Islam and Women’s Rights

If you’ve spent time in a Moslem country you’ve seen the huge gulf between the west and Islam regarding women. It is unimaginable what the world must be like behind veil, a burka, a black gown that heats you like an oven under the Middle East sun. Or to have your sexual organs cut away with a broken bottle, ceremonial sword or rusty razor, to submit to a man no matter how foul or evil he may be. In some countries to be unable to leave the house without a male escort, which in essence imprisons a woman for life.

According to the Quran, a woman is worth half a man, or a man two women. Men “excel” over women, must oversee and rule women’s behavior, and if women are “rebellious” men must whip and banish them. Women must lower their eyes in the presence of men, act demurely and not walk heavily so that their “adornments” jiggle, thereby attracting a man (Surah 24).

In Afghanistan and Pakistan women can be stoned to death for glancing at a man in the market; any man can charge a woman with adultery for which the sentence is death. Girls can be shot for going to school. Women can have their hands and feet cut off for speaking in public. In Saudi Arabia a woman can be arrested for just leaving the house alone, or driving a car.

The results of this insanity are manifold. First and foremost, many Moslem women don’t have a life. The misery, lack of freedom, serfdom and hatred experienced by these women can be overwhelming. Happiness becomes an impossible, irrelevant goal, one that elicits an ironic laugh  or silent disinterest.

Second, because of the repression of women, the Moslem world has progressed little since the middle ages, when Moslem scholarship and open thinking were curbed as the religion turned more and more conservative. A society or culture cannot progress without its feminine side. A man is nothing without a feminine side. Our souls and minds are both female and male; neither can evolve alone.

The so-called “Arab spring” has been a disaster for women’s rights. In Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the few equalities women had have been diminished. The horrific war in Syria, born out of nothing and which now has killed over 60,000 and destroyed much of the country, and to which the US and many other countries contributed or sold arms, has now been hijacked by Al Qaida. As a result, Syrian women who survive the war face an even more dreadful future in a shattered country run by misogynistic fanatics.

The Organization for Islamic Cooperation, composed of fifty-seven Moslem countries, wants the United Nations to ban what it terms “defamation of religion”. By this it means that any criticism of Islam will be against world law. The proposal is backed by such nations as Turkey, Pakistan, and Yemen. Were it adopted, it would mean that no one could criticize Moslem countries for their treatment of women, because that treatment is sanctified by their religion.

Islam is accelerating its takeover of African countries, which is what the war in Mali is about. Worldwide, from Europe to Indonesia, Islam is strengthening its hold, and its control of women. Attempts to enforce Sharia take place in London and Paris, not just Kabul.

Indonesia recently announced it will ignore a United Nations resolution banning female genital mutilation. In response I wrote recently, those of us who care should boycott Indonesia, and take our tourism and shopping dollars elsewhere, till that policy is reversed.

Women have made much progress in the last hundred years. But even in the western world there is still far to go. Now our culture faces a new risk, a return to the horrors of the past, a horror that millions of Moslem women live every day. We must not fall prey to political correctness that tells us we have no right to criticize how others live, to assuming the world is advancing. It might not be. We’ve gone through dark ages before, and could again.

The danger, and the risk, are real.

Best-selling novelist, environmental activist and war and human rights journalist, Mike Bond can be reached at

2 thoughts on “Islam and Women’s Rights

  1. Hello Mike.
    I have read your article, even though I don’t discuss Islam very often, but you’re getting some of your facts wrong.

    The Quran is a very different book in Arabic, the meaning doesn’t reflect perfectly with the English sentence only, you need further interpretation to the verses to actually get their meanings just as if they are written in Arabic.

    The Burku is a tribal act, it existed before Islam, starting from Yemen. It was never a demand in many Islamic countries, you will find that in Saudi Arabia specifically -where the Arab tribes who force veil on their women exist-. When the Salafee/Wahabee movement started to spread, it carried away the tribal nature of the environment & twisted Islam to fit them.

    The verse you mentioned simply means : when women are walking, they shouldn’t attract men sexually, and they should not look with lust ; but what if the girl is trying to find the one ? what if she want to get married ? well, that’s why so many people don’t understand the Quran…the verse simply says : make it a daily behavior of yours to not think about men sexually -the same command goes on the men too-, and for men to think about women sexually, women should behave in the society, not presenting themselves as a sexual tool, but as a human being. That’s the exact meaning of the verse in Arabic.

    Women oppression in the middle east goes back centuries before Islam, you can read about its ancient history more, especially the arabian peninsula.

    Cheers : )


    • Thank you Mohammed,

      Like many people I have spent years studying the Quran, and there are still many aspects I do not understand. It often conflicts with itself, but so does the Bible and most other religious texts. And I agree that much of the repression of women in the Middle East is tribal, but it has been incorporated into the Quran and other texts. It wasn’t that long ago that women in the west were equally constrained in their behavior. For Islamic countries to evolve, however, bias against women must cease.


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