Women all over the world have been insulted, humiliated, and degraded all throughout history. We have overcome countless amounts of hardships over time. Women from all different religions, cultures, and continents have fought and earned their place in the world today. Still, gender inequality still survives within many communities around the world. And gender inequalities are still prominent in some very traditional communities around the world, notably in some Islamic-majority countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
While every man and woman must follow the 5 pillars of Islam there are quite a few alterations or barricades for women. Women are also not allowed to pray, fast, or touch the Qur’an during menstruation and for a period of time after childbirth.
A few of the smaller restrictions of prayer include women being fully covered besides their face and their hands, with no makeup and no perfume. This is so that they will not distract any man from fully engaging with prayer. Women also are sometimes put in separate room from men during prayers if the mosque has room to allow. Again, this is so the men will not be able to get distracted from prayer. In many studies it has been proven that the presences of women in public is a major source of temptation and conflict. So on certain occasions women will not be allowed in the mosque; this assures that the mosque remains holy.
Side note: this was actually really frustrating for me visiting a mosque a few weeks ago because I couldn’t see anything!
Read more: Travel Tips: Dressing for a Mosque
Women of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest regulations on women. Women cannot do things we would consider to be everyday tasks without asking a male relative if it’s allowed. Some of these tasks include swimming in any pool/gym shared with men, wear clothes/makeup that shows off their beauty, compete in sports, drive a car, interact with men, and more. The woman’s fathers, husbands, or other male relatives must give specific consent to any of the above, and even then some of these things they still cannot do because it’s written in the law.
Women have little to no rights in Saudi Arabia. Although, 14,000 Saudi Arabian women have stepped up and signed a petition to try to lift some of these laws and restrictions. While this is still in question, women living in Saudi Arabia continue to be oppressed by men. Statistics have shown an alarming increase in domestic violence cases but there is no law approving or disapproving domestic violence in Saudi Arabia. The government has made little to no effort to punish these men. Many cases still go unrecognized and many women are still put into danger by the men who are supposed to cherish them.
Evolution of Islam
Although some Muslim women are still incredibly oppressed, there is a bright side to the entire situation. Many women are starting to stand up for themselves and speaking out against gender inequalities around the world. According to one article “the agitation in countries like Morocco is coming from female scholars who are confident of their religious judgment and use the Internet as a forum to promote an alternative vision of the rights of Muslim women” (New York Times). Many nations are already starting to see change. Muslim women in most countries get to go to school, vote, and choose rather or not they wear the veil.
Women have been through so much together. We must continue to step forward and make a change for women all around the world. Though, there is no way to fully banish discrimination against women; we can continue to fight for our equality in this world.
- “Domestic Violence Raising in Saudi Arabia.” Violence is Not Our Culture. Accessed May 3, 2017. www.violenceisnotourculture.org/content/domestic-violence-growing-saudi-arabia
- Penney, Sue. World Beliefs and Cultures: Islam. China: Leo Paper Group, 2008.
- “Seven Things Women in Saudi Arabia Cannot Do.” The Week: UK. Accessed May 3, 2017. http://www.theweek.co.uk/60339/nine-things-women-cant-do-in-saudi-arabia
- “Where Muslim Tradition Meets Modernity.” New York Times: Learning Network. Accessed May 3, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20011219wednesday.html
- “Women in Islamic Religious Life.” Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Accessed May 2, 2017. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t234/e370