Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Niqab Ban - Unveiling the Facade

The recent ban on the niqab in the French parliament and the attempt of Conservative MP Philip Hollobone to initiate a ban in the UK, coupled with the subsequent media furore, has exposed some glaring contradictions.

If politicians, the media and social commentators care for women and believe that their world view facilitates the emancipation of women, then why have they focused on a cloth that covers her body rather than focus on the contemporary facade effecting women in the west. In Britain, for example,
Domestic Violence
•1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence.
•Two women are murdered every week by a current or a former partner.
•In any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical violence or threats of violence against women from partners or former partners.
•1 in 5 young men and 1 in 10 young women think that abuse or violence against women is acceptable.
Empowerment and Self-esteem
•66 % of women in the UK would consider plastic surgery because of concerns about their looks.
•63 % of young women aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers.
•54 % of women became aware of the 'need' to be attractive between 6 - 17 years of age.
Unequal Pay & Employment
•In 2006, female graduates earned, on average, 15% less than their male counterparts at the age of 24; with this gender pay gap widening with age increasing to 40.5% for women graduates aged 41-45.
•There are estimated to be around 80,000 people involved in prostitution in the UK. However, many people believe that this figure is an underestimation.
•A 2002 study found that 74% of women involved in prostitution cited poverty, the need to pay household expenses and support their children, as a primary motivator for entering sex work.
Mental Health
•The NHS reported in 2009 that more than one in five of the adult female population experiences depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.
•Many older people, especially women over 75, experience severe poverty due to institutional failure, as levels of state pensions are determined according to years of employment.
•One in five single women pensioners live in poverty. In 2004, almost 1.3 million older women lived below the poverty line and suffered significant financial disadvantage - compared with men of the same age.
•Research published in 2006 identified that women aged 16 or over are 5 times as likely as men to feel very unsafe walking alone in their area after dark.
Child Abuse
•An NSPCC prevalence study in 2000 found that around 21% of girls surveyed experienced some form of child sexual abuse. The majority of children who experienced sexual abuse had more than one sexually abusive experience.
I acknowledge that certain western ideologues have lost the debate concerning women and Islamic values. This is proven by the fact that they have failed to persuade Muslim women to reject manifestations of Islamic values such as the niqab. The insistence on banning these symbols of Islam exhibits their inability to articulate a positive case for their world view and indicates their unwillingness to engage in a productive debate. Therefore I conclude that these commentators and ideologues should start to think about how to fix the miserable situation for many women in the UK. And I suggest that looking at Islam is a viable and positive solution. READ MORE

Sarkozy’s Values & the Honour of Women

On the 22nd June 2009 French President Sarkozy announced that the Burqa is incongruous with French values. He said "In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy continued "The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience."

Despite Sarkozy’s political opportunism, his ideological contradictions expose his conscious ignorance, and some may say, out right hatred for the Islamic way of life. Sarkozy who advocates and propagates liberal secularism has forgotten his intellectual heritage. Liberal secularism rests upon the premise of individualism, in other words, viewing the self – the human being – as an abstract entity divorced from social attachments. Two key values are built from this premise, individual freedom and individual rights. According to individual freedom, also explained as freedom of choice, the Burqa shouldn’t be a problem and should be tolerated under French liberal values. So why the contradiction?

Sarkozy is a liberal secular ideologue who doesn’t want to understand or discuss the Islamic way of life. The Islamic way of life is not based upon the false premise of individualism, rather it views the human being as an entity with social links and obligations. This correct view on mankind develops and builds sublime values, which include honouring and protecting women.

In the Sarkozy paradigm these values do not exist hence he wants to fight against their emergence, even if it means contradicting his own ideological beliefs. For example in a liberal secular context, individual freedom allows and, in the case of Sarkozy (his wife is an ex-nudist model), promotes pornography. However pornography has been shown to facilitate rape. According to academic research by Diana E. Russell in her publication ‘Pornography & Rape: A causal model’ she states,

“ My theory about how pornography – violent and non-violent – can cause rape…drawn on the findings of recent research….I believe there are many factors that play a causal role in this crime. I have not attempted here to evaluate the relative importance of these different causal factors, but merely to show the overwhelming evidence that pornography is a major one of them”

In this study journals and academic research were cited which concluded that 56% of rapists implicated pornography in the commission of their offences, 66% of rapists claimed they were incited by pornography and 30 % of college students would rape if they could get away with it.

Sarkozy’s world view would not ban or criminalise pornography. This is because society itself is not considered or taken into account due to the core value of ‘individual freedom’. As a result Sarkozy’s values have contributed to the increase in sexual crimes in France. There are more than 25,000 rapes a year in France alone, and before Sarkozy points the finger at the Muslims or immigrants, 91% of those convicted are of French nationality.

France is not alone in failing to protect and honour women either, in the UK 167 women are raped everyday and in the US a woman is raped every 6 minutes and battered every 15 seconds.

However in Islam, pornography is banned and is viewed as a dishonor to women. Islam protects women by honoring and providing mechanisms in its social model to protect them. The noble Qur'an highlights the immense responsibility men have towards women. The Qur'an says "Men are qawwamoona over women". The key word here is qawwamoona which comes from words such as qiwaamun meaning means of support, qaama almarata meaning he undertook the support of the woman, qaama alaiha meaning he looked after her, and qaama bihi he supported it. Therefore the Qur'an tells society to look after, protect and honour women.

But Sarkozy would rather flaunt that his wife was an ex-nudist model. READ MORE

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