Parliamentary elections passed on the Syrian streets unnoticed. No more than a small number of campaign signs cover the walls and tents that were filled with chants. People expect nothing from these elections, as the results were rejected by both regime supporters and its opposition for the same reasons.
But you hear something that draws your attention, something – you are assured – will change Syrian history: "For the first time in history, a Syrian woman becomes Parliament Speaker."
Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas was announced the country’s first female parliament speaker. Does this office honor the Syrian woman? Or is it one of her rights? Does it give back her rights? Or is it just a shocking distraction that exploits women in order to draw favorable publicity towards an unpopular parliament, and to give a new legitimacy to the regime?
In order to honor women, the regime must start by changing the laws that rob women of their rights, including the personal status law that does not recognize a women's independence or Syrian citizenship. According to this law a Syrian woman cannot pass citizenship on to her children, she cannot represent herself in all legal matters, and she is not free to live alone or to travel without permission from her guardian.
The Syrian penal code does not protect women from violence, there is no justice for women in crimes like adultery and they are deprived of the same rights as men in cases such as divorce, child custody and trusteeship.
This five-year war has been hard and cruel to women, it has made them suffer from poverty and loss, and while barbaric groups spread throughout many parts of Syria, they exploit women and return them to the pre-Islamic era, when they were slaves without rights.
Considering all of this, will Abbas’ appointment really serve all women across Syria? Does an office like that compensate for all the stolen rights?
The issue of women's rights is not a case of war and conflict with men, it is not a fight against the dress code and religion. It is the case of a just law that forces the community to respect it and fear its consequences.
In the end, if we wanted to admit that in spite of everything, bringing a woman to such an office was the right move, a move toward justice and equality, in the middle of this chaos would we still ask what parliament are we talking about? What people? What laws? What elections?
Maybe the greatest victory will be when a woman reaches an office that really represents the people, when all Syrians are here and when it is not just a new chapter that completes the play.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.