Across the globe, the LGBT community is finally receiving the rights it deserves. In Canada, gender discrimination is outlawed. Taiwan became the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage. However, homosexuality remains a crime in many countries. In fact, some traditional marriages aren’t even tolerated due to religious factors. But President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is shifting views, now allowing Tunisian women to marry non-Muslims.
Until now, a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian Muslim woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.
Tunisia, which is 99% Muslim, is viewed as one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of women’s rights.
Non-Muslim marriages were restricted in 1973. The president referred to it as an obstacle to one’s freedom of choice. Baffling was the fact that the law did not apply to men and included minority women who were Jewish or Christian.
Scrapping the decree may not do away with the cultural and traditional obstacles women face with their families in cases of inter-faith marriage, but it now offers Tunisian women greater freedom of choice from a legal perspective.
The battle for women’s rights may be a little worn out, but remains optimistic. A round of applause for Tunisia!
Slowly but surely, the world of literature and television is finally becoming more diverse. People from marginalized populations are now gaining some representation, especially in global mainstream media. Last year, for instance, Sesame Street introduced their first Afghan member Zeerak. But things are also at work internally. The Middle Eastern comic book world is not far behind with Sarah, a female Pakistani superhero.
The creator, [Hassan Siddiqui], of the English-language comic says he hopes the superhero will give young girls across Pakistan a role model and embolden them to fight corruption and violence in a country where crime is rife in major cities and corruption is the norm.
It’s a step towards abolishing gender discrimination in a country where honor killings are frequent. The comic does not only tackle crime and corruption, but even zooms in on gender-based violence and domestic abuse, shedding light on very important issues.
But while the online community has received “Pakistan Girl” with open arms, local readership could be a problem. Illiteracy rates are at an all-time high. However, believing in its significance, schools across the nation are now implementing the comic into curriculums.
“I think we should be teaching them through this kind of literature because that’s actually the tender age when they are building their own images of their future life,” said [new comic book fan and school principal Saadia Adnan] after browsing through a bookstore copy.
Siddiqui’s previous works include “The Burka Avenger” and “Pakistan Man”, with both titular superheroes combating the crisis of corruption. But as “Pakistan Girl” targets gendered issues and provides a different representation, I hope that Sarah, the female Pakistani superhero, becomes to young women all over the region a great figure to look up to.
With the future of this world in the hands of young ones, inspiring respect and dignity seems the way to go.