Arab Women were Unstoppable, Loud, and Tenacious in 2019
SOURCE: STEP FEED
BY: MARIAM NABBOUT
Arab women have long been fighting the injustices they’re often subjected to in patriarchal societies across the region.
This year, thousands of them launched powerful movements that are laying ground for change in their respective countries. From uniting against civil war threats in Lebanon to igniting Tunisia’s very own #MeToo movement, Arab women made their voices heard.
Here’s how they did it:
1. Tunisian women stood up against sexual harassment
Tunisian MP Zouheir Makhlouf, a man who won a seat in the country’s Oct. 6 elections, was the center of a scandal this year when a leaked video showed him “masturbating in his car” outside a high school.
Soon after the movement gained momentum, a prosecutor general opened an investigation into Makhlouf on grounds of “sexual harassment and moral injury.” But it seems as though the investigation was tossed aside because the MP joined the country’s parliament one month after his story went public.
In light of his return to parliament – something that grants him legal immunity – women took to the streets to protest Makhlouf’s role as a lawmaker when he’s been apparently pardoned of harassment himself.
2. In Morocco, women united after a journalist was jailed over an abortion
In September, a Rabat court sentenced now-freed Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in prison on charges of having had an illegal abortion and premarital sex. The abortion she was forcefully accused of having underwent was repeatedly denied by Raissouni and her doctor.
Her arrest and subsequent sentencing sparked outrage across the country and led women to proudly announce they have defied the country’s unjust laws that punish sex out of wedlock and abortions.
The movement saw 490 Moroccan women sign a manifesto in support of Raissouni. Award-winning Leila Slimani, an outspoken Moroccan writer on Muslim women’s sexuality, was among the hundreds who co-wrote and signed the manifesto in solidarity with the journalist. Others include Moroccan filmmaker Sonia Terrab and Moroccan politician Nabila Mounib.
Their activism played a huge role in securing Raissouni release after she was granted pardon from the country’s monarch King Mohammed VI.
3. Lebanese women destroyed threats of civil war
When they’re not dominating the streets or standing in the front lines of Lebanon’s ongoing uprising, Lebanese women unite against all threats of civil strife.
Late in November, clashes erupted on the civil war flashpoint between Ain al-Rummaneh and Chiyah, bringing back memories of Lebanon’s devastating history of 15 endless years of civil war.
Women and mothers weren’t about to let things escalate further. They quickly organized marches in the area that lies across an intersection that once divided Beirut. Together, they denounced sectarian strife and called on the younger generations to build a nation free of sectarian divides.
4. Saudi women kept the movement against the male guardian system going
Saudi women have been calling on the abolishment of the country’s male guardianship system for years. Parts of the scheme have already been dismantled as authorities recently reversed laws that previously banned women from traveling and seeking medical attention without the permission of a male guardian.
But the fight is not over yet for the women who want to witness the downfall of the system in its entirety.
In April, Saudi women marked the 1,000th day since the launch of the #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen campaign, a movement that aims at showing “the world what the life of women in Saudi Arabia is really like under male guardianship laws.”
On Twitter, thousands wrote about their fight and highlighted several movements launched for the cause.
5. Jordanian women united against domestic violence
In November, thousands of women took to the streets in Amman to demand the implementation of stricter domestic violence laws in the country.
The movement was launched in condemnation of the case of a husband who gouged his wife’s eyes out in front of her children.
The domestic abuse incident sparked nation-wide outrage in Jordan where activists continue to raise alarm over the rise of violence targeting women.