Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World

While women can be mistreated by individuals in any society, Islam, at least extreme Islam, sanctifies the systemic abuse of all women.

“A man loves first his son, then his camel, and then his wife”
Arab Proverb

This book, written in 1995 by Jan Goodwin, describes the sometimes gruesome position many women find themselves in just by living in many predominantly Muslim countries. It lays out a theory wherein the rising popularity of militant, extreme, Fundamentalist Islam is the main reason for the deterioration of the rights of Muslim women, as these Islamists increase they’re power base at the expense of women’s rights. Goodwin goes on to say that there is little or no basis in the Koran (the Islamic Holy Book) for the deteriorating position of women in many Muslim countries. The scope of women’s disenfranchisement varies from mild to severe from country to country as Goodwin addresses conditions in the ten countries she visited. It also varies according to the beliefs of branch of Islam to which the woman’s family belongs, Fundamentalist being the most oppressive. She also describes how this creeping tide of militant fundamentalist Islam in a danger to mainstream Islam and moderate Muslims. Though life in moderate or mainstream Muslim societies is very hard on most women it borders on slavery under extreme societies.

“There is no fun in Islam”
Ayatollah Khomeini

In the Peoples Islamic Republic of Iran, Khomeini lowered the marriage age for females from eighteen to thirteen (ya hear that Jerry Lee), but permitted girls as young as nine, even seven in some cases to be married if a physician signs a certificate agreeing to their sexual maturity. (pedophilia heaven). However, to the Ayatollah’s credit, he drew the line at seven, stating that it is forbidden to have sex with girls under seven!

“If a man and woman are alone in one place, the third person present is the devil”
Prophet Mohammad

“Under the law as it stands in Pakistan, women who have been raped can be charged with adultery or fornication. The proof required for zina (sex outside of wedlock including rape) is that there be four Muslim adult males of “good repute” present who can attest to the act of sexual penetration. No male witnesses of good repute, of course, are likely to stand and watch a rape in progress without trying to stop it. And because of this requirement it becomes impossible to punish the rapists. Instead the victim is prosecuted. Her legal complaint of rape is considered a confession of illicit sexual intercourse.”

“The majority of Muslim women find their lives controlled by their closest male relative. They are the daughters whose future marriage partners continue to be determined by their fathers. They are the brides who must be virgins on their wedding nights in a culture where, if they are not, honor killings are common and often carried out by the girls own brothers”


Muslim Irony

Fundamentalists restrict women from working, leaving the house unescorted and unveiled, being clergy, driving, reading the Koran, marrying an infidel, going to school after the sixth grade if at all and more.

The Irony of this treatment is in this Quote: “Such restrictions on women are necessary. They are to protect women’s honor and they are also a symbol of our enormous respect for women”

CONCLUSION

This book and several others like it document the ugly, onerous, abhorrent living conditions perpetrated on many Muslim women by Muslim men in the name of Islam. In fairness, The Author has on numerous occasion stated there is no basis for this treatment in the tenets of Islam. In Islam, especially the fundamentalist version religion is power. The Clergy gain power by elevating their male adherents, as do the adherents, over the females. They also gain power by espousing enmity toward a common enemy as Khomeni did toward the U.S. This is the politics of Theocrats. (The last three sentences are my observations)

As for the book, I highly recommend it. It’s 358 pages is well written, easy to read, compelling and chuck full of insights. The author, Jan Goodwin, did a tremendous amount of research, visiting and living in some ten countries, interviewing hundreds of, sometimes shy and reluctant, women to publish this very comprehensive book. Many of these women gave interviews, even though it endangered them. A couple observations I came away with is that the exception of Saudi Arabia, the holy seat of Islam, the quality of women’s living conditions increased with the wealth of the country or in large countries the area. Also it seemed to me that for the average Muslim male, appearances took precedence over the welfare of his womenfolk.

There are so many other things I would like to bring out, like how many Muslim women are malnourished by getting only leftovers, while doing three times the work of her counterpart but you really need to read the book.

July 27, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, Islam, misogyny, religion, review, Sharia, Shiite, Sunni, Terrorism, Wahabism. 9 comments.

PRINCESS – A Shocking Expose of Misogyny Within Saudi Arabia

Princess was the first book that I’d read on the, shall we say, unusual treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. This led me to read other books on the subject which dealt with women’s precarious place in other Muslim countries as well.

Princess
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The story of Princess Sultana (a pseudonym) was written by Jean Sasson a twelve year resident of Saudi Arabia. It is the story of an anonymous Saudi Princess who grew up in a Saudi palace, her sisters, servants, friends and other unfortunate women she had heard about. Some have debated the veracity of the book but many things as I have outlined in my conclusion cannot be denied.

Princess Sultana was born into a Royal Saudi family of ten daughters and one pampered son. She was too feisty for her own good and managed to often manifest the displeasure of her father. Some of the things she did wrong were taking her toys back from her bratty, can do no wrong , brother and then trying to explain her side of things when she got in trouble, but as she and her sisters got older things became even more suppressive.

Supposedly an honor and a sign of adulthood, Sultana was forced to veil as punishment for standing up for herself a couple years before menses. She was saved from female circumcision, which her four oldest sisters endured when a foreign tutor intervened. Sultana goes on to describe how her favorite sister, Sara, was betrothed at sixteen to a man forty-six years older. Within five weeks Sara almost committed suicide due to her aged husbands sadistic and brutal sexual practices.

Sasson goes on to describe many practices and laws in Saudi Arabia that would make a westerner blanch, including the summary execution of a thirteen year old girl for fornication, who was most likely raped, a young girl drowned in the family swimming pool by her father for kissing a boy and girls who had been forced to marry as young as twelve, having four and five children before their eighteenth birthday.

Summary
Jean Sasson weaves a very interesting story. Her writing is easy to follow and extremely readable. The incidents she describe tend to stay in your mind for a long time and may cause indignation in the reader. She accomplishes a fairly good character development of Princess Sultana and other family members.

The book itself is 254 easy reading pages long and also contains four appendixes, The Koran and Women, The Laws of Saudi Arabia, a glossary on Arab terms and a Chronology of Key Events in Saudi History, all located in back. In addition there is a map of Saudi Arabia, the surrounding area, with facts on Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries and a family tree of the House of Saud in the front of the book.

Conclusion

The conclusion I took from all the books I have read so far on the subject is, that while some, maybe even most, women in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries may be well treated, the underlying groundwork is there for the mistreatment, even killing of women.

It is hard not to notice than Muslims take exception to this and similar publications. They would like us to believe the conditions and incidents that take place in these books are fantasy and maybe they believe they are, but the undeniable facts that lie within, lend credibility to everything within the books.

I ask these people. Can women drive in Saudi Arabia? Are there modesty police? Can a woman get in trouble for not wearing a head covering, a veil, letting hair show, letting skin show? Has any women ever been executed for adultery? Have young women ever been killed by family members in honor killings? Can a Saudi man divorce his wife by saying I divorce you three times? Can a wife own property? Does a woman need three witnesses to report a rape? Can a Muslim man have multiple wives? Is a Saudi woman’s testimony worth only half of a man’s? Are many if not most of Saudi women’s husbands chosen by their father? Are Saudi women encouraged or even allowed to get an education? Can a Saudi women work in any field she chooses? Can a Saudi woman walk the streets unescorted? Can a Saudi woman date?

To be sure, women historically have had trouble in almost all societies but the second class citizenship that seems endemic in Saudi Arabia and several other Muslim countries is systemic and deeply rooted.

January 19, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . execution, Islam, misogyny, Overzealous, review, Saudi Arabia, Sharia, Sunni, Wahabism, women. 31 comments.

Is Rap/Hip Hop Bad for African Americans

This opinion was originally written four years ago.

The Bottom Line If you don’t want to read my whole essay, The answer is YES! If you want to know why, read on.

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The question of the day, my friends both white and black, is, “Is Rap/Hip Hop bad for African Americans?”

For all you readers that like Rap, let me tell you, I don’t, and that makes me more impartial with regards to the negative effects of Rap on the black community. What, you don’t think there are any negative effects? Well thats where we disagree and that’s why we’re going to discuss this.

Now, some of you may know me and some of you may have guessed, so I won’t keep you in suspense, I am White but I’m not racist. Am I color blind? probably not. Very few people are. My wife is and I think my kids are but I’m older and grew up in the forties and fifties. My father was an Archie Bunker type and was a closet bigot. Funny thing he used to rant about the Russians and the Poles more than the Blacks(they were known as coloreds then) and the Jews. Maybe that’s why I married a Jewish woman and have Black Friends(they’re really my wifes but I made them mine too).

I had been thinking about writing this essay for many months but thought it might be too controversial and cause bad feelings, that is until I read an Editorial by Leonard Pitts Jr. a black columnist for the Miami Herald, on Oct, 26 of this year, called HATE THIS GAME? The game in question is called Ghettopoly, however, the article is really about Rap and the bad impression it sends to mainstream America about the African American community. Pitts insights are profound and mirror my own thoughts, therefore I will be quoting him when appropriate.

My musical tastes do include the various incantations of Rock and Metal but it wasn’t always that way. In the fifties, I lived in Chicago and when I was twelve, thirteen and fourteen, I attended The Art Institute. My favorite baseball player was a rookie then on the Milwaukee Braves named Henry Aaron(ever hear of him?). I used to listen to the games on Milwaukee radio station and I’d also listen some of the black radio stations to hear Rhythm and Blues and the real birth of birth of Rock and Roll.

I’ve always been a non conformist, never settling for what everybody else liked, knowing there was something better, so while Guiselle Mackensie and Snokey Lansing were singing about Old Smokey and The Doggies in the Window on Lucky Strikes, Hit Parade, I was listening to Muddy Waters, Joe Turner, Bo Didley, Screaming Hawkins, The Dells, Fats Domino, The Spaniels, The Ojays, The Del Vikings and a bunch of other artists that I no longer remember.
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Eventually this underground Blues and Rock and Roll was absorbed into mainstream top 40 music, first through surrogate white artists like Pat Boone, the Diamonds and the Crew Cuts covering the the music and then by the black artists, like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino themselves.

The late fifties and early sixties was a golden age for for the black rock and roll musicians. The fifties brought us The Platters, The Penguins, the Rays, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Coasters, Clyde Mcphatter and the Drifters. The sixties brought us more Drifters, Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes and the Supremes. This was when Black music was at it’s acme both in popularity and creativity.

Black Music continued to thrive with black superstars, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five, Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, Prince and Tina Turner.

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Then in the late 1980s, catastrophe hit. Rap music, the music of the Ghetto, the music of despair and thuggery was born and although Black R & B and R & R didn’t die it was thoroughly diminished. It is to this ill conceived birth that Leonard Pitts Jr. addressed the following comment, “I keep wondering where all this fury was when rappers like 50 cent, Nelly, Ja Rule, and Snoop Dogg first started pimping, drug dealing and drive by shooting all over the video channels…….Where was the moral indignation when Black people were reducing Black life to a caricature?…….With a few isolated exceptions – activist C Delores Tucker and Rev. Calvin Butts – Blacks have been conspicuously silent as Black music, once the joy and strength of Black people, has detoured into an open sewer of so-called “hardcore rap””.

Pitts goes on to say, “The vast majority of that practitioners are nothing more and nothing less than modern day Uncle Toms, selling out Black dreams by peddling a cartoon of Black life unencumbered by values.” This is strong stuff but I’m afraid it’s true, Rap/Hip Hop has crammed out the good black music, the music everybody, white, black, brown and yellow liked and substituted a predominantly hateful message, and I’m afraid White music has suffered too. There’s been a noticeable decline in the quality of all music over the last five to ten years but unlike the Black community this decline does not translate into a negative perception of the white community.

But Pitts is not yet finished. Here’s more, “It is a cynical knowing act promulgated by men and women who get rich by selling lies of authenticity to young people, White and Black, who are looking for lessons of Blackness. They are as much minstrels and peddlers of stereotype as Stepin Fetchit, Bert Williams or any Black performer who ever smeared black goop on his face or shuffled onstage beneath a battered top hat”

I may be wrong but I get the impression that most African American people are proud of Rap/Hip Hop. They think it is a Black creation and it is but it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s not a product of their African heritage, the Blues was that. It’s a product of the Black Barrio. It was born in, and is about the worst aspects the Ghetto. Christ, it glorifies demeaning life in the Ghetto with it’s angry message.

I’m sure there are others but the only recent successful Black music artists I can think of Mariah Carey, Seal, Boys II Men and Destiny’s Child/Beyounce. This compares to a bevy of Rap artists, which means that rap is perceived by White America as the music of choice for Black America and by association is perceived by the lifestyle of choice for Black America.

I doubt if anybody thinks this is good or helpful to the Black community as a whole. It is good to the Black Rappers though. It gives something else to talk/sing about as they go to the bank with their troves of cash. They now get to rub their wealth in their fans faces in their music.

As Mr. Pitts says “Black people of my generation(I’m 46) have resisted speaking forcefully against this because, like all baby boomers, we are deathly afraid of appearing less than hip. But as I recall, our parents never worried about that. They understood their role to be not hipness, but guidance”

“I am of a generation that has largely failed that role, that turned “judgement” into a four letter word. The fruit of that failure lies before us; an era of a historical young people who traffic in stereotypes that would not be out of place in a Ku Klux Klan meeting”

Now I know that after 15 years there is bound to be a Rap song or two or maybe dozens with a positive message but please save your examples. Save them and live by them for to live by the others is a recipe for disaster, a ruined life. I’m Talking about the negative message pervaded in the overwhelming preponderance of Rap/Hip Hop.

I sincerely hope I haven’t offended anybody. This needed to be said and I hope it makes you think.

November 27, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . African Americans, ghetto life, Hip Hop, misogyny, Rap, Thugs, women. 14 comments.

Execution of a teenager – A followup

Here is a follow-up of the blog I posted October, 17th.

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Neka (northern Iran), Aug 31 – The orphaned 16-year-old girl hanged in front of residents in this town close to the Caspian Sea on August 15 suffered years of brutal violence, exploitation and torture in the hands of relatives, local officials and plain strangers, and in a country where girls are the most vulnerable members of society, she had no one to go to for help.

The tragic picture emerges from dozens of interviews conducted by an Iran Focus correspondent with Atefeh Rajabi’s classmates, friends, relatives and neighbors in this humid, overcrowded industrial town that sits on a busy highway linking Tehran with the north of the country.

The hanging of Atefeh Rajabi has shocked the residents of Neka, who still differ widely in their assessment of the girl, but none voices support for the punishment that she has received. An air of tension and eerie silence hangs over the town’s smoke-filled tea-houses, or chaikhanehs, where men spend hours chatting quietly in clusters of three or four over tea. In a summer month like August, business should be booming in this town as thousands of Tehran residents flock to the sandy beaches of the Caspian. But right now, the visitors are for the most part not holidaymakers.

“There are lots of strangers who come and we are used to them,” says Askar, a young shopkeeper who sells a variety of citrus fruit jams. “But right now, all of them are asking about the girl. They want to know who she was and how she died.”

The shock of Atefeh’s execution has gone far beyond this town. Even in a country that has the highest number of executions in the world and routinely executes minors, Iranians across the nation have been bewildered by accounts of the hanging of a 16-year-old girl. The fact that the religious judge himself put the rope around her neck and the letters of “congratulations” from the town’s governor to the judge, commending him for his “firm approach” have only added to the torment and pain many say they have felt.

“Atefeh was not a well-behaved girl, that’s for sure. But do you hang a girl for having sex with an unmarried man?” asked Fariba, a girl in Atefeh’s neighborhood, who like many others did not want to be identified.

According to judicial records, by the time Atefeh was 16, she had been convicted five times of having sex with unmarried men. Each time she spent some time in jail and was given 100 lashes (Under Iran’s law, punishment for having sex with a married man would have been far heavier.)

Atefeh’s father is an unemployed drug addict whose whereabouts are not known. Her mother died when Atefeh was still a child and she was left in the care of her octogenarian grandparents, which meant no care at all.

“She was abused by a close relative,” says Mina, one of the few girls in Neka who identify themselves as Atefeh’s friends. “But she never dared even to talk about it to anyone. Tell your teachers? They’ll call you a whore. Tell the police? They lock you up and rape you. Better keep your mouth shut.”

Mina sobs as she recalls her friend’s tormented life, but many of these horrendous experiences are everyday facts of life for girls being brought up under a rigid theocratic regime that has institutionalized misogyny in its laws and practices.

“She sometimes talked about what these ‘Islamic moral policemen’ did to her while she was in jail. She still had nightmares about that. She said Behshahr Prison was the Hell itself.”

Alijan, a local grocer with graying hair, said many parents did not want Atefeh to socialize with their kids, because they thought she would have a corrupting influence on other young girls.

“Who can blame them?” he said, with a deep sigh. “In this country, if you’re a man and you go to jail, you can forget about having a future. Now imagine if a girl goes to jail. She was hopeless.”

“I knew this girl very well and she did not deserve what they did to her,” explains a middle-aged woman who once taught Atefeh in the local girls’ school. “She was lively, intelligent, and, of course, rebellious. She wouldn’t take injustice from anyone. But the authorities here equate these qualities in a girl to prostitution and evil. They wanted to give all the girls and women a lesson.”

Hamid was one of those fathers in the neighborhood who did not want her two daughters to befriend Atefeh, but with hindsight, he feels the guilt of not having done anything to help the girl.

“I think the most devastating event in her life was the death of her mother,” Hamid said. “Before that, she was a normal girl. Her mother was everything to her. When she died, she had no one to look after her.”

A pharmacist, whose shop is not far away from the Railway Square, where Atefeh was hanged, recalls her final, painful hour. “When agents of the State Security Forces brought her to the gallows, I felt cold sweat running down my back. She looked so young and innocent, standing there in the middle of all these bearded men in military fatigues. Judge Reza’i must have felt a personal grudge against her. He put the rope around her neck and left her dangling on the gallows for 45 minutes. I looked around and everyone in the crowd was sobbing and damning the mullahs for doing this to our young people.”

Atefeh had no access to a lawyer at any stage and her death sentence was upheld by a Supreme Court that is dominated by fundamentalist mullahs. Haji Rezaii, the religious judge, was reportedly so incensed with Atefeh’s “sharp tongue” during the trial that he travelled to Tehran to convince the mullahs of the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence.

The tragically short life of Atefeh Rajabi its brutal end are a reminder of the plight of millions of girls in a country where, according to state-owned newspapers, 75 percent of the population live below the poverty line, 66 percent of women are victims of some form of domestic violence, and over 70 percent of women suffer from varying degrees of depression. Iran remains, in the words of UN Human Rights Rapporteur Maurice Copithorne, “a prison for women.”

October 25, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, Iran, Islam, misogyny, murder, Sharia, Terrorism, women. 6 comments.

Iranian Justice (Based on Islamic law)

On August 8, 2004, Atefeh Rajabi, a sixteen year old girl, was executed in the Iranian city of Neka. Officially, her crime was ‘acts incompatible with chastity.’ Unofficially, it was because she was a free spirit in a dogmatic theocracy, doing what she wanted and thumbing her nose at authority in the form of the stupid Iranian laws

An example had to be made and made it was as the teenager, Atefeh Rajabi dangled from the end of a crane in a square for forty-five minutes.

The late not so great Ayatollah Khomeini, was quoted as saying “There is no fun in Islam.” Obviously this is true, unless you happen to be one one the misanthropes who run the misbegotten hunk of desert called Iran.

The following is a reprint of an article I came across on the internet.

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Siamack Baniameri
September 25, 2004
iranian.com

In the past twenty some years, I have seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Some live, some die, and some disappear. Some are executed, some are tortured, some are rotting in prisons, and some are rotting in hell or heaven — depends on who you talk to.

It doesn’t bother me none. They have chosen that path and they have bigger balls than you and I. They have been around for thousands of years and they’ll be around for thousands more: the rebels, revolutionaries, freedom fighters, activists, and whatnot.

But seeing her picture, hanging from a rope, broke my heart. I generally don’t give a shit, but this one, I couldn’t stomach. Dead, she looked more human than many of the living in this jungle of inhumanity.

Atefeh Rajabi was my kind of a girl: a hard-drinking, sex-loving, foul-mouthed, rebellious, defiant, seductive teenager who didn’t take shit from grownups and made no attempt to sugarcoat her demeanor the way Iranian women often do.

She was a type of a teenager who would look us straight in the eyes and tell us to go to hell. She didn’t put up with our rules and laws and traditions and social standards and religious beliefs or code of conduct. She didn’t buy any of our bullshit. She didn’t care anymore. She had enough of our crap.

Atefeh did what she liked and for that she stays on my cool-list. Atefeh’s defiance of all conceited Iranian social and cultural values is what makes her my number one girl.

Some of you are probably thinking that admiring a teenager who exhibited immoral and decadent behavior is inappropriate and sets a bad example. The only answer I have for you is what most likely Atefeh would’ve told you to fuck off. You created Atefeh and many like her. And you — that’s right, you — tie the rope around their necks every single day of their young lives.

Atefeh and many like her are byproducts of dysfunctional Iranian culture that push teenage girls underground in search of answers to some fundamental human questions and needs. A sick culture that is cherished by many of us because it feeds our egos and band-aids our defeats and deficiencies.

We have managed to deprive our teenage girls from every essence that makes them human. We have managed to take away their desires, curiosity, self-respect, wit, and the most basic instinct of every human: to seek happiness.

We get offended by Atefeh Rajabi and others like her because she challenges every fiber of our traditional pride and she questions everything that is sacred to us. Atefeh was poison to Iranian values and she needed to be silenced. And that’s exactly what we did.

While thousands of execution enthusiasts watched her little neck snap like a toothpick and her small body dangling from a rope for twenty minutes, not a single asshole said a damn thing to stop it. Boy, am I proud to be an Iranian.

I wish I knew her. Like her big brother, I can picture myself having a lively conversation with her over a shot of chilled vodka and maasto-khiaar. Would I have a drink with my teenage sister? Why the hell not!

I would’ve told her a dirty joke or two and I’m sure she would’ve matched with some of her own. I would have asked her if there was a guy in the ‘hood that she had her eyes on. I would’ve asked her who her favorite singer was or what kind of music she listened to. I would have thanked her for being who she was and kissed her small hands for no particular reason.

For many self-righteous Iranian folks who abandon Atefeh and many like her because she was a “whore” or “misfit,” take a good look at that small girl’s body hanging from a crane. This is your daughter.

October 18, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, execution, hang, Iran, Islam, misogyny, murder, Overzealous, sex scene, Sharia, Teen, teenager, Terrorism, women. 3 comments.