Religious Laws and Customs are a Disgrace of the 21st Century

Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17 year old girl from Iraqi Kurdistan was publicly stoned to death in the town of Bashiqa before 1000 men. None of them did anything to stop the stoning; on the contrary they rejoiced at the killing and took footage of the carnage on their mobile phones.

Du’a wasn’t from a Muslim background, she was a Yazidi, but she fell in love with a Muslim boy. The price of this love was to be publicly stoned in broad daylight. She was stripped of her dignity and pride, her life was taken away simply for falling in love with someone outside of the Yazidi tribe. Her killers were never brought to justice and a year after her murder 40 million Iraqi Dinars were given to her family to keep their silence. The cost of love was a human life. The cost of silence, 40 million Dinar.

The killing of women continues and many more women have fallen victims to so-called honour killings, female genital mutilation, forced and arranged marriages. All of these things are on the rise. In these societies, religion takes priority over the lives and freedom of women.

Tribalism, traditions, Islamic Sharia laws and religious customs are still shaping the lives of millions of women and men in Islamic dominated countries.

Wherever Islam rules there is no place for human enjoyment of life. Religious figures control women’s body, sex and sexuality. They ban music, dance, art, public outings, and anything else that makes ordinary human beings happy.

In countries where the laws are based on Islamic Sharia, there is no place to be free and human life counts for very little. It is impossible to live without the constant fear of being killed for doing or feeling the simplest things.

Every woman, even those who have gained a degree of freedom to enter education or who have managed some sort of economic independence, live with the fear of ‘wrongdoing’. They must live their lives according to their family’s and countries code of conduct. Why should women live like this in 21st century?

Just a few days ago our television and computer screens were filled with images of savage violence when a 17-year-old Pakistani girl was flogged in public by Taliban militants in the Swat valley.

The footage showed a burka-clad girl being pinned to the ground by two men while a third whips her backside 34 times. The girl is seen screaming and begging for forgiveness as a crowd of largely silent men look on. She is accused of having had an “illegal” sexual relationship. Her brother is among those restraining her. When we see these crimes taking place day in and day out by religious militias, tribes, and governments who base themselves on the teachings of the Quran we come to expect no better.

In most Islamic dominated societies women have almost no rights. They have no right to life. They have no ownership over their own bodies:

  • If you fall in love with the “wrong” person, with someone your family doesn’t approve of, you are dead;

  • If you get raped, then you more likely to be punished than the rapists;
  • If you don’t follow religious, tribal, and traditional code of conduct you will be killed;
  • If women loose their virginity – whatever the reason – they will be killed;
  • Women can not wear what they want, or have make-up;
  • Women cannot mix with men because they ‘arouse’ them;
  • Women are sexually objectified and are therefore considered filthy;
  • Women have to be covered at all times;
  • A women’s body can only be seen by her husband because she is his property;
  • The wife must reserve herself exclusively for her husband;
  • Women should make themselves available to their husbands whenever he is in need of her – she must submit herself to sexual intercourse at the husbands will. This is little more than rape.

Millions of women grow up hearing these words and teachings taken from Islam and its Sharia Law. The oppression of generations of women and men alike stems from these ideas. Girls from as young as 4 years old are forced to cover their hair, and are brainwashed by religious teachings. According to Islam, when a girl is 9 years old she is due to marry. Where the letter of this teaching is implemented there is nothing but child abuse and ‘Islamic legal’ rape of children.

The ways in which both Du’a and this 17 year old Pakistani girl were punished in public is a method conditioning society to such brutalities and socialising them into accepting such scenes of carnage on daily bases. In this case they make the entire society complacent and bullied by force to accept this as a way of life.

This is typical of Islamists and Islam in general. Because of the violence and terror they use against civilians, they engender ignorance and Dark Age thinking over society.

In spite of the terror they can never put an end to people expressing themselves and acting as they want to. Women are particularly defiant. They are treated harshly because no religion, state, law, The Quran or any other holy book can restrict or prevent human beings from exercising their natural impulse to have sex and physical pleasure. Islam is particularly patriarchal and has always tried to keep women subordinated and use them as subservient of men. Having four wives for the same man is another ugly face of Islam.

Stoning, flogging, beheading, rape, polygamy, veiling – all these have been used against women, yet women continue to fight in every possible way to escape the hell that Islamists want to create in places like, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. They even want to bring Sharia to the heart of Europe.

These forms of religious violence against women are a shameful disgrace on 21st century humanity and it must stop. Every government is responsible for what is happening to women.

Houzan Mahmoud, Representative Abroad of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

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