Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Go Figure--Denial is a River in Canada, Too

Dr. Qais Ghanem was one of only three men who attended an event in Ottawa for International Women's Day last Thursday. He was taken aback by the reaction of another attendee, who asked what he, a man, was doing there:
 It was an Arab lady who asked the question. I proudly told her that I have always been an ardent defender of women’s human rights, job opportunities, political participation and sexual choices. I added “especially for Arab and Muslim women, who are particularly oppressed by us men,” thinking it would resonate with her. 
To my surprise, the lady disagreed that Arab and Muslim women were any more oppressed than others!...
The Canadian chick was obviously in denial, but Dr. G. notes that that's not the case in other parts of the world:
Some horrifying statistics from the UN Population Fund show that if current levels of child marriages hold, as exemplified by Yemen, 14.2 million girls annually (same as the population of Guatemala!) will marry too young, mostly under age 15. I started by referring to Arab and Muslim women.  
Therefore I found it very gratifying to read The Arab Women’s Intifada, a statement published on March 7 by An Nahar Lebanese Arabic newspaper issued by a coalition of Arab women promising to no longer remain passive in the face of all the numerous forms of oppression they face, including: physical and sexual violence, honour killings, forced marriage to a woman’s rapist, child brides, inequality in laws governing marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children, citizenship, access to jobs, and the right to drive a car. 
Now there is hope!
Let's call that the glass-is-half-full take on it. The glass-is-half-empty one would ask what kind of hope there is if Canadian Arab women and others in the West are locked in a stubborn state of denial?

No comments: