United Arab Emirates: An Unfair Patriarchal Society in Dire Need of Reassessment
It is not a veiled fact that women all over the world are still fighting for their basic rights. They are still pushed into underage marriages, forced slavery, rape and trafficking. From an early age, they are refused their rights for education and political participation and receive the poorest health care when needed. It is only due to this refusal to be considered “humans”, let alone equals, that adds up to a confounding rate of deaths during childbirth and pregnancy annually.
Unfortunately, in countries like UAE, the conditions are only worse. Being the male-dominated society that it is, it is still considered unarguably uncouth when a woman tries to make complaints about her husband’s domestic abuse encounters. Such liberties are regarded as a “man’s right over his woman”, even if the violence reaches up to a highly staggering stage. The maternity laws are oddly poor, the slave and rape culture prevails and sex out of marriage is considered a heinous crime, even with the consent of both the parties.
However, these are not the only issues woman in UAE are forced to face. Expatriate women, despite being there for several years, still face more challenges when it comes to sponsoring their spouses as compared to their counterparts, not to mention the mental and behavioral challenges they have to deal with at the workplace. During an interview with Gulf Business, Deepa Shah, chief financial officer for Europe and Asia plus at the Middle East at Research agency Hall & Partners’, expressed her thoughts during an interview saying that one of the biggest barriers women in UAE have had to face was bringing their spouses along, whereas the laws for men bringing over their spouses are fairly contradictory. Not only that, she also elaborated about the difficulties woman rising up the ladder for top positions have to face, putting an extra pressure on them to maintain a balanced work-life.
“One of the big barriers I’ve noticed with regards to women here is, when you look at the number of expats, women cannot always get sponsorship for their spouses. They can bring their family over and get a great job here, but then it’s really difficult for their spouse to get a job here. If you flip it the other way round, it’s easier for a man to get a visa for his wife. So that’s a potential barrier in the UAE. And if you go back to talent pools and getting the best group of people, then it’s something they need to look at. It’s not something you see in Europe or Asia, so it would be great if things could change here”, she expressed.
Being a Muslim state and practicing Islamic Laws, the core roots of a patriarchal society is one of the reasons why women, in spite of being equally talented, imaginative and ingenious, are held down by the chains of mental manmade perspectives that only a man is the breadwinner of the home and a woman’s role is to look after the house, her spouse and children only.
When will this stereotypical mindset change, no one really knows; but it needs to, so that women too can enjoy equal liberties as men do.