Skip to comments.Dr. Phyllis Cheslerís April 21, 2009 Speech about Muslim Womenís Rights /Islamic Gender Apartheid
Posted on 04/22/2009 2:29:36 PM PDT by knighthawk
Israel is not an apartheid state but Islam, as it is practiced in many countries today, is the worlds largest practitioner of gender and religious apartheid. I have been asked to speak about Islamic gender apartheid. To some extent, the documentation of real apartheid, which characterizes Islam, should serve as a necessary corrective to the false accusation against Israel as an apartheid nation state.
But let me also note that Muslim countries have historically persecuted their non-Muslim citizens but would have us believe that this is not racism. Today, Christians, Bahai, Hindus, Zoroastrians all live at their peril in Muslim countries; many have been exiled, many have fled. The Muslim world is almost entirely judenrein, free of Jews, whose flight comprises the largest, untold refugee story of the Middle East and North Africa. The citizens of Israel come in all skin-colors, practice all religions, speak many different languages of originand have all been absorbed at Israels expense. But, Islamic religious apartheid is a subject for another day. Back to Islamic gender apartheid.
In December of 1961, I escaped from captivity in Afghanistan. (Thats another whole story. Whats a nice Jewish girl doing in Kabul anyway? Having a grand and dangerous adventure, thats what!) Anyway, at the time, few westerners understood what living in a Muslim society was like for a woman, an infidel, a Jew, or a budding intellectual, nor did they view Third World countries as inherently dangerous, barbaric, or misogynistic.
What I learned in Kabul rendered me immune to the romanticization of the Third World or to the glamorization of tyrants and terrorists that defined my generation of 1960s and 1970s radicals and activists.
I have often said that my feminism was, perhaps, forged in Afghanistan because when I came home to America I was a very different person. I had seen and experienced Islamic gender apartheid up close and personal. I had nearly died there. Despite their relative powerlessness, some Afghan women were exceptionally kind to me. I think my abiding concern with womens rights in the Muslim world is an expression of my gratitude and everlasting sense of kinship with them.
When I was there, many poor women were shrouded, they moved like ghosts in the bazaar, and they were forced to sit, quite literally, at the back of the public buses. Poor women always lost their place in line in the bazaar when a male servant pushed them to the back of that line too. This is all pre-Soviet and pre-Taliban, a time when Afghanistan made great strides in terms of modernization.
Still, most Afghan women, including foreign wives, did not socialize with men other than with their immediate male relatives. Polygamy was the custom for men who could afford it, and the custom caused havoc among the children of different wives, all of whom longed for their fathers attention, approval, and inheritance. Male homosexual pederasty was rampant although tabooed and hotly denied. Fathers treated their children as if they were their servants, which they were.
To my horror, Afghanistan has followed me back to America in many ways. It is always in the news: The Taliban, al-Qaeda, American boots on the ground, child suicide killers. Here, in America, in New York City, and in other cities around America, Canada, and all over Europe, one can see an increasing number of shrouded, face-veiled women in public. Honor killings, (which are not like western-style domestic violence), have taken place all over America and Canada and are even more epidemic in Europe where there are many more Muslim immigrants.
What is Islamic Gender Apartheid like?
Women are routinely confined, (kept at home, kept among women-only, hidden behind face and body veils), and brutally punished in the Muslim world merely because they are women. When women protest this state of affairs, they are often killed, certainly arrested, usually tortured. In a sense, being born female is a capital crime in this Islamified and jihadic era.
Muslim women are legally stoned to death, (in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan), beheaded, both legally and customarily, (in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), customarily blinded by acid attacks, (in Pakistan and Afghanistan)and not by Jews or Israelis or Zionists, but by other Muslims. Muslim women are buried alive (in Algeria, in Pakistan, under the Taliban and al-Qaeda). Muslim women are gang-raped and then lashed almost to death in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria. They are normatively beaten at home all over the Muslim world and normatively killed in honor/dishonor killings. Physical and sexual child abuse is normative and it is both rampant and denied.
Honor killings are a Muslim-on-Muslim crime, a collaboration of an entire family against their own female blood. So is female genital mutilation, shrouding/veiling, polygamy, (which is sometimes foolishly romanticized by feminists), arranged and child marriage to a man old enough to be your grandfather, or arranged and child marriage to a first cousin.
According to a recent study, in Pakistan, 90% of all women are beaten throughout their lives. One million women in Pakistan are beaten while they are pregnant. Honor killings are rampant, the killers are rarely prosecuted.
If a Muslim girl or woman wants out, wants to go to college, wants to leave a dangerously abusive marriage, wants to have non-Muslim friends, wants to work outside the home, wants to wear makeup, her own family might kill her.
Islamic gender apartheid is characterized by a sense of the female as dangerous, sub-human. She is kept apart, segregated, kept in her placeunless she has been trafficked as a sex slave, which is common all throughout the Muslim world, as is slavery.
Although America is far, far from perfect, it is still a more advanced, more democratic, more lawful, and a more compassionate country in the world. The same is true of tiny Israel. However, western academics, feminist activists, and mainstream journalists, actively resist this point of view. They claim that terrorism and hate speech committed by Muslims has absolutely nothing to do with Islam; that barbaric practices, such as stoning, be-heading, or honor killing are all pre-Islamic customs and have nothing to do with Islam; pairing Islam with what is done in its name, by its followers, by its national and religious leadersis racist.
Thus, perfectly good American feminists are far more comfortable in criticizing Christianity and Judaism for their allegedly misogynistic practices than in criticizing Islamic gender apartheid and the barbarism of many Muslim customs.
Muslim nations, individual Muslims, including jihadic terrorists practice extreme gender apartheid. America and Israel do not. Still, I would be silenced, boo-ed and heckled for saying so at the United Nations both in NYC and today, in Geneva. Could I say this on most university campuses without causing a riot?
Let me tell you what happened in 2003 at a feminist grassroots conference at Barnard in NYC. My speech went very well, lots of applause, laughter, sympathetic faces. It all changed when one woman demanded to know where I stood on the question of the women of Palestine. No matter how carefully I described Islamic gender apartheid, (female genital mutilation, arranged marriage, polygamy, veiling, honor killing), they all kept yelling about the humiliation at the checkpoints. Nothing could shake their brainwashed conviction. I had to be hustled out for my safety. Now, I rarely speak on campus without a security guard.
Today, courtesy of the world wide Saudi Lobby (far more powerful than the Israel Lobby), which has spent billions on exporting terrorism and propaganda, Westerners view Third World Muslim countries as innocent victims of evil American military policies and of European colonialism and racism. As the ideas of Edward Said and other left-wing ideologies increasingly shaped the university curriculum and the media in the West, most academics learned to fear being called racists. They all became politically correct cultural relativists.
My training as a research and clinical psychologist, expert courtroom witness, psychotherapist, and author, as well as my experience as a pioneer feminist activist and theoretician has led me, almost inevitably, to the study of honor-related violence, especially to the study of honor killings in the West.
I first wrote about Islamic Gender Apartheid in the West in a series of articles which I published between 2004-2005, and which I expanded into a chapter of my book, The Death of Feminism which was published in 2005. I have continued this work in articles which have appeared from 2006-2009. In all, I have published more than 50 articles about Islamic gender apartheid and at least 25 additional articles about honor killings in America.
Most important, I conducted an original study on the subject which appeared in MEQ in 2009. This study sparked an amazing interest: Many people reprinted it, referred to it in glowing terms, (for the first time, this included some prominent feminists), and insisted on interviewing the author. Other people condemned the study, refused to discuss the issues it raised, interviewed the authorbut then failed to quote her point of view in their publication.
(At this point, I walked people through the first Chart in the study which compares domestic violence, western-style, with honor killings which are, by definition, femicide, murder. I believe that I have shown why and how honor killings follow a different pattern than domestic violence in the West does. I also talked about how Islamic gender apartheid, including honor killings have penetrated the West, including America and Canada. I said that if we do not protect Muslim women here that their blood will also be on our hands).
I suggested: We must work with Muslim dissidents and Muslim feminists, many of whom are staunch secularists, some of whom are religious and are hoping to begin the work of re-interpreting and reforming Islamic religious law and practices.
We must identify pro-woman immams and mullahs in the West and work with them to prevent honor killings and honor-related violence.
We must prosecute honor killings and other honor-related violence under our laws in the West and not allow Islamic religious law to apply to any citizen or resident in the West.
Funding for shelters for battered Muslim women is required. I challenge the Saudi princes to fund this as opposed to one more madrassa or one more anti-American and anti-Israeli Middle East Studies program.
Then, I again denounced Durban II and congratulated the organizers and sponsors of the counter-conference for having done the right thing and for making it possible for me to join them.
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