Violence Against Women in Islamic Countries

Why governments fail to protect women in certain countries and solutions to correct the situation.

This paper examines the role of Islamic law and fundamentalist ideology in the growing instances of violence towards women in various Islamic countries. While the paper focuses largely on Pakistan, where religious laws have allowed a disturbing number of atrocious murders against women to go unpunished over the years, the paper also discusses the progress that has been made in some Islamic countries regarding women and the law. The roots of honor killings are examined, as well as the reasons why the violence is always erroneously blamed on Islamic principles. Finally, solutions are proposed regarding what can be done by the international community as well as individual countries in order to protect women.
“In light of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, much media attention has been garnered on Islam and particularly on extremist Islamic factions that support violence. Yet, despite all the focus on international terrorism and violence in the name of religion, there is one brand of terrorism seldomly brought to light; the blatant violence against women that is so prevalent in many Islamic countries. Miriam-Webster dictionary describes terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” If we are to accept this definition, then we must also accept the fact that women in many Islamic countries are continuously the target of terrorists, and the government, society and often their own families are the very perpetrators of this terrorism. While the means by which women in these countries are terrorized vary greatly in degree (from systematic exclusion of participation in societal roles outside the home to domestic abuse and “honor killings”) all similarly cause women to live in constant fear for their safety and lives. As global awareness of these conditions grows, so does the responsibility of helping to protect the women affected by it. By closely examining the conditions and mindsets that allow such horrors to go unpunished, particularly the role of Islam in law, solutions may be yielded and policies instituted to protect the human rights of women, finally putting an end to this neglected facet of terrorism.”