“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)
Muhammad’s example is normative for Muslims, since he is an “excellent example of conduct” (Qur’an 33:21) — and according to a canonical hadith, Muhammad’s favorite wife, his child bride Aisha, reports that Muhammad struck her. Once he went out at night after he thought she was asleep, and she followed him surreptitiously. Muhammad saw her, and, as Aisha recounts: “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?” (Sahih Muslim 2127) Aisha herself said it: “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.” (Sahih Bukhari 7.72.715)
The Koran commentary Ruhul Ma”ani reflects mainstream Muslim understandings of this verse when it gives four reasons that a man may beat his wife: “if she refuses to beautify herself for him,” if she refuses sex when he asks for it, if she refuses to pray or perform ritual ablutions, and “if she goes out of the house without a valid excuse.”
“Kabul debates women’s law ‘violating Sharia,'” from Deutsche Welle, March 8:
A draft law that would end violence against women is being debated in the Afghan Parliament. But it is finding little support among MPs, who feel that it violates traditional values.
It has been three years since Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a decree to end violence against women. The draft law, which is supposed to allow women more freedom and protect them from violence, has yet to be adopted in parliament. But courts can use it as a basis for their work.
Opponents of the decree say it contradicts Sharia – the moral code and religious law of Islam. Most of the proponents, however, are among the 68 women in parliament, for whom a quarter of the seats are reserved. They are trying to reconcile a modern interpretation of Islam with the law.
“They are all fundamentalists and extremists,” Member of Parliament (MP) Masooda Karochi told DW. “If a lunatic protests that this law is against Sharia, then you can imagine what consequences it can have.” Sharia proponents make it impossible to have a constructive discussion, she noted.
Controversy over the age of marriage
For supporters of Sharia law, physical abuse should not be considered an act of violence against women, Masooda Karochi said. But because physical abuse of women is the norm in Afghanistan, Karzai’s decree has allowed women to report incidences of domestic violence, leading to the break up of several families.
In the draft, the legal age of marriage is 16 – another thorn in the side of its opponents. Basing their argument on Islam, they say that the beginning of puberty determines when a girl can be married. Also, Sharia stipulates that fathers alone can make decisions on whom their daughters marry and when.
Law provokes violence
The draft law is also provoking its opponents because it says that women should be allowed to work. “Islam says that a woman cannot work outside the house unless she has her husband’s permission. It is the responsibility of the man to fulfill all the needs of his wife,” said MP Sayed Hossain Alemi Balkhi. “If this is the case, then the man certainly has the right to expect his wife to ask for his permission before she leaves the house.”
Balkhi believes that it is all propaganda – an effort by activists and local media, who are trying to draw attention to violence against women. And instead of trying to curb violence against women, they are only fueling it, he said. “Let’s say your husband beats you and you leave for a women’s shelter. You leave your home because your husband beats you. Then you stay there waiting for him to come and take you back.”
The MP believes the law would not end abuse. “The husband would definitely end up killing his wife the next time. Instead of curbing violence, the law provokes it further.” This view is widespread among conservative MPs. And the arguments of the proponents of the draft law, especially the female MPs, fall on deaf ears.
A symbolic law
Even if the draft law to end violence against women were to be passed, it would hardly change their situation. Aziz Rafi, who heads the Afghanistan Civil Society Forum, believes the battle is lost.
“Afghan law is very problematic and complicated. There is a lot of corruption. We doubt that the law will help curb violence against women,” he told DW….