A friend was wondering why I thought women were not treated well in my part of the world.
I am assuming the question was why the ill treatment of women and not whether I think that women are treated badly. There is no question that they are.
First of all I do not think anyone is treated particularly well. Anyone who can be oppressed is: servants, employees, children, old people, poor people, sick people, disabled people, wives, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, … a sad never ending list.
Why the rampant oppression? Or perhaps, the more revealing question is, who IS treated well?
In a family, it is actually very simple:
Anyone higher in the family hierarchy, you treat well. Anyone lower you can treat as you see fit. (http://saba-anvery.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-does-hierarchy-go.html).
Why? There are the usual suspects: we come from a tribal culture, there are economic factors, our culture does not like individualism etc. These are all valid reasons. They just make up for a very complex problem.
Families living in cities with no tribal associations continue to honor the family hierarchy very strictly - for the age old reason that this is what we have always done and there is no immediate advantage in changing. In addition, we are obsessed with what other people think about us and so change is that much harder.
The awful problem with the hierarchy is that people are trained from the very beginning that the worth of a person comes from where he fits in. There is no inherent worth in a human being. It is something that I keep working on myself to fix in myself. It is difficult for me to instinctively think that the help is as worthy of respect as my father is. If I treat the help well, I feel very good about myself but if I give respect to my father I feel as if I am doing my duty. Both feelings are wrong.