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What’s next for women’s rights in the Middle East?

What’s next for women’s rights in the Middle East?
April 13th, 2012
08:21 AM ET

Q&A with Christiane Amanpour
by Samuel Burke, CNN

Christiane Amanpour will host a new daily foreign affairs program on CNN International starting Monday, April 16. Showtimes at Amanpour.com

What’s the next phase for women’s rights in the Middle East?
I think that is the key question we are all looking at as we see these unfolding democracies in former dictatorships where Islamists are now the rising powers. The most important gauge of this will be whether women’s rights will be enshrined in the new constitutions, along with other minority rights. Will women who took very prominent parts in taking down the dictatorships, get the rights that they sacrificed and risked their lives for in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and today in Syria? One of the most important things to recognize is that for decades the UN reports have explained why the Arab and Muslim world is far behind despite it’s natural resources: there’s a lack of freedom,  democracy, but most important there’s a lack of women’s participation.

Have western women been helping their counterparts in the Middle East?
Nancy Pelosi – one of the most powerful women in the U.S. – recently visited Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and made no bones about standing shoulder to shoulder with women and saying that women deserve and must have full rights – not just because that’s right, but the parity and equality makes for a much healthier society.

Would you say women have actually lost rights in the Middle East over the past few decades? I ask you that because you once showed me pictures from 30 years ago of women in Afghanistan wearing miniskirts – that’s certainly not something we see there today.
I would say that during the late 1970s, when fundamentalism swept Afghanistan and Iran, women’s rights were set back very significantly. And it’s not just about miniskirts – that was only a certain class of people in the capital. But what was an issue in places like Iran was that while women actually gained social rights, they lost legal rights. Suddenly women became more socially empowered – they could go to school, work and be voted into office. Their fathers could no longer say this is an infidel regime because it was now an Islamic Republic. But at the same time women’s legal rights were delivered deep setbacks – property, custody, and divorce laws for example. In today’s Iran a woman’s word in court is worth only half that of a man’s. So in social matters women made strides, but in legal matter they lost the rights they had been given under the Shah in of Iran.

Overall women have been treated as second-class citizens in North Africa and Arab countries and that has weakened those countries.

What about the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan?
Women had literally been treated like dirt beneath men’s feet under the Taliban and now they’re able to go to school and work – since al Qaeda was banished by the U.S. and particularly after the Taliban was defeated post 9/11. The Afghan constitution even decreed women’s rights. And some 25% of the lower house of parliament has seats that must be reserved for women. That’s affirmative action, but it’s right.

But now people in Afghanistan, particularly the women, are very concerned that when the U.S. pulls out (which Obama has committed to) that the first people to pay the price will be the women.  They’re afraid the Taliban will come back and women will be treated like chattel again. That’s why the U.S. and others have to insist that any peace deal with the Taliban does not come at the expense of Afghan women.

What would most surprise people in the west about women in the Middle East?
I think many perhaps see women in that region as meek, docile and disinclined to partake in democracy – nothing could be further from the truth. Even the women being denied their rights and proper place in society are the backbone of society in that part of the world; they have huge influence.

It has been said many times: if you educate a woman, you raise a whole village. That’s because an educated woman will teach her children the best path to the future.

A woman who’s given a small loan by a micro-credit company will get a better return than a man – it’s proven. They not only pay back the loans but they create small businesses and gradually lift up their whole family. Time and time again women have proven themselves to be great bets for investors in the developing world.

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Barone

    Hi Christiane,

    Welcome back to where you belong, l was wondering when you will return to your favorite CNN? Im grateful that you start your new episodes with the women in the Middle east, arab, & muslim world. However, in order to really make a proper & unbiased analytic study, one must look at the recent empowerment of women in The Sultanate of Oman; as a prime example of modernization & involvement of women in the highest offices of government in the middle east.

    As I observed from your many previous programs & episodes, Islam is your favorite & passionate topic of coverage & investigation, whether it be related to women, democracy, history, politics or mere culture & social issues..

    The best way to understand the state of mind of a typical muslim & arab woman, it is pertinent that you spend a 2 year sabbatical & live as one in a remote desert areas in arabia, north africa or even Iran & Afghanistan, where time has stopped for last 300 years & where until 40 years ago, most muslim & arab women sprang from & had their first initiation in life.

    To make firm judgement, analysis & conclusions by short visits or from a skyscraper in NY or a news room in Atlanta & coming from a christian background married to a zionist jewish lobbyist will only cause further confusion in your mind & minds of your keen viewers, who may take your opinions and conclusions seriously.

    Finally, to understand the real situation & conditions of the Muslim women worldwide you must understand that Islam is innocent from what most oppressive puppet regimes have done in the name of Islam for last 100 years since the fall of Ottoman & Persian empires.. You must also comprehend the reasons & factors that lead to this situation is by studying documents at your disposal in western archives.

    Namely 1. "The Sykes & Picot Agreement of 1916": Excerpts below:

    The Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916, was a secret agreement that was concluded by 2 British & French diplomats, Sir Mark Sykes & Georges Picot. The Sykes-Picot Agreement involved itself with the partition of the Ottoman Empire once World War One had ended.

    The Sykes-Picot Agreement effectively handed over control of Syria, Lebanon and Turkish Cilicia to the French and Palestine, Jordan and areas around the Persian Gulf and Baghdad to the British. While neither France nor Britain actually ‘owned’ these territories, they were to effectively control them at a governmental and administrative level.

    Northern Syria and Mesopotamia were also considered to be an area of French influence while Arabia and the Jordan Valley were considered to be a sphere of influence of the British. Jerusalem was to be governed by an international administration.

    This agreement did clash with the McMahon Agreement of 1915 and the statements made by T E Lawrence to the Arabs who had expected to be allowed to govern their own regions after helping the Allies fight the Turks during World War I.
    The agreement was never completely fulfilled by the peace settlements but it did lead to the Arab people not fully trusting the British or French governments at times in the future.

    How did the Arab people find out about the Sykes-Picot Agreement?

    After the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917, the Communists, led by Vladimir Lenin, found a copy of the agreement in the Russian government’s archives. Russia, in the agreement, was to have influence in Turkish Armenia and northern Kurdistan – hence why the pre-communist government had a copy of the agreement. The Russian Communists released the contents of the agreement into the public domain – thus explaining why numerous Arab groups knew about it.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • Islam is deeply anti-woman

      A rationalistic Islam would be Islam no longer.

      April 16, 2012 at 6:31 am | Reply
      • rosebud99

        All of the major religions are misogynistic. Why any woman would willingly be part of an organization that holds her as a lesser person – Islam, Christianity, Judaism – is beyond me.

        April 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
      • What

        yet majority of the new converts to Islam are women.

        April 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
      • jim

        Certainly it is.

        April 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
      • GIOCONDO.

        There's no room for Women or Freedom in Islam.The only hope is separation of church and state. Look at Israel Orthodox and secular, living side by side,they turn desert into a wonderland of prosperity.
        Democracy and Highly educated population is the answer.

        April 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
      • Hannah

        This deeply concerns me the way people are talking about Islam without being correctly informed. Islam sets women and men as equals and if a woman is unwillingly forced into marriage, it is against the religion of Islam and is not allowed. The issue of violation of human rights is caused by cultural tradition and beliefs or extremist regimes (who do not understand the religion of Islam), NOT THE RELIGION OF ISLAM. Please go and read a correct translation of the Quran and inform yourself about the true religion of Islam before you talk about it because you are I'll informed and what you are saying goes against Islam. Also please do not connect the Taliban or terrorism to Islam because they know absolutely nothing about the true religion of Islam! And neither then you all who talk down on the most modern, complete religion that actually guarantees full human rights to everyone!

        January 30, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Rick Wired

        "Hannah" here below is obviously both brainwashed and blind...

        "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them." Quran 4:34

        July 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Dalian

      Very interesting from a historical perspective but what does all this have to do with women's rights in the Middle East?

      April 16, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
    • justcause

      It is amazing to see the topics of the day always interested in the Muslim world. Have anyone investigated what women right was like before Islam, women rights under the Roman and Greek empire, women rights in Christians dark ages, which were actually Islam golden ages only dark ages for the christian world...

      Well...I am not sure I have seen any investigations pertaining to those topics I just listed but in summary, women rights before Islam was extinct or may have not seen the light for centuries. For those investigating today's Muslim world, it is the perfect time to easily incriminate Islam. First one must understand that there is a difference between Cultural traditions and Islamic ideology. Unfortunately for Islam , we live in a world where many Muslims do not know their religion and mix inherited cultural traditions with their faith. This ignorance is a different topic but also linked to illiteracy in the Muslim world as a result of decades of western colonialism in most Muslim countries.

      Yes the clock has stopped in many ways due to occupation and monopolization of media aggressively piercing through the layers of desperate and poor societies displaying today's western world as the example of them all. Of course it is a myth to intellectual Muslims and non-Muslims. The west is fighting its own fight of survival at many levels.

      What I would like our dear journalists to investigate is Muslim women in Islam golden ages, The entrepreneurial Muslim woman, the architect Muslim woman, the scientist Muslim woman, the teacher Muslim woman, the military Muslim woman......

      Today's complex world is no example nor a starting point to where Muslim women should be, it is an unfair attack on Islam itself via women issues. BUT you would only convince the uneducated layer of the western world.

      Althoug it is the case, Women in the muslim world have progerssively had more important roles in today's Muslim societies, the difference is that western aspiration for a women are free from any faith or laws and cannot all apply to the topic.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • ben

      Dear Ladies, the best way to know about Islam is to read the Quran, which is easily available in the English Language on the Net. The best way to know about Islamic Law ie Syariah Law is to read about it. I have read the Quran many times being a none Muslim, and I have read about Shariah Law from Islamic Sources. From my understanding and the understanding of other learned people, Syariah Law discriminates people based on their religion and gender, the rights that Muslims have may not be the rights that nonMuslims have. The rights that Muslim man has may not be the rights that Muslim woman has. Shariah Law does not allow the freedom of choosing or changing ones religion for born Muslims. In conclusion the Laws based on the Quran is cleary against many tenets of the declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Is it too difficult to see and understand this reality, why do we have to go and live in the dessert to learn about Islam, you might as well ask us to go and learn from the Jihadis and Madrasahs in Pakistan or the Taliban to learn about Islam and Islamic Laws.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
    • Sharon

      How about women rights in the states!!!
      Their husbands beat them up, and sometimes kill them, what's their excuse oh we were drunk!!!!!!

      April 18, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
      • 10101010

        How do you propose to fix this problem? Men will always be stronger both physically and mentally. Testosterone makes sure that this will always be the case. Do you think that letting women in the military serve in the front lines where combat is taking place is a woman's right? . If you answer yes, then there is no point in discussing this further.

        July 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Krishna Garg

    The Arab Spring will not see any positive changes as the Islamists are taking over. The rule by mullahs does not have any margin for women's rights or their participation in the governance. In fact, they are going to lose even the rights they had against the ousted dictators. So, it is going to be Arab Winter for them. Let us hope that after this takeover the countries would take up the road of development rather than just imposing Shariat Laws and may, in the long run, women's rights can make a comeback. It would need all the diplomacy and brisk economic ventures on the part of the Western countries to make the new governments stay away from the Shariat and instead focus on development.

    April 16, 2012 at 6:13 am | Reply
    • justcause

      Islam has nothing to do with men decisions to act outside of what is permitted in Islam. Provide one shred of evidence from the Koran or the Messenger instructions..! to the contrary, Islam liberated women form the oppression they suffered from in the pre-Islam era... Islam made all rights and obligations equal, further more the women in Islam enjoy higher benefits than men do in society..............After worshiping God, God itself instruct the believers to be kind to their parents and especially their mothers who have carried them for 9 months and cared for him... Women are closer to paradise then men are due to their status as mothers, generation builders and the burden that comes with it. Women at time of the prophet and through Islam golden ages, were Business women, soldiers, engineers, architects.....

      Today's world is no indication to what Islam stands with respect to women. number one factor to this disconnect is Ignorance, many uneducated people but attribute this to decades of western colonialism...

      April 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • sri1ram

        "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them." Quran 4:34

        Have we heard of single female Muslim Engineer, Scientist, Business person, author or heroine right from ancient times?
        Of course, I hope you have heard of the Harriot Tubman, Joan of Arc, Aqiulla, Priscillia, Madame Curie, Jhansi ki Rani, Meera bai, Savithri, Draupadi etc etc in Christian or Hindu ancient and modern times. And ditto with Buddhist (Wu Zetian), Jain, Sikh, Jewish (Dvar Dea, Marsha etc).
        The muslim heroines that we hear are adept at having more sons, losing close family or remarrying so that the sword of Islam could spread far and wide. Again, Umm Sulaym who lost her husband due to her devotion to Islam and re-converted "idol worshipers" to Islam.
        When you manage to come up with some example in art or sciences or business or engineering instead of rearing sons for faith or converting people, we can talk about Islam and women.

        July 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  3. Islam is deeply anti-woman

    Islam is deeply anti-woman. Islam is the fundamental cause of the repression of Muslim women and remains the major obstacle to the evolution of their position. Islam has always considered women as creatures inferior in every way: physically, intellectually, and morally. This negative vision is divinely sanctioned in the Koran, corroborated by the hadiths, and perpetuated by the commentaries of the theologians, the custodians of Muslim dogma and ignorance.

    April 16, 2012 at 6:27 am | Reply
  4. Rashid

    Why you tend to create a story out of nothing??
    Talking about Women rights from few number of visits is not enough to generalize and criticize the whole middle east!!!
    unless you have nothing to talk about except this region.

    Regards,

    April 16, 2012 at 6:31 am | Reply
  5. acharyaamar

    Bible or the Das Kapital in their hands. You seem or the "wset" seem to have the two when mouthing better modern terms as democracy & Human Rights and they need the money to be put where the mouth is and do not include either the Das Kapital or the Bible but does include and very seriously include Freedom of Choice and Individual Freedom. They sound foreign and alien to you or the Vatican? Tch..Tch... but outside the perversity of medieval US media that is what modernity means for the rest of the world (and not as part of some bloody herd but as homo sapiens. Thank Goodness that most of the world is not a Christian one and if you are someone whose brain works as it should work – then China is modern and much more modern than the US elites can imagine themselves to ever be! Can't figure out how? There still are some good universities in North Europe (skip France since it is an insult anyway or even Britain with a mongrel Prime Minister) and China's approach to issues of modernity like individual freedom and the modern state makes more sense than any and every bloody speech of Barack Obama as your half-negro Nobel Prize winning President whose state's and people's actions match the words. But one needs to be aware of such terms and concepts and their meanings and herd behaviour by definition defeats that and seeks to curtail that human ability. The bloody Vatican arseholes, one supposes. Expletives? Wish one could string that Jesus up the scaffolding once again.

    April 16, 2012 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • marisa garcia

      Ignorant! You are the cause of perpetuating injustices against women. You are brainwashed.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  6. Paul

    Wikileaks: CIA recommends France use Afghan women's rights to boost war

    A secret CIA report, brought to light last month by Wikileaks, reveals the cynical battle plans for the "war of perception" being waged over public opinion in Europe about NATO's war in Afghanistan. The four-page document is well worth reading, mainly to see exactly how cyncial the powers-that-be are when assessing the public.
    The report's subheadings tell the story: 'Public Apathy Enables Leaders To Ignore Voters ... But Casulaties Could Precipitate Backlash', 'Tailoring Messaging Could Forestall of At Least Contain Backlash', 'Appeals by President Obama and Afghan Women Might Gain Traction'.
    This last point, the plight of Afghan women, was emphasized as a means of encouraging the French people's reluctance to call for their troops to be brought home (especially in the event that the toll of French casualties increases, threatening the aforementioned apathy).
    "Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women's ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission...
    "Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences."
    The CIA report warns that women in Europe have thus far failed to grasp the feminist nature of NATO's war: "According to INR polling in the fall of 2009, French women are 8 percentage points less likely to support the mission than are men, and German women are 22 percentage points less likely to support the war than are men."
    Unfortunately for the CIA and for the French government, Malalai Joya had just visited Paris in early February for the launch of the French edition of her political memoir, Au nom de mon peuple, which I worked on as co-writer. I'm pleased to report that on her recent European speaking tour she also launched our book in the Netherlands and Italy. The Spanish version is forthcoming shortly.

    Although her French visit lasted only a few days, Joya received relatively broad media coverage. Joya speaks "personally and credibly" about her experience under the Taliban, since she worked as a teacher at underground schools for girls during those years; she also speaks in uncompromising language about the continuing domination of anti-women warlords and fundamentalists, and about the devastating toll of the war on Afghan civilians. For NATO, she's a very inconvenient woman, speaking an inconvenient truth.
    Whether the French public moves from apathy to outrage about their country's role in Afghanistan remains to be seen. With the recent collapse of the Dutch government over the issue of the Afghan War, the stakes in this "war of perception" have never been higher.

    April 16, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
  7. jim

    Please forgive me for the tune of my words but it's hard not to say:
    Christiane Amanpour rocks these days!
    Welcome back I hope see more from you.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:02 am | Reply
  8. Hello Christiane

    I am wondering if the west will ever see things based on real facts and stop stereotyping. Women status in the Arab World is partly related to Islam but mostly related to cultural background of a given country. A simple visit to some of the countries that you have mentioned in your article, will confirm this fact. I am a man from Tunisia, and I do not want to make any assumptions, like you did, about women status in other countries. But I certainly can make some confirmation about Tunisian women. Please pay us a visit and you will discover what Mrs Nancy Pelosi has seen during her last visit. She discovered Tunisian woman that has the right to vote since 1957 (way before Swiss woman), female students that occupy more than 50% of university seats and 60% of judges positions. There are Tunisian women as pilots, internationally famous doctors, civil society activist and politicians. Tunisian women have participated fiercely in the revolution against dictatorship and tyranny. Recently, election law in Tunisian has granted women 50% of the seats in the parliament. The current coalition government (dominated by Islamist) confirmed the already acquired rights of women in the newly born democratic Tunisia.

    I hope that this very brief review will firstly seduce you to visit Tunisia and see for yourself and secondly takes away from your mind the idea to list Afghanistan and Iran in the same group as Tunisia and finally treat women status as a cultural phenomenon rather than an Islamic one.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • ben

      Dear Sir the best way to know about Islam is to read the Quran, not visiting Tunisia. The Quran is easily available in the English Language on the Net. The best way to know about Islamic Law ie Syariah Law is to read about it. I have read the Quran many times being a none Muslim, and I have read about Shariah Law from Islamic Sources. From my understanding and the understanding of other learned people, Syariah Law discriminates people based on their religion and gender, the rights that Muslims have may not be the rights that nonMuslims have. The rights that Muslim man has may not be the rights that Muslim woman has. Shariah Law does not allow the freedom of choosing or changing ones religion for born Muslims. In conclusion the Laws based on the Quran is cleary against many tenets of the declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Is it too difficult to see and understand this reality, why do we have to go to Tunisia to learn about Islamic Laws, when the Final Authority on Islamic Laws are the Quran/
      If Tunisian Laws do not stritcly adher to fundamental Shariah Laws, then it can be considered a cultural decision, its not to be claimed as true representation of the Laws of the Quran.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
      • Sharon

        So true!!!!

        April 18, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  9. barbara

    Christiane Amanpour is one of the finest journalists CNN has ever had. One issue that no one seems to be tackling is how do you change the attitude of men toward women in the mid-east? While women may gain rights, etc., how does a patriarchal religion/way of ruling change? We're talking about attitudes and beliefs that go back thousands of years.

    April 16, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply
  10. hdq

    The question put to C. A. ("... pictures from 30 years ago of women in Afghanistan wearing miniskirts ...") and the recommendation in the comment of Barone ("The best way to understand the state of mind of a typical muslim & arab woman, it is pertinent that you spend a 2 year sabbatical & live as one in a remote desert areas in Arabia ...") show how little effort people make to understand the subject they are writing about.
    While it is true that women in remote areas of Asia and Africa live traditional lives, the abandonment by Muslim women of miniskirts in favour of Islamic "hijab" is due neither to imposition by Islamic Extremists, nor did it happen in the remote desert areas. In fact it could be observed not only in Cairo, Kabul or Tehran, but in New York, London and Paris. Yes, in the early 70s one could see many women of Muslim origin wearing short skirts and "western" clothing, but now many of the same women and their daughters and granddaughters observe full Islamic dress code. And they have not been forced to do so by their parents or husbands, but they chose to do so because they see it as the best way of living their lives as women. And this is true especially of women with university degrees. And there is an increasing trend among non-Muslim American and European women, especially the ones with university degrees, to convert to Islam and change their miniskirts for full Muslim "hijab". But for some reason "women rights experts" see "the miniskirt" as a test of "women's rights". But today's Muslim women in Europe are fighting for their right to wear the clothing of their choice -the Islamic Hijab, which the European politicians seek to deprive them of in the name of "Human Rights", "Democracy", etc.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply
  11. Mohamed Fahad

    Well Said Mr. Barone

    April 16, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
  12. Andree Alexander

    Welcome Back – here in Suriname you've been sadly missed. We have admired you from afar for many years. You are one woman not afraid to speak her mind. You have reached the pinnacle of jounalism and we congratulate and salute you. We all look forward to your programs now more than ever!

    April 16, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
  13. Intrepid

    I have been in the middle east off and on since Oct. 2002. I would say that women in this region have made below average, moderate progress as far as dignity and equal rights are concerned. I witness it, my wife's female resident citizens/friends tell her so. Most males of the Middle East and Africa still regard women as a tool to pop out children, nothing more. The country I am currently in is one of the worst, although every administration since R. Reagan have been the staunchest of allies and Later Liberators. And I am not talking about Iraq. That country speaks for itself in Volumes.
    Education at home to learn and relate a different mind set that would be counter to the teachings of the Koran in what women are would be the beginning of changing the Mind Set of Children to foster equal behavior. Until the home embraces humanity and not the teachings of a man and a book written by some man, women of the Middle East and Africa do not have much of a chance in real terms of Dignity and equality. It all stats at a very early age in all societies, as to which directional mind set a generation will foster and carry on. The Koran interpretation in some regions runs contrary to diversity and acceptance of Women. They are not even allowed to Prey together. I hope I have conveyed some of my experience of the Middle East.

    April 16, 2012 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • commander khan

      i am muslim and i want women to stay in the kitchen and make my bed.

      That is just what i want from woman, a woman is born to serve man. now shut up

      July 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  14. LUYG

    NOT OUR CONCERN. WE SHOULD LET THEM RULR THEMSELVES. WE HAVE OUR OWN PROBLEMS HERE

    April 16, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
    • Duane

      It is our concern. These women need a voice and when their own won't listen someone needs to provide it for them and help them as they ask for that assistance. To turn a blind eye to it makes us no better than those seeking to oppress them

      April 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  15. chrisla07

    For a journalist of Ms. Amanpour's international stature, she is woefully naive regarding the status of women in the Middle East. The 25% quota of women in the Afghanistan parliament means nothing if their voice is not respected by the majority. The Islamic response to the backwardness of countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, inspired by Sayyid Qutb, is MORE Islam and MORE Sharia Law. Sixteen percent of the OIC countries (including Afghanistan) use Sharia Law as the primary source of legislation, and that figure is increasing. Sharia Law was written by men for the benefit of men. (The Quran represents only 14% of the source material for Sharia Law.) Sharia Law accords women one-half the righs of men in testimony, inheritance, and indemnity. Women are chattel, sold and discarded at will. Widespread FGM turns women into virtual eunuchs. Social progress is stagnated because underage girls with little education are being married off, and they produce large famiies with no intellectual stimulation and no respect for women from within the household. The traditional "hadith" accounts that most of the inhabitants of hell are women and that a menstruating woman invalidates a prayer only reinforce the degradation of women. Liberated women, like Ms. Amanpour, should be exposing these women's issues rather than falsely proclaiming that women are the backbone of society.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:11 am | Reply
  16. chrisla07

    Barone

    Hi Christiane,

    Welcome back to where you belong, l was wondering when you will return to your favorite CNN? Im grateful that you start your new episodes with the women in the Middle east, arab, & muslim world. However, in order to really make a proper & unbiased analytic study, one must look at the recent empowerment of women in The Sultanate of Oman; as a prime example of modernization & involvement of women in the highest offices of government in the middle east.

    As I observed from your many previous programs & episodes, Islam is your favorite & passionate topic of coverage & investigation, whether it be related to women, democracy, history, politics or mere culture & social issues..

    The best way to understand the state of mind of a typical muslim & arab woman, it is pertinent that you spend a 2 year sabbatical & live as one in a remote desert areas in arabia, north africa or even Iran & Afghanistan, where time has stopped for last 300 years & where until 40 years ago, most muslim & arab women sprang from & had their first initiation in life.

    To make firm judgement, analysis & conclusions by short visits or from a skyscraper in NY or a news room in Atlanta & coming from a christian background married to a zionist jewish lobbyist will only cause further confusion in your mind & minds of your keen viewers, who may take your opinions and conclusions seriously.

    Finally, to understand the real situation & conditions of the Muslim women worldwide you must understand that Islam is innocent from what most oppressive puppet regimes have done in the name of Islam for last 100 years since the fall of Ottoman & Persian empires.. You must also comprehend the reasons & factors that lead to this situation is by studying documents at your disposal in western archives.

    Namely 1. "The Sykes & Picot Agreement of 1916": Excerpts below:

    The Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916, was a secret agreement that was concluded by 2 British & French diplomats, Sir Mark Sykes & Georges Picot. The Sykes-Picot Agreement involved itself with the partition of the Ottoman Empire once World War One had ended.

    The Sykes-Picot Agreement effectively handed over control of Syria, Lebanon and Turkish Cilicia to the French and Palestine, Jordan and areas around the Persian Gulf and Baghdad to the British. While neither France nor Britain actually ‘owned’ these territories, they were to effectively control them at a governmental and administrative level.

    Northern Syria and Mesopotamia were also considered to be an area of French influence while Arabia and the Jordan Valley were considered to be a sphere of influence of the British. Jerusalem was to be governed by an international administration.

    This agreement did clash with the McMahon Agreement of 1915 and the statements made by T E Lawrence to the Arabs who had expected to be allowed to govern their own regions after helping the Allies fight the Turks during World War I.
    The agreement was never completely fulfilled by the peace settlements but it did lead to the Arab people not fully trusting the British or French governments at times in the future.

    How did the Arab people find out about the Sykes-Picot Agreement?

    After the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917, the Communists, led by Vladimir Lenin, found a copy of the agreement in the Russian government’s archives. Russia, in the agreement, was to have influence in Turkish Armenia and northern Kurdistan – hence why the pre-communist government had a copy of the agreement. The Russian Communists released the contents of the agreement into the public domain – thus explaining why numerous Arab groups knew about it.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:17 am | Reply
  17. Willie

    It's sad to see much of the world turning backward because of religious extremism. Sadly, the women seem to be taking the hardest hit. The only answer is for us humans to take responsibility for our actions and stop blaming and worshiping invisible gods. It's time for the worlds people to wake up from their religious nightmare and stand on their own legs.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
  18. Willie

    The end of religion will be the beginning of true freedom. The wave has begun, and eventually we will free the world of this cancer.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Religions are corruption of truth absolute 360* by crooks, Word religion does not exist in Hebrew or Arabic languages.

      April 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  19. rexedie

    i agree with you Willie..... but the mass of humanity no matter what they practice will never become enlightened enough to make much difference in the big picture.... there are many people on this blog who have helped me to understand more...concerning islam and the muslim ....thank you... but ... the lack of intelligence in the masses will remain the breakdown point forever.....unless we can make some magic potion that we can all drink.... alakazam...!!!

    April 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  20. Omar Khan

    For all of those who think women in Islam are oppressed & forced to do things!!

    My wife started wearing scarf few years ago, which I didn’t agree to. I had a number of arguments with her tried to convince her but she didn’t agree & I gave in as it was her decision.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  21. Simply Sane

    This topic is an absolute no brainer. Islam theory and especially practice are disgraceful when it comes to treating women.
    The photos of lapidation, mutilation, and the extremely frequent abuse of women in the Islamic countries are enough to convince any sane person that the authors of these crimes, MUSLIMS of all walks of life, are totally sick and / or subhuman. The only people who believe that there is any real debate on this issue are almost all Muslims.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  22. Denis Kolesnik

    yes, even in the Ukraine many of older females raise some small business be it selling some tools, flowers, etc...

    April 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  23. Tejaswini Katra

    THIS IS A DISGRACE. WE DON't LIVE IN THE FREAKING 13th century PEOPLE. Gosh. The world is changing and along with the world, religions are supposed to change too. RELIGIONS ARE SUPPOSED TO CHANGE.

    Let's suppose a religion is a machine. A machine is always going through improvements, enhancements, etc. Why can't religion do the same thing? Actually, religion does. That's why you get Protestantism and Lutheran from Catholicism. The world did not stay at Catholicism because they realized that it was not working and they needed something new.

    so why can't this change too????

    RELIGION CAN CHANGE AND ITS TIME FOR IT TO CHANGE.

    WOMEN ARE NOT LOW LIFE GOOD FOR NOTHING CREATURES THAT DEPEND ON MEN. THIS IS IT. I CANNOT STAND THIS. I WILL REBEL.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Madge

      We have two (2) civilizations that have bumped heads – Western and Middle Eastern. Middle Eastern is approximately 2000 years behind Western. It will take 2000 years through the evolution process for middle east to catch up with western philosophy, idiology, customs, etc. This is a process that is not easily resolved and it will take time and patience for there to be a balance between the two civilizations. Wars, words? ? ? ?

      July 23, 2013 at 7:01 am | Reply
  24. Nikki

    "rosebud99 All of the major religions are misogynistic. Why any woman would willingly be part of an organization that holds her as a lesser person – Islam, Christianity, Judaism – is beyond me."

    Brainwashing from an early age is why. They are not taught to read, analyze, or make up their own minds. They follow what some man thinks. I read about catholic women who decided to demonstrate about Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code" movie. They readily admitted that they had not read any of the book, but oh, boy, were they against it! When I read the book(s), I found Dan Brown's ideas explained a number of things, such as why catholism so deeply and fervently hates women.

    Catholicism et al: keep your supposed 'reverence' for women and I'll keep my rights. I was born free and born equal. Men have been trying to take those away ever since.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  25. banlin

    So what is holding and restraining Muslim women? Islam.
    Who have been fighting for those Muslim women?, us the West, the none Muslims or Christians.
    Who have been building schools for Muslim women to get education? None Muslim organizations and Christian organizations.
    What is the solution? Liberation from Islam.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  26. Shehryar Asim

    It is quite ironic how wearing a mini skirt is termed as freedom for women. It is important for the world to understand the cultural and religious values that many Islamic countries have. We want to bring in women in every aspect of our social lives, for their mental abilities, capabilities and mature thinking and improving our social situation, not by their beauty of their legs. We want to respect our women for their efforts for improving our nations and society, not based on how pretty or ugly they are.
    Also it is very important to understand the difference between culture and religion as culture doesn't represent in it's total sense our religion. For example the the criminal acts women were subjugated to during the Taliban regime, it may be Afghanistan's culture but it is definitely not Islamic religion. The first word in Quran is "iqra" which means to "read" and we want both men and women to gain knowledge so that both can contribute making our future generations bright and resourceful.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  27. hdq

    There is so much ignorance about the position of Muslim exhibited in these comments, that it would benefit Christiane Amanpour, instead of spending 2 years in the desert, to spend a day or two visiting some Muslim women in the USA and ask them why in spite of "enjoying the enlightened freedom to wear a miniskirt" which they have in the USA, they wear Islamic Clothing and continue to practice Islam, which Mr Willie calls "cancer".
    And another research beneficial to her and her readers is to investigate how the liberated women in the USA use their freedom: alcoholism, drugs, various sex related problems, and of course miniskirts. Is this the height of Human Freedom a liberated woman can aspire?

    April 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Lost

      No, this is not what freedom is about for women. These actions are disgraceful. North American women indulge in these destructive activities because they are still conditioned to believe that they are second-place. Nobody wants to admit this, but a lot of what you may see in the media and in reality only serves the lowest pleasures of men. Women will never know real equality until they are completely free from the influences of men's quest for power and control.

      July 22, 2013 at 11:37 am | Reply
  28. kigarama

    what i understand the problem that facing the westerners is the mixture of Arabs culture and Islam that makes western spheres to bow to Islamphobia!! Moselem to me are human beings as us but they are different with us in the understanding and the ability to absorb the new world order!!

    April 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
    • hdq

      The "new world order" is the US and NATO attacking countries without valid reasons and contrary to the letter and spirit of the UN Charter. They kill people and destroy property on an industrial scale and justify these wars by false arguments and political demagogy: like "promoting democracy" and "human rights", or "liberating women". More and more people (east and west) understand this new world order. But to "absorb" it? Who wants to absorb this criminality, except the criminals themselves?

      April 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  29. ben

    Islamic Law is taught by the Quran. Read about Islamic Law and we find out that it does not comply to the declaration of International Human Rights. Any effort to implement Syariah Law will bring the Arab Spring to a Arab Winter. DIscrimination will abound and there will be loss of freedom, the loss of the very things that the youths wanted during their revolution. This revolution has been hijacked by the Islamist and thats the way it will remain.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  30. Amany

    Mrs. Amanpour, I hope your portrayal of women in the middle east is not a shallow one, where you go and seek only the information and women which only reinforce the existing stereotypes. A good journalist, would seek the sides untold, and present to the people the hidden truth. As an Egyptian Canadian (who happened to live in both worlds), women in Egypt, have alot of rights that women in the west do not have. While the implementation of law is not perfect, as law is not respected in the country as a whole (and not just when it comes to women)- Egyptian women's position is very strong. As far the Islamists taking over in Egypt- it really doesn't matter who comes into power, as we are confident that we will not go back.
    To those arguing about Islam and not having women's rights- if you choose to see it black, you will see it black. Are you reading the Qura'an to understand it, or look for clues it is against women. As the Qura'an is a comprehensive book, you need to look at everything within a context, and not take one piece, and build on it a "Terror" "Anti-Women" movie, and also as hard as it maybe separate between Islam as a religion and the twisted manipulated interpretations and applications used by the various cultures around the world.

    April 18, 2012 at 6:46 am | Reply
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  32. Matthews

    I would firstly say people should understand the rights of women, what are there rights rather we talk about the east or west or any country.. although we all know condition of women's of islam are worst.. just keeping aside the culture and religion of middle east one's aim should be education and only education, as education is only key factor that will rise up the condition of women and as we all know educating women is opposed by the country.. another main factor is their culture and religion.. what women wear and also wearing the scarf is respecting the culture and this is not the main issue... the main factor is women's right and women itself should get awared so that they don't get denied of anything.. all i can say that women first educate themselves for the betterment of their own..

    October 19, 2012 at 5:58 am | Reply
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    Europe, although it’s a small continent has culture steeping all through it. Compare East European women with West European women and you will find a world of differences. Women from the western part of the continent are perhaps more attuned toward the American way of life but if it is mystery you are looking at you should concentrate on the beautiful East European ladies.:^

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  39. Lost

    "Overall women have been treated as second-class citizens in North Africa and Arab countries and that has weakened those countries."

    Truthful statement. But, North America should learn from this. There are conservatives in the US who also want to scale back certain rights and curb women's progression toward real equality. The problem is not the women, the problem is that men have not evolved socially or psychologically for the betterment of their societies. They still see themselves as mini "kings" of their castles and spaces, and will share no linkage to power with women. Culture and religion are partly to blame for the mindset of women being deemed as lesser.

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    July 22, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
  41. P.A.M.

    Dubai pardoned the victim but she remains a convict. The lady's reputation has been damaged. Dubai must pay reparation. This should never happen in a country that consider itself a part of the international community!!!

    July 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Reply
    • commander khan

      hey fk u in the a hole, are you going to pay reparation for the crimes committed against muslim nations?

      July 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  42. scott

    What's next for women's rights? Probably not much. As liberal of a country like UAE is (relatively speaking of course) they are still far from equal. The middle east is the modern equivalent of Europe in the dark ages, with lots of violence and subjugation. The idea of secular government, or at the very least, the respect of individual rights and thoughts is quite unlikely to be witnessed for a very long time. It will probably take many generations several hundred, if not thousands of years, to evolve past the current lowly state as seen today.

    July 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  43. Susan

    How do you teach tolerance and respect? Why is it always 'all' or 'nothing'? Why do men with their testosterone advantage think if women were held with equal respect to them obvious differences wouldn't still remain? If a woman qualified through a grueling boot-camp found herself physically equal to all the men in her company would those men still gang rape her in their fox holes?

    July 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  44. ALLuh

    Religion has always been about control, not GAWD, get a freaking clue, to live your life this way is sick and wrong and has retarded us for way too long.

    July 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  45. s.pawar

    Women must be very careful in dealing,since Islamic laws are not supportive to fair judgment to women like in other non-Islamic countries.These Islamic countries still follows more than 1200 year old laws.

    July 23, 2013 at 8:15 am | Reply

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