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“Silence over Violence” By Sumeera Nisar

“All opinions are that of the author and not necessarily those of the website that it is published under.”
“I got a burnt face, really black isn’t it? As for now, I put somebody’s lotions given free by neighbors and friends. They gave me because they feel pity on me as my face is somehow like ‘the bottom of a frying pan’. I know my looks now are terrible. My right hand was severely burnt…my ears. Until now, I’ve got scars on half of my right side of the body…, he punched me on my left eye, and the veins of my left eye are seriously damaged. I have lost my vision” she said.
Women often feel in great danger in places where they should be safest; at the hands of somebody they trust. Violence against woman is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women which led to the domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the (impediment) of the full advancement of women. The most pervasive of human rights violations against women include denying equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy freedom. Those victimized suffer physically and psychologically. They are unable to make their own decisions, voice their own opinions or protect themselves and their children for fear of further repercussions. Their lives are stolen from them by the ever-present threat of violence.

The sociological investigation of the human society at the global level has that woman in general in the distant and recent past faced unfair and unequal treatment at the hands of their own and other men. Their role in totality was characterized with dependency, inferiority and acute suffering. In actuality, they have faced systematic discrimination institutionalized suppression and multi-dimensional exploitation. These sociological propositions about the status and role of women in the traditional societies are not mere theoretical or ideological abstractions but essential stand for the empirical and realistic social reality of the human past. Culturally, (even today) they are inferior to men; men have a privilege to discriminate.
Let’s contextualize essential intricacies of violence. K.A Yllo in Current Controversies on Family Violence asserted that the traditional structure of a patriarchal society enables unequal participation for women in respect to social, economic and political systems. According to the feminists, women are likely to stay and take responsibilities at home with child rearing and house chores whereas men are expected to leave the home for work as the main provider of the family. In this way, men and women are socially segregate which subsequently affects their sense of self. Within the discourse, financial dependencies among women become fundamental. Smith in Policy Briefing: Domestic Violence and Finance, states financial dependency among women may create a number of psychological issues such as low self-confidence, independent living and this often leads to isolation. In the context of marriage and family, a historically male-dominated social structure has contributed to the excessive power and control of husbands (as perpetrator) over wives. K. Browne & M. Herber in Preventing family violence also argue that it is common for batterers to take charge of the family in terms of decision making, setting up the rules, disciplining disobedient wives and children as well as correcting unsatisfactory performance of duties. Consequently, men will hold positions of respect including more power which clearly is disadvantageous to the women. This view is further supported by J.L. Jasinski, Partner violence who writes about contributions to violence between men and women that were based upon gender-specific roles plus the male-dominated social structure of the past.
A considerable amount of literature has been published regarding the impacts of domestic violence on the psychological and emotional aspects of health, still there seems a gap—something is missing—oh yes—stories are told, heard but nature of pain and suffering isn’t defined yet. Batterers hardly know about ugly diseased, pale, and crummy face, exceedingly nebulous, abrasive and abhorrent behavior, rampant, scary, dastardly violence…there vicious remarks, and virulent actions…leaves deep unbearable wounds in her heart, soul and minds. World has rudimentary knowledge about women and her sufferings thus can’t understand the nature of that pain…!!!

Domestic violence has deleterious effects on her whole being. Browne & Herbert says the psychological perspective concentrates on the personality deficiencies in a person, as well as losing self-control, which is viewed as “…an excessive drive for aggressive behavior.” The effects are mental health problems including anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as suicidal thoughts and attempts. A study by Crawford, Liebling-Kalifani and Hill explored domestic violence victims. The most striking result was that women perceived their identity and sense of self as associated with the influences of their culture and society. Subsequent to this perspective, the feelings of being ashamed, self-blame, guilt and being silent had affected the women’s decision regarding the help seeking process. It is believed that living in an abusive relationship has gradually undermined the women’s ability to feel confident particularly about coming forward as well as dealing the violent situation with appropriate assistance.
Over the ages, women have been demonized as a lesser being. It was with the advent of Islam, with the Prophethood of Muhammad (saas) that women were enlightened. Women are accorded more equal rights and raised into an esteemed position in Islam. Islam upholds the values of compassion and love in the conduct of family affairs. The Qur’an clearly prohibits any kind of injustice or oppression. Now the question arises why a woman doesn’t—battered woman, find a solace in Islam. “Are Muslim men allowed to beat their wives?” This question is not an unexpected one; after all Islam and violence is a hot-button issue in western public discourse. Asma Barla in “Believing Women in Islam” says, It is obvious that much is at stake for Muslims in how we answer these questions, especially in view of the increasing levels of violence against women in many states from Afghanistan to Algeria , giving a widespread tendency to blame Islam for oppressing Muslims (esp. women) rather than Muslims for misreading Islam.

As a living example to Muslims, Prophet (Saas) was known to have never hit women, nor to have treated them harshly or with disrespect, and strongly discouraged others from doing so. The verse of the Qur’an that mentions hitting one’s wife has been the subject of much attack from non-Muslims and controversy among Muslims; it is also taken out of context and used by some abusers to justify beating their wives. Islam must be considered as a whole, as a paradigm that cannot be fragmented and whose teaching cannot be analyzed in isolation Muslim are required to abide by the text of the Qur’an, as well as the life example of the Prophet (saas).He was the man whom his wife A’isha (r.a) described as having internalized the teaching of the Quran in his character and personality. If Prophet had internalized and lived the teaching of the Qur’an and had also never raised his hand to strike any women/child how could the Qur’an sanction domestic violence? The Prophet was put in several situations in which he could have beaten his wives had he chosen to understand v.4:34 as allowing a man to beat his wife .When the Prophet (saas) had serious marital disputes with his wives; he never resorted to violence under any circumstances. Instead he gave them the option of leaving him or remaining with him. As Imam-i- Shafii beautifully said, I believe in every verse of Quran and what Allah intended by them. I believe in every hadith of Prophet (saas) and what he intended by them.” So, we really need to real purpose of the verse—to restore family unit.
Yasir Qadhi asserts that any man who beats his wife is not man. In the abusive mindset, all other verses and Hadith are ignored, and males misquote two specific verses and one Hadith to justify complete control of females. The worst interpretations go so far as to assert that a woman is mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually permanently disabled, and is prone to immorality, putting her in constant need of male supervision. Reality is that violence had deleteriously affected her mental ability, vision, psychology and behavior. Let superior species—unquestionable and archetypal representatives of less-human (women) know that sexual, psychological, economic, even acts of omission have direct correlation to the development of women; this is a powerful detriment of learning abilities and adult intelligence.
She is also blamed for not disclosing and reporting the abuse.

Despite different scenarios, most of the Muslim woman struggle with challenges and dilemmas. As Muslims, she values the institution of marriage and wants to preserve it at all costs. She often believe the abuser, who justifies his behavior by referring to isolated bits of text from the Qur’an.She tend to blame themselves for not being patient enough or understanding enough to help  him change his behavior. Many a times she feels embarrassed and afraid of the partner’s reactions as a result of the disclosure including being labeled as a nusyuz wife. Moreover, as most of the abused women were having financial difficulties, this situation has been manipulated by the abusers to their advantage. Many women have accepted the fact that such violence committed by the abuser was considered ‘a lesson’ and in a way a message for the women to behave obediently in accordance to the husband’s demands. It is believed that this kind of ‘distorted thinking’ was very much associated with the adverse effect on the sense of self worth among women victims and survivors of domestic violence. Since their sense of self-esteem and self-worth were progressively undermined, the women believed that they were partly responsible for provoking as well as challenging the partner’s ego. Despite any factor that may cause the husband to feel agitated, angry or annoyed it is believed that there are always other alternatives to violence. They especially struggle with trying to understand how God might view their desire to end the marriage. In addition to struggling with spiritual questions, they also have to deal with some societal issues, such as the shame of being a divorced woman or being a woman who has reported her husband to the police. 

A lot of times women are told, or a women believes that if they are being mistreated/ being abused they just have to be patient. And this concept of being patient against oppression is sometimes being attributed to Islam .In fact, the Prophet (saas), taught us when we see something wrong we should try to change it. He doesn’t say that when you see something wrong be patient and stay quiet about it, but rather “If you see something wrong, try to change it with your hand .If you cannot, speak out against it. And if you cannot, then at the very least feel that in your heart and this is the weakest level of Iman (faith).”Thus, sabr never means being passive against oppression or abuse. How powerful Faiz Ahmad Faiz sounds when he says Speak up for your lips are not sealed; speak up your words are still your own ; Speak up before your mind fades away;…Speak up, Speak up.

Sumeera Nisar is a research scholar in the faculty of Islamic studies, University of Kashmir and can be mailed at sumeera909@gmail.com

“All opinions are that of the author and not necessarily those of the website that it is published under.”

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