Muslim women do not feel oppression: world survey

Daily Star Egypt Staff
3 Min Read

NEW YORK: Muslim women do not mind the veil but want to vote as they wish, according to a survey released Thursday, in which respondents did not feel oppression in Muslim countries. Lebanon had the highest proportion of women who feel they should be allowed to make their own decisions on voting, at 97 percent, followed by Egypt and Morocco, each at 95 percent. Lowest was Pakistan, with 68 percent, according to The New York Times reporting on a Gallup poll. None of the 8,000 women surveyed even mentioned the use of the head scarf or the full-length burqa in open-ended questions, the paper said. Despite the suffragist leanings, Muslim women set aside their own issues and said their countries had greater problems, such as violent extremism, corruption and lack of unity among Muslim countries. Although women largely said they should be able to work outside the home and serve in the highest levels of government, they linked sexual equality with the West: 78 percent in Morocco, 71 percent in Lebanon and 48 percent in Saudi Arabia, the paper reported. However, when asked what they least admired about the West, they said moral decay, promiscuity and pornography, which degraded women. A majority of the women said that economic or political advancement in Muslim countries would not improve with the adoption of Western values, the survey said, according to the New York daily. Face-to-face interviews were conducted among 8,000 women in 2005 for What Women Want: Listening to the Voices of Muslim Women, part of The Gallup World Poll, a project to canvass 95 percent of the world s people. Overwhelming majorities of the women said the best aspect of their cultures was their countries attachment to moral and spiritual values, the Times said of the poll. Women s empowerment has been identified as a key goal of U.S. policy in the region, said Dalia Mogahed, of The Gallup World Poll. However, Mogahed said that what Muslim women really want has not been plumbed. Egyptian-born Mogahed wears a head scarf, and said that Muslim women have not been brainwashed, according to the Times. She cited as proof statements of the respondents that they deserved certain rights. In every culture there is a dominant narrative, and in many cases it is constructed by people in power who happen to be men, she was quoted as saying in the paper. AFP

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