Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian psychotherapist Dr. Radhwa Farghali, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV, which aired on August 5, 2010:
Dr. Radhwa Farghali: In some cases, the law does not treat women and men equally. Take, for example, the issue of honor [killings]…
Interviewer: So there is one law for men and another for women?
Dr. Radhwa Farghali: Exactly, even though the discrimination in these issues is not ordained by religion. Take, for example, the issue of prostitution. If a woman is caught in a case pertaining to sex, she is severely punished, whereas the man gets off scot free. In most of these cases, the man turns state's evidence, while the woman receives the most severe punishment – not to mention the social damage done to her and the mark of shame that she bears. This does not mean that I am personally advocating women's promiscuity, or that I am calling for lighter sentences for women, but at the very least, there should be equality, because there are two parties to this crime, so how can you punish one party and not the other?
Interviewer: Is this true of the laws of all Arab countries?
Dr. Radhwa Farghali: The laws of most Arab countries do not punish the man and the woman equally, even though religion treats them equally. The second issue has to do with honor killings. A man has the right to kill his sister, his daughter, or his wife, if she is caught in immoral circumstances. The same does not hold true for women. If a woman kills her husband, who cheated on her, she is subject to severe legal measures, and in most cases, she is punished like any murderer. The man, on the other hand, is considered to be defending honor, and he gets a mitigated sentence or is even acquitted.
Interviewer: We have on the line Ibrahim Abdallah from Saudi Arabia. Hello.
Caller over the phone: Salaam Aleikum.
Interviewer: Aleikum Al-Salaam.
Caller over the phone: Islam has given everybody their rights. What about women's violence against men? For example, a woman might stubbornly rebel against her husband, leave the house without his permission, bring home people he hates, and constantly incite their children against him. Some husbands were even killed by wives who were unbalanced, mentally disturbed, or socially retarded. To this list I should add the woman's sexual betrayal of the husband, going about unveiled in front of men in public places, berating her husband for being poor, comparing him to others, traveling abroad on her own, insisting on working without his permission, constantly wanting to have the last word, and always using the weapon of pretending to be oppressed. Allah said about women: "Truly, mighty is their snare." There should be equality between the rights of the man of the woman.
Interviewer: Thank you, brother Ibrahim.
Dr. Radhwa Farghali: In Arab society, women are treated as if they were minors or incompetent. The man has the right to beat his wife in order to discipline her. He has the right to kick her, to burn her, and sometimes even to kill her, or to debase her body, as a form of discipline. She is like a piece of furniture in the house.
Why should a man marry four wives? If a man is married to a good wife, who communicates with him psychologically, socially, and physically, and raises the children – why would he want to marry four wives? For the sake of variety?