Too Many Rights…

If there’s anything that has gotten students talking in a lesson, it’s the topic of gender equality and sexual discrimination. They have often been the cause of hot debates that have resulted in me telling students that I’d actually like to go home, as they thrashed it out well after class had finished… at 9.45pm!

I’ve noted some interesting comments from both males and females, the most eyebrow raising one being:

“Women have been given too many rights.”

You can only imagine the riot this caused amongst the female students who went red in the face with utter disbelief. “What rights?” they demanded to know; as far as they were  concerned the guy had lost his mind and was living in his own world.

I sat in a pose of contemplation – head cocked to the side, eyebrows bunched up and tapping my fingers on my knee. I was wondering exactly what he meant, because Egypt is still a very male-dominated country, like many others in the region.

The brave student (I mean, he was brave for making that comment since he ran the risk of having his head verbally chopped off by the ladies in the class!) went on to say that women have been given so many rights now, that male opinion is sidelined. Yes, eyebrows did shoot up – mine included!

When asked to clarify, he mentioned rape cases: that a women’s word is stronger than a man’s. But the question remains: how many cases of rape are actually reported? Not as many as should be, because of fear of reproach and being stigmatised  – after all, the belief that it’s the woman’s fault is still rampant.

While I can’t say that I agree with what this male student was claiming, I must admit that I have noticed a slight shift in how women express themselves here. Okay, I’ve only been in Egypt for 3 months, but from what I have read I know that there was once a time when women didn’t smoke in public. Why this is, I’m not entirely sure, but it is something that is not uncommon nowadays.

Is it a case of Egyptian women ‘grasping’ their rights, or are they out to simply show they can express themselves? I’m not sure either way, but I will paying close attention to what my counterparts are getting up to in these sandy lands.

– The Londoner


Posted on December 1, 2010, in Ramblings, Ruminations about Cairo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I read the same thing in the magazine Community Times. There was a protest apparently a while ago, men protesting that women had too many rights and they wanted their rights back. Not sure what that’s about, I too, like you, believe it’s quite a male-dominated society, even though it’s getting better and nothing like Saudi.

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