Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Why we are fixated on women’s rights

I have seen status updates of some of my male friends asking “why isn’t there a men’s day?”

Some say “how can women claim to be equal to man? what equality? God has created us different. we cannot be equated. are these people crazy. totally blasphemous.”

Another one says “isn’t this differentiation in itself? Let go of this fixation on women rights. Work for equal rights without highlighting ONE gender.”

Maybe they are rightful claims. But I choose to oppose. From time immemorial there is evidence that man has had a superior hand over everything of this worldly life.

From a religious point of view, from an Islamic perspective, we have to take into account the numerous instances where it is specifically admonished to the man to be kind to their women folk. Islam highlights the important role of women in society, in economy, in nation building, in spreading education. There is enough evidence. But that’s not my point doing this post.

My point is, the human race is dominated my men. That is a basic fact. Women naturally are made more sensitive, more adaptive and more docile. Society has taken advantage of this, ALWAYS. The reason a day is marked to highlight on women’s rights is basically to address this issue. The reason why the Islam specifically addresses this issue is for this specific reason. Nonetheless, the society is run my men [for whatever reason - mostly I attribute it to women's role and self-nominated commitment in the upbringing of their children] hence women’s rights are compromised and sidelined.

This somehow ends up making the women more subservient and starts to believe, at varying degrees, that their existence revolves around men - for protection, for safety. And the society makes the women believe that they need to hold to the marriage, to their end of the bargain no matter what. This leads to a silence acceptance of life's ups and downs and eventually becomes folly to abuse. That's just what I believe based on my experience and what I see around me.

"In the Maldives, every 1 in 3 women between the ages of 15-49 has been a victim of domestic violence."
...
"Seventy percent of Maldivian women believe, for example, that there are circumstances under which a man is justified in beating his wife. Infidelity and disobedience, most women accept, are valid reasons for taking a good beating from the husband...
One in every three Maldivian men who commit acts of domestic violence against women do so for ‘no reason’. One in four does it to punish the woman for disobedience, and one in five does it because he is jealous...
One in every ten man beats up his partner because she refused him sex, and the rest of them do it for any number of reasons – lack of food at home, family problems, because they are broke or unemployed, because they are having problems at work, or because the woman is pregnant."

Women are taught from a young age to accept their fate patiently. It is ingrained in their minds that being silent is the virtuous thing to do. The society teaches women to take things for granted. When atrocities happen, women naturally go silent.

The Maldives government is run by the President with his cabinet of Ministers. The cabinet has only about 13% representation from the female gender. This translated into only 13% say in a women’s perspective in government policy making.

The laws that the rest of us are to follow are made by the Parliament (taking into consideration Shari’ah of course). Maldives Parliament is made up of 77 elected members from the constituencies. The current Parliament consists of only THREE women (only 3.9% contribution in having a say in the making of law & regulation).

We witnessed the ill-effects of this when the bill on Domestic Violence was debated at the parliament. The absurd views held by some of the MPs dismissing the claims about domestic violence was disgusting.

When it comes to the implementation and execution of the penalties against those who do not abide by the laws and regulations laid out by the Parliament, the ruling of the judiciary is quite significant. And what is disturbing is that there is only a very small number of women in the justice system. We have witnessed how the male gender aren’t able to fathom the severity and sensitivity of crimes committed against women. The popular ongoing case against a child of sexual abuse, being treated as fornication, is one that comes to mind.

——————————–

All this basically means that women’s issues, women’s struggles, women’s plight is quite substantially sidelined when it comes to policy making and execution.

I do not say that there aren’t men who are disadvantaged at the hands of society. However, in comparison to the opposite gender the men are way more privileged.

We need to learn to walk and work side by side respecting each others biological differences yet acknowledging intellectual and emotional equality.

Originally posted on my blog MindBlur @ http://mindblur.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/why-we-are-fixated-on-womens-ri...

P.S. Note on the image & quotes:
Image taken from http://cdn02.cdnwp.thefrisky.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/27/abused-wo...
The quotes taken from: http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/maldives/drive/GBVReport2004.pdf

Downloads

Comments

amiesissoho's picture

There should not be men's day

There should not be men's day to justify what has warranted international women's day. They need to get to the history and compare what has been and continues to happen to women and the need to highlight them. If men see their mothers,sisters and daughters abuse daily and it is taken for granted that is normal, then such men will simply as for men's day. The call to end violence against women cannot end if men do not see themselves as part of the problem. It is great men who respect women and they do not hide their weakness by inflicting pain and despair on women to feel manly. Women should say no to trivializing women's concerns. Thanks for sharing the thoughts.

Amie

amira7521's picture

men is part of the problem :)

Dear Amie

That's a great way to put it.
"The call to end violence against women cannot end if men do not see themselves as part of the problem."
I simply love that. Creating awareness is the key.

Salam
Amira

JaniceW's picture

Power over ourselves

American feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft said: “I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves.” Her words remain relevant today.

We are demanding that we receive the same legal protections as men, that those rights are held equally without regard to sex. There is so much to be gained from an equal society where women’s full participation is the norm. This is the type of society we are all working towards and while we live under the rule of men, we must continue the fight for a fairer world.

Women are the experts on their own lives and on what it is to be a woman. We live in societies where we do not have equal political representation, where we are disadvantaged and discriminated against simply because we are women. For this reason, we will continue to celebrate International Women's Day and raise awareness of these inequalities until the day when we live in a just world.

amira7521's picture

power over ourselves

That is a great quote. And it gives a profound message. All women need to etch that on our brains so that we are empowered.

It is a sad reality that it is us who let's us be abused. I know!!! there are so many situations that does not let a women to do what she believes to be right, believes is the right thing for her.
By staying in an abusive relationship we are trying to prove to ourselves that we can overcome the problem, that eventually things will be ok, that in the end it does not matter if we sacrifice our happiness.
I guess we are trapped in our own belief system that makes women more vulnerable.\
It's only us who can take us out of this. We need more informative sessions for women.

Regards,
Amira

delphine criscenzo's picture

Like a fish in water!

It might be difficult for men to realize that they are privileged and have more rights than women because we live in a patriarchy, a world ruled by men!

They might feel like a fish in water! The fish is so used to the water that it becomes oblivious to it and stops noticing it! Patriarchy is the water and men are the fish. In this story women are like dolphins or whales who can live in the water but need to go to the surface to breath, therefore making them conscious that the water is not perfect for them and that they need to supplement their oxygen intake to survive!

Though it is impossible to make the water breathable for both fish and dolphins, it is absolutely possible to make societies fair and respectful to both the rights of men and women!

Thanks Amira for the thought provoking post!
Delphine

Delphine Criscenzo
Online Training Coordinator
World Pulse
www.worldpulse.com

amira7521's picture

that explains

Dear Delphine

That's just the nicest way to explain this phenomena.

Fish in the water! !!!

Regards,
Aminath

Wendyiscalm's picture

Your Male friends confusion

Hi Amira. Love your piece. You really bring the point home.

I am not bitter towards men, but you have permission to give your confused male friends a message from me, you know the one's who don't know why there isn't a Men's Day. You can tell them I suggested "Every day is Mens Day. that's the problem".

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

amira7521's picture

very true

Dear Wendy

Thanks for the comment. You are right. Every day is mens day. whether they know it or not, whether they accept it or not, that is a simple fact (I believe that).
But what is worrying really is that men do not seem to understand what we are trying to say; or the hardship that we are go through.
Also worrying is that there are men who are disadvantaged, abused, and degraded - But I guess that's a minority when we compare it to women's cases.
I just hope we can put our difference aside and accept each other as humans with feelings and emotions just as the other gender.

Regards,
Amira

Youa re right, Amira.

I agree with you that in order for women AND men to have a good life we MUST put our differences aside and see each other as the soul beings, we are, as human beings. I do not think that beating me up with our words and bitterness is the way, but it is difficult. I do NOT think in this lifetime men will understand us. I think the whole point is to see what matters to another person, what is of value and then try to get through to the men that way. Trying to get them to see a women's view I do not believe will work. But finding out what matters to them and finding a way to get through to them on that level I think has a chance to begin to make the change.

Keep up y our great work and your great words.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

amira7521's picture

We need to reach the men

Dear Wendy,

I agree with you. "I don't think in this lifetime men will understand us"

I wish more men read and contemplate our heartaches and agony and make life bearable to all.
I am sure many men have stories to share - Why else would they end up being the culprits, the perpetrators, the abusers. It must have started somewhere somehow.
So yes, I too hope that we can work this out.

Regards,
Amira

Lea's picture

Amira,Thank you for this

Amira,
Thank you for this wonderful article! You're absolutely right in that men take for granted the fact they generally have control in all aspects of societies. Women are often not made aware of the fact that their behavior is influenced by men's expectations of their behavior, appearance, opinions...
It's very disturbing to read that in the Maldives, many women are subjected to domestic abuse and sometimes for no apparent reason! I still cannot believe that in the 21st century, women worldwide are still victims of domestic violence.
Women need to be made aware that they have a voice and that have the right to demand equal rights and respect.
Governments, leaders, institutions must make more of an effort to implement programs that teach mutual respect and tolerance between men and women, thus allowing them to develop a better understanding of their needs.
Thank you!
Lea

amira7521's picture

awareness at a young age matters!?

Dear Lea

True!
It is unbelievable that in this day and age, women are being subjected to domestic violence.
It is unbelievable that we take it with silence.
It has nothing to do with the level of education. At least I am a testament to that. I am a graduate from western Universities.
But maybe it is the early education that really matters.

There is a greater need to reach girls and boys with gender equality messages at an early age.

Thanks.
Amira

I am glad you shared the post here.

The question is how can we action to inform women that abuse is not OK and we women do not have obey all the demands from men. This is an extremely hard challenge when women for centuries have damaging belief systems.

On the other had the most men thinks they are superior to women in Maldives. The challenge is for action. With the current political situation all social issues are not priorities. Parties are campaigning to win a election and looking for ways to destroy their opponents.

Sadly, the situation in Maldives is bleak. Progress is hinders.

Thought provoking discussions! What actions can we take to improve the situation in Maldives.

Amei

amira7521's picture

awareness and education - YES

Dear Amei,

Nice to see your comment.

I think the key actually is empowering women to never ever accept abuse. If it is accepted once, it continues and after a while it is difficult to get out of it - as it becomes the 'normal'.
And at present, I think most women believe that they are independent and can survive on their own. But when children are involved, women tend to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of giving a balanced, intact, family for them. At least that's what my experience tells me.

I guess awareness needs to be created that there is never an end to the sacrifices. Once we get into the loop of self sacrificing, it again becomes habit.

True, it is sad that our government, and our political system is in chaos right now. It is expected given that we are going through a transition period after a 30 year rule being toppled by someone who is not among the "elite" per se.
We cannot expect to get much meaningful intervention from the government for the next few years - as right now everything is politically motivated.
The burden lies on NGOs and feminist movements.

Participating here on World Pulse is my way of joining this movement. I hope many more follows.

Much love to you for your inspiration.
Amira

I hope those who say this is true.

I was working in the Maldivian Education system during the time of Maumoon - The education policy was not aimed to empower women nor the people of the Maldives. The policies had no room for thinkers it created more followers. They used the education system to maintain the power. I am saying this because I saw it with my own eyes - it was 'educational corruption' my term for what was happening. I resigned in 2005.

When the party system was introduced only some new what it was all about. Most of the Maldivians did not fully understand democracy. Some did not comprehend the idea of 'freedom of speech' hence, people are abusing it too.

I traveled to islands and spoke to people. I listen to them and I know to some extend how they feel. To empower women in Maldives is a huge task mainly because the islands are spread across the ocean and the population is sparsely distributed to among those islands. There are many challenges 1- political will, 2- geographical, 3- human resource, 4- financial, 5 - negative belief systems. Making connections & maintaining the support will be a challenge too.

I do hope that we can have more Maldivians with similar interest in this forum. I am so glad you joined. I did invite some Maldivians but the usual excuse. Too busy. I can actually start a program to offer in Maldives to women & girls to take charge or their lives.

There is hope... and we never give up.

With love
Amei

amira7521's picture

it will get better eventually

At least I am one person who believes the current chaos is a transitional period. We cannot blame it on one person or one party.
Such drastic changes can never go smoothly, especially where there is so much power play in place. At the end of the 30 year power game, there were too many power hungry people who wanted a piece of the cake for themselves. What is happening right now was expected and people need to have enough forethought to patiently wait through it to let it run its cause. This does not mean we just do nothing about it. On the contrary this is the time when we need to create more awareness.

The questionable toppling of the government last year only made things worse - and has done more damage to our economy, our mentality, and our unity. And in the process basic human rights are compromised, including women's rights.
The burden on the new government that takes the oath of office in 2013 is immense.

I say it's level-headed women, with no ulterior political motives, that can make a meaningful change right now.
men ego is damaging what little good that has happened with the new constitution.

may God guide us all
Amira

Amei's picture

You are not alone

The current situation is a chaos. I too believe that if there are people who genuinely wants to change the situation Allah will help with the change for the better.

I personally do not blame on a party. However, the leaders of any party has to take responsibility for what they are creating in the Maldivian society. will be with people who do the right thing regardless who it is.

The changes where radical and the people are unable to keep up with the changes. Not only power hunger people, some wanted change for the sake of change. There was so much injustice going on and now the justice system do not have credibility to bring justice. The situation is sad.

Yes, you are correct the mutiny of the police has not help the situation. It is a complex situation. it has to be analyzed thoughtfully taking into account all perspectives without hidden agendas.

You made another good point, for 2013 elected government, it is going to be a challenge. The hatred and division is great. The vote become very powerful. Maldivians need to learn and practice the vote to exercise their rights. You too know how thoughtless can people become about their votes for immediate gratification. There is a lot of education to be done.

A woman who is strong and fear no other human with sincerity and honesty can bring changes. It will take time. People who can think and talk with concern and compassion needs to start thinking about the election after this year. A long term plan is needed for Maldives. If a group of people can come together to honestly to bring change for the good of the country it can be done. Allah will help without doubt.

Thank you. It is good to have a meaningful conversation.

have a good day. may Allah keep you blessed.
Amei

amira7521's picture

we are not alone, i am sure

It indeed is good to find someone who thinks outside the box. Currently everyone is so much devoted to this party or that, that it is difficult to have an honest discussion without being labelled as "yellow fever", being anti-religious, fundamentalist, or along the lines of following elitist etc etc.

thank you for this honest feedback.

I hope there are more people who genuinely thinks about the nation before putting their own political ideologies first.

Salaam
Amira

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

World Pulse Launches our Inaugural Community Advisory Board!

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative