- Published on Thursday, 10 May 2012 07:06
The War on Women. In the US, we’ve seen these words splashed across television screens and give life to many a headline in recent months. The GOP’s offensive against abortion, family planning, low-income women young and old, and efforts to redefine rape are just a few examples of the war being waged on women and their bodies in our progressive but gendered democracy.
What is the difference between an American right-wing radio giant publicly calling a woman a prostitute for exercising her right to speak out on a policy issue that involves her body and an Egyptian military general essentially saying that female protesters subjected to ‘virginity tests’ or sexual assault got what was coming to them for having the audacity to take a stand? There is none.
In 2012, ground zero of the war on women lays claim to the entire world.
Undoubtedly, the stakes are highest for women in the Middle East. The launch of the Aslan Media Women’s section could not come at a more decisive moment. At no time in the modern history of the region has the future of this vital yet fiercely marginalized population been as contested on so vast a scale. Since last year, Arab women from Manama to Benghazi and beyond have protested alongside men for dignity, social justice, and democratic change. Iranian women unlatched the door to this brave new chapter two years prior during the Green Revolution. This epoch-making participation and sacrifice has reclaimed, reframed, and magnified the clarion call for women’s rights in a region where they make up half the population.
Seizing the momentum, this section will track the questions, events, individuals, and debates making a difference in the lives of Middle Eastern women around the world. We will explore pressing issues concerning the protection and promotion of women’s rights in constitutional re-drafting processes, increased female political and economic participation, transitional justice, and others. The section also seeks to inform readers about the civil society organizations both in the region and around the world working to improve the lives of Middle Eastern women at home, in refugee camps, under siege from their own governments, in the Diaspora, and wherever else they may be.
We are committed to portraying authentically these women and carving out a space for them to represent themselves. It’s high time that Arab and non-Arab women of the Greater Middle East had a rallying point—a place of their own to convene, discuss, and disagree about the issues and events that define them for better or worse. Long a contentious group, virtually everyone has an opinion on who a Middle Eastern-Muslim woman is, what she stands for, whether she should be circumcised, and whether or not she should cover her face. But where is she in all of this? Where was the collective outcry whose power should have been exponentially felt on the airwaves and in the blogosphere over the death of Amina Filali, a 16-year old Moroccan girl who opted for suicide rather than a living death as the wife of her rapist? While this is a closely felt tragedy for both men and women of the region - not to mention humanity at large - women should have struck lightning in the skies over this injustice and loss. This kind of complacency cannot continue.
Here’s hoping that opening an inclusive and truth-seeking space to reflect, share, and discuss the authentic female experiences of the Middle East and its Diaspora communities worldwide is the first step forward.
Sincerely,Areej Noor, Women’s Editor
*Photo Credit: Peace Education Center
Areej Noor is a Somali-American writer, political analyst, and Washingtonian by way of New York City. Completing an M.A. in Islamic Studies led Areej to research and write for the Brookings Institution’s Doha outpost focusing on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Her writings have been featured in the Times of India, Gulf News, and Executive Magazine among other publications. Three years ago Areej founded a production company, Moltencake Productions, after creating and producing a talk show project, which is currently being shopped around. She has just produced her first documentary-film on the ongoing revolution in Egypt.