The Junior Year Abroad Network (JYAN) connects Georgetown students studying abroad in a variety of cultures.
Students share reflections on religion, culture, politics, and society in their host countries, commenting on topics ranging from religious freedom and interfaith dialogue to secularization, globalization, democracy, and economics.
In fact, in my Wolof language class, the words for first wife, second wife, third wife, and fourth wife were featured on the vocabulary list for the unit on the family.
However, the societal manifestations of the belief in the inferiority of women stretch much farther than just the legality of polygamy.
Islam/Arab culture effectively created a patriarchal society in place of the traditional matriarchal one.
This was a hugely powerful change—effectively reversing gender dynamics that had been in place for centuries, with the introduction of a new religion. Women, like my host mother, still obviously are very much in charge of their home and direct all household operations.
While the Catholic faith is often criticized for some of its policies regarding restrictions on women in the Church hierarchy, it does not share the same rigor of beliefs about the role of women in orthodox Islam.