Is Abuse Inherent in all Islamic Cultures?

The wise women of my childhood used to say that “it’s OK for a man to hit a woman”. They went further and said that “He is not a man unless he hits his wife or children.”

I still remember to this day – my neighbour girlfriend was getting married. She was only 18 or 19; her mother told her that her new place is now her “only” home and she can only leave that home in a coffin. Her husband and protector told her on the wedding night that she was never to say anything to his mother. It was her duty and obligation to serve his mother and serve, she did.

My other neighbour girlfriend was never given enough food and the only way she was able to eat properly was if her husband could sneak some in for her. She never told her own mother about this.

All my aunties were beaten by their husbands. One of my aunties was beaten with belts and she would still not leave him. It was the duty of my female cousin to clip her nails and if by mistake she scratched the skin of her husband, she was always slapped hard. She would still say “Oh he is a man; it’s part of his character to beat”

How could these women completely deny their own right to be a human?

How could these women allow themselves to be treated with disrespect and cruelty?

How could these women be so ashamed of themselves that they would accept all forms of punishment?

And the answer lies in what we were taught by so-called moulvis in the slums of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The term moulvi is a title for the men who were the Muslim doctors of the law. I don’t know if they were qualified in any Mulsim education but they definitely had the authority and credibility. They would be the ones calling for prayers; they were the ones who taught Quran to the young minds of my culture.

Their word was the word of the God.

They said that a woman who is divorced is disgraced by God and because they said it, it was so.

They said that if a woman says No to a man, she is committing a sin in the eyes of God and because they said it, it was so.

They said that God has allowed a man to discipline his wife and because they said it, it was so.

They said that a woman is “dirty” when she is menstruating and a man should stay away from her. Only when she has purified herself again, should he approach her and because they said it, it was so.

They said that a woman shouldn’t go to school because it is more important for her to learn her domestic duties so that she is able to serve her husband and his family.

A woman is a commodity; a man’s honour and it’s absolutely necessary for him to protect his honour by shaming and enslaving the women of his household.

No wonder, women allowed themselves to be abused. They were brainwashed by the representatives of the Muslim God to stop being a human and become a commodity for the men in their lives.

No wonder men beat their women and abused children. The moulvis allowed them to show their strength in the form of physical abuse.

Mothers didn’t allow their daughters to go to school. If they learned the ways of the world, they might realise that what happens in Pakistan in the name of religion is actually inhumane.

The problem is that it’s very hard to undo this brainwashing because when it comes to religion, we all shut up in the name of political correctness and freedom of speech. We accept what we otherwise wouldn’t accept because we don’t want to appear “insulting” to the traditions of the other people.

I have also been quiet up until this point. But M. Scott Peck in his book People of the Lie, has shaken me to my very core and the denial of my perpetrator has forced me to look at the “culture of abuse” and I can no longer be silent.

Unless more women talk about it; unless more of us bring our shame into the light, we will continue to be enslaved in the name of religion and culture. In the East, it may be Islam and in the West, it’s alcohol and drug abuse. We always find a way to “accept” bad behaviour and until we do, we will continue to support all forms of abuse.

The choice is in our hands…