Friday, March 24

This is how the most intolerant Islamist countries trample on women’s rights

The most ironic thing about the evolution of discrimination against women in the real world of Islam is that, when it emerged, it proposed an almost revolutionary series of changes in the atavistic traditions of the polytheistic Arab tribes. Among the novelties of the new religion, the prohibition of killing girls when the parents were expecting a male baby (“When girls who were buried alive are asked for what sin they were killed… each soul will know the result of their works”, Koran 81, 8-9).

The abrupt end of the period of free interpretation of the Qur’anbetween the 10th and 11th centuries, marked the beginning of a sharia visionthe Islamic law, which only seems to aspire to a reproduction as exact as possible of the atmosphere that surrounded the life of the prophet muhammad and his early successors.

This climate, which constitutes a utopian vision, shapes the mentality of politicians and jurists in the countries of Islam that have adopted a more radical vision of the Sharia, among which today stand out Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent other neighboring countries. In general, the Muslim-majority countries of black Africa and Asia are more tolerant and moderate, although some, like Indonesia, are experiencing a regressive trend.

Regarding women’s rightsthe Sharia world poses at least eleven types of discrimination if its social model is compared with that of the Christian West:

Segregation. veil and teaching

The prohibition of studies for girls, within the framework of the minimalist social role that radical theologians assign to women, is an excess of zeal on the part of the Taliban movement. More problematic and subtle, however, is the mandatory use of the veil. While many countries of moderate Islam allow the decision to be taken by the woman, others impose it, already from adolescence, and encourage the use of full veilwhich raises problems other than those of free will.

Marriage. Unabashed machismo

In the laws related to marriage, the Sharia has developed a model that -in its most radical format- is in the antipodes of that in force in the rest of the world.

Here you can find at least up to seven forms of discrimination against women. Islam allows polygamy with up to four women (Muhammad had eleven legal wives), and merely asks that all be treated equally. The Muslim woman cannot, on the other hand, have more than one husband. The husband does not necessarily have to inform his first wife that he will take a second.

Also, a muslim man can disown his wife if it is done formally in the presence of two male witnesses. Divorce for men is much easier than for women, even without going through a civil court. The guardianship of the children, in this case, always corresponds to the man.

This situation of authority and predominance in the family explains the reason for another discrimination: a Muslim can marry a non-Muslim, because the education of their children in the Islamic faith is guaranteed, while a Muslim cannot marry a non-Muslim.

According to the Sharia, the marriage contract is not signed by the woman but by her male guardian. Even more serious is the condition that some countries with a more radical Islam submit to wives: the husband has an unlimited right of correction, and may restrict a woman’s right to leave the house.

Penal law. Women’s things

The testimony of a man before the judge is equivalent to that of two women. In Pakistan, there was the bloody case of a woman who denounced a rape, but she could not present witnesses, and she risked being incriminated for keeping “adulterous relations”.

The Sharia provides for the death penalty by stoning for adulteresses. In theory it can also apply to adulterers, but no case is known.

civil law. forbidden to circulate

in matters of inheritance, Islamic law establishes that the woman receives half of what corresponds to the man. Some countries restrict other civil rights, such as voting if they have established this election system for public office, and of course the absence of women in these. In countries with a model of radical Islam even the free movement of women is restricted, if they are not accompanied by their legal guardian or other women. Until recently, Saudi Arabia prohibited women from driving a vehicle, despite some jurists claiming that Muhammad’s wives rode his camels; the rigid Saudi Wahhabi clergy feared instead the embarrassment that a female driver might have to call a male for help in the event of a breakdown.

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