Women’s Freedom In The Middle East

[First published May 31 2005] We tend to speak of freedom in national terms. There is so much freedom in country x or y, or little human rights in country z. We should promote democracy in w. And so on. We tend to ignore the treatment from one country or region to another of segments of the population. We should not, for in some parts of the world where human rights are denied, it especially bad for women, who are virtually enslaved, in some Muslim ruled nations such as Saudi Arabia.

Finally, we have a detailed survey of this, with each Middle Eastern and North African nation rated on the degree to which women enjoy nondiscrimination, against, access to justice, autonomy, security, freedom of the person, economic rights and equal opportunity, political rights and civic voice, and social and cultural rights. The survey, with data and essay on the results, is here..

The source gives separate ratings for each nation of five aspects of their freedom. These are not totaled, so I did so below. The best score — women’s freedom comparable to the United States and Western Europe, would be a total of 25, or close to it; the absolute worst is a total of 5. As you can see, Saudi Arabia treats its women worst of all with a score of 6.3, very close to the bottom 5, with a little jump in ratings up to Libya. Oman, and UAE. The best treatment of women among this group is by Tunisia, with Morocco not much worse. But, even for Tunisia, its score is only 16.2 out of 25 possible.

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