ARAB WOMEN are exposed to a series of coercions and discriminatory treatment from the day she is born until her death. A female is not like the male in the Arab social structure.
A lot has been written about the status of Arab women, both in the Arab world and the rest of the world. Arab women are routinely depicted as inferior to men, with less freedom and opportunities. There are images which instantly come to mind when we talk about Arab women,
In this article, I would like to shed light on the status of Qatari women in the light of the prevailing legal and social situation and traditions governing the Qatar society. The outlook of women in Qatari public life is an outlook based on the social concept of male guardianship over women. A woman has no guardianship over herself regarding her marriage, work, education, and her travel, and so the permission and approval of the guardian must be required according to the prevailing social concept.
Other Gulf societies hardly deviate from this concept in imposing guardianship over their women and restricting their societal movement, whether through declared legislative texts, or internal instructions that the executive authorities abide by when they deal with women.
The role of women in the Qatari society is defined and governed by a set of factors which are a combination of religious, social, traditional, cultural and legal elements. All of these factors ensure Qatari women a better social position compared to the rest of the Arab world, which can be explained in the following terms:
1 – The higher purposes of Islam that promotes human rights, regardless of religion, race, or gender.
2 – The objectives and provisions of the Qatari constitution in ensuring equal rights and duties for male and female citizens.
3 – The international conventions in support of gender equality, which our country has ratified and is committed to which protect women from any sexual, racial, religious, or sectarian discrimination.
4- The values, principles, and spirit of the modern era and its logic.
5- Qatari women are citizens with full rights, and they are the main partner in the construction, development, and refinement of society, and they are active participants in the political, social, cultural, and economic life.
6- A Qatari woman is honoured by God according to the Quranic verse from Surah Al-Isra, Verse 70 which says: “And We have honoured the Children of Adam”.
She has all her human rights without any discrimination.
7 – It is necessary to distinguish between the jurisprudence of our great jurists in their view of women in light of their ancient societies and the legal constants related to the rulings of women in our societies.
Jurists are children of their era, and they reflect the cultures of their societies, their customs, traditions, and social norms in their reading of religious texts related to women and, and based on that they formulated their jurisprudential rulings about women.
And, the women today, in the 21st century, and in light of societal transformations that have enabled women to be a productive component of society, are different and performing a different role, compared to the woman in the age of those jurists who did not participate in development and production a thousand years ago. Accordingly, we are not bound by the jurisprudence of the former jurists, with our respect for them, except for what is indicated by the Quran and it is very clear.
We have to distinguish between the variable and the fixed from the women’s rulings, as many jurists do not distinguish between the variable judgment and the fixed legal ruling. The jurisprudential judgment is a jurist’s opinion that is subject to change according to the change of the social context. As for the legal ruling, it is a fixed principle.
Most of the articles stipulated in the personal status legislation (family law) reflect the social position of women in the past, a thousand years ago, and they are in fact the traditions of Arabs, not the fixed teachings of Islam.
8 – Finally, I am interested in confirming that our leadership is concerned with activating the strategy of empowering Qatari women in all societal areas in light of the legal and social constants, in a gradual manner that paves the way for an aware community and an enlightened social acceptance.
From these eight points, I begin my discussion of the concept of guardianship over women.