Women’s Rights in Oman

Hwarang Kim | CONF 340 | October 21, 2019

Evening view of Muscat, Oman

Abstract

Oman is a beautiful country located in the Middle East. On the world map, it is right next to UAE (United Arab Emirates). Since I spent my childhood there for several years, I have grown up under Oman’s culture. With my personal experiences and online resources, I would like to share some stories and introduce a hidden aspect that visitors do not easily face. Hopefully, this article provides general information of Oman and ongoing problem under the iceberg.

Image used:

https://www.britannica.com/place/Oman

Background

Many countries in the Middle East are fairly wealthy with plenty of oil. Oman is an Islamic country and Arabic is most spoken language. Unlike other neighboring nations with gun shots and bombings, Oman is like an oasis in the desert. Conflicts can never be seen rather it is just too peaceful. However, Omanis suffered from the dictatorship of previous Sultan, Said Ill bin Taimur. Thanks to new leader, Qaboos bin Said al Said, Oman became a country as it is now. He took over his father in 1970 and still maintains his position. Since 1970, the economy has grown so fast under his hands. Citizens respect him in many ways that his achievements are being educated in schools. Qaboos bin Said has a very good relationship with Queen Elizabeth II that his children are off to the United Kingdom for education. There were also times where she visited Muscat, Oman. Tight bonds with UK is another component for Oman’s security and economy.

“Everyone in this nation is equal. There isn’t any difference between big and small, rich and poor; for equality mandates, everyone to be siblings under the umbrella of social justice.”

– Sultan Qaboos of Oman

Under the iceberg

Visitors or newcomers of knowledge in Oman does not know about Omani women. They may be ordinary and satisfied with their lives in such a peaceful country, their rights and belongings are rather “missing”. According to the government of UK, women have to cover all parts of their body excluding their hands. On the other hand, men are more free to wear in public places. Men are also allowed to marry up to four women. This journal will handle gender-based discrimination, especially in the case of women.

Women can only be married to one man. If they chose to divorce or re-marry, they lose their child custody. In contrast, men still holds custody of every child being a “legal” guardian. This is unfair and not acceptable in other countries. Furthermore, there are no laws that mentions prohibition of neither domestic violence nor marital rape. Thus, sexual violence or harass frequently occurred (Wermuth, 2016).

Resources used:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/oman/local-laws-and-customs

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/oman

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2women.jpg

Picture taken by me (2009) – 2 women dancing in my home

Living in Oman was such a new experience and a culture shock as I am born between a Korean father and mother. On the weekends, there is nothing wrong with seeing a men walking in front and three wives and kids following in a mall. There were also times where three to four wives would shop together to purchase fruits and ingredients for cooking. Since I have grown up, appellations between wives and kids are a rising question.

Opportunity

Government under Sultan Qaboos is reinforcing laws for a better nation. They also need to set a focus to gender related laws to be more stricter. This will allow men to behave less violent against women. It is an opportunity for admirable Sultan Qaboos to make its nation a better place for both men and women to live. Perhaps, Oman could be a perfect nation to reside. Other than discrimination issue, I have never countered any problematic barrier.

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Picture taken by me (2012) – Salalah desert

Ultimate goal of this article is to introduce a topic that people never thought about. The means of people include former teacher, community worker, non-profit organization, journalist, or even students like me. It would be satisfactory to me if this resources could contribute one’s understanding or to be strengthen by suggesting additional implementations.

Learning gender equality is significant part of peace education. I have a strong faith in the future of gender difference. It is important to accept difference between a man and woman. Therefore, we must respect each other for a better community. To successfully understand gender equality, one must have knowledge, have positive attitude, and implement it in real life.

In conclusion, whatever the issue is in a global world, I believe there is always a solution for peace-building and it is our ultimate goal for the world to maintain a ‘perpetual peace’. I hope this blog helps both students and teachers specifically because I may be a great source for you to get to know my personal experiences. For professionals in this field, I may only be part of a source since I do not owe any paper. To think deeper on this topic, I have prepared some questions:

Oman is one of the peaceful countries in the Middle East, why do you think it has maintained its security for a long time?

Gender inequality is an another topic to write a whole paper about. If you were to state just one reason for its effect, what would it be and why.

If you were to suggest a possible resolution for gender equality in Oman, what would it be?

About Hwarang Kim

Student at George Mason University Korea learning global affairs.

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