This article was triggered by the news of divorce of the Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila after 30 years of marriage. But the story is not this, people meet and separate all the way in their lives, the story is the package of affairs the Russian president with much younger women that leaked here and there for several years.
This brought back the scandal of 76 years old Italian Prime Minister who faced charges for having sex with a minor. More recently, on the other shore of the Mediterranean, the Egyptian Minister for Information answered a question asked by a woman journalist in a public press conference about the rights and freedoms of journalism: “You can come and I will show you where are they.” And this was not the only rude answer made by the same minister.
Egyptian feminist writer and physician Nawal El Saadawi talked about this subject in an article she wrote in 2009 about this issue: “A man who cannot have sex with an equal woman, a smart and aware woman, will try to get a young naive girl that cannot discover his sexual or psychological weakness.” These “leaders” seems either unaware of the consequences of their actions on women’s rights and situation in their societies, or they simply don’t care.
These are just samples of “leaders” in this world, leaders that we write to them our demands for women equality, rights and justice. I ask myself: all the summits, meetings, forums, appeals, protests, sit-ins, debate, studies, articles and other forms of activities to encourage such leaders to make stronger laws and legislations in order to enable and empower women, cannot be translated into a tangible results because the people we are calling to fulfill our demands are the first to violate them.
But things does not stop here, these “leaders” encourage negative and stereotypical images for women in their societies and countries. Putin gave his mistress a seat in the parliament, Berlusconi freed the 17 years old girl from prison in exchange of sex. So what kind of message they send to girls, women and men? The current Egyptian government brought along with it a group of women to power think that harassment is always the fault of women and that circumcision protects girls’ chastity. Let me here also recall a memory from Syria before the revolution in 2011, The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Diala Al Haj Aref, replied to a question about what does she think of about 200 women killed every year in what is called honor killings, her answer was this number is not significant.
Of course such incompetent leaders will bring along incompetent officials. And I ask: These are the leaders we count on to improve women’s situation in the world?