In a July 9, 2021 article on the liberal website Elaph.com, Kurdish journalist Hussein Sino discusses the status of women in the Arab world. He writes that the extensive progress that has been made in the world in terms of women's status and liberty appears to have skipped the Arab countries, including those that purport to be civilized and modern, and that women in these countries continue to be deprived of their rights. The reasons for this, he says, is the arrogant and disparaging attitude of many Arab men, who believe that women exist to feed them, provide sexual services, and raise their children, and are ready to hurt their wives if they fail to conform to this role. He calls on Arab and international human rights organizations to fight "the barriers of outdated traditions and customs" in Arab societies, and to stop the phenomenon of underage marriage, in order to improve the status of women.
Hussein Sino (Image: Elaph.com)
The following are translated excerpts from his article:
"The world has developed and advanced in all areas, including the technological and electronic ones, to the extent that it has become like a small village. This is thanks to the auditory, visual and written media, and thanks to the internet that spreads information at the speed of light. These [technological] tools have eliminated the vast geographic distance between countries and between people, and breached the barriers between nations. In spite of all this, the attitude of the Arab man towards women remains one of contempt. He regards them as incapable of serving in key state positions, disregarding the fact that many women have ruled and are ruling some of the [world's] most advanced countries, such as Angela Merkel, who governs [Germany], which has the strongest economy in Europe.
"Sadly, even though we are in the 21st century, many men in the Arab societies [still] regard women as sexual objects whose role is to serve them. That is why women in these societies are subject to violence by men, and are bereft of rights, liberty and a will [of their own]. More than this, men regard women as a piece of furniture in their home, which they have bought and can damage as they please. All this is based on the pronouncement that men are in charge of women, and that women must blindly obey men and must never contradict them, lest they be beaten and cursed.
"Yes, women in Arab societies still suffer many problems and face many challenges and difficulties. Some Arab societies purport to be civilized and modern, but their civility is fake and superficial. They [still] think that women must be subordinate and secondary to men, and present many claims and excuses [to justify this], such as [the desire] to protect women and maintain customs and traditions. All this forms a barrier to women's progress and development, limits their aspirations and subordinates them to men and their control.
"Arab men must understand that women are human beings like themselves: they have feelings, they feel love and hatred, they are not goods to be bargained over and sold and they are not bereft of reason or faith. They must understand that women constitute half of society and raise the future generations, and therefore they must discard the notion that women must not acquire an education and are meant [only to work] in the kitchen and bear children.
"All the local and international institutions and organizations concerned with human rights and liberties must act to empower women, so they can overcome the barriers of the outdated traditions and customs that have been placed in their path and impede their development and progress. This is especially true today, when many crises, catastrophes and conflicts, [stemming from] sectarian extremism, are afflicting some of the Arab societies and have [dire] consequences for women, pushing them to the margins of society, [and exposing them to] rape, murder and trafficking… These institutions must put an end to [the phenomenon] of families marrying off their underage daughters, which is a major reason for the increase in divorce and in crimes of adultery and murder."