An American convert to Islam in Dubai fights against the mistreatment of women in Dubai — a mistreatment that most Muslim and non-Muslim Islamic apologists in the West have consistently ignored and denied, in Dubai and elsewhere. Few, if any, seem willing to consider the possibility that Qur’an 4:34 (the verse that counsels men to beat disobedient women) and other anti-woman material in Islamic texts and teachings might create a culture that institutionalizes discrimination against women and worse.
“Voice for Abused Women Upsets Dubai Patriarchy,” by Robert F. Worth for the New York Times (thanks to Sr. Soph):
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates “” For years, Sharla Musabih has fought a lonely battle to protect battered wives and victims of human trafficking here. She founded the Emirates” first women’s shelter here and she became a familiar figure at police stations, relentlessly hounding officers to be tougher on abusive husbands.
She has also earned many enemies. Emiratis do not often take kindly to rights advocates drawing attention to the dark side of their fast-growing city-state on the Persian Gulf, better known for its gleaming office towers and artificial islands.
The ferocity of the dispute is unusual for Dubai, and underscores a major challenge facing this proudly apolitical business capital. The city”s few rights advocates have always been quietly shunted aside. But as the conservative Muslim ethos of Dubai’s native Arab minority rubs against the varied perspectives of a much larger foreign population, debates about how to approach taboo subjects like domestic violence and the city”s prevalent prostitution are getting louder.
Ms. Musabih, 47, a boisterous American transplant who was born and raised on Bainbridge Island, Wash., argues that confrontation is essential in fighting the patriarchal Arab traditions that allow men to beat their wives with impunity. She and her supporters also say the Emirates have not acknowledged the severity of their problem with human trafficking, the brutal business in which foreign women are lured here with promises of jobs and then forced into prostitution or servitude. Last year the United States State Department placed the Emirates and 31 other countries on a watch list for failing to effectively combat the illegal trade.
“When a woman has three broken bones in her back, and the police don’t take it seriously, yes, I get angry,” Ms. Musabih said.
Others say Ms. Musabih’s aggressive approach “” which includes appeals to foreign news media as well as tough, face-to-face lobbying “” is inappropriate in the Arab world, and has needlessly fueled the backlash she now faces. That assertiveness may also have made it easier to dismiss her as an outsider. Although she has lived here for 24 years, converted to Islam, is an Emirati citizen, wears a veil and has raised six children here with her Emirati husband, Ms. Musabih is still unmistakably American, from her moralistic zeal to her habit of calling the women in her shelter “darlin”.”
“I have told her sometimes I think she is wrong, she goes too far,” said Lt. Gen. Dahi al-Khalfan, the chief of the Dubai Police, who has supported Ms. Musabih in the past but now tends to criticize her work as divisive. “There is a case between husband and wife; let the court decide! Leave it.”…
“Leave it.” And many do. After all, what’s a few broken bones in a woman’s back? And the only way this injustice will ever be corrected is if more and more people refuse to be cowed by charges that they are “divisive,” and refuse to “leave it.”