Exemplary Declaration

Exemplary DeclarationThe recent Declaration released by the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) entitled “End Violence Against Women” ratified mid March 2013, which unleashed a torrent of unexpected reactions particularly from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Al Azhar in Egypt. Sections of article 13 stirred turmoil of indignation and abrupt apprehension as they viewed it as a document that contradicts the sacred morals and principle of Islam.

When the commission included sections that would allow woman’s freedom to choose of a partner that might not be of the same religion or could be of the same sex and for women to have control over their own sexuality; it became oblivious that such amendments are contradictory and completely incomprehensible in conservative societies such as the Muslim societies and will not be acceptable by social standards, let alone being in compliant with Muslim social norms.

On the other hand, the MB fierce response towards article 13 led secular and liberal parties to accuse MB of promoting reactionary social views while in reality they were more into zealous concern to preserve their views of the values and principals of Islam. Their fury led them to create a huge misconception to the entire declaration and deemed it as a document that will undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the social fabric and the very cohesion of the family.

The entire Declaration however discussed amply and repeatedly tools and means to end violence against women and article 13 is just a small part of that document.

I came to realize that it should not be such a difficult task for the CSW to reform an exemplary declaration that could be more considerate of the conservative matters pertaining to women, not only in Islam but in all three Abrahamic religions. The conservative populations of to these religions are massive in numbers and can not be marginalized. A serious consideration to their religious background should be outlined decisively in the document in order for the commission to avoid alienation to the Declaration or further isolation to certain groups of women.

It is known that CSW would use every possible tool to encompass the ever changing status of women all over the world and a continuum reformation of woman’s protective laws and rights should be comprehensive to their faith as well.

Ironically, the lengthy and prolonged CSW Declaration condemned and denounced unequivocally all forms and practices of discrimination and violence against women, horribly fell-short to stop them or eradicate them. Some forms of discrimination are subtle enough not to be prosecuted, such as when a woman is denied a job because of her “veil” or banned from attending school because of her “Nekab” through which a legal action couldn’t be pursued because discrimination cases could not be substantiated. Millions of similar stories related to Muslim women with unresolved issues.

Contrary to common belief, Male dominance in Muslim societies wasn’t the product of the preaches of Islam but of a culture that unconsciously inhibited the capabilities of women and pushed them to act in a subservient role while consciously nurtured and sustained the superiority of males and had then to act in supremacy and selfish manner. Consequently, the question of weather or not Islam is compatible with Human Rights and Democracy? should be rephrased as weather or not male dominated cultures are compatible with Human Rights and Democracy?

The final statement of the declaration stated in a defying tone and affirmed that same idea and indicates a decisive opposition against male selfishness even though I would question the adequacy of the rhetoric and the position it was placed in, yet it voiced our anger.

I quote from the actual draft of the Declaration “The above documents and demands will face lot of opposition because of selfish interest of humans, particularly males”, the excellent charter or demands by CSW.

I might also add that the notion of having an exemplary declaration could either be a myth that would go no further than a fictitious form or a task that would soar beyond limits, and become a realistic project destined for a challenge, and at the end It is up to us women.

Faten Hafez

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