Preventing Violence against Women in Muslim Societies

By C, Delinda | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, February 1999 | Go to article overview

Preventing Violence against Women in Muslim Societies


C, Delinda, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Preventing Violence Against Women in Muslim Societies

The Middle East Institute held a Nov. 18 panel discussion of strategies Muslim women use to prevent, resist and cope with violence. Panelists discussed Sisterhood is Global efforts in the Global South to design and implement programs to eliminate violence against females.

Mahnaz Afkhami, president of the Sisterhood is Global Institute and executive director of the Foundation for Iranian Studies, began the discussion by saying, "Violence against women in Muslim society was always dealt with by the family in private." In recent years, however, violence against women throughout the world has become a human rights issue, not merely a family issue.

Afkhami said that when males with power control females who are powerless, violence often results. For too long, state laws have condoned and educational imbalances have fostered the physical, verbal, economic or spiritual abuse of women. If women can't take part in the interpretation of religion and they are not empowered to change their lives by legislation, they cannot change their lives, she said. By empowering individual women and giving them self-assertiveness training, institutions can enable women to protect themselves from violence, Afkhami concluded.

Haleh Vaziri, a scholar of comparative and international politics who has served as the acting coordinator of production and research for Sisterhood is Global's Human Rights Education Program, discussed the manual Sisterhood is Global is using. She called it a "work in progress" as ideas and methodology are tested and altered. Vaziri said the manual addresses verbal abuse in the home or in public, spousal abuse, battery or rape, honor killing, and state-enforced gender segregation. …

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