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Women earn degrees, not jobs in Gulf

This New York Times article discusses an interesting issue in the Middle East, taking up the case of the Gulf specifically.  Women are achieving well in education, but it is not leading to their increased participation in the work force, especially in the private sector.  An excerpt-

Similar figures hold true across the Gulf region. In Saudi Arabia, 93 percent of women hold a secondary school certificate or university degree, compared with 60 percent of employed men, according to a study by Al Masah Capital. Yet, though the government gives encouragement and remains the largest employer for women, women make up less than 15 percent of the kingdom’s work force, according to a report this year by the consulting firm Booz & Co. Moreover, according to that report, the unemployment rate for Saudi women in the work force was 26.9 percent in 2008, nearly four times higher than the rate for Saudi men.


Suicide by burning in Afghanistan

This New York Times article details a disturbing new trend in Afghanistan: poor women, deciding to take their lives for a variety of reasons including domestic abuse, find that setting themselves on fire is the most accessible path to death.  This has allowed for a convenient cover up for violence:

The most sinister burn cases are actually homicides masquerading as suicides, said doctors, nurses and human rights workers.

“We have two women here right now who were burned by their mothers-in-law and husbands,” said Dr. Arif Jalali, the hospital’s senior surgeon.

Doctors cited two recent cases where women were beaten by their husbands or in-laws, lost consciousness and awoke in the hospital to find themselves burned because they had been shoved in an oven or set on fire.

Afghanistan and its first soap opera

Elizabeth Rubin’s piece in the New York Times Magazine is a fascinating human interest story on a woman named Adaba, who is an actress in Afghanistan’s first soap opera.  In deciding to appear on television, she has faced a lot of anger from her family.  It is a great read in its entirety, but I want to make sure everyone reads the concluding paragraph and a half, which I am posting here:

But if the Taliban do find a way back into government, they face a very different kind of Afghan woman this time around. The new generation that has grown up in the last decade has access to media. They see women as parliamentarians, lawyers, judges, professors, actresses, film directors, policewomen, even a governor. It is these new realities of women’s lives that will force the reinterpretation of the meaning of honor — the most radioactive ingredient in any discussion of cultural change.

Or at least in Kabul. In Kandahar and elsewhere in the Pashtun half of the country, the relationship between the family’s honor and society is hardly changing. In fact there’s a counterassault against women there. And it’s not hard to see why. Afghanistan missed 30 years of globalization. Now Afghans wake up assaulted by the Internet, Iranian culture, Indian TV, Pakistani mullahs, NATO bombs. Their culture and honor and lives are under siege from every direction. So who takes the brunt of the resulting frustration? The weakest, of course. But the weak can hit back. Girls are running away from forced marriages. Women have demanded a place at the peace jirga. They’ve forced passage of the first law criminalizing violence against women. They have been killed and maimed trying to change the world they were born into. And now they have taken up the pen and the camera, writing memoirs and novels, shooting documentaries, feature films and even a soap opera, to transcend their reality by seizing control of their own narrative.

The hussy’s own fault

The following article from the International Herald Tribune (via the New York Times) is fascinating.  I do not want to preview it too much here, but it investigates Egyptian cultural understanding of a Lebanese pop star who was murdered by her husband.  Because of her life style, she had not earned the sympathy of the average person in her death.