Gender-equality not a game! [Archives:2007/1087/Community]

September 20 2007

By: Lamis Abdulkarim Shuga'a
[email protected]

Having read the article entitled “Gender-equality, is it a game dear women?” published on the 6th of September 2007 issue No. 1083, written by Maged Tabet Al-Kholidy, who asked for an answer to his question. I have felt a great desire to reply wishing if I could satisfy his eagerness of knowing whether women use gender-equality as a game or not.

First of all, I completely disagree with 'equality' itself. Let's demonstrate that we know what this word means. 'Equal', according to an English-reader's dictionary, means a person or thing equal to another and ' equality' is the state of being equal. That is, from my point of view, difficult to be achieved in both sexes, at least in the Islamic countries in general and in Yemen in particular. That is due to the Islamic instruction as well as the customary cultures and habits, in which there are explanations relating to the limitations of each sex, i.e., men and women. That is because the nature of men is absolutely different from the nature of women. In other words, whenever women reach high status and even if they, actually, become equal due to the up-to-date developments, women, however, are simply still women. I mean, they are 'and will be' those weak creatures who, most of them, if not all, become weaker as soon as hearing 'soft words'. Furthermore,I think, this is considered to be mercy from Allah to make the nature of men stronger than women's nature. A worthy point that I want to shed some light on is that the difference between men and women can't be described. It is altogether an incorporeal thing. So, until now, we can see that it is difficult to say that there is equality between men and women.

Some women have power and authority; others have money whereas different groups have high degrees of education and so forth. In spite of this, there will 'still' be a gap in their lives, if they live without a man. In fact, what I mean by a man, here, is not only as a husband; he could be a father, a brother, an uncle or even a son. A traditional proverb might confirm what I have said: “a shadow of a man is better than a shadow of a wall”. Indeed, there are a lot of women who live without men, managing their houses and bearing their children's responsibilities alone. Even though, they continuously face a series of difficulties. I'm sure, if there were men on whom those women depend, such difficulties would be inconsequential. Another simple example may clarify my point. In reality, it can be noticed that a child usually seriously responds to his father more than his mother. Additionally, he is polite and respectable with all males of his family, i.e., his uncles, grandfather tc, more than females of his family. No one can deny the fact that the ability of men to protect their families is absolutely more than the women's ability. Hence, we can say, a feeling of stability, security and safety are represented by men not only at home but in our general lives.

For the mentioned reasons, I must repeat again, it's a difficult thing to say that men and women, in a way or another, can be equal. The status of men in his family as well as his society is referred to in the Islamic religion, as I have already said. In the Holy Quran, it is mentioned that “men are curators on women”.

According to our religion, it is allowed for men to get married four times, however that isn't allowed for women. Men can be 'imams' in prayer either with men or with women, whereas women don't have to be 'imams' with men, however they can with other women. Moreover, women don't have the right to be judges. Even in inheritance, the share of men is not like the ones of women , who can only receive half. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) also asserted the status of men. A very simple example, which has a meaning beyond capacity, is that it is 'Sunna' to slaughter for a born-male-child but not for a born-female-child!! There are still many examples which support my point but I think what has been said is enough.

Since I have refused the word ' equality', let's suggest a word such as, 'demands' or 'rights'. I have asked several women about their opinions that are related to this topic. In fact, most of them said that they could not expect that they would be equal with men. When they had been asked to explain more about those rights, they introduced different ideas. Some women concentrated upon rights inside homes. In other words, they talked about the different treatment between daughters and sons, especially in villages. Absolutely, it is difficult to say that several parents don't like their daughters and even prefer men. This is clear with respect to eating, clothing, caring, even in housework which it can be found sons hardly try to help even if the matter is related to them. They ask for something to drink because 'their prestiges' prevents them to go and help themselves.

In some rural places, in addition, there is still an 'abortion' of woman rights. Some parents prevent their daughters to continue their education after school. Others prevent them from getting a job, ordering them to stay at home until they get married. Even in their marriages, the right to accept or to refuse is in their parents' hand. If the most important decision of those girls is not in their hand, so, what else can exist for them? What are 'still' their rights?! Even woman's right to vote is sometimes considered as a shame: parents may well prefer to kill them but not to vote!

Eventually, I hope I could clarify to Maged the most important rights which need to be fulfilled, from the one hand, and to show that gender-equality is not a game, from the other. The real situation, he talked about, about that woman who looked at the man in the bus, I think, is abnormal and, at the same time, can't be generalized as every women.