Today 8. March 2017 is International Women’s Day! In many countries, some laws are not only anti-women but absurd. In the Bahamas it is permissible to force women over 14 years of age to sex or in the Phillipinen prostitution is a crime which only women can commit. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive a car (1).The legal minimum age for marriage is varying according to the religion: For Christian and civil marriage, the minimum age is 18 years both for women and men, contrary for Muslim girl child 12 and 16 for boys (2). Child marriage violates the human rights of girls by excluding them from decisions regarding the timing of marriage and choice of spouse. The culmination of the absurdity was the Turkish government’s bill, which leaves rapists unpunished when they marry the women they raped before. After violent demonstrations, this bill was withdrawn. In Lebanon under Shia, Sunni, and Druze laws, men can without cause demand a divorce at any time, unilaterally, while a woman’s ability to access divorce is limited, and often at great cost and after lengthy court proceedings. Christian men can convert to Islam and remarry without divorcing, while Christian women may not enter into a new marriage without terminating her first marriage (3). In many countries the husbands have the right to prohibit their wives from working outside the home; moreover, women, unlike men, cannot dress as they like, drive, work at night, inherit property or give evidence in Court! “women’s rights are human rights” is still more rhetoric than action!
- Gesetze gegen Frauen, Südwind Magazin Nr. 3, März 2017, Seite 14
- Initiative gegen Kinderehen, Südwind Magazin Nr.3 2017, Seite 15
- APA: Lebanon: Laws Discriminate Against Women. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/19/lebanon-laws-discriminate-against-women.
Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (SDG 5) will make a significant contribution not only to the economic development of the world but to progress across all the 17 SDGs and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well.
Currently, in countries where conservative Islam and/or the patriarchal structure predominates, women and girls are discriminated to visit higher schools and universities; although, women want to contribute to science. However, there are Islamic states (such as Saudi Arabia) which promote the education of women, but the women stay mostly unemployed after graduation because of gendered seclusion in job opportunities. The attitude of male superiority and female subjection contributes to the general misinterpretation of the Quran (Muslim people’s main religion text) and misunderstanding of the Muslims: So many Islamic experts say that this patriarchal viewpoint is unrelated to Islamic values.
What could women and girls do to fight against this women-hostile Islam or patriarchal attitude? Should women and girls living in democratic countries demonstrate in front of embassies of arch-conservative countries and/or use the social media more effectively Many Muslim women or women coming from Islamic- or patriarchal controlled countries studied successfully at universities in Austria, and their parents are very proud!
In the democratic countries like in Austria, the situation is different for women and girls, but still needs improvement: flexible working time, work-balance, enlightenment and opportunities for women and girls, etc.
“When a woman is helpless, without rights and ignorant, half of the nation is sick and paralyzed”
– Mammad Amin Rasulzade, Chairman of the National Council of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
Roland Leithenmayr, VfV, 16. February 2017