Thursday, April 1, 2010

Discrimination Against Women in Dhofar & Oman

Discrimination is a sociological term referring to the treatment taken toward or against a person of a certain group in consideration based solely on class or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups ~ Wikipedia.
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The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a "glass ceiling" and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination ~ UN
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With regard to the rights of women here (in Oman), the Amnesty International 2007 Human Rights report said that although the Sultanate ratified an agreement on combating all types of discrimination against women in February 2006 and declared the formation of a committee to ensure the implementation of the provision of the agreement women continued to suffer discrimination whether in respect of the law or its implementation especially when it came to personal rights, employment, and participation in public life ~ Times of Oman

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This is Longest Post in the World – Forgive Me.
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Disclaimer: Compared to other countries in the Middle East, Oman definitely treats women with more respect. We have a lot to be thankful for. We have many female leaders and there is gender equality for sure. However, the biggest mistake is to generalize. Most of this freedom, equality, rights, etc, is in the capital area and that's no secret. Muscat is another planet. Let us not forget the hundreds of thousands of women in the villages and small towns around Oman. We matter. Women deserve dignity & Respect.
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Dear Readers,
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After reading Rania's post here and after a small incident this morning, my blood pressure is on the rise and I am royally peeved. I've been putting off writing about racism/discrimination against women for a long time, but today since I'm on the verge of tears and very annoyed, I have to let it all out.
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To the haters (men) out there who are already formulating rude answers, save your breath because they won't be published. I love Salalah and I love the people, and yes I'm a human so I have the right to complain sometimes. Words of support or interesting ideas/debates are most welcome.
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Hundreds of thoughts are spinning through my head right now and I don't even know where to start. Can I just spew forth my thoughts and you try to make sense out of them? Thank you very much. I'll put my ideas into points so it's easier for readers to refer back to a certain idea, etc when commenting.
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1. In Oman women definitely have legal rights. No doubt about that. We can work, drive, vote, ask for a divorce, etc. Take a moment out to think about women in Saudi Arabia. They cannot drive (not even expat women), they must wear the abaya everywhere (it's illegal not to), they can only work in certain places, schools and colleges are gender-segregated, women cannot go out alone, they practically have to carry their marriage certificate around wherever they to be ready for the Moral Police (or whatever they're called …). Saudi society is sick. Thank you Sultan Qaboos for being the open minded man that you are. We are so blessed to have such an enlightened leader.
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2. Government-wise, I think our country is doing pretty good. My rants today are not against the government. They are against men and society. People. No matter how 'free' a woman is in Oman legally, there are always men in her life controlling her. There are men in my life controlling me (yes even me after spending 5 years abroad on my own, I came back to a society where men immediately assumed the duties of controlling me and making decisions about my life), but today I'll be complaining on behalf of all the beautiful intelligent women around me. My friends, sisters, cousins, colleagues, aunts, etc. Today I'll be talking about Salalah mostly because I cannot speak for the rest of Oman. Do you want to know how many men I know who've spoken these exact words to the women in their life 'We've allowed you to work and drive. What more do you want?'. So many times I've wanted to shout at them 'WE WANT MORE'. Who the hell gave you the right to 'allow' or 'not allow'. Who gave you the right to control someone else's life?
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3. As a human, I feel that my most basic need is to be in control of my own life. As a human, I feel it is my right. As a Muslim I feel it is my right. As an Omani I feel it is my right. As a woman I feel it is my right. I have one life and it is mine. Mine.
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4. Allah/God created men and women to live in this world together, to build families and populate the earth and support one another and do good. God did not say 'It's a man's world. Hide the women. I created them by mistake'. Islam is a beautiful religion and women's rights in Islam are clear. Women in the time of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH were strong and free. They fought in battle, they were businesswomen (Al Sayyida Khadija RAA the Prophet's first wife was a very successful businesswoman and he looked up to her!). Women prayed with men and they certainly were not hidden in rooms under layers of black. So many incidents from his time included women. Read the Sunna. I feel women were respected back then a lot more than they are now. I need more time to study the Quran and books on Islam to fully understand the role of women. I feel men/religious leaders in our time have screwed up ideas about women.
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5. From a reader: "Nadia, don't you think women in Salalah were more independent and strong in the past, when men tended to think of women as humans, not bodies that may sexually arouse them and consequently have to be covered/chained at home? Racism against women should be taken into consideration too". Before the 1970s, women in Dhofar were poor yes but they were free. They worked hard with the men (side by side) farming, taking care of the animals, etc. Many women I know in the mountains used to leave their huts alone at sunrise and take the animals to look for food all day. Alone. Many women I know fought in the Dhofar War. They carried around machine guns, drove pickup trucks, and were heavy smokers (No, I don’t admire them for that). Women back then wore colors or the dyed purple indigo clothes. They did not wear black. They did not wear the face veil. Women rocked.
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6. During the period from 1970-2010, life in Dhofar was transformed. The Sultan took power, people in Dhofar were given land and cars and jobs by His Majesty, Oman was opened up to the rest of the world, the Abaya was introduced to women in Oman (via Iran I think) and everything started changing. Once families moved into the town after the war, women didn't have to work as hard anymore, so they began to spend most of their day at home. Slowly women began wearing black from head to toe, the face veil became popular, gender segregation became the norm, and Salalah slowly turned into a male-dominated society. Yes, this all happened over the past 40 years.
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7. Women in Salalah still do not understand enough about Islam or about their rights as Muslim women. They are not educated (most of them aren't) so it's hard for them to find information on Islam online or in books (you can't even find books here). Do you think most men bothered to enlighten them? Of course not. They like being in control. Do you know that some of my relatives believe it's Fardh (a must) in Islam to wear the face veil? How could they think that? It's Sunna and a woman should be able to decide on her own whether she wants to wear it or not. No man should ever force his wife/sisters/mother to wear it.
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8. Most women in Salalah wear the face veil. Most of them do not wear it because they are God-fearing Muslims. They wear it because their husbands/brothers/fathers forced them to. It's is purely cultural. Tradition. It's the fear of being 'recognized'. The fear of having an 'identity'. God forbid we should ever be proud of our own identity!!!!!!!
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9. Most Dhofari men will tell you 'My wife is at home. She has her house and her children and she visits her family every week. I provide for her and I take her shopping when she wants. She is respected in her home. There is no reason for her to go beyond those four walls. A woman's life is in the home'. It's all nice and dandy if the women AGREES. She should have a choice. Otherwise she is a prisoner and she is trapped.
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Story (1): one of my close friends in high school had big plans for life. She wanted to be an artist. She was popular in our high school and very pretty. She wanted to travel, work, drive, be a mother and see the world. Most of all, she wanted to paint. After high school she started talking about applying at local colleges. Her brother refused and she rebelled. He got worried so he decided to marry her off immediately before she caused any more trouble. Her husband-to-be told her he didn't mind her continuing her higher studies so she had a little hope left in her broken heart. Within three months she was married. One month after the wedding she discovered she was pregnant. She lived in a room and shared the house with her in-laws. Her mother in law didn't approve of the painting, so to keep her happy, the husband banned all paints from entering the house (LOSER). Unhappy, pregnant, and trapped, I watched my friend become more and more depressed. She now has three kids (all under the age of 4) and her husband won't even let her out of the house to visit friends (me included). If I want to see her, I have to go to the in-laws house or catch her at her parents' house when she's there visiting. Her husband brainwashed her into thinking her life is complete between the four walls of their bedroom. He on the other hand, travels every year with his friends to Thailand or India or wherever. He works, hangs out with friends everyday, comes home late, hardly pays any attention to her. What is she supposed to do? Leave him? With three small kids? Of course not. He does not abuse her. He does whatever she wants provided it doesn't go beyond the four walls of the house. It hurts me to think about how depressed she can be sometimes knowing her whole life will be like this. Trapped. No freedom. No opinion. Controlled by a man.
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Need I mention he has forbidden the use of birth control? She is tired of having kids. Many men in Salalah forbid birth control. I guess this is why families are so large. A man I know forced his wife to get pregnant every year because she kept on having girls and he wanted a boy. What an animal. She ended up having six girls (they're 3,4,5,7,8,10) ... YES one after the other until she finally had a boy last year.
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11. Story (2): another friend of mine went to Australia to do her Masters. She lived on her own for two years. Her brothers (father passed away) never bothered to check up on her or ask about her (as long as she was out of the country and away from people's gossip, they didn't care). The minute she returned they realized how independent she'd become (no kidding) and they decided she must get married. Of course she refused. So her brothers said 'Fine then, you're not allowed to work'. Once her uncles interfered the brothers agreed to let her work because she had to pay off her student loans. She started work and they became greedy. She was making around 1200/- Rials. She wanted to save for her Ph.D and she was also paying bills for the house. Her brothers went out of their way, got wasta and contacted her employer to find out how much she was making because she wouldn't tell them what her salary was. Would you believe what they said? "Dear M, you are a girl, you don't need that salary. Every month you will keep 350 Rials for yourself to cover your own expenses and your sisters' and the rest you will give to us. We are men and we need the money more than you'. WTF? She called me in tears. A while later they got bored of driving her to work so they 'allowed' her to take driving lessons and then informed her coldly that they would be selecting the car she should buy with her own money. She would drive to work in the morning and the minute she got home she would hand the keys over to her brothers. At the moment she's still fighting. Who can she turn to? What kind of brothers behave like that?
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12. Story (3): one of my friends' aunts decided to volunteer at one of the centers for special abilities & needs here in Dhofar. She was very excited and spent two or three hours a day during the morning working with the center. This went on for two or three months. Her husband never asked her about her voluntary work. He didn't care. One day she was helping to put up an exhibition at the center and Oman TV were there filming. The corner of her face was visible for about 4 seconds on TV. One of her husband's friends saw this and called the husband 'Hey, your wife's on TV!'. And that was it. Husband came home in a rage and decided his wife would stop volunteering with the handicapped kids and she wasn't allowed out of the house on her own because she would misbehave. Please note this woman is almost 40 with 4 kids in school. He was so ashamed and upset that someone had 'seen' her and 'recognized' her on TV.
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13. Story (4): many women I know desperately want to lose weight and join an all-female gym or go walking in the evenings. Most families (especially the prissy higher tribes) refuse. The men in the families tell them to exercise at home. They believe a woman who goes to a gym and sheds the abaya is a near-prostitute. What will other women say if they recognize her? Oh shame shame. Again, fear of being recognized and known.
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14. Story (5): my own father told me once when I'd just come back from abroad 'You're independent and strong. I cannot control you. Do what you want but I don't want people to recognize you and I don't want to hear about it'. I remember once I took my mother out to dinner and parked my car in front of the famous Chinese Cascade restaurant at the centre of town. We went in to the restaurant and had a lovely dinner in one of the private family rooms. We were at home by 9. Around 8:30 a close cousin drove by the restaurant and saw my car and immediately called my father the next morning 'You let your daughter go to restaurants at night??! Who will ever marry her? You have a reputation!'. My father in turn called me screaming 'Your car was seen! No more restaurants. No public places where people recognize you'. Well, sorry dad but I didn't know eating Chinese food with my mother in a private family room was a sin. Women need more places to get together in Salalah. At the moment, there are almost NO public places where it's perfectly acceptable for women to meet. There will always be someone who disapproves. Look at Browniz Coffee House in Salalah. The whole 2nd floor is dedicated to women. There is a sofa, open area and also private rooms. Many men hang out in the men's part downstairs and if they see women sneaking up to the 2nd floor through the private side entrance they immediately assume the girl has a bad reputation. Well, sorry guys but YOU are the ones with issues, not us.
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15. Story (6): I will not elaborate because this post is getting too long. I, too, like Rania was told I couldn't go into the men's section of the Grand Mosque during visiting hours because I was a woman. Furthermore, many women's sections at local mosques are locked up most of the year and only open up during Ramadan. Why can't women pray at the mosque when they want? Not all women have kids. I went to the Grand Mosque for sunset prayers one day because I was out shopping and didn't want to miss the prayers, and I got SO MANY WEIRD LOOKS from men in the mosque parking lot. I felt like I was committing a crime. Like I didn't belong. Like I was heading to a shady nightclub or brothel. For heaven's sake I was just going to the mosque to pray. I was simply waiting for a call from my father telling me I'd been 'seen' and no more mosque-praying anymore. Why can't women pray in the mosque? When I was abroad I used to go to the mosque every Friday. Men and women prayed together in the same prayer hall and listened to the sermon together. It was a spiritual family affair. We felt united. Muslims from all over the world praying together. Sadly, I felt more in touch with my religion when I was in a non-Muslim country than I do in Oman. I used to attend lectures at the mosque every week. The Muslim Student Association was active. Friday prayers at the mosque were wonderful. I was proud to be Muslim. I was encouraged by members of the Muslim community to study about Islam. When I came back to Oman it all changed. Nobody wants to talk about it. Traditions and tribes are more important than Islam sometimes. I cannot go to the mosque freely. Praying became a private thing. I don't have anyone to discuss Islam with (besides Rania :-). We are all Muslim but Islam is so mingled in with local traditions that it's hard to distinguish what's right and what's wrong. In Salalah people are not proud of Islam. They are proud of their tribe and their connections.
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16. Story (7): A small point that annoyed me. Remember when Rania and I met for the first time? We went to the beach to talk. It was the public Haffa beach. Hundreds of people hang out there every night. Men at the restaurants and women towards the end of the beach in groups with kids. Would you believe the number of emails we received from men accusing us of 'misbehavior' because we were on a beach alone together? With hundreds of other people? Fully clad in black from head to toe? What kind of misbehaving do you mean? Do you mean to tell us we should have dragged our brothers/husband along and had them watch us to make sure we didn't throw off the abaya and walk around in pink bikinis or something? Who the hell do you think you are writing to me telling me I'm a bad person because I met a friend in a public place at night? Who gave you the courage to type those letters and press the send button? What kind of a person are you?
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17. Reputation is all in Salalah. Let me enlighten you. When a girl is seen exchanging study notes with a male colleague at university, her reputation is ruined forever. Or so our men think. According to Dhofari men, women are like white sheets of paper. One little spot of ink and it's ruined. Yes, men have said that to me MANY times. And of course I assume men are black pieces of paper so no matter how much ink you pour onto them, they'll remain pure? As far as Dhofari men are concerned, a woman who is 'recognized' has ruined her reputation. A woman who even smiles at another man has ruined her reputation. A woman who flirted with the boy next door during her teens has ruined her reputation. A woman who drives is ruining her reputation. A woman who works I ruining her reputation. A woman who has an identity has no reputation. Reputation. Reputation. F*** reputation. Why can't a woman have a reputation for being smart, educated, strong, moral, a good mother?? What's wrong with being known? Why can't a woman have a reputation for being a businesswoman? Or a Sheikha at a mosque? Or a good teacher? Why can't men be proud of their women??? When a man approaches another man telling him 'I saw your wife doing this and this. Mashallah she's so smart', why can't the man go to his wife and say 'I'm so proud of you. People are saying good things about you', instead of getting annoyed because someone knows who she is?
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Need I mention that my brother insists I hide in my bedroom when the plumber or electrician is coming to the house to fix something? Need I mention that I'm not allowed to go out to my car when he's outside waiting for a friend to pick him up because it would be too shameful for his friend to see me, even though my face is covered???
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18. Why are women hidden behind locked doors? Is it because they are 'Fitna' (temptation) and may arouse men? Are men such animals? Why is it that one manager at my company refuses to deal with me face to face and will not look at me because I'm a woman. Is he trying to get a message through that he's religious and I'm a slut so he can't work with me? All I wanted was for him to sign a paper and let me know if he had any extra thoughts on the X program we were working on together (through email. Email is fine). I haven't seen him for six months even though he works in the same building. We correspond everyday by email but I've decided to avoid him because his behavior is an insult to me.
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19. I have met religious leaders who cannot even look at a woman and who say 'Istaghfurallah' whenever a woman enters the room (yes there are many of them). What kind of Islam do they practice? What kind of Muslim leaders are they? Do they believe they are good people? They've isolated themselves from society because everything is a temptation. I know of some religious leaders who cannot even look at their own sisters or wife without the hijab on. It upsets them too much. What kind of Islam is that?
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20. On a more positive note, I have met one or two religious leaders who are cheerful educated worldly people. They treated me like a human and I was truly inspired. I attended a few lectures by Sheikh Khalfan Al Esry at the Grand Mosque in Muscat. He is one of those enlightened souls who encourages you to love life and religion. He is the only religious leader I've ever met with a huge sense of humor. He is educated, well travelled, and just an enlightened human being. So many women in Muscat go to him for answers because he's always ready to address people's concerns and questions. We need more of him in Oman and less of the other type.
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21. And about circumcision, why do men feel that women MUST be circumcised? According to some men I know, a common myth is that women are sluts by nature, so in order to curb their desire, they must be circumcised at birth otherwise they'll spend their whole life chasing after men. Are you surprised dear readers? Circumcision still exists in Salalah. Not as much as before, but every girl my age is circumcised. And guess what? They cannot experience pleasure with their husbands most of the time because intercourse hurts so much. Men are full of lust and women see it as a terrible chore. I personally see having intercouse with a circumcised woman in pain as legal rape.
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22. What about polygamy? Dhofar is huge on polygamy. 99.99% of men who take on a second wife do so without any valid Islamic reason. To non-Muslims reading this, not all men can marry a 2nd wife. They must have a valid reason and these reasons are clearly stated in the Quran and Sunna. First of all, the first wife must agree. In Salalah, men don't even bother to ask their wives. They just go ahead and get married and sometimes they don't even tell their wives until the wedding day. What kind of respect is that? What kind of a Muslim does that? The whole idea of polygamy is totally screwed up in Dhofar, I'm sorry to say.
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23. The Glass Ceiling: although there are no 'legal' rules in Oman stopping women from travelling or working or being promoted, or driving or eating in public places, the rules are unwritten, generated by a male-dominated society. As a well-travelled young woman in a modern world, I feel it's my right to work, drive, travel, study, go to the mosque, meet people, have friends, go shopping with my sisters, etc, but deep down inside I KNOW that anyday this could all be taken away from me .... by a man. Do you have any idea what that feels like? To know that anyday your father might suddenly decide you can't work anymore, or he doesn't want you driving anymore, or I'm not allowed to go shopping without a man, or ... maybe a future husband? I'm terrified of marriage because I have seen so many friends who were lied to by their husbands before the wedding. All these empty promises 'Yes my dear, you can live your life and do what you want'. And the moment they get married, the man takes everything away. Just like that. Snap. In one moment, your whole life crumbles in front of you and the man's only excuse is 'مزاج' or 'I do what I want' (i.e. a woman's place is at home).
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Every woman knows that everything that she has built for herself can be taken away from her in one simple moment by a husband or father or brother. Every semi-free woman I know is never 100% confident about her life because she knows she may lose it all one day if her husband has a temper tantrum. Every woman knows her life is not entirely hers. WOMEN SHOULD NOT HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THAT.
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However, dear readers, I know this is the longest post and you're all cross-eyed by now and many of you are ready to attack me for my views, but let me highlight the positive points too. Salalah is definitely changing. Over the past several years more women are working and driving, and I've even started to notice women in restaurants and cafes. Hell, I've even seen women grocery shopping on their own. Salalah is definitely changing. But that's still not enough.
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What we need is more men who don't feel the need to control women. We need more men who respect women and are willing to see their wives as 'partners in life', not someone lower than them. YES these men exist in Salalah and I am meeting more of them each day. I know some of them are reading this now and you know who you are. I want to say 'Thank you' to these brave men who are defying the unwritten rules in society. Thank you to all the men who have helped women build their own lives and get up on their own two feet. Thank you to all the men who treat us with respect at home, at work, in stores, in schools.
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Thank you to the men who are looking for friendship and respect in marriage, not just a woman who will cook for them and iron their clothes and raise the kids on her own. Thank you to all the men who are not ashamed to help their wives in the kitchen or change a baby's diaper or make their wives a cup of coffee. Thank you to all the men who are brave enough to tell their friends 'I'm busy tonight. I'm taking my wife out to dinner'. Thank you to the young and older men who have put on a new pair of glasses and who have been able to see women as beautiful and enlightened creatures who can do so much more in the world. Thank you to all the husbands who are able to refer to their wives as 'Mona' or 'Fatma' to their friend instead of a simple الأهل (the family) because they're too ashamed to say the name. And finally, thank you to all the male relatives who have seen me around town and who didn't feel the need to run and tell my father I'd been seen.
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Finally, the end. I am interested to hear what men think and whether - as men- you truly feel the need to control your women? What about female readers from Oman or the South? Do you feel the discrimination? What have you experienced and how are you breaking out of the shell?

85 comments:

  1. Wow, what a post!

    I think the problem can be summed up in a few words - Control, Fear and a Lack of Respect. I have NO respect for fellow men who act like this, stories like those you repeat here make me so mad. In my eyes these controllers are not men, they are emotionally immature delusional fools.

    I guess the only ways to fix this are time and more influence from outside Dhofar (which creates its own problems).

    Regards

    White, British & Male.

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  2. .... I'm crying

    Nadia, I think you are a very brave woman. I'm proud that there are women like you around. You are the one who will make a change.

    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!

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  3. Wow. Great post Nadia.

    You raise so many issues it's hard to know what to say.

    All strength to you.

    Dragon

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  4. I think it's going to take some time, obviously. Even in places like New York, shocking things happen on a daily basis. It continually amazes me that men have managed to put themselves in the position that they occupy. All over the world you find men controlling women, using violence when they can't, and claiming whatever excuse or rational is handy to explain their behavior: culture, God, tradition, etc. And how have women allowed it?Because ultimately we have allowed it, all over the world, in nearly every culture, including the West.

    I think it's up to parents, to teach their children, and to raise boys who don't grow up thinking they are little princes. Boys all over the world think this. In most countries in the world (yes, most,) you see little girls working and little boys hanging around, playing, often harassing the girls, and how do you suppose this manifests when they grow into young adults?

    I think this is a world-wide problem

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  5. Wow... That post is certainly an eye-opener for me. I had no idea Salalah was like that. Muscat is really different, and it largely depends on the specific family you're from. And it's still EXTREMELY open-minded compared to Salalah. You made me feel really bad for you!!

    The way you said it, it seems like although Saudi's gov't is worse than ours in terms of women's rights, their society is much better. Women have power there, and at least men's understanding of Islam is better (real care for women as humans).

    But with this extremely long post, you didn't tell us what happened this morning that made you so angry and write it in the first place?!

    **one point, about polygamy. Again, as much as I'd love the wife's agreement to be a condition, it actually isn't in Islam. However, polygamy does have other conditions men must abide by before getting on with it.

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  6. I really don't know what to say! I had an idea that this was a misogynist society, but I didn't realise quite how bad it was...female circumcision...for crying out loud!!!

    We are women, we are human beings too. We are not just baby producing machines. We are not possesions, we are your sisters, mothers and wifes.

    If you were real men you would appreciate us for what we are, you would more than benefit from a little love and respect!!!

    Treating another human being like dirt, denying them a life in the name of religion is sick.

    This isn't Islam, this is slavery.

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  7. Nadia - 100% support to you and also you seem to have a individualistic mother

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  8. This posting was indeed very long, but also extremely interesting. I think the Dhofari women will eventually manage to change things, but it takes courageous people like you do it. Keep writing! I'm wondering if you are actually reaching one of your main target group of this posting (the 'conservative tribesman') without translating to arabic :-) ?
    Brgds,
    EUROMAN

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  9. BTW Nadia
    Point 1/ - in Saudi Expats also cannot move around (or at least couldnt when I was there - but nothing changes in Saudi) without the Sponsors written Permission - Control and Power over others -

    Point 5/ Today women still do look after the Goats roaming in the Dhofar mountains – good for them – its hard work of course and I know men also do it .
    Point 6 / Yes the Black Abaya - so few before - so many now – from Iran and Saudi (when people go on Haj ) BUT what do women wear on Haj ?
    I really like your phrase
    “Women are like white sheets of paper. One little spot of ink and it's ruined” ..........and of course I assume “men are black pieces of paper so no matter how much ink you pour onto them, they'll remain”..the same
    I wonder what the men who say that think about themselves - as they congregate in the Salalah Shisha Coffee Shops with the Moroccan waitresses in their provocative clothing , calling the waitress by her first name, is it the woman or man whose character is stained?

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  10. Great, great, great post, Nadia!
    As an expat woman i do not know there is such discrimination for women in Salalah. I feel sorry for those fate offended women who such unhappy with them mariiage. But there is appear a questions: where is them families who leaved them without supporting and compassion? Are they blind, deaf and dumb? Are they stop love them daughters, sisters when those leaving them houses (i mean to husbands houses) or they never loved them? Are they such heartless?
    What kind of people they are?

    I have no words...

    And just i hope everythings will change to a good sides only. And those inappropriate traditions, those "what people will think and say", society attitude will be not as much important anymore with a new generation in Salalah.

    May God make Salalah women life's easier and give them husbands who will love them, respect them, understand and support them, and make them feel the most happiest women in a whole university.

    I wish that from my heart.


    Regards. Eva

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  11. (part1)
    looool,,, Nadia, though u sounded very angry but u kept ur sense of hummer throughout the post, ur right this is the longest post ever- 5000 words-(qualifies for a master's thesis).

    The issue you have discussed here is very sensitive and complicated at the same time. The problem of Dhofaries is that they are still, relatively, a primitive society who will use religion and traditions interchangeably to justify their life style. Unfortunately, both religion and traditions are sometimes misused to the disadvantage of women.

    Throughout my comment on your post, I will try to cover some of the issues you have highlighted, and see whether they qualify for a discrimination act or not (in my opinion). Please be patient with me as I might disagree with u on some of the points and I will definitely support you on some others. I will also try to follow a cause, effect and solution approach in discussing these issues.

    1 & 2) It is important at this stage to highlight that woman rights is a global issue. Even in the west, women are suffering from discrimination at work, as well as at home. They have lesser chances of acceptance in job interviews and tend to be less paid, domestic violence is a major issue with families in the US and there are lots of single mothers whom their husbands/partners fled away to avoid responsibilities of the children (or could be that he fled away with another woman). Therefore, the situation in Salalah is not so gloomy and depressing after all.

    3) Unless you’re living in a world that is only made for you, absolute control over one’s own life is a mythical idea. Even we, men, cannot achieve such status in life. We live within societies that we interact with on a daily basis. Hence, boundaries have been created (either by religions, traditions or ideologies) to organise our lives and protect members of the society from interference with their lives by other members in the name of freedom. The perception of the society of what is right or wrong defines the extent of these boundaries.

    5) Now, coming back to the Dhofari society, as you rightly said, women tended to have higher degree of freedom in the past than they have today. One obvious reason is the harsh living conditions which forced women to go out for work along side men to secure their families welfare. Please not that the rich families did not have to send their women for work. My mother has always told me about the struggle of my grandmother to secure extra income for her ever growing family by trading stuff with the mountains people. She used to carry crops, household items and sardines etc on her back and walk barefooted from the city to the mountains to trade them for ghee which will then be sold again to the people of the city. My best guess is that, because of the dramatic improvement in the standard of living since 1970, families saw no reason for their women to work.
    Other reasons like adopting communism as an ideology, gave women in the rebels holds a higher degree of freedom, however, Nadia, this is not the freedom you would like to have, am I right?

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  12. (part 2)
    6 & 8) I disagree with you on this point, women use to rap themselves with Sari-like cloths which covered them from head to toe. These were either in white (شقاق) or vibrant colours such as green (غفن). Women had to hold these cloths from inside in a way that covered all the body and left a small opening for their sight. Therefore, Women have switched to abayas for their convenience and ease to use. Having said that, I think more women are abandoning the veil, especially after banning it in educational institutions. Whether this is right or wrong I think we will soon see the veil as a thing of the past. Needless to mention that Dhofari ladies are very intelligent in capturing new trends (for god sake I have seen some of them wearing skinny denims- or jeggings under a so called abaya) and I think that women in Salalah have for long been in control of what they wanted to wear. (p.s it is still commen that you see women in other areas outside the city not wearing abayas)

    7) Looooooool, no seriously, loooooool. You sure got me laughing on this one. You made us, men, look as if we are holding the knowledge from you, women, so that you won’t use it against us and you remain our servants forever. Bullshit. Knowledge is available for every1 regardless of their gender and that’s a fact. However, the real problem is that when both men and women are ignorant of each others rights and that’s what you should be addressing. Again, you’re right, we do need people like Khalfan Al-Aysari and others to explain the rights and obligations of both genders from an Islamic point of view.

    9) A friend of mine visited me in Salalah last July to attend my wedding. He was a Turkish secular hardliner who believed in no religion and lived for long in Romania and the UK. So I took him for a spin around Salalah. Believe it or not he was shocked when he saw women are still in Atiyat Street (a street with shops that provides women stuff) after 11 p.m. He elaborated that he had expected women to be at home by 6 p.m. maximum to cook dinner and spend some quality time with their families as in the west. I have explained to him that women here have housemaids to do their work and men rarely stayed at home between 6-12 pm (I guess that emphasises my previous point of both men and women being ignorant of each others rights and obligations).

    10 - 16) For all the stories u have included in your blog, I can give the exact opposite situation from Salalah as well. Therefore, I think it is better if we don’t generalise but still admit the existence of the problem.

    17 & 18) Whether you liked it or not, we are still living in a conservative society where reputation is our greatest assets. However, I would not go to the extreme of saying that exchanging notes with a male colleague is considered as Taboo. In fact it’s very common in universities and colleges (I think you have been misled by whoever told you that). As for the rest of the paragraph (17) you made it sound as if we are living in Kabul. I come from a very conservative family. However, I’m so proud of my wife. She graduated last year with very high grades. Her final year project will enter a GCC wide competition. I have no problem with her driving a car however she still needs to get her licences. She is planning to enrol in one of the English language courses for a year then start her masters after which she will start the looking for a job or maybe open her own business.

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  13. God bless you Nadia and stay strong all the way till what's right happens, and insha'Allah it will!

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  14. Hi Nadia جمعة مباركة
    I don't know what to say, your post is so long and full of facts..
    As a dhofari male I find what you write in this post is somehow correct. I can understand you and understand why you are so unhappy about the situation. Yes, there is discrimination against women. The treatment of women in Arabia is almost the same. Here in dhofar it is much more better as you mentioned but the main common thing is discrimination and it is here. The females are creatures that must be treated in a way that can help the reputation of the family and tribe(hidden law). According to that the discrimination is taking place... that is the issue.
    So the discrimination is not a result of HATE. It is a result of hundreds and hundreds of accumulated tribal customs that developed because of wars took place long time ago in this region and the surrounding Arabian regions. You know most of the results of tribal wars in Arabia are gaining women(سبايا sabaya), camels, and money. The Sabaya are mostly women who become slaves as a result of the war between tribes. This is the maximum shame that can happen to an Arab amn. This fear is since that time. I know that was long time ago and I know it is not here in dhofar since long time, BUT we are part of Arabia, and we are affected since long time. The fear is still there; fear of the reputation of the tribe and family…
    I have my mother and sisters.. I am not the family leader because my father is there, BUT I feel I am responsible about them if he is not at home even though they are now adult, have jobs and can be independent. I am educated and I know what am doing is not because I want to control them, but I feel it is my responsibility to protect them. Don't ask me why please. It is not me who chose such a responsibility, IT IS PART OF THE NON-WRITTEN LAW rules that you mentioned.
    I am 100% supporting you. I hope all dhofari girls in your age got the same chance as yours to study abroad, because it 'll be much more easier for us to change, because we have so many dhofaris and Omanis who studied abroad and return back home worse than before. We need more educated brave girls like you to make the change…WE(men) are not going to give you your rights easily, you have to fight for it. Believe me even men need your independence… WE need to spend more time at work without thinking of GAS cylinders, salt, tomato or rice.. we want you to share the responsibility with us.
    The changing is taking place right now, it is not in a planned way but it is there. We have the fear always of the results of change. We need more education and more life understanding. We have to consider women as humans not as sex-machines or baby factories:). If that fear stops and we re-evaluate our community customs and believes, that time we'll be able to accept the women independence and their right to have their own decisions. We are going to benefit from that.
    Education and difficult decisions will make the change..
    Thank you for this post.

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  15. Fdayooh No1 KmayoohApril 2, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    (Part 3)

    19) I totally agree with you, I think the so called “Motaw3ah” hardliners (especially Wahhabists) have some issues and need to revise the way they perceive women (Saudi Arabia is a living example of their ignorance). To elaborate, I guess you all heard of Alqaseem Girl, who was brutally raped by a group of men. the judge's verdict was that she was to spend 2 years in jail and to have several hundred lashes. The justification was that she brought it on herself when she went out with her boyfriend who was raped as well. I know a Motawa3 who wanted a wife that will obey him, will never watch TV and will never show her face or even talk to his brothers. No1 accepted him, guess what he got married to an Arab girl from an X country and she's living with him in total isolation.

    20) Good example

    21 & 22) These two are to do with “Fiqh” (Islamic jurisprudence as http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ defines). You and I are not qualified to judge on their validity. However, for circumcision, let me assure you that the way they do it here in Salalah does not take pleasure off sex. However, I have to admit that some people have misunderstood the purpose of circumcision (exactly as you mentioned, Nadia) and took extreme measures to suppress women's "lust" as if all women are whores to be (pathetic).


    To conclude, I guess your right we have serious problems that need attention in our Dhofari society. Men have to learn how to treat their women with respect. nevertheless, I do want to emphasise that the good and the bad co-exist in our society and it would not be fair not to shed light on other men who do love and respect their women. We hear of terrifying stories on how men are treating their women in more sophisticated societies than ours. Thus, again, I would say it’s not all grim and depressing in Salalah.

    I like to say that I do sympathy with your cause and I hope that men as well as women will come to learn their obligations and rights within the boundaries of Islam.

    Sorry for the long comment

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  16. Excuse me please, but referring to "circumcision" of girls, what exactly is the point of it? How is the purpose misunderstood? The word itself, "circumcision," is misleading. Because it's not really circumcision, that's just a polite way to say it, whether it's the comparatively minor amputation of a woman's sexual organ or the complete infibulation as done elsewhere, (Somalia, Sudan, etc.)
    What could the reason possibly be for this, other than to "suppress women's lust.?" How on earth could anyone say it "does not take the pleasure off sex?" Of course it does. That is the point of it.

    I was shocked to learn that this practice continues in Salalah.
    Female genital mutilation persists all over the world, though, including the US, (in certain communities,) never mind that it is outlawed.

    Isn't cutting off any part of women's genitals un-Islamic? I know it's not an Islamic practice, but isn't it actually forbidden?
    It seems the usual reason given for maiming a girl (or woman) like this is that "it's our custom."
    Well, there are customs and there are customs.

    You can justify it all you want, but the fact is, it's to control women sexually, by focusing on men's pleasure only, denying women their God given right to enjoy sex in the way it was meant to be, as created by God.
    And all this, I suspect, because of men's fear of women's sexuality.

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  17. Yes, women always have to fight for our rights. And it does take time. In 1997 I was looking for another storefront to rent in New York. I had a store already, but I wanted a bigger one, on a busier street. Throughout the summer I walked the city every morning and chased down every vacancy I could find, in the neighborhood I wanted.
    Not once would a landlord speak to me. I left messages with secretaries, on voice mail, even occasionally with the landlords themselves. They always said they would call me back.
    So intent was my focus on finding a suitable place, that I assumed it was the shortage of real estate and the ultra competitive atmosphere of the economic boom.
    One day, in frustration, I asked my friend, (an unemployed male,) to call a few of these landlords. It was a Saturday.
    11 out of 12 called him back that day.

    Once the contact was made, it was easier. I rented the store and it is still open, 13 years later.

    This was 1997 in New York City. I still find it hard to believe.

    What I mean to say is that these attitudes run deep. Even with what seems like complete gender equality, women still have to do everything better, make less mistakes, and be more careful and maybe more serious than men, because we are not taken seriously, and we will not be forgiven easily. Even here in the US, men can still be condescending and flip when they realize that it is me that owns the company, and not the male employee they were assuming did.

    The transition to accepting women as whole individuals is a difficult transformation to make, not least because often men feel less manly, due in part to many women acting like men, which is not the same as having an equal share in society.

    But as time passes, and women assert themselves, and teach their children new ways, I think it will change. Perhaps it will even be more rapid in Salalah, since there is such a strong sense of family, tribe and tradition. Maybe it is within those strict confines that these changes will happen. Is it possible that because people here already have such a strong sense of who they are, in relation to others, that this will provide a safe and fertile breeding ground for subtle yet strong changes of attitude?

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  18. You just made my day :))

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  19. Hi Nadia,

    Wonderful post. I admire your bravery, strength, and intelligence in writing this entry. These are issues that need to be discussed. You are going to change a lot of things in Salalah, in Dhofar, in Oman, in the world.

    Keep writing, and stay strong. I can't even imagine what it must be like to live everyday knowing that someone could change your way of life forever. Thank you again for the eye-opening post.

    Best,
    Jordann (former Middle East Memoirs blogger)

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  20. Asalaamu 3alaikum,

    I loved this post. My first time here and I must say WOW!! Mashaa'Allah :-D

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  21. wow.. indeed that was the longest post ever.. as "Stimulus" i really had no idea how women are being treated in Salalah, i mean i know they are more reserved but just not like this!!

    muscat is so different.. i just cant believe that we are in the same country..

    You know.. you can and i believe will make a difference,, somehow your voice will be heard and we "your sisters" will support you 100%!!

    point (19) is so true and men like that, honeslty i have no respect for.. i enter dressed in an islamic way and you go "astaghfurallah" WTH!!

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  22. Yes my dear circumcision is Islamic, however women are not obliged to do it as men does (depends on which school of Fiqh you come form, e.g. its obligatory in Shaf'i sect which the people of Salalah follow). The thing is, the prophet himself (PBOH) asked if circumcision is to be performed on a woman it should not be deep and that it should be superficial. كان في المدينة امرأة تختن فقال لها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ( لا تنهكي؛ فإن ذلك أحظى للمرأة وأحب إلى البعل ) رواه أبو داود ( 5271 ) وصححه الشيخ الألباني في " صحيح أبي داود "

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  23. A great piece! If I had a son of marrying age I'd immediately tell him to chase you up and marry you! Just the kind of mother I'd like for my grand kids :-) One nice thing we have that most Western women do not; our daughters keep their surnames (and property) after marriage... Taking a husband's surname! What a diminuation of identity.

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  24. Nadia..
    i honestly believe change will come - like it came to Muscat. Its just a matter of years. Stay strong, i think the key is to spread the word, spread the anger..cos at the end of the day, its these women who will bring up the new generation of men, these women who have the power to influence their husbands at home, these women who will make the change.
    Good luck to all of you. But believe it, change will come.

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  25. Story 2 broke my heart.Good luck to you nadia,do strive for the change and be the change you want.Hope the following inspires you and all the women in dhofar

    Invictus

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    William Ernest Henley

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  26. Dear Nadia,

    What a post! Insightful, passionate, and - in my opinion - not nearly long enough!

    Quick note to Anon – taking your husband’s surname, or keeping your father’s … hmm, property of a man, however you put it … don’t get me started on the whole ‘Fatma Said Abdullah Musallem Mohammed …etc.’

    The issues you bring up affect almost two thirds of the world's population - that's right, just a little under 4 BILLION women ... You may have been speaking about Salalah, for this is where your roots and experiences lie, but you should know that you were speaking about all of us.

    So - too long? I don't %$#@& think so! Sorry about that, please excuse my French ...

    Having said that, I will now ask that yo DO NOT apologize for either your views or your feelings. It is curious how women - and pay attention to this in the future, as I did, and you will see it too - have a tendency to apologize whenever they have the opportunity to speak with great feeling about their own feelings. It is as if we are (genetically / socially / culturally / due to gender / or something!) set and programmed to immediately view our action of speaking our thoughts, and even to view our thoughts themselves, as something taboo, repugnant, not becoming of our gender. We usually always stop, pause, and then add "Oh, so sorry about that ..." whatever 'that' may be. Basically, we are saying "Sorry that I had that feeling, and then I went on to have a thought about it. So sorry."!

    It's ridiculous! I should know, I do it too. Every single point you write about is so seriously disturbing, that I cannot bring myself to respond to just any one, I'd have to respond to all. So I'll refrain at the moment, as I do not want to make this 'the longest response to a blog' in history.

    I am not Omani, but I have the opportunity to meet many Omanis both male and female - and my heart goes out to both. Why both? To the female population for obvious reasons ... and to the male population because they do not realize that with their behaviour towards their own women they are killing, literally, their own lives, making them poor in so many ways - in spirit, in soul, in mind and in body ...

    It may seem that western women have more freedom or more control over their lives ... but this is not so. Just because we are not visibly restrained - as in 'imprisoned' within the four walls of our house - we are horribly restrained by FEAR. Constant, sickening, fear. Of what? Of everything - will ‘he’ love me? if ‘he’ doesn’t love me, will anyone? if 'he' seems to love me will he marry me? 'he' married me, but if I do not please him will ‘he’ leave me? if 'he' leaves me, who else will love me now that I have become 'used goods'? - used goods, for crying out loud! - if I don't get married will I be labeled as a bitch? a spinster? a whore? if I don't work, will my family be able to live, will 'he' think I am worthless? if I do work, who will bring up my kids, will 'he' and others think I am a bad mother? ... if I am lucky enough to think I found love with ‘him’, will my father approve? if ‘he’ doesn’t approve, will this forever ruin my relationship with my family? will I have to choose between the two? … if ‘he’ becomes abusive, who can I turn to then? if ‘he’ threatens to keep me from my kids, will I be able to leave ‘him’? … And the list could go on and on and on ...

    And at the epicentre of it all - 'HE'! We cannot budge for one minute without always having someone who is 'him' on our mind, ultimately controlling our lives - like a master puppeteer pulling the strings, while we women, all 4 billion of us, dance, jump and frolic at ‘his’ every whim.

    We watch all these movies in which we are sold total BS about the empowerment of western women – and when we compare ourselves to, lets say, women in Oman, we convince ourselves that we have it so much better … like I said – total BS.

    One Woman's Opinion

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  27. One Woman with an OpinionApril 3, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Part (1)
    Why BS? Because we are all in the same boat, we only refuse to acknowledge that you are locked away below the deck, while we are out on the deck … nevertheless, it’s still the same boat … and here we are, thinking our prison is better than yours … what hypocrites!



    Meanwhile, land is nowhere in sight, and the boat is surrounded by gigantic sharks … and what do we do? No, no, we do not acknowledge our fear of the sharks, or that of open water, but instead choose to focus on how ‘liberating’ the open air on the deck is …



    But guess what? It’s also really cold out there a lot of the time … and the heat of the sun at other times can be almost unbearable … and the whipping of the wind can be punishing … not to mention the rain, hail and storms … nor the beatings sustained from being thrown back and forth upon the heaving and roiling deck … nor the fact that we forget to acknowledge those who couldn’t withstand the impact and were thrown overboard … And through it all – weather beaten and bruised – we rejoice in our ‘freedom’, and thank God we are not below the deck with you … ughh …



    Before people can begin attacking, name-calling, and jumping to the wrong conclusions in general, I just want to explain:



    I am a woman, I believe in God, I am very happily married and love my husband and family very much, and I am NOT a feminist … to be honest, I do not even know what that word means … if to be a ‘feminist’ means to want RESPECT and humane treatment for yourself and for more than half of the world’s population, that’s right, the female part … then label me a feminist or whatever you will …I am merely calling it as I see it, every day, in this wide world around me …



    I know that Eve was the one that gave Adam that apple – but, guess what? HE is the one who made the choice to eat it … she didn’t force it down his throat … Regardless, God has seen fit to punish them both for their deeds and has already done so – after all, our existence here on this earth confirms it, and do we women not suffer in childbirth and are cursed with our monthly flows? Therefore, how can men see fit to continue to punish us and the souls God has given us? This is not your job! Who died and suddenly made all the men God instead? What right do you have to play the role of the absolute, and to want us to worship you as we should worship our Maker? To force us into the sin of idolatry? To prevent us from praying, from connecting with Him?!?

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  28. One Woman With An OpinionApril 3, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Part (2)

    Hello! Women are the ones who bring you (and all of us, for that matter) into the world – without us as the vehicles through which God brings our souls to this earth, neither we nor YOU would exist! Doesn’t that tell you something about the woman’s place in this world and in God’s love?


    What purpose do men think their control over our lives – who we know, what we wear, who ‘sees’ us – serves? Do you honestly think that if a woman is completely covered she will never cheat on her husband? Or that if she wears a short skirt and high heels that she is certainly sleeping with a harem of a hundred men? Think again – where there is a will there is a way, and vice-versa. I know women who would put on the abaya for the sole purposes of sleeping around and/or cheating on their husbands. I also know young, pure and innocent women who wear short skirts merely because it’s fashionable, it’s in, and their (female) friends compliment them on their fashion sense. Do you seriously think that women in the west wear the clothing they wear for the sole purpose of attracting men? HA! We are more concerned about what all the other women will think, that you guys are a mere afterthought, if that! That’s right, our FEAR as women is a sickness that constantly pits us against each other … not in fight over who will have more sex, but who will ultimately win ‘his’ love and be the one and only … it’s sad really … And if you circumcise your woman – well, buddy, you’ve just ensured that she will never cheat on you, sure, but also that she will NEVER be capable of truly loving you … so good luck, you fool ...



    One Woman's Opinion

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  29. Nadia, Fight on! You were fortunate to have been able to travel and to see the light. Others must do likewise, and together you will win this struggle. The stupid men do not realise what they are loosing by depriving their wives and then their daughters of a full role in life, and failing to provide paternal care and attention to their offspring every day.

    The UN team in Muscat is working on the female circumcision issue which is widespread in Oman, affecting every area outside Muscat. Another nonsensical shame in this day and age, that must be stopped now, and in everyone's interest.

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  30. Lazy to sign in.

    Kaada qalbi an ya5ruja min fami hehe. Got a little frightened when I noticed the quote from my comment on MC :p. Have a lot to say about that too. Since I was a student in secondary school I had a belief that there's a kind of discrimination against women in Dhofar.. even though religious men would say something like muslim women are like jewellery/flower/etc that we are protecting from being spoilt or stolen. We poor women, brainwashed by those men, keep saying that "we are flowers/diamonds/etc." No-one of us, women, ever thought of saying, "ok, I don't want to be a piece of jewellery or a flower. I want to be a human."

    We are oppressed and brainwashed.

    Busy at the moment. I'll say what I have to say about this in my blog when I have the chance.

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  31. @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh - you make some good points about how not everything is black & white, and for every story Nadia gave there is an opposite story that would gladden the heart.

    However, that is not the issue here - Nadia herself says in her post that not ALL men are behaving in this way. For that, and the respect and love with which you say you treat your wife, I commend and applaud you - as I think all women reading this would.

    What the issue here is - that sadly the stories she mentions do not constitute a freak minority, but actually make up the fabric of a society. Most men are not kind, respectful and loving to their wives - and, to an extent, I can understand why, when they have had nearly as little say in who they marry as their spouses. But it is not right that women - even 50% as you claim - should be forced into a life of isolation and imprisonment.

    In response to point 9 and your Turkish friend - just what point were you trying to make? How 'free' the Salalah women are - hey, they get to shop on their 'women's street' between the hours of 6pm and 12am, if their husbands, fathers, brothers are willing to take them - and, while the men have no need for them at home, because they are out and about on their own? What about a woman going out on her own and her car being 'seen' and stupid conclusions people come to - even if she is merely having some coffee with her mother, sister, friend? What is so 'free' about being 'herded', that's right, like cattle, to your 'street'?

    For that matter - why on earth can't women go out with their men and enjoy themselves together? I'm not suggesting dating or going out with men on their own - but why can't your wife or your sister or mother or aunt go with you and your brothers and your father, or, god-forbid, your friends for a night out on the beach, coffee shop, restaurant, without being segregated and herded into a little room, enclosed in four walls yet again? And why can't I go out to Browniz with my husband without being stared at like I'm the new addition to the Zoo? Don't bother telling me that there is a 'family' section - I don't want a view of the graveyard when trying to enjoy myself, and, imagine, I like to have a cigarette with my coffee which I can't in the 'family' aka 'women' section ... yet another thing women can't do. Hey, I'm not saying smoking is good, but there's that thing about CHOICE.

    I do not know what college or university you went to in Oman, but I can assure you (since I work in one) that it is a great TABOO to exchange a note with a male - a note!? I think 98% of my female students would simply die / expire / cease to exist if someone even mentioned such a concept!

    It is a TABOO of the greatest proportions for our female students to sit - sit! - in a parallel row across the entire room from the boys! I can't tell you what a circus it is to try to arrange final exams, especially in classes that have like 25 girls and 5 boys ... it is a nightmare - there are tears, tremblings, shaking hands, you name it ...

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  32. @ محفيف - you are a very perceptive and intelligent (and I assume young-er) man. Your comment clearly shows a paradox of sorts you find yourself and your society in - a paradox that is frustrating because it is difficult to get out of as both sides are pulling at the same time with equal strength in opposite directions.

    You are right about the fear, about the need of both men and women for change, and about the fact that women will just have to fight for their rights ... no pain, no gain ...

    I guess if you think about it, men have also had to fight for their rights (although of a different nature). The right to own the land, to build a country, to become leaders ... we just forget that men made themselves who they are through bloodshed and constant fighting, and they keep doing it today too - except they give it fancy names: 'peace missions', etc.

    I know you are not suggesting that women should shed blood, and I am NOT suggesting it either. Not physically anyway - but certainly metaphorically speaking.

    All in all, thanks for perhaps one of the few actually constructive comments.

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  33. Dhofari Gucci,

    alot of problems you mentioned clearly belongs to Salalah + the interiors, but sorry to say men in the south are very different, its not only hard for you women to deal with them , but also men from other places in Oman, this is what I thought first BUT , women either accept this situation in the south OR have an attitude similiar to thier men (I HAVE EXPRIENCED SOME UNREAL SITUATIONS OF DHOFARI WOMEN IN THE PAST) or they think about freedom and women rights are like you (VERY FEW) .

    So, please accept my comment and dont be offended with it, you are not speaking on behalf of all women in the south, you represnt barely 5% of Dhofari women , the other 95% either like the way they are being treated (they say its because they are the best breed of women is why thier men worry about them showing thier faces ) OR as I recall on one occasion , a volcano waiting to erupt, once a guy speaks to them in a very decent way they would think he is flirting and start being rude to him and probably curse him in thier own language ;)

    again please dont be offended , either you publish it or not , its a pleasure to write in your blog

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  34. Thanks Nadia! I can't agree more and I can't say more than Thank you!

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  35. Hi Nadia,

    I really dunno what to say. Just wanted to add that MANY women in different regions in Oman are living in more worse situation. It's really sad and depressing.

    Keep it up. Definitely one of my fav blog entries by you. Looking forward to see more of them.

    Regards,
    Faith

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  36. Gosh I must say that was a grate read! Good thing I have a little program on my computer that reads things to me, even get a little laugh out of having it try and say arabic words.

    On to my thoughts about the blog Post and I'm as heck not sorry for any of them :)

    Female circumcision witch I just like to call mutilation. There is no way around the fact that it is no good. Yes the Prophet (PBBH) did say to take as little as posable but that was only after a women who's job it was asked him about it saying it was her livelihood, but it was better not to. I'm not sure about the where to find this I just remember hearing this in the letchor I went to. Even at that time one man in charge said "I recommend every women get it done". Like Hell! You could see the look of pain on the faces of the women who have had it done. One woman there even had a new born baby girl and every women in that room tried to tell her that it did not have to be done. ... I am scared to think what happened latter at home, she too had a pained look. I and many others would have gone over and told the men just what we the women had to say if it was not for the fact that we where in another building having everything put through on speakers, gosh I wonted to yell out a window at them.

    On the note of getting recognized,

    There has been a time when I really wonted to help someone but could not and just sat in the car. It has happened once and I was sick with worry. I do not like the feeling of not being able to do anything and the fear that you have to wait for the person to be unconscious before taking action! Yes I get that they want to protect the people in there life's, and it is grate, I even want to protect the people in my life two.

    In the extreme of it all I have even heard someone say they rather have there sister die then get helped by a man if there sister was stuck in the middle of the desert. Gosh!

    I know of many good men that respect there wife's, sisters, mothers and aunts as wonderful smart people and are not afraid to tell people and hope that the world would be full of more of them.

    Inshallah you are feeling better Nadia

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  37. wow! seems like I have been gone for a while now!

    Well, as much as I would like to say that Muscat is perfect, I am afraid it is not.. Though not as bad as Salalah. My dad is always proud to show off how well educated his daughters are, I sometimes talk to my brother's friends (in the US), but truth be told.. it is true.. you can never be 100% confident that one day your dad or husband would take all that away from you!

    15 years ago, I begged my parents to let me wear the abaya because it was just so cool! No one in my village or family wore it. Yet, things changed. Now, I beg them (mostly uncles) to let me go out without the abaya on.

    It is unfortunate what became of us, women, in Oman. My grandmothers had more freedom than we did! But you know what they all tell you! "Omani's were not educated enough about 'Islam' then, and now they are".. Men in my family are starting to tell us we cannot wear the traditional Omani dress because "the pants are a bit tight on the leg"!! WTF! Men in the past were able to walk around without drooling from looking at the slightly tight pant!!! (the Omani dress goes half way below the knees.. then the pants are visible)

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  38. Dear Nadia!
    I came back to read this post and I really think that it Must be translated!
    Women like you should start a campaign dedicated to this issue! its danger is even worse than H1N1 and weapons of mass destruction.
    Yes I am VERY excited and I have this huge feeling of solidarity towards this issue!
    I've suffered a lot myself.

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  39. Just a note on circumcision:

    You'd have to differentiate between the "Islamic" circumcision and the "cultural" one. What goes on in Somal, Sudan, a lot of African countries is cultural - where they really do it to remove the "lady's pleasure". However, in Islam, circumcision is actually a Sunna but with serious conditions, mainly being done correctly by specialists. These conditions override the Sunna (i.e. if you cannot find them, or unsure if the person is actually a specialist, then immediately it becomes something not mustahabb - better off not do it). I'm not sure if the one happening in Dhofar is actually cultural or Islamic.

    When asking WHY it's a Sunna, I don't know. Some say it's to reduce pleasure, or to keep the area cleaner (just like men) etc. But in the end they're all just human explanations. What we as Muslims should know is whether they're really Sunna or not, and then accept it as part of Islam (tasleem - giving away - your soul to Allah without questioning).

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  40. Touché Stimulus, Dhofar is no different from any other place where both type of circumcision exists. Therefore this problem ceases to fall under women discrimination to become a case of ignorance or stupidity of some families.

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  41. Everyone,,,, plz define what exactly you mean by women rights and what sort of freedom you expect women in Salalah to have . In my humble view I would love to see women participate in building the society hand in hand with men. I would love to see women driving, working, appreciated for their intelligence and involved in decision making. However, what I don't want to see, is liberated women with sick westernized mentality who think that they have total control over their lives and enjoy absolute freedom.
    Enough is enough. What do expect? Do you want us to abandon our faith and believes to follow a western life style,, we might as well abandon our religion and embrace some kind of a secular ideology. Shame on you. As for expats, we respect your life style so do respects ours don't come here patronize us on what is right or wrong.
    People tend to forget that we are still living in a conservative society with values and beliefs. In fact, people ceased to respect others beliefs. Well, tell you what! No, we don't want our women to have the freedom you're calling for.
    Well it satisfy you to see women in the south wearing miniskirts and sleeveless tops. So if you have something that will add value to this debate say it or otherwise your silence is much appreciated.
    NADIA, sorry for the strong post but I feel like that people are dragging this into murky grounds. I believe in freedom of speech but what I can't tolerate is using it for ulterior motives or hidden agendas.

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  42. Fidayooh- women rights means women having as same rights as men. That includes being stupid.

    to be fair though, i do feel women have stronger impact in dhofar then women in other regions (and then most men of the household do)..it's just the whole ''u can go out, u can drive, etc unless i tell u so'' pressure..which is kinda dissapearing anyway


    -ADG

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  43. Just think I should point out that the opposite of being forced to wear something you don't want, because a man thinks you should, is certainly not to wear a miniskirt. I hear that argument all the time and it's idiotic.

    Yet in the west sex is commodified and there doesn't seem to be any bottom in sight because the culture is still sinking. So many young women dress like fools, wearing clothing that would be more appropriate for strippers, because they think it's expected, and the popular culture might seem to suggest it.

    So why the two extremes?
    Can't someone dress conservatively (as the culture is conservative) or not (if it's a western country) without having to be totally hidden, to never feel the sun, or the wind, the ocean, or fresh air?
    Can't women dress apropos to the occasion and culture without putting all their assets on view?
    I think both extremes are dressing for men.
    And men like to have it both ways. "Good women" at home and "bad women" at the restaurant.
    All those Moroccan ladies with the cleavage? They are there to make money. And they make plenty.
    Western women are dressing like imbeciles in Salalah? Or are we basing this argument on what you see on TV? Or what your friend swears he saw in Europe? Or how you perceived it was when you studied in the US?
    Obviously, the discussion of women's desire for self determination in Oman is for Omanis to settle. But I can certainly comment when misperceptions of western culture come up.

    The ideas that Omanis (in general) have about westerners are just as whack as the ones Americans (in general) have about Arabs.

    Anyway, does it really follow that "allowing" women the right to some self-determination means they go slag off in mini-skirts and sleeveless tops and become "liberated women with sick westernized mentality who think that they have total control over their lives and enjoy absolute freedom?"
    That is really quite a line.

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  44. Angry in Oman, good idea.

    Perhaps you should explain to the readers what Take Back the Night is ...

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  45. So true Nadia! I grew up in a non-arab country but the culture was still as strong as if we were living in an arab country. Things of course have changed but women/girls carried alot of responsiblities in their shoulders. You couldn't be seen talking to a non-mahrim guy or else so and so would tell a member of your family and all hell breaks lose! It's just some cultural BS that men have let it go on for a while, its bullying!!! A girl/woman is not supposed to be seen outside after maghrib(that's when the sun sets where we grew up, so it was dark(?). Alhamdulilah, with time, things are getting better and girls/women are getting higher education and seeking education in other countries. BTW, I always believe that men who are *scared/worried* about wives/sisters/female members doing something *bad* is because they do that to other females outside. sf

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  46. wow. you've mentioned so many things, ideas - not having the right to your individual identity - what an incomprehensible thought. i need to go take a break, think and come back to this post.
    my first time here and i'm astounded.
    will be returning here for more. keep writing. and please keep fighting. we women around the world are proud of you.

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  47. Nadia... your post fills me with sadness, but not with despair. Traditions are so hard to change. The key is education for women, which Sultan Qaboos has made a goal since day one of his reign. You have won a few battles, but the next step will be you educated women educating your own sons and daughters... and grandsons and granddaughters. Be strong and choose your battles carefully. Perhaps two steps forward and one step back. Insha'Allah... slowly things will move forward for more and more young women like yourself.

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  48. If you have faith in God and you truly believe that you have been tyrannized then you should just endure it and ask god to help you with your endurance and...

    That is, if you seek an eternal salvation in paradise.

    I know that this might sound obscure, but if you thought about your situation from the another prospective, god gave you an opportunity to endure and the more you endure the more you would be awarded. If god may will and...

    That is, if you seek an eternal salvation in paradise.

    (( وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوفْ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الأَمَوَالِ وَالأنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ{155} الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ{156} أُولَـئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ{157} )) البقرة

    Not everything seems as they appear to be. What you might actually hate and seems wrong might actually be beneficial to you. Also what seems to be an utopia in your mind might be a disadvantageous to you.

    {وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ} البقرة: 216

    {فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا}
    النساء: 19

    The way i see it is that you have the opportunity to endure this hardship and the more you endure it the more you'd be rewarded and gain what each and every Muslim dream to gain. If you believe that god is the wisest then believe that it was god judgment and wisdom that created sallalah that way. Thank god for such an opportunity.

    That is, if you truly believe in god the one and the only and you have turned yourself to him and you declare that he is the mightiest the most wise and everything he does is for the better and his judgment is far above our understandability of a human being and you really wish an eternal salvation in paradise.

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  49. @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh - I am sorry to see that you couldn't take my bit of criticism for some aspects of your earlier comments with a pinch of salt and a positive attitude. I say this only because I am certain that your last comment is not in response to "people dragging this into murky grounds... using it for ulterior motives or hidden agendas." WTH!? What ulterior motives and agendas? My goodness, you went a bit too far into conspiracy theories ... from what are merely people's subjective opinions and personal experiences.

    Frankly, people have, if anything, shown support and solidarity towards a joint desire to prevent ABUSE of women - not in order to further abuse them and their men by destroying their culture, religion, traditions and identity!

    There is NO ONE here who said that women in Dhofar should wear miniskirts, or become sluts, or completely ignore and disobey every word of their men and have, as you put it, "sick westernized mentality ... [and] think that they have total control over their lives and enjoy absolute freedom".

    Actually, I think the freedom Nadia – and all the rest of us! – are talking about, is precisely the freedom you describe in your opinion: “In my humble view I would love to see women participate in building the society hand in hand with men. I would love to see women driving, working, appreciated for their intelligence and involved in decision making.” What more should there be? We ALL (women) want merely that – western, eastern, or middle! The question here is if you and other men (of ALL societies, not just this one) actually realize just how far away the women in general are from holding such a position within your society? Just because you and your circle of friends may behave in the above manner – does this mean you must turn a blind eye to the fact that horrible injustices are taking place, both in your community and the wide world? If we turn a blind eye – and by ‘we’ I mean people like you and like me, educated, who can reason and try to follow the right path and way in life – who then is left to speak up for the oppressed?

    But isn’t participating in building your society hand in hand with the men, driving, working (if you want!), being appreciated and involved in decision making – isn’t this absolute control and freedom?! What more is there? So why then do you say that you “want none of the freedom we are calling for? Aren’t you being contradictory? Believe me, miniskirts are NOT a ‘freedom’ that women in other societies ‘choose’ – it is, in fact, IMPOSED upon them by a society in which MEN want that. Believe it or not, those women also do not have a choice and are brainwashed and abused by the social dictum propagated by the men of their society. These men have decided that they want the opposite of you – they want available women all the time to choose from as they will, and they will actually LAUGH AT, RIDICULE, and SHUN women who want to preserve their chastity and purity. It is – as one Anonymous mentioned – not a choice, but two examples of the extremes (abaya vs. mini) to which men will go to have negative control over women. This kind of ‘control’ is NOT the same as the ‘protection’ of which you speak – actually, this ‘protection’ would be most welcome, and your wife is one lucky lady.

    How can women do what you say and help build society and work and be appreciated, etc., if they are not allowed to show themselves? How are they supposed to accomplish what you speak of if they are hidden and locked away? If their ability to do any of those things depend ENTIRELY on their fathers, brothers, and husbands?

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  50. @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh (part 2) - Sure, MODESTY is most certainly a part of Islam, but the dictum that orders the covering of the entire face is most certainly NOT. Or are you now claiming that Dhofaris are the most religious, but Muslims in Muscat and area, Emirates, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Canada, France, England, Germany, etc. that do not cover the entire face are NOT religious and will all go to hell? Can’t a woman be modest without the abaya?

    Oh, and one more question – what is the point of being religious if you are simply going to shut away, imprison, HIDE ALL possible temptation? What then are you proving to God? That you can be ‘good’ and ‘pure’ in soul, only because nothing in this world was available to you? What does that do? No, no. Actually, the point should be that you are presented with temptation, and your BELIEF and FAITH help you to REJECT and overcome this temptation. If it wasn’t, God would not have put that tree in the garden, but would have ‘hidden’ it away! We are here to struggle through this life, and real faith is born during this struggle – if you do not struggle with yourself and your earthly failings, you do not have faith.

    So, again, I am sorry if my comments angered you, that was not my intention - I just wanted to ask a few questions (and hoped you would actually answer), as some of the points you brought up before seemed a bit contradictory - to me. Maybe I am wrong, and you should feel free to respond and correct me, in fact, I welcome it! After all, it is just one opinion, based on my personal experiences, so don't let it bother you too much.

    And here I go again, must ask one more question - what do you mean by the "sick westernized mentality"? To what 'west' are you referring to? Aren't you doing what Americans do when they stereotype ALL Arabs as terrorists? Really? So Russians, Turks, Brazilians, Bosnians, Lebanese, Bulgarians, Greeks, Americans, Polish, Spaniards, Germans, Mexicans, Ukrainians, Argentinians, English, etc. are ALL the same? We are ALL 'sick? Fine. Then all Arabs, hey, all Muslims, are terrorists with their ‘sick mentality’ that justifies suicide, and all their women are silly, empty-headed dolls that act in the capacity of breeding machines, have no feelings or thoughts for themselves because that’s how they like it. Sounds right? Hmm, I don’t think so … and now you’re probably angry. Stop for a second and think. Do not write generalizations and make conclusions about people, nations, various societies and their mentality by grouping them all into one bulk and then DEGRADING them … it is rude, unjust, and very, very wrong. Even if you had traveled, and/or met with various people from some of those societies, be aware that they do not constitute the majority – otherwise you come off as ignorant, and I know that you are definitively not that.

    Now, and I’m not sure I should even address such abuse, please answer and quote whoever you feel that said you should abandon your religion! What I think many people here have actually said is – DO NOT confuse religion with cultural tradition! Your religion is love and all things wonderful – embrace it, use it, love it, as it was meant for you to do, and ALL of these problems will go away! So, actually, I think the opposite is the case and that people have been encouraging TOWARDS complete embracement of your religion, not against it. SHAME ON YOU for thinking that we could only suggest some secular ideology as a solution to the widespread problem of abuse against women. Shame, shame, shame.

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  51. @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh (part 3) - You “respect our lifestyle” as expats, do you? Maybe you do, but what about your fellow compatriots? Every word you have written in this last comment is filled with such anger that must have been born only of some kind of hate … this is respect? It is ‘respect’ when your compatriots stare at us as if we’ve descended from some other planet? It is ‘respect’ when your compatriots have the nerve to proposition us for sex on the street, in the market, in a taxi, JUST because of our ethnicity? What are we – all of us whores only because we are not Muslim and do not belong to an abaya-wearing culture? It is ‘respect’ when local adolescents catcall and laugh at us on the street? It is ‘respect’ when small children shout ‘F-you!’ and throw rocks at us? You should look up the word ‘respect’ in the dictionary!

    However – don’t misunderstand me – What I wrote above are only examples of how SOME and very FEW people behave in Salalah towards expats. But does that mean we should all pretend that it doesn’t happen? Or should I follow your example and, based on those RARE experiences, say that ALL people in Salalah are like that? I am here because I chose to be, because I really like, no, love, your country and people, and in general I consider myself very lucky to be here and to experience this life with you. Most of my fellow expats feel exactly the same way. Do not stereotype us with the various one to two week tourists, who, I will agree with you, do not show the respect they should.

    I am not writing here to “patronize” you – actually, I am writing here because I CARE about the people I am living with here. I like living in a society with values and beliefs – it is one of the major reasons I no longer live where I used to (by the way – where I used to live is not where I am from, and this is why I am very sensitive on the issue of stereotypes). It’s not that that society did not have values and beliefs, it’s that I did not like and agree with those values and beliefs …

    Finally, who am I to even try to tell you what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Never tried to do that – merely to show sympathy and support for my fellow female human beings … After all, we are merely agreeing with an opinion of one of your own women on what constitutes proper treatment of women vs. abuse. What’s wrong with that? If I was to need support regarding a difficult issue that affected me – I would certainly ask for, and value, the opinion of Dhofari women. This is RESPECT. And, what, are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ based only on culture and tradition? Since when? I did not know that the concepts of right and wrong were so fluid and changeable from one place to another … but then again, what does an ‘infidel’ like myself possibly know? … Please respond, as I would really like to know where it is considered RIGHT to kill, mutilate, abuse, beat, imprison, rape, molest, oppress … just so I can make sure to avoid this place at all costs …

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  52. To all the anonymous people out there, please pick a nickname when commenting so we know which anonymous to respond to.

    Instead of commenting as anonymous, pick the Name/URL option, and just put any name you like without a URL.

    Thanks! It'll make it easier for us to respond to your comment and continue the debate.

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  53. I agree with most of the stuff u mentioned on ur post (coz i can realte this to some relatives and friends), but seriously this problem occures in specific tribes or ( no offense) uneducated families who still live under tribal influences.
    for me as a dhofari girl, i was brought up in an open minded educated family. i had the privilage to study co-educational schools and uni's abroad. we are allowed to drive, go out whenever we feel like it (ofcourse dressed properly/ apprpiate places and timings)
    not to forget that my father refuses us from wearing the veil.
    so it all comes down to the men in the family and how much they value their women.
    although there are many "prissy higher tribes" as uve mentioned above that give thier women as much freedom u can imagine...
    its slowly changing but u have to admit being conservitive is still a good thing..

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  54. Dear Nadia,

    Thanks for the info about how to get a nickname to display ... not very technologically savvy I must say :)

    Anyway, the Anonymous comments addressed to @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh are by me - One Woman (with an opinion - gasp!), as is the earlier comment in direct response to your blog, that you helped me with as I had trouble posting ... hence the reason that one has the nickname!

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  55. I see you have so many comments already Nadia, but I'll add mine. Your post made me cry. I work as a teacher and the growing majority of my students are young women. Young, intelligent, strong, beautfiul Salalan women. And the young men I teach? I shudder. Because I know that however much these girls want, in the end, it will be up to the man they marry, and forgive me, but i have not seen much evidence of respect or maturity in your young menfolk. They are like spoilt perpetual 12 year olds who are given everything they want.

    many of my girls express desires to be something other than a wife and a mother. Note though that not one of them says they do not want to be a wife and mother. All of them say they love it here, they love Dhofar, they love and respect their country. But 4 walls is a cage, men, it's a cage. It's good for an animal. Not a thinking human being.

    Plus, men, by diminishing your women, you diminish yourselves. The ideas Omani men have about women are so stupid and juvenile and preadolescent i won't even start on them. Where does this come from? This is not Islam. This is disrespect, and when you disrespect your women and their abilities and their 'chastity' (god i hate that word), when you diminsh them to your child-bearer, your cook, and your f**k (forgive, but you really have me on a topic!) then you diminsh yourselves. Saudi Arabia is to me the stupidest country in the world, because 52% of its population are treated as sub-citizens. What does that say about the other 48%?
    Women are amazing. They hold up half the earth. They are the source of life. They are what binds society together. When they are let to do more, they do more. They can do it all. And they can be as strong as as beautiful while they are doing it as their society lets them.

    One more thought in this long post. For Omani women reading this, you are responsible for your childrens attitudes, you, more than your husband. DON'T SPOIL YOUR BOYS!! Treat them to respect you and their sisters. Don't put them before their sisters. God made us equal. We women are not an afterthought. And please, please, educate your girls. It's more important for your society.
    Enough. Salaam.

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  56. Nadia let me add a story to the list (though i know u have more)...
    Story: When I was in Salalah (i'm originally from SLL but i live in Muscat) at Khareef season, I used to go to the library -which is in the Heritage and Culture Center- coz I was doing a research and i need a peaceful place which i can work on a laptop and meet some of my friends to help me in my research (u know in our tradition i can't meet them at their houses) without interruptions.... so I used to go almost on daily basis but suddenly I'm not allowed to... coz that place used to be a place for dating instead of reading or writing... so if u go there a sticky note will be stick on ur back has "bad reputation" sentence.... what a shock i had when i heard that?!!! ... such things could be so annoying... I'm not saying that I wanna put off my 3abaya and hijab and walk on the street like that... I'm just saying that few things have to be change and improved we shouldn't be so shallow and care about only looks... There is something called "Logic" we should always put it in our account....
    For ur record I'm one of the ppl who love to preserve our tradition and culture... but the world is changing rapidly...

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  57. I was delighted to read your blog and fully support the sentiments therein. I lived in Oman for over 7 years and they remain in my memory as some of the happiest in my life. My daughters miss Muscat terribly and my son (born there) considers himself Omani!
    On a couple of occasions I had the luck of attending Sheikh Khalfan El Esry's talks; he is, indeed, an enlightened and wonderful human being.
    I salute you for your fight against the prevalent misogyny in Arabic countries.
    Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all see ourselves as HUMAN BEINGS, sacred as any creation of Allah should be?
    Keep up the good work!
    Shukran,
    Sheila

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  58. You go, woman! Continue to write your heart out. Tell it from the inside.

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  59. Nadia,
    You are an exceptional woman.I am an American married to a Moroccan woman. I would never try and tell her what to do. I feel it is her DUTY to be free and grow as much as she can and it is my DUTY to support her when and where I can. I put no limits or restrictions on her. If she wants to go into acting, go ahead. If she wants to do a hair salon, go ahead. If she wants to visit her family in Morocco, go ahead. However, I do have one rule and requirement.... When she comes back from Morocco, she has to bring me some Moroccan Dishdashas. :-)

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  60. To One Women

    First of all, let's be clear, my post was not entirely a response to you earlier comments, I guess I've made it very clear that it is directed to everyone. If you really have read all the posts, you will find that some have started criticizing our way of life and started questioning some of our religious practices. It is only for those people that I have written my post. However, if you feel like your comments have unleashed my "anger" be my guest.

    As you said (spot on) people either showed solidarity or support. However is this exactly what we came here for? I thought the intention of this blog is to highlight the problems, study the causes and find solutions. However, I find people calling men fools, arrogant, stupid you name it (isn't this the same discrimination your fighting against). I see others accusing Dhofaries of being "misogynist" (women haters) and lack understanding of their religion. Would you like me to continue?!!!! Is this your meaning of solidarity and support?

    You want families to go out for dinner and sit with every1 else and women should not cover their faces. So by not doing this we are discriminating against our women, right? (How lame!!!). I thought that privacy is very much appreciated in the west and people pay huge somes of money to get their private rooms in a restaurant, or have their private first class suites when they travel etc. how did that become a women rights issue?

    You really have the tendency to twist my words to suite your argument here. I have defined what I feel women in Salalah are in need of and im not gonna say it again. You better use your energy in finding ways to accomplish those needs instead of trying to convince every1 else that I'm contradicting myself.

    So I'm a fan of conspiracy theory. Plz read the following "Believe me, miniskirts are NOT a ‘freedom’ that women in other societies ‘choose’ – it is, in fact, IMPOSED upon them by a society in which MEN want that. Believe it or not, those women also do not have a choice and are brainwashed and abused by the social dictum propagated by the men of their society" cpoy pasted from your comment above.looooooooooooooooooooool so who is into conspiracy theory now. I really lost you here, so your saying; it only can be a conspiracy if it happens in the west but not in here; So you're saying men in here are not trying to exploit women sexually; so you're saying women in here are more treated like human not sexual entities. So (finally) you're saying our women are more respected than yours, am I right?

    You see how easy one can twist other's words into his advantage. I guess I have said it all. I need not to comment on you stereotype part for the sake of not giving you the pleasure of twisting my words again :)

    Please take no offence and let us work together to identify and segregate the main problems and find solutions that will actually be accepted by the society.

    yours sincerely

    Fdayooh

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  61. What I got to say about this is in here:
    http://howtolovedavey.blogspot.com/2010/04/discrimination-against-women-in-dhofar.html


    sighs.

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  62. hi, i'm back after a think, as promised. I wonder if you've seen the video made by Theo van Gogh on an islamic woman's story! (sorry my question mark key is broken)
    do check it out. it's called Theo Van Gogh, Submission part 1, and you can find it on youtube.

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  63. Dear Fdayooh,

    (part 1)

    Thank you for your response. I really like reading your comments, they make me think, even if I don’t always agree :). Hopefully you realize that I refer to certain feeling of ‘anger’ in your second to last comment due to the strong language you use and some very, very strong lines of what can be perceived as an ‘attack’ on expat comments – i.e. ‘sick westernized mentality’, etc. You have every right to your feelings, although I hope you can see that it is not only expats who are writing comments, and that some of the local people are using equally strong and colourful language.

    I am certainly not going to take any offence to your comments, as I think that you are probably a person who is of a very like mind to myself – and I hope you did not take any offence either from my comments. I think our main differences, that have created this ‘spark’ of discussion through comments, lie not so much in the different cultures we come from, but in the fact that you are a man and I am a woman! I cannot tell you how many times I have had the following kind of conversation with my brother and my husband, respectively – Me: “I think that 2+2=4” and they say: “What!? How can you think that when everyone knows that 2+2=4?” and I go on: “So, what, are you saying that 2+2 is not 4?” and they reply: “Everyone seems to know that 2+2=4, except you will not agree” and I say: “But I AM saying that 2+2=4” and they stop, look at me, and say: “Really? I am also saying that 2+2=4” and then we usually have a little sigh, and a little laugh about it. I think that due to certain aspects, biological and otherwise, men and women perceive things differently, and therefore express their views through a different use of language. Men tend to be a lot more direct and to the point, whereas women certainly like to use more words and more descriptions when they speak about almost anything … hey, just take a look at the crazy length of my comments and you’ll see that I am at least right about women as far as I go :). See, you read about the problem, and now you want to help fix it – direct and to the point – but us women, we are still on describing the details of the problem as we see them, exasperated because we do not yet see a solution.

    Actually, I feel like you, that we should use this place to talk to each other, feel free to disagree and agree, share ideas, etc., – but also, to share simply our feelings and thoughts, which sometimes baffle us and to which we have no easy answers or solutions.

    One word can sum up almost everything I have to say about your last comment – TOUCHE! I know, I know, it’s French and all, but really, I think you’ve nailed certain things to the wall in the precise spot!

    You are most correct when you say that you thought: “… the intention of this blog is to highlight the problems, study the causes and find solutions” and then you point out that this is not really what is happening in the comments. However, I also think that in order to begin to discuss causes and offer solutions to any problem, we have to first acknowledge what the problem is, talk about the different aspects of the problem itself, share how we feel and think about it (i.e. our attitude towards it), and only perhaps then can we begin to be constructive in our criticism of it.

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  64. (part 2)

    This is what I think is happening here. We need a place to rant and rave and shout out our feelings towards this problem – and in this way to acknowledge it as a problem. I don’t know how you felt when you read Nadia’s blog on discrimination the first time – but I can assure you that it made my blood boil and the tiny hairs on the back of my neck to stand up for hours afterwards. Majority of us commenting after reading this bombshell of a blog – I only assume! – felt the same way I did, especially the women. This, in turn, made us write responses about the injustices that can, and do, take place in this WORLD (not merely Dhofar, as I pointed out several times). Now – and this is up to Nadia to continue in her blog – we need to discuss what possible ways there are to solve and try to root out this problem. It’s like a psychiatrist would try to deal with a patient’s problem – first Acknowledgment, then Denial, then Acceptance, then Understanding, and finally CHANGE.

    You say that you: “… find people calling men fools, arrogant, stupid you name it (isn't this the same discrimination your fighting against). I see others accusing Dhofaries of being "misogynist" (women haters) and lack understanding of their religion. Would you like me to continue?!!!! Is this your meaning of solidarity and support?” I can see how the above negative adjectives that some of us have used in our comments would make your hair stand on the back of the neck. BUT, here’s the catch – I don’t think anyone (at least I know for sure I did not, nor did I read any comments thinking this) actually was calling ALL MEN or ALL DHOFARIS fools / mysogynists / not truly religious. I believe that the people commenting were referring to those men who abuse women. In my case, I did call men who prefer FULL circumcision of women ‘fools’ – because these are men who think it is BETTER if a woman’s entire genitals are cut off and mutilated, not the kind of superficial circumcision you were talking about as a part of ritual and resembling that of the males. What would you call them? I know you said ‘ignorant’, but isn’t this the same? Someone who is ignorant is therefore foolish when he (or she!) makes decisions based on ignorance and refuses to listen to those who are more educated, wiser, etc. And their ignorance and foolishness makes them into even greater ‘fools’ when they use religion – whatever that religion may be (because this type of female mutilation happens in too many places around the world) – as the reason and justification for their ignorant yet terribly cruel act. However, this word ‘fools’, also applies to the women who support this ignorance, encourage it, and ensure that it is done on their daughters.

    Also, in some of the examples that Nadia gives, SOME of the men described there are most certainly ‘women haters’. For one example – I do not think anyone, out of the goodness of their heart and pure love, decides to LIE to a woman making all sorts of promises to her before the marriage, only to act in a COMPLETELY OPPOSITE manner afterwards and crush all of his wife’s hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future. Ask your wife how she would feel if, suddenly, you decided that everything the two of you have agreed on is wrong, and she has to do the exact opposite of it. This type of deception makes a person feel like they are worthless, not respected, less than human, and it is horrible to have to live with it as your reality every day for the rest of your life. How would you feel if SHE did that to you? And, again, this problem of deception, for example, is a problem everywhere in the world, not just Dhofar, and it is a problem that affects BOTH men and women – because for every lying man, there is also a lying woman. However, I think this blog – and hence the responses – deals primarily with the ways in which ONLY SOME men treat their women, so it does not allow for an exploration of the wider reaches of the problem.

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  65. (part 3)

    In a way, the young men of this region also face a set of problems and restrictions imposed upon them by the society, or women specifically. He must ensure to have education. Then he must ensure to get a job that pays well enough. Then he must get a horrifically large bank loan – to pay for the bride, for the wedding, for various extravagant presents to the in-laws – all at completely unrealistic prices for his income. Finally, when he does marry, he then spends the majority of his working life paying for this privilege – with interest! It is easy to see how a young man may feel betrayed by his wife if – after everything that he has gone through to make sure he can marry her, take care of her and provide for her – for example, she says that she does not wish to spend her days in this home that has cost him his financial freedom, but that she wants to work and earn money herself. He may even feel like she is insulting him and suggesting that he does not earn enough money for her needs. … This could be one of those ‘causes’ you were talking about …

    On another note, you say that it is lame for me to say it is discriminating that women in Dhofar are cooped away in private stalls and that we should have the option to sit all together (I did not mention with uncovered faces, that was another point, which is that freedom to work hand in hand with men and build societies and make decisions cannot be achieved if a person is always ‘hidden’ away, whether behind a veil or four walls. You’ll note that women who do work, whether in Nawras or some government institution, are NOT allowed to cover their faces while at work – and this is with good reason). Yes, some occasions in the west and all over the world, call for private gatherings and private rooms for these affairs. For example, there is no need to have a public wedding, because not everyone knows the bride and groom and their families wish to celebrate their good fortune with each other only.

    What I was talking about is this complete segregation – and the restaurant is only one facet. Another would be the girls in the classroom, seated like sardines of tuna in the back, not able to see the lesson very well, nor to hear the lecture, nor to put up their hand and participate in their own education, because the boys have seated themselves comfortably everywhere else around the room and could ‘hear’ their voice if they were to speak.

    Let me give you another example of what I mean – let’s say that in our little chat through this blog, we find that we actually have a lot in common, and that we would like to continue our conversation outside of the cyber world. To this effect, my husband decides that it would be really nice for you and your wife to meet with him and I, have a cup of tea, and pleasant conversation between four educated and intelligent adult individuals. Is it possible for this to happen? Would we then be able to go to Browniz, order tea, and chat? Or would we have to get a ‘private’ room somewhere? What would happen if someone you know or that knows you, saw you taking your wife to a private room, lets say in Browniz, with two ‘strangers’? I mean, this is hypothetical, but why should we (e.g. my husband and I and you and your wife) not be able to meet with each other if we wanted to, for simple exchange of thoughts? Why should there be gossip and tongues wagging if we did – or, more specifically, if your wife joined us too? WHY IS THERE THIS NEED FOR COMPLETE ANONYMITY, like in this blog, our nicknames, etc.? Look at all the other female Omani bloggers – they are all also anonymous. Why do females have to hide behind a fake façade to express their thoughts? Why shouldn’t we discuss whatever we feel are pressing issues freely – after all, we are not doing anything immoral, or illegal? This was the point, not necessarily the idea of private rooms in restaurants, which I think are a good idea to have … in BALANCE and MODERATION.

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  66. (part 4)

    What I am talking about here is not women’s rights – but human rights. You can be seen having a chat with my husband and myself, and most likely you will experience no problems. Maybe only curiosity – who are they? how do you know them? etc. But you being seen bringing your wife to such a meeting? Even if you do not see a problem in it, you know that there will be those who will see it as something horrible. Don’t you think this is an issue? For a while, one Omani friend of ours would bring his wife with him when he visited. But this had to stop when people found out about it and began to draw all kinds of wrong, sick, conclusions. She is now pregnant again, mashallah, strictly at home, and I only get to hear about her and how she is doing from her husband. I don’t think I’ll ever get to see her again, and I am saddened. She didn't do anything wrong, neither did I, nor her husband ... but someone thinks we did.

    *To Nadia – perhaps you should consider publishing some of these ‘hate’ comments that you get. It would certainly put some things into perspective and perhaps even enlighten some of your readers as to what kind of people (men and women) are out there. The people who make up the core of the problem we are discussing.

    In terms of twisting words and conspiracy theories – first, you are most right when you say and point out that any comment can be taken and twisted to suit whatever purpose. However, my intention was not to twist your words beyond comprehension and give them a diabolical meaning – as I am sure you did not intend to do with my words. It is here that we have to allow for ‘passion’ or strong emotions that make people like you and me write comments in the first place. We have to be aware that many things – culture, language, tradition, even gender! – both yours and mine, affect how we read and interpret and understand certain things. Thus, it was not my intention to convince you or anyone else that your thoughts are contradictory – I was merely pointing out that TO ME some things ‘sounded’ contradictory. Like, for instance, having women work hand in hand with the men and be equally involved in making decisions (all awesome, by the way!) – seems contradictory to the fact that many women are not allowed to show their face, or go anywhere on their own for fear of recognition. Or that you want women to have freedom and liberty, but not COMPLETE control over their lives – well, how do we then define freedom? And who decides which part of a woman’s life she can control, and which parts she doesn’t? Men? Parents? Who? And if parts of her life are controlled by others and she has no say about them – then what happens to the whole ‘working hand in hand’ and being ‘involved in decision making’?

    Also, I know that you did not mean to stereotype ALL western people and societies as having a ‘sick mentality’, but I just wanted to show you how people can – and some most likely did – misinterpret what you were trying to say, and that the coin can be turned around and applied to your society or any other in the world. I had hoped that you would simply be more careful and use limiting words like some, few, certain, etc. when referring to entire cultures and societies. Otherwise, it becomes stereotypical and, frankly, offensive. You, yourself, felt offended when you would read MEN this and that, without it being specifically said SOME MEN, NOT ALL, etc. Well, same here.

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  67. (part 5)

    Finally, I’m not sure if you were trying to show how words can be twisted or not, but you say that: “I really lost you here, so your saying; it only can be a conspiracy if it happens in the west but not in here; So you're saying men in here are not trying to exploit women sexually; so you're saying women in here are more treated like human not sexual entities. So (finally) you're saying our women are more respected than yours, am I right?”

    Basically, what I was hoping to bring forth since my very first comment – is that there are some women EVERYWHERE, who suffer from the kinds of abuse (and worse) that Nadia describes. The discrimination against women is NOT a Dhofari phenomenon, but it is widespread in ALL societies. It is simply SHOWN differently, that is all. EXTREMES of any kind are discrimination. Women who are forced to objectify themselves and be put on display in flimsy clothes are discriminated against. Women who are forced to hide and are sort of ‘imprisoned’ in their homes are also discriminated against. Both are exploited sexually and treated like they are sexual entities and not human beings. The first, by being placed on display like sex toys and encouraged to do so by the male population, the second, by being placed into a position of complete submissiveness (a big sexual power game) and preserved as sex toys ‘for the husband’s eyes only’ – hidden from view completely lest someone else was to see them and think he would like to have them as their sex toy instead. Where there are extremes there cannot be RESPECT. See, here Nadia writes about women not being allowed to work, another example, and yet wanting to work. I just want to add that in the west women also do not have a choice - Nadia, it may seem that women in the west have more freedom because they can work - but in reality majority of women in the west HAVE to and MUST work. Otherwise, without a two-income household, most cannot afford to have children, buy a house, etc. In the west, the women's fight to have some basic rights as human beings was monopolized by the leaders of their societies to extract more money, increase the costs of living, etc. Uffff … I don’t know … I’m getting a headache …

    Lastly, let’s not spend more time bickering with each other. We both don’t really have anything to prove. What’s more, I think we are on the same page. You are an intelligent and, it seems, happily married man with values and beliefs and respect for his wife and family. I am a married woman with a wonderful husband, and I have beliefs and values that would probably match most of your own. So we should now work together to help OTHERS, men and women alike, who are not as fortunate as we are, to achieve the same things that we have.

    All the best,
    One Woman

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  68. @ Fdayooh No1 Kmayooh

    Have you actually considered the consequences resulting from female genital mutilaton??? Do you know that reducing female sexual pleasure could lead to marital rape??
    Islamic law is well-defined through a tradition of jurisprudence. The sources of that law are, in order of importance: the Qur'an which is the Muslim scripture, the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his community (passed on through hadîth, consensus (which may be census of the scholars or of the entire community--a point of controversy) and ijtihâd or the individual efforts of scholars to attain understanding of the sharî`ah (i.e., the Divine Law). I am pretty sure this you very much know!

    The Quran is best understood within its own context, i.e., to fully understand a passage in the Quran, you will have to refer to another passage within the Quran – Same applies to hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w.). This is why the teachings of Islam are perfect and do not contradict each other.

    There is no mandate at all for female circumcision, however. Although female circumcision is not mandated, the hadith you are quoting is of disputed authenticity permits (but does NOT encourage) the removal of a minuscule segment of skin from the female prepuce, provided no harm is done. Permitting such a ritual constitutes an act of tolerance by Islamic law for pre-Islamic practices, and may be overruled by the Islamic prohibition against harmful acts. Consider, for example, that Islamic law protects a woman's right to sexual enjoyment, as demonstrated by the fact that a woman has the right to divorce on the grounds that her husband does not provide sexual satisfaction. It follows that Islamic law prohibits clitorodectomy (partial or complete) or infibulation, or any genital mutilation which impairs the woman's ability to enjoy sexual relations.
    For Muslims, cliterodectomy and infibulation should be considered harâm (prohibited) practices and opposition to it should be part of our ongoing mandate to fight against superstition and oppression. As to the mildest form of female circumcision, the risks to the girl's future ability to enjoy sexual relations with her husband must place it at best in the category of makrûh (disliked) practices. Since it has neither hygienic nor religious value, there is no justification for Muslims to engage in this painful and potentially harmful practice and it would be best to avoid it completely.
    The teachings of Islam are clear and not mixed up with error. Anything that leads to harm is prohibited, leave alone the fact that anything harmful is completely prohibited! It is not my intention to lecture you, but to caution you that the hadith you quoted, which is attrubuted to the Prophet (alayhis-salaam), is not compatible to the teachings of Islam and the Sciences of Hadith have demonstrated its weakness. There are thousands of such Hadith.

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  69. @ Curry Pan,

    Talking about Theo van Gogh, have you also seen the Hardtalk interview of Stephen Sackur? You can check it out on Youtube: "Fascist Exposed - Ayaan Hirsi Ali on HARDtalk [BBC]".

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  70. Nadia: I agree with your post lol, depsite our niqab dispute in the past, I realized you were against niqab for the same reasons I am, and for it for the same reasons as I am lol. MashaAllah, keep rocking Salalah:P

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  71. About women's liberation, the way to change things, as done in the USA, is to start with a grassroots movement - or shall I say a 'hand full of sand' movement'?

    1. If I were you, I'd first find out which women in my extended family want men to treat their women right. I would have all my female friends do this (a sneaky way to organize, but men are frightened if women get together to organize.)

    2. Have all the women list things they would like to changed. Group them into categories of behavior. Then group them into levels of difficulty in changing.

    3. Then make committees to research the problems: research the Koran for examples where women are to be respected. Another to talk to older women about how they were more equal when they worked. Another to address female circumcision...Another to research legal measures that may be possible. Another to find the different tribal origins for specific behaviors, etc.

    4. Choose ONE simple action you want to change that isn't too threatening to men. Find a way to get all the women to cooperate on a very basic, simple action plan for the ONE thing.

    5. Education: You have to start educating the children in your families to change. If the parents don't agree, then you have to get through to them. (I've heard the oldest boy often gets his own room, etc..... Why? Does the oldest girl get that kind of preferential treatment too?) One way to do this is to write a booklet about the family changes your group would like to see. The booklet can be used in family discussions, then rewritten (I'm eventually hoping you can have the booklet introduced into the schools or mosques).

    6. Create relationships in the religious community with like-minded individual.

    7. Find small business owners who want to promote changes in how women are treated, do business there.

    The idea is to create a movement of people who become educated about the problems and who offer ways to work towards gradual change. Remember things grow from very small seeds... same with trying to change how people feel, then think, then act.

    Good luck. There's nothing wrong with the word 'feminist' to mean a woman who cares about women's rights.

    Good luck!
    An American teacher who used to work in Salalah

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  72. ... I didn't know where to post this link but I wanted to share it with you. Initially most people thought the site was an April fools Hoax but it seems to be real. What do you think the impact of sites such as these are on Muslim society?
    http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/halal-sex-website-no-contradiction

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  73. I believe ISLAM has granted women her rights in full... As Allah the creature of all creatures, he knows us more than our selves and that's why women are most understood by Islam.

    The problem is that today's Men and women are not true followers of Islam in a true faithful way. We mix islam with out traditions and also mixed with our globalized thoughts.

    It's enough that in Islam " Best of you are those who're best to their women"

    خياركم ... خياركم لنسائكم

    I believe MEN & WOMEN misunderstood how to treat each other right.

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  74. I, in perserving my chasity, have been insulted and demeaned. I have been told "to get over myself" and that there was something wrong with me for not wanting sex. Men do use women's sexuality against them.

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  75. As salam alaikum Nadia.

    i read this post of yours along with my mum..we both are SHOCKED & SICKENED to say the least. I ws discussing it with her and we came tp the conclusion that these men who do such evil things to women need some major correction from some hard core women..i must admit my mother would be a good woman to smack them straight and set them back into place.. she punched one man in the arm many yrs ago when i was a child and till this day that man doesnt dare say any sexist jokes around her any more.
    we women in dhofar need to team up and get some womens rights classes going..it would be my pleasure to open my front door to women and discuss with them their rights from Allah..maybe u can do the translation part of it. what u think sis ?

    ill continue to discuss this topic and i know u will too.. uve found a tag team member. i got your back sis.

    hiyych Allah

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  76. Who says that women are ruled by fear or by what is around them? I live in a society where women walk around in skirts slit almost all the way up their leg and are almost falling out of their blouses in the summer. But I choose to cover all but face, hands and maybe a little foot if I'm wearing sandals in the summer. And maybe people look at me funny and make comments like 'UFO!' And I look over my shoulder at them as I walk by, flash them my 'I'll be having you for dinner tonight' smile, and perhaps even laugh (in a manner worthy of Mephistopheles at the Metropolitan Opera, no less - let's say I don't let being a soprano get in my way ).

    I have always expected respect from everyone including my family. I have always enjoined what is good and (very actively) forbidden what is evil in this regard. I am well aware that with most men you have to choose between respect and attraction. And I choose respect. And I am therefore 45 years old and never married.

    I am also well aware that I have certain physical advantages that most women do not have - although given some experiences when I was not yet fully grown, thus a bit smaller than I am now, I can also say that winning in a physical confrontation comes down to mentality and knowing what to do with what you have, especially using your assailant's strength and size against them.

    Yes: it is very sad that I can never know for sure whether men treat me (for the most part) with respect because they are decent people, because they esteem me as a person, or because they are afraid of what will happen if they don't (because I am bigger than they are).

    But do I go around trying to hide my size, to look less threatening? No. I make use of it to, as I said, enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil in various situations. Escorting female friends home at night (and for that matter, even male friends bigger than I am admit to feeling safer with me around). Facing down the slave driver boss. Preventing the abusive husband of the neighbor around the corner from gaining entry to their apartment by other means when she finally locked him out.

    Apparently it is common knowledge among those who practice such things as street fighting that there are situations where you simply will not win unless you are willing to die. And extreme oppression is one of these. And that is my idea of martyrdom - dying at the hands of others for attempting to forbid what is evil. And such a person will have the satisfaction of knowing that they can be a wakeup call even to the entire world - whoever finds out about what happened.

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  77. Dear Nadia,

    I am extremely astonished and touched by how powerful this post is. Thank you for writing this, it is very inspiring. I am currently studying Law abroad, and have been very keen about taking a module in Human rights and equality laws. Your post has definitely confirmed my choice. I understand how no Law can completely change this primitive behaviour, but I believe it's an effective tool to help raise awareness, and show people the value of women, and how that we are all equal human beings - regardless of gender,age or ethnicity.

    I am very glad I came across your blog. Once again, thank you for sharing this post with the world.

    Kindest Regards,

    Bader

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  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  79. hi nadia ,,, i came across your article,, and what i felt is that you have alot of anger towards the dhofari society ,, especially men ,,,i would rather think that you must had an interesting childhood ,,,,well , in my opinion dhofari men do respect women ,,

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  80. hi nadia ,,, i came across your article,, and what i felt is that you have alot of anger towards the dhofari society ,, especially men ,,,i would rather think that you must had an interesting childhood ,,,,well , in my opinion dhofari men do respect women ,,

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  81. Dearest Nadia,

    Thank you so much for adressing this issue. I can totally relate to this and I really think our talents are going down the drain because of these situations.

    I know that this is not Islam, it is ignorance and frankly I cannot support this behavior. I am also Muslim, but I really do not think all of this described is part of our religion.

    Thank you so much for this post.

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  82. Since may when i posted here last..things in life have happened and ive come to the conclusion salalah and the dhofari mans attidue will NEVER change unless they are well educated in both religion of Islam and they dnt make taqleed (blind following) of their tribes.
    I am sickened by the number of women i have met face to face here in salalah who are going through abuse from their dhofari husbands and inlaws. IM not saying all dhofari men are bed but alot !
    InshaAllah inshaAllah something be done to help these women because if not it may be tooo late...Allah forbid.
    Keep the post topic coming Nadia, i thank u dearly for writing this post. And for anyone outside of dhofar who doesnt understand the local culture etc..i dont think ull fully understand life being trapped unless u walk in those shoes..Islam says one thing..and some men do the opposite wallahi.

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  83. Dear Nadia,

    I cannot express enough my gratitude for your blog. You made me really emotional when I was reading this. God bless you.

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  84. Dear Nadia,
    I started to read your blog few weeks ago and I think you are tired of the compliments, but I anyway want to say that´s fantastic "job". It´s an old post, but I decided to comment it because in 2010 I visited alone Salalah. I can say my impressions as western woman. Already in the aircraft some locals started to chat with me, (in this time I thought it is compleatly normal when non-married men and women speak with each other), one man already offered me a job in a travel agency :) During the stay I spoke with so many local men, who were speaking how many rights today the women in Oman have and how much they are respected. When I read your post, (I self live now since tree years in Gulf countries) it makes me mad when I know the situation of woman and how the husbands are dealing with tourists and staff in the hotel cafes and other different places. They have all the freedom and women have to carry the family honor. I didn´t have chat with any women during this stay in Salalah, they seemed to me not to be interested to speak. Possibly a chat with western woman would also influence the reputation.
    All the best,
    Heidi

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