Gender violence is everyone's responsibility

Sadly, it still seems en vogue, possibly even necessary, to react with hysterical abandon and with bigoted superiority to the Muslim. 

Never has this reality been more evident than it is today, when one reads the violent opinions in response to the arrests made in the alleged ‘honour killings’ of Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia, and Rona Amir Mohammad.

Rather than choosing to understand cases such as these for what they truly are -- cases of gender violence – there are many who instead stand above the issues, pointing fingers and declaring: Muslims hate women!  Muslims oppress and abuse and repress and violate the freedoms of women!  We are better, for we are not Muslim!

No honour in gender violence

When using the terminology of 'honour killings,' we must understand that in this specific instance, Islam is used by certain members of a community as an excuse to wage this violence against women; that some women have become complicit does not diminish from the reality that this is a perversion of Islam to meet a gender-specific end.

The general responses are both grotesque and arrogant in their pretensions of superiority to a religion we are all allowed and encouraged to look down upon and view as backwards and hate-filled. 

It’s grotesque in that people are asking for the deportation of Muslims from Canada, and in that people are using this situation to justify the further bombing of Muslim countries.  Interestingly, these calls are not only leveled against Muslim men -- the great demons that they are -- but also against the Muslim females.  Somehow this is not considered as counter-productive to the Muslim female’s rights we are attempting to ensure; and, if it is considered, then undoubtedly, it is spun as feminist-forward.

Some people are choosing to only understand this subject as one which is specific and unique to Islam, a faith to which they do not belong; that these are Muslim crimes against the female population, when in fact ‘honor killings’ are an arm of gender violence, rather than Muslim violence.

So then, what is gender violence?  It is domestic violence and it is state violence against the female population.  It does not have one specific culture nor one specific religion, and it most definitely is not a subject matter from which we, Canadians, are free of guilt.

Unfortunately, and coupled with the reality that it is indeed most fashionable to hold Islam accountable for all ugliness and hatred, our general news bodies won’t afford its audience an opinion the audience doesn’t already hold.  Instead, we are patted on the back for our immediate call to arms against the Muslim community, for our feigned rally in support of the Muslim female (until, of course, she points a finger back and asks you how many women have been killed in your culture, and at the hands of their husbands?  How many young girls have been beaten to death by their boyfriends or their fathers in your culture?)

We are all responsible for combating violence

When we choose to decry another culture and another religion as being abusive and dangerous to women, we are actively disengaging and distancing ourselves from the greater world of gender violence.  Doing this allows us to raise our hands and say ‘not responsible!’, when the reality is that gender violence wasn’t born of one specific religion or culture, and must be something for which we are all responsible.

Let us never loose sight of the dangers women face -- specifically, at the hands of men -- every single day and in every part of this world, including our own here in Canada. Naturally, this is not to say that we ever deny the cultural aspects of gender violence, for it is only when we understand the culture that we may remedy the violence; but, rather, this is to say that next time we are presented with any case of gender violence, we understand it as such, and we fight against it both as men and women from all cultures. 

Most importantly, we understand that gender violence is not something that only permeates Their religion and Their culture, but it is something which is raging within our own neighborhoods, no matter where we may live.

 

Maha Zimmo is a political analyst whose areas of concentration are the Middle East, Islam and the international legal system. She received her Master of Arts from the Department of Law at Carleton University.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.