Images flickered across the television screen before me, set to a channel broadcasting old programs and series from the Gulf, like the one I was half-watching now. Suddenly, a jarring image drew my full attention; the male protagonist on-screen slapped the main actress, a pivotal scene that caused me to stop what I was doing, raise the volume, and follow more closely what was being depicted.
To me, this scene represented the man's power and the woman's subordination; after this painful slap, she retreats to a corner to cry. This simple scene sparked a chain of thoughts and took on greater proportions that led me to question the broader implications of our treatment of women, in the past and nowadays. It is particularly relevant that the series dates back to the early eighties, a decisive era in this regard, and the scene, I learned, depicted a man who wanted to punish his wife for wronging the wife of one of his friends or relatives.
Women are our mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. Each of us is the flesh and blood of a woman, it is she who bears life and sustains all of us in utero and beyond. She is the source of all love, affection, and tenderness. The jarring scene reminded me of how far we have come, and where we are at now in terms of ensuring women's imposing rights and equality. Today, physical and verbal abuse by a husband against his spouse is punishable by law, as previously established by our tolerant Islamic religion, and reinforced by the activation of modern education and civil rights.
The realization I came to from watching the scene is that what it showed were outdated customs and traditions, not related to a particular country, class, or even religion. Rather, it is a human phenomenon that has long taken advantage of women's physical weakness to violate and dominate them. What is more shameful is that in the past, this message was reinforced through television, movies, and media, both Arab and foreign. This is precisely the case with the scene in question, where it seemed like the producer was speaking through the man's words and actions, in an act of defeating this woman and violating her rights.
The main thing is that in our current time, we are grateful to God that we are witnessing the true honoring of women's rights as instructed by our Holy Quran, and embodied by our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him; that the truly pious person is that one who best honors the rights of women. We are grateful to God that our society, drawing from its refined culture and far-reaching vision, has transcended many outdated customs and behaviors in favor of a society where women are granted their rights by laws and legislation and in accordance with what our noble religion has always called for.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh.