Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How some Muslims treat rape victims

Fundamentalist Islam's mistreatment of women is unparalleled in any other major culture today. Specifically, no where else in the world are women physically punished and even murdered for being raped. Muslim societies need to get serious at a macro level about how to deal with this problem.

There are thousands of awful stories that fit this situation. Two, in particular, have made international headlines in the past few months.

In one case, a woman in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for meeting with an unrelated male friend. The fact that she met with this individual only came to light because the woman was gang raped by seven other men during that meeting, and wanted them prosecuted. Her initial sentence was 90 lashes, but the judge increased its severity because she contested that initial sentence.

The more heart wrenching case is of a young girl who was raped in Syria. Her cousin subsequently married her in an attempt to bring her back into the family and protect her from being murder because she was raped. Tragically, this protection was not sufficient, as her brother subsequently stabbed her multiple times in an attempt to restore honor to his family, though what is know as an "honor killing". The brother is facing trial (which is unusual for a "honor killing"), but his likely punishment is far less than what it would be in much of the rest of the world for premeditated murder.

This is barbaric. Human society has come too far to be violently mistreating rape victims. While there are fundamental in every religion, from puritans burning witches to ultra-orthodox Jews throwing feces at immodestly clad women and stones at women trying to wear traditionally male prayer shawls, these practices pale in comparison to murdering rape victims.

Despite the fact that Islam is a diverse religion with numerous sects of varying degrees of progressiveness and modernity, Islam has not had such a fundamental change to its core that would completely end practices like honor killings. Where is the outrage among fundamentalist Muslim leadership? Where are the imams saying that is it wrong to inflict further harm on women who have been sexually violated? It is long past time for fundamentalist Muslim leaders to take a stand against stop inflicting further harm on rape victims.


For All Women Foundation said...

Dunash, of course I share your outrage at "honor" killings in general and those committed against raped girls and women in particular. And I'm glad you blogged about this subject.

But "honor" killings are believed to have their origins in misinterpretations of pre-Islamic Arab tribal codes. They pre-date Islam by centuries and, in fact, are un-Islamic.

What confuses the issue, though, is that the majority of the U.N.-estimated 5,000 "honor" killings per annum take place in Arab/Muslim countries and in Arab/Muslim immigrant communities elsewhere. So there's a correlation, but Islam is not the cause.

One of the reasons the Syrian perpetrator's sentence is likely to be horribly light is because in that country (as well as in neighboring Jordan) there are three penal code articles on the books that offer leniency to the killers. The state is effectively teaching people it is all right to kill for this reason. Surely the leadership of these countries has blood on their hands, too. They need to step up to the plate and take charge of this situation.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

gaygezunt said...

Victims of "honor" killings will have to depend on the outrage and outspokeness of of people like you until more Muslim clerics issue fatwas against wife beating and "honor" killings, as Grand Ayatollah Mohammah Hussein Fadlallah, the top Shiite Cleric in Lebanon, has done in the past year. In August, he issued a fatwa calling "honor" killings immoral, and this month, he issued another fatwa against men who beat and batter their wives -- saying it is permissible for a woman to fight back when attacked.

There is no honor in murdering wives, sisters, daughters or nieces -- ever.

The Jewish belief is that if you save one life it is as if you have saved the entire world, and if you take one life, it is as if you have killed the entire world.

Karen Tintori,author
Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family
The Book of Names, a Jewish mystical thriller
with Jill Gregory