Just in time for International Women’s Day on March 8, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has apparently decided that one of its most urgent concerns should be blaming Israel’s occupation of the West Bank for “degrading” the living conditions of Palestinian women. That’s perhaps a good occasion to highlight what the CSW prefers to overlook – so here are just a few of the “degradations” women elsewhere in the Muslim and Arab world have to endure.
Let’s start out with this report about a new survey on how the so-called Arab Spring has affected women in the region:
“In honor of International Women’s Day, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, asked a cross-section of female scholars, activists, business executives, journalists, politicians, and officials to comment on how women have fared in the Arab uprisings. The answers, especially from women living in the thick of it in Middle Eastern countries, are depressingly negative–and sometimes scathing.”
Then there is the recent report that Afghanistan’s president Karzai has endorsed a “code of conduct” issued by a council of Muslim clerics that has been characterized by activists as “a giant step backward for women’s rights in the country.” In addition to severe restrictions for women’s freedom of movement, this “code of conduct” reportedly allows a husband to beat his wife as long as there is a “Shariah-compliant reason.”
While Karzai has claimed that the clerics “did not put any limitations on women” and that the “code of conduct” simply reflects “the Shariah law of all Muslims and all Afghans,” his endorsement of the document has been interpreted “as part of his outreach to insurgents like the Taliban.”
At this link you can watch a clip from 2009 showing Taliban beating a young girl; and here’s a clip that documents the fate of a woman in Sudan who was accused of having violated Islamic standards of decency by wearing trousers under her full-length overcoat.
Walter Russell Mead notes that Egypt marked International Women’s Day “by condemning the 1978 UN Convention Against Gender Discrimination as ‘incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia.’” Mead adds: “Need we tell you that the political forces behind this tastefully timed pronouncement were those empowered by the so-called Arab Spring?”