“Anyone who feels dishonored by her actions doesn't have much honor to begin with. If they did, they wouldn't regard a woman's body as public property.” A strong take on the case of the controversial FEMEN activist.
I'll keep this short because I don't want my arguments to be lost in being apologetic to misogynists.
I, like so many other people around the world, have seen images of Tunisian protester Amina's that appeared on Femen's Facebook page. The images, if you haven't seen them, are frontal shots of her body where she isn't wearing anything from the waist up. In the images, she has messages written on her body that decry misogyny in Arabic. The first one (below) says "My body is my property, not anyone's honor". The second one, in English, says "Fuck your morals".
Here's the deal: whether I agree or disagree with her actions is something I don't care to tell anyone but her. If I ever meet her in person, we will have a discussion about it, inshallah.
However, make no mistake: I firmly support her right to do it.
Whether she bares them, hides them, pierces them or chops them off is something she and only she can and should decide. Amina's breasts are hers and no one else's.
Anyone who feels dishonored by her actions doesn't have much honor to begin with. If they did, they wouldn't regard a woman as public property. This issue is much larger than Amina and her frontal shots. It's about a woman's right to her body. This discussion is neither Islam-specific nor Arab-specific. A woman's right to her body is an issue that is being challenged and questioned across the world.
From countries like the United States of America and religious institutions like the Catholic Church, the issue of a woman's right to her body and what she can and can't do with it is daily in parliaments, courts, places of worship and headlines. Denying her that right has become a way to raise funds to build places of worship, win elections and marginalize not just her, but her children and her family.
Many women die each year because they are denied the right to their bodies. Their brothers, fathers, husbands and even her children are told that they are the ones responsible for and ultimately owners of her body. Societies and states alike take it upon themselves to deprive women of that right. This is not just about women being lashed in the Maldives or stoned to death in Afghanistan. It's also about women who die in Ireland because they aren't allowed to choose whether they carry a fetus to term.
So criticize Amina all you want, for a mode of protest you feel doesn't accomplish much, but her right to bare her body is just as sacred as your right to keep yours hidden.
Furthermore, her honor is intact. Her dignity is not damaged. And none of that is any of our business anyway.
*A contributor to Free Arabs, Josh Shahryar is an Afghan reporter covering human rights. He tweets as @JShahryar