Join Date: May 2012
As it says right under my name, I live in Turkey, so that's the country I used in my example. And, as my nick implies, I live in the city of Adana, which is in the south east not far from Syria. I've been to other countries, like Saudi, but I left them out because I wasn't there long enough to form an opinion. But, I've lived here for almost 23 years, so my opinion is valid. Also, I stopped being a white man in an Arab world over 10 years ago, since I more or less act like the locals.
But, one thing I've kept is my feelings towards women, and they don't match the general opinion in this society. Yes, the western areas and the big cities have a more modern view, but even that's changing. The current government is pushing this country in a more fundamentalist direction, and may end up like Iran if it keeps going.
My quotes on the subject were based on experience. Women here are treated worse, in general, than women were treated in the US in the 40's and 50's. It's not as oppressive as Saudi, where women are not allowed out without a male family member, and must always be completely covered in public. But, women here are still second class citizens without the same rights as men. I don't mean the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) type of rights, I'm talking about how there are legal things women can't do. Not because it's against the law for them to do them, but because the old conservative crowd still runs things.
For example, if a woman wants to buy a house in her name, they turn her away and tell her to come back with her husband, or if she doesn't have one, to bring her father or brother. She has the legal right to buy one, but the authorities won't deal with her because she's a woman. Oh, she can raise enough of a stink that it will eventually get resolved. And, the authorities will deny that they ever told her she couldn't do it. But their first reaction is always to make her get a male to speak for her because she's only a woman.
As for "honor killings", I know more about them than I want to (story for another time). No, they are not legal, I never said they were. But the killers always get lighter sentences, because after all, they only killed a woman, and a dishonored one at that. You kill a man in a drunken brawl, you get 10 years in prison. You gun a woman down in the middle of the street, in cold blood, you get 5 years max. And, if she was a relative, who was not married but no longer a virgin, you'll probably only get 2 or 3 years.
And, as I mentioned in my other comments, if you rape a girl, all you have to do is buy her marriage from her family, and you don't go to jail. It doesn't matter if the girl doesn't want to marry you. If you pay the family what they want, she marries you or she dies like a dog in the street. You read about it every day in the newspaper, another girl killed because she ran away instead of marrying who her family told her to marry. Headlines like "16 year old girl killed for running away from 60 year old husband".
Women who divorce their husbands, regardless of the reason, are shunned by society. Women who complain about men grabbing them in public are ignored, unless they are famous or rich people. Women who get beaten to a pulp by their husbands, run to the police station, only to have the police call their husbands and tell them where to come pick up their wife. I could go on and on, but my point is that women here only have the rights their fathers or husbands allow them to have. Some places in Turkey are more open, some places less. But in all of them, the undercurrent is still there, and the men take that attitude with them when they travel.
I'm sorry if this doesn't match your view of middle eastern society. But this is the reality. And, Turkey is the most modern and liberal of all the middle eastern countries. Dubai and Bahrain (spent 10 months there) may seem very liberal, but that's because they cater to westerners. Their actual society is even more strict and more oppressive to women than here. And, it goes down hill quickly from there. How do I know? Because women are constantly running to this country, if they can, so they will be treated better by society. If this place is as bad as it is, and women are coming here to escape, how much worse is it where they're from?
Or, do I have to give examples about the religious police in Saudi and Iran? Or the forced marriages of 12 year old girls? Or, the bottom of the barrel, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that's slowly coming back into power?
I agree, there are good people in every one of these countries, people who know it's wrong to treat women as possessions who have no rights of their own. But when 80% of the country still believes that way, the 20% good people can only open pockets of resistance. The countries overall still have the same attitudes towards women, and they take them wherever they go...