14 December 2000
The arrest of women in the many raids conducted by the authorities stems from society’s attitudes and values towards women: that they should dress a certain way, behave a certain way, socialise a certain way and if they violate any of these conditions set by others on how to be a “good woman”, they should be taken away, to be protected, rehabilitated or punished. Men, however, are not subject to the same rules
In the eyes of the enforcement officers who conduct these raids therefore men are just being men when they are found in pubs, drinking and patronising women, but the women’s presence in such places, dressed and behaving in ways disapproved of are an affront to their patriarchal sensibilities.
Sisters in Islam is concerned at the discrimination against women in the substance and implementation of the law. In June we witnessed a woman pub singer arrested and charged for insulting Islam, while the male members of the band were let off. Female juveniles caught in alleged sex parties have been sent to rehabilitation centres, but not their juvenile male partners who were only fined. Muslim women who take part in beauty contests are arrested and charged, but not Muslim men who take part in body-building contests. Female sex workers are arrested but not their male clients. Women who abandon babies are arrested and charged but not the men who made them pregnant.
The press too must take responsibility for publishing only pictures of women and young girls being arrested, without any mention about the male perpetrators. This gives legitimacy to the prevailing societal prejudice that women who do not conform to the ideal of the “good woman” deserve to be punished while men are not to be held responsible for their misbehaviour.
Sisters In Islam
14 December 2000