First published in Newsday
This year’s Arab Spring uprisings against authoritarian regimes included many prominent women: There was a Tunisian blogger who was among the first to alert the world to the country’s growing turmoil. And there were demonstrators, journalists, bloggers and tweeters in Egypt who forced the February ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
But since those inspiring days, the news from this region has painted a picture of a democratic revolution only partly finished. The problem with leaving a task unfinished is that there’s the danger of stalling – or leaving an opening for someone worse.
In recent days, an Egyptian general admitted that his troops conducted “virginity checks” of female protesters – a barbaric and unnecessary humiliation by the military, which now seems like a poor caretaker of power as Egypt prepares its new constitution.
But the virgin tests are only the most notorious of the setbacks for the women of the Arab Spring. Backsliding in this part of the world is particularly frightening, given its history and its cast of brutes who want a return to Islamic law. It would be tragic for another country whose women helped make revolution – like Iran in 1979 or Algeria in 1962 – to reverse course to subjugate them to a fundamentalist regime. (more…)