Oppresion of Women in the Islamic World

Oppresion of Women in the Islamic World

There have been many debates both within the Islamic world and without regarding the use of burqua, chador, and hijab (articles of clothing that cover the body) by women. The burqua is seen in some ways as oppressive towards women and in others as an act of religious devotion. This images by the International Society for Human Rights shows the burqua as an oppressive instrument towards women.

Do you think this photo accurately depicts the impact of the burqua on women in the Islamic world? Can the use of this image be justified by the ISHR? Are the intentions of the ISHR obvious in this picture or is there maybe some underlying meaning that isn’t directly seen?


3 thoughts on “Oppresion of Women in the Islamic World”

  1. Does the ISHR risk misunderstanding the ways some women might articulate their use of hijab as liberating? Does it risk imposing cultural values inappropriately, or at least unhelpfully? Does this image do anything to get (western) viewers to do anything other than pity? (Is pity useful?)

  2. I think power of pity is hard to overstate. Recently words like empathy have become fashionable and words like pity have gained negative connotations. To pity someone is to feel sorry for them and to empathize is to be able to relate to their pain. The fact of the matter is that most people in the west can not relate to or even fully understand the abuse that many women suffer when living in extremist theocracies. This is where pity comes into play. If westerners feel sorry for oppressed women their sorrow will motivate them into action. Pity might lead people to spend time, money, and political capital to help those suffering. Whether westerners have a condescending attitude towards those they are helping or can not relate to them at all does not ultimately matter.If I donate a million dollars to helping these women just because I feel really bad for them or because I can truly relate to their plight I am still donating a million dollars. When fighting for just causes the motivations are irrelevant as long as the ends are achieved.

    I do, however, believe that the poster risks misunderstanding the burqua and imposing cultural values. In some nations women may actually see the hijab as a way to express themselves and thus free themselves from conforming to other traditions. The picture undermines this idea. The steel bars stretching across the burqua send a clear message that traditional Islamic values are trapping women and locking them into roles they may not want to play. Unfortunately, the human rights organization risks demeaning the women who wear burquas and thus creating a hostile environment in the west for the very same women that it is attempting to save from the supposed intolerance of the east.

  3. Before answering the question whether or not this image accurately portrays the role of the burqua in the female Islamic World, we must cite and take into account background sources on what that specific role is. How can we judge a sexist culture if we know no more than the image we have here? To accurately assess gender equality (or lack of) within the ISHR, we must further understand Islamic culture itself. I do not believe that the burqua is intended to oppress women, rather serve a religious purpose. This is a means of religion versus oppression. In order to make a viable assessment we must analyze and research the role of the burqua in the both the ISHR and Muslim religion. This photo is not an accurate portrayal because it lacks vast amounts of information needed to make a judgment: some women may not feel imprisoned or degraded behind their burqua. In fact, I know Muslim-Americans who choose to wear and look at their burquas as symbols of their dedication to God.

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