Stories about violence against women

Why Muslim women need to stop justifying domestic violence in the name of religion

Muslim men are allowed to hit their wives – not with fists, but gently using only short sticks and pieces of fabric, as per a video recently released by the Australian women’s branch of Hizbut Tahrir. The video, posted on the Islamic political group Hizbut Tahrir’s Facebook page, shows two Australian Muslim women from Sydney telling a small audience of veiled women that Muslim husbands are in a position of leadership in ­a marriage and “it goes hand-in-hand that he would have the right to undertake disciplinary ­measures”. The verse under discussion proposes three potential responses to unfaithfulness on part of the wife, namely, admonishing them, abandoning ...

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Why Yogi Adityanath’s decision to prune official holidays should be applauded

One of the most contentious political appointments in India in recent times has been the elevation of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the country’s most populous and politically significant state. After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) emphatic victory in the recent assembly elections, there was prolonged suspense over who would ultimately get the coveted position. There were a number of strong candidates, and though Adityanath’s name was in the fray, he certainly was not the front-runner. The announcement therefore took a lot of people completely by surprise. Surprise would actually be a bit of an understatement given the kind of ...

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Benazir Bhutto International Airport: A nightmare that doesn’t end

Alas, it was only a matter of time before the “Worst Airport in the World-2014” would crawl back into news headlines by having female passengers assaulted on its premises. Are we dismayed? Yes. Surprised? Not at all. A hair-raising video has gone viral recently showing a woman passenger – a Norwegian national – being beaten up by a female Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad. The video begins with what appears to be the person behind the camera arguing with the security personnel on why they aren’t helping a woman being beaten behind a screen. As screams continue in the background, a male ...

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Fifty Shades Darker is deeply sexist and truly reprehensible

Who would have thought that there could be another level of worse when it comes to Fifty Shades Darker? It was impossible to anticipate that the movie about Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the uninteresting couple featured in four of E L James’ books, could touch another low. The sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker  is so pathetic that I feel it is an assault on intelligence and the sensibility of the viewers. A young billionaire, Grey, runs a highly successful company that seems to require little of his time and attention. He ...

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Hina Shahnawaz was powerful and financially independent, so patriarchy killed her

News of honour killings, or karo-kari, is not new to Pakistan. Almost a thousand women are killed in Pakistan every year for allegedly bringing “shame” to their families. In a society that feeds off hyper masculinity, a woman’s autonomy and independence of any sort is seen as a threat to the Pakistani culture as a whole. Last year, a renowned social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in the name of honour, because of her financial and social independence gained from practicing what she preached – self-love and personal power. Although honour killings were (and still are) very common, this incident in particular is what led the government ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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Would you be able to sleep at night knowing your daughter is being subjected to violence at that very moment?

The recent murder cases of Samia Shahid and Qandeel Baloch, both victims of ‘honour killing,’ put yet another question mark on our resolve to fight violence against women. Such cases also serve to rejuvenate the controversial debate that societies tend to tolerate violence against women which, in turn, leads to more violence against women. For me, before being acquainted with data on countries where such beliefs persist, it was unimaginable that some women think domestic violence is acceptable. I think most readers would be surprised to know that wife beating, the most common form of domestic violence, is not just a norm in most countries, but also found acceptable ...

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The demons of Delhi

The more things change, the more they remain the same. It was 2012 and Delhi was in the midst of a round of massive protests. The gang rape of the young woman Nirbhaya, who came to be remembered as the fearless one, in a moving bus, finally got the jaded citizens of the city on to the streets, as women demanded their basic right, safety. Soon after, legislations were amended, new laws were brought in, and politicians finally seemed to have heard the pulse of a frustrated nation. Yet in the last one week alone, a tourist was gang raped as ...

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Pakistan: A democracy abducted

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s recent exposure in the Mossack Fonseca Scandal comes as no surprise to those familiar with Pakistan’s perennial opportunities for corruption amongst her ruling classes. While enraging much of the nation, the surfacing of these ugly realities has inspired its Islamist clergy. Painting themselves even more ‘holier than thou’, Pakistan’s religious clerics are uniting in extraordinary consensus. Seizing on Sharif’s suddenly weakened position, they gather to oppose the Anti-Honour Killing amendment bill, the Anti-Rape amendment bill and the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act presented in Pakistan’s joint parliamentary session last month. Apparently laws containing ‘remedies for victims of violence’, criminalising ‘all forms of violence against women’ ...

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This Saudi therapist teaches husbands how to beat their wives

Saudi Arabia is a kingdom where women aren’t allowed to drive, can’t vote like men, must dress like ninjas, and often take the legal blame if raped. Without permission from their husbands/fathers, they can’t leave the country, can’t open a bank account, can’t obtain a passport, can’t pursue higher education, and more. These laws open Saudi women to abuse. Depending on the luck of the draw, if a Saudi woman ends up with an abusive husband or father (like the Saudi preacher who raped his ‘flirty’ five-year-old daughter to teach her a lesson) she is destined for a life of ...

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