The State of Women's Rights in the Middle East

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Members of the Muslim Brotherhood hold prayers in Tahir Square ahead of the first anniversary of the revolution on January 24, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt.
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Last week, the Muslim Brotherhood publicly affirmed its longstanding fundamental views on women for the first time since the party came to power under President Mohamed Morsi.

In response to a proposed United Nations declaration to condemn violence against women, the Brotherhood issued a statement asserting that wives should not have the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, that daughters should not have the same inheritance rights as sons, and that the husband must have "guardianship" over his wife, recommending the "husband's consent in matters like travel, work or use of contraception."

These views are largely derisive among women's rights activists, who have faced an uphill battle to secure safety and freedom for women in the Middle East. But the views of the Brotherhood are embedded in traditionalist culture, and many conservative Egyptian women support the doctrine.

Hafsa Halawa is an Egyptian lawyer and former employee of the National Democratic Institute.