Miscellaneous

One of the most frequent questions I am faced with in the process of my dialogue with men regarding the personal laws and women’s rights is whether or not we, women - think Mehr is a provision which is an unjust imposition on men. They further ask whether or not we, women - who demand equality for ourselves be against this provision?
The aim of this paper is to explore some contradictory implications of nationalist projects in post-colonial societies. It examines the extent to which elements of national identity and cultural difference are articulated as forms of control over women and which infringe upon their rights as enfranchised citizens.

Despite the extensive literature on nationalism, there are relatively few systematic attempts to analyse women's integration into nationalist projects. The little there is conveys seemingly contradictory messages.
Un Parisien est tout surpris quand on lui dit que les Hottentots font couper à leurs enfants mâles un testicule. Les Hottentots sont peut-être surpris que les Parisiens en gardent les deux. Voltaire
Is it a lapse into impressionism to ‘lend great importance to the weight of Islam’ in considering the roots of the oppression of Arab women? Despite all the social transformations that have occurred in the Arab world since the era of the caliphs, secularisation has yet to take hold in nearly all the Arab countries. Legislation dealing with marriage, divorce, and the status of women (inferior in all cases) is still based on, or directly inspired by, Koranic law in all the Arabic-Islamic states. What role is played by Islam, what is its influence, and how is it used?
In referring to Middle Eastern cultures, writers and speakers often allude to the Arab, Persian, Turkish etc. Cultures. What do these terms mean? What do they imply? Are these the true cultural boundaries in the Middle East?
As increasing numbers of scholars have pointed out, the study of Muslim peoples and their societies - including their faith, histories, behaviours etc. - has often been made difficult by a number of essentialisms and conflations. Before turning to the specific concern of this paper, I want to deal with some of these because of their implications for the issue of sexuality.
We, the women participating in the Arab Court of Women, held in Beirut, June 28-30, 1995, as testifiers and audience to those testimonies; we, who had the opportunity to take part in this great event, jointly assume the responsibility of what we heard of words of truth which broke the ring of silence that had long stifled our voices and sufferings of women.
Editor’s comment: The article of Stasa Zajovic from the Women in Black-Belgrade rings a bell to all of us who live in multi ethnic, multi religious, multi cultural countries, threatened by growing nationalism- or communalism-, where the hatred of the Other closely entwined with population policies (as a mild form which can evolve into its drastic form of ethnic cleansing) put women at the forefront of these policies.
One of the crucial issues affecting women in South Asia today has been the growth of state sponsored religious fundamentalism. This is occurring in the context of increasing evidence of violence against women - dowry murders, sexual harassment, rape often by the police and army, and the throwing of acid on women in the streets. (1) As a result of campaigns and agitations by women's movements, these incidents have been highlighted and the governments have passed some preventive laws, albeit with many loopholes and limitations.
Riffat Hassan, a native of Pakistan, received her doctorate in Islamic Philosophy at Durham, England. Since 1976 she has been a professor in Religious Studies at University of Louisville, Kentucky. Currently, she is a visiting lecturer at the Divinity School Harvard University, where she is working on a forthcoming book entitled "Equal Before Allah". The following interview was recorded on April 16, 1986 and formed the basis for a November, 1987, Asian Communiqué radio program produced by Betty Milstead of the Center of Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin.
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