Qur’an 4:34, the verse in which Allah green-lights beating one’s wife, has far-reaching consequences in letter and spirit. It makes the Muslim family a microcosm of the Qur’anic deity’s ordering of the universe and society, where submission is paramount, and the one who feels entitled to be in charge — whether Muhammad’s deity or the man of the house — can do as he pleases, and is free to resort to brutality to ensure submission… while demanding to be called compassionate and merciful, of course. To do otherwise might hurt his feelings, and the rage that ensues would be your fault, naturally.
Thus, even in an ostensibly secular Muslim society, the idea that it is okay to beat your wife persists. And there is only one way it can be passed off as “culture”: recognizing that the culture is informed and suffused with the priorities, issues and hangups of Muhammad’s own culture (and of Muhammad himself), which upholding him as a prophet make sacrosanct.
“Domestic abuse still a taboo in Turkey,” by Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert for CNN, July 30:
…Video footage filmed in September of 2009 shows Sidika outside of the hospital in the provincial capital of Van. Her face was horribly bruised; her head encased in bandages. Part of Sidika’s right ear had been sliced off. The woman could barely walk and leaned on her brother for support, as she hobbled a few short steps into the hospital.
After the incident, Turkish authorities separated Sidika Platin and her children from her husband and placed them in a state-run women’s shelter. But barely two months later, a local criminal court asked that Sidika and her children be handed back to Faruk Platin. He had not served any jail time for beating his wife.
“At that time, because he showed regret and because his [criminal] record was clean, his sentence was postponed,” said Meral Demirbas, the governor of Saray district where Kapikoy is located.
“Also, the wife withdrew her complaint.”
Sidika Platin is an ethnic Kurd who speaks no Turkish. According to eyewitnesses, when she appeared in court, she could not understand the judge or prosecutor, and relied on her husband to translate legal proceedings.
On a snowy day last December, local women’s rights activists like Hamide Yeni could do little more then watch helplessly, as Faruk Platin led his mutilated wife away from the courtyard, back to the village where they lived.
“This kind of thing happens in every village,” says Yeni, one of the founders of a grassroots local family protection association in the Saray district of southeastern Turkey. “There are thousands of women like Sidika out here.”
In fact, according to a 2009 Turkish government report, 42 percent of women surveyed said they had been the victims of either physical or sexual abuse by their husband or partner. The report concluded that one in four married Turkish women had been injured by partner violence. Meanwhile, one in 10 Turkish women were injured by such violence while pregnant.
Some Turkish activists fear the real statistics for violence against women may actually be much higher.
“In all domestic surveys there are ‘shadow figures.’ That is because women are not willing to tell about the violence, it’s a very sensitive issue,” says Pinar Ilkkaracan, a co-founder of the Istanbul-based group Women for Women’s Human Rights.
“We think it’s much higher then 42 percent.”
Domestic violence against women is not confined to economically-depressed, rural regions of eastern Turkey. According to the Turkish government survey, the statistics for physical and sexual assault were roughly the same in the countryside as in the most developed, fast-growing cities in the western part of the country.
Over the past 15 years, Turkey has adopted several progressive pieces of legislation to protect women, including a 1998 Protection Order against Domestic Violence. Reform of Turkey’s Civil Code in 2001 gave women legal equal status to men in the family.
Meanwhile, changes to the country’s Penal Code in 2004 criminalized marital rape. But critics argue that the Turkish state has lapsed far behind in implementing these laws….