(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/12/th.jpg)It’s been a busy week for the oppression of women under Islam.
A day or two before Americans sat down to turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan – President Obama’s best friend in the Middle East, a man who has made it abundantly clear how he feels about moderate Islam and who has warned that women shouldn’t laugh in public – further endeared himself to feminists everywhere at a summit hosted by an Istanbul-based women’s group when he declared that a woman cannot do every job that a man can do because “it is against her delicate nature.” He dug the hole deeper for himself by claiming that Islam dictated motherhood to be the primary role of women. However, he insisted that his government has always supported equal rights for women and always would.
If that’s true, then perhaps his government could turn its attention to the epidemic of honor murders being committed against Turkish women, many of whom were murdered for seeking to divorce their husbands. Last month in Istanbul, a young mother in the middle of divorce proceedings was stabbed to death by her husband in front of their child. Her murder is the latest of 287 cases documented by a Turkish human rights and advocacy group known as “We Will Stop Women Murders.”
As reported by Huffington Post, the numbers are up from 238 last year, including the slaying of a 30-year old mother of two seeking a divorce. Her abusive husband simply walked into the hair salon where she worked and stabbed her to death without a word. This was after having abused her, forcing a miscarriage, and holding her hostage in their home.
Despite its modern reputation, Turkey has some of the highest levels of violence against women in Europe (as well as some of the lowest levels of female participation in politics and education). Rights activists claim that violence against women has skyrocketed since 2003 when the Islamist AKP party came into power. According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, from 2003 until 2010, there was a 1,400 percent increase in the number of murders of women.
“The AKP government came under harsh criticism after the release of this information,” says Pinar Tremblay, a Turkish journalist. “So in a last-ditch effort to save its reputation, [after 2010] it started altering the numbers.” The government simply did not report on thousands of women who were murdered, Tremblay says.
She puts forth three reasons why have the numbers increased so dramatically. First, the value of women in Turkish society has always been low, but it has sunk even lower in the ten years under the AKP. Second is the notion of honor; Turkish society traditionally blames the woman for a variety of offenses to honor such as seeking a divorce, and the harm done to a man’s reputation is considered a partial or complete justification for murder. As the Freedom Center’s own Robert Spencer writes, “No passage in the Koran discusses honor killings, but Muslim clerics justify them and secular Muslims either do not punish them or pass laws to mitigate punishment for them. With this, Muslims make honor killings a part of Islam.”
The third reason is leniency in punishment for honor violence. “If the murderer behaves properly, he can receive amnesty in a year or two,” says Tremblay. “This leniency feeds from the fact that a woman’s life is worthless in Turkey and encourages other murderers. Indeed, there have been police reports that perpetrators have Googled possible punishments they might receive before killing their woman,” she added.
Meanwhile in India, TV presenter and actress Gauhar Khan was assaulted last week by an audience member who thought her clothing bared too much skin. “Being a Muslim woman, she should not have worn such a short dress,” the man reportedly said when arrested for assault.
But Khan’s slap on the cheek was a slap on the wrist compared to Bollywood actress Veena Malik, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison for blasphemy by Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court for appearing in a televised wedding scene based on the marriage of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s daughter. Depictions of Muhammad are considered blasphemous under Islam. Malik has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists ever since a 2011 video interview in which she boldly lashed out at a mufti’s disapproval of her un-Islamic dress and behavior.
The court also convicted Malik’s husband and the host of the show which aired the offending scene. Both were sentenced to 26 years in jail as well, and all three will have to pay an additional fine of nearly $50,000, surrender their passports and sell their properties. “The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country,” the court order read, “and hurt their feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency.”
Such mistreatment of women isn’t limited to Islamic territories. In England (although some could argue that England itself is now an Islamic territory), news broke last week that thirteen Somali men were convicted of a string of child sex abuse crimes in Bristol, and one of the convicted told the court that sharing girls for sex “was part of Somali culture” and “a religious requirement.” To quote Spencer again, “The savage exploitation of girls and young women is, unfortunately, a cross-cultural phenomenon, but only in Islamic law does it carry divine sanction”:
According to Islamic law, Muslim men can take “captives of the right hand” (Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 33:50). The Qur’an says: “O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war” (33:50). 4:3 and 4:24 extend this privilege to Muslim men in general. The rape of captive women is also sanctioned in Islamic tradition.
The rape of captive women is the ongoing nightmare currently faced by the thousands of Kurdish and Yazidi women enslaved by the Islamic State. The practice “accords with Islamic law and the parameters of Islamic morality,” as Spencer noted in relation to a female Kuwaiti politician who spoke out in favor of the sexual slavery of non-Muslim women.
Meanwhile, in the Western media, the focus on the oppression of women is reserved for such idiocy as the “unattainable” waistlines on Disney princesses. Now that’s a real war on women.
Don’t miss Shillman Journalism Fellow Mark Tapson on the Glazov Gang discussing Fighting the Culture War:
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