A video of Australian Muslim women explaining why it’s ok for men to hit and discipline their wives has – rightly – made news today.
The Australian’s Caroline Overington has reported on the alarming video in a story on the newspaper’s front page.
‘It’s OK for men to hit wives’ https://t.co/ZTI6K9uPHG
— The Australian (@australian) April 12, 2017
The Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia, a branch of the radical Islamic movement, posted the 27-minute video on their Facebook page on the 8th of April. It was filmed at an event held in Western Sydney.
They describe it as an “in-depth discussion on the tafsir of Surah An-Nisa:34. It breaks down the ayah so we can understand its meaning and practice without the misconstrued sensationalism”.
In it they discuss the “context” in which a husband is permitted to discipline his wife. A husband is first entitled to admonish his wife and remind her of her duty to obey him. Second, he may abandon her in bed, and, finally, he may “hit” her.
They describe the hitting as gentle – not painful.
The trouble is, it’s impossible to misconstrue the acceptance of violence against women as anything but sensational.
Violence against men, women and children is illegal. End of story.
Whether it’s symbolic, savage, restrained or permitted on religious grounds, matters naught. Assault is illegal.
So any argument that “He [a husband] is permitted — not obliged, not encouraged — but permitted, to hit her [his wife]”, as one of the women said, isn’t merely sensational, it’s entirely intolerable.
Which is likely why these women posted the video.
Speaking on ABC’s Radio National this morning, Dr Shakira Hussein, a fellow at the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, said the video is attention-seeking. They know this subject matter is highly contentious and divisive.
“Because it is so contested they put a video out,” Dr Hussein said. “They know it isn’t widely accepted in Muslim community. Even religiously conservative women aren’t looking for these sorts of relationships, which is why they want to contest it. ”
She said it is unsurprising that women support these views.
“There are many women involved in extreme right wing and patriarchal organisations throughout the world,” Dr Hussein said. “Through my research I know there are women who are extremely outspoken on the need for maintaining the notorious legal provisions that see women who are raped, being jailed.”
Great. Should be a good discussion or short. Don't discipline your wife. https://t.co/YYkFkRLN2g
— Nyunggai W Mundine (@nyunggai) April 12, 2017
Radio National host Patricia Karvelas expressed shock at the conversation which she described as “alarming”.
“I haven’t seen a video like this, where women are advising other women of the violence against them that they should accept,” Karvelas said. “It’s not acceptable. They are advocating something that is morally reprehensible and illegal.”
Dr Hussein said the view that the violence permitted is merely symbolic and does not inflict harm, is not widely shared.
“Other Islamic feminists would say that even symbolic domination in this regard does cause hard. That symbolism of domination matters,” Dr Hussein said.
Sharing again. Australian imams on domestic violence: https://t.co/rZGcrHf57h
— Susan Carland (@SusanCarland) April 12, 2017
It does and it’s dangerous. Accepting domination is tantamount to accepting violence. It entrenches gender inequality which facilitates violence against women.
Irrespective of religion, nationality, politics, gender or age, violence is not ok. Not now. Not ever.