Deniz Kandiyoti cached version 04/07/2018 11:10:23 en The fateful marriage: political violence and violence against women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Pervasive and diverse, instances of violence against women can only be fully comprehended in the political contexts that give them purpose and meaning.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In November 2015, a conference was held in Istanbul to celebrate the 25th year of the <a href="">Women’s Library and Information Centre Foundation</a>. &nbsp;Like the <a href="">Women’s Library</a> in the UK which has roots in the suffrage movement, and the Fawcett Society, this library with its extensive collection of books, archives, periodicals, ephemera, visual materials and women’s biographies aims to serve as the collective memory of the women’s movement in Turkey. </p><p>The choice of title for this anniversary, <em>Against Women: Violence without Borders</em>, was hardly celebratory. This is unsurprising if we consider the alarming statistics on violence against women (VAW) in Turkey. Between 2002-2009 the murder rate of women <a href="">increased 14-fold</a>. In the past five years, 1,134 women have reportedly been murdered, most commonly at the hands of husbands, boyfriends or male kin. The <a href="">Platform to Stop the Murders of Women</a> reports that in the first ten months of 2015, 236 women were murdered, 112 were raped, 157 forced into prostitution, 316 were assaulted and wounded and 179 suffered harassment. </p><p><img src="//" alt="" width="460" height="306" /></p> <p><em>"We Will Stop the Murders of Women Platform", November 2014. Avni Kantan/Demotix. All rights reserved.</em></p><p>Yet what marked and overshadowed this occasion was the fact that Tahir Elci, a prominent pro-Kurdish human rights lawyer, had been brutally <a href="">assassinated</a> on 28 November, on the eve of the gathering. The celebration turned into a wake as messages of outrage and condolence started pouring in. The mood of despondency settling over the proceedings coloured the already bleak nature of the subject matter. &nbsp;In my talk I had, coincidentally, been intending to pose the question of the extent to which it is feasible to separate violence against women from societal and political violence, not realising how apposite this intervention would be on the day. Pursuing this line of reasoning further may provide fruitful pointers for women’s rights defenders: Where and how do we draw the line between political violence and VAW? How well equipped are we to comprehend the myriad forms that gender-based violence takes?&nbsp; </p> <p>The prevalence and “borderless” nature of violence against women unwittingly predisposes us to think about its various manifestations as the expression of some universal patriarchal order or timeless misogyny. This approach results in a rather <a href="">expansive definition</a> of gender-based violence ranging from practices such as FGM and honour killings (usually classed as <em>harmful cultural practices</em> ), all the way to the outrages perpetuated against women and girls in the context of conflict and war. Customs that infringe women’s most basic rights, such as forced marriage and child marriage, are also thrown into the mix. This leads us to debates that generally revolve around the polarities of universal human rights vs. respect for cultural differences. Patriarchy is often implicitly treated as an item of culture (preferably a feature of “other” cultures) making it more difficult to come to grips with its political dimensions and its relations to societal and political violence.</p> <p>The political dimensions of violence against women were brought into sharp relief during and after the Arab uprisings in 2011. The <a href="">types of assault women</a> demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir square were subjected to raised a host of questions, since they displayed unprecedented forms. Individual women who were surrounded by two concentric circles of men, an inner circle grasping, tearing garments and probing with their hands and sharp objects, and an outer circle blocking their escape, were subjected to an almost ritualised from of abuse. Who were these men breaking the law publicly with impunity and with no apparent fear of being recognised, apprehended or punished? </p> <p>The phenomenon of paid mobsters named <em>baltagiyya</em> operating during the Mubarak regime to intimidate protestors and quell dissent was already known. In the December 2011 protests security forces were themselves <a href="">implicated</a> in violence, as illustrated by the famous “<a href="">blue bra</a>” incident where a woman was cruelly beaten and dragged on the ground. There were undoubtedly numerous “opportunistic” harassers and men outraged by the fact that women dared to protest in public space joining the melee. It was civil society groups like <em>Tahrir Bodyguard</em> , <em>Imprint </em>and other <a href="">citizen-volunteers </a>engaged in anti-violence vigilantism who <a href="">intervened</a> rather than the so-called forces of order that have a duty to protect their citizenry. We were unquestionably witnessing the intersections of political violence with violence against women. These episodes invite further reflection on the uses of gender-based violence, given the novel forms of both aggression and resistance to it. </p> <p><strong>Unpacking violence against women</strong></p> <p>My keenest realisation of the need to “unpack ” what we mean by patriarchy when we address violence against women came in Afghanistan where I could detect at least three distinct patterns of violence. </p><p><img src="//" alt="" width="460" height="307" /></p> <p><em>A woman walks through a field of grass in the evening, in Bamyan, Afghanistan. Eric Kanalstein/United Nations/Flickr. Some rights reserved</em></p><p>The first that we might qualify as “traditional” originates in the modes of control and coercion exercised by families, tribes and communities over their womenfolk, often in the interests of safeguarding of “male honour” which is considered paramount to the maintenance of social order. Punishments against women range from coercion and beatings, to bodily harm and murder. These are usually meted out by fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands or other male kin who are in face to face relations with their victims.&nbsp; We might speak of ‘privatised’ violence here to the extent that the prime movers are kin groups and families. However, the state is often implicated in these crimes. Indeed, many women face prison terms in Afghanistan not because of a crime that exists on the statute books, but because they have dared to evade the control of their kin by running away from forced or abusive marriages. Many states uphold male prerogatives over the control of women by passing lighter sentences for honour crimes, or showing leniency to rapists if they marry their victims. </p> <p>A second pattern is prevalent in conflict and war situations where, as in Afghanistan under the <em>mujahideen, </em>armed militias use abduction and rape of women and girls (although boys are not immune to sexual predation) as a systematic tool of war to intimidate, despoil, and establish positional superiority. This pattern, commonplace in many conflicts across the world, targets not only women and girls, but entire populations sometimes singled out on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity or other affiliations. UN Security Council resolution 1325 adopted in 2000 recognising rape as a war crime, and Security Council Resolution <a href="">2242</a> passed in 2015 making reference to <a href="">'sexual and gender based violence as a tactic of terrorism'</a>, point to growing international acknowledgement of the political nature of these crimes. </p> <p>A third pattern can be detected in state-like formations like the Taliban-in-government, where public performances of&nbsp; Islamic justice - such as the spectacular events held on Fridays in the main football stadium featuring the stoning of women, lashings and executions - are deployed both as a means of social control and an affirmation of rulers’ power and legitimacy. The much publicised <a href="">outrages</a> of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are, in fact, couched in the language of detailed regulations. Captured ISIL documents include Fatwa No. 64, dated Jan. 29, 2015 which purports to explain the Islamic rules on who may or may not <a href="">rape a non-Muslim female slave</a>. Access to women as sex slaves (or as fighters’ brides) offers powerful incentives to male fighters, stimulates recruitment, and brings in modest revenues to the war chest through the sale of women (whose prices are calibrated according to age and other attributes). </p> <p>Women and girls fleeing conflict hardly find shelter in refugee camps where they remain <a href="">vulnerable</a> to sexual abuse. In addition, child marriages and an organised trade in young girls <a href="">flourish</a> under conditions of material hardship and physical insecurity. The scale of the problem becomes even more glaring when we throw into the mix the abuses and sexual predation <a href="">perpetrated</a> by UN peacekeeping forces whose mandate is to protect civilian populations and vulnerable groups.&nbsp; </p> <p>These examples clearly fail to exhaust the wide range of crimes against women perpetrated by states ( many with seats at the United Nations) through their apparatuses of coercion (such as armies and police forces) often by adopting a predatory stance towards the most vulnerable members of&nbsp; their societies - as seen in the rape of lower caste women in India. Such examples of <a href="">state sanctioned violence</a> abound both in conflict and so-called peacetime.<img src="//" alt="" width="400" height="263" /></p> <p><em>‘My night’, a quilt by Hanna Mallalah, Iraq.</em></p><p>We may well wonder when the violation of women’s bodies becomes a ‘<a href="">red line</a>’. Sadly this is often &nbsp;at the point when geopolitically powerful players decide to name and shame “bad guys” for their own instrumental purposes. Remember, for instance, the strategic silence surrounding <em>mujahideen</em> atrocities against women in Afghanistan at the point when they were backed and financed by the West against the Soviets. The Taliban’s record on women may well have been overlooked had they not so blatantly aided and abetted Al-Qaeda well beyond the 9/11 events. Outrage over violence against women often appears&nbsp; as a politically expedient afterthought. </p> <p>The rich tapestry of violence against women (VAW) illustrated above should suffice to demonstrate that the normative frameworks and objectives behind violence are neither interchangeable nor are they part of some singular cultural script. It is, nevertheless, possible to argue that however varied their sources and objectives, these patterns of violence display a mixture of instrumentalism and opportunism and can even claim a degree of internal logic when they are based on widely shared “honour codes”, or are couched in the language of religiously sanctioned actions. There are, however, other instances of violence that are even more challenging in conceptual terms.</p> <p><strong>Is there a “new” violence against women?</strong></p> <p>The instances of violence that I find most thought provoking are those that occur in anonymous public spaces, are perpetrated by strangers, and have a deceptively random and spontaneous appearance. &nbsp;Cases in point are the <a href="">serial killings</a> of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, targeting young single women working in assembly factories (giving us the term <em>feminicidio</em> or femicide), the <a href="">gang rape and torture</a> of Joyti Singh Pandey on a bus in Delhi followed by her death in December 2012, and Anene Booysen’s&nbsp; gang rape and torture in South Africa followed by her <a href="">death</a> in February 2013. </p> <p>We are clearly not dealing with private pathologies here, but instances where violence can almost become part of&nbsp; a “<a href="">sport</a>” practiced by subcultures of local gangs, as was also the case in the multiple rape cases in Soweto. The targets are often independent women who, like the young workers in Mexico or the student in Delhi, find themselves in un-monitored public spaces. I have argued elsewhere that abuses against women can take more virulent forms when the male role is no longer secure, and where profound crises of masculinity lead to more violent and coercive assertions of male prerogatives. I tentatively called this phenomenon <a href=""><em>masculinist restoration</em> </a>to highlight some of its distinctive features. Both the manifestations of violence,&nbsp; and more significantly societal reactions to them, break the mould of the silence and dissimulation that were the hallmarks of <a href="">patriarchy-as-usual</a>. Violence against women is firmly in the public domain eliciting storms of protest, demonstrations, petitions, blogs, advocacy and solidarity campaigns. Reactions to gender-based violence are shaping the contours of a political divide that crosses gender lines, and pits those who believe that women should “know their place” against others who defend the safety and freedom of women at all times and in all circumstances as a fundamental human right. </p> <p>If we accept the proposition that gender orders are undergoing massive convulsions on a global scale, we should be encountering many more variations of the “new” violence against women. For instance, the shocking and unexpected New Year’s Eve sexual molestation and muggings of women in Cologne, other German cities (Hamburg, with over 100 complaints, but also Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Nuremberg) and across Europe, (from Helsinki to Zurich) have already elicited several <a href="">predictable reactions</a> given the fact that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants were among the attackers. Those on the right with an anti-immigrant platform felt vindicated, with <a href=";nl=todaysheadlines&amp;nlid=51551775&amp;_r=0">far-right</a> movements taking to the streets. On the liberal left, concerns were expressed that justifiable preoccupations about the safety of women could easily morph into a form of knee-jerk racism (dark-skinned foreigners violating white women), thus exporting sexism to “other” cultures and whitewashing the less than scintillating record of their own societies. More “forensic” interpretations of the events have pointed to <a href=";nl=todaysheadlines&amp;nlid=51551775&amp;_r=0">faulty policing and crowd behaviour</a> under the influence of alcohol. However, the seemingly coordinated and simultaneous nature of the attacks (about which we still know relatively little) also led to speculations about political provocation from either Islamists or right-wing extremists infiltrating the crowds or acting with premeditation. </p> <p>Whatever the case may be, neither the invocation of universal misogyny nor the stigmatisation of particular groups is likely to be helpful without a context-specific grounding of events and reactions to them.</p> <p>At this point in time, rather than trying to establish the root causes of different episodes of violence (usually these are complex and multiple), it may be more feasible and useful to trace how these phenomena get politicised once they enter the circuits of judiciaries, politicians, the media and the wide array of civil society actors operating in different contexts. The case of Turkey, whose epidemic-level incidence of violence against women I alluded to earlier, offers valuable object lessons in this respect. </p> <p><strong>Politicising violence: the chasm between words and deeds</strong></p> <p>On paper at least, Turkey has an exemplary record in combating violence against women. The Amendment to the Turkish Penal Code passed in 2004 is unprecedented in the Middle East region. These legal changes prevent sentence reduction for ‘killings in the name of customary law’ ( so-called honour killings); criminalise marital rape; abolish the article foreseeing a reduction or suspension of the sentence of rapists and abductors marrying their victims; criminalise sexual offences such as harassment at the workplace, and abolish the distinction between virgins and non-virgins in sexual crimes. Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe's Council of Europe's <a href="" target="_hplink">Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO)</a>, the Istanbul Convention, in 2012. The number of women’s shelters has increased significantly from 51 shelters in 2008 to 122 in 2015. The <a href="">International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was celebrated officially with landmark buildings bathed in orange light on 25 November, 2015.</a></p> <p>Meanwhile, news of fresh murders, beatings, mutilations and harassment of women continue unabated. Even a casual perusal of newspaper reporting of murder cases and other crimes of violence shows that perceived female disobedience and insubordination act as primary triggers: women murdered by husbands they wish to divorce, or ex-husbands they have dared to divorce, rejected suitors, and obstinate girls refusing to fall in line with their fathers’ or brothers’ wishes jostle on the pages of dailies. Women’s rising aspirations and determined male resistance create a perfect storm in the gender order that manifests itself in both official attempts to “tame” women and shore up men’s privileges, and in the unofficial excesses of street-level masculinist restoration. The instructive documentary <a href=""><em>Dying to Divorce </em></a>attempts to give voice to both victims and perpetrators of crime, as well as to committed activists who struggle to bring offenders to justice. For here is the rub: although the legal system offers the means to bring perpetrators of violence to justice offenders, sometimes quite literally, get away with murder. Multitudes of rapists and killers benefit from so-called “good behaviour reductions” for nothing more consequential than having a respectful bearing, wearing a tie to court, expressing regret or pleading intolerable provocation to their male honour. The <a href="">scandalous scale of such judgements</a> and arbitrary sentence reductions prompted a male journalist to speculate scathingly about the love affair and deep empathy between male perpetrators of violence and the prosecutors and judges who are supposed to deliver justice for their female victims. In a country where detentions without trial and judgements based on the flimsiest of evidence abound (as attested to by the number of jailed journalists) prosecutors and judges bend over backwards to exonerate assaulters, rapists and murderers of women. This chasm between the letter of the law and its implementation inevitably politicises the issue of violence against women and implicates the state in its perpetuation; not only are current offenders treated leniently but would be offenders take heart from such dispensations. The task of seeking justice for women falls on the shoulders of civil society actors, among which are groups like the <em>Platform to Stop the Murders of Women</em>, and a liberal press that now forms a dwindling and threatened component of a totally co-opted dismal media scene.</p> <p>One of the most striking examples of the politicisation of violence against women followed the attempted <a href="">rape and murder</a> of Özgecan Aslan, a 20-year old student commuting to her home on 13 February, 2015. The debates following this gruesome murder rapidly degenerated into a contest over women’s rights to a presence in the public domain: while some argued that women could only be protected by being segregated, others riposted that enjoying a public presence under conditions of freedom and security is a fundamental human right. Of course, those arguing for segregation had conveniently forgotten that most incidences of violence still occur within households, families or immediate neighbourhoods. &nbsp;A <a href="">petition</a> that received over a million signatures went forward with a proposal to parliament for a new law (dubbed the Ozgecan law) that would block sentence reductions and the lenient treatment of perpetrators of crimes against women. </p><p><img src="//" alt="" width="460" height="460" /></p> <p><em>Protesting violence against women. Christopher Michel/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</em></p><p>One final but crucial component of the politics of violence against women resides in societal reactions to it. The feminist slogan “the personal is political” has finally come into its own. Gender-based violence is understood in the broadest terms and also includes abuses against the LGBT community. There are now constituencies of concerned citizens, men and women of different sexual orientations and ethnicities, organising in groups, protesting, documenting outrages, blogging and petitioning because they recognise that the climate of impunity surrounding crimes against women defines the entire polity and the masculinist, militarised political culture that stifles democracy and human rights.</p> <p>The grief and despair I encountered during the Istanbul conference, <em>Against Violence</em>, offered a powerful testimony to the inseparability of women’s rights from other struggles for dignity, recognition and freedom.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/contesting-patriarchy-as-governance-lessons-from-youth-led-activism">Contesting patriarchy-as-governance: lessons from youth-led activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lauren-wolfe/when-does-violation-of-womens-bodies-become-red-line"> When does the violation of women&#039;s bodies become a &quot;red line&quot;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nadje-alali/sexualized-violence-in-iraq-how-to-understand-and-fight-it">Sexualized violence in Iraq: how to understand and fight it</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/preventing-violence-against-women-sluggish-cascade">Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/global-femicide-watch-preventing-gender-related-killing-of-women">Global Femicide Watch</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/mona-eltahawy-and-sexual-revolution-in-middle-east">Mona Eltahawy and sexual revolution in the Middle East</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/visible-players-power-and-risks-for-young-feminists">Visible players: the power and the risks for young feminists</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/eba%E2%80%99-el-tamami/harassment-free-zone">Harassment free zone </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/promise-and-peril-women-and-%E2%80%98arab-spring%E2%80%99">Promise and peril: women and the ‘Arab spring’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/patriarchy-and-militarism-in-egypt-from-street-to-government">Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/cynthia-cockburn/who-do-they-think-they-are-war-rapists-as-people">Who do they think they are? 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Egypt </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> <div class="field-item even"> Mexico </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Mexico Afghanistan United States EU Egypt Turkey Turkish Dawn Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building AWID Forum 2016 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter bodily autonomy gender justice violence against women women's human rights Deniz Kandiyoti Mon, 25 Jan 2016 08:07:33 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 99295 at Your fatwa does not apply here <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The <a href=";LangID=E">UN Human Rights Council</a> has appointed Karima Bennoune as Special Rapporteur in the field of Cultural Rights. Bennoune is the author of the book,&nbsp;<em><a href="">Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Woman holds pen, listening, as another woman in foreground of image is speaking, dictaphone in hand." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="400" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Karima Bennoune interviewing Malian lawyer Sara Keita Diakite in<br />Bamako, December 2012. Photo: author's own (c)</span></span></span></p><p><em>Karima Bennoune won the <a href="">2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize</a> for Nonfiction with her book <a href="">Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism</a>. She spoke to Deniz Kandiyoti in August 2013 about the path that led her to collect these stories.</em></p><p><strong>Deniz Kandiyoti:</strong> Your new book <a href="">Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: <em>Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism</em></a> gives a voice to the victims of fundamentalist violence in Muslim majority countries. What led you to this project? </p> <p><strong>Karima Bennoune: </strong>The book was inspired by my father’s experiences in Algeria in the 1990s when, as a progressive intellectual of Muslim heritage, he <a href="">spoke out against rising Muslim fundamentalism</a> in his own country and faced grave threats as a result. He and Algerian democrats generally received little international solidarity, including from the left, during this terrible time. So I set out to meet people doing similar work today, to try to understand their analysis of the challenges they face, to try to give them more exposure and win them more support than their Algerian&nbsp; counterparts received in the 90s.</p><p>I interviewed nearly 300 people from almost 30 countries – from Afghanistan to Mali. They include teachers in northern Mali who risked everything to keep their co-educational schools open under Jihadist domination, <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Woman holding dictaphone as if to speak into it" title="" width="160" height="174" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nigerien sociologist Zeinabou<br />Hadari, one of nearly 300 people<br />Karima Bennoune interviewed.<br />Photo: author's own (c)</span></span></span>women lawyers in Afghanistan who dared prosecute in cases of violence against women despite Taliban threats and U.S. attempts to “reconcile” with the Taliban, feminists in Egypt and Tunisia who participated in revolutions against autocrats and then <a href="">fought</a> to stop those revolutions being hijacked by Islamists, or journalists in Chechnya who braved both Russian bombardment and the crimes of foreign fighters but continued to <a href="">speak out</a>.&nbsp; By portraying these lives in struggle and conveying these voices of conviction, I also hope to challenge stereotypical notions – whether on the left or on the right in the West - about the people we now simply call “Muslims”. </p><p>DK: Your arguments clearly shift the focus of analysis from “a clash of civilizations” to a clash <em>within </em>civilizations, or as you put it, “a clash of right wings, not civilizations”. How does this dynamic play out?</p> <p>KB: I have been inspired in my thinking about these issues by the work of the anthropologist Jeanne Favret-Saada. She wrote the best book about the Danish cartoons controversy, called <em><a href="">Comment Produire une crise mondiale avec douze petit dessins</a></em> (How to produce a global crisis with twelve little drawings). In it, she speaks critically both about the politics of the Danish far right and the Muslim far right. She is able to look at the problem through multiple lenses – that of discrimination against people of Muslim heritage, and that of Muslim fundamentalism&nbsp; simultaneously,&nbsp; thus better grasping the whole picture. That is what I am also trying to do.&nbsp; Reacting to the conflagration over the offensive pseudo-film <em><a href="">The Innocence of Muslims</a></em>, Favret-Saada <a href="">wrote</a> “On the one side we have cowardly networks of so-called defenders of the West who manufacture a provocation… and make terroristic use of freedom of expression, and on the other side Muslim fundamentalist commandoes… eagerly welcome this provocation… [E]ach needs the other to produce the desired effect… Together these militant groups cause considerable damage.”&nbsp; </p> <p>DK: As a secular feminist of Algerian origin, you convey a sense of betrayal on the part of the liberal left in the West who, in their eagerness to denounce imperialism, armed interventions and the abuses unleashed by the so-called war on terror, have endorsed some Islamist tendencies with little discernment about their policies or record. How did we get here?</p> <p>KB: There are many examples of this stance – whether it is the <a href="">uncritical attitude</a> of parts of the left and the human rights movement in Britain toward Moazzam Begg and Cage Prisoners that has been so strongly criticized by prominent South Asian feminists and others, or the pro bono representation of the interests of the late Anwar Awlaki and his family by the U.S. civil liberties group the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), with no effort to recognize Awlaki’s own record and his culpability in issuing threats of assassination (calling him simply “a Muslim cleric”), that has been <a href="">opposed</a> by Algerian survivors of terrorism – and by myself when I sat on CCR’s Board. <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Book cover with title "Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here"" title="" width="160" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>How did we get here? There are a number of answers. The first has to do with the increasing <a href="">hegemony of identity politics</a> and the assumption that this always represents a “progressive” stance. Yet identity politics covers over the fact that peoples of the Global South are as diverse as the rest of humanity, and are situated all across the political spectrum just like everyone else. Supporting the Muslim far right because they are Muslims still represents support for the far right. I was reminded again during the interviews for this <a href="">book</a> that one has to be uncompromising in challenging the far right wherever one lives – whether one is Muslim, Christian, Jewish or atheist.&nbsp; </p> <p>Another irony is the reliance of some “post-colonial” scholars on a very colonial worldview –whereby there is one largely homogenous group of colonizers and a similarly homogenized group of colonized – and the only power dynamic that matters is that&nbsp; between those two&nbsp; groups. This is an oversimplification of today’s world where the dynamics are more complex, and in which there are <a href="">multiple axes</a> along which power is exerted and dominance is asserted – multiple processes of subordination that resemble colonial domination. For example, women’s rights advocates I interviewed in Niger talked about Muslim fundamentalists’ attempts to “de-Africanize” their lived Islams, by imposing garments like the djilbab which are not indigenous to West Africa ,a quasi-colonial intrusion.&nbsp; If we are committed to human rights and to equality, we have to take all these dynamics seriously. I refuse to be forced to choose between opposing colonialism and the burqa which are in fact about the same idea – subordination.</p> <p>DK: Can you clarify your reluctance to accept at face value the distinctions the West has tried so hard to establish between so-called “moderate Islamists” (of the Ennahda and Muslim Brotherhood variety) and the jihadi manifestations of Islam? Where and how do you draw the lines?</p> <p>KB: I&nbsp;do recognize distinctions among Islamist tendencies but have misgivings about the implications that have been&nbsp;ascribed to these distinctions in the West, and especially the way in which movements like Ennahda and the Muslim Brotherhood have often been whitewashed in the process. At the end of the day, they are all right wing movements that uphold theocratic agendas of varying stripes which they promote by diverse means.&nbsp; </p> <p>What is fascinating to me is the attachment to the notion of “moderate Islamists” in the West, when, in many Muslim majority societies today, this is a highly contested notion.&nbsp; For example, after the recent assassination of Mohamed Brahmi in Tunisia, many of the articles reporting this event in the Western media used the phrase “moderate party” to describe Tunisia’s ruling party Ennahda, even though many on the ground were blaming Ennahda for the assassination, either directly or at least indirectly by <a href=";">fostering the climate</a> that led to the killing. One leading Ennahda deputy made an inflammatory speech saying that anyone who supported the removal of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt&nbsp; was a legitimate target – and Brahmi did praise what happened in Egypt before being <a href=";t=520&amp;a=39354">felled</a> by 14 bullets. And yet this embrace of the “moderate Islamist” notion appeared in Western press articles on that same day. </p> <p>I am trying to understand that attitude which, I think, comes from a number of different places. In official circles in the West&nbsp; a desire to use the Islamists politically to&nbsp; maintain order in the “Muslim world” (a term I do not use) while avoiding what is officially perceived as the only significant downside, namely, terrorism against “us,” seems to dictate the agenda.&nbsp; How “Islamists” wish to treat “their own people” is not their problem. Yet, in left and in liberal circles that would see themselves as critical of those official circles, you also sometimes find a similar embrace of this term, which I think again goes back to the previous question and an apology for Islamism in the name of a kind of thin cultural politics. Meanwhile, across North Africa you see a rejection of this notion of “moderate Islamism” not only in liberal and left political circles, but among ordinary people. There is a realization there of the fact that the minute your project is to use religion to take power or to rule you have crossed a line which takes you out of what we would ordinarily think of as “democracy” in the substantive sense. </p> <p>The other thing I find disturbing is that the actual track record of the “moderate Islamists” gets entirely lost in the Western embrace of the notion. Almost no one&nbsp; in the West talks about the fact that you have Ennahda politicians openly threatening people who disagree with them, you have Ennahda female deputies calling for the gender segregation of public transportation. You have Ennahda tolerating an environment in which Salafist preachers are coming in and <a href="">advocating</a> female genital mutilation in a society where it has never been practiced. Moreover, the so-called “moderates” open the door to the jihadis which is precisely what happened in Tunisia with Ennahda and the terror groups now operating in parts of the country, or in Egypt with Morsi’s <a href="">nomination of Adel el-Khayat</a>, a founding member of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, to be governor of Luxor (when his own terror group was responsible for the worst attack in the city’s history). </p> <p>So what does “moderate” actually mean?&nbsp; On the ground, what people see is that the Muslim Brotherhood and Ennahda have attempted to use religion as a tool of governance and repression. A few days before I left Tunisia, I went to hear Mbarka Brahmi, Mohamed Brahmi’s widow, speak during a protest in front of the Constituent Assembly, calling for the Ennahda government to step down. She is a devout Muslim woman, and she said something very beautiful, "<em>We also say ‘Allahu Akbar.’ We also say ‘Mohamed Rasoul Allah.’ But we don’t say it to take power</em>."&nbsp; She distinguished carefully between ordinary Muslims, and “merchants of religion.”</p> <p>DK: Another interesting suggestion you make about the readiness with which voices like yours are dismissed and marginalized is that embracing “Muslim otherness” has become a convenient way for the West to absolve itself of the responsibility of its own actions. In fact you hold the policies of the West partly responsible for the rise of political Islam. Can you tell us more?</p> <p>KB:<strong> </strong>Many progressive anti-fundamentalists of Muslim heritage today believe the U.S. supports Muslim fundamentalism in many instances. Indeed, there is no question that the U.S. has sometimes fostered Muslim fundamentalist groups to suit its own geo-political agenda. During the 1980s in the context of the Cold War, the United States poured <a href="">money and military aid</a> into the Islamizing Pakistani dictatorship of Zia ul-Haq, and into Afghan mujahideen groups, no matter how extreme, as a way to counter communism. Disaffected men from many countries joined this U.S.- sponsored jihad in Afghanistan, then went home with their training and experience. This had a direct impact on countries like Algeria, where the worst jihadi killers were called “Afghans” for their battle experience in that faraway jihad.</p> <p>The U.S. was not alone in this blunder. Britain supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the colonial period as a more palatable alternative to secular nationalists. As I was told by both Israelis and Palestinians I met, even Israel prefers Hamas to the secular Palestinian Authority and PLO.&nbsp; Fundamentalists are useful. They fulfill the stereotypes of Muslims, and can be counted on to keep “their own people” in line, usually causing great suffering to their compatriots in the process.</p> <p>Meanwhile, anyone who dares to think critically about these issues and to speak from the perspective of a Muslim or Arab secularist, who dares to criticize Muslim fundamentalism and its relationship to the West, has to be disciplined. The fundamentalists themselves often engage in a very literal, physical discipline based on threats and actual violence. Some left intellectuals in the West&nbsp; use the violence of words by employing labels such as “imperialist feminism” to attack critical voices. However, deploying the epithet of imperialism as a slur simply displays a lack of understanding of the gravity of imperialism itself, and entirely obscures the fact that those of us trying to challenge the apology for Muslim fundamentalism in the West, including in the academy, are actually <a href="">heeding the voices of progressive and feminist activists on the ground</a> – whether in the Irhal Campaign in Tunisia, or in Djazairouna, the Algerian Association of Victims of Islamist Terrorism, who are themselves on the frontlines. </p> <p>Personally, I find this line of attack rather remarkable given that I come from a family of peasants, two generations removed, that was very involved in the anti-colonial movement. My grandfather, one of the people to whom <a href="">my book</a> was dedicated, was killed by the French military. My father was imprisoned and tortured by the French authorities during the Algerian war of independence.&nbsp; I grew up with a very heavy sense of the responsibility of that legacy – which was to fight for the freedom and human rights of ordinary people in the region against any who would seek to trample them. That is why the dedication of my book to my grandfather Lakhdar Bennoune, a peasant leader who organized massive protests against French domination and was repeatedly interned as a result, says that he “died defeating colonialism that his descendants might be free.”&nbsp; The fundamentalists, on the other hand, believe that those who died freeing Algeria were not real martyrs because they did not die fighting for an Islamic State. </p> <p>DK:&nbsp; When you discuss the way forward for Muslim majority societies you state that upholding women’s human rights is a <em>sine qua non</em> about which there can be no compromise. What do you make of the contention that<strong> </strong>Muslim women must forge their own feminist discourse using the interpretative resources available to them in the corpus of Islamic jurisprudence? Where do you stand on these debates?</p> <p>KB:<strong> </strong>The question facing women’s rights advocates is what strategy or strategies they should employ to be most effective today, in the face of fundamentalist movements and all the other challenges they face – patriarchy, racism, misogyny, autocracy, neo-liberalism run amok. I was compelled in my interview with the Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie-Lucas by her <a href="">argument</a> that right now the difficulties are so great, and the shared threat of fundamentalist movements so powerful, and we are so outgunned politically, that feminists who engage in feminist (re)interpretation of Islam and those who make secular human rights arguments, should be allies against fundamentalism. For me as a committed secularist, it was a great honor to attend a <a href="">Sisters in Islam</a> event in Kuala Lumpur in May this year on feminist interpretation of the Qur’an. I do believe our work can be complementary, and I am persuaded by the Tunisian feminist law professor Sana Ben Achour in her <a href="">paper</a> “Feminismes Laïcs en Pays d’Islam” (Secular Feminism in Muslim Majority Countries) that we have to be careful of setting out a stark binary opposition between the two tendencies, each of which are diverse, and indeed in practice often porous – she gives the example of the work of <em><a href="">Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité</a></em>. Nigerian feminist Ayesha Imam, for example, told me that she and her colleagues in <a href="">Baobab for Women’s Rights</a> used tools from whichever system can as she put it “recuperate rights”, believing it is possible to arrive at similar conclusions by working through Muslim discourses or international human rights. “My issue” she underscores, “is not where you come from, but where you arrive at.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Photos of 44 women" title="" width="400" height="301" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A collage of women killed by Algeria's fundamentalist armed groups during the<br />1990s. Image courtesy of Djazairouna</span></span></span></p> <p>However, I do think that there are some potential dangers in applying what is called Islamic feminism in the current moment that have to be confronted. First of all, I think this discussion has to be very context specific. Though I am also a committed universalist, I do think one has to think strategically across contexts about how one raises issues. In some regions, sub-regions and countries, it may make sense to make arguments within religion, especially when confronting certain types of challenges. However, elsewhere, such as in northwest Africa where there was a pre-existing secular republican political tradition, where women already have (or perhaps now I should say had) formal equality in constitutions, engaging in religious argument when one is talking about social and political change – about women’s participation in politics, about development, about health, may be a step backward onto theocratic terrain, and away from citizenship and universal human rights. For example, I asked the Senegalese sociologist Fatou Sow, who coordinates the network of <a href="">Women Living Under Muslim Laws</a> whether secular or religious discourse on women’s rights was more useful. She insisted that the best approach depends on context noting that “as a Senegalese I refuse to reinterpret the Qur’an to change the family law. I am not going to enter into the religious debate. I do not want to close myself off.” She argues that the strategy for combating fundamentalisms must be a political one that takes the debate off “the religious terrain where they wish to trap us. Nowadays, all questions take you back to the Qur’an.”&nbsp; </p><p>One of the most worrying trends is the embrace of Islamic feminism in the West as the only legitimate paradigm. There seems to be a desperate need in the West now for people in certain regions of the world to be simply “Muslims” – not citizens or human beings – what Iranian women’s rights activist <a href="">Mahnaz Afkhami</a> criticizes as&nbsp; “Islamic exceptionalism.”&nbsp; <a href="">Sana Ben Achour</a> recently asked in response to such ideas at play in Tunisia’s constitutional drafting debate, “are there some human rights which we Tunisians do not deserve?” </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="Women hold signs " title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Lahore protest against Pakistan's blasphemy laws, called by the<br />Institute for Peace and Secular Studies. Photo: author's own </span></span></span></p><p>Women’s rights advocates and other progressive opponents of fundamentalism must act with urgency, and whatever their strategic choices, must find ways to work together now. If they do, they can have great political success at this particular moment. This, again, reminds me of the words of <a href="">Mbarka Brahmi</a> in front of the Constituent Assembly: “The people will bring down the obscurantists, the murderers and the terrorists…. But we will sweep them away with civilized methods, not with their methods… with social movements, in every corner of Tunisia.&nbsp; And we will win, justice will win, Tunisia will win, a civil republic will win over the dark Tunisia that they wish for…”&nbsp; </p> <p><em>This interview was first published on August 27th 2013, </em><strong><em><br /></em></strong></p><p><em><strong>Read articles by Karima Bennoune <a href="">here.&nbsp;</a></strong></em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p><strong><em>Read </em></strong><em><strong>more articles in the 50.50 series <a href="">Frontline Voices Against Muslim Fundamentalism</a></strong><br /></em></p> <p><a href=""></a></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/algeria-twenty-years-on-words-do-not-die">Algeria twenty 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class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/truth-needs-witnesses">&quot;Truth needs witnesses&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune-caroline-fourest/support-right-to-make-fun-of-extremists-interview-with-carolin">&quot;Support the right to make fun of extremists&quot;: an interview with Caroline Fourest </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/algeria-postelection-democratic-struggle-continues">Algeria post-election: The democratic struggle continues </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/pour-aziz-smati-pour-la-saint-valentin">Pour Aziz Smati, pour la Saint Valentin</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/for-aziz-smati-on-valentines-day">For Aziz Smati on Valentine&#039;s Day</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/algeria-real-lessons-for-egypt">Algeria: the real lessons for Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/louiza-chennoub-karima-bennoune/algeria-voices-for-democratic-transition-cannot-be-silenced">Algeria: voices for democratic transition cannot be silenced</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ani-zonneveld/progressive-muslims-in-world-of-isis-and-islamophobes">Progressive Muslims in a world of ISIS and Islamophobes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ani-zonneveld/freedom-of-expression-sacred-right">Freedom of expression: a sacred right</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fatou-sow/secularism-at-risk-in-subsaharan-secular-states-challenges-for-senegal-and-mali">Secularism at risk in Sub-Saharan secular states: the challenges for Senegal and Mali</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mahfoud-bennoune/from-1990s-algeria-to-iraq-today-trampling-islam-underfoot-in-name-of-jihad">From 1990s Algeria to Iraq today: trampling Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Algeria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Tunisia Egypt Algeria Democracy and government International politics Meteoric rise of the Islamic State 50.50 Frontline voices against fundamentalism 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring 50.50 Editor's Pick secularism patriarchy fundamentalisms feminism Deniz Kandiyoti Karima Bennoune Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:33:27 +0000 Karima Bennoune and Deniz Kandiyoti 74978 at The gender wars in Turkey: a litmus test of democracy? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The pent up fury and grief released by Özgecan Aslan’s attempted rape and gruesome murder reveal deep fault lines and simmering sources of disaffection in Turkish society.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="TextBody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><img src="//" alt="Woman holding a placard with an image of a young woman alongside Turkish text" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo: @emekci_hareket</span></span></span>On a freezing cold day on the 21st of February 2015 a group of <a href=";nID=78661&amp;NewsCatID=339">men wearing skirts</a> marched towards the iconic Taksim square: they were protesting the brutal attempted rape and murder of Özgecan Aslan, a 20 year old student from Mersin, whose mutilated and partly burnt body was discovered in a riverbed on February 13th. This came on the heels of nation-wide demonstrations staged by women’s groups who were outraged and combative: among their striking slogans was “<em>Özgecan is not our lament but our rebellion</em>”. In a repetition of what has sadly become an all too common <a href=";NID=78358&amp;NewsCatID=509">ritual</a> in Turkey, it was women who carried her coffin<strong> </strong>to its final resting place. </p> <p class="TextBody">Gruesome sexual assaults and murders of women are, sadly, commonplace throughout the world. These seldom lead to overtly political contestations. In Turkey, however, things rapidly escalated into full blown <a href="">attacks</a><strong> </strong>on the current regime and its policies. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//" alt="Men march with linked arms" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Turkish men wear skirts to protest violence against women</span></span></span>How do we account for this hyper-politicization? Does the realm of gender based violence and women’s rights serve to articulate deeper layers of disaffection? What does this tell us about the state of democracy in Turkey? </p><p class="TextBody">It would be fair to say that this tragic event acted as a litmus test of the struggles over the soul of the polity. One set of reactions focused on how to better <a href="">segregate</a> women in order to protect them from such assaults (with proposals for women-only “pink”&nbsp; buses or separate carriages on the subway system). Some politicians, like the Family and Social Policies Minister, even called for the reinstatement of the death penalty which was abolished in 2004 to meet European Union standards. An implicit admission that the pubic domain is out of bounds for women, and the simultaneous pathologizing of violent men, underlies this rather confused bundle of reactions. </p> <p class="TextBody">A diametrically opposed reaction came from those who mounted virulent critiques of the type of society and mentality that puts women in peril <em>unless</em> they are segregated. We were reminded of numerous legal judgements where perpetrators of violence&nbsp; against women (including murderers) got off lightly, with arbitrary references to “provocation” as an extenuating circumstance of the gang rape of a 15-year-old who was supposed to have given her “consent”, and of the many instances of threatened women seeking police protection and receiving none. This climate of impunity clearly has institutional underpinnings that were being brushed under the carpet. References to pathological men and a violent society obfuscate a systematic pattern of institutional discriminination, marginalization, intimidation and abuse of women.</p> <p class="TextBody">The President added fuel to the fire when he stated that he condemned violence against women because “men are the custodians of women” (<em>kadinlar erkeklerin emanetidir</em>) and men have a duty to protect them. He claimed his views were based on Islamic sources. This triggered howls of protest from women’s rights defenders at the demeaning implications of this stance and a <a href="">demand for rights</a>, not protection. &nbsp;A theologically trained women’s rights defender also weighed in and contested the purported <a href=",288207">religious grounding</a><strong> </strong>of such pronouncements. Clearly,&nbsp; it was not only secular feminists who felt deep unease with the notion that adult women are the wards of men (a notion that prevails in some countries under <em><a href="">shari’a based family legislation</a>.</em><strong> </strong>Needless to say, this also contravenes existing legislation in Turkey which since the 2001 reform of the Civil Code and the 2004 amendments to the Criminal Code, has come into closer compliance with CEDAW requirements.</p> <p class="TextBody">Meanwhile, the demonization of feminists reached new heights when the President reprimanded them for having “no relation to our religion and our civilization” (<em>ya senin bizim dinimizle medeniyetimizle ilgin yok ki</em>), resorting to a form of “othering” that morphs any opposition into treason. He bitterly resented the politicization of this murder case, apparently unaware that this might be the harvest of seeds planted under his rule. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><img src="//" alt="Women march holding a banner" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo: @emekci_hareket</span></span></span>These debates had clearly struck a chord in the public conscience: the general mood was one of outrage and despair. On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, television channels were not only beaming news of demonstrations and events (which included a men’s run “against violence” and a mixed sex cycling event) but an announcement by the PM Davutoğlu that he was embarking on a new 2016-19 action plan on "<a href="">Fighting Violence against Women</a>". The President delivered an address vowing to make the elimination of violence against women his personal mission. With an election looming in June 2015, broadcasting the message that women would be safe under their watch had clearly become a priority for the ruling party. </p><p class="TextBody">How, when and why had their credentials in this domain become so tarnished? I suggest that&nbsp; the combination of the rapid unravelling of women’s rights between 2004 - 2015, and the effects of a populist discourse that puts women's conduct and propriety at the heart of AKP’s political messaging - distinguishing a virtuous “us” from an immoral “them”- accounts for both an erosion of trust,and a hyper-politicization of gender issues.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p class="TextBody"><strong>The unravelling of women’s rights: a tortuous trajectory <br /></strong></p> <p class="TextBody">During the early years of the AKP regime the women’s movement in Turkey achieved significant gains in the sphere of legal reforms. Between 2002-2004 a vigorous three-year campaign led by a coalition of women’s and sexual liberties groups - The Platform for the Reform of the Turkish Penal Code – successfully pushed through the adoption of a draft law on September 26, 2004. With the earlier reform of the Civil Code in 2001, these changes represented the most progressive pieces of legislation in the republican era since the early Kemalist reforms.</p> <p>Turkey’s EU membership candidacy in December 1999 and the necessity to bring its legal, political and economic system into alignment with EU standard undoubtedly provided the women’s movement with a window of opportunity to press for further demands. Like many other countries jumping on the<strong> </strong><a href="">women’s rights bandwagon</a> for geopolitical advantage, Turkey made the most of advances in this domain during the first term of the AKP&nbsp; (2002-2007). It took a lead role for the empowerment of women in the US-led <a href="" target="_hplink">Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENA)</a> in the context of the Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD). The reforms of its civil and penal codes furthered its attempts to meet the criteria for EU accession. Later, in 2009, a Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was established for the first time. Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe's <a href="" target="_hplink">Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO)</a>, the Istanbul Convention, in 2012.</p> <p>Under this façade of compliance with international standard setting instruments, new political messages had started circulating. One of the first shocks came at a consultation meeting with women’s non-governmental organizations (where some 60 organizations were present) on 18 July 2010, where then Prime Minister Erdoğan declared that Turkey’s signatory status to CEDAW notwithstanding, he did not believe in the equality of men and women. Women’s principal, and preferably sole vocation, should be home making and motherhood. This accords with their distinctive and <a href="">divinely ordained nature</a> (<em>fitrat)</em>. This has now become such an established tenet of public discourse that the period when it still had shock value seems like a distant memory.</p> <p>Institutional changes followed. The General Directorate of Women’s Status and Problems, the national machinery for the promotion of gender equality, established as a requirement of the CEDAW process and created in 1990, was abolished in 2011. It was replaced by the Ministry of the Family and Social Policies. Discrimination against women was henceforth placed alongside the protection of children, the disabled, and the elderly, clearly marking it out as a social welfare issue.&nbsp; Women were being cast primarily as objects of&nbsp; “protection” rather than fully-fledged bearers of rights.</p> <p>This polarized context was inflamed further when the embarrassing Uludere incident in December 2011 (where 34 Kurdish smugglers were killed near the Iraqi border after the Turkish military mistakenly thought them to be Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants) was rather unexpectedly turned into a debate about <a href="">abortion</a> and a Turkish woman's right to choose.&nbsp; Speaking to a May 26, 2012 meeting of the AKP's women's branches in Ankara, the Prime Minister told the gathered women he considered abortion as murder. He also suggested that abortion and Turkey's high rate of caesarean section births, which he claimed make it harder for a woman to give birth again, were part of a "hidden" plot to reduce Turkey's population. </p> <p>It is worth noting that that no significant legal changes followed these debates. There is little need for changes on the statute books for actual practices to change on the ground.&nbsp; It is now a matter of routine that public hospitals work with <em>de facto</em> directives that <a href=",113570">restrict access to abortions</a> and discourage C-sections. Despite Erdoğan’s declared aim to raise “a pious generation”, overt legislative actions such as lowering the age of veiling in schools to 10 years old were sporadic. Instead, public space became saturated with messages and exhortations targeting the life worlds of citizens by monitoring their lifestyle choices such as limiting access to alcohol, proscribing displays of intimacy in public, or attempting to ban co-ed dorms for university students. It is&nbsp; little wonder that youth protests (including the forms of expression in evidence during the <a href="">Gezi protests</a> of the summer of 2013) targeted the hectoring and moralistic tone of the head of state on occasions when he took on the role of the strict and scolding <em>pater familia</em>s. &nbsp; </p> <p>However, policing the status and comportment of women cannot be simply put down to enforcing norms of Islamic modesty, but constitutes a key component of a more complex political landscape where two new trends are working in tandem. </p> <p>The first consists of the <a href="">co-optation</a> of women’s rights issues by government-organized organizations (GONGOs) which, in collaboration with the government, aim to sideline and marginalize the women’s movement in Turkey, and to supplant its guiding principle of equality between men and women in favour of a gender ideology closely mirroring party priorities and directives. </p> <p>I drew attention elsewhere to the <a href="">hijacking</a><strong> </strong>of women’s rights platforms and organizations by ruling elites in authoritarian Arab states where the wives, daughters and close kin of heads of state or ruling dynasties headed government sponsored women’s organizations. This type of co-optation did not characterize the political landscape in Turkey, at least until recently. Although “official” women’s organizations have always collaborated with governments, and women’s branches of political parties have always acted as their auxiliaries, there was a space in civil society allowing the articulation of women’s demands (as demonstrated by the lobbying activities that led to the legal changes in 2001 and 2004, referred to above). The current onslaught on women’s rights platforms and organizations is therefore unprecedented, and reflects a broader process of capture of civil society by the state, and a more totalistic political project.</p> <p><strong>The fateful turn: from rights to conditional protection</strong></p> <p>A second diffuse but persistent tendency has been the deployment of a <a href="">populist discourse</a> where women’s conduct and propriety plays a key role in delineating the boundaries between “us” (God- fearing, Sunni, AKP voters), and a “them” consisting of all political detractors and minorities,&nbsp;cast as potentially treasonous and immoral. These modes of “othering” potentially expose those sections of the female citizenry - not to mention sexual minorities - who fail to conform to norms of government-decreed propriety to intimidation and harassment. Not only are these citizens not worthy of protection, but even ordinary civilians may take it upon themselves to discipline them with impunity. We may recall that even <a href=";nID=74872&amp;NewsCatID=338">tradesmen</a> (<em>esnaf</em>) have been encouraged to enforce law and order as guardians of national traditions and morality. With memories of <a href="">machete wielding</a><strong> </strong>“tradesmen” attacking protestors during the Gezi events still fresh in the public mind, the chilling implications of this stance are crystal clear. </p> <p class="TextBody">Yet women supporters of the ruling party (and polls suggest they may outnumber men) feel empowered by the new populist deal on offer. These are not just women of the ruling elite who are key stakeholders<strong> </strong>and powerful political players in their own right, but women of the popular classes who have become beneficiaries of new welfare entitlements ( 60% of welfare recipients are women ) and who are directly targeted for benefits, by-passing male heads of household. Supporting women in their roles as mothers and home makers goes beyond cash transfers and in-kind assistance, and extends to a range of municipal services in the areas of health, education and culture that create a new sense of <a href="">citizenship through entitlement</a></p> <p>The proof of women's loyalty does not lie in voting behaviour only, but in their demonstration that they are among the worthy who have absorbed the party's message about their God-given vocation as mothers and home makers. This is both a <em>de facto </em>reality for a majority of women and a world view they can easily relate to, since they are deeply familiar with a patriarchal trade-off that offers conditional protection in exchange for acquiescence and consent. Those who step out of this protective embrace and dare to demand equal rights as individuals put themselves in jeopardy. And the chasm separating those who acquiesce from those insisting on full-fledged rights is growing.</p> <p>The case of <a href="">Özgecan Aslan</a> occasioned such deep revulsion and despair not only because of the gruesome nature of her murder, but because she was so blatantly “innocent”; a 20-year old commuting between home and college who fought back against her assailant and paid with her life. She was not merely seen as the victim of an individual rapist/murderer, but as the casualty of a system that was seen to have cheapened women’s lives in the process of spinning out a polarizing populist discourse targeting women. This latest episode of violence released all the pent up fury (and grief) of sections of society that were feeling trampled upon and could no longer recognize themselves in the “New Turkey” taking shape by fiat and, increasingly, through <a href="">coercion</a>. </p> <p class="TextBody"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/%C3%B6zlem-alt%C4%B1ok-bihter-somersan/building-new-turkey-gender-politics-and-future-of-democracy">Building &quot;a new Turkey&quot;: gender politics and the future of democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainah-anwar-ziba-mir-hosseini/decoding-%E2%80%9Cdna-of-patriarchy%E2%80%9D-in-muslim-family-laws">Decoding the “DNA of Patriarchy” in Muslim family laws </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/contesting-patriarchy-as-governance-lessons-from-youth-led-activism">Contesting patriarchy-as-governance: lessons from youth-led activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/no-laughing-matter-women-and-new-populism-in-turkey">No laughing matter: Women and the new populism in Turkey </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/triple-whammy-towards-eclipse-of-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The triple whammy: towards the eclipse of women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/oguz-alyanak/no-more-popular-protests-reflections-on-turkey%E2%80%99s-domestic-security-bill">No more popular protests? 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Only a politics of coalition building can avert their eclipse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Eclipses are rare and mercifully transitory phenomena. They come about when planets enter into a specific alignment that plunges us into darkness. Had there been a political equivalent of such phenomena I would venture to say that women’s rights - which have ostensibly never enjoyed greater international visibility- are heading for dangerously turbulent times. No single or dramatic incident presages this possibility. It is, rather, the persistent drip-drip effect of a myriad of apparently unrelated influences that feed into a “feminism-phobia” that, sadly, has become quite <em>a la mode</em>. </p> <p>You may well wonder what led me to this gloomy prognosis at a point in time&nbsp; when a leading UK newspaper declared 2014 as “<a href="">the best year ever for women</a>”, celebrating it as “ a year of feminist insurrection against male violence: a year of mounting refusal to be silent, refusal to let our lives and torments be erased or dismissed”. There&nbsp; is little room for such complacency. On the&nbsp; contrary, there is a strong case to be made&nbsp; that a trio of influences is impoverishing the debates relating to women’s rights and constricting the discursive spaces for a feminist agenda. </p> <p>Before embarking on a discussion of these influences, I would like to draw attention to an apparent paradox.&nbsp; Between 2011-2014, we opened a <a href="">platform</a> on openDemocracy 50.50 to monitor and analyse the gender effects of the 'Arab spring' and of protest movements in the Middle East more generally.&nbsp; One of the most hopeful features of youth-led protests, which took <a href="">unprecedented forms</a> for the region, was their anti-authoritarian and anti-patriarchal thrust and their recognition of the primarily political nature of gender based violence. Not only were women taking part in street protests and being vocal in the public domain, but they were joined by many men of their generation in an unprecedented display of cross-gender solidarity. These movements were not clamouring for an Islamic state, nor did the parties of political Islam play a key leadership role despite their initial prominence in successor regimes. Notwithstanding the&nbsp; devastating developments that followed, there were unmistakable signs of <a href="">heightened aspirations and a demand for inclusive citizenship, gender justice and equality</a> in the protests themselves. &nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="300" height="250" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dancing in Gezi Park. Credit: Uriel Sinai</span></span></span></p> <p>Yet despite evidence of grass-roots mobilization in pursuit of a broad range of rights, including women’s rights to freedom from violence and to public participation, at the level of academic, political and popular discourse, feminism was being increasingly discredited and dismissed as either irrelevant or passḗ or, even worse, as the handmaiden of imperialism and of overbearing security states. How can we explain this disjuncture? How did the struggle for women’s rights- which started out as one of the emancipatory movements of the past two centuries alongside the fight against slavery and racism- end up being kicked about and maligned not only by right wing misogynists or clerical establishments demanding a monopoly on the regulation of gender and sexuality, but by authors and commentators who consider themselves left-wing or liberal? Could<strong> </strong>we conceive of being told that the fight against racism had “gone too far” or “gone wrong” (except in extreme white supremacist quarters)? Yet it is quite commonplace, even banal, to hear this charge in relation to feminism. How did we get here? </p> <p><strong>The ugly sisters of feminism: the global nexus and its perverse appropriations <br /></strong></p> <p>There have been at least three defining encounters between women’s movements, which are historically diverse and context specific, and powerful global influences.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The first is the encounter with the global “institutionalization” of standards and mechanisms for gender equality through the workings of the United Nations (UN) system and major international donors. Leaving aside the broader debates on the <a href="">shortfalls</a> or <a href="">merits</a> of international human rights law, it is important to acknowledge the diverse ways in which&nbsp; women’s rights platforms became depoliticized&nbsp; through co-optation by donor- assisted governments (most glaringly so in the case of repressive, non-democratic regimes). In the case of the Arab uprisings, the previously opportunistic nature of engagements with gender equality platforms contributed to their <a href="">rapid derailment and demise</a> and to attempts to claw back existing rights. </p> <p>Jumping on the gender equality bandwagon was a “soft option” used by numerous authoritarian regimes to indicate their commitment to a <a href="">democratization process they had no intention of honouring</a>. The same logic applies to other attempts to co-opt liberal norms in the realms of gender and sexuality, such as <a href="">pinkwashing Israel</a> to boost its democratic credentials, thus deflecting attention from the human rights abuses perpetrated against Palestinians. </p> <p>Do these appropriations of liberal/egalitarian norms turn women’s rights activists using international frameworks as a point of reference into uncritical dupes? What is there to be gained from a nihilistic approach to rights enshrined in international law? And what are <a href="">the risks involved</a>? These are questions that cannot be dismissed lightly. </p> <p>The second ill-fated encounter took place after the global turn to neo-liberalism since the Regan -Thatcher era. Whereas initially many women’s movements were explicitly committed to social justice and redistributive goals, their incorporation into donor-funded machineries in the neo-liberal age produced both an ‘ngo’isation of political movements , with women’s ngos often acting as contractors for governments and donors, and the de-radicalization of their objectives, now transformed into technocratic fixes for the “empowerment” of women within the parameters of a market economy. In the West, this gave rise to a triumphalist boardroom or <a href="">corporatist feminism</a> extolling the virtues of the capitalist market for women who “make it”. In the South, meanwhile, the spaces left vacant by evaporating state provision and the dearth of social welfare were occupied by actors and social movements with conservative agendas and roots in faith-based organizations (whether these be Catholic, Evangelical or Muslim). Populist and religious movements claiming to speak on behalf of the poor, the marginalized and the powerless in different regional contexts increased their appeal regardless of the often authoritarian or dogmatic overtones of their political messages. The drifting apart of gender justice and social justice goals was to have grave consequences: it marked out women’s rights as the alleged preoccupation of a privileged elite, especially in societies where <a href="">top-down modernization agendas</a> were implemented by authoritarian regimes. Losing sight of the fact that feminism cannot be divorced from a broader social justice agenda was to exact serious costs. </p> <p>The final and most devastating encounter was yet to come. It took shape in the geopolitical context of the War on Terror following the 9/11 events in the United States and Operation Enduring Freedom that led to the overthrow of the Taliban. The invocation of oppressed Muslim women as part of the rationale for military intervention provoked predictable outrage in the face of the <a href="">naked instrumentalism</a> behind the feminist conversion of the Bush administration. This spawned a veritable cottage industry of critiques of feminism as imperialism (about which I shall say more below) and of the place of women’s rights as tools in this arsenal of oppression. </p> <p>One of the inadvertent consequences of these critiques, is to deligitimize the struggles of women in Afghanistan who attempt to expand their rights by whatever slender means at their disposal (including references to international conventions such as CEDAW and participating in donor-funded projects). Could they do so now without incurring the risk of being accused as abetters of imperialism? Does the fact that Western powers used the plight of Afghan women as propaganda material to drum up public support for the NATO intervention turn women into “native collaborators” when they opt to fight for their rights in the framework of international law? Or would they have been altogether better advised to keep silent or even find virtue in what the Taliban has to offer them&nbsp; -&nbsp; something that some Western commentators did in fact suggest at a point when negotiations for a <a href="">political settlement</a> with the Taliban were on the table. </p> <p>Such powers of dissuasion and intimidation can be overwhelming in polarized and conflict-ridden societies. This intimidation is already being perpetrated, by force of arms, by formations such as the Taliban; a Greek chorus of critics denouncing feminism as imperialism can only add to their woes and boost the propaganda arsenal of those opposing them. But why is it that women are being made to face such perverse choices?<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p><strong>Beyond feminism-as-imperialism <br /></strong></p> <p>Critiques of feminism as imperialism are neither new nor the product of the War on Terror. Indeed, as early as 1984 Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parmar&nbsp; used the term “<a href="">imperial feminism</a>” in the British context to argue that the pretensions of white-middle class women’s movements to represent&nbsp; global “sisterhood” were based on a denial of racism (and difference) and of the more general oppression of Third World women by relations of imperial domination. Said’s <em>Orientalism</em>, published in 1978, became the foundational text for feminist post-colonial scholarship which&nbsp; has a long and distinguished pedigree. This legacy is now being built upon by Anti-Imperialist-Transnational-Feminist Studies (<a href="">AITFS</a>), albeit in an intellectually messier way since anti-imperialism is sometimes made to serve as the “silver bullet” to address all oppressions. </p> <p>No one is contesting the fact that the colonial feminism perpetrated by European powers rested on the Orientalist trope of a backward and misogynistic Muslim world whose women needed liberation through the agency of an enlightened West. Indeed, this came to constitute the “original sin” of women’s movements. The entanglements of feminism with the politics of colonialism meant that women activists and early reformers were left with impossible choices. Those who sought an expansion of their rights under nominally secular post-colonial regimes were under enormous <a href="">pressure to conform</a> to anti-colonial nationalist priorities that singled women out as the repositories of cultural authenticity, even before resurgent Islamist tendencies got into the act of upping the stakes even further. Feminists engaging with Islam and attempting to <a href="">unsettle patriarchal interpretations</a> of the Sharia were undoubtedly seeking a way out of this sterile bind. </p> <p>But, alas, far from alleviating this enduring predicament the current conjuncture has led to a further hardening of positions. &nbsp;During the long history of anti-colonial movements, from the Haitian revolution of the 1790s to the independence movements of the 1960s and ’70s in Asia and Africa, the struggles against colonialism did not rely on a wholesale repudiation of the revolutionary ideals of the West. In the polarized context of contemporary geopolitics, however, anything assumed to emanate<span> </span>from the imperial West may be considered as tainted goods by theoretical purists who denounce the products of the Enlightenment, most particularly secular humanism, as the fount of all evil.&nbsp; I followed this line of argumentation with a mild degree of intellectual curiosity at first, followed by mounting <em>ennui</em> (given the repetitive and almost formulaic nature of restatements of this position) until I got my wake-up call: never mind secular rights activists, even Muslim feminists endeavouring to find an indigenous voice for change and reform were now in the crosshairs of critics. To the extent that they fail to repudiate the principles of egalitarianism enshrined in international law- another tool of empire- could they not be similarly tainted with liberalism and, by association, imperialism? </p> <p>This logic may, of course, equally apply to <em>any</em> attempts at reform within Islam since Western powers are not only interested in, but actively, and quite ineptly, promoting the search for a so-called “moderate” Islam as a means of containing <em>jihadi </em>tendencies seen as a terrorist threat. To add yet another rhetorical question to my list, I would like to ask, again, : should the poisoned atmosphere of geopolitics permanently muzzle secular, ( or, indeed religious) dissenters in the Muslim world?&nbsp; Those voices, by the way, have always existed and been systematically persecuted.&nbsp; Let us not add to their burden. </p> <p><strong>Playing a weak hand <br /></strong></p> <p>We have now reached a disabling <em>cul-de-sac</em> that must be overcome if we wish to open up rather than constrict and constrain the spaces within which diverse feminist voices and positions can find legitimate articulation. The exchanges on imperialism and feminism featured on openDemocracy between <a href="">Deepa Kumar</a>, <a href="">Meredith Tax</a>, <a href="">Saadia Toor</a> and <a href="">Afiya Zia</a>, point to the urgency of transcending the parameters of&nbsp; these discussions. The protagonists - all women, all on the left, all pacifists and none inimical&nbsp; to women’s struggles for their rights - were not, in my view,&nbsp; arguing about imperialism <em>per se </em>but ultimately&nbsp; about the types of alliances feminists&nbsp; might entertain, condone or refrain from in pursuing their objectives. Even the all pervasive tensions around the secularist/Islamist dichotomy appear to me as surface phenomena&nbsp; concealing the deeper messiness of politics in countries like&nbsp; Pakistan. Here, a US- funded military has nurtured <em>jihadi </em>tendencies for its own geopolitical and domestic ends, tendencies which have destabilized the entire polity and become the target of the US War on Terror. </p> <p>Where does one even begin to draw the lines of entanglements with imperialism in such a context? With women’s NGOs benefiting from WoT funding largesse under Musharraf’s military regime? With feminists- and other groups- giving qualified support to the military for finally turning against <em>jihadi</em> groups with US assistance in the hope this may jolt the noxious nexus of Pakistani politics onto a new track? Let us face the fact that women’s rights activists are frequently thrust into impossible situations not of their own making and must muddle through, making pragmatic choices and alliances in order to play what is an extraordinarily weak hand. Because this is exactly what we are talking about; not the fiction of a powerful movement with the might of empire behind it, but the reality of&nbsp; weak and politically marginal constituencies whose meagre legal and political gains are at the mercy of political forces over which they have very little control. And whose rights, tenuous and fragile, have long been and continue to be the punching ball of male-dominated politics. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="379" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>It may serve us well to go back to basics and remember the words of British suffragist Rebecca West when she said&nbsp;“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”&nbsp; Let us not delude ourselves that this objective has been achieved. We do not need anything as dramatic as the IS slave markets of Mosul to remind ourselves of that fact. We only need to inject some common sense and realism into our evaluation of where women’s rights really stand when we take a broader perspective. Let us not overlook the fact that there are powerful transnational alliances cutting across continents and world religions aiming, above all, to establish the principle that matters relating to sexuality, to the control of female bodies, and to reproductive choice do not belong to the sphere of civic deliberation, public choice, or human rights but to a domain of non-negotiable morality defined by doctrinal imperatives. Such is the momentum of these platforms that the UN <a href=";s-rights-have-no-country">failed to pass a resolution for a Fifth World Conference on Women</a> from fear of the consequences of re-opening international agreements on women’s rights. Furthermore, this <em>kulturkampf </em>&nbsp;over the politics of gender does not readily map onto&nbsp; North / South or&nbsp; Christendom/Islam divisions.&nbsp; While some mobilize for gay rights in the US, others are busy <a href="">bombing abortion clinics</a>.&nbsp; And it is not only in Uganda that <a href="">gays fear for their lives</a>. No region, country or religion holds a monopoly on fanaticism or plain bigotry. Nor do these positions necessarily pit men against women since there are cross-gender alliances on both sides of these arguments; this, in short, is about politics. Ultra-conservative forces, diverse as they are, are better established, better organized and better funded and many are not adverse to the use of violence. It is time to join the dots of this challenging conjuncture and creatively seek political alliances that can help to make the most of the weak hand most women’s rights movements and sexual liberties platforms have been dealt around the world.&nbsp; <strong><br /></strong></p> <p>To return to my astronomical metaphor, unless some planets rotating blindly in their set orbits are knocked off their course through our deliberate efforts and our skills at coalition building we shall unwittingly be expediting and legitimizing an eclipse of women’s rights. The principal ray of hope in this difficult landscape is that the sociological realities of many societies are running ahead of the ideologies of social control and authoritarian governance that power holders wield. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="122" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>A younger generation with new sensibilities-&nbsp; women and men, secular and religious, diverse in backgrounds and sexual orientation- is speaking to us with a new voice. Their demands for bread, freedom and dignity are still unmet. Let us listen with humility and open our minds to new possibilities. </p><p><em>Read more articles on 50.50's platform</em> <a href="we opened a platform on openDemocracy 50.50 to monitor and analyse the gender effects of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; and of protest movements in the Middle East more generally. 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</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders International Women's Day 2015 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power violence against women gender justice gender feminism everyday feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Deniz Kandiyoti Mon, 19 Jan 2015 08:45:33 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 89665 at No laughing matter: Women and the new populism in Turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Stirring up moral anxieties over women's conduct and propriety is key to a populist discourse that pits a virtuous&nbsp;“us”- the people- against an immoral “them”. But despite its potential for authoritarian control of gender relations, this new populism holds many attractions for women. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dancing in Gezi Park. Credit: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images</span></span></span>When Turkey's deputy PM,&nbsp; Bülent Arinc, </span><a href="">declared</a><span> during a public address marking the Bayram festivities at the end of Ramadan&nbsp; that women should refrain from laughing in public and must remain chaste (</span><em>iffetli</em><span>) at all times he created a furore in both the local and international media. Some women protested by posting&nbsp; pictures of themselves </span><a href="">laughing out loud</a><span>, using a combination of ridicule and non-compliance as a </span><a href="">form of resistance</a><span>. The deputy PM proceeded to compound matters&nbsp;when he added , in reaction to the media storm he stirred up, that those he deplored were “women who go on holiday without their husbands” and&nbsp; those “who cannot resist climbing a pole when they see one”. This oblique reference to pole dancing, a decidedly marginal phenomenon in Turkey, must have proved irresistible in terms of its&nbsp;potential for sexual innuendo and&nbsp;the opportunity to project immorality and dissolute&nbsp;living onto certain sections of the citizenry.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Local media commentary took a variety of&nbsp; forms. The most <a href=",8475.html">alarmist</a> came from those who saw this as the thin end of the wedge, a clear sign that Turkey was headed in the direction of&nbsp;&nbsp; al-Qaeda-type fundamentalist Islam, presaging a bleak future for women. Mustafa Akyol, a journalist from an Islamist background, <a href=";nID=69868&amp;NewsCatID=411">wrote</a> that although he found the deputy PM's intervention misguided and was in sympathy with the protesting women, the statement was not as outlandish as it seemed.&nbsp; Various sources in classical Islam do indeed offer prescriptions concerning women's voices (and their laughter) as <em>haram (</em>religiously proscribed<em>)</em> but these medieval treatises, he added, have no place&nbsp; in our daily lives today. Finally, others used the occasion to bemoan the condition of women in Turkey, arguing that women have very little to laugh about since by international standards they are <a href=";nID=69881&amp;NewsCatID=403">down at the bottom of the league tables</a>.&nbsp; For instance, Turkey ranked 120th of 136 nations in the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Gender Gap Index, down 15 places since 2006, while a 2011 U.N. report indicated domestic violence rates were almost twice those in the United States and 10 times higher than in some European countries.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>But is all this talk concerning women's propriety (or lack of it ) <em>really</em> what it appears to be about?&nbsp; Or do these moralistic pronouncements&nbsp; perform less obvious but vital&nbsp; functions in the ruling party's political arsenal?&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>The virtuous “us” vs.&nbsp; the impious “them”: concealing class under the veil of morality</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, the deputy PM's injunction against female laughter came in a broader package containing some of the key ingredients of the AKP's populist appeal.&nbsp;First, a touch of nostalgia for an age when “young girls used to blush and lower their eyes when someone looked at them”- presumably an age of superior Ottoman morality unsullied by the evils of modern Turkey.&nbsp;More intriguingly&nbsp; the excessive use of cars, and the consumption of lots of petrol, was condemned as was the frequent use of mobile phones, presented as an act of frivolity. This was clearly a call against consumerism and frivolous leisure. How do we explain this bizarre mixture of themes?&nbsp;</p> <p>The AKP's <a href="">brand of populism</a>, masterfully wielded by now president Erdoğan, is by no means&nbsp; unique to Turkey.&nbsp;It relies on a distinction between “us”, the “real” people (god-fearing, AKP-voting Sunni Muslims in this particular case)&nbsp;versus a “them” consisting of all political detractors and minorities,&nbsp;cast as potentially treasonous undesirables. It is the person of the leader who represents&nbsp;“the national will” and creates a direct bond with the people, by-passing the cumbersome institutions that provide the checks and balances characterizing modern democracies. </p> <p>This populism also relies on a politics of <em>ressentiment</em> that encourages the projection of&nbsp; hatred onto&nbsp; groups or classes seen&nbsp; as privileged and exclusionary and as oppressors of the national “underdog”. The country's metropolitan, secular middle-classes have long been&nbsp; routine targets of this discourse. For instance, at the height of the summer protests of June 2013&nbsp; Erdoğan told a rally in the conservative central Anatolian province of Kayseri:<em>“</em>These people have drunk their whiskies for years overlooking the Bosphorus ... and have looked down on everyone else<em>."&nbsp;</em> Erdoğan plays up his humble origins, uses slang, projects a macho image and mocks the educated classes;&nbsp; during the presidential campaign he derided the opposition&nbsp; candidate who is a professor and speaks three foreign languages by interjecting “So what? Are we looking for an interpreter?” This was no doubt intended to&nbsp; cement the identification between the leader and the popular masses even further.</p> <p>However, after over a decade in power deepening class cleavages between the AKP ruling elite and their less advantaged followers have become glaringly evident. These have been&nbsp;papered over with reference to shared religiosity, cultural affinity as well as dislike and mistrust of assorted “others”, seasoned with messianic faith in the Turks' vocation as leaders of&nbsp; all Muslim nations. The latter message resonates particularly well with the base of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) on the ultra-nationalist right, some of whom switched their vote to Erdoğan .&nbsp; </p> <p>The story of capitalist accumulation in Turkey&nbsp;under the AKP is no longer a tale of self-reliant,&nbsp; pious Anatolian entrepreneurs making their way in a new&nbsp;market&nbsp; economy but one of&nbsp;sustained&nbsp; government intervention in the economy in support of <a href="">politically privileged entrepreneurs</a>. A glimpse of the fortunes amassed under this regime briefly flashed across the nation's TV screens when an alleged <a href="">corruption scandal</a> erupted on 17 December 2013 only to be buried under counter-allegations of conspiracy and foul play. But no scandal was necessary for ordinary citizens to take notice of the luxurious homes, expensive cars and lavish lifestyles of the new rich. Indeed, expensively veiled women in designer sunglasses, driving&nbsp; SUVs and talking on their mobiles is quite a commonplace sight. This raises alternative interpretations concerning the intended target of the deputy PM's admonishments. Could he have been reassuring his conservative popular base that he endorses the Islamic&nbsp;values of sobriety and lack of ostentation by targeting women as reckless consumerists? </p> <p>In fact, behind overt vituperation against the secular elite a deeper <a href="">sense of unease</a> now lurks in ruling circles especially after falling out with an erstwhile AKP ally&nbsp; the Islamist <em>cemaat</em> led by Fethullah Gülen (now dubbed the “parallel state”). The preoccupation with rooting out cadres suspected of&nbsp; affiliation with the Gülen movement in the police, the judiciary and intelligence, already purged extensively after the 17 December scandal, makes the liquidation of such opponents&nbsp; a top priority for the newly appointed PM Ahmet Davutoğlu.&nbsp; In addition, voices of dissent from the Muslim left, although muted and marginal, have berated the government for abandoning its commitment to social justice and labour rights in favour of rapacious profit-seeking. The participation of <a href="">anti-capitalist Muslims</a> in the Gezi protests was not lost on anyone. The <a href="">Justice and Labour Platform</a>, set up by Muslim intellectuals, also deplored the violent police repression during the Gezi protests, arguing that having once been oppressed did not justify turning into oppressors. At the apparent zenith of its power, the brand of political Islam represented by the AKP is having to work harder at maintaining its legitimacy despite its near monopoly of the media and extensive capacity to intimidate of its opponents.<strong> </strong></p><p><strong>Protecting the deserving : the populist deal for women</strong></p> <p>However, it would be a grave error to imagine that the battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate is mainly being fought out on ideological grounds. The principal pillar of the AKPs electoral success has been the improvement of the economic conditions of the poorer strata through the <a href="">expansion of welfare entitlements</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp; Welfare aid includes a vast array of programmes targeted at poor families, including specific benefits <a href="">aimed at women</a>.&nbsp;There is a distinctly gendered pattern to welfare distribution: women make up 60 percent of the welfare aid recipients and 55 percent of the voters of the AKP are women. The iron logic of this equation was also demonstrated in the presidential elections of August 2010.</p> <p>“<em>Women changed the results</em>” proclaimed the headline of the&nbsp; daily <em>Milliyet </em>&nbsp;newspaper reporting on&nbsp; an exit poll conducted during the presidential elections on August 10th: 55% of women had voted for Erdoğan as against 48% of men. Simply put, Erdoğan would not have got through at the first round if it hadn't been for the female vote. This may come as a surprise to readers who are familiar with&nbsp; the AKP's <a href="">controversial policies on women and the family&nbsp;&nbsp;</a></p> <p>Explaining these results by invoking <a href="">women's self-interest</a> as recipients of benefits, their traditional outlook, or their <a href="">adulation</a> of a charismatic male leader falls short of capturing the complex dynamics behind their loyalty.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The AKP inherited the extensive local and neighbourhood-based networks established by its predecessor, the pro-Islamist Welfare Party <em>(Refah</em>) which, after a brief period in power in&nbsp; a coalition government, was <a href="">closed down</a> in 1998 on grounds of violating the country's secular constitution. For a while, the Welfare Party took over the role of the left as a champion of economic justice and of the poor, promising a Just Order (<em>Adil Duzen</em>). Studies by <a href="">Yesim Arat</a> and <a href="">Jenny White</a> provided useful insights&nbsp;into the roles played by women in the party rank and file and at the local neighbourhood level. Involvement in party activities undoubtedly marked a moment of civic empowerment and political mobilization for women, especially for the previously home bound and the less educated. Many women achieved a new sense of purpose canvassing neighbourhoods and dispensing charity, without incurring the risks of exposure and loss of respectability that haunt women in Turkey when they step out into public roles. &nbsp;</p> <p>When the AKP came to power in 2002, the promise of the Just Order gave way to deepening neo-liberal market reforms in the context of EU accession, receiving broad backing outside the party's&nbsp;core constituency. This led to a professionalisation of cadres and a growing distance between party elites and their followers, although religion continued to be used as a political resource. Crucially,&nbsp; having come to power with a resounding majority the AKP could now embark on publicly funded social welfare programmes. Welfare entitlements that made up 0.5 percent of GDP in 2002 rose to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2013. </p> <p>The family is key to benefit provisions in Turkey and women are targeted as mothers and as carers of the elderly, sick and disabled. However, women are&nbsp;not just passive&nbsp; consumers of&nbsp;benefits but active participants in daily interfaces with public bodies at the local level. For instance, municipalities which previously provided only limited&nbsp; charity aid and in-kind poverty relief now have significant financial resources at their disposal and offer additional social services and benefits. Just in Istanbul, the most populous city,&nbsp;a wide network of <a href="">Neighbourhood Lodges</a> (<em>Semt Konaklari</em>)&nbsp;tied to different districts offer diverse amenities from soup kitchens, showers and laundries to health (screening services, vaccination and advice)&nbsp;and educational services ( vocational training for adults, literacy classes for women, nurseries and tutorial help for school age children), not to mention cultural activities such as concerts, conferences and excursions. The integration of women and children into urban life is an explicitly stated goal.&nbsp; Women of the popular classes, especially those of rural extraction, experience a new sense of “citizenship through entitlement”. What is more although the funding for these activities comes from taxpayers' money, sometimes&nbsp; augmented by charitable giving, the recipients perceive it&nbsp;as the exclusive&nbsp;result of party largesse - a belief no doubt cemented by the distribution of in-kind help for winter fuel and basic foodstuffs from&nbsp; party coffers especially during election periods. &nbsp;</p> <p>However, the proof of women's loyalty does not lie in voting behaviour only, but in their demonstration that they are among the worthy who have absorbed the party's message about their <a href="">god-given vocation</a> as mothers and home makers, and those who realize that only the deserving will be protected. &nbsp;</p> <p>Two episodes starkly illustrate this proposition. The first relates to an <a href=";NID=62554&amp;NewsCatID=3380">alleged attack</a> on a veiled woman in front of Istanbul’s Kabataş dock at height of the&nbsp; Gezi protests.&nbsp; Although later challenged by CCTV footage as possibly bogus, this incident had the PM fuming over the affront to “our sister” that demonstrated the violent, barbaric and anti-religious disposition of the protesters. An earlier episode concerns the case of a woman demonstrator who in June 2011 climbed on a panzer during a protest in Ankara and was <a href="">savagely beaten</a> by the police, suffering a hip fracture. The PM , belittling the incident, asked at a public meeting:&nbsp; “was she a girl or a woman, I don't know” (<em>kiz midir kadin midir, bilemem</em>). By casting aspersions on her virginity he left his listeners in no doubt that he thought her of small virtue, as would be expected from her unseemly, unfeminine behaviour. The message could not be clearer: only the deserving (our sisters) are worthy of protection, the rest, and especially women with the audacity break the norms of modesty and protest in public put themselves in jeopardy.</p> <p>Is the price of protection too high? Apparently not for millions of women who either subscribe to the same gender ideology themselves, who feel better off or who opt for the comforts of what they see as protection and security traded against acquiescence and loyalty. This, after all, is the oldest deal with patriarchal power in all its forms, now being played out on a national scale with the powerful resources of paternalistic populism.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ayse-bugra/truth-behind-turkish-model">The truth behind the &quot;Turkish model&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/contesting-patriarchy-as-governance-lessons-from-youth-led-activism">Contesting patriarchy-as-governance: lessons from youth-led activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/tangled-web-politics-of-gender-in-turkey">A tangled web: the politics of gender in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/call-to-engender-turkey%E2%80%99s-peace-process">A call to engender Turkey’s peace process</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sezin-oney-emre-erdogan/naming-political-game-in-turkey-populism">Naming the political game in Turkey: populism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-institutions_government/girls_rights_4386.jsp">Do women and girls have human rights?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/serta%C3%A7-sehliko%C4%9Flu/vaginal-obsessions-in-turkey-islamic-perspective">Vaginal obsessions in Turkey: an Islamic perspective </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Turkey Democracy and government Equality Turkish Dawn 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender secularism women and power women's movements Deniz Kandiyoti Mon, 01 Sep 2014 08:46:23 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 85557 at Contesting patriarchy-as-governance: lessons from youth-led activism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Youth-led mobilisation has mocked and exposed patriarchal power by unmasking its politics of social control. Are we on the threshold of a new politics of gender creating cross-gender alliances around struggles against autocracy<strong>?</strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//" alt="Spanish civilians confronting police in 2011" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The recent waves of citizen-led activism that swept the globe inspired numerous attempts to identify <a href="">common drivers</a> across diverse instances of public disobedience and protest.&nbsp; Growing numbers of educated, unemployed, alienated youth, the humiliations&nbsp; of autocracy, the authority- busting potential of the internet and social media, and the coming of age of <a href="">Generation Y</a><span> </span>are among recurrent leitmotifs. These common denominators – broadly&nbsp; related to the tensions between the <a href="">global forces of neoliberalism </a>seeking to expand the freedom of capital, and the forces of social resistance struggling to preserve and redefine community and solidarity - provide&nbsp; an overly broad umbrella for phenomena&nbsp; as diverse as the Arab uprisings, the <a href="">Occupy</a> movement, the <em><a href="">indignados</a> </em>of Southern Europe, the <a href="">student movement in Chile</a> or the <a href="">Gezi protests</a> in Turkey.&nbsp; Could the lure of the “global” be making us lose sight of more subtle and context specific idioms of discontent? </p> <p>In this article, the fourth in a series of reflections on the Arab uprisings (and beyond), I explore the reasons behind the apparent anti-patriarchal thrust of struggles against authoritarianism in some parts of the MENA region, and pose a relatively neglected question: Are there any lessons to be drawn from youth-led activism for a new politics of gender? </p> <p>At first sight, the answer would appear to be negative.&nbsp; A mobilized citizenry was, first and foremost, demanding their social and political rights, clamouring for justice and freedom and an end to state violence and corruption. If and when gender issues came up - as they <a href="">did</a> in the context of the Arab uprisings - they were treated in a rather truncated manner, mainly to document levels of&nbsp; women’s participation in popular protests, their subsequent exclusion from formal processes of transition and their exposure to increasing levels of violence. Feminism and women’s rights activism - considered by some as&nbsp; <a href="">“old politics”</a> par excellence - appeared to elicit ambivalence, if not outright indifference, among members of a new insurrectionary generation. Yet this distancing was taking place against the background of widespread popular protests against <a href="">gender-based violence</a>, involving both men and women, who were plainly engaged in new forms of grass roots activism and social critique. How can we account for this state of affairs?&nbsp; Is the language of feminism up to the challenge of capturing the new sensibilities and aspirations animating the actions and idioms of multitudes of youth, both male and female? Or do the lenses we train on the politics of gender inadvertently restrict our vision?<strong><em> <br /></em></strong></p> <p><strong>Patriarchy: now you see it, now you don’t</strong></p> <p>In the 21st century, pinning down the meanings, locations&nbsp; and operations of patriarchy is no easy task. On the one hand, there are many who claim that women’s rights advocates, both at the international or local levels, are engaged in a <a href="">rearguard battle</a> against a global tide of growing conservatism, both religious and political. Patriarchy is not only deemed to be&nbsp; alive and well but thriving under conditions of neo-liberalism, with women bearing the brunt of every new twist in global capitalism. The <a href="">success stories</a><span> </span>of women who “ make it” in the corporate world are tempered by the knowledge that this passes the majority of women by in an increasingly unequal world. Yet, issues of social justice are easily overshadowed by passionate debates about the <a href="">politics of representation</a> with working class, black, ethnic, religious and sexual minority women all fighting for their particular corner in the oppression league. </p> <p>There are those, on the other hand, who maintain that feminist norms and values, far from being marginal, have gained institutional power, most notably in the development of international criminal law aimed at prosecuting sexual violence. The term <a href="">"governance feminism"</a> has come to signify a reliance on state-centred forms of power and the promotion of a politics of respectability and political correctness that criminalizes and marginalizes certain practices and subjectivities. This has turned the discussion about patriarchy on its head, suggesting that the top-down enforcement of women’s rights has itself become an oppressive governance practice. </p> <p>Transposed to contexts such as Egypt, governance feminism accrues even more sinister connotations. The women’s anti-violence movement may be interpreted, in this&nbsp; perspective, as a collaboration between upper class feminists and a brutal&nbsp; security state colluding around a class-specific politics of respectability that marginalizes and criminalizes working class masculinities and demonises the so-called “Arab street”- <a href="">potentially demobilising</a> class-based movements for democratic change. Although the focus on class is undoubtedly welcome, should we take manifestations of misogyny and violence in our stride so long as they emanate from “subaltern” quarters that are the target of state repression? And how do women’s rights activists in the MENA region, who have in most cases had a risibly meagre record of success in amending discriminatory legislation in their favour, share in the opprobrium of governance feminists who allegedly walk the corridors of power (a dubious proposition in itself) ?</p> <p>Whilst old and new conventional wisdoms jostle for attention in academic and policy circles, we have been witnessing new spontaneous grass-roots movements where young men and women mobilize together to mock authority, and to condemn the repression and violence perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. If resistance follows and contests the terms of systems of power, anti-patriarchal contestations must surely flourish in contexts where the language of power and patriarchy are most intimately and explicitly intertwined. </p> <p><strong>Contestations from below: forms of domination, paths of resistance</strong></p> <p>The Green Movement in Iran, starting with the contested 2009 presidential elections, provided us with a rare spectacle. Majid Tavakoli, a student leader arrested after delivering a fiery speech against dictatorship, was alleged by pro-government news agencies to have been caught trying to escape dressed as a woman. A series of photographs showing him wearing a headscarf and chador were clearly intended to expose him as a coward, and to humiliate a hero of the student movement. This ploy backfired badly when an Iranian photographer invited men to post pictures of themselves wearing <em>hejab</em> on Facebook - which they did en masse, stating <a href="">“We are all Majid”</a>. This reaction hit two targets simultaneously; it ridiculed the regime’s transparent attempts to manipulate public opinion, whilst rebuffing its bid to enlist men into accepting that an association with femininity debases them. </p> <p>Does a form of rule that explicitly targets the private and the policing of gender relations bring personal liberties and gender issues closer to the heart of democratic struggles? The answer appears to be resoundingly positive if the dizzying array of everyday forms resistance and defiance displayed by Turkish youth before, during and after the <a href="">Gezi protests</a><a href=""> </a>of the summer of 2013 are anything to go by.&nbsp; </p> <p>After three consecutive electoral victories Erdogan, who came to power on an ostensible “democratisation” ticket in 2002,&nbsp; interpreted his mandate at the ballot box as a licence to rule by fiat. Adopting a hectoring and moralistic tone he attempted to regulate citizens’ private lives, from dictating how many children they should have, whether women should be allowed to have <a href="">abortions and caesarean sections, </a><span></span>to whether they could drink or manifest affection in public. The PM’s clearly stated intent to promote “a pious generation” was perceived by many as a thinly disguised bid to create a docile citizenry - obedient subjects who fear God, their head of state and their fathers. The saturation of public space with piety, a populist move undoubtedly meant to bind believers to the ruling party, appeared to backfire long before the regime’s alleged <a href="">corrupt practices</a><span> </span>started making the headlines. For instance, the admonishments to behave decorously in public led to a <a href="">“kiss-in”</a> with couples locked in passionate embraces in public spaces like the subway. The news spread fast through the <a href="">social media</a> and youth remained undeterred by being denounced as “immoral” and members of “marginal groups”, or even attacked by groups of zealots. </p> <p>When the PM announced, at the annual meeting of his deputies in November 2013, that he intended to take <a href="">legal measures</a><span> </span>to prevent unmarried male and female students sharing dorms and apartments, again, protests spread like wildfire. <a href="">Mixed sex groups</a><span> </span>started posing for photographs bearing protest banners on university campuses across the land, and a couple even came forward to <a href="">incriminate</a> themselves, applying to the public prosecutor’s office to be tried, only to have their case dismissed. Although sources of discontent are varied and deep ( environmental concerns, urban plunder, police brutality, censorship of the media and general lack of transparency), the head of state taking on the mantle of the strict <em>pater familia</em>s&nbsp; became the subject of&nbsp; the most virulent lampooning and ridicule. Repeated acts of defiance, through the medium of music, performance and cartoons, alongside street protests, defined the contours of a lively sub-culture that corrodes patriarchal power by unmasking its political intent: “normalizing” patriarchy as a tool of governance. This form of protest goes to the heart of political culture in Turkey by shining a light on an idiom of power that transcends the secular/Islamic divide and traverses diverse mainstream political parties.</p> <p>The Arab uprisings also revealed youth sub-cultures intent on democratic participation and a rejection of their elders’<span> </span><a href=";emc=edit_th_20140217&amp;_r=0">conventional politics</a>. &nbsp;In Egypt, for instance, the spotlight was turned, as never before, on the <em>political </em>nature of violence, including <a href="">gender-based violence</a>.&nbsp; This lifted the lid on the previously taboo topic of harassment in general, prompting the formation of&nbsp; networks such as <a href="">Harassmap</a><span>,</span> <a href="">Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment</a>, <a href="">Tahrir Bodyguard</a> and <a href="">Imprint</a><span> </span>&nbsp;that include young men in&nbsp; their membership. Contesting <a href="">Orientalist notions</a> of essentially misogynistic Arab masculinities, young men have been more willing to take positions on women’s rights and to do so publicly. </p> <p>Are there any grounds for imagining that these new voices for democratic change represent anything more than evanescent episodes of civic euphoria? The challenges of translating these aspirations into <a href="">sustainable organizational forms</a> and governance alternatives remain phenomenal. Yet, there are some harbingers of longer term transformations that cannot be ignored.<strong><em> <br /></em></strong></p> <p><strong>Old alliances, new crises</strong></p> <p class="ListParagraph">Although state practices are always gendered, there is a particularly explicit connection in the MENA region, across regime types, between the language of power and that of patriarchal authority. Power holders utilize the idiom of patriarchy to legitimise their regulation of citizens’ lives, to suppress dissent and to elicit consent. The patriarchal state enlists men in its project of rule by explicitly upholding male prerogatives over the control of women: honour crimes carrying lighter sentences and marrying one’s victim extenuating the crime of a rapist constitute pertinent examples. The exclusion of women from the realm of equal citizenship is plainly visible and enshrined in legislation to varying extents. The trade-off in abdicating authority to patriarchal state rule, even for men of popular classes who are themselves subordinated in the class hierarchy, is to retain control over the domestic and communal domains, a control deemed central to the exercise of masculinity. </p> <p class="ListParagraph">This compact manifests itself in cross- party and cross- class alliances among men when the question of curtailing women’s rights or blocking reformist moves entailing their expansion are on the agenda (for instance, in Turkey a group of male MPs across political parties attempted to <a href="">block</a> the draft of a reformed civic code in 2000 on the grounds that equality in the family would lead to chaos and, in Egypt, the secular Wafd party, among others&nbsp; readily joined the fray in calling for a <a href="">restriction of women’s rights</a> after the fall of Mubarak, giving the lie to the notion that Islamist parties hold a monopoly in this domain). The safeguard of male privileges (whether in the name of religion, the maintenance of social order or the integrity of the family) has acted as an important plank of populist consensus and cross-class alliances among men. </p> <p class="ListParagraph">Are there any reasons to assume that these alliances might ever fracture and give way to budding cross-gender alliances in new struggles against various forms of autocracy? </p> <p class="ListParagraph">Under conditions of neo-liberalism, most states have abdicated their paternalistic functions of provision of public goods and welfare. Many resort to crude ideological means to shore up their legitimacy, or deploy increasingly forceful methods of surveillance and coercion, or both, and cannot sustain the myth of the ruler as benevolent patriarch.&nbsp; At the domestic level, the male provider role, one of the bedrocks of male privilege, is under significant strain. High male unemployment rates and increasingly precarious forms of employment coincide with a period when women’s aspirations and their public presence have never been higher. Notions of female subordination are no longer securely hegemonic.&nbsp; Reliance on a new politics of masculinist restoration - a politics that requires systematic indoctrination (Islamic, nationalistic or mixtures of both), greater surveillance and higher levels of intrusion in citizens’ lives- becomes essential to the maintenance and reproduction of patriarchy. The contradictory pulls of the politics of masculinist restoration on the one hand, and anti-patriarchal resistance on the other, open up new fields of contestation for a new generation of men and women who are more fully alert to the intimate relations between authoritarian rule and forms of oppression based on gender, creed, ethnicity or sexual orientation. One of the lessons that youth activists - male and female - may have absorbed is that as long as the patriarchal social order is taken for granted, naturalized and not opened to question, citizenship must remain imperfect and democracy truncated. </p><p><em>Previous articles in this series written by Deniz Kandiyoti</em>:&nbsp; <a href="">Promise and peril: women and the 'Arab spring'</a>,&nbsp; <a href="">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the 'Arab spring'</a>,&nbsp; <a href="">Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence</a></p><p><em>To read the full collection of articles monitoring the uprisings and social movements in the Middle East and North Africa, providing a gendered analysis of developments across the region go to 50.50's platform</em>&nbsp;<a href="">Women and the 'Arab spring'</a> </p><p><em>Find hundreds of articles exploring the challenges and opportunities for gender equality, pluralism and democratic participation on 50.50's platform</em> <a 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<div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Creative Commons </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick Pathways of Women's Empowerment 50.50 newsletter feminism fundamentalisms gender patriarchy women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements young feminists Deniz Kandiyoti Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:59:33 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 80009 at الخوف والغضب: المرأة وعنف ما بعد الثورة <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="rtl">إن وضع حلقات العنف ضد المرأة الذي تلا الربيع العربي لإظهارها كمثال روتيني للمجتمع الذكوري وحلفائه ممن لا يثقون بالمرأة في مجتمعات بعينها قد يقي أصحاب السلطة من مزيد من التقصي والتدقيق بشكل غير متعمد. لم يعد الرهان على المرأة وجسمها بل على الجسم السياسي بحد ذاته. هكذا تجادل دينيز كانديوتي</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Read this article in <a href="">English</a>, <a href="">French</a> or <a href="">Spanish<br /></a></em></p><p dir="rtl">أحد الملاحظات التي لا يمكن إغفالها أثناء انتفاضات ‘الربيع العربي’ في مصر وتونس أتت من النساء اللواتي ادعين أنهن شعرن أخيراً بالأمان في الأماكن العامة في مجتمعات سِجلّها من التحرش الجنسي ضد المرأة يدفع المرء لتمني الكثير من التحسن. إن اندماج المواطنين وتعبئتهم – الشاب والمسن، محجبات وغير محجبات، ذكر وأنثى، مسلم ومسيحي- في جبهة مدنية تطالب بحقوقها سيبقى صورة مثيرة – في حال زوالها بسرعة – للأحداث التي قادت لخلع أنظمة مبارك وبن علي. منذ ذلك الوقت، شاهدنا طوفاناً من الصور والمواد الإخبارية والتعليقات فيما يخص أعمال عنف ضد المرأة في الأماكن العامة. ولم نجد – إلى الآن– تفسيراً ملائماً لهذه الظواهر، ولا نقاشات سوية حول معانيها وتبعاتها. يبدو الأمر بأن سلخ قشور طبقات الإصرار الذي وقف خلف أحداث العنف الذي صدم مجتمعاتهم وأشعل احتجاجات بأنه مهمة ملحة ووثيقة الصلة بالموضوع.&nbsp; </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>المجتمع الذكوري كالعادة أم مسألة حكومة؟&nbsp;</strong></p> <p dir="rtl">إن وضع حلقات العنف ضد المرأة الذي تلا الربيع العربي لإظهارها كمثال روتيني للمجتمع الذكوري وحلفائه ممن لا يثقون بالمرأة في مجتمعات بعينها قد يقي أصحاب السلطة من مزيد من التقصي والتدقيق بشكل غير متعمد. وأود أن اقترح، وذلك دون إنكار وجود المجتمع الذكوري وأولئك اللذين لا يثقون بالمرأة، بأن ثمة فعاليات معقدة وخبيثة تعمل بشكل متزامن.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">لنأخذ بعين الاعتبار القصة التي لاقت كثيراً من التغطية الإعلامية لامرأة تونسية تعرضت للاغتصاب من قبل رجال شرطة في الثالث من أيلول/سبتمبر أثناء اعتقالها وخطيبها في سيارتهما. زُعم أنهم طلبوا نقوداً من الشاب ووضعوا الأصفاد بيديه ثم أخذوا شريكته إلى القسم الخلفي من السيارة حيث اغتصبوها. كان من الممكن أن تبقى هذه القصة مثالاً لوحشية الشرطة وإفلاتها من العقوبة، وهو شيء نشاهده في كثير من أنحاء العالم. ولكن المحكمة أيدت تهمة عدم الاحتشام بحق الضحية عندما قدمت شكواها، وهي تهمة ممكن أن تحمل عقوبة ستة أشهر في السجن. تلا هذا احتجاج صارخ ومظاهرات غاضبة أدت إلى صرف القضية واعتذار علني من الرئيس التونسي.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//" alt="Women shouting and holding signs in French and Arabic" title="Protests in Tunisia" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'><p dir="rtl">الصورة: ديموتيكس. نساء يتظاهرن ضد الاغتصاب في تونس</p></span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">إن إكراه ضحايا العنف الجنسي بالتهديد لإسقاط التهم، وخاصة إذا كان من ارتكب هذا العمل من أصحاب السلطة و/أو عملاء للدولة، فعل شائع جداً. ما لفت انتباهنا في هذه القضية بالذات بأن الإكراه لم يأتِ عبر ضغط غير رسمي، كما هو الحال عادة، بل من محكمة وكّلت نفسها بمهمة حماية مرتكبي هذا الفعل وذلك باتهام الضحية بجرم له وضع قانوني مريب، أي انتهاك الحشمة. لو أن هذا الثنائي تم اعتقاله في الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية أو المملكة العربية السعودية، حيث تدعم الدولة ما يسمى الشرطة الأخلاقية في التدخل عندما ترغب بذلك، فمن الأرجح أنهما كانا سيواجهان تهمة الزنا والتي تحمل عواقب شديدة. من البيّن أن الأمر ليس كذلك في تونس. لذلك تبقى هناك أسئلة حول ما الذي حرّض رجال الشرطة هؤلاء. هل أثار سخطهم منظر شاب وشابة ربما يتغازلان في سيارة؟ هل كانوا يحملون قناعات جعلت هذا المشهد شديد البغض، شيئاً يجب تطهير المجال العام منه؟ (على الرغم من عدم وجود بلد يدرج الاغتصاب والابتزاز في تشريعاته كعقوبات ملائمة). أم هل أنهم ببساطة يستغلون سلطتهم ويتصرفون بانتهازية لاعتقادهم بأنهم سيفلتون من العقاب؟ هل كان مزيجاً مما سبق؟ قد لا نعرف أبدا ما مزيج الدوافع السام الذي دفعهم للقيام بأفعالهم الوحشية.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">ولكننا في الواقع،&nbsp;نعرف الكثير عن الخوف والغضب اللذين أطلقتهما تلك الأحداث ضمن قطاع من الجمهور التونسي؛ الخوف بأن هذا مؤشر على أن حكومة النهضة قد تبدأ بفرض "الحشمة" وتجريم النشاطات التي يعتبرها الكثير من التونسيين حق من حقوقهم رغم كل ادعاءاتها&nbsp;بأن تتقبل التعددية. والغضب من الدلائل التي قد يتم إرسالها إلى من يودون تطبيق الأخلاق العامة بأنه آن موسم التحرش بالنساء (وبالواقع بالرجال أيضاً) عندما يخرقون الحشمة، أو في حالة النساء، عندما يشاهدن في الأماكن العامة وخاصة إذا كنّ دون مرافق أو دون حجاب. يفتح هذا الأمر المجال المرعب لدولة تحلّ نفسها من واجبها في حماية مواطنيها إلا إذا أذعنوا للقوانين التي يطبقها حَكَمٌ أخلاقي معينٌ ذاتياً. إن التغير المفاجئ العلني الذي حصل في مصر عندما خضعت متظاهرات لفحوص عذرية قصرياً عندما كنّ في قبضة الشرطة يحمل قلقاً مشابهاً لأن ما يُستوحى منها هو أن الفتيات الشابات ذوات الأخلاق الوضيعة هن فقط من يشاركن في المظاهرات. سنرى الآن إن كان سيتم التعامل مع المعتدين التونسيين بقسوة أم سينالون عقوبة مخففة.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">في حالات انفلات القانون والنظام، كما هو الحال بعد جيشان الثورات أو في المجتمعات ما بعد الصراع، فإن انبعاث النشاطات الإجرامية التي لا تتم محاسبتها ليس بالأمر غير الشائع، ومن المعروف أن المرأة تكون في خطر كبير. ولكن أن تبقى ما يسمى قوات حفظ القانون والنظام، مهما كان ضعفها، متفرجين سلبيين أو أن يختاروا المشاركة كمعتدين –كما هو الحال في الاعتداء على المتظاهرات في مصر- فهذا يؤسس لعمل سياسي عميق موجه لمضايقة النشطاء وليس مجرد أعمال عبثية للذين لا يثقون بالمرأة.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">من البديهي القول بأن الانتهاكات التي يرتكبها عملاء الدولة بالكاد توهن تسلسل العنف ضد المرأة، والذي يتضمن انتهاكات عديدة بما في ذلك العنف الجنسي على أيدي رجال ذوو صلة أو غير ذلك، أو مجموعات عائلية، عصابات من الفتية أو حتى على أيدي نساء أخريات. ولكن ما يؤسس لشيء متميز عن المجتمع الذكوري المعتاد هو الطبيعة العلنية المتنامية لكل من الاعتداءات وردة الفعل الجماهيرية عليها. تحاول النساء الدفاع عن أنفسهن ويرفعن أصواتهن ويرفعن دعاوي ويشكلن مجموعات ضد التحرش يشارك بها بعض الرجال كما رأينا في مصر في حالة اليقظة ضد الانتهاكات.</p> <p dir="rtl">ومع ذلك تبقى معضلة "من يتحدث باسم من" حجر عثرة في طريق مناقشة معرفية لشيء مستجد نشهده حالياً.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl"><strong>العنف والصمت: معضلة "من يتحدث باسم من"</strong></p> <p dir="rtl">يتحدث برنامج وثائقي على القناة الرابعة وعنوانه الجنس والرعاع والثورة عن الازدياد المطرد للعنف ضد المرأة في مصر حيث يتدرج مرتكبو هذه الأفعال من شباب يافعين (يُفترض أنهم محرمون جنسياً) يتعاملون مع التحرش وكأنه أحد أشكال التسلية إلى رعاع يحصلون على مقابل مادي (وذلك منذ عهد مبارك ويُزعم أنهم مستمرون في أفعالهم الشائنة) ويستخدمون تلك الانتهاكات بحق المرأة كسلاح للمضايقة السياسية. ما يثير الانتباه أكثر من البرنامج الوثائقي نفسه هو ردود الأفعال عليه. فبينما تلقاه البعض كعمل صحفي تم استقصاؤه بشكل جيد نسبياً، أعرب آخرون عن ازدرائهم من ادعاءات مراسلة أجنبية افترضت نفسها تتكلم باسم النساء العربيات. عبرت كلمات آلاء شهابي الفصيحة عن ردة الفعل الدفاعية التي أثارها الفيلم حيث اعتبرته مثالاً واضحاً لمعالجة المواضيع بطريقة مناصرة وعنصرية؛ فهي تقول: "يمكن أن يفترض المرء بأن النساء من العرق الأبيض قد نجحن الآن في استئصال مشكلة العنف في المنزل وتجارة ترويج الجنس والتمييز بناء على الجنس وبأن هذه الأمور هي محنة النساء السمراوات فقط"</p> <p dir="rtl">يبدو بأن حقيقة كون مقدمة البرنامج من أصول آسيوية جنوبية على الأغلب، وبأنها تحدثت مع نساء مصريات صريحات تماماً وبأن الفيلم بذل بعض الجهد لتخطي الصورة النمطية بأن "الرجال المصريين مهووسون بالجنس" عن طريق التعمق بفكرة العنف المبني على الجنس والمنظم سياسياً؛ يبدو بأن هذا لم يكن كافياً لتلطيف تهم العنصرية. يبدو أن رسالة شهابي، والعديد من النقاد المشابهين لها، هي أن العنف ضد المرأة ظاهرة عالمية، وليس ثمة ما يستدعي الاهتمام حول العنف الذي تلا الثورات في العالم العربي وبأن أي اقتراح مغاير تفوح منه رائحة الاستشراق والعنصرية. هناك شعور بأننا سبق وشهدنا ذلك، نستذكر العديد من النقاشات السابقة التي أدت إلى نهاية مسدودة مشابهة. عندما كتبت منى الطحاوي، ورغم كونها مصرية، عن عدم الثقة بالمرأة في العالم العربي فإن معظم المعلقين انشغلوا بوصفها بأنها من المستشرقين الجدد اللذين يحابون الغرب لدرجة أنهم فشلوا بملاحظة الأخطاء البينة –من الناحيتين التحليلية والسياسية- لبعض النقاط التي كانت تعرضها. التشكيك بالمصدر بدل من المشاركة في الجدال لا يؤدي إلا إلى إحداث صمت غير فعّال يبدو أن النساء اللواتي تعرضن للانتهاك لا تتحملنه ولا المجتمع الذي يعشن فيه.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//" alt="Women with signs. " title="Women protest in front of the Federal Palace, Cairo. Photo: Demotix" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'><p dir="rtl">الصورة: ديموتيكس. نساء يتظاهرن أمام المحكمة العليا في القاهرة</p></span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">من المعتاد سابقاً أن يتمم صمت مصمّ "المجتمع الذكوري كعادته" فيما يتعلق بالعنف على أساس الجنس. معظم النساء اللواتي تعرضن للانتهاك عرفن من اعتدى عليهن (وبالأغلب ما زلن يعرفنه)؛ لقد تم ضربهن من قبل أزواجهن وتم اغتصابهن من قبل أقاربهن أو سكان قريتهن ثم أجبرن على زواج معذبيهن لطمس العار أو تم قتلهن من قبل عائلتهن لتطهير "الشرف" عندما رفضن القيام بذلك أو عندما تخلى عنهن من قام بإغرائهن... تطول القائمة وهي عرضة للتنويع حسب المنطقة (نساء يُحرقن من حماواتهن في جنوب آسيا، ونساء من طبقات أدنى يتعرضن للاغتصاب بشكل دوري من قبل أسيادهن الخ...). بالطبع، فإن هذه الأنماط من العنف أمنت الكذبة لنظرية بأن المجال المنزلي هو المأمن للنساء. ولكن هذا الأمر بالكاد يحدث أثراً في النقاشات اليومية حول العنف على أساس الجنس ("سيكون كل شيء على ما يرام إذا ما استطعنا إبعادهن عن الشارع!") ولازمة ذلك البديهية ("ما الذي كانت تفعله في الشارع؟"). تمنح الدول ككل الأنسباء امتيازات بالسيطرة على نسائهم (والأغلبية ما زالت تفعل ذلك): من الأمثلة البيّنة لذلك جرائم الشرف التي تحمل عقوبات مخففة وتزويج الرجل لضحيته والتي تلطف من جريمة المُغتصِب.</p> <p dir="rtl">إن هذه الأنماط من العنف سائدة بشكل كبير. ولكن دمجها مع موجة قتل النساء في المكسيك والاغتصاب الجماعي في نيو دلهي الذي أحدث حماساً جماهيرياً وأشكال الاعتداءات المختلفة على النساء أثناء وبعد الانتفاضات الجماهيرية في العالم العربي يسبب الأذى لنا. هناك نساء ورجال في الشارع يتظاهرون ويصورون ويدونون وينظمون أنفسهم في مجموعات. إنهم يعلمون بأن هذه ليست "قضية عائلية" يجب إسكاتها أو كنسها تحت السجادة بل الأمر يتعلق بصميم الدولة التي يحاربون لأجلها. إنهم يريدون التخلص من العصابات التي تساعد السلطة ومن الشرطة الفاسدين اللذين يتمتعون بالحصانة و(كما هو الحال في الهند) ممن يقومون بالانتهاكات والمُغتصِبين اللذين يتمتعون بالحصانة عندما يصبحون سياسيين يلقون الخطب التي تجرم النساء اللواتي وقعن كضحايا وذلك عندما يتجرأن أن يظهرن وجوههن في المجال العام. لقد تحول العار إلى غضب وكُسر الصمت. علينا أن نسأل أنفسنا: لماذا؟</p> <p dir="rtl"><strong>المجتمع الذكوري يقوم بدوره أم المجتمع الذكوري في أزمة؟</strong></p> <p dir="rtl">في بادئ الأمر نبهتني ملاحظاتي في تركيا، حيث أصبحت قضية العنف ضد المرأة موضوع نقاشات علنية حامية الوطيس، إلى احتمال أننا نشهد ظاهرة جديدة. يُزعم بأن معدل جرائم القتل بحق المرأة ازدادت 1400 بالمائة بين عامي 2002 و2009، ولم يكد يمضي يوم دون تقارير إعلامية عن اعتداءات وحشية جديدة. بينما أدى الازدراء ضد العنف المنزلي وجرائم الشرف إلى طقوس جديدة تحمل فيها النساء غطاء النعش لضحايا تلك الجرائم، حتى في المناطق المحافظة، والذي يعتبر خرقاً لمراسم الدفن عند المسلمين. أن الإمعان أبعد من عناوين النشرات حول هذه القضايا الجرمية وغيرها من قضايا العنف أظهر بأن عدم الإطاعة والتمرد الأنثوي عمل كمحرض أساسي –نساء تم قتلهن من قبل أزواج رغبن بأن يطلقهن أو أزواج سابقين تجرأت تلك النسوة على تطليقهن أو خطّابين تم رفضهم أو فتيات عنيدات مشاكسات رفضن الانصياع لرغباتهم آبائهم في اختيارهم لشريك الحياة الخ...&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">لم يحصل قط بأن تكون آمال المرأة مرتفعة إلى هذا الحد فيما يتعلق بالحصول على العلم والإنجازات المهنية والمشاركة المدنية وحتى العائلات التي تمتلك وسائل بسيطة –مثل عائلة طالبة الطب الشابة التي تعرضت للاغتصاب الجماعي في نيو دلهي– ستقدم التضحيات لضمان صعودهن. حقيقة الأمر بأن النساء هن فعلاً في المجال العام في كثير من أنحاء العالم العربي كما في بقية العالم، وهن متواجدات بأعداد كبيرة. دون التطرق إلى تلك النخبة من النساء اللواتي يستطعن حماية أنفسهن في الأماكن العامة الجامحة وذلك من خلال قيادتهن لسيارتهن بأنفسهن أو بتوظيفهن لسائقين، فإن معظم نساء الطبقة الوسطى والطبقة العاملة، سواء كن محترفات أو يعملن كخادمات، يستخدمن وسائط النقل العامة للتنقل ويحتجن للذهاب إلى السوق والتبضع ويذهبن إلى عيادات الأطباء ويصطحبن أطفالهن من المدارس وأجل، فإنهن يشاركن أيضاً بالاحتجاجات والمظاهرات. لقد ولّى العالم الذي تستطيع فيه نخبة ضيقة أن تقود حياة مزدوجة بينما الغالبية من سكان الضواحي النائية تكسب رزقها بشق النفس في عالم منفصل وولى معه المجتمع الذكوري الذي أمضى عليه.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="rtl">إني أجادل بأن ظاهرة جديدة، سأدعوها التجديد المذَّكر، تأخذ دورها في حين أن المجتمع الذكوري المعتاد لم يعد آمناً كلياً ويتطلب مستويات عالية من الإكراه وتطبيق إيديولوجيات متعددة على أجهزة الدولة لضمان تكاثره.&nbsp; لا يشير الالتجاء إلى العنف (أو التغاضي عن العنف) إلى عمل المجتمع الذكوري الروتيني أو انبعاث التقاليد، بل إلى خطر فقدان منصبه في مرحلة لم تعد نظرية الإخضاع الأنثوي هي المهيمنة بشكل آمن. إن إجراءات الأسلمة يمكنها أن تحاول تعزيز هذه الهيمنة، ولكن كما رأينا في حالة إيران، فإن هذا لا يمكن أن يثبط مطالب المرأة بالمساواة والكرامة في محصلة الأمر ولا يمكن أن ينقص من نشاطهن.</p> <p dir="rtl">واقع الأمر بأن التدابير الاحتياطية التي وثّقت تفوق مكانة الرجل على المرأة في الإسلام تتمزق، من الناحية الاجتماعية. تتنافر صورة الرجل المعيل مع الأعداد الكبيرة للشباب الذكور العاطلين عن العمل ولا يستطيعون أن يعيلوا أنفسهم، فكيف يجنّبون المرأة من دور من يكسب القوت ومن قسوة الظهور في الأماكن العامة. إننا نشهد أزمة عميقة للذكور تؤدي إلى مزيد من العنف وإصرار على الإكراه من الذكور اللذين يحملون الامتيازات وحيث يصبح اضطهاد المرأة رياضة دموية –سواء حصل هذا في الأحياء الفقيرة في سويتو أو خارج المصانع في سيوداد خواريز أو في شوارع دلهي أو في أزقة القاهرة. إن الدول متورطة بهذه القضايا سواء تم تقديم أعمال العنف هذه على أنها أعمال إجرامية منحرفة أو أعمال مبرّأة من الخطيئة تحت راية الحركات الدينية السياسية. لدينا كل الحق، وبالفعل لدينا الواجب، أن نوجه اهتمامنا لأصحاب السلطة السياسية ونسأل كيف ومتى ولماذا يختارون أن يكونوا شركاء في اعتداءات من لا يثقون بالمرأة و/أو يتآمروا مع الأفراد والجماعات والحركات التي ترتكب تلك الاعتداءات. هذا هو سبب تواجد الناس في الشارع، لم يعد هدفهم المرأة وجسمها فحسب بل الجسم السياسي بحد ذاته.</p><p dir="rtl">[عن موقع <a href="">"اوبين سوسايتي"</a>. وترجمه من ا<a href="">لإنجليزية</a> إلى العربية لمجلة "جدلية" مازن حكيم.]</p><p dir="rtl"> Normal 0 </p><p class="MsoNormal">Translated from English by Mazen Hakim for <a href="">Jadaliyya</a> </p> <p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring women's human rights violence against women Deniz Kandiyoti Mon, 14 Jan 2013 10:43:06 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 71604 at Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Putting episodes of post-Arab spring violence against women down to a routine manifestation of patriarchy and its allied misogyny in the societies concerned may unwittingly shield power-holders from more searching scrutiny. What is at stake is no longer just women and their bodies but the body politic itself. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Read this article in <a href="">Arabic</a>, <a href="">French</a> or <a href="">Spanish<br /></a></em></p><p>One of the unmistakeable notes of euphoria during the 'Arab spring' uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia came from women proclaiming that they finally felt safe in public spaces in societies where the record of sexual harassment and violence against women ordinarily leaves much to be desired. The fusion of a <a href="">mobilized citizenry</a> - young and old, veiled and unveiled, male and female, Muslim and Christian - into a civic bloc demanding their rights will remain a compelling - if ephemeral - image of the events leading to the overthrow of the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes. We have since been treated to a deluge of images, news items and commentary concerning public acts of violence against women without - so far - finding an adequate explanation for these phenomena, or having level-headed dialogues about their meaning and implications. Peeling off the various layers of determination behind violent episodes that have shocked their societies and sparked off protests appears to be an urgent and pertinent task.</p><p><strong>Patriarchy-as-usual or a question of governance?&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Putting episodes of post-Arab spring violence against women down to a routine manifestation of patriarchy and its allied misogyny in the societies concerned is simplistic and may unwittingly shield power-holders from more searching scrutiny. Without denying the existence of patriarchy and misogyny, I would like to suggest that several complex and pernicious dynamics appear to be at work simultaneously. </p> <p>Let us consider the much publicized rape of a Tunisian woman on September 3rd 2012 by policemen who apprehended her and her fiancée in their car. They allegedly demanded money from the young man, handcuffed him, and took his partner to the back of the car where she was raped. This could have remained a tale of police brutality and impunity - which we witness in many parts of the world - had a court not upheld a charge of alleged indecency against the victim when she filed a complaint, a charge that could carry a six month prison term. This was followed by massive public outcry and furious protests, resulting in the <a href="">dismissal</a> of the case and a public apology by the Tunisian president.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women protest against rape in Tunisia. Photo: Demotix"><img src="//" alt="Protest against rape in Tunisia. Photo: Demotix" title="Women protest against rape in Tunisia. Photo: Demotix" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest against rape in Tunisia. Photo: Demotix</span></span></span></p><p>Intimidating victims of sexual violence into dropping charges, especially if the perpetrators are powerful people and/or agents of the state,&nbsp; is quite a widespread practice. What arrests our attention in this particular case is that the intimidation came not through informal pressure, as is often the case, but from a judiciary that took upon itself the task of protecting the perpetrators by accusing the victim of a crime of dubious legal status - an infringement of decency. Had this unmarried couple been apprehended in the Islamic Republic of Iran or in Saudi Arabia where the so-called morality police is empowered by the state to intervene at will, they may well have been charged with <em>zina</em> (adultery) which carries severe penalties. This is clearly not the case in Tunisia. So questions remain as to what may have motivated the policemen in question. Were they enraged by the sight of a young man and woman possibly flirting in a car? Did they hold convictions that made this sight an abomination, something the public domain should be cleansed of (although no country features rape and extortion on its statute books as suitable punishments)? Or did they simply abuse their power and act opportunistically in the belief that they would get away with it? Was it some combination of the above? We may never know what toxic mix of motives animated their brutal actions. </p> <p>However, we do know a great deal more about the fear and the fury unleashed by these events among a section of the Tunisian public; fear that this may be a sign that for all its pretensions to inclusive pluralism, the ruling Ennahda government may start policing “decency” and criminalize activities that many ordinary Tunisians may feel entitled to. And fury at the prospect that this may send signals to would-be enforcers of public morality that it is now open season for the harassment of women (and indeed of men) when they are considered to be in breach of “decency” or, in the case of women, when they are seen in the public domain, most particularly if they are unaccompanied or unveiled. This opens up the frightening prospect of a state that absolves itself of responsibility for the safety of its citizens unless they acquiesce to rules enforced by self-appointed arbiters of morality. The public revulsion felt in Egypt when female demonstrators were <a href="">subjected</a> to forced virginity tests whilst in police custody and harassed in other contexts echoes similar anxieties, the implication being that only young women of loose morals participate in demonstrations. In Egypt inconclusive court cases followed, which are now under appeal. It now remains to be seen whether the Tunisian offenders will be dealt with severely, or let off lightly in the end. </p> <p>In cases where the breakdown of law and order is extensive, as in the aftermath of revolutionary upheavals or in post-conflict societies, a resurgence of unchecked criminal activity is not uncommon, and women are known to be at great peril. However, whether the so-called forces of law and order, enfeebled as they may be, remain passive onlookers or choose to act as predators themselves -&nbsp; as was the case with assaults against women demonstrators in Egypt - constitutes a profoundly <a href="">political act</a> aimed at intimidating activists, rather than just random acts of misogyny. </p> <p>Needless to say abuses perpetrated by agents of the state hardly exhaust the continuum of violence against women, which includes a wide variety of offences alongside sexual violence, at the hands of related and unrelated individual men, family groups, gangs of youth or even other women. But what constitutes a significant departure from patriarchy-as-usual is the increasingly public nature of both the offenses, and the popular reactions to them. Women try to defend themselves, they speak up, they press charges, they form <a href="">anti-harassment </a>groups and some men join them, as we saw in Egypt, in the case of anti-abuse <a href=";_r=0">vigilantism</a>. </p> <p>Yet the “who speaks for whom” dilemma continues to stand in the way of an informed discussion of the sheer novelty of what we are witnessing.</p><p><strong>Violence and silence: the "who speaks for whom" dilemma</strong></p> <p>A <a href="">documentary</a> shown on Channel 4 titled <em>Sex, Mobs and Revolution</em> spoke of a surge of violence against women in Egypt with perpetrators ranging from (presumably sex starved) young men treating harassment as a form of entertainment to paid mobsters (dating from the Mubarak era and allegedly continuing their nefarious activities) using abuse against women as a weapon of political intimidation. More noteworthy than the documentary itself were the reactions to it. Whilst some received it as a relatively well researched piece of journalism, others were outraged by the pretensions of a foreign reporter presuming to speak on behalf of Arab women. The defensive reaction elicited by the film was eloquently <a href="">encapsulated</a> in the words of Ala’a Shehabi who experienced the video clips she saw as a clear instance of &nbsp;patronizing, racist discourse: “One could assume” she stated “that Caucasian women have now successfully eliminated the problem of domestic violence, the sex trafficking industry and gender-based discrimination and these are now brown-only afflictions.” </p> <p>The fact the presenter was probably of South Asian origin, that she spoke to Egyptian women who were quite vocal and that the film made some effort to move beyond the “sex-crazed Egyptian men” stereotype by delving into politically organized gender-based violence were not apparently enough to temper charges of racism. The message of Shehabi’s and many similar critiques appears to be that violence against women is universal, that there is nothing particularly noteworthy about post-revolutionary violence in the Arab world and that any suggestion to the contrary smacks of orientalism and racism. There is of course a feeling of <em>déjà vu</em>&nbsp; here, reminiscent of many previous debates leading to a similar cul-de-sac. When Mona Elthahawy, despite being Egyptian herself, <a href="">wrote</a> about misogyny in the Arab world, most commentators were so busy branding her as a neo-Orientalist who was pandering to the West that they mostly <a href="">failed</a> to pick up the obvious flaws - analytic and political - of some of the points she was putting across. Discrediting the source rather than engaging with the argument itself only serves to induce an unproductive silence that neither abused women themselves, nor they societies they live in, are apparently willing to tolerate.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Women protest in front of the Federal Palace, Cairo. Photo: Demotix"><img src="//" alt="Women protest in front of the Federal Palace, Cairo. " title="Women protest in front of the Federal Palace, Cairo. Photo: Demotix" width="400" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Women protest in front of the Federal Palace, Cairo. Photo: Demotix</span></span></span></p><p>The complement to “patriarchy-as-usual” used to be a deafening silence concerning gender-based violence. Most abused women knew their assailants (and mainly still do so); they were battered by husbands, raped by relatives or co-villagers, made to marry their tormentors to hide their shame, killed by their families to cleanse their “honour” when they refused to do so, or were abandoned by their would be seducers…The list goes on and on and is subject to regional twists and variations (brides burnt by mothers-in-law in South Asia, lower caste women routinely raped by their overlords etc..). These patterns of violence, of course, gave the lie to the notion that the domestic domain was a safe haven for women. This hardly made a dent, however, in everyday discourses about gender-based violence (“if we could only keep them off the streets everything would be OK !” and its natural corollary “what was she doing on the streets”?). States on the whole upheld kin prerogatives over the control of their women (and most still do): honour crimes carrying lighter sentences and marrying one’s victim <a href="">extenuating</a> the crime of the rapist are relevant illustrations.</p> <p>These patterns of violence are still massively prevalent. But amalgamating them with the wave of <a href=";_r">femicides</a> in Mexico, the <a href="">gang rape</a> in New Delhi that created a public furore and&nbsp; the forms of attacks on women during and after the popular uprisings of the Arab spring does us a disservice. There are now women and men on the streets protesting, filming, blogging and organizing in groups. They know that this is not a “family affair” to be hushed up and brushed under the carpet but something that goes to the very heart of the polity they are fighting for. They want to be rid of the gangs used as auxiliaries to power, of the corrupt police forces that enjoy impunity, and (as was alleged in the case of India) of the abusers and rapists who enjoy immunity when they become politicians as well as the propagators of discourses that inculpate women victims when they dare to show their faces in the public sphere. The shame has turned into rage and the silence has been broken. We have to ask ourselves the question, why?</p><p><strong>Patriarchy in action or patriarchy in crisis? </strong></p> <p>My observations in Turkey, where the issue of violence against women became the subject of heated public debates, initially alerted me to the possibility that we may be witnessing new phenomena. The murder rates of women had allegedly increased by 1,400 per cent between 2002 and 2009, and hardly a day went by without media <a href="">reports</a> of some fresh atrocity. Meanwhile, the outrage against domestic violence and honour crimes led to a new ritual consisting of groups of women acting as pall bearers for the coffins of victims of those crimes, even in the most conservative provinces, in total breach of Muslim funerary etiquette. Going behind the headlines of murder cases and other crimes of violence showed that female disobedience and insubordination acted as&nbsp; primary triggers - women murdered by husbands they wished to divorce or ex-husbands they had dared to divorce, rejected suitors, obstinate, wayward girls refusing to fall in line with their father’s wishes in the choice of marriage partners etc… </p> <p>Women’s aspirations have never been higher in terms of educational attainment, professional achievement and civic participation and even families with modest means - just like the family of the young medical student who was gang raped in New Delhi - will make sacrifices to secure their upward mobility. The fact is that women <em>are</em> in the public sphere in many parts of the Arab world as elsewhere, and they are there in numbers. Apart from elite women who can shelter themselves from unruly public spaces by driving their own cars or employing chauffeurs, the bulk of middle-class and working class women, whether they are professionals or involved in menial labour, use public transport to get around, need to frequent markets and shops, go to clinics, collect their children from schools - and, yes, they also participate in protests and demonstrations. The world where a narrow urban elite could lead parallel lives while a large rural hinterland eked out its separate existence has gone and with it the type of patriarchy that it underwrote. </p> <p>I contend that a new phenomenon I call masculinist restoration comes into play at the point when patriarchy-as-usual is no longer fully secure, and requires higher levels of coercion and the deployment of more varied ideological state apparatuses to ensure its reproduction. The recourse to violence (or the condoning of violence) points not to the routine functioning of patriarchy or the resurgence of traditionalism, but to its threatened demise at a point when notions of female subordination are no longer securely hegemonic. The process of Islamization can attempt to boost this hegemony, but,as we have <a href="">seen</a> in the case of Iran, this cannot ultimately stifle women’s demands for equality and dignity nor diminish their activism. </p> <p>The fact is that the provisions that <a href="">underwrite</a> the positional superiority of men over women in Islam are, sociologically speaking, in tatters. The male provider image jars with the multitudes of unemployed male youth who are unable to provide for themselves, much less protect women from bread-winning roles and the rigours of exposure to public spaces. We are witnessing a profound crisis of masculinity leading to more violent and coercive assertions of male prerogatives where the abuse of women can become a blood sport - whether it takes place in the slums of Soweto, outside the factories of Ciudad Juarez, in the streets of Delhi or the alleyways of Cairo. Whether these acts of violence are presented as deviant criminal acts or <a href="">sanctified</a> under the banner of religio-political movements, states are inevitably implicated. We have every right, and indeed a duty, to turn our attention to the holders of political power and ask how, when and why they choose to become accessories to misogynistic atrocities and/or collude with individuals, groups or movements that perpetrate them. That is why people are on the streets. Their target is no longer just women and their bodies but the body politic itself.</p><p><strong><em><a href=""></a></em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/promise-and-peril-women-and-%E2%80%98arab-spring%E2%80%99">Promise and peril: women and the ‘Arab spring’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/disquiet-and-despair-gender-sub-texts-of-arab-spring">Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the &#039;Arab spring&#039; </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/alaa-shehabi/problematic-discourse-who-speaks-for-arab-women">A problematic discourse: who speaks for Arab women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anonymous/forced-marriage-to-rapists-death-of-amina-el-filali">Forced marriage to rapists: the death of Amina El Filali</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/afiya-shehrbano-zia/war-against-polio-or-polio-workers">War against polio or polio workers?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruchira-gupta/india-examining-motivation-for-rape">India: examining the motivation for rape </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/egypt-islamization-of-state-policy">Egypt: the Islamization of state policy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/amira-mhadhbi/state-feminism-in-tunisia-reading-between-lines">State feminism in Tunisia: reading between the lines </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zoe-holman/state-complicity-in-sexual-abuse-of-women-in-cairo">State complicity in the sexual abuse of women in Cairo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/tangled-web-politics-of-gender-in-turkey">A tangled web: the politics of gender in Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/pinar-ilkkaracan/turkish-model-for-whom">The &quot;Turkish model&quot; : for whom?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/eba%E2%80%99-el-tamami/harassment-free-zone">Harassment free zone </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/who-is-to-blame-street-sexual-harassment-in-yemen">Who is to blame? Street sexual harassment in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ghaidaa-al-absi/street-sexual-harassment-breaking-silence-in-yemen">Street sexual harassment: breaking the silence in Yemen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/sexual-violence-in-indian-cities">Sexual violence in Indian cities</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Civil society Equality institutions & power AA imperialist feminism debate Nobel Women's Initiative 2013 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 16 Days: activism against gender based violence UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter patriarchy Sexual violence women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements Deniz Kandiyoti Thu, 10 Jan 2013 08:39:09 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 70324 at Disquiet and despair: the gender sub-texts of the 'Arab spring' <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The extreme precariousness of women’s rights in post- Arab spring successor regimes can neither be fully accounted for with reference to the rise of politically empowered Islamist parties nor attributed to some unqualified notion of misogyny, but is determined by a complex combination of internal and external influences.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The questions I posed over a year ago about the <a href="">prospects for gender justice and equality</a> in successor regimes in the wake of the “Arab spring”&nbsp; are receiving increasingly disquieting answers.</p> <p>A battle for the soul of the Arab spring developed almost immediately after the events on the Arab streets. There was talk of the <a href="">“Turkish model”</a> on the part of those who hoped for a cohabitation between multi-party democracy, a neoliberal market economy and Islamic conservatism, despite the evident flaws of this proposition. Iran jumped on the bandwagon <a href="">appropriating</a> the events as a continuation of the 1979 revolution (and what they subsequently dubbed the Islamic Awakening) only to be rebuffed by the new Arab leaderships, critiqued internally by its own democratic opposition and met with disquiet over its alliance with the Syrian regime. The Gulf states and Saudi Arabia in particular strove to avoid contagion by adopting policies of <a href="">containment at home and co-optation abroad</a> by backing <em>salafi</em> parties and tendencies whilst posing as champions of regime change in Syria (thus raising the spectre of sectarian conflicts trumping legitimate popular democratic demands). </p> <p>Whatever the geopolitical stakes around the outcomes of the uprisings, it is ultimately the nature of internal political settlements that will determine the prospects for inclusive democracy. Beyond the great uncertainty over the direction of post-authoritarian transitions (and it is by no means certain yet this is what they will turn out to be) what appears increasingly clear is that the politics of gender looks set to occupy centre stage in the coming struggles for self-definition of successor regimes. Two questions appear particularly pertinent. Why is it that in societies beset by a myriad of intractable economic and social problems endless debates about women’s rights and status continue to occupy the headlines?<strong> </strong>Why, despite decades of women’s rights advocacy and activism, does backsliding on women’s rights take place with apparent ease: what accounts for the extreme fragility of women’s rights platforms?</p> <p><strong>From screaming headlines to gender sub-texts</strong></p> <p>On his first visit to Tripoli, National Transitional Council (NTC)&nbsp; Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil <a href="">declared</a> in his speech celebrating Libya's "liberation" on 23 October, 2011 that <em>sharia</em> law would be "the basic source of legislation, and so any law which contradicts Islamic principles is void". He thus pre-empted the decisions of any elected body on this crucial point. He specifically mentioned that polygamy would be made legal (despite the fact that polygamy was not outlawed under Ghadaffi but merely made subject to subject to controls and restrictions). This announcement apparently drew cheers and celebratory gunfire from a predominantly male crowd. Despite his subsequent assurances as to his “moderate” intent, mainly directed at the international community, this choice of priorities in the aftermath of internal strife that laid the country to waste and occasioned untold suffering did not fail to raise eyebrows. </p> <p>Given that Libya threatens to <a href=";nl=todaysheadlines&amp;emc=edit_th_20120403">descend into chaos</a> as armed groups refuse to relinquish control over their respective fiefdoms, this <em>faux pas</em> (if it was one) might be overlooked. If, on the other hand, the assertion of Islamic credentials by contenders for state power in successor regimes prioritizes the refashioning of gender relations and targets women’s rights (as opposed to, say, developing a redistributive agenda for social justice and addressing urgent socio-economic problems) this sends out signals that are worth reflecting upon. </p> <p>In Cairo at a time when continuous demonstrations by students, civil servants and workers were taking place, the rally to celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2011 stood out as the one gathering that was met with <a href="">heckling and abuse</a>, despite the fact that women had distinguished themselves as stalwart participants in the events leading to the downfall of the Mubarak regime. The same event garnered a much larger group of participants on 8th of March 2012 and went uneventfully, but episodes of harassment and abuse directed at women carried on unabated. Women demonstrators who were rounded up and harassed by security forces were subjected to forced “virginity tests” whilst in custody- a clear attempt to deter their public presence. These actions- widely reported by the media- provoked a <a href="">public outcry</a> and led to “apologies” from the military. However, there is as yet little sign that those responsible will be <a href="">held to account</a>. In an ironic turn of events a demonstration to protest harassment against women was itself <a href="">subjected to assault</a>- an object lesson on the intractable obstacles facing women.</p><p>On the face of it, developments in Tunisia appeared more promising. Unlike Egypt where women’s political representation has declined (to an abysmally low 2% of parliamentary seats, one of the lowest proportions in the world) the new assembly in Tunisia is 22.6 percent female - on par with the average level in Europe. Of the 49 women elected to the 217-seat assembly, 42 belong to Ennahda which closely followed the official election guidelines calling for parity on party lists. The decision by Tunisia’s temporary government to withdraw all its specific reservations to CEDAW - the first country in the region to do so - in principle <a href="">opened the way</a> for the democratically elected government to abide by its stipulations. Finally, Ennahda’s <a href="">decision</a> to retain a secular constitution and its willingness to entertain alliances with liberal parties raised hopes for more fluid outcomes with some latitude for women’s rights advocates.</p> <p>However, Tunisian salafists have been <a href="">pushing for an Islamic state</a> and the strict observance of <em>sharia</em> law and taking action in pursuit of their objectives. A series of <a href="">confrontations</a> on the streets and on university campuses (such as the occupation of the University of Manouba) point to the sharpening tensions between different camps. Whilst some <a href="">argue</a> that Ennahda is vulnerable to pressures from salafists out of fear of being upstaged by them others point to the impunity with which salafists operate, suggesting there is collusion with the ruling party and an overlap between their ideologies. Secular constituencies- and particularly women- are feeling targeted, unprotected and under threat.</p> <p>A <a href="">recent article</a> put these tendencies down to hatred of women and misogyny in the Arab world. This <em>cri de coeur</em> of&nbsp;Egyptian journalist&nbsp;Mona Elthahawy (herself a victim of sexual assault and police brutality) was predictably greeted by a <a href="">volley of criticisms</a>, some more temperate than others. Although she was accused by some of neo-Orientalism and pandering to the negative stereotypes of the West her stance was, in fact, fully in line with a genre of radical feminist writing that attributes all abuses visited upon women to a timeless notion of patriarchy (and the misogyny endemic to it). This stance paralyzes us if we are in the business of detecting patterns, conjunctures and ruptures that account for both continuities and discontinuities in gender relations and women’s rights. I argue, in what follows, that neither a Middle Eastern version of universal misogyny nor the rise of politically empowered Islamist actors and parties can fully account for the extreme precariousness and fragility of women’s rights platforms. A set of complex influences, both internal and external, have contributed to these outcomes in different ways.</p> <p><strong>Is there a “democratic paradox”?</strong></p> <p>The record of democratic transitions on women’s rights has been mixed and uneven across world regions. While there were serious initial setbacks for women in East and Central Europe and in the post-communist bloc more generally, a much more encouraging picture emerged from post-authoritarian transitions in Latin America. How does the “<a href=";highlight=2,yesim,arat&amp;fromsearch=yes&amp;query=Yesim+Arat">democratic paradox</a>” play out in the MENA region? What are the factors conditioning the manifest fragility of gender equality platforms?</p> <p>A common explanation is the contention that the women’s rights agenda never achieved legitimacy at the popular level. Without the “trusteeship” of authoritarian, modernizing leaders such as Ataturk, Bourgiba, or Nasser (or even more blatantly dictatorial leaders such as Saddam Hussain and Muammar Ghadaffi), the expansion of women’s rights, it is argued, would have no popular base and, therefore, no electoral appeal. If the implicit assumption behind this reasoning is that the societies in question have remained locked into unchanging traditions (of a relentlessly misogynistic character) then the spectacle of the young, mobilized, mixed-gender citizenries of the “Arab spring” should clearly encourage us to think again. The real question is why aspirations for inclusive democracy- the existence of which cannot be denied- come up against power configurations that are unlikely to translate these aspirations into governance outcomes.</p> <p>Despite the authoritarian nature of post-dynastic and post-colonial regimes in the MENA region, the developmental phase of state-building was meant to deliver goods and services to citizens in return for loyalty to the nation, understood as an entity that transcends the bonds of kinship, community, sect or ethnicity. Wresting the control of women from these sub-national (and highly patriarchal entities) and including them as citizens of the state represented a major break, backed up by policies for universal education, employment, suffrage and social welfare. The terms of this inclusion (or the “state feminist” compact) were fairly clear. Expanding women’s access to education, to the labour force and to public space was principally justified in the service of a “greater good”; the creation of a stronger, more productive nation that enlisted enlightened mothers and sisters-in-arms to the project of national development. Although nationalist discourse was always <a href="">ambivalent</a> on the question of women’s rights, the constituencies created and nurtured by these policies made up the backbone of women’s movements in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey. This was but a brief moment, however, which did not survive beyond the 1960s. However, these constituencies -although marginalized and politically impotent- survive to this day and are now followed by younger generations whose formative experiences led to more diverse forms of political contestation.</p> <p>The unravelling of the post-independence social compact in the years following economic liberalization and privatization policies in the MENA region witnessed the descent of authoritarian states into <a href="">dynastic rule and crony capitalism</a>, with governments becoming increasingly reliant on hypertrophied security apparatuses, high levels of repression and networks based on patronage, kinship and religion. The spaces vacated by state provision were filled by other actors, reaching into the grassroots of society. This period witnessed the rise of both Islamist oppositional movements and new forms of grassroots activism, some aiming to palliate the dearth of social services to the poor and the downwardly mobile. State elites seeking to bolster their flagging legitimacy, in their turn, resorted to alliances with Islamist social forces (whilst simultaneously clamping down on those deemed to present a political threat) and promoted various forms of state-sponsored religiosity. In Egypt, in particular, the encouragement of apolitical, pietistic forms of conformism, especially in the realms of gender and the family, “normalized” an ethos of social conservatism that now makes the task of ascendant Islamist parties wishing to translate this ethos into codified reality a relatively easier task. </p> <p class="western">We are dealing, in short, with the effects of a long process of reconfiguration of state and society which empowered and entrenched forces that are now best placed to capitalize on democratic openings but unlikely to embrace ideals of inclusive democracy, least of all in the realms of gender justice and equality. What is more, it is becoming amply clear that Islamist parties do not have programmes that depart in any significant way from the neo-liberal tenets of preceding regimes and do not have the will to introduce changes on any other front, hence the heightened and almost obsessive focus on gender issues and the position of women. This focus acts as a diversion that obfuscates the paucity of credible political programmes in successor regimes and is played up on the assumption that there is a populist consensus around “keeping women in their places”. The jury is out, however, on the success of this particular tack, with some commentators arguing that, in Egypt at least, since coming to power Islamist parties have already <a href="">lost</a> much of their legitimacy and appeal. However, the <a href="">heavy handed interventions</a> of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that disbanded parliament, curtailed the authority of the president-to-be, accorded the army legislative powers and expanded the powers of detention of the police and army raises the spectre of a return to authoritarian rule. The Egyptian electorate that found itself having to choose for president between a former Mubarak era <em>apparatchik</em><em> </em> and a Muslim Brotherhood candidate now finds itself facing a period of further uncertainty and the prospect of renewed authoritarian rule. </p> <p><strong>Hijacking women’s rights</strong></p> <p>The adverse effects of the endogenous factors detailed above were amplified by the manner in which international donor-led efforts to empower women became articulated within local power structures. A conjuncture that has facilitated the marginalization- if not outright discrediting- of advocacy for gender equality is the particular way in which global templates for gender justice and equality were imported and applied in the MENA region. The global agenda for gender equality- defined by standard-setting instruments such as CEDAW and by successive UN conferences on Women and their Platforms for Action- required monitoring at the national level. This led to the creation of national machineries for the advancement of women and an infrastructure of donor-funded organizations and NGOs dedicated to the empowerment of women. In the Arab world these machineries became appendages of authoritarian regimes and the cadres involved in rights advocacy were generally part of organizations that could only flourish under state patronage. Although tensions and contradictions between “femocracies” and women’s movements are prevalent throughout the world, they take particularly destructive and perverse forms where the women’s rights agenda is enlisted to serve as a “democratic” fig-leaf for dictatorial regimes. </p> <p>One of the fallouts of regime change was that these cadres- and even those that were only tangentially linked to ruling circles- became tainted with the stain of collaboration with a corrupt government. The phenomenon described by Hoda Elsadda as the “<a href="">first lady syndrome</a>” speaks eloquently of the deleterious effects of the co-optation of the women’s rights agenda by a corrupt state. Likewise, in Tunisia the Union Nationale de la Femme Tunisienne, the “First Lady’s union” and its activities fell into disarray when Leila Trabelsi fled. Restructuring and creating a new leadership base took time, and as a result there were <a href="">markedly few</a> female candidates appointed to the transitional government. What is particularly disheartening about these developments is the fact that advances on women’s rights issues were, in fact, achieved by the painstaking efforts of women’s groups and activists of all persuasions who over several decades worked tirelessly at the national, regional and international levels- only to see their achievements hijacked by ruling circles. </p> <p>Jumping on the gender equality bandwagon is a “soft option” used by numerous authoritarian regimes to indicate their commitment to a democratization agenda which they are, in fact, in <a href="">flagrant breach</a> of.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Even the rulers of Saudi Arabia, whose response to the “Arab spring” was one of containment by offering backing for salafi parties abroad, attempt to <a href="">pose as the emancipators of women</a> at home. The “Turkish model” which was frequently invoked in the initial stages of the Arab spring, partly as a nerve calming measure, also presents us with numerous examples of how the gender equality platform can be opportunistically manipulated. During the first term of the ruling AKP (2002-2007) Turkey took the lead role for the empowerment of women in the Greater Middle East in the context of the Democracy Assistance Initiative of the G8. It introduced <a href="">substantial reforms</a> in its civil and penal codes at home in its attempts to meet the criteria for EU accession. This did not prevent subsequent and continuing attempts at clawing back these gains at a point when the Greater Middle East project was quietly shelved and EU conditionalities were put on the back burner. Women’s rights activists in Turkey are now following post-Arab spring developments with mounting apprehension, fearing an even more serious <a href="">backlash</a>, which is evident in - among other things - an attempted ban on abortion.</p> <p>The opportunistic nature of engagements with gender equality platforms contributes to their derailment and demise. Acquiescence to retrogressive measures and muted or no resistance are often symptoms of the shallowness of these engagements. For instance, the imposition of quotas for women introduced in the discredited 2010 elections in Egypt, and used to the advantage of the ruling party, created widespread resentment. When the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) <a href="">abolished quotas</a> for women this elicited no resistance and was even received as a popular move since it had created great unease in many quarters. In such contexts, justifying clamping down on women’s rights with reference to a “cleansing” operation that returns gender relations to their authentically national or Islamically sanctioned forms can find more resonance across the political spectrum and unite politicians on the left and right as they attempt to score populist points off their rivals.</p> <p>This brings us to a crucial final question: under what conditions do democratic movements and oppositions form cross-gender alliances and come to the realization that struggles for gender equality are an intrinsic part of the fight against authoritarianism and dictatorship? Paradoxically, it is in the Islamic Republic of Iran where three decades of repressive politicisation of women and sexuality are finally backfiring that the democratic opposition appears receptive to the notion of <a href="">gender equality</a>. Here is hoping that this self-evident equation can be finally grasped without having to endure several more decades of repression and suffering in the Arab world.</p><p><em>Read</em> <a href="">more articles</a> <em>on 50.50 providing a gendered analysis of the 'Arab spring' written by women in the region and by keen observers of unfolding events </em></p> <p><em><a href=""></a></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/is-that-what-we-fought-for-gaddafis-legacy-for-libyan-women">Is that what we fought for? 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It is time to challenge the hegemony of the formal human rights movement and its uncritical embrace of identity politics". Gita Sahgal in conversation with Deniz Kandiyoti. Part two.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>DK: In Part I of our conversation <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deniz-kandiyoti/soft-law-and-hard-choices-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">'Soft law' and hard choices</a> you concluded that the “war on terror” had a deleterious effect on women’s rights issues. Can you provide some illustrations of what you meant by that?</p> <p>GS: One of the examples that shocked me most was what happened in Iraq where, as you know, there has been a <a href="">massive slaughter</a> of women since the US-led military intervention. This has been underreported by the human rights movement and existing reports often focused on so-called “honour killings” i.e. women being killed by their families and kinsmen. This, of course, totally obscures the fact that the victims were often <a href="">professional women</a>, active in public life and that the perpetrators were militias and armed groups'</p> <p>Now there are two ways in which the human rights movement has dealt with the issue of ‘crimes in the name of honour’. On the one hand, UN experts such as <a href="">Asma Jahangir</a>, who was Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, started to present ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan as a form of extra-judicial execution. Even though the actual crime may be committed by the family, the state is often directly or indirectly responsible for colluding in the crime ( for instance by imposing very low penalties, or by being either complicit with or directly implicated in the killing – by having police or government officials present at the council ordering the killing- or by sheer failure to prosecute). This analysis stems from a very important legal judgement known as the <a href="">Velasquez Rodriguez case</a> in the Inter-American Court.</p> <p>Even though this legal foundation had already been laid by the time systematic killings of women who are active in public life or who transgress in their private lives began on a large scale in Iraq and Afghanistan ( and indeed in other centres of the ‘War on Terror’ such as Somalia), much commentary, even in human rights reports, reverted to seeing ‘culture’ as a driver for women’s deaths. So militia killings, a classic form of extra-judicial execution, are referred to as ‘<a href="">honour killings</a> in one UN report on Iraq. Killings of officials and others are referred to as extra-judicial executions but in <a href="">gender neutral terms</a>, so that the fact that women are targeted as women<strong> </strong>is completely buried.</p> <p>DK: In post-conflict contexts, and in others where the provision of justice as a public good is deficient, there appears to be a consensus among powerful donors that devolving bits of the legal system to the local level and having recourse to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms is the answer. Furthermore, these types of decentralization and devolution are presented as forms of democratization and bottom-up participation. What is the moving force behind this consensus? And what are the implications for women’s rights?</p> <p>GS :There are a number of forces behind this consensus. One is the reluctant recognition that most societies already operate in a <a href="">legally plural world</a> and that the most ‘just’ law is not necessarily delivered by the formal courts – either because the law is often normatively more conservative than actual customs and norms that people live by, or because the formal court system is simply overloaded, unwieldy, slow and expensive. So there have been numerous movements calling for the recognition of other legal systems – perhaps most powerfully in Latin America as a result of the indigenous rights movements gaining a voice and even political power as in Bolivia. Women’s rights advocates have also been involved in a number of processes from resolving domestic disputes through what is known as alternative dispute resolution ( ADR) to peace processes where they have negotiated across conflict lines. Sunila Abeysekera has been involved in such processes through her organisation <a href="">Inform</a> which has mapped ‘disappearances’ during the conflict in Sri Lanka but also negotiated with sympathisers from different sides.</p> <p>Now these movements have been taken up in broadly two ways – in human rights discourses and by powerful international organisations and donor governments as part of their aid agenda, particularly in what are known as post-conflict countries. These appear to be different approaches, but they converge precisely over negotiating away women’s rights and the rights of minorities – since these get ignored and submerged within purportedly homogenous identity-based groupings. Therefore those who are already marginalised may be further marginalised in informal justice systems which are controlled by local elites. Informal systems then use law to perpetuate or even re-invent a particular notion of cultural or religious identity. A woman who may simply want to access a particular right – alimony in the <a href="">Shah Bano</a> case in India, or inheritance in the case of <a href="">Sandra Lovelace</a> in Canada, finds that she is challenging the identity of the entire community who mobilise against her. Ironically in both cases, the law being applied was based on a colonial interpretation of religion and custom. </p> <p>There is a growing human rights literature which discusses the competing demands of recognition of religious or cultural identities, on the one hand, and ‘balancing’ these with upholding equality and non-discrimination norms, on the other. When identity claims are smuggled in as part of non-discrimination norms, the goal of equality can easily be derailed. The debates over headscarves and the wearing of niqab are an example of this - see for instance the debate between <a href="">Joan Scott</a> and <a href="">Karima Bennoune</a><em>. </em>It was in an attempt to bring a different view to international attention that WLUML and Amnesty International did a joint submission on issues arising from the <a href="">Lubna Hussein</a> case, a woman persecuted for her attire in Sudan.</p> <p>Those promoting <a href="">identity claims</a> see themselves as offering a more culturally responsive version of human rights, but this approach all too often depends on being <a href="">oblivious to women’s equality</a> and to disputes <em>within</em> groups. Women’s rights advocates often refer to universal principles and the need to either <a href="">protect existing law</a> or to argue for new law such as relying on a civil code, rather than on different systems of family law based on religion in which people are seen as members of a religious community – as <a href=";pg=PA218&amp;lpg=PA218&amp;dq=Amrita+Chhachhi+%3BForced+Identities:+the+State,+Communalism,+Fundamentalism+and+Women+in+India&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=Ejl5JIT-np&amp;sig=S7eiImKKlhU-qNSpaSwK1lVPu0M&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=ddjyS-yEE8OksAb">Amrita Chhachhi</a> writes - a sort of forced identity that limits their entitlements rather than defining their rights as citizens. However, most human rights bodies have hardly dealt with family laws and tend to condemn parallel courts or informal courts principally because of their lack of due process and their harsh punishments ( such as whipping and stoning). While these are valid arguments they fall short of fully grasping the range of violations caused not just by the conduct of these courts but by their very structure<strong>.</strong> Parallel or customary courts tend to lend substance in law to religious or tribal identities that are themselves often the product of a colonial inheritance. They undermine women’s access to civil law even in those countries, such as Ethiopia, where a civil code exists. The Human Rights Committee made a recent <a href="">comment</a> in which it tried to square this circle by suggesting that lower courts should only handle ‘minor civil and criminal matters’.<strong> </strong>In Britain, the Lord Chief Justice made a similar point about <a href="">sharia councils</a>. This leaves virtually all matters pertaining to women’s lives, including quite serious crimes against them such as rape, in the hands of bodies that are systematically biased against them. That is why it is so astonishing that a number of powerful international institutions have put a lot of effort, and more importantly substantial finance, behind the promotion of parallel or alternative courts while overlooking the consequences, particularly for women.</p> <p>DK: So are you saying, in concrete terms, that this type of devolution often deprives women of justice? Because a disproportionate number of so-called “minor” cases-family, marriage, divorce or inheritance disputes- would potentially be devolved to unaccountable and gender biased institutions?<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>GS: Yes, it deprives women of justice and also people who are from any minority tradition whose norms are not reflected in the law being applied. They have access neither to universal norms which could protect their rights, nor to the specific norms and customs to which they might adhere in their everyday lives. For instance, in some groups women may have easier access to divorce through their community norms than courts allow. Often the mapping of custom through a formalised process in the service of setting up a parallel justice system enforces more restrictive and patriarchal norms than was previously the case. So a legal system which is created ostensibly as part of a broader democratisation effort may end up inadvertently disenfranchising many citizens in terms of their legal rights.</p> <p>This is particularly likely in post-conflict settings where foreign governments or charitable donors are pushing for such systems to be adopted. One such case was seen in South Sudan, where both World Vision, a Christian charity and the UN have supported the <a href="">mapping of customary laws</a>. The South has changed irrevocably during a twenty year period of conflict, social systems have been disrupted, and a large population of urbanised migrants have returned from exile. So the purpose of the system is to help create a national identity which can challenge the Muslim dominated, Shari’a based law of Khartoum, to ‘restore’ the old order and create a new version of South Sudanese identity through law. Pushing for women’s equality is seen as a threat to this project, since it is precisely the social compact that would be created under a patriarchal order which is supposed to be a guarantor against the recurrence of conflict. In contrast, women’s rights advocates, have emphasised that they are struggling for a <a href="">transformed social order</a>, not one that simply restores the status quo ante.</p> <p>That is also why the current discussions on Afghanistan, whether from the left or right of the political spectrum, are so frightening. All talk of ‘moderate Taliban’ or ‘light foot print’ of foreign forces leads to the same end – that is a political consensus in which the rights of some are <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deniz-kandiyoti/negotiating-with-taliban-view-from-below">traded for ‘peace’ and ‘security</a>’. This is a false equation which will bring neither peace nor security as conventionally understood, even in military terms; and will certainly not assist those seeking to implant some genuine democratic values.</p> <p>DK: Would it be possible to talk about two contradictory tendencies at work here? On the one hand there is a drive to expand and consolidate women’s rights through the institutions of global governance, like for instance the United Nations setting up a “<a href="../../../../../../../../5050/charlotte-bunch/powerful-womens-agencywill-un-deliver">super agency</a>” to monitor gender equality or setting up various machineries for gender mainstreaming. On the other hand, you have an even better resourced movement pushing in the direction of opting out of the formal legal system in favour of decentralized “traditional” actors with little judicial oversight and with built-in patriarchal biases.</p> <p>GS: Yes, that is true and no-one seems to have noticed, except of course, the women who are directly affected and who are fighting heroically all over the world. Quite often their first hurdle – and they never get any further - is to convince those supposedly on their side (international NGOs, the UN and government aid agencies) to abandon approaches based on religion and tribal custom. There is a fascination with working within ‘Sharia’ by the <a href="">British government</a>, for instance, which may lead to regressive approaches which undermine not only secular values, but also the work that feminists have done to promote progressive readings of religion.</p> <p>One example that fortunately failed to take root is the Asian Development Bank’s attempt to create an <a href=";seqNo=02&amp;typeCd=3">alternative dispute resolution system</a> in Pakistan. It was backed by a huge budget and proposed a system that would by-pass the courts to resolve a whole host of disputes which included criminal as well as civil matters, with absolutely no safeguards as to process or judicial oversight. Naturally the Pakistani Judiciary and the lawyers hated it. At a meeting of the project on plural legal orders a Pakistani human rights advocate who evaluated the system said the best thing about it was its complete failure. It was, in effect, an attempt to formalise the jirga system, which was a highly contested institution against which the entire feminist and human rights community has fought. It wasn’t considered particularly ‘authentic’ by ordinary people either.</p> <p>Some of these programmes have quite Orwellian titles like ‘<a href="">Legal Empowerment of the Poor</a>’, and they appear to be dedicated to getting the poor out of the formal court system, quite as much as getting them before informal tribunals. The reason that a Bank would be interested in funding the provision of justice in a developing country may have to do with preparing the formal courts to implement laws on financial regulation ( or deregulation) and relieve them from the burden of attending to a whole host of irrelevant matters (such as family disputes and abuses of women’s rights). Poor people, in short, should not clog up the court system. Nor should they, particularly if they are women, entertain the notion that they have immutable rights; only negotiable claims – which they may win or lose depending on their negotiating power, money, support of community elders, and so on. Mapping customary uses of land, for instance, may help people secure individual title to land, which can then become a source of collateral and credit. The drive to formalize is in no small measure related to deepening market integration and commodification.</p> <p>DK: A lot of commentary opposes an allegedly secular human rights establishment (which includes feminist groups) to fundamentalist movements and tendencies of various stripes. What I find most interesting about the way you are framing your argument is that you are, in fact, suggesting that numerous mainstream secular organizations are trying to inhabit the space of religion- but they are doing so on their own terms and for their own instrumental purposes. Are they entrenching a normative vision of religion as the antidote to the presumed ills of “culture”?</p> <p>GS: Exactly. Everything that is debased is cultural and everything that is pure is religious. The slogan is: “it’s not religion, it’s culture”. In fact, religious practice is always culturally mediated and therefore variable. There is a world of difference between what <a href="//">Women Living Under Muslim Laws</a> (WLUML) was trying to do - comparing civil codes, customary laws and Muslim personal laws, and therefore highlighting the existing room for manoeuvre, and agencies seeking to find definitive (often fundamentalist) versions of ‘Sharia’ law and selling them as more ‘authentic’ than local cultural practice. What they don’t see is that these top-down interventions are narrowing the scope for flexibility and negotiation over women’s rights.</p> <p>DK: To what extent is there also a confusion here between culture, religion and politics?</p> <p>GS: The effects of this confusion were evident here in the UK. There was a period in the mid-1980s when the local councils and the GLC were funding <a href="">Hindu Rights groups</a> as “cultural centres". They inadvertently legitimized an extremist political tendency that destroyed the Babri Masjid mosque, attempted to build a Hindu temple on its site and has repeatedly committed atrocities against Muslims and Christian across India .Some people were undoubtedly contributing money in good faith, but there is no doubt that the diaspora acted as a powerful force bolstering the Hindu extremism. Activists in the <a href="">US</a> and <a href="">Britain</a> researched these groups and campaigned against them.</p> <p>Today, we see that a range of fundamentalist organisations of the Islamic Right are being promoted by the state and by sections of the left and liberals. People who are members or suspected members of armed groups and who fled to this country and used it as a refuge were able to re-export militancy to their regions of origin. The British state and human rights bodies have <a href="">legitimized</a> many such groups including the <em>Jamaat e Islami</em>, the Muslim Brotherhood and <em>salafis</em> of various persuasions.</p> <p>DK: When you did your work on the Hindu Right, this did not appear to create a great stir. However when you replicate this sort of work with Islamic groups and the Muslim diaspora it becomes more much controversial and divisive because of the “war on terror” and the human rights abuses committed in its name.</p> <p>GS: Yes, the results are completely different depending on which fundamentalisms you tackle. If you confront the Christian Right or the Hindu Right you are attacked by members of those groups and may be exposed to threats. But you do not get attacked by the Left.</p> <p>Whereas those working on Jewish fundamentalism may be accused of anti-semitism, and the critique will come from the both the left and right relating to political positions on Israel. Likewise any critical stance on Muslim fundamentalism becomes tainted with charges of <a href="">Islamophobia</a> and will bring down the wrath of the so-called progressives upon you. So it must be <a href="">challenged</a>. And of course a large part of the Right will love you for it! It is therefore very difficult to steer a <a href="">consistent and ethical path</a> and to argue that when challenging abusive counter-terrorism, we should equally be looking at the state’s promotion of religious fundamentalists and the destruction of secular spaces as part of the ‘soft ‘counter-terrorism policy.</p> <p>DK: What is quite challenging is that many groups and organisations that may have little truck with the concept of individual human rights in doctrinal terms are nonetheless using the vocabulary and mobilizing tropes of human rights to press their rights to religious freedom. What are the implications?</p> <p>GS: It is one of the strengths of the human rights framework that everybody does use it. But there are risks of serious <a href="">threats</a> to existing human rights standards. For instance, there is an ongoing attempt to make the defamation of religion into a human rights violation, initially through the use of soft law such as Declarations at the Human Rights Council. Although Amnesty International has offices in Geneva and New York, they did not work on this issue until feminists in the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition pointed out what was happening and a <a href="">statement</a> was drafted for the Coalition. Human rights organisations in the Coalition are particularly nervous about taking up this issue, as they are of dealing with religious fundamentalism as a <a href="">serious threat to human rights</a>. So they cannot see that the attempt to legislate the defamation of religion as an offence may open the door to significant threats to human rights today.</p> <p>But there is some room to challenge these developments. The Organisation of Islamic States pushed for a Special Representative on Culture because they wanted to ‘protect’ cultural rights from attack. But a lot of people mobilized and a very good set of candidates were put forward as international experts. <a href="">Farida Shaheed</a> from Pakistan, who was appointed, has a very complex notion of ‘rights in the field of culture’ and is also a feminist activist. One must not underestimate what can be achieved within the parameters of human rights and I think the game is not entirely lost.</p> <p>DK: Are you optimistic about future prospects?</p> <p>GS: I'm not overly optimistic but I think there is a struggle to be had. It is time to challenge the hegemony of the formal human rights movement and its uncritical embrace of identity politics. The fault lines between those struggling on the ground and around the globe to uphold universal values in conditions of war and deprivation and the parochial narcissism of sections of the Anglo/American left is becoming more evident.</p> <p>But I take heart from the rejection of the politics of the far right by large sections of the electorate in this country. So many working class voters – whether white or of Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin decisively <a href="">rejected</a> the politics of fascism, whether represented by the BNP or the <a href="">front organisations</a> of Islamist parties. In that sense, they are way ahead of the so called progressives and the leaders of the human rights movement.</p> <p>But domestically, there are many struggles ahead. The <a href="">faith agenda</a> so heavily pushed by Blair will be retained by the new government. Public spending cuts are going to increase the power of religious lobbies as providers of essential services. At home and abroad, it is becoming clearer that the ‘War on Terror’ is not about a clash of civilisations, but about the political uses of religion as an instrument of terror on the one hand, or of discipline and control on the other. People in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and so many other places understand this well. It is now time for others in the West to also wake up to these facts.</p><p>The first part of this conversation in which Deniz Kandiyoti and Gita Sahgal explore the challenges posed by the international conjuncture following the "war on terror" for gender justice and women's rights, 'Soft law and hard choices', can be read <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deniz-kandiyoti/soft-law-and-hard-choices-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">here</a></p><p>Gita Sahgal is a former Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. She left Amnesty International on April 9th 2010 due to 'irreconcilable differences'. You can read her statement on leaving Amnesty International <a href="">here</a> . 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Part one</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="" target="_self"><img class="image-left mceItem" src="" alt="Religion Gender Politics logo and link" height="36" width="116" /></a>DK: We find ourselves at a particularly critical juncture with respect to upholding the principles of universal human rights. On the one hand, grievous human rights abuses have been committed in the name of the “war on terror”.</p> <p><a href="" target="_self"><img class="image-left mceItem" src="" alt="Religion Gender Politics logo and link" height="36" width="116" /></a>DK: We find ourselves at a particularly critical juncture with respect to upholding the principles of universal human rights. On the one hand, grievous human rights abuses have been committed in the name of the “war on terror”. On the other, the global resurgence of politicised religion is calling into question the very notion of the universality of human rights. How can a women’s rights activist, such as yourself, establish a morally defensible and consistent position?</p> <p>GS: Struggles for women’s rights, and more broadly sexual rights, have taken place at the grassroots in many different countries and in international arenas, over several decades. These have had a profound impact on the human rights framework. We actually have answers to your questions that are both legal and ethical. Yet what we are seeing now, is that a prominent western dominated human rights organisation, such as Amnesty International, doesn’t appear to understand what a commitment to universality entails. That is why it is being challenged by its own partners in South Asia and in many parts of the world. The formal human rights movement has been left behind by the activism and the transformative legal work that is taking place outside it.</p><p>DK: What sorts of examples do you have in mind?</p> <p>GS: Let us take the example of 'forced marriage'. For many years, it did not exist as a human rights violation recognised by human rights organisations, although the right to choice in marriage is stipulated in the Convention on the Elimination Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (<a href="">CEDAW</a>). But human rights organisations were not taking up this issue and saw different forms of marriage merely as manifestations of “culture”. Even the Fourth UN World Conference on Women held in <a href="">Beijing</a> in 1995 barely mentioned the term ‘forced marriage’ except in relation to the trafficking of women.</p> <p>Now, it has been recognised in various parts of international law, including as a violation of international criminal law. Last year, the Special Court for Sierra Leone <a href="">convicted</a> three former leaders of the RUF of ‘forced marriage’ which the prosecution argued was a crime against humanity. It’s been about a decade and a half since the term was coined to deal with abuses in the family to becoming recognised as a mass crime. This is a relatively short space of time for an issue to gain such recognition and become embedded in international law. I remember that we first started to use the term ‘forced marriage’ when I was still at <a href="">Southall Black Sisters</a> in the 1990s and tried to get funding to research the issue - but it was seen as a non-issue and it was a hard fight to put it onto the British government’s agenda. In fact, one of the questions we kept being asked was how widespread the problem was. That is exactly the kind of thing you don’t know until you research it. But you don’t get research funding until you show that it is a major problem. It is important to note here that this major shift was not led by the formal human rights movement but by feminist activists and legal practitioners such as Sara Hossain, one of the women who drafted the <a href="">global petition</a> to Amnesty International on the Integrity of Human Rights.</p> <p>Sara used classical remedies under law that are usually applied to people detained by the state. She filed <em>habeas corpus</em> petitions in the Bangladesh courts to get young women detained by their families produced in court, so that they could speak for themselves and say whether they were under some form of duress. She also worked on a key <a href="">briefing</a> when she was at <a href="">Interights</a> in London which showed that forced marriage was against the law of the land in South Asian countries, and that this was consistent with international law. This exercise helped to remove the ‘cultural excuse’ for non-interference that the British government was using as a reason to justify its refusal to act to protect and rescue its citizens who had been kidnapped by their families and taken to South Asia.</p><p>The change from seeing ‘arranged marriage’ as a cultural practice, to using ‘forced marriage’ in cases where coercion and duress are involved, helped to develop the idea that this is a serious violation of rights. These advances were reflected in academic research and activism on crimes in the name of honour. ‘Honour: Crimes, Paradigms and Violence against Women’, by Sara Hossain and Lynn Welchman, 2005, and in my <a href="">film</a> Love Snatched: Forced Marriage and Multi-culturalism which was part of the same project, as well as <a href="">Tying the Knot?</a> made to inform young people that choice in marriage is a fundamental human right.</p><p>DK: What, in your view, are the obstacles in the way of recognition of certain forms of abuse against women?</p><p>GS: Many atrocious practices are simply not recognized as violations until they are named and acknowledged by the legal human rights framework. This process of recognition often lags years behind what is actually being done in local courts and through local movements, for instance on domestic violence.</p> <p>But there are also double standards. A great deal of international effort has gone into developing strong standards - what is called ‘hard law’- particularly on the absolute prohibition on torture. In refugee law the term ‘non-refoulement’ refers to the fact that people should not get returned to countries where they are at risk of torture. These two standards work together. It seems to me that the way that these standards have been interpreted has traditionally excluded harms that are more likely to be inflicted upon women. Now governments often attack or dilute the standards. The release by the <a href="">Obama</a> administration of the torture memos was a major victory for human rights which was, of course, celebrated by all who were fighting to uphold or restore the absolute prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Attempts to introduce a more thorough gender analysis are far more contested whether they come from a leading expert on civil and political rights such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, <a href="">Manfred Nowak</a>, or are part of the gender work at Amnesty International, such as a briefing on the impact of the <a href="">complete ban on abortion</a> in Nicaragua. But there are also international law experts who feel they “own” the standards and spend a great deal of time trying to exclude abuses against women from them. This keeps standards frozen in time rather than creatively exploring ways of advancing them in the light of gender analysis, which is consistent with existing definitions. I'm sure that the two UN experts knew that when they argued that women should be protected from violence by using the <a href="">'hard law'</a> of the torture standard.</p> <p>Even when the standards do change, the work of international organisations does not. For instance, in the 1990s there were many who fled violence at the hands of fundamentalists in <a href="">Algeria</a>. They found that because they were not suffering from state persecution they could not get refugee status. Yet the fundamentalists who attacked them and who were under threat of arrest and torture by the state, also fled Algeria and were able to obtain <a href="">refugee status</a>. Now those fleeing armed violence by non-state groups, or even from other perpetrators, should be able to get refugee status because the standards have <a href="">changed</a>. Yet those facing gender-related persecution often still <a href="">don’t get protection</a>. And what is worse is that there is insufficient attention in the human rights community to addressing this imbalance.</p><p>DK: In the case of women’s rights, do you think that this is because there are alternative discourses around these issues? Doctrinally grounded conceptions of what is right and wrong can compete powerfully with the sorts of criteria adopted by human rights instruments. For instance, there may be various religious and doctrinal justifications concerning the levels of mobility women are allowed, or whether virginity or heterosexuality are mandatory.</p> <p>GS: Yes, except that the human rights frameworks are not meant to be susceptible to such justifications, especially if they violate fundamental rights. After all human rights are supposed to uphold universality and indivisibility of rights.</p> <p>Yet these justifications persist. When water boarding was introduced as an interrogation technique, the human rights organisations quite rightly wanted to <a href="">define it as torture</a>, and have spent a lot of energy trying to do so. Yet there are pervasive and widespread practices which are quite illegitimate, such as virginity testing and anal testing (to ‘test’ for homosexuality) that are used by the police and medical practitioners in many countries, and it has been far harder to get these defined as either torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading practices. I think that new practices applied to the sort of men who the writer <a href="">Meredith Tax</a> has called ‘the normative subject of human rights is once again a male prisoner, this time in Guantanamo' can readily be analysed to see if they meet the definitions in the <a href="">Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment</a>. But applying a feminist analysis to the definitions was more likely to be met with resistance. Rather, the legal tendency would be to wait and see what an expert committee said rather than trying to lead the legal analysis on the issue.</p><p>Underlying this reluctance was a kind of cultural relativism and a fear of the type of feminist analysis that argues that state control (and not just family and community control) of sexuality is systematic and purposeful and often policed with both violence and discrimination.</p><p>DK: Do you think these tendencies have contributed to keeping gender issues marginal to human rights frameworks?</p> <p>GS: One of the reasons for this marginality is that many of the standards on women’s rights have developed through ‘soft law’ – that is declarations from UN conferences such as those at <a href="">Vienna</a> (1993), <a href="">Cairo</a> (1994) and <a href="">Beijing</a> (1995) or from declarations such as the <a href="">Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women</a>. Now ‘soft law’ is not a legally binding treaty and therefore for some lawyers is not persuasive. Human Rights Watch has been reluctant to cite this ‘soft law’, whereas Amnesty International made very creative use of it during the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign <a href="../../../../Local%20Settings/Temp/Making%20Rights%20a%20Reality:%20the%20duty%20of%20States%20to%20address%20violence%20against%20women">Making Rights a Reality: the duty of States to address violence against women</a>. It was also essential to developing work on sexual and reproductive rights by feminist human rights organisations such as the Center for Reproductive Rights as well as Amnesty International.</p> <p>Historically, many specific harms against women, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), were elaborated through UN discussions on what were called ‘harmful traditional practices’. Now some post-colonial discourse theorist may suggest that this is a plot by Westerners to make Africans feel bad ( or, these days, Muslims, since the trope of the Global South is the Muslim woman as victim). However, I think you would find that it was primarily women - and often men - who come from contexts where these practices are most prevalent who pushed for these <a href="">discussions</a> in the UN and also fought for the legally binding anti-discrimination treaty CEDAW. They were directly affected by these issues and they needed international attention to put pressure on their own governments.</p> <p>There is a convergence between some of the demands of the ‘soft law’ and ‘hard law’. As women’s rights have developed there have been strong demands to criminalise rape more effectively and to criminalise practices such as domestic violence, that are seen as culturally acceptable right across the world. In ‘hard law’, torture was sometimes seen as the only human rights violation which states were under a duty to criminalise. The ‘soft law’ advances have crept up on some international experts. Yet, feminist lawyers such as Hilary Charlesworth feel that there has been great <a href="">resistance</a> to the absorption of issues of gender and sex into international law and that their work continues to be marginalized. And ‘classical’ academic human rights lawyers or practitioners can get quite cross when you point out that there is now a duty to criminalise gender based violence, and that an analysis has developed which fits the description of torture. Under the definition in the <a href="">Convention</a>, torture can only be committed by state agents or with the consent or acquiescence of the state. This, in fact, fits exactly the definition of ‘due diligence’ which Amnesty International used so powerfully in the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. According to this principle, the state is responsible, even if it is not the perpetrator, because it has failed to prevent, prosecute or punish the immediate perpetrator.</p> <p>It’s interesting that Amnesty International started some of its work on gender issues, whether on <a href="">hate crimes against LGBT people</a> and the state failure to act against them, or state failure on <a href="">domestic violence</a>, under the Torture Campaign which preceded the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign. But as soon as there was a use of the ‘soft law’ standards, such as the various conferences and Declarations that we have talked about, the analysis that linked domestic violence to torture fell into disuse. Amnesty International generally ceased to use standards relating to torture. One of the women who first developed this analysis and was very disappointed that Amnesty International did not take this perspective on board in the campaign against violence against women was Rhonda Copelon who made the case in 'Intimate Terror: Understanding Domestic Violence as Torture<strong>' </strong>in <a href="">Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives</a> ).</p> <p>FGM has now been defined as a form of torture, because of marked state failure to act to end the practice as well as the nature of the act itself. But this is quite controversial and it is sometimes argued strongly against by international law experts on torture for whom FGM is a cultural practice with no detrimental intent. The drive to control the sexuality of women is not seen as a form of systematic discrimination. To prove that an act constitutes torture under definition of the Convention, it must also be intentional and carried out for a purpose such as extracting information or exercising discrimination. That is why it is so important to look carefully at whether all elements of the definition are present. But not to shy away from the conclusion if all the tests are met.</p><p>One of the big challenges in human rights is that the battle between what are called ‘black letter ‘ lawyers and feminist lawyers and advocates was partly resolved by a truce that allowed the ‘women’s standards’ to develop on this parallel track of soft law. This left what are called 'jus cogens' norms relatively untouched by gender considerations which Hilary Charlesworth and Christine Chinkin explore in <a href="">their work</a>. It is when feminists and others seek to understand these norms in new ways that they are fiercely defended as if they are under attack from those who would wish to destroy them.</p><p>DK: Do you think that there is a paradox at the moment whereby gender issues are both made prominent and visible, through global practices such as gender mainstreaming, and yet sidelined and marginalized because nobody wants to deal with them in any politically meaningful way?</p> <p>GS: It is one of the paradoxes of our time, that what is known as ‘gender mainstreaming’ is a conventional practice often used to water down specific work on women. In spite of many very vigorous struggles and great advances, gender analysis has been thoroughly depoliticised as well as remaining marginal in practice.</p> <p>Of course when I say depoliticised, there were actually profoundly political choices made. The attack on the torture standard – that is to say the attempt by the US administration (among others) to try and water down the absolute prohibition on torture during the war on terror , led to the decision to protect the standard vigorously. One of the ways of protecting it was to decide to exclude <strong><em>any</em></strong> re-interpretation as it was thought that this would make the definition 'inflationary’. I’ve participated in several discussions where as soon as any aspect of gender based violence is mentioned, someone invariably uses the term ‘inflationary’ to preclude any consideration of gender-related abuses.</p><p>Torture was seen as something that primarily applies to men and not to the more routine ways in which women experience harm. Thus, the 'war on terror' has had a very profound effect on women’s rights. Yet there is really very little analysis of what has happened. So much commentary has concentrated simply on what Bush or Blair said about women’s rights at one time or another to further their own instrumental agenda, that we have simply ignored the areas where advances in women’s rights have been undermined - either because of a fundamentalist backlash to enforce what they consider their cultural and religious rights, or by human rights professionals who, as they see it, are trying to protect the purity of the human rights framework.</p><p>Gita Sahgal is a former Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. She left Amnesty International on April 9th 2010 due to 'irreconcilable differences'. You can read her statement on leaving Amnesty International <a href="">here</a> . The views expressed in this interview are entirely her own.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/david-hayes/amnesty-human-rights-political-wrongs">Amnesty: human rights, political wrongs </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/religious-lobby-and-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The religious lobby and women’s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openSecurity Civil society Democracy and government Equality International politics Women, culture and law 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Pathways of Women's Empowerment women's human rights women and power patriarchy gender justice gender feminism bodily autonomy Gita Sahgal Deniz Kandiyoti Tue, 18 Oct 2011 07:36:55 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti and Gita Sahgal 53742 at Promise and peril: women and the ‘Arab spring’ <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women were visible and effective in the popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Will this moment of opening yield empowering outcomes? Deniz Kandiyoti argues that the greatest peril lies in truncated or aborted transitions where women’s rights are offered up as an item of populist compromise</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong> </strong>"<em>Who says women shouldn’t go to protests because they will be beaten?" </em><a href="">Asmaa Mahfouz</a>, 26, member of April 6 Youth movement</p> <p>Women’s energetic and inspiring <a href="">participation</a> in the popular demonstrations leading to the overthrow of their authoritarian regimes in <a href="">Tunisia</a> and <a href="">Egypt</a> is an established fact. The euphoria inspired by the prospect of a new civic sense in Egypt, the “spirit of Tahrir”, where Muslims and Christians prayed together, where men and women, the young and the old, stood shoulder to shoulder, where the young volunteered to clean the streets and women felt <a href="">secure</a> in a mixed-sex environment spoke of a profound yearning for an inclusive democracy, a restoration of agency and human dignity. A <a href="../../../../../../../../statement-from-coalition-of-womens-ngos-in-egypt">statement</a> by women’s NGOs in Egypt articulated clear demands for new representation and a place at the table in the process of democratization and regime change - the desired but, so far, uncertain outcome of the revolts. </p> <p>However, moments of triumph can also be moments of peril- as generations of women activists, whatever their cause, have already discovered. Trivializing their concerns seems to have got to an early start, judging by some dismissive reactions to their total <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/margaret-owen/egypt-from-equality-of-purpose-to-equality-on-ground?utm_source=feedblitz&amp;utm_medium=FeedBlit">absence</a> from bodies negotiating the transition in Egypt. Will this moment of opening yield empowering outcomes?</p> <p><strong>The longer view: perverse associations? <br /></strong></p> <p> The comparative literature on women and democratization, mainly based on Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe, presents a <a href="">complex picture</a> where women’s gains and losses appear to be both mixed and entirely context-specific<strong>.</strong> The task of taking stock of hurdles and opportunities must now begin in earnest for the Middle East and North Africa.</p> <p>The women’s rights agenda comes laden with formidable burdens in the broader Muslim world. These take the form of a series of perverse associations. The best rehearsed are the effects of Western colonial domination- now extending to post-9/11 policies of the “war on terror” - and their catastrophic <a href="../../../../../../../../deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">impact</a> on local feminist platforms. The detractors of gender equality are able to draw upon an inexhaustible repertoire of charges of inauthenticity, betrayal and moral turpitude. This repertoire is constantly replenished as gender issues get caught up in the rhetoric of armed interventions ( in Iraq and Afghanistan), hypocrisy on the matter of autocratic “friendly” regimes and double standards on the Palestinian question. Women’s rights remain hostages of geopolitics.</p> <p>The legacies of the past also count. The expansion of women’s citizenship rights occurred at a moment of post-colonial transition under the tutelage of dirigiste, single party regimes (Nasser in Egypt and Bourgiba in Tunisia) rather than by popular mandate. These governments abolished independent women’s associations, where they existed, setting up women’s organizations that were generally docile auxiliaries of the state, as was also the case with all other civil society bodies. They also eliminated their oppositions ruthlessly. Nonetheless, women’s juridical rights were expanded and their public presence gained greater legitimacy under the banner of national development. The “state feminisms” that underwrote the developmentalist agenda of these regimes were swept away by the neo-liberal transformations of the 1980s, giving way to the rise of both Islamist oppositional movements and a surge of state-sponsored religiosity (most notably in Egypt), alongside new forms of grass-roots activism. Women who, as elsewhere, had previously occupied a broad spectrum of political positions found themselves operating in an increasingly restricted discursive field where Islamist actors were the only organized opposition. The phase of state-led development, nonetheless, left behind cadres of educated, professional women who continued to be active in women’s movements alongside a diverse and savvy younger generation of women, both religious and secular.</p> <p>The final set of perverse associations was established when women’s movements encountered the so-called “democracy promotion” agenda of the international donor community. Compliance with gender conditionalities - such as creating dedicated national machineries to monitor gender equality or increasing women’s political representation - represented a relatively soft option for authoritarian regimes of the single-party or dynastic varieties in comparison to moving towards more genuine democratic participation and a social justice agenda. Progress on women’s rights issues could thus be deployed as the democratic facade of non-democratic regimes.</p> <p>This detracts nothing from the activism of, say, Kuwaiti women pushing for suffrage or Moroccan women advocating for a reform of their family laws. But it does point to the often problematic nature of the bargains on offer to women’s rights advocates: either playing along with governments that are mired, to different extents, in corruption and autocracy, or trying to find virtue in Islamist oppositions that offer relatively little room for manoeuvre on the gender justice front. It is precisely the possibility of transcending this impasse in a new polity where democracy means substantive inclusion and equality that inspires such great hope for women. What are the prospects for the realization of these aspirations?</p> <p><strong>A new politics? <br /></strong></p> <p>In a prescient article presaging the spectacle of youth mobilization in Tunis and Egypt, <a href="../../../../../../../../article/democratising-the-muslim-world">Asef Bayat</a> spoke of profound sociological changes in the Middle East. A new educated , technologically sophisticated and aspirational urban generation had arrived on the scene, the “middle class poor” joining the deprived popular classes in seeking a governance system to match their aspirations. This generation, identified as post-Islamist, may be one “which both wishes to promote pious sensibilities in society and takes democracy seriously”.</p> <p>Given that Islamist opposition parties, in previously ambiguous relations of alternating repression and <a href="">accommodation</a><strong> </strong>with autocratic regimes and their backers, are emerging as the best organized political forces, the question of the role of Islam in politics - and its vexed relations with gender equality - will inevitably come to the fore. It is important to stress that what is at issue here is not the amenability or otherwise of Islam <em>qua </em>religion to more egalitarian and pluralistic interpretations, but its concrete mode of insertion into specific politico-juridical contexts.</p> <p>Although it is too early to judge, there are some subtle differences between the reactions of women’s groups in Tunisia and Egypt. Whereas in Tunisia there is a <a href="">vocal debate</a> about the role of the Islamist opposition, and some women’s groups are unabashedly indicating their preference for a <a href="">secular state</a>, the Egyptian debate appears more muted and less inclined to take on these issues head on. There is, admittedly, a great deal at stake for Tunisian women: the (still uncontested) Code of Personal Status promulgated by decree under Bourgiba and coming into effect in 1957 makes a break with <em>shar’ia</em> law in important respects, notably by introducing a ban on polygyny, requiring juridical divorce and marriage by mutual consent. There may be some parallels here with the militancy of the women’s movement in <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deniz-kandiyoti/tangled-web-politics-of-gender-in-turkey">Turkey</a>, intent on safeguarding and expanding existing rights, invoking, if and when necessary, the state’s treaty obligations vis a vis the UN (CEDAW) and the European Union.</p> <p>The Egyptian trajectory was marked by vacillations on the place of Islam. Struggles for legitimacy in the post-Nasser period led to increasing Islamisation under Anwar Sadat , as part of his drive to distance his regime from Nasser’s Arab socialism and the Soviet Union. The Constitution was changed in 1980 to stipulate that the <em>shar’ia</em> was<strong> <em>the</em></strong><em> </em>source of Egyptian laws rather than <strong><em>a</em></strong><em> </em>source of legislation, as was previously the case. The state’s opportunistic attempts to play up the legislative role of the <em>shari’a</em> coupled with the promotion of <a href="">conservative religious discourse</a> that dominated the public sphere under Hosni Mubarak, contributed to stunting freedom of expression and breeding intolerance and bigotry.</p> <p>The process of transition is fluid and fraught with peril. Aside from the very real risks of stalled democratization, what will the emerging fault lines be that might put the cooperation among pro-democracy activists under strain ? Will the rights of women emerge as a divisive issue that is best bracketed, put on ice and left out of the debate? To take the constitutional drafting process as just one example, will the constitution declare that “Islam is the religion of the state” and that “Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation” as is currently the case? Or will the pre-1980 version of the constitution be re-visited? These are thorny issues that will reflect the power play among contending political actors. The more “neo-Mubarakist” the successor regime remains (in terms of safeguarding established vested interests and complying with existing international treaties) the more likely it is that issues pertaining to gender and women’s rights will be ceded to the most conservative political players.</p> <p>In short, whatever the sociological realities on the ground there is no automatic path leading from a mobilized citizenry to an inclusive democracy, from aspirations to governance. The nature of the political compacts in successor regimes will be absolutely crucial to determining the degrees of latitude for a politics of gender equality,(or,for that matter, for a pluralist politics of inclusion). The greatest peril lies in truncated and aborted transitions where women’s rights are offered up as an item of populist compromise.</p><p><em>To read more articles in openDemocracy 50.50's dialogue on </em>Religion Gender and Politics, <em>click</em> <a href="">here</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em> </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/issa-khalaf/great-change-is-sweeping-arab-political-culture">A great change is sweeping Arab political culture</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/lesley-abdela/egypt-transition-to-democracy-needs-women">Egypt: the transition to democracy needs women</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/margaret-owen/egypt-from-equality-of-purpose-to-equality-on-ground">Egypt: from equality of purpose to equality on the ground</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/janine-moussa/rightful-place-of-gender-equality-within-islam">The rightful place of gender equality within Islam </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/statement-from-coalition-of-womens-ngos-in-egypt">Statement from the Coalition of Women&#039;s NGO&#039;s in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leni-wild-pilar-domingo/womens-citizenshipimplications-of-southern-sudan-referendum">Women&#039;s citizenship:implications of the Southern Sudan referendum</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/audio/5050/afaf_el_sayyed">Inside the Muslim Brotherhood: &quot;living the other side of existence&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/marika-theros-nir-rosen/afghanistan-losing-afghan-people">Afghanistan: losing the Afghan people</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/audio/jane-gabriel/feminism-and-fatwas-it-all-began-on-march-8th">It all began on March 8th: feminism and fatwas...... </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/audio/jane-gabriel/we-moroccan-women-we-are-not-impatient-we-know-that-it-will-come">We Moroccan women: we are not impatient, we know that it will come</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/audio/enough-ending-private-justice-and-violence-against-women">Enough: ending private justice and violence against women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/audio/jane-gabriel/by-1">Femicide and Patriarchy in Lebanon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egypt-two-faces-of-liberation">Egypt: the two faces of liberation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Civil society Democracy and government Equality International politics international women's day Women, culture and law 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick Pathways of Women's Empowerment 50.50 newsletter fundamentalisms gender gender justice patriarchy women's human rights women's movements Deniz Kandiyoti Tue, 08 Mar 2011 22:40:21 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 58411 at A tangled web: the politics of gender in Turkey <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Although the women’s movement in Turkey has scored major victories in the realm of legal reforms, there is a widening gap between rights in law and realities on the ground. How secure are these gains? </div> </div> </div> <p class="FullOut">On 18 July 2010, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a consultation meeting with women’s non-governmental organisations in the context of the ‘Democratic Initiative and National Unity and Brotherhood Project’, also dubbed ‘<a href=";id=1494">the Kurdish Initiative</a>’<strong> </strong>in the popular press. This initiative aims to resolve the conflict that has plagued the South-east of the country, pitting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against the Turkish military. The PM addressed the women in attendance as mothers “whose voices would drown out the sounds of bullets” – thus enlisting them to the cause of peace. Among the 80-odd attendees were members of NGOs with established feminist credentials such as <a href="">KA-DER</a> and the <a href="">Foundation for Women’s Solidarity</a>, among others. This goes some way towards explaining why some participants took the PM to task during the question period for addressing them exclusively as mothers, overlooking the fact that they are fully fledged economic, political and juridical personae. It is at this point that the PM apparently interjected: ‘I do not believe in the equality of men and women. I believe in equal opportunities. Men and women are different and complementary’.</p> <p>This intervention signalled that regardless of Turkey’s signatory status to CEDAW, the PM had chosen to nod in the direction of <em>fitrat</em> , a tenet of Islam that attributes distinct and divinely ordained natures to men and women. The <a href="">reactions</a> of the participants were widely reported in the local press as ‘utter shock’, ‘having the effect of a cold shower’, ‘total astonishment’ and ‘deep disappointment’. Much more significant than the PMs comments - a politician who, after all, had never made a secret of his conservative leanings - was the sense of utter consternation that greeted them. The reasons behind this despondent mood can only be gauged in the context of previous engagements of the women’s movement with the Turkish state.<strong> </strong></p> <p class="FullOut"><strong>An uphill struggle: The battle over legal reforms</strong></p> <p>Turkey is often singled out as the only Muslim majority country with a secular Constitution and a Civil Code (adopted in 1926) that breaks with the <em>shar’ia</em>. The Code prohibits polygamy, outlaws unilateral divorce and recognizes gender equality in inheritance rights and the custody of children. However, a new generation of post-1980s feminists were no longer content to be the grateful daughters of the republic. They started targeting previously taboo issues - such as domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape - that had been silently swept under the carpet, bringing these concerns out onto the public domain. An early victory was scored in 1990 when Article 438 of the Turkish Penal Code, that reduced the sentence passed on rapists if the victim were a sex-worker by one-third, was repealed by the Grand National Assembly. This was followed by a major campaign initiated by over 120 women’s NGOs from across the country to reform the Civil Code and to eliminate any remaining discriminatory clauses. The <a href="">new Turkish Civil Code</a>, passed in November 2001, abolished the supremacy of men in the conjugal union and established the full equality of men and women with respect to rights over the family abode, marital property, divorce, child custody, inheritance and rights to work and travel.</p> <p> A vigorous three-year <a href="">campaign</a> between 2002-2004 led by a coalition of women’s and sexual liberties groups - The Platform for the Reform of the Turkish Penal Code - resulted in the adoption of the draft law on September 26, 2004. Amendments were put in place to prevent sentence reduction for ‘killings in the name of customary law’ ( or so-called honour killings); marital rape was criminalised; the article foreseeing a reduction or suspension of the sentence of rapists and abductors marrying their victims was abolished; sexual offences such as harassment at the workplace were criminalised and the discrimination between virgins and non-virgins, married and unmarried women in sexual crimes was abolished.</p> <p>It must be noted that Turkey was accepted as a candidate for EU membership in December 1999 and was therefore required to bring its legal, political and economic system into alignment with EU standards. Quite clearly, the women’s movement seized the moment as a window of opportunity to press for further reforms. However, this process proved to be an uphill struggle. Initially, a group of male MPs across political parties attempted to block the draft of the civic code in April 2000, claiming that equality in the family would lead to chaos and anarchy. After the electoral victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in November 2002 - self identified as a Muslim conservative party - the stakes became even higher. The members of the group that had initiated demands for reform - the <a href="">Women’s Working Group on the Penal Code</a> (WWRG) were stonewalled in their attempts to seek a dialogue with the new government and finally had to resort to a public media and lobbying campaign, expanding their initiative to form a broader national Platform.</p> <p>Although they were pilloried in the Islamic press (“shameless”, “dissolute” and “rabid” were among the epithets used), they had touched a nerve. When the chief consultant to the Ministry of Justice opined that in a country where all men want to marry virgins, it stood to reason that the only sensible way out for a raped woman was to marry her aggressor (although, when asked, he could not countenance such a prospect for his own daughter) there was a mood of public revulsion. As the debate raged on, it proved fortuitous that the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Yakin Erturk, happened to be a Turkish woman. She assisted in bringing together representatives of the Platform, the parliament and the EU for a ‘dialogue’ on the penal code on December 10, 2003 in a meeting of strategic significance since it finally led to a grudging recognition of the Platform and gave it international visibility.</p> <p>However, the AKP had initiatives of its own. Only a month before the EU was due to issue an appraisal of Turkey’s progress towards EU standards, it proposed to re-criminalize adultery. The moment was not well chosen. The proposal created a furore nationally and astonishment in the EU. When the AKP decided to stall the reform package in its entirety, the EU threatened to <a href="">suspend</a> accession talks. However, business groups - including Muslim capitalists - had no wish to burn their bridges with Europe. The PM finally defused a stand-off which had the makings of a full-fledged crisis (markets had started taking a plunge) by backing down. Ironically, Turkey had achieved full compliance with CEDAW under governments that had little time for feminist demands.</p> <p><strong>On shaky ground</strong>?</p> <p>The conjunctural nature of these legal victories, resting as they did on a particular alignment of external and internal factors (EU conditionalities and the joint efforts liberal media and women’s groups), attests to their fragility. A reshuffling of the decks in the shape of a crushing AKP electoral victory in 2007, returning the party to power with a 47% majority; the evaporating prospects of EU accession, and, with it, any leverage it might have had; a generally docile media after the <a href="">debacle</a> of Dogan Media Group that owned substantial sections of the liberal press and a strong <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/rscott-appleby/of-fundamentalisms-secular-and-otherwise">geopolitical demand</a> for a Muslim Turkey with an exportable model of “moderate Islam” - ensures that no such “flukes” are likely to recur.</p> <p>In fact, the gap between Turkey’s progressive legislation and the realities on the ground is turning into a yawning chasm. The Global Gender Gap Report 2009, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), ranked Turkey 129th out of a total of 134 countries in terms of equality between men and women. Only Saudi Arabia, Benin, Pakistan, Chad and Yemen ranked lower. Furthermore, Turkey has been <a href="">steadily slipping</a> in the rankings: it held 105th place in 2006, was 121st in 2007 and 123rd in 2008. The latest 2010 report ranks Turkey 126th, still <a href="">near the bottom</a> of the league table.</p> <p><a href=";highlight=2,yesim,arat&amp;fromsearch=yes&amp;query=Yesim+Arat">Yesim Arat</a> speculates as to whether the country might be in the grip of a democratic paradox; was it the case that the exercise of religious freedoms, encouraged by democratically elected governments, could be accompanied by potential or real threats to gender equality? Yet, as she readily acknowledges, what is at stake is not religious freedom <em>per se</em>. Since the advent of multi-party democracy in 1950 religious actors have been firmly embedded in Turkish politics. A variety of centre right parties were deeply enmeshed in ties of patronage with influential leaders of religious communities <em>(tarikat)</em> whose following they counted on for political support. After the 1980s, the adoption of neo-liberal policies substituted charity for already threadbare social safety nets, making religious communities <a href=";hl=en&amp;as_sdt=2001&amp;as_sdtp=on">key actors</a> at the grass-roots level in the provision of poverty relief and new forms of social solidarity. Religious communities have become entrenched as civil society players commanding both resources and popular appeal despite growing unease about their increasing (and non-transparent) political influence. Meanwhile, the aversion provoked by the 12 September 1980 military coup ensured that varied constituencies, liberal and Islamist, would align themselves behind a “democratization” agenda led by the AKP- even if that meant inviting women to find virtue in their <em>fitrat.</em></p> <p><strong>Feminist dilemmas: Issues that unite, issues that divide</strong></p> <p class="FullOut">Meanwhile, preoccupied by its own multi-cultural woes, latent (and overt) Islamophobia, and residual colonial guilt (had the French not forcibly unveiled women in Algeria?) public opinion in the West had its eyes glued on a single issue: the prohibition on wearing headscarves in public universities and buildings - a ban that has finally been <a href="">lifted</a>. This was presented as a gross human rights violation - of the fundamental right to religious freedom - on the part of an uncompromising, authoritarian secular elite.</p> <p class="FullOut">The responses within Turkey itself were more nuanced. The issue predictably <a href="">divided</a> secular feminists between those who upheld the right to veil as an inalienable individual right to choose one’s attire (and beliefs), and those who feared that this might be the thin edge of the wedge as far as women’s equality - so far enshrined in the legal system - was concerned. There was, nonetheless, a growing realization that many women who chose to veil were no more inclined to condone polygamy or to meekly submit to discrimination than their secular sisters.</p> <p>In a society that relentlessly upholds male privilege women of all persuasions share a great deal in common. When in the 1990s there was a proposal that the Municipality of Istanbul might run women-only buses, secular female constituencies were, again, divided. While some feared this would take them back to the bad old days of gender segregation, others welcomed the proposal not out of a sense of Islamic propriety but of out sheer weariness at having to do daily battle in hostile hetero-social spaces. They simply wanted to travel in peace.</p> <p>Women’s tenuous position as interlopers in public spaces was brought home forcefully in the summer of 2008 when a 28-year old mother of two who was fishing on the Galata bridge in Istanbul was sued for “indecency” under Article 225 of the Turkish Penal Code by a fellow fisherman. The court upheld the charge and handed out a six month prison sentence, reduced to five months and finally commuted since she had no previous convictions. This provoked predictable outrage among feminists who staged a protest on the bridge under the banner “<em>Our Bodies are Ours</em>” and issued an accompanying press statement. The statement was prefaced by rhetorical questions; “Can women go fishing? Can they dress as they like? Do they have freedom of movement?”. The answer was clearly “no” since you could be condemned to 6 months in jail for offending public morality, while men who sexually harass women on Taksim Square during New Year’s Eve celebrations could get away with a minor fine. They called for the repeal of Article 225, an article that clearly had the potential of being used to intimidate women in the name of public morality.</p> <p>Given the non-negligible numbers of secular women in the press, in academia and in feminist circles who had made common cause with their veiled sisters in upholding their rights to freedom of attire, one might have expected that the compliment would be returned on this occasion. In the event, there was a muted response. Apart from the routine charges of “shamelessness” emanating from certain sections of the press (castigating the fisherwoman for being on the bridge in the first place), few veiled women - except for a minority who had the courage to be consistent on the issue of rights - were willing to stick their necks out. Admittedly, many might have felt deeply uncomfortable with the behaviour of a woman who had chosen to mix with unrelated men in a public space that is commonly their own preserve. There is, however, a world of difference between personally refraining from such behaviour and condoning that the full force of a punitive state (in the form of Article 225) should be visited upon women who stray. Many women who choose to veil are fully alert to these crucial distinctions. Some rightly argue that the choice to veil or otherwise can only be meaningfully exercised in contexts where there is no compulsion to do so. Others, on the other hand, might acquiesce to punitive measures to “keep women in their place”.</p> <p>The results of republican reforms and of the feminist struggles that followed was to give the women of Turkey a great deal to lose. They managed, against heavy odds, to curtail and erode male entitlements and privileges on the statute books if not in society at large. They anxiously wonder now whether they can hold on to these gains.</p> <p class="FullOut">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democracy-institutions_government/girls_rights_4386.jsp">Do women and girls have human rights?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/religious-lobby-and-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The religious lobby and women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti-gita-sahgal/soft-law-and-hard-choices-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">&#039;Soft law&#039; and hard choices: a conversation with Gita Sahgal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/csw-2009/womens-rights-in-economic-crisis">Women&#039;s rights in an economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rscott-appleby/of-fundamentalisms-secular-and-otherwise">Of fundamentalisms, secular and otherwise</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainal-abidin-bagir/on-equal-terms-please">On equal terms, please</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/conflict-and-custom-in-new-world-order-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">Conflict and Custom in the New World Order : a conversation with Gita Sahgal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/tea-party-and-new-right-wing-christian-feminism">The Tea Party and the new right-wing Christian feminism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jenny-morgan-jessica-horn/spirit-hope-money-and-dose-of-patriarchy">Spirit, hope, money and a dose of patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/dangerous-liaisons">Dangerous liaisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/cassandra-balchin-juan-marco-vaggione/rose-and-duck-labelling-religious-fundamentalisms">A rose and a duck: labelling religious fundamentalisms</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deepa-shankaran/right-to-have-rights-resisting-fundamentalist-orders">The right to have rights: resisting fundamentalist orders</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Equality International politics 50.50 Gender Politics Religion women's human rights gender justice gender fundamentalisms Deniz Kandiyoti Wed, 05 Jan 2011 16:41:58 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 57467 at Not the Church, Not the State? Gender equality in the crossfire <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The challenge to platforms for gender equality comes not just from actors with fundamentalist agendas, but from a conjuncture where women’s rights have been opportunistically instrumentalized to serve geopolitical goals, and neo-liberal policies have severed social justice from gender equality concerns </div> </div> </div> <p>In his <a href="">address</a> delivered to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on February 1st, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI deplored the effects of equal rights legislation in the UK on the grounds that it imposes “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.</p> <p>This intervention gave rise to two diametrically opposed but entirely predictable responses. On the one hand, there was <a href="">outrage</a> at this meddling with the laws of the land which, in multi-party, parliamentary democracies, are subject to the deliberations of the elected and accountable representatives of the people. On the other hand, the Equality Act itself was <a href="">denounced</a> by some as an instance of heavy-handed social engineering that subjugates the right to religious expression beneath state imposed rights. To complicate matters further, LBGT Catholics <a href="">countered</a> the Pope’s stance with an internal critique, presenting it as a reactionary move to claw back the reform of the second Vatican Council and to seek retrenchment behind a uniformly united church “identified by systemic abuse of power, subterfuge and dishonesty”. This last contribution transcends the liberty vs equality debate and engages with the more <a href=";th&amp;emc=th">vexing question</a> of whether the Vatican- and its current politics- adequately represents the moral choices and preferences of diverse Catholic constituencies.</p> <p>This episode goes to the heart of a complex set of issues concerning the entanglements of religion and politics and their implications for pluralism and gender equality. A comparative, <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/religion-gender-politics/UNRISD-HBF">cross-national project</a> carried out by UNRISD initiated a much needed exploration of these issues by posing some critical questions. How to evaluate the public role of religion – in relation to the state, to political society and to civil society- and its effects on gender equality? How to square the circle of accommodating both freedom <em>of </em>religion and freedom <em>from </em>religion? What are the relations between religion, nation, community and identity? What burdens do these place on women and men? To what extent do neo-liberal policies that promote the retreat of the state and encourage alternative forms of social provision enhance the power and resources of faith-based groups? With what effects? This cluster of questions do not necessarily centre around the growth of <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deepa-shankaran/right-to-have-rights-resisting-fundamentalist-orders">religious fundamentalisms </a> - however <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/cassandra-balchin-juan-marco-vaggione/rose-and-duck-challenge-of-labelling-religious-fundamenta">defined</a>, but highlight the urgency of coming to grips with the everyday interactions of religion and politics and their consequences in different contexts.</p> <p>An obvious but often overlooked point concerns the influence of what might be loosely defined as clerical interests. These interests came into sharp focus during the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 when the representatives of the Holy See entered into an alliance with Islamic conservatives to resist the adoption of the <a href="">ICPD Programme of Action</a>. Above and beyond the details of their substantive objections, this trans-national alliance aimed to establish the principle that matters relating to sexuality, to the control of female bodies and to reproductive choice do not belong to the realm of civic deliberation, public choice or human rights, but to the domain of morality defined by doctrinal imperatives ( and conceptions of sin and virtue).</p> <p>Such alliances also manifest themselves in different national contexts. For example, the passage of the <a href="../../../../../../../../deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">Shiite Personal Status Law (SPSL) in Afghanistan</a> (initially signed by President Karzai in March 2009 and passed with revisions in July 2009) represents one such instance. Ostensibly giving recognition to the persecuted Shia minorities by according them separate legislation, the SPSL introduced significant restrictions on the rights of Shia women. This initiative was spearheaded by a group of Afghan Shia clerics with ties to Iran, particularly the Shia scholar Sheikh Asif Mohseni who was making a bid for the leadership of the Shia population ( although he was not a member of the ethnic Hazara community, who account for the majority of the Shias of Afghanistan, and many of whom resented his initiative). However, a cross-factional alliance of religious interests was able to assert authority over lawmaking, sidelining due legislative process and attempting to <a href=",,AREU,,AFG,4562d8cf2,4ac325ec2,0.html">intimidate women’s and human rights activists</a> who protested. Most significantly, the acceptance of the law by a hard-line Sunni leader Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, who had initially opposed it, signalled an arrangement whereby Sunni and Shia actors would recognize each other’s exclusive jurisdiction over their respective co-religionists. This move was designed to delegitimize any other source of authority, notwithstanding the fact that Afghanistan became a party to CEDAW in 2003 and that the 2004 Constitution stipulates that the government must abide by the international treaties and conventions to which it is a signatory. The passage of this law was, at least initially, met with total passivity on the part of members of the international community who were wary of standing in the way of expanding minority rights and making a gesture towards pluralism, even if that implied a raw deal for Shia women.</p> <p>It may be argued that doctrinally based interpretations are not necessarily set in stone and may be subject to modifications through time. Indeed, although detailed provisions exist in Islamic texts, for instance, concerning the rights of slaves and their progeny not even the most literalist interpreters suggest that slavery could be regarded as an acceptable practice in the 21st century. The stubborn resistance to modifying practices that result in discrimination based on sex and the readiness with which these are presented as articles of faith cannot be taken at face value and requires further exploration.</p> <p>Anne Phillips proposes a stark <a href="">explanation</a> when she speaks of “a wider lack of consensus about sex discrimination being wrong.” The suspension of sex discrimination legislation in relation to religions points to the fact that large numbers of people find discrimination on the grounds of sex entirely appropriate, giving laws and conventions for gender equality a very fragile hold. This is undoubtedly true. It is also an invitation for candid reflection on the social and economic processes that have expedited the marginalization of platforms for gender equality.</p> <p>Gita Sen noted quite correctly that movements for gender justice and social justice have increasingly been <a href="">drifting apart</a>. Many social movements with conservative agendas have, concurrently, taken up platforms for social justice. For instance, the movement to cancel the “odious” debts of Southern countries often worked in alliance with the Catholic Church whose current hierarchy is extremely conservative in matters pertaining to <a href="">gender and sexuality</a>. This is by no means unique to the Catholic hierarchy and many instances may be found of other faith-based organizations generally <a href="">opposing</a> the use of condoms among high HIV/AIDS risk populations. The hard-line positions adopted by Northern negotiators on economic issues— such as the right to development, issues of debt, trade and financing—undoubtedly provided fertile soil for a growing rapprochement between the Vatican and some Southern actors. The Church began to use its growing clout to argue against global economic inequality whilst opposing women’s rights and gender equality in every possible international forum.</p> <p>It would be fair to suggest that global dispositions for gender equality, promoted and monitored by institutions of global governance and international donors (and mediated through very imperfect state action), became increasingly aligned and identified with a neo-liberal regime favouring North over South and the rich over the poor. Populist and religious movements claiming to speak on behalf of the poor, the marginalized and the powerless in different regional contexts increased their appeal regardless of the often authoritarian or dogmatic overtones of their political messages.</p> <p>It is to geopolitics, however, that we must turn to fully grasp the extent to which the normative ideal of gender equality was transformed into a debased currency after the events of 9/11 in the United States and Operation Enduring Freedom that led to the overthrow of the Taliban.The invocation of oppressed Muslim women as part of the rationale for military action provoked a predictable reaction to the naked <a href="../../../../../../../../deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">instrumentalism</a> behind the feminist conversion of the Bush administration. Not since Lord Cromer’s exhortations to unveil women in Egypt whilst he was combating suffragettes at home had this level of hypocrisy been reached. It was under successive Bush administrations that the neo-conservative agenda came into its own, threatening to roll back the rights of women and sexual minorities in the United States whilst curtailing aid programmes for women of the South that fell foul of Moral Majority principles. Meanwhile, the identification of feminism with imperialism worked to the detriment of those women of Afghanistan who, both in the diaspora and at home, toiled tirelessly to expand their rights as citizens. Not surprisingly, when NATO powers started making overtures to the Taliban as part of their exit strategy, women activists, who had been promised <a href="../../../../../../../../5050/deniz-kandiyoti/negotiating-with-taliban-view-from-below">a new dawn</a> after the Bonn Agreement in 2001, were enjoined to find virtue in their “own culture”. The gender equality platform had become tainted with the political opportunism of the powerful.</p> <p>Set against this global context, the “lack of consensus” on gender equality appears not as a lingering remnant of less enlightened times, but as an issue actively kept alive by a conjuncture that favours politicized religion, retrenchment behind antagonistic identities, and an opportunistic approach to human rights. </p> <p>In a debate framing some of the central concerns of the UNRISD project, Jose Casanova gave voice to a <a href="">new conventional wisdom</a> by suggesting that “Strategically, internal critiques aiming to reform certain aspects of tradition would seem to have better chances to succeed than external frontal attacks against any religious tradition.” This invitation to vacate secular spaces that sanction the principle of gender equality <em>without </em>seeking endorsement from religion is met with justifiable scepticism by Anne Phillips who remains mindful of the coercive potential of public religions and the considerable power that religions can wield against any dissident voices. The now increasingly hegemonic view - endorsed by numerous mainstream actors - that any ameliorative or reformist alternative can only be legitimately articulated within religious traditions themselves raises the troubling prospect of communitarianism masquerading as pluralism, empowering clerical establishments, religious entrepreneurs and power brokers to claim legitimate control over those who are least able to protect their rights.</p> <p>In the end, the slogan “Not the Church, not the State” turns out to be somewhat misleading. The women’s movement in the UK was, in fact, appealing to the state to change abortion laws in favour of wider choice. There is, however, no reason to believe that states are necessarily more responsive to demands for greater gender equality especially in the numerous cases when state laws are derived from the most conservative interpretations of religion. The issue of demarcation and the various ways in which states accommodate religion is clearly crucial. But this is the subject of another article.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jenny-morgan-jessica-horn/spirit-hope-money-and-dose-of-patriarchy">Spirit, hope, money and a dose of patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/tea-party-and-new-right-wing-christian-feminism">The Tea Party and the new right-wing Christian feminism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/religious-lobby-and-women%E2%80%99s-rights">The religious lobby and women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deepa-shankaran/right-to-have-rights-resisting-fundamentalist-orders">The right to have rights: resisting fundamentalist orders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti-gita-sahgal/soft-law-and-hard-choices-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">&#039;Soft law&#039; and hard choices: a conversation with Gita Sahgal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/conflict-and-custom-in-new-world-order-conversation-with-gita-sahgal">Conflict and Custom in the New World Order : a conversation with Gita Sahgal</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jane-gabriel/prospects-for-gender-equality-and-womens-human-rights">Prospects for gender equality and women&#039;s human rights </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/dangerous-liaisons">Dangerous liaisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/negotiating-with-taliban-view-from-below">Negotiating with the Taliban: the view from below</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Culture Equality International politics Pathways of Women's Empowerment, 2007 - 2010 50.50 Gender Politics Religion women's human rights secularism gender justice gender feminism Deniz Kandiyoti Fri, 23 Jul 2010 14:15:18 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 55280 at Deniz Kandiyoti <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Deniz Kandiyoti </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Deniz </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kandiyoti </div> </div> </div> <p>Deniz Kandiyoti is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is the author of <em>Concubines, Sisters and Citizens: Identities and Social Transformation</em> (1997) the editor of <em>Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey </em>(2002), <em>Gendering the Middle East </em>(1996), <em>Women, Islam and the State</em> (1991) Deniz is the editor of the journal <em>Central Asian Survey.</em></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Deniz Kandiyoti is Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London </div> </div> </div> Deniz Kandiyoti Fri, 26 Mar 2010 13:13:23 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 51509 at Negotiating with the Taliban: the view from below <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> While the only official woman delegate in the Afghan mission to the London Conference pleaded that women’s rights must not be sacrificed on the altar of security concerns, women’s rights activists who had also travelled to London brought their own message </div> </div> </div> <p>At the conclusion of a gathering of nearly 70 countries and representatives of the international donor community in London on February 28, negotiations with the Taliban are firmly on the agenda, discussions revolving around the best way of achieving a <a href="">peace settlement. </a>Both President Karzai, in need of shoring up his shaky legitimacy, and the international powers, seeking an exit option from their costly military entanglement in Afghanistan, appear united on the principle if not the modalities&nbsp; of these <a href="">negotiations</a>. A two-pronged strategy of simultaneous military surge and meditation and talks for peace and a more inclusive political settlement are now on the table.</p> <p>What will the implications of these new directions be for ordinary men and women of Afghanistan? How will the interests of civil society - national and international - be represented in this process? What of human rights and, more specifically, <a href="../../../../../../../../deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">women’s rights</a> to which the international community had made vocal commitments in the aftermath of the Bonn conference in 2001? These were some of the questions raised on January 26 at a conference titled “<em>An Alternative View: Afghan Perspectives on Development and Security</em>” which aimed “to ensure that the needs of the Afghan people remain forefront on the international community’s agenda”.</p> <p>Lakhdar Brahimi, former UN Special Representative to UNAMA (2001-2004) offered a candid critique of past errors; the lack of representativeness of the Bonn process in 2001, the failure to expand ISAF forces outside Kabul at a point in time when it could have made a real difference and UNAMA choosing to politely ignore the reality of Operation Enduring Freedom, a counter terrorism operation at cross-purposes with the objectives of state-building. The unresolved issue of transitional justice - the failure to bring the past perpetrators of war crimes to justice - hung heavily in the air. Had justice been traded for peace in the post-Bonn settlement, finally achieving neither justice nor peace? Could the same errors be repeated again?</p> <p>The increasing militarization of aid and its perverse consequences for effective, needs-based aid delivery dominated the concerns of civil society representatives. Why was it that the most insecure provinces, least able to absorb aid, received a disproportionate share of the resources while the <a href="">poorest regions</a> were being ignored?<strong> </strong>Did Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) imperil the work of civilian providers of aid through their connection with the military who are held accountable for the loss of civilian lives? Was aid increasingly being used as a tool of counter-insurgency? If so, does the assumption that aid contributes to peace building and counterinsurgency hold any water? The injection of aid can be shown, some argued, to have destabilizing effects when it provides incentives for noxious elites who have a stake in instability, undermining the goals of both counterinsurgency and development. Kai Eide, UN Special Representative to <a href="">UNAMA</a> warned that the current troop surge and larger military budgetary allocations would only accentuate what he called “the QIP impulse” - the tendency to pilfer money through so-called “quick impact projects” meant to win “hearts and minds”- and divert resources from bottom-up projects, conceived through proper consultation with the grass roots and geared to meeting people’s perceived needs. Civil society and the NGO community could play a critical role in meeting these needs, but could they be sheltered from pressures to pursue military objectives?</p> <p>Dr. Hazrat- Omar Zakhilwal, Minister of Finance and Chief Economic Advisor to the President, complained that only 20% of total aid (10% of which was earmarked for specific projects) was channelled through the government and that aid had not assisted the state-building process. However, alongside the mismanagement and ineffectiveness of international aid, grave concerns were also expressed over widespread corruption, nepotism and lack of accountability at all levels, an expensive and ineffective justice system biased against the most powerless, lack of security, lack of progress in governance reforms and limited success in socio-economic development. This resulted in high levels of distrust between the population and the government, feeding the existing tendency to look for local solutions to the provision of public goods such as justice and security.</p> <p>The possible social implications of the “reconciliation” process were uppermost in the minds of representatives of human rights and women’s rights organizations. Would compliance with international standard setting human rights instruments be upheld? What would the consequences for women’s rights be? Arezo Qanih, the only official woman delegate to the London Conference (in a 63-strong Afghan mission) made a plea that women’s rights should not to be sacrificed at the altar of security concerns. She invited the government and international community to honour their commitments to the goals of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), to develop a strategy for the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) and to respect international agreements. Kabul MP, Shinkai Karokhail, chairperson of Afghan women parliamentarians, pointed out that the goal of accountable and sustainable development could not be attained without investing in women’s needs and addressing their concerns.</p> <p>In written statements, press conferences, presentations to Parliament and to the London Conference the group of women’s rights activists who travelled to London articulated their common platform. They explicitly asked that “the status of women is not bargained away in any short-term effort to achieve stability”. They also demanded that women constitute at least 25% of any peace process, including upcoming peace jirgas, in line with existing constitutional guarantees for women’s representation. International donors and the government were held to account over the implementation of the <a href="">National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan </a>&nbsp;(NAPWA), the gender component of the <a href="">Afghan National Development Strategy</a> (ANDS), governance reforms for gender equality and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325- endeavours initially backed by international donors, now at risk of being sidelined and ignored.</p> <p>What are the prospects of these demands getting a hearing?&nbsp; BBC’s Today programme featured an interview on 27 January with one of the women’s rights activists from Afghanistan who expressed some of her concerns about the reconciliation process. She was asked whether she thought that abuses against women in Afghanistan had anything to do with the Taliban or whether they merely expressed aspects of Afghan culture. This apparently innocuous query has a depressing ring for many women’s rights activists who have seen their concerns systematically hijacked and their voices silenced for decades. When the <em>mujahidin</em> were in alliance with Western powers in the fight against the Soviet Union and in the subsequent period of civil war, their human rights abuses, including horrendous instances of gender-based violence, were largely passed over in silence. Yet these were the conditions that eventually paved the way for the Taliban victory and take-over. When Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, <a href="">the plight of women in Afghanistan</a> was invoked as a humanitarian crisis justifying military intervention. Not only were the Taliban demonized, but a donor-funded infrastructure of mechanisms and institutions was put in place to secure gender justice and equality. It was clear from the start that the political buy-in for these measures was shallow&nbsp; - <a href="../../../../../../../../deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">the passage of the Shi’i Personal Status Code</a> through Parliament amply illustrates this point - and that the constituencies rallying around these policies had a very weak hand to play and were at constant risk of intimidation and retribution.</p><p>Will the women of Afghanistan now have to brace themselves to hear Western powers inviting them to find virtue in their culture in the shape of new policies more acceptable to negotiating partners in the reconciliation process? Or will international donors merely treat their earlier commitments as misguided policies that are best forgotten? As a critic of the ways in which some of these policies were implemented, I nonetheless believe that the international community should accept responsibility for their consequences. The women of Afghanistan, of whatever political persuasion, are entitled to their own voices. This they continue to be denied.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/deniz-kandiyoti/gender-in-afghanistan-pragmatic-activism">Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Pathways of Women's Empowerment Deniz Kandiyoti Fri, 29 Jan 2010 18:26:53 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 50037 at Gender in Afghanistan: pragmatic activism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>War and mismanagement have produced a breakdown of trust, decency and reciprocity in Afghan society. Gender activism needs to be understood in that context, and not be tempted by crude cultural determinism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p> </p><p> Those of us who work on gender issues routinely lament their marginality to discussions of the global economy, conflict and politics. In Afghanistan, by contrast, I found myself in a context where there was an abundance- even an excess- of analysis and commentary, descending, at times, into &quot;gender chatter&quot; <a href="#2">[2]</a>. I recall a vague sense of unease over the tone and content of some of these contributions. It took me some time to realize that there were good reasons behind my sense of intellectual and moral puzzlement. The debates on gender- and their multiple undercurrents- were emanating from very different discursive universes, each following their own internal logic and apparently evolving on parallel tracks. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Deniz Kandiyoti is Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. <br /> <br /> She is the author of <em>Concubines, Sisters and Citizens: Identities and Social Transformation</em> (1997 in Turkish ); the editor of <em>Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey</em> (2002); <em>Gendering the Middle East</em> (1996); <em>Women, Islam and the State</em> (1991) and numerous articles on gender, Islam, development and state policies. <br /> <br /> She is the founding Chair of the <a href="">Center of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus </a>(2001-2004) at SOAS and editor of the journal Central Asian Survey. </span>There are at least three distinct strands of discourse on gender and women&#39;s rights in Afghanistan. The first manifests itself in debates among Northern feminists and public intellectuals -many of whom have little or no prior exposure to Afghanistan- speaking to each other &quot;through&quot; Afghan women. These debates are primarily anchored in the moral anxieties generated by the events of September 11, 2001 and the ensuing &quot;war on terror&quot;. </p> <p> The second strand emanates from UN agencies which, alongside various bilateral and multilateral donors, are applying their global prescriptions for &quot;best practice&quot; to promote gender equality to Afghanistan. </p> <p> Finally, there are sharp internal debates in Afghanistan involving parliamentarians, clerics, bureaucrats, the media and local NGOs concerning the acceptability of a rights agenda that mandates the expansion of women&#39;s constitutional, political and civic rights. These internal tensions reflect the power struggles between contending political factions that use women&#39;s rights as a litmus test of Islamic legitimacy. </p> <p> I feel there is a degree of political urgency in unpacking these disparate strands both because their coexistence may produce various unintended consequences and because they may offer broader insights into the causes of a growing malaise surrounding gender-targeted interventions, in general, and their deployment in post-conflict contexts, in particular. </p> <p> <strong>&quot;Feminism-as-imperialism&quot; or conversations &quot;through&quot; Afghan women</strong> </p> <p> Shortly after the September 11, 2001 events, Operation Enduring Freedom, led by US and a coalition of international forces resulted in the overthrow of the Taliban. By that stage, the outrages committed by the Taliban in the name of Islam and, specifically, the public punishments they meted out to women for infractions of their strict rules had become a <em>cause celebre</em>. However, far from inspiring an unqualified response of international feminist solidarity the US military intervention provoked a spate of critical reactions triggered by the naked instrumentalism behind the invocation of abused Afghan women. <a href="">Judith Butler</a>, among others, remarked that &quot;the sudden feminist conversion on the part of the Bush administration, which retroactively transformed the liberation of women into a rationale for its military action against Afghanistan, is a sign of the extent to which feminism, as a trope is deployed in the service of restoring the presumption of first world impermeability&quot; <a href=";pg=PA15&amp;lpg=PA15&amp;dq=The+Logic+of+Masculinist+Protection:+Reflections+on+the+Current+Security+State&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=6FOqDnuSl1&amp;sig=RP0MH9sK86Zd7vAqSmuNhGKIHrc&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=9IDwSv3tHpCNjAeXurS-CA&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=3&amp;ved=0CBwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=The%20Logic%20of%20Masculinist%20Protection%3A%20Reflections%20on%20the%20Current%20Security%20State&amp;f=false">Iris Young</a> once noted &quot;...that feminist focus on women under the Taliban constructed these women as exoticized others and paradigmatic victims in need of salvation by Western feminists&quot; The iconic moment of this exoticization undoubtedly came when, after a reading of Eve Ensler&#39;s poem &quot;Under the Burqa&quot;, Oprah Winfrey, invited a burqa-clad young member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) on stage and unveiled her to the rapturous applause of a packed New York audience. Quite predictably, this incident added to the already <a href="">copious literature</a> on the <a href="">&quot;politics of representation&quot; of Muslim women</a> with their well-rehearsed references to Orientalism and the <a href=";linkCode=qs&amp;keywords=0226895262/opendemocra0e-21">patronizing designs of imperialism</a>. </p> <p> Other commentators, such as <a href=";aid=335190">Adams and Orloff</a>, on the other hand, expounded on the theme of the &quot;clash of civilizations&quot;, and argued that &quot;Gender is an explicit structuring principle of contemporary conflicts between Western powers and ... Islamic fundamentalism&quot;. They went on to identify the reasoning behind Iris Young&#39;s arguments as &quot;feminist anti-modernism&quot;, citing the findings of cross-national survey research by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris (and their article in the popular Ms. magazine humorously titled &quot;it&#39;s the women, stupid&quot;) as empirical confirmation of their argument. Contra Huntington who suggested that there were key differences on the value of democracy between the Muslim world and the West, Inglehart and Norris had found that the greatest gap in opinion centred around issues relating to gender and sexuality. Feminists, Adams and Orloff concluded, should not lightly dismiss the fact, that despite its contradictory trajectory, modernity offers the best hope for gender equality. </p> <p> What is noteworthy about these debates is that, with few exceptions, their protagonists were Northern feminists and public intellectuals whose primary concerns centred less on the plight of Afghan women <em>per se</em> than on the transformation of their own state and society in the aftermath of the 9/11 events. Their writings gave voice to deep ethical misgivings about the consequences of the war on terror. The objectification of Afghan women as &quot;exoticized victims&quot; and their deployment as an instrument of war propaganda was but one item in a noxious mix that included the suspension of liberties through the Patriot Act and new forms of legal impunity around the use of torture and extra-legal detention. A common reaction to the &quot;othering&quot; of women in Afghanistan was, paradoxically, a fulsome recognition of their radical alterity. As Butler put it eloquently &quot;It is not possible to impose a language of politics developed within First World contexts on women who are facing the threat of imperialist economic exploitation and cultural obliteration&quot;. </p> <p> Leaving aside the question of why &quot;cultural obliteration&quot; (a favourite trope of Islamist politics) was being put on the agenda, this begs the question of who precisely we are talking about when we speak of Afghan women. Were these women urban PDPA loyalists? Members of royalist factions residing in the diaspora? Supporters of one or the other <em>mujahidin</em> faction? Dispossessed women in refugee camps? Educated professionals? What different imaginaries of Afghanistan did these women hold? Just as the politics of &quot;othering&quot; had transformed the women of Afghanistan into faceless victims, so had the claim that they were representatives of a seamlessly unified culture. The notion that the women of Afghanistan could be as diverse and as deeply politicized as their male counterparts was becoming increasingly difficult to accommodate. </p> <p> How can we account for this state of affairs? <a href="">Lila Abu-Lughod</a> insightfully remarked that the perpetuation of a <a href="http://www.afghana.prg/html/article.php?sid+2473&amp;thold=0">&quot;cultural&quot; framing of gender relations</a> successfully hid from view the social and political effects of successive interventions establishing the ascendancy of Islamist parties backed by a variety of foreign patrons. <a href="">Nancy Lindisfarne</a> noted, likewise, that it was during the <em>mujahidin</em> period that gendered inequality and violence became &quot;naturalized&quot; as intrinsic to ‘Afghan culture&#39; and ‘Afghan Islam&#39;. The strategic silence surrounding abuses of human rights, including extreme forms of gender-based violence, in the context of the US-backed Cold War efforts to resist the Soviet invasion of 1979 have undoubtedly reinforced the tendency to consign gender relations to an unchanging (and under theorized) realm of culture. This tendency has, if anything, gained further momentum in the context of donor-led reconstruction and state-building efforts, with numerous policy documents routinely making references to Afghan &quot;traditions&quot; and &quot;culture&quot;. Nonetheless, after the Bonn Agreement in 2001, Afghanistan became the target of a sustained- if ill-coordinated- campaign to institutionalize mechanisms and benchmarks for gender equality. </p> <p> <strong>Donor-driven gender activism: engineering gender equality</strong> </p> <p> I shall henceforth use the term <em>donor-driven gender activism </em>(as distinct from feminism, however defined) to refer to the effects of the global <em>dispositif </em>regulating gender equality. In order to better understand the various initiatives intended to promote gender equality in Afghanistan, it is important to situate these in the context of mechanisms that global governance institutions (UN agencies in particular) deploy in the service of a gender equality agenda. </p> <p> State-building efforts in Afghanistan were driven by a succession of international meetings leading to benchmark documents and time-tables. These were in turn: <a href="/:%20">Securing Afghanistan&#39;s Future (2004)</a>, The Afghanistan Compact (2006) and I-ANDS (2006) leading to ANDS. The gender policies of the Government of Afghanistan were formulated within the framework of these international agreements. </p> <p> First, signing up to various protocols and conventions is a key signifier of state sovereignty and membership in the international community represented by UN member states. Afghanistan became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (<a href="">CEDAW</a>), without reservations, on March 5<sup>th</sup>, 2003. This was a particularly intriguing move in view of the fact that most states deriving their personal status codes from the <em>shari&#39;a</em> have entered multiple reservations before becoming signatories of CEDAW. For reasons I shall discuss later, this convention seems fated to remain a dead letter in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, numerous <a href="">documents</a> continue to refer to CEDAW and to Article 7 of the 2004 Constitution which requires that the state of Afghanistan &quot;abide by the UN Charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights&quot;. </p> <p> Second, it is worth noting the effects of a succession of United Nations World conferences on Women (from 1975 in Mexico City to Beijing in 1995, followed by Beijing+10) each followed by Platforms for Action that set targets for member states. Various transnational feminist alliances form around UN platforms to lobby governments and international organizations on key policy issues. For instance, the <a href="">Feminist Majority Foundation Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan</a> is credited with having played a significant role in 1998 in persuading the UN and the US to reject formal recognition of the Taliban. At the national level, the Afghan delegation that participated in the Beijing+10 UN Women&#39;s Conference in New York in 2005 used the event to push for the adoption of a <a href="">National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA)</a>. The 10-year National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), prepared with technical assistance from UNIFEM, was designated in the <a href="">Afghanistan National Development Strategy</a> (ANDS) as the principal policy tool to support gender mainstreaming. </p> <p> Thirdly, the creation of national machineries for the advancement of women, to follow up on global commitments, was also implemented in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Women&#39;s Affairs (MOWA) was established in 2002 and charged with mainstreaming gender into the policies and programmes of the line ministries to ensure that gender equality concerns are addressed. This Ministry has a tenuous existence constantly at risk of being abolished, without a core budget and heavily reliant on international technical assistance. Gender mainstreaming was identified in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) as the main strategy for achieving gender equality. The &quot;toolbox&quot; for gender mainstreaming, tried and tested in many other countries, was also deployed in Afghanistan. This consisted of the establishment of gender units, gender focal points and working groups in mainline ministries and creation of inter-ministerial task forces, to co-ordinate various donor-funded programmes. </p> <p> A <a href=";task=doc_download&amp;gid=613&amp;Itemid=26.">study</a> by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) assessing the effects of these efforts in six selected ministries revealed a great deal of confusion over the meaning of gender (as distinct from women), a lack of clarity about the mandate of gender units (or even total lack of awareness about their existence), a general tendency to assign low priority to gender issues and a preoccupation with the degree of fit between gender mainstreaming and Islamic prescriptions (variously interpreted by different respondents). Interestingly, despite 30 years of war that eroded the central administration, the ministries in question were not quite the <em>tabula rasa</em> donors imagined them to be. Their most proximate experiences of women&#39;s advancement dated from the PDPA period when women&#39;s <em>shuras</em> took up women&#39;s grievances over work and pay conditions and staged celebrations of International Women&#39;s Day on the 8<sup>th</sup> of March- a practice that evidently lives on. The welfarist paternalism of Soviet-inspired policies appears to have had more resonance with the rank and file than the abstract language of gender training. It appears, therefore, that the apparatus of &quot;gender mainstreaming&quot; was grafted upon an institutional culture that did not so much resist its introduction as sideline it. Parallel structures are set up to satisfy donor requirements whilst carrying on with business as usual. </p> <p> The principal driving force behind the mainstreaming agenda were foreign technical assistants allocated to ministries by various bilateral donor agencies to train locals in the vocabulary of gender mainstreaming and gender training and making them fit to produce the accountability mechanisms required by the donors. This replicates a pattern already noted by many commentators concerning the creation of a better paid &quot;second civil service&quot; consisting of international technical advisors who are able to interface with the donors, produce the necessary documents and meet their deadlines. A process of foreign-assisted policy formulation linked into a sub-contracting structure of international and local NGOs for the implementation of specific programmes meant that a process of selection operated, excluding the non-English-speaking and non-&quot;gender-trained&quot;. Although this is by no means unique to Afghanistan, a particularly narrow base of female human capital and expertise was redirected to staffing projects and programmes designed by international agencies and their foreign consultants. </p> <p> The general malaise about the ineffectiveness and misdirection of aid had made it possible for a populist candidate from Kabul to win a seat in parliament on an anti-foreign NGO ticket. When it came to gender issues this discontent had the additional bonus of carrying the charge of being Western and therefore alien. The global iniquities of US interventions in Iraq, its support of Israel&#39;s wars and the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo enhanced the symbolic resources that Islamist constituencies could mobilize against the government, further marginalizing the tenuous hold that gender activists had on the policy formulation process. </p> <p> But what of women civil society activists who had worked tirelessly, both at home and in the diaspora, and who have no wish to see their hard won gains being annulled yet again? Surely dismissing them as Western-looking and donor-driven would be a gross misrepresentation since their presence and activities are of long standing and there are a variety of tendencies among them-including women seeking a more egalitarian voice within an Islamic framework. Indeed, the relatively limited mobilization of women during periods of state-led modernization in Afghanistan received a new impetus through the experiences of displacement and exile. The number of Afghan women&#39;s NGOs operating in the diaspora increased, establishing women as civil society actors. Even under the Taliban and despite serious pressures, there is evidence that women&#39;s solidarity networks and organizations, some of which operated clandestinely, acted as a medium of both political resistance and empowerment. As late as 2002, I witnessed that <a href=";catid=245&amp;id=2445&amp;activeid=2443">UN Habitat Women&#39;s Community Forums</a> - one of the donor-funded initiatives that had managed to survive under the Taliban and offered women literacy and income generation skills, still managed to retain some of their highly skilled, educated members working alongside the poorer sections of the community. That was soon to change. Within a year, the educated and the English speaking had deserted their posts for more lucrative jobs in the aid industry. A female &quot;brain drain&quot; was operating to staff the donor-funded sector. </p> <p> However, these considerations are of minor importance if we consider that the term &quot;mainstreaming&quot; itself begs the question in Afghanistan. While all efforts were concentrating on ministerial structures and reforms in Kabul, the writ of the government was running less and less in the rest of the country with large swathes of the east and south in the grip of a Taliban insurgency. This led to the cessation or slowing down of reconstruction efforts and NGO activities. The reach of the central state was severely limited and what little of it there was appeared to be plagued by rampant corruption. Informal, local level customary institutions would continue, as ever, to play a central role. Indeed, one school of thought argued that if Afghanistan had not descended into total chaos during the war years this was due to the resilience of sub-national forms of informal governance, relying on customary organizations such as <em>shuras </em>and <em>jirgas</em>. </p> <p> Although women are almost totally excluded for participating in decision-making in these bodies and despite the fact that these informal institutions uphold forms of customary practice that violate both international human rights law and the letter of the <em>shari&#39;a</em>, they play a central role in local governance. In the face of these realities, the 2007 <a href=",3408,en.html"><em>Human Development</em> report</a> proposed a hybrid model of justice for Afghanistan combining alternative dispute resolution mechanisms based on non-state informal institutions with compliance with international human rights standards. </p> <p> Herein lies one of the major contradictions of the gender equality platform in Afghanistan. There are inherent tensions between the goals of state-building according to international norms, on the one hand, and pragmatic accommodations to realities on the ground, on the other. The vast majority of women in Afghanistan have little contact with state institutions, markets or civil society organizations and remain the wards of their communities and households. They are totally disenfranchised to the extent that they have little recourse to formal institutions and the justice system (which, is in any case, heavily biased against female claimants) and are disadvantaged and marginalized in customary law. Ultimately, the blueprint for &quot;gender mainstreaming&quot; is destined to remain hollow if it continues to inhabit a technocratic space that is almost entirely divorced from political processes in Afghanistan. </p> <p> <strong>Internal struggles and uneasy compromises </strong> </p> <p> On the eve of the <a href="">Bonn Agreement</a> that laid the groundwork for the new Afghan state in December 2001, the <em>mujahidin</em> factions of the Northern Alliance, that had received the bulk of US assistance in the operations leading to the eventual overthrow of the Taliban, emerged as the strongest players. These players, based on constituencies among northern and central ethnic groups, namely Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras were determined to resist the reinstatement of Pashtun dominance, not only in the form of Taliban rule, but also in the shape of a centralised governance apparatus based on a strong presidential system. This was an issue that was bitterly fought over in the process leading to the <a href="">Constitution</a> adopted in 2004. Debates over the constitutional role of Islam- and the extent to which equal rights for men and women could be enshrined in legislation- became deeply entangled in the compromises reached between <em>mujahidin </em>factions and the new technocrats of an aid-dependent government- a dependence that brought with it, among other things, a request for compliance with international legal standard setting instruments. </p> <p> This led to a Constitution with several potentially contradictory clauses, stipulating on the one hand that Afghanistan ‘abide by the UN Charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights&quot; (Article 7) and, on the other hand, that ‘no law can be contrary to the beliefs and the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam (Article 3)&#39; This last article, along with its affiliate which declares Afghanistan an Islamic state, is not subject to amendment and the <em>ulama</em> retain substantial powers of arbitration through their representation in the Supreme Court. The <em>mujahidin</em> parties, pressing their nationalistic credentials as the liberators of the country from both Soviet rule and from the Taliban, were able to <a href="">accuse</a> their detractors (including some women MPs taking them to task over their human rights record) with nothing short of treason. The constituencies pushing for an expansion of women&#39;s rights had a weak hand to play and little traction with the emerging power blocks. </p> <p> <a href="">Dorronsoro</a> reminds us that, in comparison to the pre-war period, the ideological field was rendered homogenous by the <em>jihad </em>years when Islamic ideologies achieved total hegemony and the differences between tendencies became harder to discern on some issues such as the status of women. The fact that foreign aid to the resistance was channelled through the Pakistani government, which singled out seven Sunni Islamist parties as ‘official&#39; recipients of assistance had a decisive impact on the shape of the political field. <a href="">Anthony Hyman</a> noted that these parties had little influence inside Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion. These are the legacies that were to prove decisive for the politics of gender in post-Bonn Afghanistan. </p> <p> <a href="">Guistozzi</a> offers a plausible account of the political alignments on the eve of the Bonn Agreement in 2001. When the Coalition that emerged from Operation Enduring Freedom started to look for likely collaborators for their project of state-building they found members of the tribal aristocracy, that were initially split between the supporters of Karzai and Zahir Shah loyalists, and a cadre of technocrats that was needed to interface with international donors. These technocrats were found from among expatriates trained in the West, many of them Afghan-Americans. What was left of the educated elite in the country itself was fragmented, since the former intelligentsia, outside the cities, had a background in communist parties. This made for a divided and fragile ‘modernist&#39; bloc, that did not have a common agenda, and whose only chance of reaching to the country was by striking alliances with local warlords or militia leaders who had established zones of influence during the war years. </p> <p> The cooptation of warlords into the state administration and security forces had important implications. These forces were deeply concerned about competition from other social groups, claiming a guaranteed role in running the Afghan state, a claim that served as a rallying point of the Islamic parties. Not coincidentally, the Coalition itself continued to distribute arms and money to the same strongmen and militia armies to assist them in the ongoing battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This conflict over power and control saw a series of successive realignments that only led to deepening levels of corruption and entanglements with the criminalized narcotics economy reaching into the heart of the central state. The US pursuit of a &quot;security&quot; agenda to the detriment of nation-building meant that the high expectations raised for the country&#39;s development were soon dashed as ordinary citizens were faced with increasing insecurity and rampant corruption. This disillusionment did not create but undoubtedly helped to fuel a revitalized Taliban insurgency that now makes it quite likely that the &quot;peace process&quot; will be broadened to include moderate elements of the Taliban willing to renounce violence. </p> <p> It does not require a great deal of imagination to surmise that one of the inevitable items of compromise will concern women&#39;s rights and the regulation of their public presence. The deliberations around the passage of the Shiite Personal Status Law <a href=";task=doc_download&amp;gid=709&amp;Itemid=26.">(SPSL)</a> signed into force by President Karzai in March 2009 give us a glimpse of the types of political deal-making that are likely to affect women&#39;s rights. Ostensibly giving recognition to the persecuted Shii minorities by according them separate legislation, the restrictions the SPSL introduced on the rights of Shia women led to it being dubbed &quot;the rape law&quot; in the <a href="">Western media</a>. As indicative as the <em>contents</em> of the law was the <em>process </em>through which cross-factional clerical interests were able to assert their authority over lawmaking, sidelining due legislative process and attempting to intimidate women&#39;s and human rights activists who protested. When the initial passivity of the international community, increasingly wary of being perceived to be interfering in cultural questions, finally gave way to overt criticism, the Afghan government produced a revised law that was pushed through to publication in the course of the presidential elections of August 2009, although it hardly satisfied the critics of the original draft. </p> <p> Constitutional gains notwithstanding, and despite an impressive female presence in the legislature- a quota of 25% in the <em>Wolesi Jirga</em>- women have an extremely tenuous hold on the public sphere that is constantly contested and exposes them to persistent <a href="">danger and intimidation</a>. From the outset, the narrow constituency that put its weight behind reforms leading to the expansion of women&#39;s civic and political rights did so with the backing of UN agencies and financial support from international donors. Many donors, however, and most particularly the international financial institutions (IFIs) are more than ready to cede on matters of gender equality in the name of &quot;cultural sensitivity&quot;. The <a href="">World Bank</a>, for instance, gave its backing to gender mainstreaming most guardedly stating clearly this should be done only &quot;along the least confrontational lines&quot;. The common platform that both the government and the IFIs could sign up to was the improvement of women&#39;s basic literacy and maternal health in the service of national development and meeting the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals. </p> <p> Ironically, the left/liberal detractors of the &quot;war on terror&quot; could now join World Bank experts in decreeing gender as an area in need of protection against cultural imperialism. This inadvertently encourages an implicit endorsement of a reified model of gender, based on frequently untested assumptions concerning timeless normative frameworks regulating gender relations in Afghanistan. There is little serious engagement with the effects of the political economy of conflict on household formation and on gender relations. Yet, as <a href="">Barnett Rubin</a> reminds us, imagining that tensions between the sexes and generations &quot;over honour, pride, and marriage&quot; did not escalate as a result of years of protracted conflict would be naive. Little thought is given to the possibility that what to Western eyes looks like &quot;tradition&quot; is, in many<a href=""> instances</a>, the manifestation of new and more brutal forms of subjugation of the weak made possible by a commodified criminal economy, total lack of security and the erosion of bonds of trust and solidarity that were tested to the limit by war, social upheaval and poverty. </p> <p> Male &quot;honour&quot;, in Afghanistan as elsewhere, is premised, among other things, on men&#39;s ability to shelter women in the domestic domain by providing for them. The disjuncture between &quot;honour&quot; as a normative discourse and the material realities of Afghan life are evident everywhere - in the destitution of widows reduced to begging and prostitution, in the sale of girls to settle opium debts, in the trafficking of boys and girls for sex and labour, in the gang rape of young girls by local strongmen in full view of their families. Most Afghans would recognize these phenomena not as extensions of their culture but, on the contrary, as a comprehensive breakdown of the informal rules of trust, decency and reciprocity they would like to see restored to the lives of their communities and polity. </p> <p> The politics of gender can never be divorced from politics with a capital P. The lures of looking for technocratic solutions or culturalist explanations in matters of gender equality may be great, but these can only be indulged in at the peril of ignoring the profoundly political stakes around different visions of Afghan society. </p> <hr /> <p> [1]<a name="1" title="1"></a> This article is based on the <a href="">7<sup>th</sup> Anthony Hyman Memorial Lecture</a> delivered by Deniz Kandiyoti at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 16 March 2009. </p> <p> [2]<a name="2" title="2"></a>I started to work on Afghanistan in 2002, at the behest of my late friend and colleague, <a href="/article/politics/middle_east_feminism_two_pioneers_remembered">Parvin Paidar</a>, a courageous and vibrant Iranian feminist, who had taken on the challenging task of heading UNIFEM in Kabul. Her premature death in 2005, aged 56, deprived us all of her energy and insights. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Afghanistan Civil society Deniz Kandiyoti Mon, 02 Nov 2009 15:27:49 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 48889 at Andijan: prelude to a massacre <p> In 2002, the bazaar in <a href="" target="_blank">Andijan, Uzbekistan</a>, witnessed an unusual scene. The police approached a trader selling coats and demanded to see his papers. When it became clear that they intended to confiscate his stock, the trader set every single coat alight and watched his capital go up in flames. He chose the path to bankruptcy over the humiliation of extortion. </p> <div class="pull_quote_article"> <div class="pull_quote"> <p> <strong>Also on the Uzbekistan crisis in <strong>openDemocracy: </strong> </strong> </p> <p> <strong>Nathan Hamm, “<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2511">Andijan and after: what future for Uzbekistan?</a>”</strong> </p> <p> <strong>Matt Black, “<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2512">Uzbekistan’s gift to radical Islam</a>”</strong> </p> <p> <strong>If you can find this material valuable, and if you can afford it, please send <strong>openDemocracy</strong> a <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">donation</a> to help us continue our work and keep it free</strong> </p> </div> <p> The road from this extraordinary individual act to the events in Andijan on <a href="" target="_blank">13 May 2005</a>, after days of protest over the incarceration of twenty-three popular local entrepreneurs, is not so long as it may seem. The trader who committed it may have done something exceptional, but the everyday experience that lay behind it was shared with millions of his fellow-citizens. This experience, which I encountered during fieldwork in the region from the late 1990s, reveals one of the crucial factors behind <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2511">Andijan</a>: how the finely honed skills of accommodation and survival preserved by the people of Uzbekistan through the difficult post-Soviet years started to break down under extreme economic and political pressures. </p> <p> The road from burning coats to blood in the Andijan streets is not a story of the lures of Islamic extremism, nor even of growing absolute poverty: it is, rather, one of a fundamental breach of the social contract between state and citizen in Uzbekistan. The key element is a process of botched market reforms that bred mistrust and cynicism in an otherwise risk-averse population who have increasingly found all their avenues to livelihoods and dignity blocked – with no recourse left except desperate protest. </p> <p> <strong>Between state and market</strong> </p> <p> After independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government of Uzbekistan – dominated by its <a href="" target="_blank">Soviet-era leader Islam Karimov</a> – faced a serious dilemma: how to retain control of hard currency earnings from the leading export crop (cotton) when the international donor community [especially the International Monetary Fund (<a href="" target="_blank">IMF</a>) and World Bank] were pressing it to liberalise markets and privatise the economy? </p> <p> The government in Tashkent was averse to a “shock therapy” approach to privatisation, especially of land. There were good reasons for this: land privatisation threatened the incomes of a rent-seeking state elite, and risked provoking popular discontent if the large collectivised farm sector started to shed jobs rapidly in a society with a collapsing social safety-net and no other means of employment. </p> <p> The government seemed to be proved right: Uzbekistan was able to avert the precipitous decline in GDP and living standards of neighbouring central Asian states in the early 1990s, a fact documented in the <a href=";country=C259%C2%AEion=0&amp;type=0&amp;theme=0" target="_blank">United Nations Human Development Reports</a>. But this short-term stability, amid partial, halting reforms that consolidated the economic and political privileges of a narrow social elite, had perverse long-term effects. </p> <p> The important <a href="" target="_blank">cotton production sector</a> continued to rely on a command economy system requiring producers to fulfil delivery quotas, where they found themselves squeezed between high prices for inputs and sales to state buyers at well below world prices. Members of restructured former collective agricultural enterprises came increasingly to rely on their smallholdings (an entitlement inherited from the Soviet period) and on informal trade in local or regional bazaars. In <a href=";action=getFileAction&amp;documentID=3035" target="_blank">rural Andijan’s</a> increasingly tight economic environment, being able to sell at Karasu (Korasuv) bazaar and cross the border to Osh in <a href="" target="_blank">Kyrgyzstan</a> to trade more profitably became important “safety-valves”. </p> <p> Although land was not privatised, legislation was passed between 1992 and 1998 that gradually expanded private access to land through leaseholds and the possibility of establishing private farms. The shortage of land in the populous <a href="" target="_blank">Fergana valley</a>, and the presence of different categories of claimants within the same territory, created a “zero-sum” game: land leased to aspiring private farmers on a long-term basis meant reduced allocations to households from collective enterprises. The weakest members of the community stood to lose most. Informal land sales and increasing levels of corruption in the distribution of resources started to generate popular outrage. </p> <p> In summer 1998, villagers in the Dardak district of Andijan were angry. A group of men had been detained, amid rumours of jail sentences, after protesting the temporary confiscation of their household plots. They had worked in the cotton fields all year without receiving any cash payments (except for harvesting wages) and were now threatened with losing their main source of livelihood – growing rice on their smallholdings for self-subsistence and for sale. Dardak villagers were staring a winter of penury and hardship in the face. </p> <p> The sense of injustice was unambiguous. In a neighbouring village, Mahbuba, the head of a cotton production unit, was bitter: “I broke my back on these cotton fields. And now they think they can fob me off with a tiny parcel of bad land to grow a few carrots and sunflowers. The farm manager sells all the good, irrigated land to the rich. Some of them even come from outside. Are we to starve?” </p> <p> Rural producers felt they had a “deal” with the authorities that was now being reneged upon. Even farm managers, occupying the lower rungs of a pyramid of extortion leading all the way to Tashkent, felt like victims. The retreat of the state from the provision of employment and social welfare had left citizens to their own devices; they relied on social networks, self-help groups and, above all, informal economic activities. </p> <p> <strong>A tightening noose</strong> </p> <p> As if this were not enough, even the marginal spaces where sustainable livelihood in the Andijan region was still possible were being assailed. It would be a misnomer to describe the bazaar in Uzbekistan as “informal” since it is subject to strict regulations, both official and unofficial. Traders must formally register, but often have to pay multiple bribes: to the transport police, to bazaar officials and to border guards when they sought to enter Kyrgyzstan. </p> <p> In the <a href="" target="_blank">early 2000s</a> traders were managing to survive these pressures, even as they ate into their profits. But on 11 July 2002 bazaar traders were badly hit when the government imposed a punitive tax on imports and strict regulations on trade (such as having to show documents of provenance, having a cash register and a shop). The legislation effectively closed down the bazaars, forcing the government to supersede it in another decree on 28 July that lowered the tax rate. Meanwhile, border closures on grounds of security threats also impeded the movement of people and goods, aggravating the situation. </p> <p> The official decrees were partly a response to the proliferation of unregistered economic activities, which eroded the tax base and the government’s ability to finance public service. Many workers in the informal economy, who had lost their once-safe public sector jobs, now saw a predatory state eyeing their last remaining enclaves of survival. </p> <p> The July 2002 decisions were also a reaction to demands from international financial institutions. The IMF had been urging the government to achieve the convertibility of the Uzbek <em>sum</em> by eliminating differences between official and black-market foreign exchange rates. The government pushed ahead with convertibility at an artificially high rate by effectively closing its borders to private trade and introducing high tariffs for goods to restrict demand for foreign currency. </p> <p> A further significant development followed. As the government grew increasingly suspicious of the activities of donor-assisted non-governmental organisations (NGOs), their modest infusions of cash into the economy began to be choked. Stringent political and fiscal controls, ostensibly to combat money-laundering by <a href="" target="_blank">local NGOs</a>, made the work of foreign donors increasingly difficult. The fledgling <a href="" target="_blank">Uzbek NGO sector</a> was decimated. </p> <p> In April 2004, foreign NGOs were required to re-register with the ministry of justice; some (most notably the <a href="" target="_blank">Open Society Institute</a>) were denied the right to operate in Uzbekistan. These measures exacerbated the climate of fear among the urban intelligentsia and professional classes. </p> <p> The government strategy was essentially a rearguard <a href="" target="_blank">action</a> aimed at securing a grip over the economy and civil society. It soon backfired. As the economy deteriorated, the pot from which “sweeteners” could be offered to local elites and the wider population shrunk. The only option the state could see was even cruder administrative measures and outright repression – which continued with implacable logic and tragic <a href="" target="_blank">consequences</a>. </p> <p> <strong>The Islamist conundrum</strong> </p> <p> What of Islam? <a href="" target="_blank">Central Asia</a> has indeed been targeted by transnational Islamist movements and the Fergana valley has itself long been a bastion of Islamist revival and militancy. There were episodes of Islamic dissent in Fergana, most notably in Namangan, during the early years of independence. </p> <p> Several factors increased the appeal of Islamist platforms: the post-Soviet scramble for resources; the progressive loss of legitimacy of the regime; indiscriminate <a href="" target="_blank">repression</a> acting to stimulate recruitment into oppositional movements; and the fact that Islam provides a locally familiar idiom for the articulation of notions of morality, social justice and community. This is, indeed, fertile ground for political players with an Islamist agenda. </p> <p> It does not follow, however, that the disturbances in Andijan may simply be swept under the carpet with reference to the nefarious activities of Islamist terrorist groups or “armed felons”. At the heart of the Andijan events lies the need for a new social contract that addresses the <a href="" target="_blank">crisis</a> of provision, legitimacy and security that has plagued post-Soviet Uzbekistan. It remains to be seen whether any democratic forces will emerge to give voice to the longings and aspirations of the people of Uzbekistan or whether the country will remain in the grip of rival authoritarianisms. </p> </div> Globalisation russia & eurasia institutions & government Deniz Kandiyoti Creative Commons normal Wed, 13 May 2009 03:00:00 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 2527 at Where is Islam going?: responses to Werner Schiffauer <b>Deniz Kandiyoti:</b> We have just listened to a wonderfully nuanced, multi-layered account of a close inspection of a particular Islamic community in Germany. <p> What I heard Werner Schiffauer say is that first we have to understand the internal logic of the believers in these groups. You have told us that you feel that their radical critique of democracy was based on a fundamentally different notion of society, which you called &#145;the network society&#146;. This contrasts with the conflictual formation of a liberal democracy as we know it. You linked this also to ideas of self which stand in a relationship of radical alterity to the ideas of individual autonomy that we see in the West. </p><p> So here we have a model of a radically different cultural formation, which is incommensurable in many ways with what, broadly speaking, we call &#145;the West&#146; - with its democracy, enlightenment, and individualism. </p><p> Now, of course, this is an argument that is made not only by Islamic fundamentalists. Many diverse movements in the world make these claims, for their own reasons, because they want to develop projects of a certain kind. Today, there are politicians in Russia and China saying: &#145;oh, we can''t have a western democracy because we are radically different from western Europeans.&#146; </p><p> So, the first thing we have to do is to study the contexts of these claims of exemption from democracy. We need not take arguments of Islamist politicians any more at face value than those of Chinese, Russian or anyone else. </p><p> The second thing is that you talked about the concept of &#145;self&#146;. In Turkey, at least, I''m very aware of this, age-old split between <i>sharia</i> and <i>tariqa</i>. It started in the Ottoman times. <i>Tariqa</i>, which is the taming of the self, or <i>nafs</i>, is an individual path, which is quietist and does not make a bid for state power. Political Islam however necessarily does make a bid for state power, since you can only live Islam fully under an Islamic state, and the state of Islam is either there, actualised through state formation, or you are living in <i>&#145;dar al-harb&#146;</i> (literally &#145;the abode of war&#146;- the lands not under legitimate Muslim rule.) </p><p> <b>Turkey: Islamism as citizenship politics</b> </p><p> But, when we get to contemporary Turkey, I am very interested in the distinction you drew of the very different paths that the Milli Görüsh took in Turkey, as it became part of a multiparty democracy, and the path that Kaplan and his associates took. In order to understand this properly, we have to consider many different aspects. One is the relationship between diasporic groups and their home countries. Another at least as important, is the way in which transnational influences play out differently in diasporic communities and in the country of origin. </p><p> What you have done, in short, is to occlude the role of the German state and the way in which imperfect notions of citizenship in certain communities changed the nature of Islamist politics. </p><p> I will give a concrete example. You said that the Welfare Party changed fundamentally. But you didn&#146;t explain that this was because in Turkey, an Islamist position is essentially part of making a bid for citizenship. In other words, by entering the multiparty political arena, the Welfare Party was engaging in populist politics in a country that was very divided and fragmented, especially after the 1980s created chasms between a majority of people who were becoming more impoverished, and the newly-rich class getting wealthier. As a result, Islamists started invoking the notion of the <i>umma</i> (the entire Muslim community as a united entity) when they recruited support. That had the very important function of illuminating these differences of class, but being able to include everybody as citizens, as part of the <i>umma</i>. </p><p> Now in Germany, a large majority of German Turks do not have citizenship rights. They cannot vote: their rights are very truncated. This is now changing to some extent. But becoming part of an Islamist movement has a very different meaning and function for Muslims in Germany and in Turkey. </p><p> In Turkey, taking an Islamist trajectory is a legitimate road, indeed the alternative road to becoming part of an elite and to social mobility. If you cannot access universities because you are from a poor background, you go through the Islamic schools, which are there to produce <i>Imams</i> and <i>Khatibs</i> (Muslim clerics), but which also provide many others with a very good point of entry. </p><p> So, I recognise the value of some of the arguments that you made around notions of unity, truth and in particular, the third generation&#146;s rather modern take on how to interpret texts on a rather more individual basis; but would also propose that the answer to what happens to Islamist groups in Germany cannot be found in the logic of Islam itself, whether or not it is presenting an alternative model of a network society. </p><p> In brief, what your approach conceals from view is the independent effects of specific contexts, and how people articulate themselves in the actual societies to which they belong. An Islamist in Turkey is given a citizenship stake in Turkish society. He does not receive this in Germany. And this is what I would like to hear more about. </p><p> <b>The beginning of wisdom: taking believers seriously</b> </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> This is a valid criticism, but it stems partly from the difference in our respective disciplines. As an anthropologist, I worked quite intensively with the Kaplan community and with ordinary believers. I did not study the upper echelons. And when I was talking to the members of the community, I was struck by the fact that they, in fact, were seekers after truth. They were believers. I felt that a proper understanding of them would have to take into account the very fact that they are believers and that they have to be taken seriously as believers. As a result I have to ask: how do they construct the world? </p><p> Now one problem I have with some theories of religion to be found in religious sociology or political science, is that sometimes they do not take into account that aspect of belief. Rather, they see it as an ideology that is interchangeable. You, for example, mentioned Russia, and China, as if it really wasn&#146;t very important what they believe, because each has not so much a belief system as a way of functioning - a strategy. </p><p> Where I agree with you is that every religion is indeed embedded in society and in political systems. And speaking of Germany, I would not say that citizenship rights had that much importance. In the 1980s and 1990s - it is changing slowly now - it was still true that the majority of the Turkish population had a strong commitment to returning to Turkey. So, that first generation was really not interested in procuring citizenship rights (for example, the right to vote). They were interested in social rights, which were in fact quite well provided for. So this never became a political issue. </p><p> However, when it comes to the diaspora, the community in Germany reacted quite differently from their Turkish counterparts, developing their ideas and their concepts in a direction which took them away from practical political issues. Benedict Anderson once coined the phrase, &#145;the long-distance nationalist&#146; for those nationalists who are scattered abroad, Jews who are in America for example, or Muslims in Germany. They were long-distance Muslims, in the sense that increasingly and for a generation they identified with a long-distance Islam, which became diasporic Islam, which turned into an imaginary Islam, which was not at all involved in actual politics. </p><p> That is why it took a very different road from that which developed in Turkey, where radical Muslims became more integrated into party politics from practical necessity. People in Turkey were not persuaded by factions like the Kaplan movement, that were set apart from the mainstream. In Germany, these movements split because there was space enough, and audience enough, for this kind of Utopian Islam, devoted to a radical return to the sources of religious inspiration, back to the origins. That is the real difference between Turkey and Germany. With the second generation it becomes even more pronounced. </p><p> What is interesting in Germany with the development of Milli Görüsh, is that it is very active among the faithful in urging them to acquire German citizenship. This is typical of a new generation taking over the leadership, replacing the old generation: they are very much into trying to create a realistic politics, in order to arrive in Germany. This is in a way the counter programme, or the third generation programme for a more pluralistic outlook. They make a particular point out of acquiring citizenship, going through German institutions and going for a kind of empowerment <i>in</i> society, and not <i>against</i> society. These are some of the options which we are discussing today. </p><p> <b>An Islamic reformation?</b> </p><p> <b>First audience member:</b> The title of your talk is &#145;Islamic Extremism and German Democracy&#146;. It seems to me that those are very loaded categories. I am troubled that you have not taken time to show the highly contested nature of the very notion of Islamic extremism in relation, for example, to the notion of German or western democracy, and how those two are very uneasily pitted against each other, especially after 11 September. </p><p> For example, how does a group of Islamic fundamentalists see themselves vis-à-vis the German state? Then there is the notion of western civilisation represented in the Christian discourse that emerges out of the White House, for example, &#145;WE fight an absolute EVIL&#146;. Tonight, I thought I was going to get some kind of insight into how those prescriptive categories relate to each other and how maybe they could challenge each other - not remain abstractions. </p><p> <i>Werner Schiffauer:</i> I could have given a broader account of Islam in Germany, and shown the different groups, and their embeddedness in German society. That would have been a rather academic talk. What I was trying to do here was something else. I have looked at the group which among the Turkish Sunni Muslims has the reputation of being the most radical, which has a lot of similarities with <b>Hizb ut-Tahrir</b> in Britain. I have tried to show you how they see things. These perspectives are shared throughout all Islamist circles, and they refer extensively to those great Islamic thinkers, Sayyid Qutb and to Maududi as their points of reference. </p><p> But Celaleddin Kaplan, this group&#146;s leader, makes his own synthesis of such references to introduce the reestablishment of the Caliphate in Turkey, which is his aim. In this respect, he is very Turkish. He claims that he should become the caliph because the Caliphate once existed in Turkey: so a Turk should become the new Caliph. Very nation-centric for a community that claims to be internationalist. </p><p> I am sorry that I disappointed you. I was attempting to reconstruct the notions and visions of that particular extremist community, their ideas and impressions about society and the self. It is true that I have contrasted these ideas with a very abstract notion of democracy. But the western notion of democracy is less a Christian notion, than the notion of a conflict culture, and a certain kind of perception of the self - this is my hypothesis. </p><p> The other idea I proposed was that returning to the script, the kind of scripturalism which was the key resort of the Reformation and Calvinism, was the very basis of European democracy. It is not Enlightenment, in my opinion, which is the basis of European democracy, but Reformation, scripturalism and fundamentalism. That very return to the sources and its attendant critique of traditionalism - take society as a project, do not take anything for granted because your teachers told you that to - that is the spirit of democracy and it is also the spirit of the self, the new individualism. </p><p> I wanted to show that there were very similar tendencies in dealing with Christian traditions which formed the basis of European democracy, to those now visible in the new forces dealing with Islamic traditions. My argument is that this is no accident, because there is an inner logic in these processes, so that we can predict that at some point - when individual access to the script becomes possible - people have to start to listen to each other. They cannot take their own interpretation as the final verdict. And this, in turn, has a potentially enormous effect on the development of the community as a whole. </p><p> <b>Second audience memeber:</b> Can the west or western Europe learn from the Islamist critique of aspects of western democratic culture? I don&#146;t think you have to be terribly abstract to concede that the Turkish military shutting down the Welfare Party is unlikely to encourage people to believe in parliamentary democracy. </p><p> I&#146;m a little puzzled by your reference to Calvinism as the matrix for modern democracy. Although one of the benchmarks of Calvinism was <i>sola scriptura</i> &#150; scripture alone &#150; and although Calvinists gave up the belief in an infallible church, they kept the notion of an infallible book, the Bible. </p><p> I wonder whether this is not another example of our need to turn Islam into a latterday western-type civilisation, as it were, remaking it in our own image, making it tame and domesticating it, making it acceptable to us? Isn't Professor Schiffauer's thesis just wishful thinking of this type? Shouldn't one have more respect for the integrity of the Islamic religion and take its demands more seriously? </p><p> <b>Deniz Kandiyoti:</b> On this question of the Islamic reformation, ironically enough, I dare say this might have taken place if it was not for the colonial west. When we look at the evolution of the Ottoman Empire, there was a process of secularisation within Islam itself. In most countries, especially in the Arab world, one of the reasons why it had to beat a hasty retreat was because of its entanglements with the west. </p><p> So we return to the first question we were asked: does Islam offer an ethical critique? I think that at the moment we are again being offered a kind of critique which is actually a critique of capitalism. Whether it comes from deep ecologists or from Muslims, it is actually saying rather the same thing: that these materialistic and consumerist societies are destroying souls and the environment. </p><p> Of course, Islamists have their own vision of the way out from this. But they are, I believe, inscribing themselves inside a whole group of critiques of modernity and of capitalism. One of the examples I like is of the Islamist holiday camps in Turkey. They consider the whole concept of a holiday in itself a sad by-product of capitalism, which has divided work and leisure. The Muslim life, they believe, seamlessly puts together work, worship and leisure - so that you don''t need this crazy dislocation of working like robots for eleven months, and then make for the sea. Muslim holiday villages are based on completely different principles. I think we can only understand this sort of critique if we put it in the broader context of a malaise within capitalist society - including the anti-capitalist movements in the west which may not seem to have too much to do with Islam. </p><p> <b>Walter Schiffauer:</b> If you will excuse me, for me this is a little bit too neutralising an approach to the issues involved. </p><p> First, I feel Islam doesn''t need a reformation, because it is in the middle of a process of reformation already! Here I agree with Dale Eickerman and others. This anti-traditionalist impetus which is connected to scripturalism precisely is the reformation impetus in Islam: this gesture which involves going back to scripture and criticising tradition from that position is a way towards building new models of society and of the world. </p><p> This is modernity, reformation - and something very similar lies at the basis of our own democracy. Yes, Calvinist Geneva did believe in the infallible holy book. It was not a democratic society. But, insofar as I am a Weberian, I see the roots of our present society in that moment. </p><p> Second, I would not place too much of the burden of causality on the process of secularisation as such. What is very interesting is that every scripturalist - which means believing in the absolute message from on high - nevertheless has to translate the Word and its meaning into the contemporary context. </p><p> That is what matters, ultimately. Because this necessary process of interpretation and explanation, recognised both in Islam and Christianity, sooner or later makes its impact on the development of the community. </p><p> The key questions always arise: how to refer to the script, how to analyse it, whether you reopen the gates of interpretation or not. And it is the so-called 'fundamentalists' who sooner or later have declared that it will be necessary to re-open the gates of interpretation. </p><p> So you see, what matters is not whether there is a scripturalist attitude or not. What counts is the way of reading, and how you adapt what you have read to present-day society. This is the crux of the matter. </p><p> Third, about Islamist criticism on modern-day society, philosophers coming from an Islamic background will one day cease to refer to Islam, but take the ideas from Islamic visions of the world, and articulate them in a secular way. This is what made Jewish philosophy powerful and influential - not their religious philosophers, who existed for centuries, but Adorno and Horkheimer, who never explicitly referred to religion, but who, if you analyse it, were rephrasing in a secular manner ideas which come straight out of their Jewish tradition &#150; thus, in a way acceptable to others. </p><p> Today, Islamic philosophy is far too &#145;Islamic&#146; for that &#150; it is not yet a secular philosophy based on the Islamic message. That would be the point when the ethical message can be articulated for all of us. </p><p> <b>The politics of Muslim identity: Turkey, Germany, Britain</b> </p><p> <b>Third audience member:</b> <i>The Guardian</i> has been running a series about the approximately 1.5 million Muslims in Britain. How many live in Germany? Are they mostly of Turkish origin? We have been talking about Germany, but are there any moves to relate to Muslims in the whole of Europe? What do you think would be the impact on the Muslim community in Germany if Turkey became a member of the EU? </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> I think there are now slightly more than 2 million Turks living in Germany. Around 60 - 70% are Sunni Muslims; others are Alevi. There are in total around three million Muslims in Germany. </p><p> The European-wide Muslim population is fascinating. It is ethnically very segregated. Turkish Muslims have very little to do with the Arabs, and the Arabs very little to do with the Pakistani Muslims. If you look into the bin Laden connections, there are no Turks involved at all. That is not to say that no Turkish Muslim would ever have been involved. But evidently, it was unlikely. They would have been isolated. </p><p> And when you look at the agenda of Turkish Islamist groups, they are very different from the Arabic Islamist agendas. Turkish Islamists are much less excited about Palestine. The future of the Aya Sofia mosque in Istanbul is a much bigger issue; so is Kemalism. Thanks to the transnational flow of ideas, you will hear about American bases in Saudi Arabia now, but basically the Turkish Islamist groups are not interested. And of course, there is a language barrier. </p><p> <b>Deniz Kandiyoti:</b> I could add that within Turkey, unexpectedly, Islamist groups who were previously against the EU, which they saw as a 'Christian club', are now espousing Europeanism and have become extremely pro-European, because they have figured out that they can better press for their rights to continue to operate as legal parties as members of the EU. Before, they were virulently anti-European: so it was quite a surprise. </p><p> <b>Fourth audience member:</b> What I found particularly interesting about this whole discussion is how different the situation is in Germany or Turkey from Britain. I came today from inspecting a Muslim school in Leicester, and I have been to two other Muslim schools in the English midlands in the last month. </p><p> These school students, and their teachers, are fervent Islamists - or at least their parents are. But they are also British citizens. They are born here. They have the same rights as other British citizens. And in some cities in the midlands, they are in the majority in fact. Now it is a fact that no political party takes any interest in people unless it is seeking votes. So this must have an impact on people of different faiths who have come to Britain during and after Empire. These are British citizens. <i>Briton held in Guantanamo Bay</i>, say the headlines. If a Turk from Germany were held there, would one read <i>German held in Guantanamo Bay?</i> No. We have extreme voices, of course, but British Muslims can express what they want by voting for it. Doesn't the absence of that electoral status encourage greater interest in religious ideas among Muslims in Germany? </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> Yes and no. First of all, you have to remember, I am talking about a minority of Muslims in Germany. The vast majority of them are as uninterested in religion as the German majority. In this sense I don''t want to mislead you. I am talking about a particular, radical religious group. </p><p> On the other hand, voting rights are important, and this situation is in the process of dramatic change. A lot of Turkish citizens are becoming German citizens now, and acquiring German passports. It is also true that some of the most radical Muslims in Germany were amongst the first to apply for German citizenship, because they did not have strong ties to Turkish citizenship, having condemned Kemalism. For the more secular Turks, Turkey was still a national issue, and there was a sense of betrayal of Turkey in taking German citizenship. Germany did not allow double citizenship, which I regret, thereby making it into an either-or decision. </p><p> This was an issue during the 1980s and 1990s, but not really any longer. Even more important - in Britain - a fascinating discussion is under way about redefining and understanding Britishness in terms of a multicultural society. In Germany we might talk about 'multicultural society', but there is nothing comparable in terms of real conceptual work going on, and re-thinking German democracy, re-thinking the implications of Germanness. </p><p> I do get the impression that it is much easier to get these hyphenated identities here - to be a &#145;British-Pakistani&#146;, and so forth. A &#145;German-Turk&#146; sounds politically correct, and we use terms like this or &#145;Turkish German&#146;, for sure, but they still sound odd and stilted. These hyphenated identities have simply not taken root in German culture. </p><p> This is only a symbol of a process and a set of phenomena which are much more deeply rooted. New discussions have to take place, and I am involved in some of them. It is a question, broadly speaking, of a multi-cultural civic culture which can give migrants a place within it. This is what has to develop in Germany. </p><p> That it has not developed thus far has a lot to do with my generation, and its resistance to the whole concept of Germanness which we associated with National Socialism. Our generation put National Socialism on the table, as a reproach to our parents. We hated to be identified with Germany, and refused to think about national identity and German political culture. But we should have thought about it - because, if we had, alongside British or French culture, we might have been able to change that culture in the direction of something more open and receptive to new immigrants. This process is just starting now. But we are trailing far behind the discussion here in Britain. </p><p> <b>Deniz Kandiyoti:</b> This also has something to do with different models of citizenship. There are the French and British models, which give citizenship by virtue of living in a country, and then other models. The most extreme is probably Israel where you can step off a plane from Russia and immediately have more rights than someone who has always lived there. Germany in some ways is very similar; you can come from Kazakhstan to Germany as a German, and immediately have more rights than a Turk who has been living in Germany for three generations. </p><p> <b>The inner-Islamic world in ferment</b> </p><p> <b>Fifth audience member:</b> It is often said that extremism breeds extremism. We judge these phenomena by our own measures, and if one has to measure a change in attitude, it is not always easy to find an objective way of looking, for example, at the second-generation Muslim community and its effects. So, we have to consider our notion of what is deviant, for example, very carefully. </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> I'm an anthropologist. We anthropologists think that what we do is not so much representative analysis as 'in-depth analysis'. </p><p> That is, we take a village or a tribe or a community, and try to find out what the hell is going on there. We ask ourselves what the problems are. My colleagues in stricter, more scientific disciplines such as sociology and political science, might really try to establish and measure extremism, deviancy and worry their heads about the representativeness of this element within the wider community. But for us, well, I was aiming to understand this particular group, and what moved them, what they were looking for, and how come they were against democracy. </p><p> They <i>were</i> against democracy, and they are not the only ones in the Islamic world. They may only be a minority within the Islamic world in this regard. But this minority, in the 1970s and 1980s, was a kind of avant-garde. It set the tone. Islamism of the Sayyid Qutb branch set the tone in the Muslim world all over. As always with avant-garde movements, they are never numerically in the majority. Take the student movement of the 1960s in Europe and in the western world: perhaps 2% or 5% of the population. It is difficult to measure numerically. </p><p> Today, I feel that this avant-garde is no longer the avant-garde. This is what I was trying to say. In a way, one must not take us too seriously, we anthropologists (<i>laughter and demur from the audience</i>) - but we try to say things which are hard to measure about why a certain group of people may set the tone in a much wider society, why they are attractive to others. You are right; I can''t deliver proofs to you. </p><p> <b>Sixth audience member:</b> I have just one request for information. Where is the evidence that Islam, the whole Islamic world, will now be open to a critique of their sources, of the Koran, of the <i>Sunna</i>, of the <i>Sharia</i>? Isn&#146;t that just wishful thinking? Furthermore, might we have to consider the possibility that democracy is not the ''way and the truth''? </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> I refer you to discussions taking place in many different Islamist communities. And in particular to the avant-garde that set the tone for these discussions. </p><p> I did not say that they were rejecting scripturalism. What they were rejecting was the violent, intolerant Islamism of the 1980s which led nowhere and created deep divisions between different groups. This has been replaced by discussion. This reaction is evident in Egypt, and this criticism takes a very lively form in Iran, where there is a tremendous discussion amongst Islamic intellectuals, questioning the whole idea of a theocracy. </p><p> That is what they're saying. It is trying to realise a religious idea, here in the world, and in doing so, it is an act of pollution. You pollute the divine word because you tear it down, plunging it into worldly power games. This is a fascinating inner-Islamic discussion that is taking place in Iran. Something similar is happening in circles in Turkey. And so there is a concern with the need to set up new standards of discussion. This is particularly evident among Islamists in Europe. Both among scholars, and in communities, particularly those like the Milli Görüsh community. These are four examples of where I see this criticism emerging. </p><p> <b>Islamism in a multi-media universe</b> </p><p> <b>Seventh audience member:</b> The process of globalised capitalism which has developed dramatically in the last two decades seems to me responsible for what you are describing. </p><p> The idea and practice of bourgeois democracy as we know it is in a state of disintegration, and while I agree with the person who spoke about the differences between Britain and Germany in relation to citizenship, it is a fact that even though we have the right to vote here, many people don't feel that they want to make use of it, for very good reasons, because they are not represented in this form of so-called democracy. At the heart of Islam, as much as of Christianity, there is this cry of the oppressed. That's why they gain momentum: they are forms of protest or at least a search for a different kind of society which is not on offer in the present order. </p><p> <b>Eighth audience member:</b> I was interested in the parallel you were making between the Reformation in Christianity and the developments in the more extremist Islam at the moment. </p><p> Something missing from your analysis is what is causing these developments. If you look back to the Reformation, people talk about the evolution of the printed word and the distribution of books. It suggests an analogous process today, which is the exposure of second and third generation Muslims in Germany to German education. </p><p> Do you think that's true? Is there a link between a society being sufficiently economically developed to provide a large number of people, and particularly, immigrants with a university education, and this movement towards a questioning of scripture, which you then see moving on towards a more democratic attitude to politics. </p><p> <b>Werner Schiffauer:</b> Good question. The Reformation in Europe was exactly a coming into play of print media, which allowed these processes of reading and writing and having access to script to become a mass phenomenon. Similar processes seem to be taking place all over now. </p><p> In fact, I conflated two things. What is very evident in relation to the first generation is that the whole business of acquiring the means of reading and writing is tremendously important. The next step is going into the institutions, not just in Germany but everywhere. But of course, universities in themselves, universal and global today, were patented in Europe, and spread from there. These are, by their nature, European institutions in the way that they deal with knowledge. Critical reading is at its heart. This should be explored further. </p><p> But it is also the case that the media revolution - not only the print media, but also the audio media, such as the production and distribution of audio-cassettes - have had a tremendous effect. Sermons, for example, are distributed widely. Then there are the visual media, with the opportunity to make your own videos and spread messages all over the world. In receiving them, of course, the public makes up its own mind, and develops its own point of view. This is a process that precisely constitutes an entirely new era, with a new quality. </p><p> <i>Can radical Islam's return to 'origins' open a road to democracy? Read Werner Schiffauer <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=679">here</a>.</i> </p> Ideas faith & ideas europe the future of turkey europe & islam Deniz Kandiyoti Creative Commons normal Tue, 15 Oct 2002 23:00:00 +0000 Deniz Kandiyoti 685 at