Headscarves and Hymen

Afghanistan is the primary battleground for female education. How I wish Obama had paid homage to the brave girls and women of that country who risk life and limb to learn while the Taliban's misogyny fights to imprison them at home. In May, 90 Afghan girls were hospitalized -- with five slipping briefly into comas -- after the Taliban staged the third poison gas attack in as many weeks on girls' schools.

I wish Obama had promised those girls and women that he would not sacrifice their rights if the U.S. talks to the Taliban as has been suggested as a way to curb fighting in Afghanistan.

I wish Muslim women didn't need their own part in the speech. Many wondered whether Obama would take the safe route and avoid women's rights. But that would have given a free pass to the denial and defensiveness of too many Muslims about the abuse of girls and women committed in the name of our religion.

But I urge Obama to avoid a free pass to over simplified stereotypes. He's too smart -- and charming -- for that.

Mona Eltahawy is a columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues. This article was previously published in The Huffington Post and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

Reprinted with permission from Altmuslim.com

7/12/2009 4:00:00 AM
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