Monday, 24 October 2016

Religious Concepts Reexamined: Why Do We Continue Using Religious Teachings To Justify Domestic Violence?

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Advising a woman to be “patient” in the face of abuse minimizes her experience, and may prevent her from seeking further assistance.  In reality, the concept of patience in Islam refers not to a state of stagnation, but rather towards progression, albeit under difficult circumstances.  Rather than shutting down a survivor’s attempt at seeking help, a more useful approach would be to hear her story, support her in her choices, and be a resource (rather than a roadblock) for her.  Furthermore, the reassurance that her situation will improve over time is factually incorrect.  Research suggests that the severity of DV escalates over time, and that what may start as emotional abuse may well develop into sexual or verbal abuse, or serious physical assault.  Therefore, those who encourage a woman to “put up with it” may unwittingly place her in a situation of increasing danger.
Another common response is to excuse the behavior of the abuser, often based on the idea that the husband is the head of the household and can behave as he wishes without being called to account.  In addition, women are often told that, after Allah, their obedience is due to their husband.  These claims have little basis in Islamic theologoy or the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).  There are numerous hadith which elevate the status of women and emphasise the importance of kindness towards one’s wife and family.  There are no recorded narratives of the prophet using violence or misconduct towards his female family members, so why do we think that it’s acceptable for the men in our communities to do so?  While Islam promotes co-operation with and loyalty towards one’s husband, it does not sanction relationships in which one partner exerts coercive control over the other. Indeed, Islam states that partners are equals and that loyalty and kindness should be mutually expressed, and that poth parties are accountable for their actions.
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