Mona Eltahawy Head to Head with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera English:
Mona Eltahawy showed herself to be the provocateur she wants to be as a feminist Muslim. As she says, is it empowering for women to sit in an Arabic parliament when they consider female genital mutilation “the beautification of women”? They are supporting the misogynistic patriarchy which has allowed them to be so “empowered.”
Her call for the Arab Spring to lead to a sexual and psychological revolution was well articulated.
Over 90% of women in Egypt are assaulted by female genital mutilation (graph below):
Indeed Egypt is considered one of the worst countries in the Arab world for women:
A UN report in April said 99.3% of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to sexual harassment.
“The social acceptability of everyday sexual harassment affects every woman in Egypt regardless of age, professional or socio-economic background, marriage status, dress or behaviour,” said Noora Flinkman of Egyptian campaign group HarassMap.
Meanwhile, the survey said Iraq was now more dangerous for women than under Saddam Hussein, with women disproportionately affected by the violence of the past decade.
Saudi Arabia ranked poorly on women’s involvement in politics, workplace discrimination, freedom of movement and property rights.
But the conservative country scored better than many other Arab states when it came to access to education and healthcare, reproductive rights and gender violence. [BBC]
Mona Eltahawy’s article “Why Do They Hate Us” raised these issues and harrowingly she had her own experience of sexual assault and violence to draw on. From a position of privilege she mentions her ability to raise these issues to a global audience as a writer.
In her article, she mentions on FGM:
I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.” So even among “moderates,” girls’ genitals are cut to ensure their desire is nipped in the bud — pun fully intended. Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do — including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.
In the head to head with Mehdi Hasan she challenges cultural relativism and the false feminism which promotes a woman being less human compared to a man. My own position on the niqab does give me pause listening to how she frames the argument regarding an outright ban. I cannot disagree with how she defines the niqab, as changing the dynamic in communication and representing a misogynistic view of women.
Her interview is worth an hour of your time. It also gives me an answer to this tweet which I took umbrage at:
Well “GodlessVagina”, there are Muslim feminists I have met who are protecting human rights that I have befriended. I would be honoured to include Mona Eltahawy among that number.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog