PEARL

EQUAL RIGHTS

If you ask any number of people for their opinion about the issue of equal rights for women, you will come away with the overall impression that this pressing concern, as we may describe it, invokes innumerable confused concepts and ideas. It is a ground cut through by intellectual sophistry, but from which, nevertheless, the solution for one of the central burning questions of humanity is expected to sprout: the issue of the primordial meaning of the relationship between the two sexes.

If we peer back through time to examine the culture and customs of the various peoples, the mists disperse from the distant past to reveal communities where women ruled and were revered as leaders, such as the Nubian Queens of the Kingdom of Kush or as is conveyed in the thinking of today by the term ‘matriarchy’. There were old legal systems influenced by religious beliefs in which the woman dominated within the extended clan, grounded in land ownership, horticulture and accumulation of goods.

However, at other times, among other peoples, the woman was considered a chattel, a property to acquire, an object of purchase that was not accorded a will of her own and was not even considered to be a complete person in her own right, but at best, a lovable pet, at worst an object of sexual gratification.

In between these two extremes, there were peoples who accorded the woman a great deal of reverence as a mediator of higher, thus otherworldly, spiritual influences and powers. Not only in the role of a priestess and seeress, it was left to the discretion of her finer nature to sense the fate of things contingent on the orbit of the stars and then make or induce decisions. Not only in this, but also within the family and clan, female dignity and value permeated all behaviour. Such were times when the development of humanity on earth took great strides in the direction of ennoblement and refinement.

The validity and prestige of the woman in her position in Creation and with regard to that of the man were always enshrined in religious beliefs and traditions; in her was reflected the extent to which a nation or people was able, with the woman's help to keep open the way

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