A bitter truth, often glossed over in the name of “tradition,” is the religious teachings and the responsibilities of a Muslim woman. Most glossed over is the violence that men are still allowed to inflict on their women in the name of their religion and culture on such a massive part of the planet.
This brutality not only takes place in ISIS-held territory but across most Muslim societies. All around you, you see women killed, molested, imprisoned, maimed and incarcerated while their men sugar-coat the abuse as “modesty”, “honour”, “divine law” or even “justice”.
In addition to warning would-be ISIS recruits of the horrors that await them if they jump onto the bandwagon of terrorist organizations, let us take a look into “normal” Muslim societies.
Women in Saudi Arabia, in the name of laws and “traditions”, are kept effectively non-existent. They are forced, outside the house to wear full-body covering, abayas. Most full coverings for women are black, which absorbs heat, and are made of non-porous, cloth — not cotton — in the scorching heat.
Women are also not allowed to drive, they cannot leave the house without a male guardian, they are liable to be flogged, stoned to death or beheaded if found guilty of even the smallest infractions, and often, as in being raped, even if they are factually innocent.
Campaigns have been launched to abolish the guardian system, in which women must be escorted outside their homes by a male relative or “guardian”.
The mainstream religious lobby immediately went on the defensive. Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic figure, the grand mufti, denounced the call to abolish guardianship as a crime against Islam.
Mullahs seem to prefer protecting inhuman laws to protecting humans.
In Iran, women are forced to cover themselves and need a guardian to step outside the home, if they want to be “protected”. Bicycling is prohibited.
Women are also forced to live with an abusive husband, as dictated by abusive marital laws and social taboos.
Moral brigades by the name of Gasht e Ershad (“guidance patrol”) coerce females to behave “decently”. Now Sharia patrols and curbs against women also exist in England and France – an indication where these extremists want to drive the West.
In parts of France, women cannot go out onto the street “unaccompanied” or even enter a café. “Here,” men tell them, “we do things like in our home countries!”
In a province of Indonesia, Aceh, a woman, accused of being intimate with her boyfriend, is caned in front of a jeering crowd. Later, a photograph of the screaming woman is published as a token of pride for the men who had just exacted this “justice” — on her; no consequence for the boyfriend. It was a lesson to remind women to submit to their place in society.
Under the newly proposed Sharia laws, women are also forced to be accompanied by a male guardian to “protect” them. Banda Aceh also banned women from entertainment venues after 11pm unless they are accompanied by a male family member. Aceh district has also banned unmarried men and women from riding together on motorbikes.
Turkey last year presented a bill for tackling its widespread child-marriage issue: the Turkish government introduced a bill that pardons a rapist if he marries his victim. The victim is not consulted. After the rage of the masses, the bill was withdrawn – at least for the time being.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said at a news conference in Istanbul:
“We are taking this bill in the parliament back to the commission in order to allow for the broad consensus the president requested, and to give time for the opposition parties to develop their proposals.”
The government seems determined to bring it back after making some minor changes.
Many Muslim countries follow similar restraints, effectively keeping women under house-arrest. All forms of exploiting women are presented as divine law, sharia, in which women have no say, which they are unable to use in their own defence, and which they are forced to accept as their fate.
The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), not required by Islam, is a pre-Islamic tribal norm across the African belt of the Muslim region, as well as in parts of India, Indonesia and Middle East.
In Pakistan, the hudood ordinance, promulgated in 1979 to curb outside-of marriage-sex, has actually turned out as a monstrosity for female rape victims.
The ordinance demands, under sharia law, that a rape victim be grilled in a court of law as if she is the perpetrator. She is asked to produce four male witnesses to prove her case or else she is booked as having committing adultery and having already confessed to the crime.
These are countries where men are not only permitted, but invited, to consider woman a pet to be killed, burned with acid, benzene or a weapon of choice supposedly to preserve a family’s “honour”.
These laws, put in place by the governments and the clergy, provide a safe escape for criminals, such as those who kill their women and claim it is in the name of “honour”.
A killer can be pardoned in court by the victim’s next of kin, who, thanks to much clan intermarriage, is usually a family member of the assailant as well. The judge, with the stroke of a pen, therefore lets these criminals walk free.
Although recently Pakistan passed a bill barring the family members from pardoning assailants in the name of sharia (Qissas) or reconciliation, the flickering hope of its implementation is still in question as no court has so far set this new law as a precedent in the hundreds of pending cases across the country. That neglect means that despite the new law, in practice, rulings are “business as usual”.
Such taboos are also safeguarded by the clergy, who rule the society through the loudspeakers of the mosques.
Afghanistan remains perhaps the most brutal country in terms of women’s rights violations.
Farkhanda Malikzada, for instance, a 27-year-old seminary student accused by a fortune teller a custodian of a shrine, of burning a Quran, was simply thrown to hound-like mob of men who beat and burned her to death — in front of a number of police officers and cameras in broad daylight. Most of the identifiable assailants were never punished, while the fortune teller who unleashed this horror had his death sentence commuted.
Investigators also revealed that Farkhanda might have questioned sexual orgies by the shrine’s custodians, who were later found inside the holy place with condoms and Viagra.
“Yet,” reports Alissa J. Rubin, who wrote the New York Times report, “Afghan women most need the legal system to defend them: They are largely powerless without the support of male family members, and it is usually family members who abuse them.”
Being covered in black, non-porous cloth in the desert heat; being stoned to death or beheaded; being confined to a house as a brood-mare and servant, effectively enslaved, unable to leave or earn an independent living, are the reality that millions of women are made to suffer every day – supposedly for their “protection”.
To add insult to injury, in most societies, these discriminations are imposed by the mullahs as religious obligations.
In the 21st century, an unchaperoned woman outside the house is regarded as subhuman, fair game to be raped, assaulted, humiliated, burned alive or decapitated — based on patriarchal norms.
The deeper horror is that all these abuses — child marriage, confinement, FGM, rape, torture, and legal discrimination — have accomplices. These enablers are often well-meaning people from the West, “multiculturalists” who are reluctant to pass judgement on other people’s customs no matter how brutal they might be. What they are really doing, however, is providing crucial support for savage injustices either by sweeping them under the carpet or by defending barbarism as “cultural norms”.
Three- or four-year-old girls go to kindergarten wearing a headscarf — no longer just in the Middle East or Africa but in England, Germany and virtually throughout Europe.
These kinds of abuses are permitted and even encouraged by an indoctrination that runs deep through the generations, and that are tragically perpetuated by well-meaning “multiculturalists” in Europe who actually think they are doing “good” by preserving these barbaric conditions.
Sadly, they are unable to see that they are actually part of the huge jihadi radicalization machine working under the very nose of even governments in the West.
As the British in India effectively got rid of the practice of suttee, in which Hindu widows were required to throw themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre, if people would really like to do “good”, they will please help to stop similar crushing practices.
Khadija Khan is a Pakistan-based journalist and commentator.