How Women Are Affected by Change in Middle Eastern Countries

Category:  News
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 7:21 AM
How Women Are Affected by Change in Middle Eastern Countries by Cheyenne Majeed
Baher Ghosheh discussed how Middle Eastern women are affected by changes in their home countries.

On Wednesday March 16, professor and acting chairperson for the geosciences department Baher Ghosheh held a presentation titled “Women in a Changing Middle East,” which examined the socio-economic and changing roles of Muslim women in various Muslim countries. He explained much of what these women experience culturally and socially and how their freedom may be viewed as beneficial.

During the presentation, Ghosheh asked individuals if they could point out only the Muslim women being shown on the slide. It showed two women dressed in garbs, a couple Caucasian women and other women from different backgrounds. Almost the entire room full of people answered back and said the women dressed with the Muslim garbs; the correct answer revealed that all the women were Muslim.

Some of the largest Muslims countries are Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey and Iran. He stressed that it’s important to understand Arabs and Muslims are two different groups. Ghosheh wanted to make it clear to the audience because those are non-Arab countries and many people assume Arabs and Muslims are the same; they’re different in many ways.

Religion is a large factor to consider in countries like these when it comes to tradition and following rules and regulations. Islam is the second largest religion in the world.

The Muslim women in these countries are subjected to have less freedom, as opposed to the men who have more given rights. Basically, in many cases, women are not treated equally.

On the other hand, Muslim women are beating the United States in one way specifically: presidential status. “We might get our first woman president in the United States, but Muslim countries are way ahead of us. They’ve had women presidents and prime ministers for a long time,” Ghosheh said. Despite this victory, they are still targeted, even by their own kind.

As stated previously, many people have interpreted women dressed in garbs as Muslim. However, a woman who calls herself Muslim dresses in modesty regardless of her background or status.

“That’s what we see in America and even people who are educated like ourselves are still learning,” said Lisa Chimenti-Foster, an English teacher from Villa Maria Academy.

For a long time women in Turkey could not cover their hair for specific reasons, although granted now they can do so.

Aside from their wardrobe, Muslim women face many challenges. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan prohibit women from working, receiving education, driving and shopping. They are to also be seen with a male escort at all times. If they are not and they are attacked in any way, it is considered to be their fault.

“A situation that might not make sense to us in the United States, a girl was gang raped in Saudi Arabia. She was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes. This is the victim,” Ghosheh said. He went on to say, “What was her crime? She was not escorted by a male.”

Now, this all turns back to the interpretation of their religion. Approximately 1,400 years ago Islamic women had more rights than they do today.

“I thought it was one of the most informative things I’ve ever heard. I have read a lot about the nation of Islam, but this guy just broke it down,” said Chimenti-Foster.

There is a glass ceiling in many countries (including the United States), when it comes to women. However, who truly knows what the future holds?

Cheyenne Majeed is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.

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