How to stop Honour Killing of Muslim women

Source / Courtesy: Whig Standard

Alia Hogben, January 7, 2012

Till we honestly talk about the values underpinning tribal patriarchy and their pervasive influence, our women and girls will continue to suffer simply because they are of the wrong gender. To have this focus does not diminish the suffering of other under-privileged groups such as certain racial or ethnic groups. But we have to make every effort to dismantle any teachings or practices ascribed to any religion or culture that demeans half of humanity. Enough is enough.

Fortunately, we live in an era that increasingly emphasizes the importance of universal human rights, and so vigilant civil-society organizations must take action to ensure these rights are practiced.

Tribal patriarchy worked well in the beginning of time, when humans quickly learnt that their survival chances were improved if they lived in groups, with assigned tasks. As females were essential to the tribe as bearers of future generations, the males had the task of providing shelter, food and safety for them and their young.

However, over the centuries, tribes developed more complicated systems, and protection and care of females and children became more restrictive with rules and taboos. These accorded power to males and tribal heads. Females were seen as dependent, weak and lacking in intelligence. These restrictions couched by males in the language of religion or culture, still exist today for many women.

In tribal patriarchy, some men are heads of family and state. Lesser males, women and children are therefore subjects to be ruled. If women are seen as child-like, not fully formed and incapable of intellectual thinking, then it follows that women must be controlled: by female genital mutilation, by physical separation by gender, by the practice of polygamy, by the insistence on patrilineal inheritance and by the justification of violence against women. This thinking goes further – it lays the blame and responsibility on women for the sexual behaviour of both men and women. Weak though she is, she is still made the bearer of tribal honour.

It is fair to state that all religions have tried to enhance the position of women. For example, Islamic teachings of the Quran can be seen as radical because women are given many rights and treated as intelligent, capable of functioning independently.

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3 replies

  1. To mention ‘polygamy’ in the same sentence as ‘honor killing’ is a bit … well … ‘dis-honorable’?

    Polygamy makes ‘honest ladies’ out of otherwise possible ‘dis-honest’ relationships…

    Furthermore I feel that no article on ‘honor killings’ is complete without a reference for the ‘dis-honorable’ reason. Yes, the killing is never justified, but still we have to also look at the reasons behind them.

  2. What is it with Westerners regarding polygamy? Why is it acceptable to them that a woman, as a mistress/girlfriend, with no rights whatsoever, is in a better position than as a wife with rights?

    Or are they being like the proverbial ostrich, burying their collective heads in the sand by denying that western men stick to their one wife? It is a very hypocritical attitude.

  3. Silly article.

    Gender based roles are not just some relic of ancient societies. They are, in many ways, hardwired legitimate roles according to the very different natures of men and women.

    Modern Western society has been steadily trying to feminize men and masculine women for decades – and to what result? People are more miserable and dysfunctional than any other time in human history. TV shows, movies and commercials all paint women as independent creatures that need no man, not to mention as more intelligent and refined than men, who are usually painted as dull brutes. This imagery has further confused an already suffering populace and created untold legions of broken families, neglected children and numerous psychological disorders.

    The Quran rightly states the generally roles of men and women, as do other traditional cultures and religions. Yin and Yang balance each other and create unity. If everyone is trying to be Yang, things don’t work.

    While it is true that Western society has long devalued Yin / female attributes and lead to this backlash, it doesn’t mean that we need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Women can and should be respected and honored for their roles as mothers, nurturers and wives. Modern media may belittle and give people a complex about these honorable roles, but only to humanities detriment.

    Time to grow up and accept what Allah has created us to be.

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