Barbara's Article on Islamic Abuse of Women

I see Barbara usually every Thursday and the subject matter runs of gamut of reason and tolerance. Last night it was the abuse of women in Muslim countries. It's hard to accept that this is reality.

Please forward this protest to anyone you know whom you feel isn't indifferent to human suffering. The following is not only a moral outrage, it's an insult to reason.

Barbara G. Walker

There is a widespread holocaust going on in the world today, with hardly any notice being taken, because it is perpetrated by a religion.

I refer to the holocaust perpetrated against women under Islam, a religion that claims to represent "peace," but whose name actually means "submission," particularly the submission of women to harsh lives of imprisonment, torture, rape, and frequently murders freely committed in the guise of "honor" killings.

In many areas dominated by Islam, women are deprived of basic rights to education, medical care, and personal liberty. Wives are prisoners in their homes, cannot drive cars, and must not go out without an adult male relative as escort and guard.

In some areas, young women are routinely rendered incapable of sexual pleasure for the rest of their lives, by the gruesome practice of genital mutilation, which is not only physical torture but also can result in horrendous and sometimes fatal infections. It is claimed that men will not find a woman desirable unless she has been mutilated. A comparable reversed situation would hold that women would not find a man desirable unless his penis is amputated.

Under Shari'a law, women have few legal rights. A female witness in court must have her word corroborated by two men. A rape victim can be punished by summary execution (to save the "honor" of the family's males), or by whippings and mutilation. Sometimes, the punishment consists of further gang-rapes inflicted by the authorities.

Still, according to Nicholas Kristof's book Half the Sky, in some African countries under Islam, up to 90% of all females over the age of three have been raped. Sometimes, permanent injuries are inflicted by rape with sticks or gun barrels. Men are taught from boyhood to regard the women as fair game, rather less important than domestic animals.

The official "age of consent" for marriageable maidens has recently been lowered from twelve to nine years of age. Young girls can be betrothed by their fathers to decades-older men, whom they neither know nor like. A girl who objects to this kind of treatment can be whipped, imprisoned, or even killed for her disobedience.

Any hint of adulterous behavior, such as speaking to a strange man, or wearing the wrong kind of clothing, or leaving home without her husband's permission, can be punished by killing, or by throwing acid in a woman's face, or by cutting off her nose, ears, or lips. A man may deprive his wife of food if she misbehaves, or divorce her and turn her out of her home simply by saying "I divorce you" three times in the presence of (male) witnesses; but a woman can't divorce her husband.

A majority of Muslim women receive no education other than a religious indoctrination into their "inferior" status, so they have no inner recourse and no hope of improving their lot. Their situation is similar to that of Christian women only a few centuries ago, when churches tortured and murdered millions of women for alleged heresy or witchcraft, without allowing them any legal defense. Both Islam and Christianity use the same Old Testament Eden myth; both teach the guilt of Eve and the consequent sinfulness of all women.

The original suffragists in America had to abandon biblical traditions before they could make any real progress. Some day the women of Islam will also have to revolt against their training, an eventuality that the men of Islam are taught to regard with vastly exaggerated fear, leading them to impose horrendously brutal punishments for comparatively minor infractions.

For the moment, however, the horrors perpetrated against women in the name of Allah are not made very public. Western liberal thinkers usually try to be tolerant of the beliefs of others, even when they consider such beliefs erroneous. But perhaps we are too liberal in overlooking the despair of so many women's lives under Islam. General condemnation of these sexist practices has not been aroused. Scant publicity has leaked out, considering the vast scope of the problem.

A few news stories have appeared, and a few books have been published, such as Infidel by Ayaan Hirst Ali, Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel, and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosreini. But most Westerners are still unaware of the extent and viciousness of Islamic sexism. They are also unaware that, because Islamic law allows polygamy and forbids birth control, the women can become essentially baby-making machines. Their birth rate now generally exceeds seven times that of non-Muslims.

In the 1930s and 1940s the Nazi holocaust was hushed up; and, despite its irrefutable documentation, there are some even today trying to claim that it never happened. Nowadays the lifelong bondage of Muslim women is hushed up, because it is a "religious" issue, and any members of a religious sect are presumed to have voluntarily chosen the faith for themselves -- even when they have done no such thing, but have been raised in the faith and have never heard of any alternative.

Even a woman raised and educated in the United States can have great difficulty in trying to escape an abusive Muslim marriage, as shown by Betty Mahmoody in Not Without My Daughter.

The situation calls for more attention from international organizations, more publicity, more outrage. It is a situation of routine inhumanity and abuse that must not continue. A religion that perpetrates such inhumanity deserves not tolerance but blame.

For further information on this important subject, read the books mentioned in the body of this article, and see the online publications of Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, especially his 9/7/2010 article, "The Crimewave that Shames the World". And be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

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Comment by Rich Goss on February 18, 2011 at 7:05am

Clarence, good to hear from you.  To think these people would kill a lady just for talking to an unknown man on a street corner is outrageous.  It's not only worthy of blame, but condemnation and comtempt. 



Comment by Clarence Dember on February 17, 2011 at 9:17pm
Blame instead of tolerance is what these practices deserve, I am sure of that!
Comment by Sigmund on November 17, 2010 at 4:46am
Well, yes and no - they justify it with that story, but its roots obviously lie much deeper (in the social structures of the cultures that produced them). When these religions were formulated, it would not have seemed necessary to 'justify' misogyny in any way. While the attribution of 'sinfullness' to womankind is interesting from a sociological point of view, I suspect that it would have seemed quite natural at the time. An idealised, forceful manliness is 'moral' after all (remnants of this idea still survive throughout the world)...
Comment by Rich Goss on November 16, 2010 at 3:01pm
As Barbara points out in the essay, both religions base their misogyny on the Story of Adam and Even. Your comment brings to mind the Muslim kid in Dawkins Root of all Evil. (I think he was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn named Cohn.) He said that our treatment of women was morally offensive. Bikinis, whore houses, porno, according to Cohn, puts Islam in the moral higher ground.
Comment by Sigmund on November 16, 2010 at 9:42am
On rereading my response I feel compelled to clarify: I'm not in any way pleading for 'tolerance'. In fact I find it to be one of the most idiotic concepts of modern society. It effectively means to pretend that something which one finds essentially unacceptable is otherwise. We should not tolearte such behaviour, but we must keep in mind where it comes from as we search for a way to end it...
Comment by Sigmund on November 16, 2010 at 9:38am
An excellent essay, thanks for sharing.
A couple of complications do apply though: as suggested in the article, Christianity represents a remarkably similar worldview, but, post-Enlightenment, western culture has learned to take it (mainly the garbage of the OT) with a gigantic pinch of salt.
This does pose a number of problems, however. Firstly, through the significance of Christian thought (i.e. the socio-cultural/intellectual ideas encoded in Christianity) in western culture, elements of our cultural/intellectual/moral heritage have a direct connection with the sort of behaviour outlined in the essay.
Keep this in mind when considering the second, and probably more important, point: through the socio-cultural developments of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment western life, we have developed 'beyond' the sort of attitudes and practices that correspond to a literal interpretation of the OT and Qur'an, in other words our society has evolved to a more 'advanced' (i.e. fair) level (this assumes that social evolution is a dialectical process valuing 'the greater good', as I have described here). Blaming another culture for not keeping up with us (or, even more problematically, for not accepting our version of what is 'right') may not be strictly fair (please note that I'm not suggesting that it's 'wrong' or 'bad', either - it's a healthy impulse by our standards). Neither is it constructive - there are good reasons why Muslims don't simply accept our take on morality, after all, for instance that social evolution simply doesn't work that way, and that our way of thinking represents a massive threat to the established social order and heirarchy/power structures that governs it. Keep in mind that western culture didn't accept open-minded, intellectual 'morally-advanced fairness' overnight either (in fact, plenty of Christians still don't, they just tend to seem quite advenced by comparison to the current state of Islam).
The last point raises another issue, which is the variation in militancy and brutality in the various 'versions' of Islam now current. As with Christianity, Islam is very much open to interpretation. It is the fundamentalist regimes that horrify us particularly. A more differentiated investigation into why they have developed thus (often from much more liberal precursors) would be useful. A parallel with developments in the USA migt also be drawn (perhaps quite fruitfully, who knows?).
A separation of religious impulses and partriarchal structures and associated social processes might thus be the order of the day (again! - I think I said this recently somewhere else). By all means be shocked and ashamed, etc. But without a much deeper investigation into the socio-cultural roots and processes it's not going to do any good. Don't forget that this 'horrible' behaviour is largely 'normal' and 'accepted' in these societies. That is the problem, and our outrage is not going to help directly. Perhaps it will contribute to our 'leading by example', but this promises to be a slow and difficult process, as our way of life is in many ways repugnant to fundamentalist moarl sensibilities - as it would have been western standards just a few centuries ago...
Comment by Rich Goss on November 16, 2010 at 8:34am
Heretic, Barbara corrected me on the publisher of the Encyclopedia, Harper not McMillan.

I did overlook a point you make which is quite right. Ms. Walker said Muslim families were reproducing seven times as much as non-Muslims. I wrote a blog post on Muslim demographics stating the average Muslim family is producing 6.2 offspring worldwide. I researched the statistics, so I think it's a good number. It's not quite seven times non-Muslim families, as you stated.

The following video, however, is stating the number is well above seven. The video was produced by a Christian organization, so it must be viewed with an skeptical eye. It is pretty scary though, nonetheless.
Comment by Rich Goss on November 15, 2010 at 9:42am
Heretic, I forwarded your comment to Ms. Walker. I usually see her on Thursdays so I'll get back to you at the end of the week.

As far as footnotes and annotation go, you're talking about the writer of A Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, (says on the cover over 150,000 copies sold, by Macmillan and Co.) I told Barbara that I haven't seen such wonderful research since reading The Story of Civilization, by Will and Ariel Durant. Every paragraph of a thousand-page tome was annotated. Both these writers did it all without the help of computers, I might add.

Another mitigating factor here, is that the above piece is an essay, a form where the writer is free to express opinions. She doesn't have to prove anything. The writer expresses opinions and emotions ad libitum, and the reader takes it for what it's worth.

I'll let you know what she says.

Bye the bye, Nicholas Kristof is a pretty renown journalist with The New York Times, winner of two Pulitzer Prices, and columnist dealing with the subject of human rights. He's been compared to Edward R. Murrow.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on November 13, 2010 at 3:47pm
Extreme faith causes reasonable sensibilities to sleep. All sickening shit.
Comment by Rich Goss on November 13, 2010 at 7:26am
Thanks, Glen and James. Interesting word to use, "justify." In theology, "to declare innocent." Did you see the pix of the teenage girl who had her nose cut off? Or others with acid thrown in the face?

How can such cruelty be justified? Looks like the Bible and Koran can be used to justify anything. So how is it the word of God?



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