Woman Wants to be Beaten Only Once a Week
On September 22, 2004 a sad report came out of Iran and was spread through the Internet that ironically many found amusing. It was about an Iranian woman, beaten every day by her husband, who asked a court to tell him to beat her only once a week.
The Aftab-e-Yazd daily reported that Maryam, the middle-aged woman, said she did not want to divorce her husband because she loved him. “Just tell him to beat me once a week … Beating is part of his nature and he cannot stop it,” Maryam told the court. When the court prohibited the husband from beating the wife, he protested: “If I do not beat her, she will not be scared enough to obey me.”
In this comic/tragic drama lie two very sad realities that affect all Muslim women irrespective of their nationalities. The first is that Muslim women are raised to accept abuse as normal. Since childhood they are treated differently. In Islamic countries boys are preferred to girls. Girls are the source of disappointment to their fathers and an embarrassment to their mothers. If a woman gives birth to a boy she is lauded but if the child is a girl, she is snubbed. Little girls learn from infancy on that they are unwanted. At the table their brothers eat first and take the lion’s share. In poorer families, the female members cook and serve the males, then wait until these have had their fill. Thereafter the women scavenge the leftovers.
Boys get the first opportunity to go to school and get ahead in life. Girls are often denied this chance for there seems to be no need for them to become educated, since here are few work opportunities for women in Islamic societies. All to which a girl can aspire is to get married to a man who will take care of her. She inherits half of what her brothers inherit and has fewer rights. The rationale is that she would not need it because it is up to her husband to maintain her.
Daughters are liabilities to their families and they are “given away” in marriage as soon as possible. That could be as young as 9 years of age. All this conditioning happens with the blessing of “the best and the most perfect religion” of Islam. After all it was Muhammad who said women are “deficient in intelligence”. It was he who said men have a “degree of advantage over women”. It was he who said women who disobey their husband “should be beaten”. If Islam is the most perfect religion, then how can one dispute its teachings?
Thus Muslim women grow up knowing only one reality and that is they are inferior to men and must please them if they want to survive. The brainwashing is so complete that many Muslim women actually fight to preserve their lower status. Many of them insist on wearing veil and pride themselves in their servitude and lesser status.
In Islamic societies the abused are as much dependent on the abuser as the latter is on the former. A good definition of this symbiotic man/woman relationship in Islamic countries is sadomasochism or to use a more modern term—codependency. Muslim women have been abused and humiliated since their birth and this is the only form of existence they have ever known and are “comfortable” with. They learn from very early on that to survive or even get ahead, they have to please the men around them. Men also learn that women are worthless, deceitful and untrustworthy creatures. Therefore men grow up with no respect for women, their intelligence and their dignity. These men learn to abuse their sisters and beat them just as their fathers beat their mothers and they will eventually beat their wives with complete clarity of conscience. Muslim men grow up with the understanding that it is their God given right to beat their women and Muslim women grow up accepting the right of their husbands to beat them.
All this is the pernicious psycho-religious effect of a nefarious religion within Islamic societies that will not go away as long as this religion is believed to be from a divine source.
The other sad reality is the socio-economic effect of Islam on women’s lives. In Islamic countries all doors are closed to women. There are little to no opportunities available for women to live a productive and independent life. They have little education and no job training. All they know is household chores. If women do not marry and do not find a husband who will take care of them, they will have a very difficult life. Marriage is the only hope a Muslim woman has for her own survival. She knows that perfectly well. She knows that she has to marry soon and that if she is dumped, her future will be ruined.
In Islamic countries, the patrimony of the family is not divided equally between the estranged husband and wife but rather, the man keeps everything, as everything has been his earnings. The Qur’an makes it clear that everything is his property and a good woman is one who takes care of her husband’s property.
The work of the woman in keeping her husband’s house orderly, cooking for him and raising his numerous children is not recognized as valuable and hence after a divorce she is entitled to nothing. She will also lose the custody of her children as in Islam women are nothing but incubators for the children of men. All she can get is her mahr (a fee agreed upon prenuptially) that often is only a token and sums up to nothing. It could be something as insignificant as a dress. Women often do not demand too much for mahr, not only because Muhammad insisted that good women should also be cheap but also because they risk not marrying at all and that would be a great disgrace to them and to their families.
Clearly divorce could mean disaster for a Muslim woman. It not only means she will lose her social status but she could actually face starvation. If she is not young enough to re-marry, she will be forced to find menial work. Work is not readily available to women in Islamic countries. The only work available is domestic and janitorial work, which is extremely poorly paid and very demeaning. Only the lucky ones can get jobs as maids. Many divorced women will end up in the streets as beggars.
Thus, it is understandable that Muslim women prefer an abusing husband who beats them regularly to divorce. This also explains why women consent to sharing their husbands with second, third or fourth co-wives. They know that the alternative is getting divorced and that means facing a very bleak future of uncertainties and assured poverty.
Stigmatization is just one dilemma that a divorced woman faces. The real challenge is survival after the divorce. Only after we take into consideration the psycho-religious and the socio-economic factors that subjugate Muslim women can we appreciate the gravity of the problem and can understand why Maryam would be happy if her husband beats her only once a week instead of everyday. Only then do we understand why she says that she still loves him. Maryam knows perfectly well that if her abusive and savage husband dumps her, she will have to either commit suicide or live a life of abject poverty and misery. All Maryam wants is to live. Isn’t this the basic instinct of all living beings? Thus, she is willing to be beaten once a week for that privilege. Maryam is willing to keep her psychopathic husband content by allowing him to beat her regularly so she can continue to live her wretched life.
To Maryam and to millions of Muslim women who live in abusive relationships and in abusive societies, life is not a right but a privilege. It is a privilege that they have to earn by pleasing their husbands even if it means enduring their violent tantrums.
Muslim women with no husbands have no hopes. If they are divorced or if they are widowed, if they have no huge inheritance and if they can’t find another husband, they have no future. They are outcasts and burdens to the society and to themselves. Death is far more enticing to them than this dismal and miserable life. Perhaps this explains the raison d’être of the Chechen Black Widows. These women have lost their husbands and being Muslim women there is nothing left for them but to die. However, as good Muslims they want to take their revenge and kill as many innocent people as they can before they face their own coveted death.
Abuse of women is one of the problems facing the Muslim world and it is not a minor one. Unfortunately there is no resolution to this problem unless Islam is eradicated from these societies. Misogyny is just one of the many symptoms of the sick Islamic world. The disease is Islam!