Morality Police: Institutional Violence vs. Women

— By: Alexandra Kinias —

Clerics with long bushy beards and fermented brains obsessed with female sexuality, I envision them gathering in dark caves in remote mountain terrains. From behind thick clouds of opium smoke, they fantasize over the memory of a woman’s scent that lingered in an empty elevator long after she had disembarked, or at a sight of toes in summer sandals seen from under a long kaftan. As they acknowledge the evilness of women’s sexuality, they draft fatwas to relegate them from the ranks of humans to a level above their domestic animals, to discipline and control them.

Beating women publicly first caught international attention after the rise of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan. They were caught on cameras whipping and beating women who walked in the streets unaccompanied by male guardians or not covered from head to toe in a burqa. Women with uncovered ankles were also beaten and so were those whose heels clicked the ground as they walked.

Women and human rights organizations attacked the Taliban’s atrocities committed against women, unaware of or choosing to ignore the fact that these laws were instituted in Afghanistan by Burhanuddin Rabbani’s Islamic government when it came to power in 1992, four years before the rise of the Taliban to power. But for political reasons atrocities committed against women then were not a subject of interest to anyone to discuss.

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The Taliban

Rabbani’s government hadn’t invented these rules either. They were borrowed from the Saudi model of the Committee for the promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPCPV), which is commonly known as religious police. Formed in 1940 to enforce and ensure the implementation of the sharia law in the Saudi society. Members of the CPCPV known in Saudi as Mutawee, patrol the streets, to enforce the strict dress code on women and ensure gender segregation.

Until 2007, they were armed with wooden canes to beat the offenders, including foreigners working in Saudi Arabia who didn’t adhere to the laws of the land. They were also empowered to detain offenders. After multiple videos went viral on how they exploited their power, the Saudi council of ministers issued a regulation in 2016 that stripped them from it. They still roam the streets on the watch for women who are not covering their heads or mingling with non-relative men, but they have no power to arrest, only to report such incidents to the regular police for action.

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Morality Police following a women in Saudi Arabia

In Pakistan, the leader of the Pakistani Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Mohammed Khan Sheerani, condemned a women’s protection law passed by the Punjab government in March 2015 and declared it un-Islamic. The Women’s Protection Act was drafted to protect and defend victims of domestic violence, encourages them to report abuse, and assist them with legal protection from their perpetrators. Even though the act doesn’t criminalize domestic violence, yet it was attacked by all religious groups in Pakistan that requested the Punjab province to withdraw the law. And in return, the CII proposed a controversial bill that permits husbands to ‘lightly’ beat their wives with a small stick, to punish and discipline them if they disobey their husbands’ orders.

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Pakistan CII

CII was formed in 1961 with a 20-member constitutional body that include at least two judges and members with a minimum of 15 years’ experience in Islamic research and teachings, to advise the government on religious aspects of the law and society – but its recommendations are not binding or legally enforced. While CII proposals are not taken seriously by leaders when they intervene with political and financial decisions, they influence the government’s decisions in matters concerning family and social issues. The ridiculous bill that encouraged violence against women was shunned by the media and women’s rights activists in Pakistan, yet its proposal was sufficient enough to squirt more venom against women into the minds of millions of the CII followers.

Sudan’s Public Order Police, notorious for its aggression and brutality was formed in 1993, after the rise of Omar Bashir’s Islamic government to power, to enforce the implementation of Sharia law. POP is empowered to arrest violators of the code of conduct, which includes women walking in public without head cover or wearing pants. Suspects are arrested and tried in special Public Order courts. According to the Sudanese constitution, suspects of such are punished by public floggings.

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Public Flogging of a Woman in Sudan

When violence against women is institutionalized by governments that govern according to the Sharia code of laws, how can we expect that men growing in these cultures to stop abusing women?

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Somethings Can’t be Covered

 

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–By: Alexandra Kinias —

It was not uncommon, when I was growing up in Egypt, to hear loud screams screeching the stillness of the hot summer nights, when people opened their windows to the cool Mediterranean breeze. Chilling sounds of women pleading to their husbands to stop or calling for help pierced the neighborhood. And by sunrise, perpetrators walked freely in the streets, as if nothing had happened, while the bruised faces you met, with eyes averted were the only proof of the heinous crime committed against women

Domestic violence is a disturbing phenomenon practiced by men across cultures for control and dominance. According to the UN reports, up to 70 percent of women have experienced violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. And according to the same report, it is estimated that of all women who were victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members.

No woman is immune against this abhorrent practice regardless of her age, religion, race, education, and social or economic status. And while it is criminalized in many countries around the world, in male dominant societies, as in the Middle East and where sharia is the panel code of law, domestic violence is often blamed on women for bringing it upon themselves.

In these societies, domestic violence is not just accepted, but also promoted, advised and justified by religious scholars. Defenders of the faith deny that Islam is responsible for the perpetuation of violence against women, as it also exists in non-Muslim communities. Many go as far as refuting the interpretation of the verse that explicitly states it.

Domestic violence is practiced by men of other cultures and other beliefs in communities around the world, but in such societies, it is criminalized and perpetrators are punished. On the other hand, in communities where Islam rules, not only it is not criminalized, but also viewed as an acceptable male behavior, where victims are mostly blamed for their victimization.

As violence continues, women not only reach a state of submissiveness in accepting this abusive treatment, but also justify it, and question their role in triggering it. This justification becomes their coping mechanism. It gives them a delusional hope that if they changed, violence would stop. In a survey reported by amnesty international, 39 per cent of Egyptian women agreed that a husband is justified in beating his wife in certain circumstances, which may include going out without telling him, neglecting the children, arguing with him, refusing to have sex with him, and burning the food.

Awarded with the privileges handed over to them at birth by their gender, men find no need to change. Women in societies where violence pervades are bred to obey, please and work the relationship, take more care of the men’s needs, avoid confrontations, and become a subordinate – not an equal partner – in the relationship. So under whatever circumstances, women believe that it is their fault to be punished for not being a good partner, and often come to the defense of their abusers.

Acknowledging their own fault in triggering their aggression, women modify their attitudes and behavior, as a good wife or partner should. They avoid confrontations, for it’s their role, dictated by their society or community, to be understanding and considerate; to stay calm, accept the abuse and not answer back, not to intimidate, and not to complain. And when women are punished for defying the status quo, they blame themselves and promise to be more careful next time. Unfortunately with each incident, their voices get lower until they are eventually silenced.

Experiencing violence is traumatic and demeaning. Physical and mental abuse is humiliating. It shakes women’s confidence and her self-worth dwindles. It perpetuates in silence because it is shameful to talk about. Perpetrators achieve control over the victim by breaking her emotionally and mentally. Victims become isolated and as a result, the cycle continuous because silence is the perfect ground for abuse to thrive.

Many victims endure years of abuse without seeking help because of financial dependency and fear of homelessness. So instead of breaking away from the relationship, women stay and try to make it work. But against their best judgment, the vicious cycle of domestic violence not only doesn’t end, but it escalates and the episodes become more frequent, severe and intense.

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Are Women Their Own Worst Enemies?

–By– Alexandra Kinias

Misogyny, practiced for thousands of years in patriarchal societies is still widely spread in Islamic countries where women are viewed and treated inferior to men. In Egypt, a country with male dominance, misogyny is deeply embedded in the culture and forms the base for women oppression. Not only practiced by men for control, but also by women against their own kind and well being. Brainwashed from a young age that inferiority is their source of empowerment, some women advocate for their own submissiveness.

On a televised religious show where audiences ask live questions, Suad Salah, Islamic scholar from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, explained that Allah granted Muslim men the permission to rape non-Muslim [infidel women], to “humiliate” them. She labeled women captured in legitimate wars as slaves. “To humiliate them, these women who are spoils of war become possessions of their captors who can enjoy them sexually.” She said.

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Suad Saleh

Instead of denouncing the outdated medieval practice, Saleh defined a legitimate war, in today’s world, as one that Egypt would fight against an enemy like Israel, and thus the Israeli captive women can be enslaved and raped by the Egyptian soldiers. Saleh’s shameful justification is the base upon which ISIS troops enslaved the Yazidi women they captured.

Saleh’s incident is not an isolated one. Women who have experienced submission are often the best advocates for misogyny. Azza Al Garf, a parliament member during the Islamic government of the MB, was also an advocate for female misogyny.

A faithful member of the MB since the age of 15, Al Garf was a live product of her religious cult. Head of the Muslim brotherhood women’s committee, Al Garf’s priorities were to revoke the meager rights that women had fiercely fought for. She voted to shut down the offices of the Egyptian National Women Council that had been fighting for women’s issues for decades, which were viewed as a threat to their own conservative values. She also supported the repeal of the Kulw law that gave women the right to divorce, the ban on female genital mutilation and a bill proposed by the Salafist MPs to decrease the minimum marriage age for girls to 14 instead of 18.  She refuted that women’s status in Egypt has degraded, especially in the political arena. And in spite of the official statistics that 98% of women are victims of sexual harassment, Al Garf denied to CNN that women in Egypt are subjected to harassment, and affirmed that such incidents, if occurred, are the fault of women for dressing indecently. Her enthusiasm to curb women’s rights only proves her loyalty to the rigid doctrine preached by the Brotherhood and not to her gender. Fortunately for the women of Egypt, the Islamic parliament was dissolved before any of their laws were drafted.

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Azza Al Garf

In 2005, years before the rise of MB to power, and amidst the struggles of women organizations to bring equality, rights, social and marital reforms to women, an anonymous Egyptian journalist Hayam Darbak launched “One woman is not enough,” a pro polygamy campaign.  Darbak called on women to allow their husbands to take another wife and accused those who denied their husbands this religious right of selfishness.  In an interview with Laha Magazine Online, on September 19, 2005, Darbak criticized women’s organizations fights over women’s rights since in her view women were already enjoying the rights granted to them by Islam.

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Hayam Darabok

“I’m calling for women’s rights: their right to get married even to a married man. Polygamy is a ‘license from God to stabilize society and solve its problems.’ Fighting the call for polygamy is a crime committed against women who missed their chance to marry. Polygamy is the answer to social injustice. It fights spinster-ship of other women.” She proceeded that God permitted men to remarry because He knows they needed more than one woman in their lives.

Darbak, an anonymous journalist, attracted wide attention to her name, by debating the issue on television. On the televised show she urged her husband to take another wife and claimed that she sought her son’s assistance to find a second wife for her husband who refused the idea entirely. She feared that with her busy schedule she was not properly attending to her husband’s needs.

Darbak claimed later that she was surprised that 95% of Egyptian women refused her initiative and labeled her as a house wrecker. But that didn’t deter her.  In fact, with the name recognition she gained, she wrote articles and appeared on various television shows to promote her notorious cause.

Appearing on television to gain publicity by promoting and defending polygamy was a crime that would not have been allowed in countries that respect women and their rights.  None-the-less, after gaining her moment of fame, the campaign died as suddenly as it started. Darbak vanished from sight to appear ten years later with another campaign to empower women and promote equality.

Many reasons drive women to practice misogyny against other women and unfortunately in societies where women are still struggling for their rights, this behavior further hinders their advancement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How the Tribal Culture of Arabia is shaping the Political Life of Muslim Women

–By:Alexandra Kinias —

megawati

Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia in 2001

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world was ruled by a woman. Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia in 2001. Bangladesh, the third populace Muslim country, had been ruled as of 2016, for the past 25 years by women; Khaleda Zia and Sheikha Hassina Wajed, respectively, were both elected as prime ministers.

bangladesh

KHALEDA ZIA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 1991 – 1996; 2001 – 2006

sheikh

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 1996 – 2001; 2009 – Present

The list of Muslim countries that were ruled by women includes Pakistan, Turkey, Senegal, Kyrgyzstan and Mali. Kosovo and Mauritius have female presidents. In Afghanistan, two female candidates ran for president against Hamid Karzai. Out of these eleven Muslim countries, none is an Arab, not even Egypt, the birthplace of Huda Sharawy, leader of the Egyptian suffragette movement and head of the Arab Women Union that influenced women movements across the Middle East. That raises the question of whether it is Islam or tribal culture that is hindering women’s advancement in the Middle East.

turkey

TANSU ÇILLER, Prime Minister of Turkey, 1993-1996

Even though gender equality is stated in the Egyptian constitution, women still can’t run for presidency or be appointed as prime ministers because parallel to the civil law in Egypt, the sharia (Islamic law) has the final word in deciding matters concerning women.

kyrgyzstan

ROZA OTUNBAYEVA, President of Kyrgyzstan, 2010-2011

Because of the non-uniformity of Islam’s interpretations and implementations, women’s leadership is a debatable issue among religious scholars, depending where the religion is practiced. While the restriction on women’s leadership in many countries in Asia is limited to spiritual leadership (leading Muslims in prayers), it also includes political leadership in countries influenced by the tribal culture of Arabia. So not only women in Egypt and other Arab countries with Muslim majorities can’t run for presidency, but also in Lebanon, the only Arab country where only Christians can become presidents, no woman emerged as a political leader.

senegal

MAME MADIOR BOYE, Prime Minister of Senegal, 2001-2002

Male dominance is deeply engrained in tribal culture and women oppression existed in societies that predated Islam. Since the realization that girls were a profitable commodity, women became bargaining chips for tribal negotiations and their rape and enslavement motivated and attracted warriors to the battlefields. This culture perpetuated over the centuries and mutated through the various interpretations of the Quran to become the ideology that governs the lives of billions.

bhutto3 (1)

BENAZIR BHUTTO, Prime Minister of Pakistan, 1988 – 1990; 1993 – 1996

It is unrealistic though to throw the blame of women’s oppression entirely on this culture. Misogyny is a global social ailment and is practiced in societies where women’s rights are most advanced. However, as opposed to Muslim societies where misogyny is institutionalized, in western societies; laws that were drafted after fierce battles by women’s movements ensure gender equality before the law and criminalize the abuses against women. And while law enforcement turns a blind eye against domestic violence in the Middle East, the Islamic government of Indonesia is exerting extreme efforts to combat it by encouraging women to report such incidents. In Pakistan, however, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) drafted a bill in May 2016 recommending that men beat their wives to keep them in line. This bill came in response to a proposed law that would make it easier for women to report domestic violence. The CII opposed the law, and declared it un-Islamic.

kosovo

ATIFETE JAHJAGA, President of Kosovo, 2011-present

The tribal culture of Arabia that hijacked Islam left its fingerprints in countries thousands of miles away from its birthplace and molded the lives of its followers across the globe into its tribalization form. In these societies religious scholars play the role of tribal leaders, drafting and supervising laws that guarantee women’s oppression.

And while the laws in the west enforce the civility of the nations, in spite of the new culture that travels with the immigrants under the cover of Islam, this nomadic culture is fragmenting identities of the countries it dominates. Today, the Egyptian identity that has thrived and survived over the millennia is standing at crossroads. It has been overshadowed by the tribal culture imported from behind the sand dunes of Arabia and affecting both Christians and Muslims alike, and especially women.

CisséMariamSidibeKaïdama

Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé – former prime minister of Mali

In Egypt, the women’s movement that reached its peak in the mid-fifties lost its momentum and witnessed a reversal over the past three decades with the surging influence of conservatism. In less than a year after Islamist Morsi came to power, the parliament had already proposed laws to reverse the ban on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), to drop the age of marriage for girls below 16, and to abolish the law that gave women the right to divorce, thus ensuring women’s oppression. Luckily the Islamist parliament was dissolved before these laws were drafted.

ameenah

AMEENAH FAKIM, President of Mauritius, 2015 – Present

The threat by the Muslim Brotherhood galvanized millions of women to take the streets side by side men to topple the theocratic regime. Women realized their power and are demanding more rights. The new administration has also recognized their power and is bestowing them with more privileges. For the first time in the history of modern Egypt, ninety two women were sworn in as parliament members, eighty four of whom were freely elected. The efforts to empower women are evident. While empowering campaigns are launched across the country, more women are taking leading positions in the government and more of them are choosing to remove the veil.

The road is long and bumpy. The conservative voices are clashing with the civil onse empowering women, to maintain their grip and control over them. The next few years are crucial in determining the path to where both women and the country are heading. The ultimate proof for the civility of Egypt is by appointing a female prime minister or allowing women to freely run in the presidential race. Until then, women empowerment will remain an unfinished business.

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Filed under Islam and Women, Politics, Violence against women, Women of Egypt, Women's Rights, Women's rights in Egypt

How the Tribal Culture of Arabia is shaping the Political Life of Muslim Women

–By:Alexandra Kinias —

megawati

Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia in 2001

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world was ruled by a woman. Megawati Sukarnoputri served as President of Indonesia in 2001. Bangladesh, the third populace Muslim country, had been ruled as of 2016, for the past 25 years by women; Khaleda Zia and Sheikha Hassina Wajed, respectively, were both elected as prime ministers.

bangladesh

KHALEDA ZIA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 1991 – 1996; 2001 – 2006

sheikh

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, 1996 – 2001; 2009 – Present

The list of Muslim countries that were ruled by women includes Pakistan, Turkey, Senegal, Kyrgyzstan and Mali. Kosovo and Mauritius have female presidents. In Afghanistan, two female candidates ran for president against Hamid Karzai. Out of these eleven Muslim countries, none is an Arab, not even Egypt, the birthplace of Huda Sharawy, leader of the Egyptian suffragette movement and head of the Arab Women Union that influenced women movements across the Middle East. That raises the question of whether it is Islam or tribal culture that is hindering women’s advancement in the Middle East.

turkey

TANSU ÇILLER, Prime Minister of Turkey, 1993-1996

Even though gender equality is stated in the Egyptian constitution, women still can’t run for presidency or be appointed as prime ministers because parallel to the civil law in Egypt, the sharia (Islamic law) has the final word in deciding matters concerning women.

kyrgyzstan

ROZA OTUNBAYEVA, President of Kyrgyzstan, 2010-2011

Because of the non-uniformity of Islam’s interpretations and implementations, women’s leadership is a debatable issue among religious scholars, depending where the religion is practiced. While the restriction on women’s leadership in many countries in Asia is limited to spiritual leadership (leading Muslims in prayers), it also includes political leadership in countries influenced by the tribal culture of Arabia. So not only women in Egypt and other Arab countries with Muslim majorities can’t run for presidency, but also in Lebanon, the only Arab country where only Christians can become presidents, no woman emerged as a political leader.

senegal

MAME MADIOR BOYE, Prime Minister of Senegal, 2001-2002

Male dominance is deeply engrained in tribal culture and women oppression existed in societies that predated Islam. Since the realization that girls were a profitable commodity, women became bargaining chips for tribal negotiations and their rape and enslavement motivated and attracted warriors to the battlefields. This culture perpetuated over the centuries and mutated through the various interpretations of the Quran to become the ideology that governs the lives of billions.

bhutto3 (1)

BENAZIR BHUTTO, Prime Minister of Pakistan, 1988 – 1990; 1993 – 1996

It is unrealistic though to throw the blame of women’s oppression entirely on this culture. Misogyny is a global social ailment and is practiced in societies where women’s rights are most advanced. However, as opposed to Muslim societies where misogyny is institutionalized, in western societies; laws that were drafted after fierce battles by women’s movements ensure gender equality before the law and criminalize the abuses against women. And while law enforcement turns a blind eye against domestic violence in the Middle East, the Islamic government of Indonesia is exerting extreme efforts to combat it by encouraging women to report such incidents. In Pakistan, however, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) drafted a bill in May 2016 recommending that men beat their wives to keep them in line. This bill came in response to a proposed law that would make it easier for women to report domestic violence. The CII opposed the law, and declared it un-Islamic.

kosovo

ATIFETE JAHJAGA, President of Kosovo, 2011-present

The tribal culture of Arabia that hijacked Islam left its fingerprints in countries thousands of miles away from its birthplace and molded the lives of its followers across the globe into its tribalization form. In these societies religious scholars play the role of tribal leaders, drafting and supervising laws that guarantee women’s oppression.

And while the laws in the west enforce the civility of the nations, in spite of the new culture that travels with the immigrants under the cover of Islam, this nomadic culture is fragmenting identities of the countries it dominates. Today, the Egyptian identity that has thrived and survived over the millennia is standing at crossroads. It has been overshadowed by the tribal culture imported from behind the sand dunes of Arabia and affecting both Christians and Muslims alike, and especially women.

CisséMariamSidibeKaïdama

Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé – former prime minister of Mali

In Egypt, the women’s movement that reached its peak in the mid-fifties lost its momentum and witnessed a reversal over the past three decades with the surging influence of conservatism. In less than a year after Islamist Morsi came to power, the parliament had already proposed laws to reverse the ban on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), to drop the age of marriage for girls below 16, and to abolish the law that gave women the right to divorce, thus ensuring women’s oppression. Luckily the Islamist parliament was dissolved before these laws were drafted.

ameenah

AMEENAH FAKIM, President of Mauritius, 2015 – Present

The threat by the Muslim Brotherhood galvanized millions of women to take the streets side by side men to topple the theocratic regime. Women realized their power and are demanding more rights. The new administration has also recognized their power and is bestowing them with more privileges. For the first time in the history of modern Egypt, ninety two women were sworn in as parliament members, eighty four of whom were freely elected. The efforts to empower women are evident. While empowering campaigns are launched across the country, more women are taking leading positions in the government and more of them are choosing to remove the veil.

The road is long and bumpy. The conservative voices are clashing with the civil onse empowering women, to maintain their grip and control over them. The next few years are crucial in determining the path to where both women and the country are heading. The ultimate proof for the civility of Egypt is by appointing a female prime minister or allowing women to freely run in the presidential race. Until then, women empowerment will remain an unfinished business.

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Filed under Islam and Women, Violence against women, Women in Egypt, Women's Rights, Women's rights in Egypt

Dekka: A ray of hope in a Cairo’s poor neighborhood

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Reham Ahmed:Founder and Director of Dekka

Those who believe they can change the world are the ones who actually do, and Reham Ahmed, an avid believer in community service is determined to bring change to her poor neighborhood of Al Marg in Cairo. Together with a team of volunteers, the 24 years-old business administration graduate, is conducting a survey among young people in the neighborhood and analyzing the social ailments that are hindering their progress. Based on the findings, Ahmed founded “Dekka,” the first neighborhood cultural center that serves free of charge young people in her community, between the ages of 15 and 30. Ahmed is confident that culture and art are a big part of the cure for their social ailments.

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Dekka, was initially founded as a library and book club in October 2015, in a small rented room, to spread awareness and restore hope in the hearts and minds of young people and help them rediscover themselves through reading and knowledge. As the idea evolved to include more activities like music, arts and handicrafts, Ahmed rented an apartment earlier this year to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. However, a bigger place translated in more investments beyond her means. Focused on her dream to develop Dekka as a cultural beacon in her neighborhood, the persistent young woman didn’t give up. Her mother who stood beside her daughter and encouraged her to proceed with the project since it was just an idea in her head, stepped in to help her with the finances available to her.

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Reham also invited Rahma Mohsen, her long life friend, to join the project. A true believer in the power of books and knowledge herself, Rahma became a big supporter of the project, both financially and emotionally. A full time college student, Rahma helps as much as her time and schedule allow, which leaves managing the place to fall on the shoulders of Reham, the oldest and more experienced member of the team. Reham organizes the cultural and musical events, brainstorms with the team of volunteers that assist her for the upcoming events, communicates with the speakers, prepares for their presentations and currently she is developing the program for the children’s summer activities.

While many are elated with the new project and view it as a beam of hope, others are cautiously watching with cynicism. Reham admits that marketing Dekka to young people, which depends heavily on the word of mouth, is not as easy as they had anticipated.

“Young people in our neighborhood are not used to be provided with such activities and services within close proximity from where they live, and that makes them skeptical about our standards in comparison to other places that offer similar services, which they have to travel long distances to reach. But once they come to Dekka, they appreciate what we offer and they return back. The growth is taking place gradually and organically. And that’s what makes Dekka an interesting adventure.” Reham said.

But with the diversity of activities offered, the founders are confident that its growth is imminent. And in spite of the difficulties and challenges Reham faces, she urges young women to never let go of their dreams. “To let your dream die in front of your eyes is a crime you commit against yourself. Keep your dreams alive and work hard to achieve them.”

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And when asked about her dreams, she answered, “I want Dekka to become a big library and beacon for enlightenment and knowledge in my neighborhood and the areas around it. By benefiting the community, I am also benefiting myself. Through the activities offered at Dekka, I am learning about arts, culture, and music and most important I get the opportunity to read more books and meet inspiring people. Spreading awareness and hope, and sharing one’s knowledge to enrich others is what I truly believe in, and what I aspire to do.”

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Reham also hopes that as Dekka grows, so would its library, which so far includes a limited number of books for the use within the premises. The library depends heavily on donations of new and used books. As the library expands, young people will be allowed to borrow books. Other than donating books, Dekka invites people with success stories to share their experiences and knowledge with its young visitors, to inspire and motivate them.

*Dekka is an independent entity with no political affiliation

To donate books call: 011- 4191-3922, and a representative will come and pick them.

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A man in Egypt could be sent to three years in jail for slandering women

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Taymour El Sobki on a TV show

–By: Alexandra Kinias —

Slander, humiliation, and ridicule of women are the active ingredients for jokes and humor in Egypt, and the shortest way to fame and financial gains. In a society where misogynists thrive, the blend of these ingredients produced the notorious Facebook page “Diaries of a Suffering Man.” Founded and administrated by Taymour El Sobki, the page attracted more than one million followers. With no substantial material to offer, but jokes with sexual contents demeaning and ridiculing women, – the magic blend to attract followers in a conservative and male dominant society – Sobki’s fame surged. It brought him out of the virtual world to television screens and right into jail.

Ironic how television hosts, especially women, interested to attract laughs from viewers, don’t challenge or question his motives. The more controversy he creates, his fame escalates, producers enjoy their fat wallets, and for that, women’s honor and dignity may be sacrificed at the altar of the advertising companies.

He affirmed on a popular show that – according to statistics, that he failed to quote their source – 33% of women in the conservative south of Egypt are unfaithful, and 45% of women in Egypt expressed interest to cheat on their husbands, but waiting for encouragement. His controversial remarks generated uproar and subsequently he received multiple death threats from men offended by his remarks. The prosecutor general issued a warrant for his arrest after a number of accusations filed against him from citizens, from the South of Egypt, for publicly defaming their women. According to the Egyptian law, Sobky could be jailed for up to three years if convicted.

Sobki, a product of a society and culture that advocates misogyny, and like most men born and raised in such environment, he finds no offense in slandering women. He practiced the right granted to him by religious scholars who marginalized women’s role to breeding machines, disregarded their rights, labeled unveiled women promiscuous and blamed them for their own rape, and granted men the license to beat and humiliate them. Along with religious scholars, the media also plays a major role in promoting violence and abuse against women. For many decades, violence, slandering and marginalizing the role of women in society and the workforce, have been the common denominator in movies and television shows. And due to the changes in ideological and religious beliefs, misogyny that found the fertile soil to grow, had gained speedy momentum. Sobki chose the sugar coated misogyny that had mutated to variable forms wrapped in satirical cloaks, which women accept as part of the culture, often with a smile, unaware of the crime committed against her.

As his fame escalated, Sobky launched a pro-polygamy campaign in January 2015. Ignoring the uproar from women rights and feminists groups, he proceeded with his psychopathic idea and launched another page on FB, “Polygamy Campaign.”

He explained the objective of his campaign in an interview with the electronic publication “Algarida News”. With the monthly membership fees collected, the campaign that he hoped to eventually register as an NGO, would assist underprivileged married men to remarry a second wife. Should this campaign succeed in the future, he would form a political party with a representation in the parliament. He proceeded that once elected a parliament member, he would campaign to repeal the divorce law that grants women the right to divorce. He blamed the law for the escalating rates of divorce in Egypt and the social problems caused by it. For anyone who watched carefully the events as they unfolded in the last few years will notice the astounding similarity between his objective and that of the Muslim Brotherhood.

More than one hundred years after Qassim Amin launched his campaign to liberate women, improve their social status, abolish polygamy and grant them the right to divorce; El Sobki is shamefully campaigning to repeal some of the rights that women had fought for over a century to gain.

Basking in a misogynist society surrounded by rights and privileges, El Sobky’s arrest caught him by surprise. Whether his arrest was an isolated incident or  the first step for more to come, is early to predict. But whatever message was sent out, Sobki’s arrest was an eye opener for men that slandering women is a crime that the time has come to  pay for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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