As a culture, we tend to ignore the strength women bring to our society and devalue their importance. We are more than our wombs. Further, our patriarchal society deems women as second class citizens. There are many that refute this, so let me lay out the proof:
Traveling in Libya, you cannot but help note the current fad of "hisham." This is where women feel the need to cover the hair to be looked upon as acceptable. To me this has become a blight on the face of Libya. I have the utmost respect for women that choose to become mithajba in the true sense of the word. But the streets of Libya are a farce for all to see. Many of our shabab require a women to have some sort of covering on their hair to even be accepted as marriageable. What happened to the true meaning of embracing your farad. In order to enter marriage you must perpetrate a sham. How is this helping our society?
I find the notion of women's homes in Libya pretty horrible. For those who are unaware of them, they are where the Libyans choose to place women they would deem "bad seeds." A Libyan family can choose to put their trouble making daughters there because "out of mind out of sight." These would include women who have children out of wedlock, as well as women who may seek more independence. This, in effect, becomes a prison for these women. The women are not released unless their family changes their mind or a marriage match is found. Some of these women have been raped, but again the society is unforgiving. This can be a dream come true for the shabab who would like to marry but find it financially impossible. These women do not have a choice.
Abuse is persistent in our society. I have seen many cases where women bear the marks of beatings from their husband or their fathers. This is not a suitable topic for conversation at any point. Rape victims are either pressured to marry their rapists or placed in a women's home. I am often amazed at our aptitude for silence and denial when it comes to women and their suffering.
As a Libyan women, our children are not allowed to take Libyan citizenship. Further, in the case of a foreign women, her husband can choose to take her children away from her.
I am not trying to bash Libyans for much of what I have written can be held as truth in other Arab countries. I choose to write what I know and how I feel especially as a woman. And I write because as a Libyan, I know Libya and Libyans.