Monday, March 21, 2016

From The "How Religion Keeps Women Subjugated" Files

You could skip this post if you don't want to get angry or despondent.  I'd much rather not write these posts but Echidne, whose avatar I am, insists.  So there you are.

1.  The Nigerian Senate has rejected a gender equality law.  Because it is against religions:

Women's rights activists condemned the Nigerian Senate on Thursday for rejecting a gender and equality law that pledged to eliminate discrimination in politics, education and employment, protect women's land rights and tackle violence against women.
The Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill was thrown out on Tuesday after several lawmakers opposed it on religious grounds.
Some quoted the Bible while others said the bill defied sharia, which is recognized by the constitution in Nigeria - home to the world's largest equal mix of Christians and Muslims.
Activists said the dismissal of the bill demonstrated that the government was ignoring the dangers facing Nigerian women, ranging from sexual assault and abduction to forced marriages.

Bolds are mine.

(Isn't it wonderful that the all-powerful creator of everything wants women to have the same rights as toasters or bicycles?)

2.   In Pakistan, a powerful religious body which advises the government on the compatibility of its laws with Islam last week declared a new Punjab law criminalizing violence against women as "un-Islamic."  Koran verses were cited to support that argument.

(How does one debate a book written over a thousand years ago, when those who quote it reject the possibility that its ideas were based on the norms of that era and instead insist that it is presenting the eternal, never-changing rules of the divine power?)

3. In some countries, religious family advice television shows teach about the Proper Control And Feeding of the Woman:

One can watch hours and hours of these shows, at all times of day from morning to evening prime time. For years, religious clerics have been the primary source of information on marital relationships, and at the core of their teaching is men’s superiority to women. One of the most popular hosts, with millions of viewers, is Mohammad Al Arifi. He presides over a salon format, talking to young men about various issues. In one segment, he explains to men the rules for beating their wives. “Just like you don’t beat a donkey or a camel from its face if you want to steer it in a certain direction, you should not beat a woman from her face,” he said. “There are other areas of her body where you are allowed to beat her from, such as her arms or her legs or back where it does not show to the public.”

Bolds are mine.

(Why avoid showing the bruises to the public?  If beating your wife is just following religious rules, shouldn't those bruises be proudly flaunted?)

These examples are mostly about the use of anti-woman interpretations of Islam (literal readings of extremely old texts by men,  reflecting the opinions of men living in a very different culture and era). 

That's not because Islam would be the only religion capable of being used as a tool to keeping women subjugated.  The religious justifications of forced-birthers in the US and the effects of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case remind us of the real danger to American women should the right-wing reading of Christianity become even more politically powerful in this country than it already is.  In short, Islam is over-represented in these examples because anti-woman versions of Islamic interpretations are more politically powerful than anti-woman interpretations of Christianity and Judaism.

This suggests to me that those who work for women's right to be viewed as fully human beings should also work for anything that would raise the profile and power of more liberal and egalitarian versions of all religions.