@ramitanavai says in her documentary on sexual violence that men look in an intimidating, sexual way at women in Egypt #twconf12
Even while the documentarian sat with a victim sipping tea, she heard the shrieks of girls being harassed by a pack of teenage boys. She noted that nobody came to the rescue of the girl. "In the space of a few yards we were called whores more than a dozen times," said the documentarian. "I think it's one of the few times in my life I've been happy not to understand the local language," she said of the comments from men she constantly encountered on the streets of Cairo.
Men admit they judge women on the way they dress in @ramitanavai documentary on sexual assault of women in Egypt #twconf12 'as far as they (the men) are concerned, women are to blame entirely for their behaviour', says Ramita
The young documentarian arranged to meet with some men to ask them why women are being groped and assaulted by men. They told her her lack of a hijab or head scarf opens her to some harassment. They also pointed out that young men can't afford to get married, so they feel free to harass girls as a way of getting what they want "by force.
"The documentary airs on Friday on Channel 4: Sex, Mobs & Revolution.
Alison Smale of IHT steps up to present first plenary @trustwomenconf #twconf12
Alison Smale of the IHT spoke of the recent story of a young Afghan girl who had been attacked with an axe for allegedly running away from her husband--an example of how culture can trump the rule of law. Smale introduced Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali-born founder of the AHA Foundation which fights forced marriage and other abuses against women in the West.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks on male guardianship of women around the world #twconf12
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch MP and the victim of forced marriage, chose to speak about the institution of male guardianship--an institution that may spread to other Muslim-majority countries as Sharia law is incorporated in new constitutions.
Ali notes that male guardianship exists not just in Saudi Arabia, but in places like Turkey and Indonesia.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, says that the legal system has a responsibility to promote culture and forward the higher aspirations of a society as it advances and evolves. Its role is not simply to implement law and order. But by being one step ahead, the legal system can move the society to a higher level, she said.
This has particular relevance for the advancement of women. For example, Ebadi said that in Saudi Arabia, it can be legislated that a man should not take a second wife, except in exceptional circumstances. After several years, once that change has become socially accepted, then polygamy can be outlawed. In this way, law advances and culture is brought to a higher level, Ebadi said.
In Egypt during the revolution, women showed that they were culturally far ahead of the legal system, Ebadi said. One woman posted a picture of her naked body on Facebook along with the picture of a naked man, and asked the question: 'What is the difference between these two bodies? Why must one cover all her body, and the other, a man's, can go naked?' The post evoked a huge backlash from religious forces. But hundreds of Egyptian women responded by posting their pictures, naked, and asked the same question.
Ebadi said this shows how the women were far ahead socially.
Her example illustrates how culture and law can clash, and that law can pave the way toward advancing social change.
A male guardian can deny his ward food, shelter and medicine, the ability to work, the rights to her own inheritance. "A male guardian can choose any form of punishment he chooses for his ward...he can make the home life of his ward into a permanent torture chamber, and many of them do," Ali said.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says male guardians can deny a woman her eduction, sexuality, right to work, right to divorce, custody of children, right to inheritance. He can choose any kind of punishment - he can yell at her, beat her, lock her up, rape her, mutilate her, subject her to cutting or sewing of genitals. He can even kill her in the name of honour. #twconf12
Said Ali: Some women argue from religious conviction, saying it's God's will. Others argue from convenience, saying a bad guardian is better than none at all.