We’re sharing some excerpts today from a few different stories that relate to things we’ve covered recently on MMW. Enjoy!
There is no denying that there is subjugation and oppression of women committed by Muslims, in the name of Islam, the world over — just as we know there is injustice occurring everyday against women of all faiths, in all countries, in the name of religion politics, and ideology.
But the experiences of some Muslim women do not negate the experiences of others. The voices of Muslim women are diverse, and our individual experiences authentic. We must be placed in our own context without being smothered under an entire globe’s worth of geopolitical baggage. Just as the life of a Catholic woman in a village in Guatemala is very different from that of a Catholic woman in the village of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, so too are the lives, realities and experiences of over 500 million Muslim women across the globe.
In the last few years, Muslim women have begun pushing back against the monolithic “Muslim Woman” to celebrate the joys of our context and the challenges therein. We’ve seen a Muslim woman — Tawakkul Karman — win the Nobel Peace Prize for her pro-democracy work in Yemen, and another Muslim woman — Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy — win an Oscar for amplifying the courageous voices of acid attack survivors in Pakistan.
On one hand, while Pakistan produces educated, enlightened and talented females like Obaid-Chinoy, it also bears witness to victims of acid throwing, like 25-year-old Rukhsana, who is featured in the documentary. Two days before the Academy Awards, I interviewed Obaid-Chinoy, the film’s director Daniel Junge and Dr. Mohammad Jawad, whose work is featured in the film, at a pre-Oscar celebration hosted by Pakistan’s Los Angeles Consular General, Riffat Masood. Our conversation revealed the complexity of pessimism and hope in Pakistan.
“I have always felt that if you are educated and empowered you can become the voice for those that are marginalized and disenfranchised,” said Obaid-Chinoy. The variations that can produce such juxtaposed lives — in a developing country like Pakistan—are the stratum of education, social milieu and background.
Obaid-Chinoy said that despite the problems women in Pakistan face, she felt optimistic. “We have a strong feminine presence: female lawyers and legislators fighting on behalf of these women, who hear the testimonies, write the bills and get them passed in parliament. This shows no matter where we come from in Pakistan, there are people working to make it a more tolerant society,” she said.