Please notice there are three separate assignments: each one needs approximately 1.5 pages in length. Each assignment will consist of a response to the prompt and two responses to two classmates. Your response to the prompt should be about 1 page and each response to classmates should be about a quarter page.
Assignment 1:LESSON 3 DISCUSSION FORUM: CULTURAL RELATIVISM V. UNIVERSALISM
Remember to provide an original post and two responses to the prompt.
Please view the acclaimed film, The Judge, focused on the first female Sharia law judge in the Middle East. In what ways does the protagonist use rights-empowering narratives grounded in culture and religion to achieve her goals? What types of equality are realized and/or remain elusive? What lessons can we learn from her experiences in contexts where countries ratify human rights treaties with reservations (e.g. we agree to uphold women’s rights except where it compromises our religion and/or culture)? Should we be sensitive to religious beliefs and/or cultural practices when working towards gender equality? Why or why not?
In what ways does the protagonist use rights-empowering narratives grounded in culture and religion to achieve her goals?
Throughout the documentary, they interview men that believe that women are not allowed to be in positions like a judge. However, Judge Al-Faqih constantly refers to the literature and explains that there is nowhere in the Shari’a law or in the Quran that says women cannot be judges. She also uses a rights-empowering narrative by inviting other women to rise to the occasion. Thus, opening the door for more opportunities for women to get in these positions, which will allow her to get to her ultimate goal of equality for men and women.
What types of equality are realized and/or remain elusive?
From the documentary the equality realized is how there is a justice system to seek out spousal support and go through the divorcing process. This allowed us to see what Judge Al-Faqih had to encounter in court as a mediator. Therefore, proving to men that believed that she would not be able to use logic because she bleeds that it was not hard. However, there are still parts within the justice system that remain elusive such as the woman that tried to seek a divorce from her mentally ill husband. When, the Justice Chief made her give her cases up and overturned the case, which unfortunately led to that woman’s death. This could have been avoided if they believed in Judge Al-Faqid’s decision and not discriminate against her because she is a woman.
What lessons can we learn from her experiences in contexts where countries ratify human rights treaties with reservations (e.g. we agree to uphold women’s rights except where it compromises our religion and/or culture)?
We can learn to not incorporate religion into government. It can make it more difficult to decide because it is not based on just facts but religious beliefs. In some religions, women are meant to be second to the man and with religious beliefs like that it can hinder judgment. For example, the new Justice Chief took Judge Al-Faqid’s cases away for no reason other than because she was a woman. We can also learn to look adversity in the face and keep fighting for what you believe is right. Judge Al-Faqid never gave up when things got hard. She continued to do her job and teach other women to do their job well no matter what men thought.
Should we be sensitive to religious beliefs and/or cultural practices when working towards gender equality? Why or why not?
In some ways, you have to be sensitive when looking at religious beliefs and/or cultural practices to work toward gender equality because depending on where you live, religion can be incorporated into law. For example, Judge Al-Faqid talked about how Shari’a laws are based on the Quran and how she had to be very aware of all the laws when divorcing people. However, religion and cultural beliefs should not hinder gender equality. It should be in its own category because it has nothing to do with religion, but with the government. But since we know that women can get murdered for seeking a divorce and it can be justified we have to be sensitive to the practices of that country to limit the amount of bloodshed.
The protagonist uses her rights empowering narratives grounding in culture to put herself in a unique position to assist fellow women within her country and culture who are victims of the same patriarchal social norms. For instance, in the case where a woman sought a divorce from her husband for sadistic sexual practices, Palestinian and Arab culture does not grant women the openness to openly discuss such a matter in front of men and especially not in a male dominated court. Historically, this has led to a domino affect of oppression for women where their needs are not met or heard and continue to oppress and silence them. Her existence as a woman, although normative, is seen as a saving grace for many women in family court although causes a lot of tension in society and the male-dominated space she works in. The types of equality that are realized throughout the film is how much injustice women have had to and continue to suffer from due to male interpretations of texts that do not explicitly target women but are utilized as an asset to the patriarchy’s agenda. Not only does Kholoud Al Faqih mean a lot to the women who have to go through the family court for matters pertaining divorce, but she is also paving the path for women to come. Additionally, the documentary exposes the juxtaposition between ratified human rights treaties and religious/cultural values. In the context of this course, CEDAW is one of those treaties where although discrimination against women is completely banned as it articulates how to/the need to combat structural misogyny, the countries who sign these treaties do not uphold any of the content if it goes against religious jurisprudence. Ironically, these religious values are not tangible as they are mostly interpretations by men to benefit and uphold the patriarchy. While we should be sensitive to religions and cultures when working toward gender equality, the healthiest and most fruitful approach is to understand that there is no one-size fits all model that can be implemented universally, However, if misogyny and violence against women are justified using religious and cultural values, then those values must be dismantled. Throughout the documentary numerous “religious” citations were made to justify that a woman’s presence as a judge goes against the teachings of Islam but were later exposed as interpretations used to further dig women into the hole of disempowerment.
Assignment 2: LESSON 3 DISCUSSION FORUM: CULTURAL RELATIVISM V. UNIVERSALISM (II)
Remember, provide an original post and two responses to your classmates’ interventions to facilitate discussion and further engagement.
According to Charlotte Bunch, women’s rights are human rights. But, in his article, Savages, Victims, Saviors, Professor Mutua appears to argue that the entire international human rights project may be more about cultural imperialism – particularly as it relates to western feminism – rather than ensuring that all nations adhere to universally agreed upon standards. In your view, are his arguments persuasive? Why or why not? What are the implications of his position for women’s movements in Africa, Asia and the Middle East? How can we ensure that the global struggle for women’s equality is not misused to advance or perceived as an agenda for imperial feminism? In your view, are women’s rights relative to culture or are they universal irrespective of time, place and context? Why does this debate matter in a course focused on women’s movements?
Professor Mutua makes a compelling point, it should not be up to the west to decide how feminism should progress in the east versus and vice versea. A truly global and equal feminism should allow women from all countries to decide together on their own needs and help women from across the world through solidarity. In order to prevent imperial feminism, we should keep in mind that women from different places want different things and view their lives and relations to men differently then in the west. It is not the buisness of another country to decide what is an is not feminist, nor to judge women for making different choices due to culture. However, there are many situations which can be universally agreed upon globally, such as a ban on genital mutilation.
Classmate 2 Post:
While Professor Mutua makes sound arguments about the hypocritical nature of human rights in the west and the way it has been enforced as a branch of imperialism, Bunch calls to remind us that women’s rights are human rights and should be respected across countries and cultures. Mutua’s points are valid particularly with the examples he provides. For example, prior to the US’s invasion of Afghanistan much of the rhetoric used to to justify the mission was that of promoting human rights as well as women’s rights. Ultimately, the intent was to promote their own imperialist agenda. Contrarily many nations utilize the excuse that human rights such as women’s rights and lgbtq rights are an attempt of imperialism by the west. In the case of CEDAW, many countries have declined to abide by the treaty due to the belief that they mast sanctify their religio-political practices. While women’s rights are relative to each culture in that different needs and circumstances should be accommodated for, imperialism is not a fair excuse to make to opt out of feminist movements.
Assignment 3: LESSON 4 DISCUSSION FORUM: RIGHTS, CULTURE & CUSTOMS
Remember to provide an original post together with two responses to your classmates’ interventions.
Review the Child Marriage Case Study accessible via the Resources tab. Drawing upon the assigned readings and prior class discussions, suggest three strategies to confront this issue that are grounded in education, law, policy and/or grass roots mobilization.
After consulting the readings, I suggest that the best strategies one can use to confront this issue are all undoubtedly rooted in education.
First, education on this topic and WHO this affects. It’s vital to realize that this is not a non-Western only problem. Child marriages happen in the US every month! According to the Frontline transcript, ““It’s really a diverse group…but there are some things that most minors who marry have in common. It’s almost always underage girls – mostly 16 and 17 year olds, but sometimes as young as 10 and 11.” Additionally, “In some states, a married child doesn’t have the same rights as an adult – which means they can’t file for divorce on their own or get a restraining order.” Lastly, the shocking fact that (according to the Unicef article), only 25 states have no minimum age requirement for marriage. If all minors seeking to get married were aware of this info and more educated on the topic, I wonder if they would go through with it at as high of a rate.
Second, mobilizations on affecting these laws into our states. Only 2 out of the 50 states in America have banned child marriage – TWO. In the Politics News article, Representative Nancy Landry says, “If they’re both 16 years old, and they both consent to sexual relations, and they’re about to have a baby, why wouldn’t we want them to be married?” This perfectly describes the mentality of many legislators in the US right now – they want to preempt adolescent sexuality by marrying a teen earlier so that they don’t engage in sex outside of marriage. This is a horrible concept because it disproportionately affects girls, since it was already stated that it’s almost always underage FEMALES getting married. People should be angry about this; they should want change. For example, I am from Maryland, a state where child marriage is permitted. I want to call my representative and ask all about this – a topic not even on my radar before. Little acts like these, performed by multitudes, can eventually cause enough tension to confront this issue.
Lastly, Law. The US must ratify CEDAW! CEDAW requires its states to take measures to eliminate practices and prejudice based on ideas of inferiority/superiority of either of the sexes or the roles stereotyped for them. Why is it okay for an underage girl to marry and adult man? Because, subliminally ingrained in our culture, is this idea that it’s taboo for young women to have sex, yet almost required that young men have it. There is a double standard. If the US were to ratify CEDAW, this concept would not endure and the problem would have to be confronted.
Child marriage is a huge issue globally and the US does not fall under the radar to this issue. First, the US and countries that particpate in child marriage, need to educate people especially on sexual education. Heather not fully understanding what happened to her is a problem. There needs to be a better circumulum in school that teaches what sexual assault and abuse in general is. Heather was young and thought she was doing the right thing so just imagine how many other girls are going through the same thing. There is a lack of education on this topic and they should be teaching about it in schools.
Secondly, there needs to be better laws in place to prevent child marriage from happening. If you are not able to be considered to buy cigarettes until you’re 21, how could you possibly be ready to get married at 14? There is no way a person could really be ready for marriage that young and if you are you can wait until you are 18. Since, UNICEF is working to help make laws to prevent marriage before age 18 that would be a step in the right direction. Since, the person would be either out of high school or getting ready to leave and they would be considered an adult and it would be easier for them to get married then. Also, statistics show that getting married at a young age leads to more poverty, which is something that can be prevented.
Finally, its not just the governments job to prevent child marriage from happening but the state as well. The states should be taking the initative to stop child marriage because it is leading to more problems for the everyone involved. Even though, UNICEF is working to prohibit child marriage they should not be the only ones fighting because its going to take a longer time to end it. For example, only two states have banned child marriage and UNICEF is working on a third. There are 50 countries in the US so just imagine how long it would take for the entire world. People need to do their part as well because young women are being subjected to marriage because they think it’s the best option but there are so many other options available to them.
Assignment 4: LESSON 4 DISCUSSION FORUM: RIGHTS, CULTURE & CUSTOMS II
Remember to provide an original post together with two responses to your classmates’ interventions.
The assigned readings reveal movements both for and against restrictions on Muslim women’s religious attire. We typically view such laws, policies, and practices through the lens of religious freedom. But, is it a women’s rights issue? Why or why not? If not, is the choice to throw off the chador in Iran a women’s rights issue? Explain the distinction or lack thereof.
The issue is both that of women’s rights and religious freedom. They are very intertwined. It is a human right to be able to practice one’s religion. It is unfortunate that Islam calls for, in many cases, the covering up of a woman. It’s unfortunate for many reasons, but chiefly because it makes it clear upon first glance what religion she practices, enabling quick judgments and prejudices before anyone even talks to her. An important line in the briefing paper is “Many bans are justified as a means to promote “neutrality” and/or “secularism,” which, some argue, is undermined by Islamic dress.” Another, that “Muslim women’s religious dress is said to “degrade” women’s dignity, and these women, therefore, need to be “freed.”” This belief became the basis for bans or proposed bans in a number of EU states. Though it may be a personal belief that the garments are highly restrictive of women, that does not take away the woman’s right to wear what she wants, out of either cultural or religious respect.
Though it is clear that Islam instates these methods of dress solely for the benefit of the man, and for the ease of the man, without regard to the human dignity of the woman – it is a woman’s right to wear what she wants (whether that be a burqa, niqab, hijab, chador, or a bikini!). It is the right of the woman to respect her religion or her culture by wearing what she pleases – that is freedom. These bans disproportionately affect women as well, because Muslim women must wear some form of headdress where a man does not. Women should not have their rights to education, economic freedom, and employment taken because of how they choose to practice their religion. Women should not have these rights stripped in the name of secularity or national identity.
Classmate 2 Post:
How a woman decides to dress and express herself is her freedom of expression. When a Muslim woman wears her religious attire, it is her religious freedom to do this as it symbolizes her devotion to religion and what she wants to do for herself. Restrictions on Muslim women’s religious attire should not be allowed as this goes against freedom of religion and expression, even though some countries have different restrictions on showing religion. In France, in public schools any expression of religion is not allowed, meaning hijabs are not allowed to be worn by teachers in school. I understand the argument to keep religion and politics separate in a government; however, an individual should be allowed to have their religion as it is part of their identity and express it in their own manner. Teaching their religion and trying to “convert” the students should not be allowed if it skews from the curriculum, yet I believe it is important for students to be exposed to the diversity of the world. As shown in the article, having a national ban I find to be quite extreme and unwelcoming to individuals of Islam who reside there. As it seems extreme to the majority of individuals, if a woman wants to wear a chador or cover her whole body, she should be allowed to do so. Why does it bother someone when it is not you or does not affect you? I believe the issue rises all from Islamaphobia and racism that puts negative connotations to Muslim women who want to cover themselves because of their religious devotion. This then strips more freedom from women if they cannot even have their religion to support them.
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