Domestic violence, misogyny and religion

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President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Council caused a storm when he said that domestic violence can be used a s “last resort”, when asked about a passage in the Qu’ran on “The Bolt Report”. He has since backtracked from his controversial comments.

Still, Trad backtracking doesn’t really address the controversial passage that he was asked about by Andrew Bolt. It being a “last resort” isn’t a good enough explanation. Domestic violence needs to be condemned by all, regardless of faith. This may sound controversial, but I’m believing more and more that Islam needs a reform and a re – interpretation so it can accommodate human rights in the 21st century – at least among most conservative sects (Trad’s a Sunni).

The way Sharia law is practised in dominant Islamic countries, especially when implemented into law, has been proven to be disastrous for women. Newscorp columnist, Rita Panahi has been very open about growing up in Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and how, in her words, it made a once – secular and modern country into a “hellhole”. Iran, as well as other Islamic countries have come under fire for human rights abuses, including against women, including executing women who have been raped for “adultery”, while letting the perpetrator/s off the hook. The pressure for many in the Islamic world to wear ultra conservative clothing:the burqa, hijab, chador and niqab in certain societies can be immense. If a woman chooses to wear such clothing, then that’s one thing. Having women lashed because she failed to not wear the appropriate clothing in public is another. It’s something I don’t think can be excused or explained away.

I’m not saying that all Muslims are this extreme – they are not. But if a verse in the Qu’ran is used to even suggest that it’s OK to abuse women, execute gays, or force women to wear restrictive clothing in fear of violent punishment, then it’s a problem. Where are the Qu’ran scholars and experts in Arabic saying that the Qu’ran is being abused or taken out of context? Where is the debate of what verses in the Qu’ran should be taken historically and not be applied to the 21st century? Where are the prominent Islamic leaders who unequivocally condemn violence using the Qu’ran… if that’s possible.

 

When issues like this come up, a question always comes up: what about Christians? I’m going to address that, because, unlike what Bolt has claimed, sexism and violence against women have occurred in Christian circles and until recently, the Bible (not the gospels,which Bolt always refers to, but the Old Testament and the Epistles have been used to condone sexism, violence and victim – blaming.

Before I explain my point, I want to point out something. What I’m going to talk about is not about physical violence being explicitly condoned in the Bible as what appears to be the case in the Qu’ran. What I’m going to explian is how violence, particularly sexual assault, has been justified or been made possible and how the Bible has been used ot fail those affected.

Purity culture

The Purity movement is more well – known in American fundamentalist Evangelical circles than here in Australia. It was at it’s peak in the 1990’s and through the early 2000’s. The movement seemed innocuous enough – young girls pledging to wait until they marry before they had sex. Some people may have even liked the idea that fathers and daughters spent time together at what appears to be a fun night. In the past twenty years, what appears to be innocent  has turned out to be toxic. For one thing, purity culture has stigmatised sexual abuse victims – making them as morally culpable as the perpetrators. Purity culture and its incorrect concepts of “virginity” have also left young girls being victimised by family members – just the fact that the abuser didn’t take away the girl’s “virginity”seems to justify it.

One of the beliefs in fundamentalist Purity culture is that a woman’s body is not her own.Body autonomy is a key factor into protecting children from abuse. People of all ages and genders need to be able to express when and how they want their bodies to be touched, while respecting the rights of others to have the same voice. In the most conservative aspects of purity culture, this is missing. And it’s proven to be dangerous.

Domestic violence in marriage

Increasingly, Christians have had to come to terms of the reality that domestic violence occurs in homes where both parties identify as Christian.

But, Jesus never condoned these!

Technically, this is true. But what people don’t realise is that these extremes do come from a (very bad) interpretation and understanding of certain biblical passages.

Ephesians 5:23

The issue of headship in a marriage has been controversial in modern times. Instead, many people argue egalitarianism, including some Christians, such as author and blogger Rachel Held – Evans. However, concepts like headship and obedience is heavily emphasised in many Evangelical churches, including Pentecostal. While many conservative Christians argue that the husband is supposed to love the wife and not abuse her, some people, including Progressive Christians argue that the implementation of “headship” theology leave the door open to abuse.  Women who have escaped violent marriages  have recalled how their ex – husbands – and in the case of the story linked,pastors – have used passages out of the bible to justify their behaviour.While the anonymous author has condemned her ex – husband as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, I don’t think it takes away the fact that passages can be abused, especially when taken out of their original context and when the original languages (in the case of the Bible,Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) aren’t taken into account.

Malachi 2: 16 and Matthew 19:9

These passages argue against divorce – or that’s how it can be perceived. In Matthew 19, Jesus proclaimed that the only exception for divorce is when a spouse has been unfaithful. With this in mind, too many well -meaning Christian counsellors and pastors have imprisoned abuse victims in toxic marriages or, due to being taught that divorce is wrong, the mistaken belief can be internalised by victims. People who do divorce abusive or cheating spouses can find themselves demonised or ostracised by their congregation.

Too many preachers and authors place onus on victimes of violence. Too often, victims are told to do more: don’t refuse sex, be more loving, be more attentive, etc. This is victim blaming pure and simple. Fortunately, Christians who have faced with these situations have found courage to slame these notions.

Genesis 3:16

The verse comes about in the aftermath of “The Fall”:

To the woman, He said,

“I  will make your pains in childbearing very severe;

with painful labor, you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband

And he will rule over you.

(Genesis 3:16 NIV emphasis mine).

Warped theology surrounding “The Fall”/ Original Sin

Some extreme fundamentalists believe that Eve was the cause of the world falling into sin.This has been used as an excuse to treat women as lesser than men. It’s also the reason why some  claim that women are “temptresses”, even from a young age. Just before the exposure incest and chld molestation scandal of Josh Duggar in 2015, these certain attitudes from the fundamentalist Quiverful movement came to light. Men, even teenagers, were taught to keep eyes off women to avoid being ‘tempted’.

Women are said to have the power when it comes to relationships. Young women have been told that they can control how ‘far they go’ with young men. This essentially means that they have to be vigilant about what they wear, etc. It also gives the impression that men have no control over their sexual feelings (straight men can’t anyway). Over the years, this mentality has recieved backlash among Christians as shown by these reviews of the 2003 book ‘Dareable’ by Hayley DiMarco and Justin Lookadoo:

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Quick update: I think it’s important to note that Trad has been condemned for what he said on ‘The Bolt Report’ last week. On Saturday, World News Australia reported that other Australian Muslims have hit out at Trad’s comments. Minister for Women and Minister of Employment, Michaelia Cash has condemned Trad and there are calls for him to stand down from his position.

Another update: last night, I looked up the verse in question. Apparently, the English translation is Sura 4:34 is controversial among scholars.

http://www.misconceptions-about-islam.com/wife-beating-quran.htm

NOTE: Copy and paste the URL above into the read it. Sorry, I had trouble inserting the link.

Final update, Bolt has defended Trad, saying he’s just going by the Quran.

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