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If there exist a religion that does not devalue and oppress women in practice, I am unaware of it, and would submit that in its mildest form of discrimination women are excluded, and in its worst; they are enslaved. These prejudices are assimilated into our various cultures, having been derived from a distorted interpretation of the sacred beliefs propagated by every persuasion. They sometimes go so far as to condemn a family’s last daughter into servitude or denied virtually all rights for women within the laws of certain countries. This work is about that freedom and the right to choose.
The Veil speaks of a crime committed by religious or cultural authorities, which may be a breach of moral or civil rights. It may be the suppression of the rights to practice a religion or the freedom from a religion. It may be the freedom of expression or the freedom to make the decisions that affect the future.
The headscarf that many women ware, is seen by the western world as a symbol of submission, subservience and surrender. Yet this mantle may serve as a form of protection and security, providing anonymity or reverence for those who see it as an emblem of their faith or perhaps ware it to hide from the world in which they live.
The establishment of Islam by the Prophet Muhammed originally revolutionised women's rights to include inheritance, property and marriage rights. However, different interpretations have provided divergent views on how the Quran is applied within different cultures.
The Qur’an explicitly states in several verses that: We created women from the nature of man and from an essence the same as the essence of man.
Of Adam, the Qur’an says: Who created you from one single soul, and created from it its mate (Qur’an, 4:1), and that Allah created your mate from your own kind.
Many agree that the use of religion as a means to prevent legal protection for women is unacceptable, in practice it is mainly the interpretation of the Law that allows the many abuses of women’s rights. In some Western countries the law may deny women the right to choose what they can do with their body and their future. The loss of choice is a loss of freedom.
Islamic law demands punishment, and in some cases, encourages the killing of an adulterer. A common interpretation of this command results in “honour killings”, described as the murder of a female by members of her family, due to the belief that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family name.
Under Islamic law the testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man, and rape is often seen as being the fault of the women involved. For a Muslim woman to prove rape, she must have 4 male witnesses. “Proof of adultery and rape will be either the confession of the accused or eye-witness of four male adult Muslims.”
A Muslim woman must cover her body almost entirely, as every part of a woman’s body may be considered in sexual terms. Some Islam sects demand the face be completely covered as well. This can create a sense of isolation and gender segregation, yet, contrarily it may give a general sense of security to the bearer.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011 that the: “protection of the rights and freedoms of others”, referred to the need to ensure “respect for the minimum set of values of an open democratic society”.
The Court accepted that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face in public could undermine the notion of “living together”, it indicated the face played a significant role in social interaction. Practices or attitudes which would fundamentally call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which form an indispensable element of community life within the society and protect the right of others to live in a space of socialisation, which makes living together easier.
During the course of history, the character of women has evolved considerably. Many extreme statements, laws and edicts have passed judgement on women. Sometimes their status as a human being has been diminished, and at other times, their very nature of being has also been called into question, both in Islamic scriptures as well as in the Old and New Testament.
Paradoxically, doctrine appears to have been invented within a misogynist hierarchy that has sought to deny the female gender any role in creation.