Some basic women’s rights are hidden between the veil or hijab of a traditional Islamic society. In some parts of the Islamic world there are abuses of women’s rights: rapes against women, forced marriages, harassment, spousal abuse and rape, less employment opportunities, oppressed property rights and education rights, female genital mutilation…
My newest design shows a Muslim woman wearing the hijab protests against the oppression of women’s rights, shouting: Unveil our rights!
On June 6th, 2009, President Barack Obama called for France to lift bans on the wearing of hijab in schools. In his Cairo speech, he talked about women’s right to wear the hijab in Western Europe, with an emphasis on other women’s rights, especially education. Here is what Obama said:
I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.
Now let me be clear: issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams.
The Muslim Women’s Rights theme emerges this week through the protests of Iranian women against the results of the presidential elections on 12 June 2009. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election with 66% of the votes cast. Many international analysts doubt about the authenticity of the results and think that the vote count was fraudulent, favoring Ahmadinejad. Iranian people protested massively all over the world, with placards and t-shirts with the slogan “Where is my vote?”.
Thousands of Iranian women took protested in Tehran’s streets this week against the regime, hoping for CHANGE in their situation as women, hoping of a future without gender discrimination, which is a devastating reality in Iran. In Iran, women are regarded as second-class citizens. Through Iran’s legal system, they do not have the same legal rights as men, especially in cases of divorce, inheritance, property rights, crime… Even child custody! Furthermore, according to Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, Ahmadinejad has made it easier for men to practice polygamy and harder for women to access public sector jobs. According to journalist Azadeh Moaveni, Ahmadinejad mandated the way women dress and even censored Web sites dealing with health issues like breast cancer. Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi, opposition candidates, promised to change parts of the Iranian constitution concerning women’s rights, so many women demonstrated holding the picture of Moussavi.
The veil should be a matter of faith, not a matter of politics. In fact, unveiling women’s RIGHTS is much more important than unveiling their face, even though for some Muslim women removing their veil is an act symbolizing freedom and equality.