by Kathleen McKinley | March 9, 2011 11:15 am
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. A protest in Cairo turned into a screaming fest made worse by violence. Women in Egypt were a part of the revolution that took down Mubarak. But now they say they are being denied a role in changing Egypt’s future.
Lara Logan’s attack in Egypt gave us a glimpse of the overt sexism in Egypt. Yesterday also showed what women endure being looked at as second class citizens.
The all-male legal committee that was convened to amend the country’s constitution has drafted an amendment that prohibits a man with a foreign wife from running for president. The amendment’s wording makes it clear that a woman running for president isn’t even envisaged.
Vast numbers of Egyptian women pursue university educations and play an active role in society. But many Egyptian women complain of constant sexual harassment on the streets of Egyptian cities.
HotAir has a list of tweets from women who were there.
Al Jazeera writes about the new Egypt leaving women behind:
Throughout the uprising, women were at the forefront of the street protests.
However, they have largely kept quiet about their gender rights in a country where they have faced rampant discrimination and received little legal protection against widespread violence and sexual abuse.
Part of this wave of revolution in the Middle East will be about women, whether the men wish it to be or not. With the internet and TV, women all over the world see the freedom of women in the U.S. and elsewhere. They see the opportunities and the ability to be a part of political change and leadership. It will happen. But I fear it will not come easy, and it will not come without a price.
Women in the Middle East have been oppressed and harassed. This comes in the form of “religious police” known in Saudi Arabia as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Saudi law does not permit women to be in public spaces without a male guardian, yet it cannot be a boyfriend. That is not permitted. Women are not allowed to drive, inherit, divorce or gain custody of children. Women are beaten with sticks over showing their ankles. They can also be sentenced to lashings for disobeying the virtue rules.
Back in April, a woman became so disgusted with the police that she beat one up who was attempting to demand proof of the relationship with the man she was walking with.  You might recall that when we went into Afghanistan women were not allowed to go to school, work, or even to drive. This is all very archaic to us. We can hardly imagine this goes on in the world. But this is the life of many Middle Eastern women.
There is no way to know which way this revolution will go. It isn’t about us, and they don’t really want our help other than to do what we can to prevent slaughter. But I hope and pray that these women are able to stand up and fight for their rights. I hope they can find freedom. They have suffered for far too long under repressive and absurd laws.
Keep these women in your prayers. The people of the Middle East are hoping for a future where they can determine their own fate and not be ruled by tyrants. We need to support that, and we need to support the women as they struggle with an ingrained belief that women are second class. We know better. Godspeed to all of them.
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