Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

I contemplated calling this post, “Women of the East, Rise Up!” but I had to reconsider. I think women of the East, and I’m referring specifically to Middle Eastern women, have already risen up. They’ve already stood up and made public the injustices and the stigmas they have endured for years – despite incredible social and religious taboos, despite repercussions with spouses and family members, and despite government official resistance.

I’m thinking specifically about my sisters in Egypt who have endured torture and dehumanizing treatment at the hands of the Egyptian military in recent days. Egyptian women, standing side by side with their male counterparts, have taken part in the Tahrir Square revolution and the protests that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011. In March 2011, some of these protestors returned to Tahrir Square in support of activists and protestors the military was holding and not releasing. Security forces, having banned protest of any kind to ensure a return to normalcy (another topic altogether), arrested some of the protestors and detained them in the Cairo Museum. According to Salwa Hosseini, one of the women protestors detained by security forces that day, 17 of the women were taken to a military prison, beaten, electrocuted and forced to take virginity tests. They were threatened that if their virginity was not in tact, they were going to face prostitution charges. Salwa Hosseini and other women protestors were given suspended one-year sentences for disorderly conduct, destroying private and public property, obstructing traffic and carrying weapons.

I can’t tell you how this makes my blood boil. The consequences of this kind of torture goes beyond physical and psychological, it’s also social. The stigma of being labeled or charged with prostitution in Egypt and other Arab countries is a sentence of social ostracism at best with potentially fatal consequences.

Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women. All members of the medical profession must refuse to take part in such so-called ‘tests’.
Amnesty International

I am amazed by the courage of these women. It’s truly inspiring, the stuff of legends. But my question is this: Where is the outrage over these atrocities committed against women in Egypt? Aren’t women in Egypt the pillar of society – the mothers, the sisters, the caregivers? Is not Egypt herself lovingly called the Mother of the World?

I know that progressives, activists and academics are outraged and that’s good. But where is the “every day” man’s anger? Even my own father at first dismissed these women’s pleas as “petty grievances” some protestors had with the Armed Forces. If my father, a well-educated, middle-class man thinks this way, what must the millions of less educated men and women think?

I think there is some serious need for education and advocacy. I’ve been looking at a few organizations and I will be contacting them to see how an ex-pat can be of assistance to these issues.

Children of Egypt, Mother of the World, when will you stand up in outrage against what is done to the Daughters of Egypt? When will this revolution from oppression and tyranny translate into equality and freedom for women?


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The ruby is among the most highly prized of gemstones. Large rubies are harder to find than large diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. As a result, the value of a ruby increases with size more than any other gemstone. In the Orient, rubies were once believed to contain the spark of life – “a deep drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth,” according to ancient Eastern legends.

In Praise of Wisdom

“Better Than Rubies” is a strange name for a blog, I’ll give you that. It was inspired by the Wisdom literature of the Bible, part of the Ketuvim (the Writings) of the Hebrew Bible.

For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 8:11, New International Version

I think that too many people today have stopped listening to the wisdom imparted by former generations, by literature, by writings of holy books, and by sitting down and just meditating on life and how we fit in it. I know that I myself have gone into autopilot mode for the past few years. And who wouldn’t when you’re working full-time, raising a toddler, maintaining a classical musical training, all while trying to have a meaningful relationship with your spouse and some semblance of a social life. I have stopped meditating or even just sitting down without the TV on and thinking. But that ends now and I hope you will join me in my journey of seeking wisdom.

In Praise of Women

I am also fascinated by the use of rubies as a comparison for “a virtuous woman.” When I read that, I don’t think of the old fashioned notions and roles that women held in past generations. I think of character, strength, independence and fierce courage. I believe that’s what it takes to be a virtuous woman today – a woman that leaves behind a trace of goodness, compassion, and inspiration wherever she goes and in whatever she undertakes. Research shows that empowering girls and women in developing countries yields some of the highest returns of all investments – both private and social benefits that accrue to individuals, families, and to society at large. (Source: http://www.web.worldbank.org) That’s why Care Canada runs an entire campaign targeted to educating girls and women called “I Am Powerful.” When women are empowered, everyone benefits.

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10, King James Bible

Looking for hidden gems

Finding flawless, large rubies is, I am told, rare. I hope my search for wisdom and my exploration of women’s issues won’t be. I look forward to your comments and to reading your blogs.

How do you define wisdom? What is a “virtuous woman” and is that someone we really need in today’s world?

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