Women may lose rights in revolution

Ironically, revolution in the North African belt may remove more power from women in the long run in those more liberal countries in that region than it empowers.

For countries like Tunisia already empowering women far more than the neighbouring counterparts, the change in power could take them backwards. Tunisa is a livable city with westernised values. If the government become less liberal, we may see happening in Tunisia what has happened in Egypt, turning the country back a decade.

For less liberal countries like Egypt, they may be more fortunate in a step towards liberalism.

 

“In Tunisia, former president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali used to point to the freedoms enjoyed by women as a reason to keep him in power. The International Herald-Tribune notes, “For three decades, women’s rights were his bulwark against Islamists at home and his alibi with Western governments inquiring about human rights abuses. (An alibi they were all too happy to accept.)” But it wasn’t just lip service; for decades, Tunisian women have lived under significantly more liberal circumstances:

Tunisian women were among the first in the Arab world to obtain the right to vote, shortly after independence in 1956. They secured abortion rights the same year U.S. women did and have a greater share of seats in Tunisia’s Parliament than women have in the French Parliament. Polygamy is banned, marriage conditional on female consent and miniskirts as common a sight as the Muslim head scarf in Tunis’s cityscape.

The suggestion here is that educating women and codifying their rights came back to haunt Ben-Ali, because those women, too, turned against him. As for what comes next, so far you have to read the signs. A returning opposition leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, who had previously opposed many of these reforms, has recently been talking up women’s rights, which a Tunisian human rights lawyer tells The Herald Tribune “may be tactical, but the fact that he feels he has to talk this way is a pretty good indication that wanting to roll back women rights is no way to gain support in Tunisia right now.””

What the western world needs to do is encourage freedom of speech, democracy (REAL democracy) and women taking part in government.

What are the chances of this happening?

I’m yet undecided, but I have a nervous sense of doubt around the whole thing. I’m personally very fond of Tunisia, having visited for many years and having great respect for the country and people, I can only hope this won’t put them a decade in the wrong direction.

For the full article see Source :

http://louiseacheson.com/2011/02/23/women-in-the-middle-east-revolutions/

In Tunisia, former president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali used to point to the freedoms enjoyed by women as a reason to keep him in power. The International Herald-Tribune notes, “For three decades, women’s rights were his bulwark against Islamists at home and his alibi with Western governments inquiring about human rights abuses. (An alibi they were all too happy to accept.)” But it wasn’t just lip service; for decades, Tunisian women have lived under significantly more liberal circumstances:

Tunisian women were among the first in the Arab world to obtain the right to vote, shortly after independence in 1956. They secured abortion rights the same year U.S. women did and have a greater share of seats in Tunisia’s Parliament than women have in the French Parliament. Polygamy is banned, marriage conditional on female consent and miniskirts as common a sight as the Muslim head scarf in Tunis’s cityscape.

The suggestion here is that educating women and codifying their rights came back to haunt Ben-Ali, because those women, too, turned against him. As for what comes next, so far you have to read the signs. A returning opposition leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, who had previously opposed many of these reforms, has recently been talking up women’s rights, which a Tunisian human rights lawyer tells The Herald Tribune “may be tactical, but the fact that he feels he has to talk this way is a pretty good indication that wanting to roll back women rights is no way to gain support in Tunisia right now.”

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Categories: Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law

Author:Lou

Digital and Comms nerd working in an INGO. PhD researcher (technology / gender / International development / fragile and conflict affected states / South Sudan). Bibliophile. Writer. Musician. Views my own.

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2 Comments on “Women may lose rights in revolution”

  1. James Herron
    February 27, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Don’t forget the Iranian revolution in the 70’s started in a very similar way: it was a popular people’s revolt to remove a corrupt, pro-western government. Unfortunately, when the dust settled the people of Iran were left with a theocracy based on Sharia law. The coming weeks and months will be a crucial time in Tunisia, and I hope they don’t go down the same path Iran went down all those decades ago.

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