The Middle Eastern part of Asia has attracted worldwide attention in the recent years. This could be attributed from the fact that various armed conflict are said to originate and take place in the countries that belong to this region. Moreover, the existence of the idea of terrorism further emphasize this portion of the world since there are many allegations that terrorist groups are hiding in the Middle East. In relation to this, even the societal factors of this region are also scrutinized. One of the most notable issues that they focus on is the human rights of those people especially when it comes to their female population. Many people and organized groups mainly coming from the west said that there is a clear violation of human rights on these countries more specifically their behavior towards women. However, governments and citizens of those in the Middle East argued that their practices regarding the role played by women in their society is not a violation of human rights but rather it is a manifestation of their culture.
This paper aims to assess the role and expectation that the society in Middle Eastern countries have towards their women. In doing so, it would discuss the reported violation of human rights of women in the Middle East as well as their roles in the society. Furthermore, the roles they have would be analyze based upon its relation during the contemporary time.
Violation of Women’s Rights
Based upon the reports of the Human Rights Watch, even though countries in the Middle East are composed of diverse government systems they are still impede of their rights. Civil rights like the freedom of expression, freedom of the press as well as the right to assembly are just some of the rights that their governments suppressed. These rights affect both the male and female citizens of the country but the women experience greater disadvantage. This is due to the fact that women also have to endure additional violations because of their gender. Women have a subordinate status as compared to men in the society. Unequal family, penal, and citizenship laws that women have to adhere to exemplify this (Human Rights Watch).
Family matters that should be greatly participated by the women in the family, since they are the ones usual responsible in the household, are only dominated by men in this region. Countries like Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia used personal status codes that are based upon their religion. In most of these laws the women are considered as legal minors that are always under the guidance and supervision of their male relatives. Women are not given the same rights as men with regards to marriage, divorce, child custody as well as inheritance. Furthermore, justice is also not achieved in these countries because those who are in the position of power are mostly male (Human Rights Watch).
The legal discrimination that women experience denies them to participate equally and actively in the society, which prevent them to fully develop as a person and makes them more susceptible to violence (Human Rights Watch).
Women’s Role in the Middle East Society
The role of women in the Middle Eastern society is focus on the family. Since family is considered as the basic unit of society, this region also deems that the success of other important aspects of the country like its economy is rooted in the family (Fronk, Huntington & Chadwick). In relation to this, women have to see to it that they do their responsibilities to their family like taking care of their husbands and children. Moreover, it is also part of their role to maintain and uphold the name of their family. They should see to it that they act accordingly based upon the norms and standard of their society for them not to be a source of embarrassment and shame for their families. This is also the reason why Middle Eastern women are very conservative and are well guarded by their male relatives in order to make sure of their proper behavior.
Nonetheless, the changing time have also transformed the role of women in the Middle East. Their role as individuals is not merely confined in the four corners of their house but rather they are already participating in their community as well as the larger international scene. This is observable through women’s greater participation in the media. It is through this medium that the voices of women are increasingly being heard and listened too (Ghuneim). Furthermore, a recent study also shows that 51 percent of Middle Eastern women of who were interviewed believe that their gender would not affect their chances of advancing in their careers (El Kady). These developments only show that the role of women in the Middle East is indeed transforming.
Middle Eastern Women in the Contemporary Era
Some people believed that women in the Middle East experience violation of human rights and inequality because of their Islamic religion. Contrary to this belief, Islam is not the one responsible in imposing these violating practices on women but rather it is rooted from local cultural traditions (Global Connections).
The issue of violation of human rights of Middle Eastern women shows the various perspectives that people in the world have. The western world views the Middle Eastern practices as violation of human rights because it is different from the values and norms that they believe in. On the other hand, most people in the Middle East considered these practices as part of their culture and identity rather than a violation of their rights (Shariati). Being the case, this difference should not hinder the crusade of achieving a better world for women wherein their rights are respected and protected. It is important to put in mind that discrimination and violation against women happen in the whole world regardless of an individual’s religion or culture, which is why this kind of crime should be given due attention not only in the Middle East but all over the world.
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