Saturday, January 05, 2008

There must be violence against women

I came across this rather unenlightened piece of writing from the Yemen Times the other day. Entitled "There must be violence against women", it is a collection of rationalisations, flawed arguments that to my mind completely fails to achieve what the author aimed to say. Rather than just comment on the article, I'm going to do a paragraph by paragraph commentary, copyright be damned.

There must be violence against women
Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy

This title may sound strange, but it’s actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must.


Yes, the title is strange and will draw a crowd. The same sort of a crowd that stops to look at a car crash or some other disaster, but still, a crowd.

First, we should know the meaning of the word violence. Longman’s Dictionary of Contemporary English defines violence as “behavior that is intended to hurt other people physically.” However, the term violence mustn’t be confused with other concepts and terms such as gender inequality or absence of women rights.

This definition of violence seems to be a bit narrow, concentrating on only physical harm, but I'll let it slide. What I won't let slide is this idea that there is a confusion between violence, gender equality and the absence of women's rights. Violence can be used to continue the other two, and they can be used to justify violence, and all are deplorable, but few people would confuse them.

Occasionally – if not daily – we hear about events occurring in Islamic and Arab societies. Some human rights organizations recently have attacked violent acts against women, standing against any type of violence – even that between a father and daughter – and citing the cases of some women as examples.

Good on these organisations. Violence is wrong, and should be stood against in all circumstances. This includes man against woman, woman against man, woman against woman, man against man, etc, etc.

Consequently, they offer solutions such as complaining to the police, taking revenge or leaving them men, who are either their husbands, fathers or brothers – with no exceptions.

Of course, doing nothing and being beaten again and again is much better than any of these solutions. Wait. No, it's actually a pretty shit solution.

One such case involved a woman whose husband allegedly had beaten her. Without revealing the husband’s reasons for doing so, such human rights organizations immediately urged the wife to complain to the police and the courts, while at the same time generalizing the instance and other similar solutions to any type of violence.

I'm sorry. What reasons justify beating your wife? Let me see, I'm thinking, I'm thinking. No, none. Wife beating is wrong, and the wife is right to seek to prevent further beatings. And this does generalise to other types of violence. Violence is wrong, it should be prevented, victims should be protected and offenders punished.

If a man and woman are husband and wife, the Qur’an provides solutions, firstly reaffirming any logical and acceptable reasons for such punishment. These solutions are in gradual phases and not just for women, but for men also.

For men, it begins with abandoning the marital bed, by opting to sleep elsewhere in the house. After this, they may discuss the matter with any respected person for the husband’s or the wife’s family, who could be in a position to advise the wife. If this also does not work, then the husband yields to beating the wife slightly. They do this because of a misunderstanding in the Quran, as the word says Darban, which is commonly understood today as beating. However, in Classic Arabic it means to set examples or to announce and proclaim. The more accurate meaning of this last one is that the husband finally has to set forth, to make a clear statement or proclamation, and if these measures fail, then divorce is preferable.

So start by talking about things. Good idea. This works for me too. Talking I have found is actually pretty good at solving problems even if the solution isn't exactly to your liking. If direct communication doesn't work, getting the help of a trusted individual can also help. The next step however shouldn't be slightly beating your wife though.

The next bit though is a outstanding piece of work. Remember, the aim of this article is to show when violence against women is appropriate. And here we have the claim that the reason the next step is a beating is because most people have misread the Quran. The word that most people see as beating, actually means to proclaim. So the next step is actually that the husband tells his wife to "shape up or ship out." The important thing to note is that this means beating your wife is not a good thing. I'm glad we agree on something.

Similarly, wives may take actions such as abandoning the marital bed, following by leaving the husband’s home for that of their parents, brothers or any other relatives. They may do this more than once, but if such action fails, they may not continue to live with their husband and via their relatives, they may request a divorce.

Glad to see women have equal rights on this score. Now if only they didn't have to still live with a male relative after the divorce, or get lashes for adultery after being raped.

Despite such instructions, beating is considered a type of violence, according to human rights organizations, which urge women to complain to the police. I just wonder what kind of families our societies would have if Muslim women started doing this regarding their husbands.

Beatings are considered a type of violence by human rights organisations because they are a type of violence (those wacky human rights organisations and their crazy ideas. Whatever will they think of next? Freedom to choose your own faith?). And I too wonder what would happen to Muslim society if women actually stopped putting up with abuse from husbands, brothers and fathers.

Relationships between fathers and daughters or sisters and brothers also provoke argument from human rights organizations, which propose the suggested solutions for all relationships. Personally, I don’t think fathers or brothers would undertake such behavior unless there was a reason for it.

At the risk of repeating myself, there is no justification for violence. Whatever reason a father or brother may have for beating a woman, it is not a good reason.

Fathers are responsible for their daughters’ behavior, but human rights organizations deny this too. Brothers also should take action regarding their sisters’ behavior, especially if their parents are too old or dead. If a daughter or sister makes a mistake – especially a moral one – that negatively affects the entire family and its reputation, what’s the solution by such organizations?

Once a person is an adult, they and only they are responsible for their actions. While I want my sister to live a good and proper life (she does, but I'm making a point here), I am not responsible for her actions and have no right to tell her what to do or not do. And, if I were to disagree with her on a matter, discussion is the solution.

According to them, women should complain to the courts about any type of violence against them. Likewise, should fathers and brothers complain to police if their daughters or sisters violate moral, Islamic or social norms?

There is a significant difference between the harm caused by violence against a person and the harm caused by someone doing something you disagree with. The former is much, much worse than the latter.

Fathers should handle their daughters via any means that suits their mistake; thus, is it better to use violence to a certain limit or complain to the police? Shall such women then complain to the police against their fathers or brothers? It’s really amazing to hear this.

In some cases, violence is necessary, but there must be limits. Those “good human rights organizations” don’t make any exceptions in their solutions because their aim is to serve society. Will it be a better society once we see wives, mothers, sisters and daughters going from one police station and one court to another, complaining against their husbands, fathers, brothers and even sons?

It will be a better society when we see women who are not beaten by the men in their family.

As the proverb goes, “If the speaker is mad, the listener should be mindful.” This proverb is good advice for every man and woman not only to keep their ears open, but also to avoid the misleading propaganda of such organizations, whose surface aims hide other destructive ones to destroy society’s religious, social and moral norms. This matter requires consideration.

And I am indeed mindful of the words you have spoken. And I will be quite blunt. If a society's religious, social and moral norms condone beating and killing women then those norms should and must be destroyed.

Dear readers – especially women – don’t think that I hate or am against women; rather, I simply mean to preserve the morals and principles with which Islam has honored us.

I hope my message is clear, since it’s really quite relevant to the future of our societies, which must be protected from any kind of cultural invasion.

The message I have received from you is that you are a unenlightened little man trying to justify the unjustifiable, and trying to protect an outdated set of values that should be changed. You have not provided any specifics on when you believe violence is acceptable other than a rather vague notion of going against religious, social and moral norms, which quite frankly could be just about anything. You have not provided any justification for this claim that violence is necessary. In fact, you have provided arguments against violence in your piece.

End Post
Writing time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Time since last post: 5 days
Current media: season three of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

3 comments:

David Barry said...

That is quite an extraordinary article.

Chris_the_Blogger said...

Good God.

Or rather bad God.

Anonymous said...

Your blog was mentioned at:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2008/01/start-beating-y.html