Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters survey

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Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters survey

Post by DJKeefy »

Sexual harassment, high rates of female genital mutilation, a surge in violence and the growth of Islamism after the January 2011 uprising have made Egypt the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, a poll of gender experts showed on Tuesday.

Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking of women also contributed to Egypt finishing bottom of 22 Arab states, the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey found.

Despite hopes that women would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in Islamist groups in many parts of the region, experts said.

"We removed Mubarak from our presidential palace but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms," Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy said, referring to Egypt's toppled dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

"As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who've ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women," she added.

The foundation's third annual women’s rights poll (http://poll2013.trust.org) gives a comprehensive snapshot of the state of women’s rights in the Arab world three years after the events of 2011 and as Syria’s conflict threatens further regional upheaval.

Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. Comoros, where women hold 20 percent of ministerial positions and where wives generally keep land or the home after divorce, came out on top, followed by Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.

The poll by Thomson Reuters' philanthropic arm surveyed 336 gender experts in August and September in 21 Arab League states and Syria, which was a founding member of the Arab League but was suspended in 2011.

Questions were based on provisions of the UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which 19 Arab states have signed or ratified.

The poll assessed violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.


SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Women played a central role in Egypt's uprising but activists say the rising influence of Islamists, culminating in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as president, was a major setback for women's rights.

Morsi was toppled in July, but hopes for greater freedom have been tempered by the daily dangers facing women on the street, experts said.

A UN report on women in April said 99.3 percent of women and girls are subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt. Human Rights Watch reported that 91 women were raped or sexually assaulted in public in Tahrir Square in June as anti-Morsi protests heated up.

“The social acceptability of everyday sexual harassment affects every woman in Egypt regardless of age, professional or socio-economic background, marriage status, dress or behavior,” said Noora Flinkman, communications manager at HarassMap, a Cairo-based rights group that campaigns against harassment. “It limits women’s participation in public life. It affects their safety and security, their sense of worth, self-confidence and health.”

Respondents also cited high rates of forced marriage and trafficking.

“There are whole villages on the outskirts of Cairo and elsewhere where the bulk of economic activity is based on trafficking in women and forced marriages,” said Zahra Radwan, Middle East and North Africa programme officer for the Global Fund for Women, a US-based rights group.

Female genital mutilation is endemic in Egypt, where 91 percent of women and girls - 27.2 million in all - are subjected to cutting, according to UNICEF. Only Djibouti has a higher rate, with 93 percent of women and girls cut.

In Iraq, women’s freedoms have regressed since the US-led 2003 invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the poll showed.

A decade of instability and conflict has affected women disproportionately. Domestic abuse and prostitution have increased, illiteracy has soared and up to 10 percent of women - or 1.6 million - have been left widowed and vulnerable, according to Refugees International.

Hundreds of thousands of women displaced internally and across borders are vulnerable to trafficking, kidnapping and rape, the UN refugee agency says.

In Saudi Arabia, ranked third worst, experts noted some advances. The kingdom remains the only country that bans female drivers but cautious reforms pushed by King Abdullah have given women more employment opportunities and a greater public voice.

Since January, 30 women have been appointed to the 150-member Shura Council, the nearest thing Saudi Arabia has to a parliament - but the council has no legislative or budgetary powers.

Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system forbids women from working, travelling abroad, opening a bank account or enrolling in higher education without permission from a male relative.

“Saudi society is a patriarchal society and all its laws pertain to the rights of men,” said a Saudi legal advisor who defends victims of domestic abuse. “The woman is considered second class.”


WOMEN AS WEAPONS OF WAR

Syria's civil war has had a devastating impact on women at home and in refugee camps across borders, where they are vulnerable to trafficking, forced and child marriage and sexual violence, experts said.

Rights groups say forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad have targeted women with rape and torture, while hardline Islamists have stripped them of rights in rebel-held territory.

“The Syrian woman is a weapon of war, subjected to abductions and rape by the regime and other groups,” a Syrian women’s rights campaigner said.

The poll highlighted a mixed picture for women's rights in other Arab Spring countries.

In Yemen, ranked fifth worst, women protested side-by-side with men during the 2011 revolution and there is a 30 percent quota for women in a national dialogue conference convened to discuss constitutional reforms.

But they face an uphill struggle for rights in a largely conservative country where child marriage is common - there is no minimum marriage age - and the US State Department says 98.9 percent of women have faced harassment on the streets.

In Libya, ranked 14th for women's rights, experts voiced concern over the spread of armed militias and a rise in kidnapping, extortion, random arrests and physical abuse of women. They said the uprising that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi two years ago had failed to enshrine women's rights in law.

Women in 12th-ranked Bahrain are more active in political life than in many Gulf states, but experts said sectarianism was a barrier to rights following the Sunni regime's crushing of a pro-democracy uprising by majority Shias in 2011.

In Tunisia, ranked best among Arab Spring nations, women hold 27 percent of seats in national parliament, but polygamy remains widespread, contraception is illegal and inheritance laws are biased towards males.

Along with Syria, all Arab League member states except Somalia and Sudan have signed or ratified CEDAW.

The Palestinian territories - in the absence of recognised country status - have symbolically endorsed the convention.

But protection offered by CEDAW is superficial, experts said. Signatories may raise reservations against any article that contradicts Sharia (Islamic law), a country's family code, personal status laws or any piece of national legislation.

Comoros, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, is leading the way on women’s rights in the Arab world, the poll found.

Women are not under pressure to give birth to boys over girls. Contraception is widely accepted and supported by state-run education campaigns, while property is usually awarded to women after divorce or separation, experts said.


HOW COUNTRIES RANK (from worst to best):

22. Egypt
21. Iraq
20. Saudi Arabia
19. Syria
18. Yemen
17. Sudan
16. Lebanon
15. Palestinian territories
14. Somalia
13. Djibouti
12. Bahrain
11. Mauritania
10. UAE
9. Libya
8. Morocco
7. Algeria
6. Tunisia
5. Qatar
4. Jordan
3. Kuwait
2. Oman
1. Comoros

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/86051.aspx


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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Glyphdoctor »

This article is not credible. They say polygamy is common in Tunisia, yet it was the first Arab country to ban polygamy, in 1956!

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by newcastle »

I don't think you should dismiss the article as"not credible" on these grounds. Who's to say it (polygamy in Tunisia) doesn't happen despite being illegal? Look at FGM ....illegal virtually everywhere but still widely practiced. The islamists in Tunisia are lobbying for the law against polygamy to be rescinded.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Dusak »

I think that it is a very sad fact of life that it is highly probable that females will never achieve the status ALL women across the world deserve, equal standing in society. They are routinely treated like dogs, probably worse in most cases. They are, to the vast majority on the men folk here, considered less than sub human, chattels to be beaten, deprived and humiliated in front of their family and friends. All the powerful Western countries should band together before they start dishing out the billions of cash aid. Get your laws sorted out concerning the treatment of your women folk, or go somewhere else for the cash.
Life is your's to do with as you wish- do not let other's try to control it for you. Count Dusak- 1345.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Very sad commentary and unlikely to change in the immediate future. Sad.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by newcastle »

With most of the Arab world being subject to the "principles of sharia" I wouldn't hold out much hope for meaningful legislation protecting women. And the "powerful West" can can rant & sanction 'til it's blue in the face. Religion trumps all. In any case, I'm not sure it's religion that is the root problem....rather eons of misogynist culture....and you won't cure this with laws or threats. Education is the answer.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Who2 »

In many respects that article could be seen as an advert for certain sex tourists that visit this fair Country…..:cool:
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Sophocles.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by newcastle »

It might be a little unfair to put Egypt at the bottom of the list. This could well be a result of Egyptian women being "allowed" to be more outspoken than some of their sisters in, say, Sudan or Yemen!

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Dusak »

Yes, but every woman has the right to have her voice heard, as every female has the God given right to say no. Educate the males? Hasn't this been attempted for many years and has failed, falling on deaf ears. No matter how you try and drum into the children, the so called ideal catchment age, they only have to witness a couple of beatings from the older males or fathers within their own homes for those lessens to be lost. You will never, until time ends, be able to teach the Arab male that this should not be done to their women folk, in my opinion.
Life is your's to do with as you wish- do not let other's try to control it for you. Count Dusak- 1345.

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Eurydice »

Even in Europe women yet underprivileged (do not enjoy the same level of political and economical integration), the situation is much better in Scandinavian countries.
I heard that Egyptian wives are beaten even in the middle class Cairo families, which was a shock for me to hear :(

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by BENNU »

Eurydice wrote:Even in Europe women yet underprivileged ..., the situation is much better in Scandinavian countries.
Better in Scandinavia than - Europe :?:

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Re: Egypt worst country in Arab world for women: Reuters sur

Post by Dusak »

Eurydice wrote:Even in Europe women yet underprivileged (do not enjoy the same level of political and economical integration), the situation is much better in Scandinavian countries.
I heard that Egyptian wives are beaten even in the middle class Cairo families, which was a shock for me to hear :(
Less than a shock to know that these defenseless women are routinely beaten in every country on the planet? From impoverished families to the homes of billionaires, beatings occur in the lives of women.
Life is your's to do with as you wish- do not let other's try to control it for you. Count Dusak- 1345.

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