By: Alexandra Kinias
Photograph by: Lalla Essaydi
When I started my blog three months ago, I had no intention to write about women’s issues beyond the Egyptian borders. And for that I had three reasons. First, since I was born, raised and spent a great amount of my life in Egypt, I am well aware of what I would be writing about. Everything would be first hand experience to me, either through my own eyes or through the eyes of women I knew. Second, in the blog I was going to address women’s issues that I would tackle in my novel, which is set in Egypt. The third reason that I didn’t want to write about women’s issues outside of Egypt is because I didn’t want to venture into unknown territories and be discussing other cultural and social issues of places that I had never been to.
So, with all that in mind, I had a broad idea of what I wanted to write about and what issues I would discuss. And in doing so I developed the habit of browsing the Egyptian websites of magazines and newspapers every morning. I was very lucky to find endless articles that addressed the issues that were of interest to me. But it seemed that while I was doing so the floodgates opened.
In the last three months and while I was hunting for material for my blog I was extremely overwhelmed with the amount of women’s issues that I had stumbled upon from various sources. And I realized that in the Middle East — even though the societies are culturally different bur because most of the rules and laws that deal with women’s issues come from the same source — the suffering and struggle were common among the women of region. The intensities varied from one society to the other, but they all shared the unfortunate destiny that the women were born in male dominated societies. The cultures in these neighboring countries were tightly interwoven together that it became obvious that even in the moderate societies that were shifting toward conservatism, women’s rights were being lost along the way. I was no longer able to avoid or ignore what I came across. I have no idea what to do, but my heart is bleeding when I read that in this time and age a Sudanese reporter was sentenced to flogging for wearing pants, or that a teenage girl in Turkey was buried alive for having a lover, or that an eight years old girl in Saudi Arabia was sold into marriage, or that the supreme court in Egypt denied women their rights to work as judges, or that a Nigerian woman was sentenced to death by stoning for bearing a child after being raped, or that a twelve years old child in Jordan dies in childbirth, or that a Saudi television broadcaster was violently attacked and almost killed by her husband. The list is much longer and the wounds are much deeper. Do these cultures truly believe that they can find a respectable place for them under the sun when their sheikhs appear on television screens promoting violence against women to reform them?
Unfortunately, they will not find a place for them under the sun, but most likely they will retreat to the darkness of the medieval caves where they would eventually be forgotten.