Monday, November 2, 2009

Beauty for Women a Curse in Islamic Bangladesh

In Islamic Bangladesh, rife with sexual violation and rape of women, being beautiful for a women is rather a curse than blessing, more so when she belongs to a minority community.

Some people might say that beauty becomes a curse for a woman, because she is often targeted for rape. I disagree with the idea that the woman's physical beauty is a curse.

It is not beauty of the woman that causes sexual violence, but the beast inside the rapist. Not all of the women or girls, who get raped, have great physical beauty either.

Rapists generally spare their mothers, sisters or daughters, even if beautiful, from sexual violence, but go out and rape unrelated women or girls, not necessarily beautiful at all? If it is the religious teachings that prevent rapists from abusing their own, then the same religious norms also fail to stop them from sexually abusing someone else.

In Bangladesh, if you look at the newspapers on a morning, you will see news about various forms of sexual violence against females. There have been reports of such violence upon two-year-old girls to elderly grandmothers.

There are stories about girls raped by strangers, by relatives, by teachers in schools, or even by clerics in religious institutions. The victims may go to the police for justice, but often fail to get justice. There are also cases of women getting raped by policemen, when they go to police stations for reporting sexual crimes against them.

We talk about educating about violence against women in Bangladesh, but in some cases, teachers harass female students in schools, from the Mohila Madrasa (Islamic Girls School) to well-known institutions of higher education. On May 14, 2009, the Bangladesh High Court pronounced a judgment to prevent sexual abuse of women at offices, educational institutions and all types of governmental, non-governmental and other organizations.

Especially for minority girls and women, Bangladesh is an extremely fearful place.

As soon as a girl is born into a minority family, they have to worry about her being victim of sexual violence by Muslim thugs, and how they can protect her from such a fate. While not all minority girls and women are raped, but the number of victims of rape, especially in Bangladesh's Hindu community, are quite high.

At dawn each day, there is another story about a minority woman or girl, raped, maybe even murdered, or she has committed suicide out of shame after rape.

It must be noted that it’s not the men, perpetrators of the odious crime, who commit suicide out of shame, but the victim. Famous U.S. author, educator and theorist Freda Adler had rightly said: “Rape is the only crime, in which the victim becomes the accused.”

All the major religions, practiced here in Bangladesh, are male-dominated organizations. In the holy book of Islam, the dominant religion, creation begins with a man, “Adam”, for whose pleasure and consort, “Eve”, the first a woman, was created. The Abrahamic faiths differ from one another in many things, but are united in this beginning story, thus creating male-dominated paradigm of human history, which ends in today's daily-life practices. From Adam to Prophet Mohammed, all prophets were male.

Bangladesh has a vast population practicing and following Islam in their lives. Islam initially controls their way of life. In Islam, Prophet Mohammed left an example by having sexual relations with many women, including little girl Aisha, whom he married at the age of six and consummated at nine. At his death, he left behind thirteen wives and concubines.

Different religions, being generally male-dictated, have created institutions of marriage to suit men, normally polygamist by nature. Especially the Prophet of Islam, who maintained about a dozen wives and concubines during his best days, has set an example for Islam’s followers to be polygamist forever.

The Roman philosopher Seneca said: “Injustice never rules forever.”

The injustice that is going on in Bangladesh against women can be stopped if we can dig out and discredit the rotten teachings of religions, especially of Islam. Islam makes it followers to be extreme male chauvinist, dominant over women and polygamist, and, thus, foster deprivation of women of their basic rights and dignity by making them dependents of men. And this male-dominance is also responsible for engendering the horrible culture of sexual violence and rapes of women in Bangladesh.

We must work toward achieving equally between men and women, when beauty will not be a curse, will not rouse men to rape, but be an object of appreciation.

William Gomes is a former Muslim, freelance Journalist and Human Rights Activist.

Source: Islam Watch

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