Category Archives: Malaysia

Women’s rights: a roundup of news

Reviewing some notes I had on this subject for the past days I think I have to write upon the last news on this subject. I am surprised to find an interview titled ‘That Muslim woman could be happier than you…’ about a liberal woman who converted to Islam. I had copied here extracts from the interview but the comments the author has made are worth reading.

From the THE TELEGRAPH:
Once she was a party-loving student; then Na’ima B Robert converted to Islam. But how did she become so convinced of the benefits of wearing Islamic dress that she now covers herself from head to foot and has written a book extolling its virtues? Bryony Gordon meets her.

[…] The she went to Egypt and everything changed. While she was there, she couldn’t stop noticing the women in hijab (headscarves) and she was appalled. She could not understand why they allowed themselves to be so dominated by men; couldn’t fathom why they wouldn’t want to show themselves off. When she eventually asked a woman in hijab why she wore it, she was told simply: “Because I want to be judged for what I say and what I do, not for what I look like.”
[…]A good example of the misconceptions we have about Muslim women is believing that they are all helpless, potential victims of an honour killing. But as Na’ima points out, “honour killings are a pre-Islamic thing, a cultural thing that is filtered down through the generations. But for those of us who have learnt pure Islam from the Koran and the scholars, it’s appalling.”
[…]I admire Na’ima’s reasons for wearing the jilbab, but I wonder if her faith dresses women in these garments for the same reasons. She says that Islam teaches equality between the sexes – why then do men not have to cover?
“I think that equality should not be equated with sameness. Islamically we are equal but we are not the same. We have qualities that men don’t have and men…” She pauses. “I’m not going to say this next bit.” Why not, if it is what she believes in?
“Because I don’t want the feminists on my back. But basically men have things that women don’t. They have physical strength and are the father of the children and these types of things. Men and women have different qualities and Islam recognises that and again everything has its context.”

Just today, as if to defy this woman’s conceptions, we know that a man has being jailed for beating his daughter:

A court in Kristiansand, southern Norway, has sentenced a man to 120 days in jail for beating his teenage daughter with straps and a metal rod. The beatings were sparked by her admission that she no longer was a virgin. The 49-year-old man, who emigrated to Norway from Iraq, claimed he’d done nothing wrong. He told the court that he was “much kinder” than many other fathers from his culture would have been. He claimed most other men would have killed the girl, instead of “just beating her.”
[…] He told the court that he regrets bringing his family to Norway, because he believes the country is much less conservative than he had thought it was.

See Sugiero’s post at Eurabian News.

This last week we have been informed that domestic violence is on the rise among American Muslim women:

WASHINGTON: Twenty percent of Muslim women in America are subjected to domestic violence, according to a new survey. The Council for Muslim Women, according to a report in an Urdu newspaper published in New York, says that the divorce rate is on the increase and more than 20 percent of women are subjected to mental abuse.
A commentary in the weekly newspaper ‘Pakistan News’ by Faiq Siddiqi points out that Pakistani women suffer rebuke and mistreatment from early childhood and most husbands are always admonishing their wives.
They hold them responsible for disappointments that they, the husbands, suffer and attribute their failures to those of their wives. If the wife reacts, she is threatened with divorce. A large number of Pakistani and Muslim men, who otherwise go to the mosque five times a day, show no sign of any softening in their behaviour towards their women. When they return home, “they call out to their wives as if they were the inmates of a jail, not a family home”.
They also suspect their wives of errant behaviour, he said. If the wife puts at them any questions that they do not like, they accuse her of disobedience and warn her “of the fires of hell” that await her in the hereafter.

But as the Iraqi father jailed for beating his daughter, the problem is that they are not sufficiently integrated in their new countries and continue “traditions” imported from their countries of origin: PAKISTAN: Figures on women victims speak for themselves

LAHORE: Abuse of women is rampant in male chauvinistic Pakistani society, evident from violence against women such as murder, rape, torture, killing in the name of Karo Kari, abduction, police torture, suicide, trafficking and burning that have increased enormously.
This was disclosed in a report compiled by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Madadgaar. The report said that women were not only subjected to financial discrimination but were also victims of inhuman customs and discriminatory laws. The ratio of abusing women physically and sexually increased more than three times as there were 4769 reported cases in 2005 compared to 1397 reported cases in 2004, the report said.
The provincial break-up of data compiled by Madadgaar reveals that Punjab reported 2912 cases, Sindh had a count of 1245 cases, 457 cases were reported in NWFP and 155 cases were reported in Balochistan. Madadgaar research disclosed that 2001 women were attacked in their own houses and 681 in the homes of the assailants’.
Madadgaar’s report revealed that domestic violence was a very serious problem in Pakistan. 719 cases were reported against victims’ own husbands, 41 cases against ex-husbands and 80 cases against in-laws. Ms Amina Mazhar, deputy programme coordinator of Madadgaar said, “The key challenge is to gradually ensure that these crimes are made socially unacceptable and counter to community norms”. She urged the Government of Pakistan to promote women’s empowerment and to ensure equal participation in all circles of life.

Looks like the Gang rape case of Mukhtar Mai has only draw more attention for the victims but things have not changed very much for them.

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani gang rape victim’s quest for justice won plaudits at home and abroad but four years after the attack little has changed for women in a region where so-called honour killings and punishments remain common.
Mukhtaran Mai, 33, was brutally raped on the orders of a tribal council in her remote Punjabi village in 2002 as punishment for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman from a powerful local clan. Staying silent is the safest course for most women subjected to rape, violence and sometimes murder in Pakistan and the rest of South Asia by male relatives or neighbours who accuse them of bringing shame on their families. Mai refused. Six men were sentenced to death in August 2002 after she testified, and then last year she got the Supreme Court to reverse the earlier acquittals on five of them by a lower appeals court. Justice prevails? Not according to Kamila Hyat, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). “I don’t think things here have changed,” Hyat told AFP. “What her case has done is to draw more attention to rape victims in Pakistan and their plight. But the feudal system which made the case happen is still there,” she said.
Violence against women in Pakistan remained “rampant” in 2005, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in its annual report, while the HRCP said there were at least 800 rapes and gang-rapes recorded in Pakistan in 2004.
Hyat said that laws to protect women were not being enforced and that not enough has been done to change Pakistan’s parallel Islamic justice system, under which women who can’t prove they were raped face the prospect of an adultery conviction. “Word needs to come from the top that such crimes against women will not be tolerated,” she added.
However, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf ‘the man at the top’ showed his views by banning Mai from going to address a rights group in the United States last year. Shortly afterwards he suggested to a US newspaper that some women viewed being raped as a “money making” concern and an easy way to get a foreign visa.

But not only Pakistani women are subject to abuses. The daughter of former Malaysian Primer Minister Mahatir Mohamad, and a Muslim herself, has warned against the growing form of apartheid women are suffering in her country:

THE TELEGRAPH
Muslim women in Malaysia are being discriminated against so severely that they face a “growing form of apartheid”, the daughter of the former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, a prominent social activist, has claimed.
Marina Mahathir, a Muslim herself, yesterday wrote in the Star newspaper: “Non-Muslim Malaysian women have benefited from more progressive laws over the years while the opposite has happened for Muslim women.” Polygamy is allowed for Muslims but banned for non-Muslims, she pointed out, and under Islamic family law the father is the primary guardian of the children of a marriage, while for others guardianship is shared.
Marina Mahathir’s article was so sensitive that it was delayed for two days, with the paper claiming at one point that the relevant editor was “too busy” to deal with it.

Lastly, we have to speak about Iran arresting International Women’s Day demonstrators

Tehran, Iran, Mar. 08 – Hundreds of women gathered Wednesday afternoon in Tehran’s Laleh Park and took part in a demonstration against the Iranian government on the occasion of International Women’s Day, according to eye-witnesses. The security forces, which had been on alert to enforce a ban on all gatherings, quickly moved in and within minutes arrested several dozen women, an eye-witness told Iran Focus. Several women were arrested while taking photographs or filming the demonstration.
The female protestors, who were joined by a number of men supporting their cause, continued to resist attempts by the security agents and the undercover security forces, according to the report. Many carried placards reading “Women demand freedom and equality” and “End censorship”. Bystanders came to the aid of the women, some of whom were badly beaten by the agents of the security forces
.
For some photos about this demonstration, see Free Thoughts. You can see also Publius Pundit, where they tell us: Several female demonstrators and a well known poet, Simin Behbahani, were injured due to the brutality used by Islamist Militiamen using clubs and chains. Several demonstrators were seen laying on the ground with broken noses, hands or legs while other were screaming and/or shouting slogans against the theocratic regime.





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