“There’s really no such thing as just Sharia, it’s not one monolithic Continuum – Sharia is understood in thousands of different ways over the 1,500 years in which multiple and competing schools of law have tried to construct some kind of civic penal and family law code that would abide by Islamic values and principles, it’s understood in many different ways…” — Reza Aslan
“Allah’s Apostle said, ‘If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.”If a husband calls his wife to his bed [i.e. to have sexual relation] and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.'” (Sahih Bukhari 4.54.460)
Muhammad also said: “By him in Whose Hand lies my life, a woman can not carry out the right of her Lord, till she carries out the right of her husband. And if he asks her to surrender herself [to him for sexual intercourse] she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel’s saddle.” (Ibn Majah 1854)
“Lebanese women take on Muslim judges who call rape a ‘marital right,'” by Arwa Damon and Tim Hume for CNN, February 18 (thanks to Suneil):
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) — Lebanese women are taking to the streets to demand that the government takes domestic violence seriously, by introducing laws to protect women from abusive partners.
“Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them.” (Qur’an 4:34)
Nadine Mouwad, a founder of feminist collective Nasawiya, says the prevalence of unveiled, glamorous women in Beirut can create the impression that Lebanon is more liberated from patriarchal cultural attitudes than neighboring countries.
But that’s merely an illusion, she says.
“The problem is that we are sold a lot of fake freedoms that raise Lebanese women under the impression that they have freedom to go anywhere, freedom to dress the way they want to,” she said.
For the past year and a half, Mouwad and fellow feminist activists have been demanding that politicians ignore the objections of Muslim religious authorities and pass a stalled law protecting women from domestic violence.
A draft version of the Law to Protect Women from Family Violence was approved by Lebanon’s Cabinet in 2010, but has since become bogged down in parliament, mainly due to the objections of Sunni and Shia authorities.
The initial version of the bill was drafted to criminalize physical and sexual abuse, so-called “honor crimes” and marital rape, create specially-trained domestic violence response units within the police, and provide the legal framework for restraining orders to be issued against abusers.
But Lebanon’s religious courts — the judicial authorities presiding over each of the country’s faith communities, with jurisdiction over matters of “personal status,” including marriage problems — have criticized the proposed law as an attempt to erode their authority.
Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s top Sunni authority, and the Higher Shi’a Islamic Council both said that they opposed the draft on the basis that Sharia law protected the status of women, and should remain the basis for governing legal issues related to Muslim families.
Not that it protects them from honor killing, getting beaten, and marital rape. But who cares about those things?
Domestic violence cases in Lebanon are typically heard in the religious courts, which often respond with rulings focused on preserving the family unit, rather [than] protecting women from violence.
It’s a response that abused women are usually met with from police as well, says Lebanese lawyer Amer Badreddine.
“They are told to solve the problem amicably, to keep it a family issue and not cause embarrassment to themselves by bringing it to the police,” said Badreddine, who specializes in domestic violence cases.
He said the law also failed to recognize marital rape as a crime — a position that some Muslim judges argue should be upheld.
Criminalizing marital rape “could lead to the imprisonment of the man,” Sheik Ahmad Al-Kurdi, a judge in the Sunni religious court, told CNN, “where in reality he is exercising the least of his marital rights.”
With little protection from authorities, Lebanese women in abusive marriages must also often contend with the disapproval of their families if they seek to escape their predicament.
One Lebanese mother-of-three told CNN of being beaten by her husband from the time she was pregnant with their first child. Shortly after the child was born, he broke her nose and she resolved to divorce him. But her parents were mortified about what people would think, and said she would have to give up her son if she left.
She returned to the marital home where the abuse continued, including her husband forcing himself on her. “He used to make me pregnant, thinking that as long as I was having kids he would make me stay,” she said.
She feared he would kill her. But eventually, with the help of a Kafa (“Enough”) — an NGO tackling violence and exploitation of women and children — she was able to divorce her husband and retain custody of her children.
Such an outcome is rare for abused women in Lebanon — a situation that was now unlikely to be remedied by the passing of the domestic violence bill, says Mouwad. Her organization heard of about 15 cases a year of Lebanese women murdered by their domestic partners, she said.
Mouwad said the draft bill had been watered down with so many amendments due to objections by religious conservatives, that it was virtually useless. She said she would ultimately prefer not to see it pass.
“If it passes the way it is, it’s going to be disastrous and counterproductive,” she said.