lunes, 23 de mayo de 2011

Artículo No. 4 Women have emerged as key players in the Arab spring Through protesting, organising, blogging and hunger-striking, women have taken a central role, but it remains to be seen whether their rights will improve

·                                 Xan Rice in Benghazi, Katherine Marsh in Damascus, Tom Finn in Sana'a, Harriet Sherwood in Tripoli, Angelique Chrisafis and Robert Booth
·                       , Friday 22 April 2011 
In a small room in Benghazi some young men and women are putting out a new opposition newspaper. "The role of the female in Libya," reads one headline. "She is the Muslim, the mother, the soldier, the protester, the journalist, the volunteer, the citizen", it adds.
Arab women can claim to have been all these things and more during the three months of tumult that have shaken the region. Some of the most striking images of this season of revolt have been of women: black-robed and angry, a sea of female faces in the capitals of north Africa, the Arabian peninsula, the Syrian hinterland, marching for regime change, an end to repression, the release of loved ones. Or else delivering speeches to the crowds, treating the injured, feeding the sit-ins of Cairo and Manama and the makeshift army of eastern Libya.
But as revolt turns into hiatus and stalemate from Yemen to Tunisia,Egypt
 and Libya, Bahrain and Syria, one thing is clear: for all their organising, marching, rabble-rousing, blogging, hunger-striking, and, yes, dying, Arab women are barely one small step forwards on the road to greater equality with their menfolk. Women may have sustained the Arab spring, but it remains to be seen if the Arab spring will sustain women.

The first protests

From the earliest rumblings of discontent in Tunisia at the turn of the year, it was clear that old images of Arab women as deferential, subservient and generally indoors would have to be revised. From the highly-educated Tunisian female elite of doctors, barristers and university professors to the huge numbers of unemployed female graduates, women were key players in the uprising that launched the Arab spring.
In Cairo, they were instrumental not just in protests but in much of the nitty-gritty organisation that turned TahrirSquare from a moment into a movement. Women were involved in arranging food deliveries, blankets, the stage and medical help. In Yemen, it was a young woman, Tawakul Karman, who first led demonstrations on a university campus against the long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Karman emerged as one of the leaders of a revolution still yet to run its course.
In Bahrain, women were among the first wave that descended on Pearl Square in the capital – some with their children – to demand change. And the Bahraini movement has latterly found a figurehead in Zainab al-Khawaja, the woman who went on hunger strike in protest at the beating and arrest of her father, husband and brother-in-law. "Women have played a hugely influential role this time and put themselves in danger," said Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. "They treated the injured in the streets and nursed them in their homes when they were too afraid to go to hospital."
In Libya, women were at the vanguard too, when mothers, sisters and widows of men killed in a prison massacre in 1996 protested outside a courthouse in Benghazi after their lawyer was arrested.
"Someone gave me a placard and I was not even sure what to do with it because we had never done anything like this before," said Muna Sahli, a literature lecturer at Garyounis University in Benghazi, whose brother-in-law was killed in the prison slaughter. "I even forgot to cover my face so I wouldn't be identified."
In Syria and Yemen, more conservative societies, it took longer for women to join the movement en masse. In both countries, it took leadership blunders by the authorities to draw them in. In Syria, hundreds of women marched through the town of Beida to deplore the indiscriminate detention of many of their menfolk. In Yemen, when president Saleh said it was un-Islamic for male and female protesters to march side by side, thousands of women poured on to the streets just to prove him wrong. Women continue to support the demonstrations, working as nurses in makeshift hospitals and in ambulances, cooking food, delivering speeches and singing songs at the demonstrations. To the right of the main stage in Tagheer (meaning "change") Square, there is a large cordoned-off area filled with hundreds of women, most of them wearing black abayas, and small children.

On the frontline

Women have not escaped the human cost of this uprising. During the police repression of the Tunisian revolution, they were beaten by security thugs, and in rural areas around Kasserine some were raped by police after demonstrations. There were several reports of rape in Egypt amid the hurly burly, and a South African reporter for the US network CBS was sexually assaulted. In a notorious case in Tripoli, a woman,Iman al-Obeidi said she was raped by about 15 pro-Gaddafi militia

Women of the regime

Legality, sorority, equality

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