Over the past 25 years, Muslim majorities have elected five women as heads of state in the Muslim world (Tansu Ciller in Turkey, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia in Bangladesh, and Megawati Sukarnoputri in Indonesia). Notwithstanding our verbiage of female empowerment and liberation, we have yet to elect a single woman as president in the US. The Quran is the only sacred text that devotes an entire chapter to the rights of women. In fact, women in Europe could not inherit property independent of their husbands up until the 18th century. Islam over 1,400 years ago gave women the rights of inheritance, work, and hold public office. But the misperception of a Muslim woman that is veiled and oppressed guides our thinking.
There is a country where the leading cause of death of pregnant women is murder by a partner. In this same country, more than a million women were raped in 2008 and women are much more likely to live in poverty than men. Local laws don’t protect their right to bodily freedom and integrity; some rape laws even state that once a woman initially consents to sex, she doesn’t have the right to change her mind.
You may have caught on by now — yes, I’m talking about the United States.