2: The man is in the spotlight; the woman remains in the dark.

Source: Syria News (Syria), July 23, 2007.

Cartoon No. 3: The figure under the spotlight is labeled "Boy"; the figure in the dark is labeled "Girl."

Source: Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 15, 2007.

Cartoon No. 4: "Boy" and "Girl."

Source: Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), July 28, 2007.

Cartoon No. 5:

Source: Syria News (Syria), August 20, 2007.

Arab Society Deprives Women of Freedom and Rights

Cartoon No. 6:

Source: Al-Dustour (Jordan), May 18, 2007.

Cartoon No. 7: On the cage: "Some of [Our] Customs and Traditions."

Source: Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), July 30, 2007.

Cartoon No. 8: The fetus is labeled "Female."

Source: Al-Watan (Kuwait), September 8, 2007.

Cartoon No. 9: "The Woman in Arab Society."

Source: Syria News (Syria), June 21, 2007.

Cartoon No. 10: The figures are labeled, from right to left, "Traditionalist," "Fanatic," "Extremist" and "Taliban." The three on the right say "Women are forbidden to do thus and such"; the leftmost figure, a Taliban man, says "Women are forbidden."

Source: Al-Watan (Kuwait), September 25, 2007.

Cartoon No. 11: On the punching bag: "Women's Rights."

Source: Al-Watan (Qatar), August 5, 2007.

Violence Against Women

Cartoon No. 12: "Domestic Violence: For Every Action, There Is an Equal and Opposite Reaction." On the large boxing glove: "Pressures."

Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 5, 2007.

Cartoon No. 13: "Domestic Violence and the Children." The man says: [I've been waiting] an hour. Bring the coffee."

Source: Al-Watan (Oman), June 28, 2007.

Cartoon No. 14:

Source: Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 31, 2007.

Cartoon No. 15: The man is saying: "Look, sweetheart, this is what your life and your future will be like. You're the one who wants to get married, not me... Think about it and get back to me."

Source: Al-Quds (PA), August 10, 2007.

Women and Marriage

Cartoon No. 16: "[Bride and Groom] of Compatible Age"

Source: Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), April 19, 2007.

Cartoon No. 17:

Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 11, 2007.

Cartoon No. 18: The woman says to her daughter: "You will marry him and that's that. Your father gave him his word!"


Source: Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), September 19, 2007.

Cartoon No. 19: On the woman's folder: "University Graduate." The sign on the right says "Job"; the sign on the left says "Further Studies." All the paths lead to the sign saying "Marriage."

Source: Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), May 27, 2007.

Cartoon No. 20: The man is saying "[You are] divorced!"

Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 24, 2007.

*E. Glass is a research fellow at MEMRI.

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