Oppressive governments on gender issues

by Adrian FD on November 3, 2014 - 6:14pm


First of all, we shall bear in mind different aspects while trying to understand a different culture and society from the outside world. So in the realm of keeping as merely intermediaries between our personal culture and the issue we are “judging” -since Muslim women may agree to cover their head with a “Burka” or “Hijab” under their traditional beliefs- it would be a huge mistake trying to apply our cultural values and standards in our viewpoint.

However, it can be argued that religion should be an individual chose, based on the concept of individual freedom which, is currently lacking in the Islamic State of Iran (hereinafter: Iran) as we have seen in The Circle. This lack of freedom may be found in both men and women but still; since “women’s increasing awareness of their political situation and its implications on a global scale,” its cause has been lately threatened as a counter-action towards globalization or the adaptation of modern standards of living.

Women standards –driving, getting a job, identity, autonomy, and agency…- play a major role in modernizing societies, as happened in Europe a hundred years ago. Thus, to promote women’s integration in society rather than segregation, the issue should be approached as a matter of individual rights development instead of cultural values.

In regard to the specific case of Iran, it is quite interesting how last government elections were highlighted as a shift to modernize Iran in terms Human Rights. Actually, the new government under Hassan Rouhani re-opened talks and further negotiations between Iran and the USA -after 30 years-. However, this openness is a double-edged sword since social segregation has been lately increasing. It may be interesting for the government to remain “traditional” –pursued by repression- in society while showing worldwide that some positive changes are taking place within its government. The false propaganda of western parameters to invade Iranian society by the government, leads the stronger repression on modern standards of living and so, women’s rights. On the other side, western states do not seem likely to add any extra pressure: “Silence and turning a blind eye by the western countries on the disastrous situation of human rights in Iran, especially the rights of women, under the pretext of nuclear talks would only result in further repression in Iran.”

Finally, as some may argue, Shari’a Law seems to be a big obstacle in promoting Human Rights in Arab countries. The fact that, religion is implied in social life does affect directly to the life of their citizens but should not do so to their rights as human beings. I would like to stress the difficulty of this point since, Human Rights –considering the UDHR- was developed from the rule of Law perspective. Therefore, even if most countries have approved the UDHR, at some stages it seems to be incompatible with different State systems around the world.

 The main problem is neither the Shari’a Law itself nor in the Qur’an, states shall adapt tradition to modern requirements of social life -this depends strictly on Governments decisions rather than the Qur’an or any Prophets’ dictum-. You might obtain similar results when applying strictly the bible dictum to daily western issues i.e. abortion case.

It should be also noted that, there are also non-Muslim states that share (or exceed) similar gender inequality rates as the ones checked in Iran or Syria, for example, the case of Guatemala. Therefore it can be affirmed that Shari’a is not the biggest problem to focus on but oppressive governments all over the world.