Regardless of the global advancement on women rights and empowerment, in Arab countries, “violence against women is perpetrated by men, silenced by customs, and passed on from one generation to the next” thinks Eid. And he thought right. The rise in Islamic conservatism, under Islamic regimes, is only making it worse. As a Moroccan citizen, violence against women is normalized, unbearable, and part of any woman’s everyday life; myself included when I lived there.
Believe me, it’s pretty horrible to be grabbed and touched by 7 guys at the same time, during day time, while I only had a 5 min walk to school. What was I supposed to do? As they were laughing, I was petrified, and could never talk about it. Because I knew that seeking concrete legal protection was a waste of time, I did nothing. There are no laws that protect women from sexual harassment in Morocco up to now. The oh-so-great law that’s all over the news like an Eureka invention only protects women in their workplace… but we all know how paying off a judge can be easy. No, I wasn’t wearing a skirt, as our great “Minister for Women and Family Affairs” would suggest. And I’m not a case in a billion. Women are frequently subjected to insults, derogatory remarks and other sexist attacks in public. You are called a “whore” as long as you breathe in Morocco, no matter what you do. Arab countries are following the Sharia law and the constitutional one, making laws nearly impossible to change. Everything is a religious scandal. How ironic… Are we so much of a threat to men that they need God to justify their outrageous laws?
This public violence limits women’s freedom – essentially the freedom to get an education or go to work. Should I recall how many women cannot even feel safe inside what they call home? Should I state that 6 out of 10 women are victims of domestic violence? Did you know that shelters are illegal because the law prevents a woman to spend the night outside her house when she’s married, no matter what happens? Did you know that the law does not protect a woman raped by her husband? Did you know that a guy has the right to beat his wife if she does not have sex with him, after asking her 3 consecutive times? Did you know that if a rapist asks his victim to marry him, he wouldn’t be prosecuted? Recently the law was amended after Amina Filali committed suicide; now a rapist has to make sure his victim is over 18. Did you know that psychological violence does not exist in our laws? Did you know how many women are killed because their parents found no blood on her wedding night sheets? Did you know that you can’t get married if you don’t a virginity certificate signed by a legal physician? Do you know that being gay is a crime punishable by the law? It’s almost funny how everything is related to sex.
Long-existing traditions and social beliefs, nourished by the Arab heritage, are contributing to increasing violence towards women. Fatima El Mernissi states in her book “Sultanes Oubliées” that the era of the prophet Mohamed was supposedly marked by the utopia of meritocracy – with the will to end the aristocracy and giving chances to everyone – meaning freeing slaves and empowering women. He built the first mosque so everybody could be equal within those four walls. It was meant for women and men to discuss politics and social issues. When he died, his sayings were interpreted and transformed to serve the rulers at that time in Arab countries. Playing on nuances and spreading doubt is our forte. How convenient. A series of assassination and trickeries succeeded one another obviously.
Since then, Arab countries disempowered women by putting them into harems. Women living there were enslaved and reduced to being the properties of men. Easy way to put them away from politics, power, and anything that could actually play with men’s ego. Only the Yemen knew two powerful queens, Asma and Urwa. Their names were heard during the Dohr prayer on Fridays, as any Khalife. The word Khalife did have a female version in the past. However, historians did everything to belittle them, and erased them from books (good luck finding one that actually talks about how powerful they were). That way, no one could question the legitimacy of a ruler being only a man. Quick reminder: in Islam, only a descendant from Mohamed can rule a country and its believers. That descended is called a Khalife. The Yemen is a Shia country and they are drawing their legitimacy from women while Sunni believe only a male descendant can transmit the right to power.
Under the reign of the former king, Hassan 2, Morocco went through the “years of lead” – a heavy political oppression and humiliation eliminating protesters, the intellectual elite, and lowering the level of education on purpose. The harems only ended after he died (18 years ago). A divide grew between different regions as well as between the aristocracy and the people. And women are weaker than ever. At least, under the harems, the education was a must, and they were unified. Especially in the rural side, they are only left with being the properties of their husbands.
According to Camilia Paglia, empowering women means freeing men.
Then, let me put it this way. To Moroccan men… Please take your freedom seriously. After all, we are all condemned to be free. Sartre said that better than anyone. Once thrown in this world, you are responsible for what you’re doing. Why is it so hard to understand? We are not in the fucking jungle for you to do whatever you want. We are not the second sex. We are not your property. Our vagina does not define us as your dick does not define you. Go to school and fucking read.
Now. To Moroccan women… You must demand respect. Each woman must fight for her rights. Why would you perpetuate the same traditions that once narrowed your freedom? Why would teach your sons to be dicks? Why would you put your daughter through a female genital mutilation? Do you like how sexually unhappy you are? FYI, Camille Paglia thinks that the process of becoming stronger, controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights starts with knowing yourself. Sexuality is part of it. Basics of Biology. Why do I see you marching to defend a rapist pretexting that he’s so handsome he can’t rape anyone “because he doesn’t need to”? In fact, I read that many of you wished he raped you… Why would you go back to a husband that beats you like a fucking animal? Why would you call a whore a woman that chose not to wear the veil or wear a bikini? Why would you contribute to bashing women? Go to school and fucking read.
We are stuck in the middle ages, and we are going backwards, people. Can’t anybody see that?