Muslim Feminism, Part Two: Ouiam Mallouk discusses the future for herself and other Moroccan women

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Could you explain your philosophy on women’s rights?

As a Muslim citizen, (some Muslim) people perceive women in a very weird way. That is to say they take Islam as an excuse to make inequality between men and women. There are a few people who believe that men should be superior to women. He should be the leader, making the decisions, he should have more responsibilities in comparison with women. They believe the woman should just take care of the children, take care of the housework.

But you cannot deny that there is a kind of change that we are witnessing. Now we find women in all positions. We find women highly educated. This high education allows women to have very powerful positions in politics and the economic sector and also in the social life in the Arab world. For example in Morocco, you can find many women who are feminists, and they try to organize activities to let women overcome hardship, especially divorced women, single mothers. They give them help, trying to engage them into the activities so they will not feel disintegrated from the Moroccan society.

So I think there is a kind of different perceptions about women. During the 2000s, there was the rise of women’s organizations, and we can say that Morocco is a leading country when it comes to women’s rights. It’s an example of a country which was able to give women the right to vote, to voice out their hopes and concerns, and they allowed them to set up organizations to defend women’s rights.

As a woman and a Moroccan, what kind of future do you want for yourself?

Because I am a master’s student of international studies and diplomacy I want to have a very good job, either in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or in an international organization in Morocco. When I find these kinds of jobs I will try to impose myself, try to take advantage of my education, to contribute to Moroccan society.

Also, after I get a job I want to get married. It is for me a normal thing, because from a religious perspective, we say in Arabic, “the half of the religion is marriage: nisf addiin zaouaj.” It means that to complete your religion, to be a good religious person, you should get married to avoid illegitimate relations, to avoid prostitution, to avoid diseases such as AIDS. For us it’s a very good thing to do because it saves you from very bad things. Marriage gives you the opportunity to have psychological stability, it allows you to have children. When you give birth to children, it makes you want to continue living, because you’re living for someone. You are trying to transmit all that you have learned throughout your life to your children, and then these children should be very good citizens in the future.

And for Morocco’s women, what kind of future do you visualize?

Unfortunately, I believe that if Moroccan women are not educated enough, they will not have a very good future. I believe that women who are educated in Morocco should have job opportunities. They will find very good activities to be engaged in. For women who are not educated, these will make them in a very vicious circle, which is dependence. They will depend on their parents, they will depend on their husbands, they will depend on many things which will not enable them to feel free.

If you are educated, you will have a good future. If you have your parents in your side, you will also have a good future.

It’s not that educated women do not face harassment, but then maybe because they are educated, they can voice out these things, through writing, through media, through social networks, for instance. But others, they just get silenced. They keep silent because if they don’t, they will be pressured, they will be blamed, because in the Arab world there is the concept of shame. In the Arab world, we focus more on shame rather than guilt. In the West there is the notion of guilt: if you do something, you feel guilty. In Morocco, in the Arab world, no. If you do something, this can make your parents feel shameful.

The eye of the society is the most cruel thing that can influence your life. (If children cause shame) parents will feel shameful. They will not want anyone to talk to their children. During family gatherings they just avoid people to come see their children – “oh, someone is coming, they should not see you.” People do not support such persons, they just abandon them. They withdraw support from them. It’s a very serious issue. If young people are not supported, how can they contribute to societies?

If we don’t speak out our concerns, I think that things will stay as they are. We need not just to talk, but to push for our chances, to push the government to change things.

 

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