Sexism In The Arab World


            Perhaps the place that is most notorious for sexism is the Middle East. Middle Eastern women barely have any rights, nor do they have any power to defend themselves. Most parts of the Middle East, especially countries located in the Arabic Peninsula, attribute their women to the position of breeding machines and house workers. They are legally not permitted to drive or to even get an education. They have no say in whom they are to marry; they are treated as possessions of their fathers before marriage, and possessions of their husbands after they wed. Polygamy is legal for men, and oftentimes wives are kept in separate parts of the house. Even though it was stated in the Quran that men and women are equal, demographic changes led to misinterpretations of these writings, leading to a complete oppression of female rights.

            In Palestine for example, women are subjected to sexist crimes from the Palestinian men and to racist crimes from the Israelis. Hannah Rought-Brooks, Salwa Duaibis, and Soraida Hussein wrote in their article “Palestinian Women: Caught in the Cross Fire Between Occupation and Patriarchy” that Palestinian women are subjected to sexual violence and rape from their own men as well as from the Israeli soldiers, and without any consequences. The laws that exist today in Palestine are very discriminatory and offer no real protection to women or to their rights.

            Muslin women have to wear the Hijab. It is forbidden for them to show anything more than their hands from the wrist down. Their husbands are the only men that can see any other part of their bodies. In Iran for example, the previous leader Ayotallah Khomeini imposed the hijab on the Persian women. As Gita Hasheimi wrote in her article "There is a Third Voice in Iran", Khomeini forbad Iranian women to work in any governmental post if they are not properly covered. Women revolted for equality and today the Iranian Women's Movement is one of the most influential voices in the government. They demanded equality and won their rights.

            Sexism in the Middle East however is not always the case of demising the opposite sex. In Lebanon, a country known for its open mind and dubbed “Paris of the East”, women stereotype themselves. Most Lebanese women, after they graduate from high school, either get into college for a two year degree, or are content by finding a clerical job at an office or a saleswoman job at a clothing store. Lebanese women completely look past their abilities and settle for much less because they believe that they will get married; their future husbands are their bailout ticket. Not only are they demising the female sex by believing that it is their duty to stay at home, give birth, and cook, but it is equally demeaning to the male sex by implying that they represent nothing more to them than a free ride through life. Because of that ideology, most Lebanese households consist of a single income, which pushes the males to accept higher paying jobs abroad, playing no significant role in the lives of his children. 

           There is hope in the Arab world still. Arabic countries that are in continuous infrastructural expansion and touristic hot spots have given their women more roles to play and more rights to protect. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, Susan R Madsen wrote in her article “The Experiences of UAE Women Leaders in Developing Leadership Early in Life” that few of the most important factors that will allow women to evolve in the Arabic world are family, school activities, and role models. Having a family that treats their daughters as human beings and not as possessions, school activities that promote equality between men and women, and strong and independent female heroes to admire and aspire to become like are some of the forces that will drive women to rise to power in the Arabic community.

        Below however is a representation of the rest of the Arabic world.
Source: Sources of the pictures used in this slideshow are listed under References