‘Why does the world ignore violence against Arab women?’ PovertyMatters blog, The Guardian, London (link below).
I DON’T THINK “the world,” which essentially means America and Europe, is ignoring the travails of Arab or Muslim women per se. After all, when the Taliban attacked the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yusufzai, the West made her an international celebrity and hero. The spectacle was focused, however, on the suppression of women by the Taliban and other forces that were hostile to America and its invasion of Muslim countries.
Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries are among the worst victims of male repression and misogyny. Yet how much concern have American politicians, journalists, intellectuals – or feminists – shown about their tribulations?
And what about Hindu women in India? Misogyny has been endemic in the mostly Hindu Indian society. Women are being raped and persecuted with abandon in much of India. Indian politicians and law enforcement agencies never took their suffering and humiliation seriously until recent media publicity forced them to try to do something about it. Indian women’s ordeal, as that of women in the Middle East, has largely been ignored by “the world.”
The misfortunes of women in those societies are America’s and the West’s friendly ties to their governments. You wouldn’t see moral issues getting in the way of “the world’” coddling governments and other actors who serve Western interests. Moral concerns are pressed into the service of those interests when they’re threatened by the West’s enemies, albeit if those enemies also happen to be trampling women’s rights or human rights. And wittingly or unwittingly, Western intelligentsia – conservatives, liberals, feminists, and so forth – follow the flag.
Remember Laura Bush’s women rights campaign in Afghanistan after her hubby invaded and occupied that poor country? Indeed American feminists showed great concerns (mostly well-meaning, I believe) about the fate of those women if the United States had to transfer power to the misogynists who dominate the Afghan political class. I’m not hearing those concerns voiced (or I’m not reading the publications where they are) since the Obama administration announced its plans to end the occupation of Afghnistan.
Many Americans and Westerners would indeed like to help women under suppression in old and traditional societies – but only when Western interests don’t get in the way.
The Guardian blog post:
Mustafa Malik is an international affairs columnist in Washington. He hosts the blog ‘What Freedom?’