Recently, Ahmedinejad’s closest aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, made comments that Iran must work to fight against the oppression of women where the religious framework of Islam would allow it. The Guardian article calls women’s rights a divisive topic in Iran, which is true. However, the sexist laws mentioned are those that involve the requirement to cover following the 1979 Islamic revolution, failing to mention inequalities in other areas, such as personal status laws. This reduces the revolutionary work of Iranian feminists to simply laws about covering, which is infuriating.
This type of coverage does not end with Iran. While many women’s organizations have made significant strides, most media coverage of Muslim women is dominated by a body-obsessed conversation. When I searched for news stories about Muslim women, the majority of stories involved a debate about hijab or niqab. This reduces us to what we wear (or don’t) on our heads—an all-too-common experience for many Muslim women.
Across the globe, millions of Muslim women take risks to organize and fight for their rights, within or outside of the framework of Islam. These efforts deserve to be heard whether they are secular or not. In an article in the Daily News and Analysis of Mumbai, Ashutosh Shukla writes about the work of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andola organization, which works to empower women by garnering more legal rights. In this article, Shukla writes about Fareen Syed, a Muslim woman whose marriage contract is being revised to remove “the risk of talaq (oral divorce),” and prevent her husband from engaging in polygamy. Syed’s new contract is a part of BMMA’s efforts to improve the legal rights of Muslim women.