Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Political Rhetoric of Saving Muslim Women

According to the postcolonial binary position of the West versus Islam, barbaric cultural practices in certain Middle Eastern countries equal Islam. A misrepresentation which has arguably legitimatized war against those held responsible for the barbaric oppression of women under practices deemed to be anti-human rights and anti-democratic, such as veiling, forced marriage, honour killing and so on. Therefore, images of women victimized by Islam and Islamic terrorists have mobilized a large criticism in the west about waging war against such Islam, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq for defending the rights of Muslim women as responsibly which required military intervention in the region.
Western war against terrorism hence became a civilizing mission rather than a policy, which reduced Muslims and Islam to a stereotyped subjects of evils and threatening the locus of human rights and democracy, and which need to be eradicated through military power. Discourse of saving Muslim women and promoting democracy, therefore, have become a form of co-opting the non-Western cultural forms. The speech of Mrs Bush to mobilize the world in favour of Bush Administration to fight against terrorism in the Muslim world through addressing women can be coded as one of the example of the colonial narrative on Islamic culture and cruelty which glorifies military action on behalf of democracy. In her famous speech addressing the issue of terrorism and Muslim women, Laura Bush stated that “civilized people throughout the world are speaking out in horror -- not only because our hearts break for the women and children in Afghanistan, but also because in Afghanistan we see the world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us” (Bush, 2001), this as postcolonialism argues, is a form of silencing the others culture- and form of colonial civilizing missions- that reasserts western cultural identities dominance. The “us” as exclusively distinct Western identity subjugate the Muslim “other” as an element of cultural inferiority to the West.  Laura Bush holds that “because of recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment” (Bush, 2001). The West as military power holds the credit of liberation, dignity and freedom. On the contrary, Islamic terrorists are portrayed as the source of fear who suppress and ‘imprison’ their women of their mankind and own culture. The heroism and civilizing burden of the West is another political and colonial rhetoric of “the white man’s burden” toward the uncivilized other. The former first lady, then appears to frame her arguments mostly in the language of dualism. That is to say, she regards America as a powerful agent that got to speak out for the women in Muslim countries, whilst, at the same time, silencing the culture of these women and portraying them as incapable for standing up for themselves. The language of victimization she uses carry a poignant demonstration of Western superiority over  the non-white category, in a war in which the use of violence seems noble enough to bring democracy, human rights and prosperity to Muslim women and Muslim community in general. Such cultural co-option that is reminiscent of civilizing missions of the past imperial project of bringing civilization and light to the colonized. Postcolonial discourse of victimization of Muslim women under Islamic terrorism maintains and reinforces the political hegemony of the West over the rest through the political denial of the cultural difference. Abu-Lghod (2011) believes that it would not be easy to mobilize so many of these American and European women if it were not a case of Muslim men oppressing Muslim women- women of cover for whom they feel sorry and in relation to whom they can feel smugly superior. (Abu-Lghod, 2011:92).

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Factory Women : Exploring the economic, social and Cultural
Stigmatization of "Factory Women in Morocco

The Moroccan women’s plight in their battle for securing a social and economic acceptance within the Moroccan society basically takes two sides: an economic side and sociocultural one.

ü  The history of men cultural dominance is still cannot be wiped out of the agenda of lots of organizations in the way they treat women. Laws concerning women’s rights hardy affect the cultural perception of women as objects rather than human being able to produce.
ü  The majority of companies and factories are still culturally more suited to men than women. In order to break the large disparity between men and women there should be a greater effort to devalue the social and cultural inequalities as well as economic inequalities associated with the image of working women.

Further explanations on cultural stigma of working women:

The socio-demographic profile of the Moroccan population reveals that out of six Moroccan households, one is headed by a woman (22.9 % of households in urban areas and 12.0 % in rural areas) (Skalli, 2001: 80).
In order to understand and make sense of the gender role in economic spheres institutions, we should try to understand gender role within the household.
Bent is a marker of descent, a Moroccan female called bint with reference to her father: Fatima bint Ahmed, means daughter of Ahmed. With the honour or dishonour of the family being contained in the assignation (Dwyer, 1978).
Bint Virgin= bent is a female who‘s not been deflowered= purity.

·         Discourse of Hate against working women: emerged to deter and intimidate women from the world of work: women should stay home and give up their jobs for men who are supposed to be the breadwinners. Men are in a critical situation being jobless:  women’s joblessness is not regarded as economically, socially and culturally critical as men’s joblessness.
·         The use of sociocultural data concerning low marriage rate as a means of encouraging men to work and women to stay home. This condition can be only secured by giving more job opportunities to men than women. In this sense, women are seen as the source of this crisis which is seen as a social ill.
·         Wages can be deducted without proper notification, long hours work. So, it is taken for granted (somehow true) that women are docile, passive and easy to manage in comparison with men.
·         Factory women are forced to adapt to sweatshop conditions, unsafe working conditions.
·         Factory owners and manufacturing companies deny these workers medical care and refuse to pay out compensation for their negligence, leaving workers disabled and destitute for life.
·         Unskilled" and "semi-skilled" jobs considered a job that women fit in
·         Factory women are poorer, less powerful, more abused and less valued in our society (Mernisi,1988: 12)
·         Sexual harassment or violence: The lack of adequate means of transportation. Sharing the same means of transportation with men.
·         Labour legislation which has remained unchanged since 1959 when the manufacturing industry was not developed.

Weak social position, weak economic position:

The participation of the Moroccan women in labour market has considerably increased in over the last two decades (from 14.6 percent in 1984, it reached 23.3 percent in 1987 and 32.5 percent in 1999) (Skalli, 2001:77)
Working has enabled Moroccan women to break away from domesticity, patriarchy. However, the patriarchal restrictions still represented in the hate discourse against women working in factories.
In Fes, every early morning hundreds of women rush out to factories, from the slums and overpopulated areas in search of better life. They challenge the social stigmatization .Many of these women work in the factory as daughters, not as an independent, freewheeling new woman.
Unskilled" and "semi-skilled" jobs are considered jobs that women fit in. The lack of labour laws is heavily present in sectors where women work for a merge salaries.
Wages can be deducted without proper notification, long hours work. So, it is taken for granted (somehow true) that Women are docile and passive easy to manage in comparison with men. Why?
Lack of social struggle and awareness about laws regarding labour.

The global financial meltdown affected not only the financial side of women’s development but also the social and the political ones (Gaerlan, Cabrera, Samia and Santoalla, 2005).


§  Teaching life skills training and programmes to develop leadership among women for carrier development.

 Combating gender stereotypes and sexism inside factories can prevent violence against women, guaranty equal access to job opportunities and equal salaries
 Raising wages as equal as to men, or may be more, can reduce the cultural assumption of factory women as cheap.

§  Without an understanding of why stereotypes of women are so often negative, resistance can and will remain unchallenged (Rutherford, 2011: 4).

§  Economic measurement to curb violence against working women: more effective involvement of organizations and companies for protecting working women.

Ø  The rise in importance to organizations of sustainability and corporate social responsibility is evidence of the fact that organizations now recognize that they are part of a wider social system and are influenced by external material conditions. What goes on in outside society is now organizations’ business. Gender inequalities are part of that (Rutherford, 2011: 13).

§  A more judicial effective engagement of companies in domestic abuse and violence.

Ø  Reported violence against women from abusive husbands should affect their carrier in their job positions and the companies employing them. The company of the perpetrator should be made responsible to pay any physical, psychological and material damage for wives victims of any kind of violence. This should have a great revenue for the company of the victim which will be able to reimburse the victim and help its economy through the flow of capital. This initiative should also encourage company to respect women’s rights and defend protect them.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

  Under-Aged Girls Married off under a Slavery-like Contracts in Morocco

 Under-aged girls married in a form of slavery like-way, through a contract? Yes, it does exists!
Paying the father for marrying off his daughter in exchange of an amount of money that reaches 40.000 Dh sometimes? Isn’t that a form of slavery?

 Let’s talk about the practice of selling off under-aged Moroccan girls. It is called marriage under contract. It combines contradictions and controversies, just like the texture of the Moroccan society. Marriage under a contract is an agreement which is registered in a form of debt written agreement till the daughter reaches the legal age of marriage. Within the anarchy of this practice, the daughter becomes locked inside this imaginary box fortified by traditions with all the commitment it carries with it such as keeping one’s virginity, a quality that is mainly restricted to females. This is another type of marriage that was created as result of the government’s restriction on minor girl’s marriage. This form of marrying off is the closest thing to slavery and human trafficking. The father should be the main part responsible for this kind of ‘trade’ in powerless human being. He should be punished according to legal forms and laws banning slavery. The second part in this crime are the family of the groom. It is immoral and far from being human act to pay in order to marry a child. It is a disgraceful crime to make this marriage agreement conditioned by a written agreement under which the child becomes literally a sort of goods, a thing that can be traded off. Where was this kind of enslaving agreement done? Where are the Moroccan laws? This is absolutely not a unique case. Such kind of practices still dominate the majority of rural communities in Morocco where the rate of under aged marriage is rampant.

Do please translate this, share and make it known. We all need to know and be aware of this issue.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Morocco: Men Do, Women Yoyou

If there is a real Moroccan feminist movement in Morocco, then it is high time to look how it is obscured and made invisible by men jumping into the middle of it to practice their lagging-behind politics. Women trigger their issues, men take over to ‘solve’ them. This is the story of the Moroccan feminist movement, which seems to come to a conclusion that men do while women yoyou.

I take it that nothing else can perfectly be matched to the description of an oxymoron than the juxtaposing of the feminist movement with a bunch of men. Morocco is a Muslim state by the constitutional definition of the country. Within this contextual formulation of the identity of the country by means of law, Morocco has never adopted what is certainly deemed to be a Western concept of women’s liberation. Not that Moroccan women are lacking the willingness to liberate themselves, but it is rather the issue of being politically silenced and spoken for. The first voices of women in the public sphere were made possible by the liberal views of key political male actors such as prominent nationalist thinkers, the monarch, and political parties according to Professor Fatima Sadiqi. This proves that women’s movement is entirely tied up to the men elite’s involvement in the process of women’s rights. As a result, we cannot definitely separate women’s rights from the monarchy and its political, social and cultural influence as an important element of ideology and nation building of the country.

Drawing on the symbolism of certain historical events in Morocco, patriarchy again was proved to be powerful within the Alaouite’s palace, but so was the powerful message that the monarchy was able to deliver through the symbolic gesture of unveiling the princess Aicha, by the King Mohammed V. That was an event that not only mobilized the liberation of women through the individual empowerment of women to have the courage to seek life outside the domestic sphere, but also brought together the religious constitution to agree to the emancipation of women and absorb the fact that women are active agents in building the nation. However, should have the feminist waited till the green light had been given form the Monarchy and male politicians?

The monarchy remains man’s property with a man over its crown. Its symbolism is reflected on the way the Moroccan family is patriarchally constructed. Even though the current princess Lalla Salma is actively involved in women’s issues, her main concerns till now have not exceeded beyond medical and health issues. Lalla Salma has been advocating breast cancer campaigns since she founded a cancer prevention association in Morocco in which she personally spearheads its council as well as being involved with HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. The political as well as the legal issues concerning women’s rights have not touched her agenda. This is mainly due to the unclear political compass of her activities which seem to be less influential than of her husband’s, King Mohammed VI.

The Moroccan feminist movement is deeply engaged in building its struggle and ideologies upon the social conflict surrounding the Moroccan family law or what is called the ‘Mudawana’. This latter constitutes the locus of the legal and civil discrimination against women. The Mudawana should be about women, for women and by women, yet, with its sluggish evolution of its laws, it has never been the property of women, where they are positioned to craft its laws even symbolically. Where are the feminist movements in this male culture of dominating the legal and political space?