Abusing Women, Abusing Islam

Re-Examining Sharia Court Rulings
in Contemporary Times

October 30, 2009

How women fare correlates directly with how society fares overall. The complex and appalling stream of news reports describing Muslim women being punished under Islamic law for everything from wearing pants to not having sex with their husbands to being raped cannot be ignored. Muslim women around the world are being disproportionately abused using outdated Islamic rulings and ages-old customs, while men who commit the same actions often go free.

At the same time, many small but important victories for women in the Muslim world have been won. In the last decade, women in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Morocco, Bahrain and Qatar have won political and legal reforms that would have been considered unthinkable a decade before.

There must be awareness-raising campaigns in the United States and Europe about human rights violations committed against women. Ultimately, the realization of women's rights in the Muslim world will require a multigenerational, cross-societal commitment to social change; the political will of international leaders, and the continued bravery of women who have fought, argued, lobbied, schemed, pushed, and badgered for women to enjoy life with dignity.

"Abusing Women, Abusing Islam" is an effort to expose how patriarchal and distorted interpretations of sharia have been used to subjugate women and rob them of their fundamental rights, in direct opposition to the central teachings of Islam. It is our hope that this analytical framework will provide diplomats, aid workers, and Muslims themselves with some crucial theological tools to be able to argue for the equal status of women using an Islamic framework.

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