Women's Rights in the Middle East

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Brad Thomas
Intro To world Politics
Women’s Rights In The Middle East
The question of the ability for the west to promote women’s rights is a central question of the promotion of human rights as a whole. The criticism of the west taking such an action is not an argument against women’s rights but one of the west taking such actions. It is my contention that such an action would be counterproductive to the movement to eliminate patriarchy. Moreover, the problems with patriarchy in the west get worse and only make our efforts ineffective at addressing problems.

The thrust of efforts to promote women’s rights is to create equality between males and females. Many of the scholars that support these actions reference things like the inability for Saudi women to receive a driver’s license or the clothing limitations of many women in the Middle East. While these are horrible injustices these countries do not stand alone in their patriarchal actions. In the same way the west is guilty of patriarchy. Many western countries still have businesses that have what has come to be known as the glass ceiling in which women cannot progress in their careers. Even the rhetorical choices of many words like “bitch” or “whore” are obvious indicators of underline sexism in the system. Even the ayatollah of Iran has gone as far as calling out the west for such values, according to a BBC Middle East article. The fact that other countries recognize this means that efforts by the west to influence the Middle East in the area of women’s rights would be ineffective at best. If other countries believe that we have problems with the promotion of women’s rights then the west criticizing the Middle East is on seen as hypocritical in the eyes of leaders there.

Attempts at promoting rights in the past have not managed to get anywhere. There have been movements all throughout the world in recent years to attempt to remove structural problems with women’s rights. In an essay detailing the recent actions to create equality for women Pinar Ilkkaracan noted: Four UN conferences held in the 1990s—the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, the 1995 Beijing Conference, the1999 five-year review of the ICPD (ICPD-H5), and the 2000 five year review of the Beijing Conference {Beijing-f-5) witnessed the Catholic and Muslim religious right engaging in unprecedented cooperation to oppose and restrict women's right to control their bodies and sexuality. Because there is such opposition from the religious right it is impossible for western action to overcome the current problems with women’s rights. At the same time though women across the globe have joined together to form multiple international coalitions in order to combat the problem of women’s rights in the middle east, and have seen changes in many countries but also the language that is used in international law (Ilkkaracan).

The west has also often celebrated many instances of women’s rights that has upset middle eastern leaders. In March of this year the many media outlets celebrated the fact that women and the Middle East had began to wear bikinis and opened their own brothels; this was met with an immediate backlash against attempts to push women’s rights onto the middle east (Raymond). Because the west is both seen as an equal abuser of women’s rights and celebrates such things as aforementioned it actually causes the Middle East to regress in the area of women’s rights as there is increased pressure. When there is criticism it causes political paralysis in this area. Pressure being seen in a hypocritical manner leads to countries no longer caring about the actions that would be taken, Moreover, if the end goal of such actions is to promote equality, and these actions do the inverse, then the results are an independent reason to not do them. Rights for women are an indefinite need in any culture and thus we should...
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