A broad look at the circumstances of women in Muslim states reveals several general cultural patterns: a profound absence of equality with men; honor-based family “protection” of women based mistrust regarding their sexuality; widespread domestic violence; rape and murder. In many regions of the Islamic world, female genital mutilation – which in varying degrees prevents females from experiencing sexual pleasure – is pervasively practiced. So are kidnappings and forced marriages of young women, including prepubescent girls, to much older men. In Muslim majority countries where state laws are based entirely on the Sharia (Islamic law), women’s lives are entirely dominated and controlled by men, including the state’s religious police. They are subjected to family arranged polygamous marriages. They are required to cover themselves entirely in traditional clothing and veiling, often in black, and they are not permitted to interact with men unless accompanied by a male chaperone – preferably a family member. Whether nations and societies operate either formally (through official state enforcement) or informally (through cultural norms that lead either to community enforcement or mob rule) the Sharia, strictly interpreted, enshrines radical misogyny. For example, a brief look at some of Islamic most basic laws regarding women is instructive. The Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism (WFAF) reports the following items in Islamism’s legal system:

  • In Article 18 of passport law, married women require their husband’s permission to apply for a passport.
  • Article 102 of Islamic Constitution indicates: “Women who appear on streets and in public without the prescribed ‘Islamic Hijab’ will be condemned to 74 strokes of the lash.”
  • Article 300 of the Penal code states that the “Deyeh” of a Muslim woman is half of the “Deyeh” of a Muslim man. Although some may interpret the law differently, by law the life of a woman has half the value of a man.
  • Article 105 of the Civil Code declares: “In the relationship between a man and a woman, the man is responsible as head of the family.” The Council of Guardians, has decreed, “A woman cannot leave her home without her husband’s permission, even to attend her father’s funeral”.
  • Article 1133 of the Civil Code states: A man can divorce his wife whenever he so chooses and does not have to give her advance notice. From time to time courageous Iranian women rebel against burdensome male controls.

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