Since the beginning of time, there has been an established role of men and women in society; men the hunters, the bringers of the bounty if you will, and women the gatherers and the caretakers. Because we live in a constantly evolving world, there has been a significant change in these roles.
Many women have expanded out of the domestic sphere to become the main provider of their families, and men have adapted and have become the main caregivers. However, this idea only applies to modernized and “western” nations; in Islamic societies, women tend to be forced into stereotypically feminine roles, uneducated, as well as oppressed.
This subjugation of women in Islamic society is ironic because the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was a feminist. Muhammad laid out the word of God, which simply said that women were equal to men, women were to be educated just like men, women were able to both own and inherit property just like men. Muhammad built Islam on exactly this doctrine of equality but it seems that current Islamic societies have reverted back to their 7th century Arabia state where women were treated similarly to property. Today, many Islamic societies oppress women using the very religion that was once used to promote equality among all.
Specifically, in war-torn Islamic nations, women tend to lack even the most basic human rights. For example, in a court of law, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s. Furthermore, if a woman were to be murdered the compensation for the family would be half that for the murder of a man. In Islam, women are permitted only one spouse; however, men may have up to 4 wives. In addition, the legal age for girls to marry is just nine years old, but boys are allowed only after the age of fourteen. As a result, pedophiles are able to exploit and subsequently leave young girls. These are only a few of the injustices women and girls face.
Here in the US, people (especially teenagers) relish in the freedom that is choosing what to wear without heavy restrictions; in most Islamic societies women lack this freedom. Women are more often than not required to wear headscarves outside of the house or in the presence of males with the exception of family members and husbands.
Although many people argue that it is the religion of Islam that requires this practice, this idea is easily disproven because the religion only calls for modesty, which can be respected with conservative clothing. Not only are women encouraged, if not required, to wear a headscarf, but they often are forbidden from indulging in stereotypically feminine acts, such as applying makeup or nail polish. This comes back to the idea of “protecting” the modesty of women. Traditionalists believe that women are more likely to bring shame to their families or end up getting hurt, i.e. raped, if they were to revel in these practices.
All over the world, women have a higher chance of experiencing domestic abuse than men do, and in the Middle East that rate is even higher. In December 2016, 40% of Israeli and Arab women aged 16-48 reported that they had experienced some form of intimate partner violence (IPV). Whether it be rape, physical, or emotional abuse, women in the Middle East have a higher chance of experiencing it.
For some time, women were powerful and had rights, but centuries later societies dominated by Islam manipulated the religion to favor men and silence women. What heightens the urgency of the situation is that most women in Middle Eastern nations are unwilling to admit that they have been abused by their spouses because it will further belittle women in the eyes of men. They tend to be prodded with invasive questions: what were you wearing, what were you doing, were you alone, why were you alone. Consequently, the abuse continues and so does the silence.
Not only are women kept muzzled, but they are also kept uneducated. One of the few ways the corrupt Islamic society is able to grow is through uneducated women. Because the women are uneducated, they often do not understand how their legal system works, and as a result cannot get help from outsiders, thus staying oppressed.
If women were ever to learn the true teachings of Muhammad’s Islam it would be considerably harder to squash women and keep them in the domestic sphere. Women would understand their true value and protest for their rights and privileges, thus destroying the hierarchy traditionalists have built for centuries.
For hundreds and thousands of years, women have lived under the burden of injustice that is caused by corrupt interpretation of Islamic teachings. Women have been abused, raped, and oppressed for so long that it is the only life they know; it is the teachings they pass on to their daughters: listen to the men in your life and you will not be punished. In this society, to be a woman is to be punished. If you are born female, you are nothing but a burden to your family - an idea that is planted in the heads of young girls from the day they learn to think or talk.
Oppression is not only widespread in Islamic societies but virtually in every one. Expensive birth control or abortion, the pay gap, maternity leave, rape culture, these are only a few ways women are controlled on a day to day basis. It is the job of women to join hands and fight the injustices they are subjected to.