No armband for women

Suzanne Moore wonders where the armbands for women in Qatar might be.

Women’s rights are not much of a fashionable cause these days and are mentioned often as an afterthought.

If they’re mentioned at all. Mostly people are too busy calling us Karens and terfs to mention our rights.

This is particularly evident in Qatar, where footballers and commentators are struggling to make righteous statements about the tiny but hugely rich country they are in. The agonising around wearing a rainbow flag armband seems to me a substitution for real thought. Obviously, it is terrible to stage the tournament in a place where homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death, but identity politics flails against the reality of choosing to play in a country that adheres to the strict sect of Salafism, often referred to as Wahhabism, which is prevalent in both Qatar and Saudi. 

This interpretation of Islam also has severe consequences for women, who live under a repressive regime of guardianship.

They have to get the permission of their male “guardian” to do anything beyond staying home out of sight.

Neither rape nor domestic violence is illegal. Men can marry up to four wives but can divorce any wife without even informing them about it. Divorce for women is limited, even if the marriage is abusive. Women are not guardians of their own children. They do not have the authority to make decisions about their own children’s schools, finances or medical treatment. A woman who reports rape may be sent to prison. 

Women are not really people at all in this form of theocracy; women are a kind of livestock and only men are full human beings who can act and think and talk. The big difference between women and livestock is that women can conceive via other men and thus steal their husbands’ owners’ Right To Impregnate. Husbands can be tricked into raising some other dude’s kid! Or kids!! And women are such demonic whores that they’re bound to do it, so it’s essential to strip them of all rights starting at birth.

And, although the government and an increasing number of Qatari women talk about gender equality, women’s rights and female empowerment, the reality is that there is nowhere to go to complain and no monitoring of how women are treated. What the government really does is hand down a mandate to families to keep control of their girls in every way possible. If a father wants to pull his daughter out of education and beat her, then that is fine. The extreme patriarchal nature of Wahhabism means that everything a woman does is controlled; the honour and reputation of her family is paramount.

That and the paternity of her children.

When Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who is said to be well integrated into Qatari society and must surely know some of this, gave his deranged monologue about feeling gay, disabled, African etc, it was pointed out that he had missed out half the world’s population so he added: “I feel like a woman, too.”

And not one person on the planet believed him.

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