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Harassment of Muslim women in Afghanistan, Iran: silence of Muslim men appalling

By NS Venkataraman* 

Both men and women are children of God and obviously, God has created men and women to compliment each other. The fact is that men need women and women need men and why should men think that they are superior to women in any way.
In all religions including Islam, nowhere it has been said that women should be subjected to any particular restriction by men.
While practices of denying liberty to women by men were there all over the world in earlier days, most religions and most countries have changed such approach over the years and reformed themselves. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen adequately in a few Islamic countries.
Holy Quran in several observations and guidelines have stressed the importance of women’s role and insisted how women should be respected and their liberty should be ensured.
Due to inadequate understanding of the essential sayings of Holy Quran and consequent misinterpretation, some Islamic countries, particularly Iran and Afghanistan have imposed extreme restrictions on women even today. Leadership of such countries are certainly acting against the tenets of Holy Quran.
Today, dress restriction for women is prevalent in several Islamic countries and Muslim women are not allowed to pray in mosque where men offer prayers. The practice of Muslim man marrying several women is prevalent in several Islamic countries. Even in secular countries like India , this practice is followed to some extent. In such countries, if Muslim women were to defy defy such stressful conditions and insist on their liberty to live as per their choice like the other women in developed countries, they could be harassed by Muslim men in some cases . Such liberty craving Muslim women would be accused of violating the practices of Islam, which is not true.
The recent protest by Muslim women in Iran refusing to wear Hijab was put down with force by the Iranian government. It appears that such protesting Muslim women have now been forced to go silent by the authorities.
In the case of Afghanistan, the Taliban government is insisting that women should not go for higher education and even insist that women should not go to the male doctor for medical treatment whatever may be the severity of the illness. Are not all these practices obnoxious? While in Afghanistan too there are some protests by Muslim women against such restrictions, it appears that the protests of the Muslim women have been silenced now by the strong arm of the government.
The question is whether they would be any relief for such Muslim women at all in these countries at any time in future.
Unfortunately, so far, only lip sympathy have been shown by rest of the world for these suffering Muslim women. As usual, world body United Nations Organisation has passed some non-binding condemnation about the harassment of muslim women in some countries and some women associations across the world have passed resolutions condemning the harassment of Muslim women. These steps have not resulted in any tangible and real benefits to the suffering Muslim women in some Islamic countries. In other words, the world opinion is virtually impotent and the views expressed are nothing more than mere scrap of paper on which they are printed.
This is a very unfortunate situation today, where the leadership of the government in countries, where women are put to such harassment, do not care for world opinion. In this process, the fair name of the Islam religion in getting internationally tarnished.
To defend the liberty of the Muslim women, war is not an option against such countries under the control of merciless people with extreme views on the principles of Islam.
At least, sort of strong international economic sanctions can be imposed on such countries to make the government behave. This has not been done in any meaningful way.
The Muslim men across the world who understand that Islam advocates respect for womanhood and not harassment of women and who value the reputation of Islam as a progressive religion, should voice their protest strongly against the harassment of Muslim women in Afghanistan and Iran. The silence of such progressive Muslim men is evident and their protest is conspicuous by absence. It is high time that the world wide movement to restore the dignity of Muslim women should be launched by progressive muslim men, that will have full support of the civilized world and would enjoy the grateful gratitude of harassed Muslim women.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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