The Daily Demarche
Monday, October 24, 2005
"Imagine You're a Woman"
Late last month Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes waded into the thick America's struggle for hearts and minds by taking a whirlwind tour of the Middle East. Not many people judged her effort to be a success- she took a pretty sound beating in the press for everything from the groups she met with to the topics she addressed. One of the most controversial (at least in the American press) topics she chose to use to illustrate the second-class citizen status of many females in the Muslim world is the ban on women driving in the Kingdom of the House of Saud. Her audience of hundreds of Saudi women, and a few men, reacted coolly, and Hughes was accused at home and abroad of not knowing what she was talking about, and not knowing to whom she was talking.

Never mind that the women who met with Hughes were most likely not chosen at random, or representative of the general population, or that there were men in the room (even the San Francisco Gate notes how odd that it). Anyone want to bet that the men who attended were not charter members of the Saudi Men for Women's Rights club?

No, forget all of that. Because today MEMRI brings us the words of Badriyya Al-Bishr. Al-Bishr is "a lecturer in social sciences at King Saud University" who "recently published an article titled "Imagine You're a Woman" in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" (excerpts by MEMRI):

"Imagine you're a woman. When your brother is born, people say: 'It's a boy, how wonderful,' and when you are born they say: 'How wonderful, it's a little girl' , using the diminutive form. Your arrival is welcome if [you are] the first or second girl, but it's best if there are no more than two, so that nothing undesirable happens to the mother. On the other hand, your brothers' arrivals are welcomed, the more the merrier.

"Imagine you're a woman. You always need your guardian's approval, not only regarding your first marriage, as maintained by the Islamic legal scholars, but regarding each and every matter. You cannot study without your guardian's approval, even if you reach a doctorate level. You cannot get a job and earn a living without your guardian's approval. Moreover, there are people who are not ashamed to say that a woman must have permission to work even in the private sector.

"Imagine you're a woman, and the guardian who must accompany you wherever [you go] is your 15-year-old son or your brother, who scratches his chin before giving his approval, saying: 'What do you think, guys, should I give her my permission?' Sometimes he asks for... a bribe [in return], heaven forbid! [But] your brother avoids taking such a bribe in 'cash' because his self-respect prevents him from touching a woman's money. So he prefers the bribe to be a car, a fridge, or an assurance of money that you will pay in installments [for him], until Allah gets him out of his financial straits...

"Imagine you're a woman, and you are subject to assault, beatings, or murder. When the press publishes your photo [together with] the photo of the criminals and [descriptions] of their brutality, there are people who ask: 'Was the victim covered [by a veil] or not?' If she was covered up, [the question arises:] 'Who let her go out of the house at such an hour?' In the event that your husband is the one who broke your ribs, [people will say] that no doubt there was good reason for it.

"Imagine you're a woman whose husband breaks her nose, arm, or leg, and you go to the Qadi to lodge a complaint. When the Qadi asks you about your complaint, and you say, 'He beat me,' he responds reproachfully 'That's all?!' In other words, [for the Qadi], beating is a technical situation that exists among all couples and lovers, [as the saying goes]: 'Beating the beloved is like eating raisins.'

"Imagine you're a woman, and in order to manage your affairs you must ride in a 'limousine' with an Indian or Sri Lankan driver... or that you [must] wait for a younger brother to take you to work, or that you [must] bring a man who will learn to drive in your car, and will practice at your expense... because you yourself are not permitted to drive.

"Imagine you're a woman in the 21st century, and you see fatwas [issued] by some contemporary experts in Islamic law dealing with the rules regarding taking the women of the enemy prisoner and having sexual intercourse with them. Moreover, you find someone issuing a fatwa about the rules of taking the women of the enemy prisoner even in times of peace, and you don't know to which enemy women it refers.

"Imagine you're a woman who writes in a newspaper, and every time you write about your [women's] concerns, problems, poverty, unemployment, and legal status, they say about you: 'Never mind her, it's all women's talk.'"

Not surprisingly this item has not been picked up in the mainstream press. A Google News search returned only the MEMRI article, and a Google Web Search turns up only one other article by this author- on OurJerusalem.com, also via MEMRI, of course. This earlier piece discusses the terrorist need for "family" and the mistreatment of women and children within these "families."

The reason these pieces exist on the fringes of the Internet is that the MSM and the anti-Bush left have absolutely no interest in covering these stories- they much prefer to think that women in Saudi Arabia would rather not drive, since that is what the elite who have drivers have told them, and they prefer to stick their heads in the sand over issues of abuse, unequal treatment under the law and the systematic starvation of women and children. Why would they prefer to do this? Because they really don't care about the freedom, liberty, equality and safety of the millions of who are oppresseded under Islam. They care about making George W. Bush look bad, period.

So the next time someone denounces the idea that Muslims, especially Muslim women, want to be free, or want to be treated equally, or might want to shed the burqa, and that all of the President's talk is simply warmongering, just say to them "Imagine you're a woman..."
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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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