Al-Ahram Weekly Online   18 - 24 October 2012
Issue No. 1119
People
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Limelight:

Pray for all Malalas

By Lubna Abdel Aziz

In a hospital bed in Pakistan lies an innocent 14 yr old, courageously fighting for her life. In the bright light of day, with a blazing sun shining in the skies of her native land, she heard her name called out. She lifted her head in response and was blatantly shot twice by hired hooligans who also wounded two of her friends. Those armed assassins had followed her to school, to do the bidding of their Taliban bosses, to kill that beautiful little girl. What crime was that dear heart guilty of? She was born a girl! How dare she resist a Taliban order for girls not attending school? How dare she hunger for an education for herself and her girlfriends? Were she to survive, those goons have sworn to go after her again, determined to rid the world of her like.

Why the Taliban so fear an educated woman is left to individual deduction. It was not too long ago that all men felt this way. Let us not simply blame ir all on Islam.

Malala Youssefzai is only a symbol of millions of young girls, captive to their sex and victims to their men. Extremists and reactionaries of various persuasions in Asia, Africa and other parts of the globe, despise women as subordinate, unclean creatures, to be disposed of at will.

Inspired by the fate of one fragile child, the United Nations has decreed October 11, as "Day of the Girl", in an effort to promote a girl's right for survival, let alone equality. Is this a case of too little, too late? Admittedly, through the years the UN has exerted such efforts to raise awareness in certain under-developed countries, but efforts with no results are meaningless.

The West is quick to point fingers at the religion of Islam“ê¶..that religion of peace and submission. How often must we cry out, it is not Islam but a few Muslim men who commit those grievous crimes in the name of Islam, hurting their religion far more than non-Muslims.

Societies began as matriarchal, because women were revered for their fertility. Since the emergence of the patriarchal society, women have been shoved to the end of the bus. They were given minor roles of bearing and rearing children. Many attribute the change of concepts to the advent of Christianity. Popes encouraged the empowerment of males, and it has been downhill for women ever since. Where would the Western woman be today were it not for the Industrial Age? Only then did they manage to improve their lot, leaving their Eastern sisters still struggling under a hardened patriarchal autocracy.

It is worrisome that the perception in the West, perhaps in the rest of the world, that Islam alone is responsible for the inferior position of females, when it is the men, the husbands, fathers, brothers and sons who have politicized and legitimatized women's lowly status. It was men who burned witches at the stake a few hundred years ago. Shockingly there are still millions of men who look upon a woman as nothing more than a threat, a source of seduction, and therefore must be separated and hidden, lest she soil male purity. How can a poor mortal man not be overpowered by their feminine witchcraft?

Because women are no longer willing to accept the defined roles allotted to them, Muslim men are using their religion to assert their domination and control. Malala is their victim, so are many women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and elsewhere.

Gone are the good old days, those days of ancient Egypt when there were more than 100 prominent female physicians, where in their mythology the goddess Isis was in charge, and carried the title of "The Throne". The kingdom was the domain of the Queen over the King, in terms of political power. It was not all mythology. The Greek historian Herodotus indicated that women went to the market-place, to carry out business affairs, leaving the husbands at home to weave their looms.

Societies are beginning to relearn the gender roles. In times of necessity, women were called upon to rise to the occasion, and that they did. During wars and other crises, women performed male functions. It is getting harder and harder to put a woman down. Have men forgotten that women carry the responsibility of rearing the next generation. Uneducated mothers will rear a male generation that will be deficient, inadequate and uneducated. Perhaps a dozen Amazonian women can show these men just what a woman is capable of.

One can take heart that things are beginning to change. We have male nurses and female judges. Males wear long hair and earrings and women work as carpenters and constructors, and of course they have to wear the pants. The current Western trend suggests that sex does not determine ability“ê¶..Not any more!

While a young girl fights for her life because she was born a girl, let us remind both men and women, in the East and the West,, that Lady Peses Het of ancient Egypt, was the first physician in world history. This is an absolutely verifiable fact. Will those assassins, will this patriarchal society bring this important truth to the consciousness of humanity?

Can we, in this third millennium, do more than pray for the world's Malalas

"Men know that women are an overmatch for them ... If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves".
-- Samuel Johnson ( 1709-1784)

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