Saturday, January 9, 2010

Me and my for husbands: gender equality and polygamy

Nadine al-Bedair has got some fame in the arab world since she started to work for the US financed TV channel Al-Hurra where she hosts a program about women issues. This young Saudi journalist has been the target of many comments a few months ago because of her pronounced taste for skirts which seem to be too short for other’s taste.

Again, she has been the focus of many comments in the arab media after she published, a few weeks ago, an article (arabic) in the Egyptian daily Al-masri al-youm about the right, for women, to have more than one man. Taking the arguments ordinarily used by men in order to justify their sexual “rights” to more than a woman, she explained how, in her view, real equality between men and women should also mean sexual equality and the right for women to polygamy.

Of course, Nadine al-Bedair “forgot” to mention that polygamy is licit – for the men – according to the religious texts. Furious condemnations have been pronounced from many parts of the arab world (an Egyptian MP for instance declared his intention to sue her and the newspaper’s editor for such a blasphemy), but there has been some people too, brave enough to defend, or better to understand, her views about gender equality.

In a second publication, under the title Now, you have tasted wrath savor (arabic), she explained her satisfaction for the discussions raised by her provocative writing, which, to her great satisfaction, did not provoke any official reproval in her own country. She also mentioned the legislation adopted in Arab countries like Tunisia or Morocco and called again for a real equality between genders, including in the sexual realm.

Obviously, there is some provocation in the outburst of a young journalist working for such a “pro-westernized” (if not pro-US) TV channel as Al-Hurra, and polygamy is not such a social problem in her country where, according to official statistics, it concerns no more than 1% of the population.

It remains that the “Saudi Nawal Al-Saadawi” as she has been called sometimes has reactivated the public debate about the women rights in the Arab society. Not a bad news at the beginning of a new year.

As usual, the link to the original post in French.