Crimes Against Women and Children in the Name of Islam

June 12, 2010 § 9 Comments

Mohammed, the prophet of the Islamic world, married his last bride Aisha when she was just six years old, and the consummated the marriage with her when she was just nine years old. In Islamic states, partly because of this precedent, this practice still happens in fundamentalist countries like Afghanistan.  Muslims will say that a child of six or seven is almost certain to be a virgin. Mohammed was at least 50 when he married Aisha.

The practice of forced marriages (as opposed to arranged marriages) in some Muslim states such as Afghanistan is very common. Some reports claim that somewhere between 60-80 percent of marriages in Afghanistan are forced upon the girls involved or without the consent of the girls. These marriages are seen as a way to resolve conflicts between families, or as a way to absolve someone of a wrongdoing. The girls are treated as they would treat cattle, and are given to these men as offerings.

Some reports also estimate that 57 percent of Afghani girls are married before the age of 16, and it is unusual to find an unmarried girl older than 18 years of age. The practice is justified twofold; that the girls are helping to keep the peace between families, and that the Islamic prophet Mohammed had set this precedent.

In Afghanistan the legal age to be married is 16, but many people ignore this law or claim they were unaware of it. The children in this situation are robbed of childhood, and as you will see, many are robbed of their life. This practice is abhorrent, and any civilised culture will see it as such.

In Nigeria, a 49-year-old Muslim Senator has reportedly married a 13-year-old girl, and has allegedly previously married a 15-year-old in 2006, citing that he paid a dowry of $100,000 to the parents for her. Although looked down upon by other ministers in Nigeria it is still happening.

Women in Islam have no rights, especially if they are non-Muslim, and these men get away with their evils because people are too afraid to stand up against the barbarity of the culture which the religion they follow has instilled in them. Threats of death are imposed upon those who would stand up against this. In Lahore, a man and his entourage of Muslim lawyers has threatened to “burn alive” anyone who will come to the defence of a 12-year-old servant of his, whom he raped and murdered.

Many girls will find themselves in a marriage with a man much older than they are, and will be given the sole duties of looking after the household and giving offspring to the man. Some men have multiple wives, and the women become a harem for that man. The men are often abusive to these girls, sometimes to the point where the girl should be hospitalised, but often is not. The beating of wives is seen as the “honourable thing to do”, for the wife must be kept in line with the wishings of the man and of Allah.

Often these girls will find themselves in these abusive relationships, and will seek a way out.  But the way out is a problem in itself; if the girl were to leave she would bring shame upon her own family and her husband’s, and would be hunted down and possibly stoned to death or just beaten withing an inch of her life; if she stays, she may be beaten thus anyhow. Sometimes out of pure desperation, a girl seeking to be free from the bonds of this abusive relationship will choose self-harm rather than bringing shame upon her people.

In Afghanistan, it is believe that more than 10 women and girls choose self-immolation (warning very graphic content) as the escape from their bondage. Around the web there are numerous stories of women who, feeling there was no better way, have chosen to set themselves on fire rather than continue living in such conditions. Some girls die from their injuries. Some do not but are so badly scarred so as to lose their legs, or are severely disfigured by these burns. Those that live may wind up on the streets, homeless.

The culture in Afghanistan is such that women are treated as slaves, and in some cases, worse than dogs. Not only do they wear the burqa in public at all times, they are not allowed to leave the home alone, not allowed to speak to anyone they don’t know, and not allowed to make their identity known nor engage with any of their husband’s friends they may meet in the street. They are not treated as second-class citizens, rather as livestock that can produce more sons for the family.

People blame Islam for these practices. And yet, there are many more Islamic people who don’t practice this than do. Islam itself is not to blame wholly for these atrocities, rather the culture that bases itself upon Islam, then justifies these stone-aged practices based on the words of the Koran or the Hadeeth, saying it is God’s will that this be done. When a culture is poor and has little or no access to education, these kinds of barbaric practices continue to happen.

The culture in Afghanistan is sick. The barbarism and sheer disrespect for human rights that occurs there is all so often backed up by the perverse and outmoded words of their holy books. This illness in the Afghan culture continues, even after the ousting of the Taliban, who were ultra conservative and would set upon women with batons for showing ANY skin, but it is not much better now.

While this culture is deeply ingrained in their societies, these practices in the name of Islam  shows it toi be, in its extreme, nothing more than an ultra-conservative ultra-violent “boy’s club” where it members all look after each other. And as sickening as all this is, nothing seems to be getting better.

These girls stories are the same story I have heard again and again of extreme desperation, of girls who see their only escape from forced marriage as being self harm. It is gut-wrenchingly sad to see such lives destroyed by the greed and stupidity of men. Here is an example of one girl’s account of the horrors she has faced at the brutal hands of an extreme Islamic patriarchy.


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§ 9 Responses to Crimes Against Women and Children in the Name of Islam

  • Courtney says:

    What can be said about cultures like this? It’s disgusting and barbaric and I can’t even begin to contemplate any possible solution. It turns my stomach to think I share a planet with these people.

  • Laura says:

    I think the most important thing to be pointed out here are the two main ways in which women are systemically denied of thier womanhood: 1, being married off at such a young age; and 2, being blocked from entering into adulthood as a sexually mature and liberated human being. Marrying off young teenage girls cuts them off from developing into women, leaving them isolated under the suffocating control of their husbands. And once they do reach adulthood, they are sexually repressed, being used at the will of their husbands, shrouded in public, and unable to assert anything resembling authority in their ‘relationships’. In a way, it’s an infantilization process, preserving women in the state they entered into the marraige at. Through denying these women the status of adult which they are supposed to have, it therefore becomes much easier to treat them as less than human.

    It is hard for me to speak on, though, because in no way do I have any right to speak for these women. All too often, Westerns narrate the stories of these and other womens’ lives, when really we should be seeking out these women to speak for themselves. Still, it is very sad to see the lengths these women will go to to escape their marriages.

    I know I can’t pin it all on Islam, but it sure is a prime suspect.

  • I understand that the road to liberation of these people is a long and difficult road. These people have been entrenched in this culture for so many generations, and lack the basics in schooling that teaches us that what they are doing to women is wrong. It is in their psyches and in their societies. But the more people who know about it, the greater chance we have of allowing these kids to have a real life, not some abject slavery they feel they need to escape from.

  • anon says:

    Forced marriage and child marriage are against the Quran.

    The story of the Prophet (pbuh) with regards to his marriage to Aisha and her age is based on later narrations of the History of the Prophet and their authenticity is dubious. The original narration simply states that Aisha liked playing with dolls. (Aisha had a fabulous memory and would recount conversations she had overheard as she re-enacted the scenes with her dolls) The original narrative did not mention her age. —but the later narrative arbitrary made this assumption based on the fact that Aisha played with her dolls.
    This later narrative became popular for some reason…..

    Today, as I understand it,… in Afghanistan, efforts are being made to educate the people that abuse of women and children is against the Quran, as well as forced marriages. Hopefully, a proper education will empower the Afghans to progress, to make their societies better, and to work towards equality and justice.

  • anon says:

    “It is in their psyches and in their societies.”
    From what I understand, many of the Afghan men have been fighting since they were kids themselves….first the Russians and now the Americans and Nato—and voilence is all they have known.

  • Olivia says:

    Hi Marty!
    Very informative and sad piece. Only I would, perhaps, replace “Islam” for “the Taliban”: these things happen almost exclusively under the Afghani Taliban control. Other muslims, even shia muslims, condemn the Taliban not only because of their mistreatment of women, but because they distort and repress other islamic traditions as well.

  • Kelly says:

    Well done article. I’m with you on most of it. However, you don’t need wealth or education to know cruelty is wrong and to have a conscience. The Neanderthals cared for the crippled and buried their dead with flowers, after all. What’s wrong with Muslim fundamentalism can’t be cured by education or money. Would that it were that simple.

  • One think to note, if you go to the youtube page, there is an obviously passionate but misguided rant attached to this video, claiming the people who approve of forced marriages are “devil worshipers”. This is clearly not right, and this kind of misplaced passion can actually be harmful to the change we need.

    Click here to see the YouTube page

  • […] have touched upon this idea myself in a previous blog, and the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that we must identify cultural practices […]

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