What does one 71 year old atheist and 750 million Muslims have in common?

11 Mar

She knows everything about their “choices” (she would add the quotation marks, not me), who makes them and why they make them.

She is Dame Ann Leslie, who today was so gallantly standing up for the millions of oppressed Muslims in the Middle East. She was vehemently declaring that they were not making any choices of their own and this was a cause of great concern to her.

It’s nice that she is concerned. But really what does a 71 year old, white, middle class, atheist woman really know about young, ethnically different, religiously different, women from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia? Not much.

So, why has she taken it upon herself to speak on their behalf? It is patronizing, and it is disempowering. Western women, please stop pitying Muslim women, and trying to fight their corner. For many, there is no need for any fight, as their rights are respected and realised, and where they aren’t, they can do the fighting for themselves (slight caveat: this doesn’t apply to situations of conflict, where the impetus is on all citizens the world over to ensure the rights of women are realised).

Please let’s stop being so patronizing and disempowering as to declare all Muslim women unable to make choices, decisions, and indeed, changes of their own.

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