Friday, September 19, 2008

Female Solidarity

I came across this article today. Never mind the title. Go and read it and come back. This post is not an attack on Islam or a commentary about the wearing of different types of veils. Click here to see graphics of the different types of veils. Found on BBC News. Basic information about Islam here.

These ladies just touched my heart today. They sound so lonely. Powerless in even the smallest decisions- to wear a veil or to remain uncovered in their own homes, to walk in their neighborhood unaccompanied, the ability to have their legal testimony equal that of a man (it is my understanding that in some countries a woman's testimony is only fractionally weighted as a man's), the right to vote. Not to have to ask permission for the littlest things- lunch out with a friend, to hold a job. Never mind all of the political problems that separate us, women everywhere should have the same access to food, education, power over their own bodies, equal say in familial and intimate relationships.

It sounds like the only full freedom they have is in their thoughts. I understand that the form of Islam in Saudi Arabia is one of the strictest in the world. But what are the differences between what the faith teaches and what are the cultural norms? Obviously, it is easy to conflate Islam and the culture but they are different. There's so much misunderstanding and misinformation between our countries, I fear there won't be peace until we can breach the walls we have built between each other.

Women here in the US have only had the right to vote since 1920 and the right to own property outright, across the country generally speaking, since 1900. Women's suffrage around the world is still relatively young. Western women ought not be so smug, we've traveled a long hard road to win the freedoms we have. What my daughter takes for granted was once unthinkable. We women need to learn to stand together, not pull each other down.

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